Divine Order in the Church

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by alexandermsmith, May 14, 2019.

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  1. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m eager to agree but I’d like to press just a tiny bit more. :)

    You wrote and I agree, “I don't at all believe that the divine order for the church is opposed to nature...”

    But my question is not merely whether the two are compatible (ie not in opposition to each other), but rather whether the created order as it relates to the sexes happily complies with God’s ordering of church and family government. In other words, I’m not asking whether church government as revealed in Scripture denies the created order, which we agree it doesn’t. Rather, I’m asking whether it is fitting that God calls men to be ordained as opposed to women. I think it is.
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Is Paul arguing nature there, or is he arguing Scripture? He's clearly arguing Scripture, because nature couldn't tell us anything about the creation's order. The best men have come up with to hold those notions is sieve-like evolutionary theory. We know about the creation's order because the Bible tells us so.

    Nature red in tooth and claw is natural, which is why death is supposed to be just part of the "circle of life." Many males of the animal world subjugate the females, in order to mate with them; and they fight off their competition in a violent struggle for gene pool advantage. Is that what humans should do, because nature? In other parts of the animal world, the males are drones, whose goal is to inseminate; from there they turn into handy protein snacks for the female. Again, should nature guide us...?

    My point is not to come up with reasons why nature fails to offer helpful analogies, when clearly it can and does. But to show that it only does so as supplemental, and selectively, for supporting the intelligible propositions of Scriptural argument. Paul does not reason from nature, but selectively appeals to a portion of nature as proof that his argument is not without some analogous precedent. But the fact that he's selective shows us that one is not free to argue carelessly from the opposite direction.
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  3. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    That's what I was trying to get at with the distinction between created order and nature. So yes that's helpful. But it's surely more than a mere positive command. The argument does appeal to how we were created, and the purpose of our creation, does it not? The command not to eat of the tree of knowledge was a purely positive command: there was nothing inherent in the tree which lead to this command. Paul's command is more than a mere command: he does appeal to ontology in his argumentation, albeit an ontology which is revealed in Scripture. Or am I wrong?
  4. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    “We know about the creation's order because the Bible tells us so.”

    We know much about the created order both by general and special revelation. Romans one presupposes such knowledge in the declaring of culpability for those who would exchange the natural use of things for shameful acts.

  5. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    In 1Tim.2:11ff, Paul appeals to creational order taught in Holy Scripture to support his argument for a specific order in the church. He does not appeal to nature itself, or to any supposed self-evident or iron law of nature derivable from reason by all sorts of men. In other words, he does not argue (as we do see him argue once in 1Cor.11:14) that "nature itself teaches."

    It isn't even the same kind of appeal, since no indubitable theory of origins could always have prioritized the male. I can conceive a rational, evolutionary argument that prioritizes a "female principle," on the supposition that a single bisxual organism morphed to "outsource" the "male-service" for an alleged biological advantage.

    I think it is a mistake to decide for the propriety of borrowing Paul's appeal used by him to support church-order, and putting it to service of supporting all/any other social orders. As a biblical absolutist, I want to take Paul's narrow appeal, and fearlessly wield it against all those forms of rationalization that would compromise precisely on that plain and unambiguous point which he makes.

    For, if I grant that the other side then tries to mock my stance, by pointing to some "inconsistency" alleged in my vote for a female Congressperson--I deny the validity of his argument. I don't allow that there is some universally derivable principle embedded in Paul's position at all. He makes one argument, and I won't budge on it.

    Alternatively, however, there are some who follow the other side in their supposed logic. Who then feel compelled to "get consistent," by accepting the idea that "I can't vote for her," or "women shouldn't be CEOs," or whatever. I'm not compelled to put my belief in the connection of creation-order as it relates to church, or to family (for which I will happily produce other arguments), all in the same basket pertaining to social convention. I never agreed to take Paul's logic in 1Tim.2:11ff, and apply it to everything.
  6. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Nature supports biblical/scritptual reality certainly and should only be used as a secondary support. I’d be shocked if anyone in our camp would argue that. I think the argument comes in denying a secondary support application.
  7. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Should women vote? I say no...
  8. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    So, goodbye, 19th Amendment (USA); because nature?
  9. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Actually, that’s not accurate. Both sides would consider themselves complementarian.
  10. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

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  11. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  12. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    No, because scripture... Men are the head of household, no?

