Why I Remain Unconvinced

Why?Why do I remain unconvinced of the complementarian perspective on the status of women in the church?

I remain unconvinced of the complementarian arguments, whether from the Bible, common sense or otherwise, because I have alternate arguments explaining difficult Bible passages. These alternate explanations arise from careful Bible study and well established rules for interpreting the Bible. These explanations are in harmony with historical orthodox Christian documents, and embrace the Presbyterian view of church and body life that all members have the Holy Spirit and contribute to the health of the whole body to the exclusion of personal/individual authority.

Most importantly, these egalitarian biblical explanations are in harmony with the gospel and person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why wouldn’t I choose to commit myself to such an explanation?

why not3Why wouldn’t you?

Why wouldn’t you embrace an explanation of difficult Bible passages about the status of women in the church, society and home that eagerly include women as the equal partners in function that you claim they are in being? Why not?

So, what would it take for me to change my mind?

I hope if I heard explanations of how my egalitarian biblical rationale violated well established and reformed rules for interpreting the Scripture, and how this rationale was not in harmony with orthodox and reformed Christian creeds and confessions, and a Presbyterian view of church and body life, all put to me in a loving way, I might be swayed.

Most importantly, if I heard how my egalitarian biblical rationale was in conflict with the gospel and person of our Lord Jesus Christ, I hope I would be provoked to deep thought and intense internal reexamination of my own thought and motives.

But I haven’t heard that.

I’ve hear about how wrong I am. I’ve heard re-explanations of the complementarian biblical rationale over and over. I’ve heard how wrong it is for me to question or study the Bible for myself. But I haven’t heard how my egalitarian biblical rationale is wrong, is unbiblical, is out of tune with orthodox and reformed Christianity and a Presbyterian perspective on church life. Most importantly, I haven’t heard how my egalitarian biblical rationale is in conflict with the gospel and person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I remain unconvinced.

Unlikely Partners

Complementarians usually want to distance themselves from the LGBTQ cause as far as they can. Yet, I believe they subtly strengthen the LGBT case by accepting their presuppositions.

 

How does the complementarian rationale/position aid and abet the LGBTQ cause?

 

 

 

1) Complementarianism misidentifies the LGBTQ cause as an equality issue when it is NOT!

Women’s Equality in the church LGBTQ Issues

in God’s Image Short of his glory

(Genesis 1:26-27) (Romans 3:23)

social class – ethnic/racial heritage – sex ………………………..

…………………………………lying – murder – sexual immorality

(Gal.3:28) (Rom.1:24-32; Rev.22:15)

Sex Gender

Being Doing

Identity Conduct/Behavior

If women are recognized as equal members of the church beside men, will homosexuality follow next? This is a question being asked loudly by those who are committed to the complementarian view. It makes it seem as if the two causes are adamantly opposed to each other. Yet, I am beginning to see they have much in common.

Right along with the LGBT crowd, complementarians assume that the LGBT cause is an issue of equality. When complementarians use the slippery slope argument that equality for women in the church will lead to the acceptance of homosexual conduct and same sex marriage in the church, they place both issues directly into the equality category.

In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood this same question is posed indirectly:

“#26. Q: Doesn’t Paul’s statement that “There is . . . neither male nor female . . . for you are all one in Christ Jesus”[1] take away gender as a basis for distinction of roles in the church?

A: No. Most evangelicals still agree that this text is not a warrant for homosexuality.”[2]

Did you have to go back and reread that once or twice? I certainly did. A very abrupt turn in thinking was taken and I got lost.

This answer puts the full participation of women along side the men in the church in exactly the same category as homosexual conduct. It accepts ‘homosexuality’ as an identity just like ‘male’ and ‘female’.

But there is no slippery slope because homosexual conduct is no more related to women’s full and complete participation in the church than is lying or murder. Lying and murder are sinful acts, just as is nonconformity to Christian sexual morality. Being female is just that – being.

2) Complementarianism emphasizes that the proper ‘Christian’ behavior of male & female persons must fit into very narrow modes of conduct or ‘roles’.

When complementarians paint extensive and detailed portraits of how exactly a Christian male &/or female looks and behaves, it moves the male/female sexes from identity into the category of behavior.

The complementarians are big on ‘roles’. But ‘role’ means the ‘part acted’, not the innate personhood of being. Consequently, if someone acts outside the mandated ‘Christian’ male/female ‘roles’ prescribed by complementarians, they – themselves and others – may begin to wonder if they are really the male or female person they were born as. They may doubt their identity based on their behavior and consequently feel pushed away from the Christian faith.

