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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Complementarianism Central to the Gospel?

One of the fruits from the Together for the Gospel Conference was the publication of Gospel Affirmations and Denials. This document does not come close to listing all of the possible doctrinal discussions people could have (nor does it intend to), but keeps the conversation to those things they consider most critical to the gospel message. It seems that Article XVI has brought a lot of heat:

Article XVI

We affirm that the Scripture reveals a pattern of complementary order between men and women, and that this order is itself a testimony to the Gospel, even as it is the gift of our Creator and Redeemer. We also affirm that all Christians are called to service within the body of Christ, and that God has given to both men and women important and strategic roles within the home, the church, and the society. We further affirm that the teaching office of the church is assigned only to those men who are called of God in fulfillment of the biblical teachings and that men are to lead in their homes as husbands and fathers who fear and love God.

We deny that the distinction of roles between men and women revealed in the Bible is evidence of mere cultural conditioning or a manifestation of male oppression or prejudice against women. We also deny that this biblical distinction of roles excludes women from meaningful ministry in Christ's kingdom. We further deny that any church can confuse these issues without damaging its witness to the Gospel. (emphasis mine)
Today, Mark Dever shared about this issue on the T4G Blog. Two paragraphs which I found profound were:
"Well then" you might say "why don't you leave this issue of complementarianism at the level of baptism or church polity? Surely you cooperate with those who disagree with you on such matters." Because, though I could be wrong, it is my best and most sober judgment that this position is effectively an undermining of--a breach in--the authority of Scripture. As Lig the paedo-baptist has often said "If there were a verse in I Timothy saying 'I do not permit an infant to be baptized . . .' we wouldn't be having this conversation about baptism! There is such a verse about women serving as teacher/elders!"

Dear reader, you may not agree with me on this. And I don't desire to be right in my fears. But it seems to me and others (many who are younger than myself) that this issue of egalitarianism and complementarianism is increasingly acting as the watershed distinguishing those who will accomodate Scripture to culture, and those who will attempt to shape culture by Scripture. You may disagree, but this is our honest concern before God. It is no lack of charity, nor honesty. It is no desire for power or tradition for tradition's sake. It is our sober conclusion from observing the last 50 years.
I'd encourage you to check out the entire article here.

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