Prof. Trueman's bad questions and worse answers...

Two weeks ago Prof. Carl Trueman wrote a short piece saying he doesn't like it that some parachurch organizations are dividing over father-rule. He asks why organizations divide over sexuality if they refuse to divide over the Sacraments? After all, he says, the Sacraments are “the very doctrinal differences which made Protestant confessions necessary in the first place.”

Well of course, the only reason the Sacraments are mentioned in Protestant confessions while sex distinctions and father-rule are not is that, back in past centuries when confessions were written, no one alive questioned father-rule. So when Dr. Trueman points out that the Reformers didn't feel the need to divide with egalitarian feminists, it might be helpful to point out to Dr. Trueman there were no egalitarian feminists pushing women onto Calvin's consistory or into Geneva's pulpits. 

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit dealt with female rebellion so clearly and firmly that it took twenty centuries before it reared its head again. That's why the confessions of the Reformers written and adopted five centuries ago condemned Sacramental errors without condemning egalitarian feminism.

It's ironic that Dr. Trueman wrote this piece for his own parachurch organization which, itself, refuses to divide over the Sacraments.

Dr. Trueman has a dog in this fight. Why should he refuse to do parachurch with Christians who rebel against the plain teaching of Scripture that woman may not teach or exercise authority over man... when he has already committed himself to doing parachurch with Christians who deny that Christ's presence in the Lord's Supper is real but not physical (the Reformed/Lutheran split) or that newborn infants are to be baptized (the Reformed/Baptist split)? Dr. Trueman is an Orthodox Presbyterian who cooperates with Lutherans and Baptists; why shouldn't he cooperate with feminists?

Citing those who claim such a commitment to feminism is “accompanied by lower views of scripture and the presence of other, more serious errors and heterodoxies," Dr. Trueman acknowledges this "may well be true." Yet he quickly passes over such concerns, moving on to argue that egalitarian feminism is simply an intramural debate among inerrantists similar to the intramural debates between Baptists and Paedobaptists, Dispensationalists and Amillenialists.

Dr. Trueman simply states that egalitarian feminism is no denial of inerrancy. Unbelievable!

No error more clearly and publicly eviscerates inerrancy of any meaning at all as this one, but sadly, for many years now Evangelical seminary and college profs have kissed and not told on this one. Who wants to see his colleagues fired, starting with Mr. Inerrancy himself, Roger Nicole, whom Dr. Trueman points to in a follow-up piece he wrote.

The late Dr. Nicole was never removed from the Evangelical Theological Society despite denying as plainly as possible God's Creation Order and the Apostle Paul's application of that order. He affirmed woman teaching and exercising authority over man as pastor and elder; he denied the husband had authority over his wife and the wife was to submit to her husband in the home; and he claimed Jesus only submitted to His Father "in His incarnate state." Yet there he was each year at ETS sitting in the catbird seat, looking back at his leadership guarding inerrancy by removing his Gordon-Conwell colleague, Ramsey Michaels, because of Michaels' use of redaction criticism.

There's a long and sordid history of men like Dr. Trueman making common cause with colleagues who deny the plain meaning of Scripture while claiming to hold to their academic societies' and (more importantly) their seminaries' doctrinal statements that include the word 'inerrancy.'

But moving past Dr. Trueman's ridiculous claim that those who deny God's Order of Creation are inerrantists, we return to his claims concerning Sacramental union.

Dr. Trueman supports his position opposing division over egalitarian feminism by pointing out who is and is not allowed to come to the Lord’s Table in the churches of his fellow parachurch men. Setting up a number of hypothetical situations, he demonstrates what he sees as glaring inconsistencies in these matters. For instance, he calls our attention to some Baptist churches that invite a paedobaptist to preach in their pulpit while not allowing him to join them at the Lord's Table following his sermon. Then Dr. Trueman asks, “...could a female baptist minister, baptized by immersion ...who happened to be on holiday in the vicinity of such a church ...attend morning worship there and take communion?”