Identity is based on creation. Our sexual identity is based on our characteristics at birth, our physical genitalia, the reproductive system we were born with. Women’s full and complete equality with men in the church is an identity/equality issue. The LGBTQ cause is a behavior issue. They are NOT the same.

What do you think? Please comment on Facebook.



[1] Gal. 3:28.

[2] Piper and Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, #26 A, 71.

I waited for the Lord . . . I spoke out

I waited for the Lord . . .

My lips he gave a song, a song to praise our God . . .

I spoke out . . .

Psalm 40 (NIV) For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”

9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.

You are my help. You are my God!

 

About Men & Women Together

#12 in response to

I know that God’s timing is perfect. I know He works all things together for good for those who love Him. I know all his ways are just. I thank Him and praise Him for these truths!

Yet from my human perspective I believe the rejection of the 1938 paper On the Ordination of Women Elders was a serious misstep in the history of the RPCNA. We could have led the way, as we had on the issue of slavery, on the issue of women deacons. But instead, we stayed mired in tradition.

I have no doubt that J.G.Vos did indeed contribute much to the continual renewal of the RPCNA, as did many others, but this pamphlet, Are Women Elders Scriptural?, does not fall into that category. Here the RPCNA capitulated to Vos’ high visibility, respect & academic reputation to take our entire denomination away from berean indepth study of the Bible and back into just accepting what ‘experts’ say; away from sola scriptura and back into tradition; away from the full and free embrace and application of the gospel and back into the yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)


But that was then and this is now. Let’s not make that mistake again. Let’s forget the past and press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.

Currently there is a paper on this same topic entitled What the Bible Teaches about Men and Women Together by Bruce Hemphill. This paper was submitted to the Presbytery of the Alleghenies through the Covenant Fellowship congregation session at their Spring 2015 Presbytery meeting. The paper was referred on to a Judical Committee and then returned to the author without any recommendation that it be studied of even read. It will also be submitted to the MidWest Presbytery at its Fall 2015 meeting by Ron Stegall through the Christ Covenant congregation session. I pray and trust that both of these presbyteries will pass the paper along to Synod for further study and action. This is a great opportunity for our denomination to provide Bible centered leadership to not only the RPCNA, but to the greater Christian community on a very timely subject and all its related issues.

The Hemphill paper ends with this question:

“If there is an interpretation of Scripture which teaches the full equality of women with men, both spiritually before God and socially in the settings of church, home, and society, an interpretation which is derived by using long established and accepted rules for the interpretation of Scripture, an argument which aligns and harmonizes with the central gospel message of the Bible as defined and articulated by the historical tenets of the orthodox and reformed Christian faith, while treating each Scripture portion with integrity and respect, why would we not choose to embrace such an interpretation?”

Why indeed!


 

 

I Beg to Differ

It has come to my attention that some within the RPCNA feel I have acted outside my membership vows by critiquing the RP Witness article by Professor Barry York, J.G. Vos’ Work of Renewal in the RPCNA. Of course, I am sorry for offending anyone. I wish there were no controversy at all over this issue of the status of women in the church. But there can only be unity within God’s truth as revealed in his Word.

I have the utmost respect for Professor York, Dr. Vos and Philip Martin, as well as the members of the 1938 synod committee who authored On the Ordination of Women Elders. I am thankful for the work they have all done in the RPCNA, both now and in the past. I believe them all to be true brother-believers, all of us seeking only to glorify our triune God in everything we do, while recognizing our fallible natures this side of Christ’s perfecting work at his second coming.

My aim has not been to accuse, but only to critique one small bit of publicly published work. Anything I have written or spoken is also open to critique by any who read. In fact, I welcome response and discussion and have often asked for it. (I have asked people to comment via Facebook or to my private email <rkstegall@gmail.com> only because I do not have the means to accept comments on this blog.)

My aim is only to comment on Scripture. Throughout my writing I have asked my readers repeatedly to “examine the scriptures to see if these things are true.” (Acts 17:11)

I do beg to differ. I ask to be allowed to speak. I request a hearing. I hope for dialogue.

I want very much to remain faithful to my Covenant of Church Membership and vow #4 specifically:

“Do you promise to submit in the Lord to the teaching and government of this church as being based upon the Scriptures and described in substance in the Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America? Do you recognize your responsibility to work with others in the church and do you promise to support and encourage them in their service to the Lord? In case you should need correction in doctrine or life, do you promise to respect the authority and discipline of the church?” I do.

