Thursday, July 15, 2010

Only hard to believe if you don't believe the Bible...

Recently Sojourners ran an article by a woman named Anne Eggebroten who was shocked that Grace Community Church (John MacArthur, pastor) actually practices what the Bible teaches about male leadership in the home and church. Now, this isn't exactly new. Movements like "evangelical feminism" have been around a few years challenging the plain reading of Old and New Testaments regarding the God-designed complementary roles of men and women. What becomes clear is that evangelical feminists like Miss Eggebroten will either torture or simply dismiss those passages of Scripture which interfere with their opinions.

Al Mohler weighs in on Miss Eggebroten's article:

In “The Persistence of Patriarchy,” Eggebroten writes about “the wide reach” of complementarian views of manhood and womanhood among conservative Christians. Her article is subtitled: “Hard to believe, but some churches are still teaching about male headship.” Hard to believe?

Can anyone really be surprised that this is so? In some sense, it might be surprising to the generally liberal readership of Sojourners, but it can hardly be surprising to anyone with the slightest attachment to evangelical Christianity. Nevertheless, Anne Eggebroten’s article represents what I call a “National Geographic moment” — an example of someone discovering the obvious and thinking it exotic and strange. It is like a reporter returning from travel to far country to explain the strange tribe of people she found there — evangelical Christians believing what the Christian church has for 2,000 years believed the Bible to teach and require. So . . . what is so exotic?

She begins her article at Grace Community Church in California, where, in her words, “God is male, all the pastors, deacons, and elders are male, and women are taught to live in submission to men.” That is a snappy introduction, to be sure, but it requires some unpacking. When Eggebroten says that, at this well-known evangelical church “God is male,” she is echoing the arguments of the late radical feminist Mary Daly, who famously asserted that “if God is male, then male is God.” At Grace Community Church, as in the Bible, references to God are masculine, but God is not claimed to be male. Interestingly, she also missed the fact that Grace considers the role of the deacon in terms of service, rather than authority, so women in fact do serve as deacons with responsibility for particular ministries...

Eggebroten argues that the church has simply perpetuated the patriarchal traditions of the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures that formed the social context for the early Christian church. Against these she contrasts the Apostle Paul’s beautiful declaration in Galations 3:28 — “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

But this is the kind of sloppy and agenda-driven exegesis that reveals the desperation of those who would reject the New Testament’s limitation of the office of pastor to men. In Galatians 3:28 Paul is clearly speaking of salvation — not of service in the church. Paul is declaring to believers the great good news that “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” [verse 26]. He concludes by affirming, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” [verse 29].

To read Galatians 3:28 the way Eggebroten reads the verse, you would have to believe that the Apostle Paul was in direct contradiction with himself, when he restricts the teaching office to men in letters such as 1 Timothy and Titus.

Or . . . you can try to deny that Paul actually wrote those latter letters. Eggebroten accuses conservative evangelicals of ignoring “evidence that the ‘pastoral epistles’ (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were written in honor of Paul long after he died and reflect a second-century debate over women’s roles in the church–whether to conform to social customs for the sake of winning converts, or to advocate radical social equality (and even celibacy) in the last days before the Second Coming.”

What this reveals, of course, is the argument of many evangelical feminists that we can discard the teachings of the Pastoral Epistles. We can keep the Apostle Paul we like (taking Galatians 3:28 out of context, for example) and disregard the Paul we do not like.

Read Mohler's entire article HERE.

Theological liberals have always dismissed the authority of Scripture. That is nothing new. What seems to be new is the number of those claiming the title "evangelical" who openly deny the truthfulness and authority of God's Word.

In recent posts I have noted the aggressive agenda at Biologos to rid the church of the doctrine of inerrancy by certain biblical scholars who claim to believe in the inspiration and authority of Scripture. But their own words testify against them.

One contributor denies the historicity of Adam and Eve. Interestingly enough, this same scholar was, only a few years ago, claiming to believe some of the very things he now denies. Another contributor claims that Scripture is in need of redemption, that it is "broken" and "warped." It is little wonder then that he also writes, "I have no interest in preserving Christianity ... I believe because, as I understand it, it makes sense of human experience. But if it turns out that Christianity fails to do that, I’ll simply turn elsewhere."

