Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Egalitarian/Complementarian Divide (PartI)


Allison Quient wrote this for her "Scripture, Hermeneutics & Theology" class. I think it is quite good.

Introduction
It has frequently been claimed that understanding the differences in hermeneutical approach is key to illuminating the barriers that now divide the Egalitarian from the Complementarian when it comes to women in ministry.[1] However, the two groups, as Evangelicals, adhere to the same basic hermeneutical principles, but apply them in different ways because the shaping principles that constitute their positions differ as a result of their understandings of specific texts.[2] This paper aims to identify what the different shaping principles and influences of Evangelical Complementarianism and Egalitarianism are in order to understand more clearly how they influence the recent debate.
Differences within a Common Foundation
The “Shaping Principles”
In the midst of all the confusion over the definition of  ‘equality,’ Egalitarians andComplementarians share a common component in their definition. While traditional Christian patriarchy taught that a woman’s nature was ontologically inferior,[3] both Egalitarians and Complementarians believe men and women are ontologically equal in value and worth as persons before God. Egalitarian author Rebecca Groothuis defines equality as “the fundamental biblical principle that every human being stands on equal ground before God; there is no group of persons that is inherently more or less worthy than another.”[4] In summarizing the Egalitarian position, Robert Johnston provides the following as part of how the nature of a woman is to be understood under the concept of equality: “Gen 1:26, 27 recounts how God made male and female in his image. Man and woman were to be a fellowship of equals like the fellowship within the Godhead…and were given joint responsibilities (Gen 1:28).”[5] In 1977, George Knight III was the first hierarchalist to put a Complementarian perspective into print. Based off of the fact that man and woman are both made in the image of God, he articulates: “Thus both by creation and now also by redemption that renews that created image quality, the unity and equality of male and female are most fundamentally affirmed.”[6] Wayne Grudem continues this sentiment when he says, “If men and women are equally in the image of God, then we are equally important and equally valuable to God…God’s evaluation is the true standard of personal value for all eternity.”[7] He lists this idea first among key issues and presentations of the Complementarian view. Clearly, equality in essence is important to both theological perspectives and both would define it in relation to God.

For the rest (and there is a lot), click HERE.

--Nick

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