Flattery never brings reform...

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...if I were to sum up my principal objections to most forms of feminism, it would be in the contention that feminism privileges dogmatic ideology over close and receptive attention to reality.  - A. Roberts, link

In Scripture, authority is symbolically masculine, as it originates with a God who stands over against us ...and who refers to himself with masculine pronouns.  - A. Roberts, link

I have some fairly far-reaching criticisms of complementarianism as most understand it. I believe that it unjustly marginalizes women within the life of the Church and society in many and various ways and tends to devalue them. I believe that women need to exercise far more prominent roles in the life and teaching of the Church, not just as a matter of permission, but as a matter of necessity.  - A. Roberts, link

We need more female spiritual directors, lay teachers, theologians, commentators, scholars, churchwardens, vestrywomen, treasurers, vergers, sacristans, elder women (different from elders), deaconesses, lay chaplains, leaders of Bible studies, missionaries, etc.  - A. Roberts, link

Justin Taylor works for Wheaton publisher Crossway. Now, just prior to their release of a book Heirs Together by UK Ph.D. Alastair Roberts, Justin got Gospel Coalition to run a piece on their blog introducing what Justin assures readers is a "big book." The GC blog post introduced by Taylor is written by Roberts and titled "How Should We Think About Watching Women Fight Women?" 

The post gives us an idea what Roberts's book will be like. He writes about "the particular subjective and objective otherness of the other sex," saying it is an "otherness that should excite wonder, love, responsibility, and care," A few sentences later he writes: "the strength and athleticism of women such as Rousey and Nunes is worthy of admiration in many respects." Then this...

As our cultural awareness of sexual difference is effaced, many of the forms of honor, recognition, and protection that were once extended to women in society are being removed. While these cultural norms were often sadly caught up with abusive attitudes towards and restrictive constraints upon women, in relieving ourselves of the latter, we risk jettisoning many of the good things that characterized the former.

Risk? Women murder a quarter of their babies in our country today and we're talking risk management?

Then there's the "sadly caught up" stuff. Among the complementarian crowd, this trope of the reluctant dissenter cloaking his parries and thrusts in apologies is de rigueur.

Men like the Apostle Paul said "no" and that's bad. Men like the Apostle Peter said it was good for women to call their husbands "lord," but hear me, please. I'm not that type of a man. I apologize for those men before me who said "no" to women because they were insecure brutes. I'm a gentle sort of better sort of sensitive sort of man who gets it about the perniciousness of all the abusive attitudes and restrictive constraints that have permeated the defense of God's Order of Sexuality before me. That's not me; not at all.

Now then, where were we?

Oh yes, discursing oh-so-philosophically around gender and natural law in a way that strokes people who require their truth-tellers to flatter them. Their intelligence, that is.

Such people never read people who command. Their truth-tellers must suggest. Their truth-tellers must never say "no." The negative is only allowed by implication of a whole bunch of flowery verbiage about how wonderful and glorious and tender this and that are, so who in their right mind wouldn't choose this and that?

Roberts responds to those commenting on his piece:

One of the things that has struck me more generally about people’s response to the piece is that many seem to have assumed that I am making normative statements at many points where I am making descriptive ones, or that I am implicitly making normative statements in these descriptive statements. In most of the piece, however, I was chiefly concerned to bring key dimensions of the phenomenon to light, to equip us to make better moral reflections. The normative points can emerge in time, but they don’t follow so straightforwardly from the descriptive statements as many seem to presume that I think they do.

Yup, that's precisely why people come to Baylyblog, don't you know? They're looking for a pastor to equip them to make better moral reflections.

This sort of writing reminds me of the way the Apostle Paul puts things in Romans and Galatians. Also the first fifty or seventy-five pages of City of God and Luther's Bondage of the Will.


This is quintessential Crossway product and their stable of complementarian authors have been churning it out for decades. Nevertheless, they have absolutely nothing to show for it.

Nothing, that is, if their goal has been the reform of an Evangelical and Reformed church drowning in the sins of rebellion, butchness, and effeminacy. It never seems to occur to these men that the way they say things mustn't contradict what they're saying. To them, directness is punch face.

After thirty years watching, I sometimes wonder if the point of National Right to Life isn't to keep the money coming in, just as sometimes I wonder if the point of Gospel Coalition, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Crossway is not to keep selling books saying femininity is nice. What they'll never say is that the butch woman is a rebel against what God made her and thus will not inherit the kingdom of God. After all, in their English Standard Version they wouldn't allow the Apostle Paul to say that the effeminate man will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In their effeminate world of philosophical gobbledygook, God's condemnation of soft men is a truth that may not be uttered even (or especially) when God Himself said it. 

Read the article and keep reading all the comments, noting that this is the website of Gospel Coalition and the commenters are their constituents. There may be a troll or two, but most of them are sympathetic. There are many lessons to be learned on that page, but the most important one is the pervasiveness of flattery of every sort among this crowd. People who tell writers how great they are tell those writers how great they are because those writers tell those people to tell them how great they are. Right-ho?

Now then, TTFN.

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There is, indeed, nothing that man’s nature seeks more eagerly than to be flattered. Accordingly, when his nature becomes aware that its gifts are highly esteemed, it tends to be unduly credulous about them. (John Calvin, Institutes; II:1:2)

Tim Bayly

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

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!