    19th Amendment. After this amendment was ratified in 1920, all women in the U.S. were allowed to vote. In 1787, men were always considered head of the household. Only they could vote. But women were becoming better educated. By 1848, they were working together to gain voting rights. Lawmakers were finally convinced 72 years later that women could vote as intelligently as men.”

    Do I sound unChristian? I think we could lose our credibility in some of these other areas. It’s tied to women working. These are not favorable conditions for the Christian ideal standard. But I’m sure I’m wrong on this
  13. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

  14. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    I did read the article in its entirety and I do understand his point. And I don't at all begrudge his stance. He makes fair points. But he does in fact disavow the title "Complementarian." Which demonstrates that your assertion, that they all "consider themselves Complementarian" is not accurate. Some have made a conscious decision to disavow the term.
  15. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    You wrote: Having followed the debate, it often seemed to me that Byrd et al. made a deliberate and calculated effort to insist that ESS was an essential part of Complementarianism; insinuating (and sometimes outright saying) that they must go hand-in-hand. In this way, they could characterize Complementarian views of gender roles as inherently heterodox. And it did not matter how often Complementarian voices insisted ESS was not a sine qua non of Complementarianism, their opponents would just keep saying it.​

    I find that to be a misrepresentation of the truth and a dreadful claim. Surely your “and others” must include Liam Goligher, but he professes to be a Complementarian. Did Liam Goligher, the most vocal opponent of ESS, make a “deliberate and calculated effort to insist that EES was an essential part of Complementarianism; insinuating (and sometimes outright saying) that…” the two must go hand in hand? Wouldn't that be ludicrous given that he is a self-avowed Complementarian and rejects EES? Moreover, the motive you’ve pinned to these folks could no way be indexed to him.

    When I pointed out that both sides would consider themselves Complementarian, I could care less whether they’d own the term. It’s not whether they accept the label but whether they accept the meaning of the label. (There are Calvinists who’ll never accept the label “Calvinist” who nonetheless hold to the doctrines that the Five Points contemplate. That doesn’t make them not Calvinists, does it? They’re Calvinists whether they know it or not; whether they accept the term or not.)

    The point is both sides are Complementarians – whether they know it or not. (The Baptists in this discussion are much more than that, but that’s another matter.) Moreover, it was two months after the ink starting spilling all over the place on this matter that Todd Pruitt announced: Since hearing it for the first time I always liked the word complementarian to describe myself in reference to how the Bible frames the differences and similarities between males and females.

    So, why did Pruitt finally then reject the label? It’s because now he believes that “the word complementarian is freighted with unacceptable doctrine concerning the Trinity and speculations about the roles of males and females in the new creation.” Pruitt is simply wrong. The word isn’t freighted with unacceptable Trinitarian doctrine. It’s the EES crowd who is freighted with unacceptable Trinitiarian doctrine. By your own admission, presupposed in the motives you ascribed to Byrd et al., Complementarianism has nothing to do with one’s view of the Trinity. The meaning of the term didn’t change simply because certain Complementarians have a more robust view of male headship. The term Complementarian always had minimal meaning – see Westminster Theological Journal, Spring 1990, Robert Letham on The Man-Woman Debate: Theological Comment. As such, Pruitt remains a Complementarian, like it or not. The only question is whether he is more than that, but he’s certainly not less than that.

    But Pastor, that is hardly my concern. I’ll roll with your view of Complementarianism (C), whatever that is - let's call it robust-C. You made the point that Byrd et al. intentionally set out to make robust-C inherent to the unorthodox teaching of the ESS. By doing so, they calculated that they could tumble over robust-C by taking out ESS. That's a serious offense if true.