Of course, Dr. Trueman argues this ordained woman officer should not be barred from the Lord's Table because, were she barred, “egalitarianism appears to have been raised to the level of a sin which brings the credibility of one’s public profession of the Christian faith into serious doubt." And we all know that can't be right.

Really?

Egalitarian feminism is sin; it is a fundamental rebellion against God’s Fatherhood writ large upon His Creation. That is the issue.

When we accept egalitarian feminists as Christians with whom we have only a fraternal debate, we are making common cause with men and women who are rebels against God's Creation Order of Adam first, then Eve; rebels against God naming the race bearing His Image 'adam' and 'man'; rebels against God's pre-Fall delegation of marital authority to man and his command that wives submit to their husbands; rebels against God's Law forbidding woman to teach or exercise authority over man; rebels against God's prohibition of woman speaking in Church; rebels against God's naming our fellow believers "brother"; rebels against God's appointment of Adam, alone, as our Federal Head; rebels against God's declaration that every word of Scripture is God-breathed and profitable; rebels against God's command we name Him "Father"; rebels against the Triune God's economic subordination of the Son to His Father... Need I go on?

This rebellion against God's Order of Creation is much more destructive of the souls God has placed under our protection than the Lutheran claim of consubstantiation or the Baptist claim of the purity of the New Covenant Church.

Can a man who has succeeded J. Gresham Machen as a professor of God's Truth at Westminster Theological Seminary really be blind to this great wickedness such that he gives himself to promoting such a rapprochement? Has it occurred to him that he's commending a path in the opposite direction from the one commanded by the Apostle Paul who, with full apostolic authority, declared, "if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God" (1 Corinthians 11:16).

Here the Apostle Paul is addressing those who denied that woman is the glory of man, but he takes the tack directly opposite that chosen by Dr. Trueman: the Apostle Paul declares that those who disagree with God's Order of Creation that woman is created by God to be man's glory are outside the universal practice of all "the churches of God."

In other words, the Apostolic method of dealing with this error within the Church and her worship was division. So three cheers for all those young Reformed men who see this evil as evil as it is and refuse to follow their seminary profs into the compromises they have long since grown complacent with. Rock on!

Trueman’s complacency becomes almost tangible when he writes, “...churches presumably need to start disciplining even those members who may believe in egalitarianism too.” He seems to think those who would consider disciplining egalitarian feminists have gone off the reservation. If so, the Apostles went off the reservation a very long time ago.

Why did the Apostles take such a hard stand where Dr. Trueman and his Evangelical Theological Society take such a soft one?

One way to get at this is to ask a question it appears Dr. Trueman has never asked: What is the fruit of egalitarian feminism?"

The fruit of the egalitarian feminist heresy is husbands who refuse to bless their wives and children through their provision, protection, and leadership; wives who refuse to bless their husbands and children through their gentle and quiet spirits, and their submission; brash girls and effeminate boys who sin against the modesty commanded in the Seventh Commandment; children of the Covenant who give themselves to lesbianism and sodomy; churches that call women to teach and exercise authority over men; and on it goes.

This is the fruit pastors have been weeping over for decades now, yet Dr. Trueman is worried some might feel "the need to start disciplining" the egalitarian feminist heresy?

To start disciplining it?

Any church or pastor who fears and loves God has been slogging through admonitions and rebukes and excommunications surrounding the egalitarian feminist heresy for decades, now. Even if Dr. Trueman himself has not had any of his own sheep destroyed by egalitarianism, does he not have any friends who have been faithful to correct and rebuke and exhort and warn the precious souls under their own care; any one friend who has sat with Dr. Trueman and lamented egalitarianism's wreckage within his marriage, home, family, or church?

Dr. Trueman is worried someone somewhere might start disciplining egalitarian feminism?

Here's the truth. From the very beginning, complementarians made a Faustian bargain. If they were allowed to publish scholarly papers and have fraternal debates with egalitarian feminists about the meaning of 'kephale' and the implications of the meaning of 'kephale' for the home and church, they for their part would cede everywhere but the home and church to egalitarian feminism and make nice with egalitarian feminists whenever and wherever they disagreed. And certainly they would grant that egalitarian feminists were sincere inerrantists who should never be removed from the Evangelical Theological Society or any academic institution that paid them. Redaction criticism and Open Theism and (maybe) the denial of historical Adam might lead to removal, but egalitarian feminism no and never!