At the heart of this vow is a reliance on Scripture as the primary & ultimate authority for all things we do in the church. So I have always felt that discussing Scripture is always not only OK, but invited, supported and encouraged within the RPCNA. (WCF 1.9 & 10; RPCNA Testimony 1.19) I have never set myself up as the final authority on anything. I have never claimed any special teaching prerogative. I have claimed Paul’s words as my own and try to follow his example, “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1 Cor. 2:1-3)

If I am wrong in my studies of the Bible, I am eager to listen to alternate viewpoints, examine them in the same way I urge others (and in the same way the RPCNA has always urged me) to examine what I say – in the light of Scripture.

Covenant of Church Membership #1 – “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old & New Testament to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and life?” I do.

Pray Also for Me

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. . . .Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Eph. 3:6, 6:19-20)

 

Ain’t I a gentile?

My Defense

It has come to my attention that some within the RPCNA feel I have acted outside my membership vows by critiquing the RP Witness article by Professor Barry York, J.G. Vos’ Work of Renewal in the RPCNA. Of course, I am sorry for offending anyone. I wish there were no controversy at all over this issue of the status of women in the church. But there can only be unity within God’s truth as revealed in his Word.

I have the utmost respect for Professor York, Dr. Vos and Philip Martin, as well as the members of the 1938 synod committee who authored On the Ordination of Women Elders. I am thankful for the work they have all done in the RPCNA, both now and in the past. I believe them all to be true brother-believers, all of us seeking only to glorify our triune God in everything we do, while recognizing our fallible natures this side of Christ’s perfecting work at his second coming.

My aim has not been to accuse, but only to critique one small bit of publicly published work. Anything I have written or spoken is also open to critique by any who read. In fact, I welcome response and discussion and have often asked for it. (I have asked people to comment via Facebook or to my private email <rkstegall@gmail.com> only because I do not have the means to accept comments on this blog.)

My aim is only to comment on Scripture. Throughout my writing I have asked my readers repeatedly to “examine the scriptures to see if these things are true.” (Acts 17:11)

I want very much to remain faithful to my Covenant of Church Membership and vow #4 specifically:

“Do you promise to submit in the Lord to the teaching and government of this church as being based upon the Scriptures and described in substance in the Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America? Do you recognize your responsibility to work with others in the church and do you promise to support and encourage them in their service to the Lord? In case you should need correction in doctrine or life, do you promise to respect the authority and discipline of the church?” I do.

At the heart of this vow is a reliance on Scripture as the primary & ultimate authority for all things we do in the church. So I have always felt that discussing Scripture is always not only OK, but invited, supported and encouraged within the RPCNA. (WCF 1.9 & 10; RPCNA Testimony 1.19) I have never set myself up as the final authority on anything. I have never claimed any special teaching prerogative. I have claimed Paul’s words as my own and try to follow his example, “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1 Cor. 2:1-3)

If I am wrong in my studies of the Bible, I am eager to listen to alternate viewpoints, examine them in the same way I urge others (and in the same way the RPCNA has always urged me) to examine what I say – in the light of Scripture.

Covenant of Church Membership #1 – “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old & New Testament to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and life?” I do.

What Paul is Saying

#10 in response to

 

What is Paul Writing?

“If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.” (1 Cor. 14:37-38)

Good point. What IS Paul writing? Let’s just look at the uncontested part of what he is writing.

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.” (1 Cor. 14:26)

And please remember that ‘brothers’ includes women. ‘Each one’ includes women.

“For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,. . .” (1 Cor. 14:31)

“So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy,. . .” (1 Cor. 14:39)

Whatever it is Paul is writing he is warning us to pay attention to it.

He is telling us not to listen to those who promote something different.

“If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (1 Cor. 14:37-38)

Because it is the Lord’s Command!

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. . . .

For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. . . . Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, . . .” (1 Cor. 14:26-40)

Paul’s message, ‘what he is writing’, is very clear.

So the overall message to the RPCNA and those who read the Reformed Presbyterian Witness is . . .

  • All members should be able to participate equally in our gatherings through sharing things that will encourage and instruct.
  • All members of the RPCNA should be eager to do these things.
  • We should not listen to the traditional interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:26-40 that requires women to be silent in our assemblies.
  • We should not listen to those who promote this extrabiblical law.