    I’ve always wondered whether this whole debate was ever really about the Trinity, but I would be hard pressed to make such a claim as you just have. Moreover, the claim falls flat given that a non-robust-C is held in principle by Pruitt (while denying the label), and Goligher calls himself a Complementarian.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  16. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Sorry, I'm not seeing an argument here. What is the Scriptural reasoning for the leap from premise 1: "Scripturally speaking, men are the head of household,"
    --premise 2 .....
    --premise 3 .....
    to the conclusion: Women should not vote?

    not sure whether you think that women voting in the church leads (inexorably) to the "next step," which must be deaconesses...
  17. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I’m just saying, good, bad or neutral, everything has a starting point... Roles are evolving. The article I linked shows a lack of respect for church order (from within). I guess we’ll see. I’m not sure what the properly defined roles should even be anymore, both in and outside the church for husband and wife, man and woman.
  18. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think it's indisputable that giving women the vote has, overall, been hugely negative. Some might argue: give them the vote but don't let them stand for election. Perhaps that would have been better but, in the long run, probably not. This is not to say that there haven't been many women who were God-fearing, conservative ladies who voted appropriately. But we are talking net positive/negative.

    I think a very clear Christian case can be made for denying women the vote. But I wouldn't argue it's required by Scripture, however wise it may be. I think largely this is a question of politics. Egalitarianism is clearly unBiblical and so these issues become a matter of wisdom rather than doctrine. It should always be pointed out in this discussion that before women were granted the vote in our countries many men were also unable to vote. To paint this in terms of "sexism" or a "battle of the sexes" is wrong.
  19. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Unfortunately our whole understanding of this issue has been distorted by the culture wars and the various reactions within the evangelical world. I could be wrong on this but my impression is that up until the 50s/60s Christians, even society at large, wouldn't have thought about this issue in anything like the way we do today; they probably would find our contemporary discussions rather alien. The whole issue has been "ideologised". I think of my own denomination which, I think one can say, is certainly amongst the most conservative denominations in the UK and quite thoroughly holds to male headship not only in spiritual matters but the whole gamut of human life and yet the way the conversation is had in the broader evangelical community is quite foreign to our own thinking on this issue. The idea of needing books to explain in minute detail how men are to govern their families (to the absurd extent of a 10 step guide to smacking which, I'm sorry, sounds immensely creepy) would be unthinkable. I fear the complementarian movement has become "ideologically possessed". It's understandable considering the context but unfortunate nonetheless.
  20. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think C.M. was positing Byrd as a critic of (C). Now, that might not be strictly true as she probably does, technically, subscribe to the basic (C) position of teaching being restricted to men. However, part of this debate is whether she truly does even subscribe to this based on her writings on this subject. I think C.M. was saying that people like Byrd had managed to frame ESS as an inherent part of the "(C) Movement" at large. Not that every individual who claimed to be complementatian held to ESS.
  21. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    1. The “debate” that we’ve been discussing has nothing to do whether Byrd subscribes to C. The summer of 2016 “debate” was primarily over ESS. A subcategory of that debate was whether relations in the Trinity may properly be projected onto the marriage relationship.

    2. It was not just asserted that Byrd et al. intentionally made C a necessary condition for ESS. It was further remarked that this was a calculated move on their part. This way, they could characterize C as heterodox given the heterodoxy of ESS.

    Three comments:

    (A) Fellow Saints were just characterized as having schemed to smear one theological position (C) by refuting another theological position (ESS).

    (B) To add insult to injury, the scheme they’ve been accused of is fallacious. Refuting ESS doesn’t refute C.

    (C) The main spokesman who came out against ESS is a self-avowed C. Accordingly, it would be a bit passing strange if that was their scheme.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  22. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    By "debate" I was not referring to what occurred in 2016 but the discussion we're having on this forum, which began with my post referencing an article recently written by Byrd. That is the context for the discussion we are currently having.

    It is clear from Byrd's writings that she is advocating for some form of "teaching" by women in the church and that she is using the ESS faction within (C) to attack the whole movement.

    Whilst technically it is true one can be a (c) even if one repudiates the title, I would also argue that capital c (C) is something quite distinct (and that distinctness is not ESS, that's not what I'm arguing). But that is by the by.

    I agree that repudiating ESS does not repudiate (C) but the contention by some of us is that certain people are deliberately conflating the two in order to undermine not just ESS but (C) itself.

