Sunday, April 30, 2006

Together for the Gospel … Not Quite!

In Reformed circles there has been an explosion of posts about the conference Together for the Gospel (T4G). It sounds like it was an amazing conference featuring C.J. Maheney, Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, John Piper and John MacArthur – these are some big names in preaching and these guys know how to preach a decent sermon. As a card carrying Calvinist I regularly listen to sermons by these fellas, esp. John Piper and Mark Dever who I have a lot of time for. In fact, the speakers have also started their own blog and the posts are quite inspirational and encouraging. Part of me would really like to have attended the conference, but another part of me wonders if this is the kind of gospel I want to identify with! Whoa! Yes, you heard me right. How so? Well, the conference registration expressly prohibits women from attending. (I did read in the comments section of Tim Challies blog that about 60 women out of 2000 registrants did attend the conference [that's good I guess] presumably because they registered before the restriction was introduced or else because they had special dispensation. But I also read that one woman was asked repeatedly to give up her place so that a man could attend [that's bad]). The reason being that the conference is orientated primarily towards ministers and pastors, and women obviously cannot be pastors. Women cannot attend since places are limited and they might take the place of a pastor/minister who wanted to attend the conference. As the conference is rooted in complementarianism that almost makes sense. I can understand the desire to encourage, train and exhort pastors in gospel ministry. But the conference was not restricted only to pastors, teaching elders and ministers, it was open to men irrespective of what ministerial functions they are currently performing. The men who attended the conference were not vetted as to what ministerial role they had as far as I'm aware. The only group restricted from attending were women. Any man who had an interest in the conference could attend irrespective of whether or not he was actually involved in pastoral ministry. That means that some pew sitting couch potato who wanted to hear some good Bible teaching could go to the conference while a woman who is involved Christian ministry (like university mission, foreign missions, college lecturer, discipleship, women-to-women, etc) was excluded.

I’m concerned and confused by this. Why it is wrong for a woman to take the place of a pastor at the conference, while it is okay for a male pew sitting couch potato to take the place of a pastor? The only difference is that one is a woman and one is a man. I think women involved in ministry, especially those women who operate under the aegis of a complementarian ethos, would have benefited enormously from attending the conference. Our female co-workers in the gospel need to be equally equipped, encouraged and exhorted to fulfil their ministry in the Lord as much as men are. I must conclude, with great reluctance, that the word “Together” in Together for the Gospel does not seem to include women. That is a travesty and a tragedy. I want nothing to do with a gospel where “together” does not include my sisters-in-Christ who are partners and co-workers in the gospel.

At this point I will raise another topic. Article 16 of T4G states:

"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 minstry in Christ's kingdom. We further deny that any church can confuse these issues without damaging its witness to the Gospel."

[In fact I am concerned at the constant use of "brothers" in the preamble to the doctrinal statement because it is far from evident that this is meant in the inclusive sense of "brethren" (= brothers and sisters in Christ). There is no effort made to show that this includes the whole church comprising of men and women].

This is not only a strong affirmation of complementarianism but is an allegation that egalitarians undermine the church’s witness to the gospel. I have two problems with this: (1) I have some very good friends who are egalitarians and they are among the most faithful proclaimers, practitioners and imitators of the gospel that I know. (2) To me this statement is on par with saying that those who believe in amillenialism, those who practice paedobaptism, and those who speak in tongues are damaging the church's witness to the gospel. Although the subject of women in ministry might not be adiaphora, it is a topic where faithful, Bible-believing, Christ-proclaiming and God-honouring Christians disagree. I will not regard my egalitarian friends as “damaging” to the gospel.

Just over a month ago I spent a week at home, in bed, with chicken pox. I spent my time reading and exegeting Gal. 2.11-14. There Paul objects to the view that Gentiles converts should be forced to judaize, i.e. adopt a Jewish life-style to the point of circumcision. Paul objects to the view that circumcision puts you a little closer to the throne of God. Similarly, I strenuously object to the view that having a pair of testicles means that your ministry matters more to God than those without them [this is strong language I know, but I hope that my rhetoric emphasizes my point all the more]. I do not have a problem with “equal” but “different”. But I will fight tooth and nail, with all my strength, with all my heart, energy, and mind against those who say “equal” but “separate”. That is what Paul opposed in Antioch. Whenever anyone implies "equal" but "separate" in the Church of Jesus Christ it is not walking towards the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2.14).