I’m sure York and Vos accept the traditional interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:26-40 because many highly respected theologians from the past accepted and promoted it. But that doesn’t make it the correct. Let’s remember to apply the method of interpretation to which we RPs are committed:

“IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.[23]

X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.[24]” (WCF 1.9 & 10)

Rhetorical Questions

#9 in response to

Rhetorical Questions

[ “Is this command that the women should be silent a directive from Paul for the church, or is it a custom that Paul is really condemning as improper for the body of Christ? Is Paul commending and promoting this practice, or is he refuting and rejecting it?

This question arises from the two rhetorical questions that follow the injunction to silence.

“What? did the word of God originate with you?

What! are you the only people it has reached?” (1 Cor. 14:34-36)

“Paul often uses rhetorical questions. It’s a familiar teaching technique. . . .

Paul uses this technique to demonstrate the falseness of an idea. The rhetorical question reinforces the rejection of the idea under discussion. The answers to the rhetorical questions are obvious. . . .

These rhetorical questions are often used with a small Greek word[1] that expresses disassociation or rejection. Paul introduces both of his questions following the silence injunction with this word. . . .

Below I have given some examples of Paul’s use of this technique of

  • rhetorical questions,
  • introduced by the Greek disjunctive particle,
  • and followed by a summary of the truth . . .

All of these examples are from the book of 1 Corinthians.

  • Paul rejects and refutes the practice of believers idolizing various Christian leaders and thus causing division in the church. . . . (1 Cor. l:12–13, 17)
  • Paul rejects and refutes the practice of believers solving their quarrels by suing each other in civil courts. . . . (1 Cor. 6:1–3, 7–9, 11)
  • Paul rejects and refutes the idea that sexual sin hurts no one: what you do with your own body is your own business, nobody else’s.[2] . . . (1 Cor. 6:15–20)
  • Paul rejects and refutes the idea that it is wrong for him to receive support or money for his work for the gospel. . . . (1 Cor. 9:3–12)
  • Paul rejects and refutes the practice of eating meat offered to idols or participating in idol feasts. . . . (1 Cor. 10:20–22)
  • Paul rejects and refutes the practice of making the Lord’s supper a selfish pleasure feast. . . . (1 Cor. 11:20–22) . . . (1 Cor. 11:26–34)
  • Paul rejects and refutes the idea that women must be silent in the church because their participation is disgraceful. . . . (1 Cor. 14:33–40)

The two rhetorical questions which follow the idea that women should be silent verge on the sarcastic. “Did the word of God originate with you? Are you the only people it has reached?” Today we might have said, “Do you have some special revelation from God? Are you the only people God speaks to?”

The obvious answer is “No!” The word of God did not originate with the Corinthians. The Corinthians were not the only people to receive God’s Word. Far from it. God’s revelation comes to all believers, and it is the same revelation for all believers. The Corinthians had only recently received the gospel. Paul makes it clear in the following verses 37–38 that the Corinthians are the learners here and should humbly accept what Paul is teaching. . . .

  • The nature of the rhetorical questions Paul asks the Corinthians in verse 36,
  • the obvious answer to these questions,
  • Paul’s remarks to those who consider themselves to be spiritually gifted,
  • and his summary statement

all build to show Paul’s rejection of the idea that comes before the questions. “]

(from The Full Rights of Sons, Chapter 13 – Must She be Silent, 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 )

Please comment here or here.

 


[1] ἢ (ē). I first read of this Greek word in Beyond Sex Roles by Gilbert Bilezikian (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, l985), l51.

[2] It is interesting to note that some translators disagree about when to use quotation marks to indicate that Paul is quoting an idea from another source. In 1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23, Paul quotes a saying that was evidently commonly known to the Corinthians. Paul then goes on to modify and clarify its meaning as applied to the Christian life. Yet the translators disagree as to whether this idea should be written in quotation marks or not. The NIV puts the phrase “Everything is permissible” inside quotation marks to show clearly that Paul is quoting someone else. But the KJV and the NASB do not use quotation marks for this phrase.

The original Greek language evidently does not make it explicitly clear, through some sort of punctuation as in English, when Paul is quoting another source. Consequently, it must be deduced from the context whether Paul is quoting an external idea he himself did not originate or stating his own idea.

Dis – Dis – Dis . . .

Disjunctive.

Disassociative.

An exclamation of disbelief.

Dis – dis – dis!

“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

What? did the word of God originate with you? What! are you the only people it has reached?” (1 Cor. 14:34-36)

 

 

My 8th Response to