    I have never mentioned Liam Golligher. I think his name is a red herring in this discussion (the one we are having here right now). My concern is over Byrd and others like her who, I believe, are advocating a crypto-feminist agenda and using the unfortunate use of ESS by some (C)s to criticise (C).
  23. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Brother, I share your concerns. You have no idea. May I refer you back to my first post on this thread? (#17)

    I only brought up LG because “et al” implicates him on the alleged scheme. Regardless of his views on C, he wouldn’t try to take out a robust-C in such a devious and fallacious way.

    Hey, I’m not so naive not to think that a spirit of feminism mightn’t be behind all this. I wouldn’t refer some of these bloggers to address the Girl Scouts, let alone speak at a church sanctioned conference. Notwithstanding, it’s not available to us to connect the dots in such a way as to conclude some premeditated scheme to refute C on the heretical basis of ESS.
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  24. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I hope I’m keeping this close enough on topic but this is a very telling excerpt from an article I linked earlier on this thread. The irony kills me, it’s like when proponents of SSM would say, how will my freedom to marry infringe on you in any way???... a few years later....

    “Concerned pastors gathered to question the committee. People wondered whether this was a “slippery slope” toward women’s ordination, for example. Keller, one of the committee members, was skeptical. “It’s not like you get on train with unordained female deaconesses, and then the next stop is ordained female deacons, and then the next stop is women as ordained elders, and the next stop is female pastors, and you can’t get off the train,” she said. “The train stops, because nobody wants to see women in authoritative roles. Nobody believes that. If you believe that, you don’t belong here in the PCA.”
  25. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    No it doesn't. You are making that connection on your own.
  26. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Precisely. Well said.
  27. BottleOfTears

    BottleOfTears Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm with RWD here.

    It was Liam Golighers guest post on Aimee's blog that kicked off the ESS debate on a wider scale. Everyone at MoS, including LG, were most definitely united on one side of the debate.

    Several people in this thread have claimed on frankly very little evidence that Aimee, as part of a group of people, intentionally connected Complementarianism with ESS during the debate in order to undermine the former. It's also been heavily implied that was her main reason for initiating the debate.

    Now, if anyone was on Aimee's side in the debate, it would be her fellow bloggers at MoS, along with Liam Goligher.

    So it seems clear that if Aimee was doing what has been claimed, Todd Pruitt, Carl Trueman, and Liam Goligher were in on the job as well. Either that, or she is just manipulating her friends.

    Honestly, this is verging on slander. Do you honestly think that none of these people care about how we represent God? Or were they just casually throwing about essential doctrines like the Trinity as a cover to push their own agenda?

    I think we should think a lot more carefully before we brazenly accuse our brothers and sisters of such a sin.
  28. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman


    It’s possible he was implicated by mistake but nonetheless, he was implicated. Take note of LG’s entrance into the discussion:

    Posted On Tuesday, June 14, 2016 By Aimee Byrd On Housewife Theologian

    Well, Dr. Liam Goligher's first guest post on Housewife Theologian has generated a lot of discussion and reaction from around the world. I'm pleased to share this follow-up by Liam, one that particularly addresses a question raised by Dr. Mike Ovey:
    Secondly, you touted yourself as having been familiar with the debate. If that were true, then you should have realized that “et al” implicates certain people - certainly core people. But regardless of whom you had in mind, you’ve conjured up a scheme that incriminates Ms. Byrd and all.

    The summer of 2016 brought with it much pain and suffering. People l trust learned a lot but to reopen old wounds with accusations about deceitful intention is wrong. Secondly, it certainly doesn’t help foster future discussions on gender - perhaps a minor point in comparison.

    Again, I had grave concerns over how this whole ordeal went down in 2016. I, also, have lingering concerns over issues pertaining to marriage and women in the church. So, although I can empathize with your frustrations, I simply cannot condone the accusations.


  29. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    Never said anything like that.
  30. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Senior

    "Et al" means "and others" it does not mean "and all." Perhaps that's where your confusion lies about my statements. Either way, I reject your interpretation of my comments and am done discussing it.
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