It is clear that without the Scriptures as our infallible guide we will inevitably look to what "makes sense" to us as that guide. If I don't like the fact that God used his people to be the means of judging wicked and depraved nations then I will simply say those passages of the Bible are immoral. If I don't like the fact that Jesus and Paul believed in the historicity of Adam and Eve then I will simply say that the Lord and His apostle were wrong. If I don't like what the Bible teaches about God putting his Son forth as our substitute to bear away His wrath in our stead (the heart of the gospel) then I will simply dismiss it as does the previously referenced scholar.

Gleason Archer warned that if we deny Scripture's inerrancy then we will replace the authority of God's Word with the authority of our own judgments.

Update - Okay, so I edited out a comment about Sojourners that some may realistically interpret as a slight against anyone who reads or benefits in some way from said magazine. That was not my intention. However, I am troubled by the position on Scripture that Sojourners tends to take.


Mike said...

"I have no interest in preserving Christianity ... I believe because, as I understand it, it makes sense of human experience. But if it turns out that Christianity fails to do that, I’ll simply turn elsewhere."

I find this an interesting says many things if you peel back the surface... truth, belief, theological pragmatism, rationalism, science, etc. It seems like, for this person, Christianity is "true enough"..for now, but when it ceases to sufficiently reflect the human experience then it has to be abandoned.

I think for those who believe in biblical inerrancy there will never be enough evidence to convince them otherwise because truth is always seen through and explained by scripture...for those who believe that the Bible is "true enough", i.e. there always remains the possibility for seeing truth from another pespective when faced with what they see as overwhelming evidence to the contrary of what the Bible teaches and therefore abondonment of this view of seems like a circular argument to me.

If ultimately all of us are asking "what is true?" and one group says "the Bible, period" and the other group says "the Bible with certain understanding of history, language, culture, etc. so that we feel it is mostly true." I don't think that these views can be resolved...they are fundamentally (not just on the surface)different.

ccsoaper said...
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Anonymous said...

I read the entire article the other day when Mohler posted it on Facebook, and I highly enjoyed it, but what concerns me is this attitude of not just liberal feminists? In other words, is it possible that this creeps more and more to mainline conservative, evangelical churches? I know that if you know your Bible, know how God has revealed Himself through the Scriptures, then you can laugh at this lady. But not every evangelical knows their Bible, and some if not masses of them want to stay ignorant to people like Ms. Eggebroten. Just a thought I had the other day.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike there is no doubt that the inerrantist and errantist views of Scripture are fundamentally at odds. One view holds God's Word to be the one infallable guide to truth. Therefore, the inerrantist believes that perceived errors or contraditions are just that - perceived.

The errantist view, on the other hand, holds the individual to be a higher standard of truth than Scripture - "as I understand it, [Christianity] makes sense of human experience. But if it turns out that Christianity fails to do that, I'll simply turn elsewhere."

rmc said...

Recently Sojourners (Jim Wallace's magazine for people who don't much care for the Bible but still want to be called "evangelical")... Have you considered what the inerrant word of God has to say about slander and stereotyping? Have you considered the Biblical principles that are to govern how people are to respect one another in their differences at Jim Wallace's blog site?

Todd Pruitt said...


I do not consider what I wrote slander at all. I have read Sojourners. It is my opinion that they do not have a high regard for Scripture. Sorry if that bothers you. But the article that Mohler comments on is a perfect example of this pattern.

Todd Pruitt said...


What is more, if you do not like polemical or confrontational language being used to confront error then you will need to avoid the pages of Scripture.

rmc said...

Oh really. Putting all people who find some benefit in Jim Wallace's magazine into a category, that is not stereotyping? And then taking all of these people, like myself who find some benefit in Jim Wallace's magazine, and without knowing each individual and what it is that they find helpful in Sojourners, that is not slander, that is not guilt by association, that is the love of God in action?

Todd Pruitt said...


I was not commenting on all people who find some value in Jim Wallace into any category. I was commenting on the positions that the magazine takes with regard to the Scriptures. This is serious stuff. When the trustworthiness of the Scriptures is challenged or denied it is very serious. I do not for one minute think that everyone who reads Sojourners agrees with their take on the Scriptures but I stand by my assessment of Sojourners the magazine.