The Heaven and Hell chasm between the Fatherhood of God and egalitarian feminism would be viewed, just as Dr. Trueman put it, as a fraternal debate over “hermeneutical difference(s).”

Leaving the Apostolic Church far behind, the most august members of our seminary faculties, along with their presidents and trustees, have no heart to be faithful soldiers of Christ in protection of God's Order of Creation today. The feminist infiltration of all the inerrantists is complete, and thus the authority of the Word of God within Evangelicalism is dead.

Dr. Trueman belittles those working to restore the Apostolic Church's unity, denouncing them as men for whom "a little bit of the culture war (has caused) your own pet concerns and tastes to intrude into what you deem to be the most basic biblical priorities."

One wonders if Dr. Trueman would have had the chutzpah to belittle the Apostle Paul for bringing the culture war into the Church and thereby corrupting the most basic Biblical priorities with his own pet concerns and tastes? If so, Dr. Trueman's a Johnny-come-lately and he'll be waiting in line quite a while to get to hang with the geniuses inside the Poor Rabbinical Paul store.

* * *

(This post was written by Rev. Dr. Andrew Dionne and Tim Bayly, and was revised September 3, 2012.)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

You are "spot on", brothers, with this article.  This spirit of compromise and turning the issue of egalitarian feminism into an intramural debate rather than gospel-denying heresy is precisely the reason that I have left the PCA.  I graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary (2007), was under care of the Missouri Presbytery for a time, and attended a local PCA church for many years during and after seminary.  However, the plain teaching of Scripture on this matter and the persistent push to make it, along with other essential doctrines like the plain teaching of literal creation days, into a matter of secondary (or tertiary) importance has so grieved my spirit that we simply had to look elsewhere.  I became increasingly aware that my deep conviction that such matters were not tangential to the "real/fundamental" gospel message but were rather part of the very warp and woof of it was going to make me virtually un-ordainable within the PCA.  Thus, I am now pursuing ordination and seeking to plant a church here in the St. Louis metro within the Covenant Presbyterian Church denomination (http://www.covenant-presbyterian.org/distinctives/) precisely because of their confessionalism and unwillingness to compromise with the spirit of the age on such matters.  God bless you, and keep fighting the good fight.

Tim & Andrew,

 I've taken classes with Carl, and I think you misunderstand his position. The point is that during the Reformation there was a distinction made between being wrong and being heretical. Not everyone who was wrong was a heretic, as the Council of Dordt declared about Arminianism. The heretic, as Jude and 2 Peter relate in heated terms, was using his wrong interpretation of scripture to promote immorality. Mind you, not simply dogmatic error, but actual, physical, immoral behavior. Jesus did say "by their fruits you shall know them", not "by their leaves, by their stems, by their roots..." He even advised leaving the weeds in the field until harvest, lest they innocent wheat be misidentified.

So while I can agree that feminism holds no place in the Bible, I am less convinced that one should treat such people as heretics. Are there no shades of gray in the Bible, or no gradations of dogmatic belief? Does everything have to be black and white? "Who sinned," the disciples asked Jesus, "this man or his parents that he was born blind?" It's a black-and-white question, and Jesus sidesteps it with a very very important answer--"Neither".

Sometimes our b/w categories don't match Christ's, and we need to look at these Reformation issues with a different eye. In more philosophical terms, the issues are often neither epistemological (what we know), or metaphysical (what we are) but ethical (what we do). This feminism thing is argued from the egalitarians as an epistemological distinction, and from the complementarians as a metaphysical distinction, but perhaps the real problem is what we do with this gender difference. Maybe the real problem, is as you point out in your article, what we do, not what we say or which sex chromosome we are born with.

