Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Egalitarian/Complementarian Divide (Part V)

Shaping Influences:
The Influence of Culture
Sacred and secular cultures have had massive impacts on Evangelicals, and as a result, have influenced the gender debate. It is common to hear how much secular culture and liberalism have influenced Egalitarianism or how Egalitarianism will inevitably lead Evangelicals down the path to liberalism or even the acceptance of homosexuality. Massive amounts of effort has been dedicated towards making this alleged reality known and warning the faithful of the danger of falling down the slippery slope. For example, Grudem, the founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, has clearly dedicated himself to such a cause by pumping out works with titles such as: Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?, Evangelicalism and Biblical Truth, Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism, and Is Evangelical Feminism the New Path to Liberalism? Some Disturbing Warning Signs.

Other authors are subtle in expressing their fears of liberalism or the decline of Scriptural authority. For instance, Thomas Schreiner hints at his thoughts throughout his critique of William Webb (who does believe all we need for faith and practice can be found in Scripture). Schreiner continually characterizes Egalitarians as continually promoting “new thesis” and contrasts this with the traditional view (his view) that apparently does not need to be continually defended because it does not change. “Is the goal of publishing to write what is true or what is new? One of the dangers of evangelical publishing is the desire to say something novel.” After giving a fantastic Egalitarian positions not widely held, he gives a kind introduction of Webb before ending his introduction with “but I think all will agree that the book attempts to break new ground on the women’s issue” (all emphasis in Schreiner’s writings are mine).[1]

Kostenberger ends his review of the works of Egalitarians Roger Nicole and Gordon Fee by characterizing them as dishonest. “Personally, I do not think the end justified the means, nor is the pride paid worth the possible gain…In the end, this debate is about truth, not politics; about exegetical responsibility, not propaganda…We ought not to trivialize the issue by substituting rhetoric for substance. We ought not to marginalize the issue by obscuring the clarity of Scripture.”[2] Egalitarianism is thought to be a new, novel or even sinister force that has come to displace Biblical authority. Even authors admitted to be contributing good scholarship (as Schreiner said of Webb) are also understood within a certain negative backdrop or framework. Many Complementarians believe Egalitarians have read back into Scripture what is at heart a secular ideology, even if Egalitarians do this inadvertently. Mary Kassian expresses this sentiment all over her chapter titled “The Slippery Slope” in her book titled The Feminist Gospel.

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