If so, then the cure should match the disease. There can be no curing feminism by argument if it is at root not a rational problem. Nor can there by any cure by invoking natural law--if indeed unnatural things have been done in the name of freedom. Perhaps the cure lies in what we do, how we live, how we raise our children, how we value our children, how we value the role of child-bearing, etc, etc. Feminism is merely the tip of the iceberg of a horribly distorted worldview, and fixing it cannot be done merely by rational argument about the metaphysics of gender.

I think Carl would agree with everything you say excepting the cure you recommend. I would guess this comes from a deep historical understanding of the excesses of the Reformation--and there were many, shall we say, PR disasters. He's not your enemy, and I think it would be useful to get his response.

Rob,

Please go back and read what Pastor's Tim and Andrew wrote in this post.

You are arguing that we don't see fruit from Feminism... just leaves, stems and roots... and thus we should not call this heresy.

What about the fruit or Feminism mentioned in the post?

The fruit of the egalitarian feminist heresy is husbands who refuse to bless their wives and children through their provision, protection, and leadership; wives who refuse to bless their husbands and children through their gentle and quiet spirits, and their submission; brash girls and effeminate boys who sin against the modesty commanded in the Seventh Commandment; children of the Covenant who give themselves to lesbianism and sodomy; churches that call women to teach and exercise authority over men; and on it goes.

May God give us faith to stand in the gaps where His word is being butchered.

May He forgive us for our fear of man and our hatred of His commands.

Feminists use their interpretation of scripture to promote immorality--actual physical, immoral behavior.

That's what a wife ruling her husband is. That's what a woman preaching is. And that's what homosexuality is. Feminism denies the difference between men and women.

What you are determines what you do. Or to use your terms, you can't have ethics without metaphysics. 

And even if the problem is an ethical problem, it does not follow that the solution is for us to live moral lives ourselves, simply ignoring the immorality of those in leadership positions together with us at parachurch organizations. 

Rob, your solution essentially comes down to the common saying:

Preach the gospel all the time. If necessary, use words.

But that is an error.

Rob,

Pastor Bayly's point is precisely that feminism/egalitarianism constitutes a heresy by striking at the fundamentals of the faith. It does this by striking at the fatherhood of God and the inerrancy of Scripture (among other fundamentals). Being an eyes-wide-open Egalitarian is inconsistent with embracing these fundamentals of the faith. It is a denial of them.

I do not see how you improve your argument by bringing in the philosophical distinction between metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Pastor Bayly seems to rely on a fundamental connection between metaphysics and ethics. As you yourself quote "you shall know them by their fruits." What we are and what we do are connected. What we are and what we ought to do are also connected. Tim has not made a pie-in-the-sky metaphysical argument. His argument is grounded in the creation order, what God made us to be, which results in ethical imperatives. Men ought live up to their nature as men and women ought live up to their nature as women. The practical implications of this are present in Dr. Trueman's own article when he considers how one ought to treat a female Baptist pastor. 

So, I don't see anyone here arguing over a "mere metaphysics of gender" somehow divorced from the ethical realities of life. On the contrary, this is all very practical. Should all the Evangelical parachurch ministries leave Complementarianism in their doctrinal statements (what vanishingly few of them still have it in there, that is)? Should female ministers be barred from taking communion? Should living out Egalitarianism make one properly subject to church discipline? Apparently, Dr. Trueman thinks the answer to these questions is "no." I find this extremely surprising. Dr. Trueman is saying that if a woman refuses to submit to her husband, contrary to the clear command of scripture, that the church ought not discipline her. Egalitarianism (lived-out, since he's talking about female pastors) is not a serious enough violation of God's law to warrant discipline. Don't you think that is surprising and alarming? I do.

There are certainly shades of grey in Scripture, but there are also some places that are very bright lines. We need to hold the bright lines bright and the grey shades grey. In the end, Dr. Trueman apparently does not think degenerate views of sexuality seriously compromise one's gospel witness. Therein lies the mistake.

David

I think you must not understand egalitarian feminism.

How much more immoral can you be than denying that a man must provide for his wife and children? Is it not immoral to claim that patriarchy and even it's pale imitation found in complementarianism are inherently abusive of women?

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