Now that being said I am not trying to impute false motives to the organizers, speakers or participants of the conference. All of these men clearly value the place of women in the church as stated in Article 16: “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.” They are also committed to a complementarian vision of male-female relationships and I can respect that. Egalitarians need to remember that complementarians do not wake up every morning rejoicing in another day filled with opportunities to thwart and hamper women from exercising their spiritual gifts. T4G are not anti-women, that is clear to me. But just as Peter did not realize that by separating from Gentiles he was endangering the gospel; by restricting only women from the conference I think the organizers did not realize that they were undermining the significance of women in the church and the integrity of the gospel.

My recommendations would be for T4G in the future to do one of the following: (1) Allow women to attend the conference and to receive encouragement, exhortation and edification in the Word of God just as men do. (2) Restrict the conference to only pastors or pastoral ordination candidates so that women are not the only group restricted. Perhaps all attendees should be required to have a letter from their church saying that they are involved in ministry or are being considered for pastoral ministry. That way neither women nor male pew sitting couch potatoes will displace pastors who want to attend the conference. (3) Extend the conference by one day to include special sessions for women involved in ministry.

I am aware that there are men only and women only conferences (e.g. promise keepers), but they usually concern issues that are specific to the challenges facing each gender. In contrast, T4G is conference about the gospel. The Church comprising of Jew and Gentile; male and female; slave and free are the custodians of the gospel and not simply an elite few. In fact, in congregational churches men and women frequently have to vote on matters of faith and order giving us all the more reason to impart a gospel-centred worldview to a wide audience.

I do not habitually pray before blogging, but tonight I prayed. I prayed that I have all the facts right (I welcome correction if my research is misinformed). I prayed that I have not written in anger. I prayed that I have not over reacted. I prayed that I will graciously represent the views of T4G correctly, and I hope that I do not appear uncharitable. My objections should cross bipartisan theological lines as both egalitarians and complementarians can appreciate where I'm coming from. I'm not trying to rebuke anyone, but I have huge alarm bells ringing in my head at the moment and I'm putting up my hand so that I can say, "Hey folks, do you realize what you are implying?" I believe that T4G is a good thing since it gets people energized to gospelize - and I'm all for that. But in trying to hoist high the complementarian flag I wonder if they have (inadvertedly?) lowered the value of women in the process. I believe that “together” in the gospel must include everyone irrespective of race, age, education, social rank, economic status, ethnicity and gender – or else it is not a gospel because the gospel creates a new creation where those distinctions no longer matter in relation to the church's corporate witness (2 Cor 5.21; Gal 3.28; Col 3.11). If my tone sounds overly serious (as opposed to my usual whimsical candour) it is because the gospel is at stake.

I am currently writing a book on Paul (who bequeathed to us our many disputes about the role of women in ministry) and I am dedicating the book to my two daughters: Alexis and Alyssa. This is what I say in the dedication:

For Alexis and Alyssa
In the hope that you will both take your place together with Phoebe and Priscilla among the churches of Paul.


Posted with fear and trepidation this night for the advance of the gospel, for the sake of my daughters, for the edification of the Church, and for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria

These views are my own and not necessarily those of any church or organization that I am affiliated with.

38 comments:

Clifford B. Kvidahl said...

Mike,

Being a student at a college one of the men speaking at the conference, I must thank you for a well rounded post. I too share you concerns, and I thank you for helping me to see what you saw as a concern with T4G.

Cliff

Bryan Peters said...

Amen. These are exactly the same kinds of concerns that I have and have been blogging concerning. It also seems to go in direct contradiction to previous statements by some of the men involved.

Chris Bruno said...

Thank you for this post. I am a Southern Seminary student who was at the conference, and I think you raise a valid concern. The conference registration was initially open to women, but when the conference filled up and the organizers had to start turning people away, they asked the women give up their spot to allow men to attend. I think that this resulted primarily from poor planning, but it was difficult to know how many would come.
It seems that the conference was oriented toward preachers, so being a complementarian myself, I can understand why they did what they did. Although I am glad to have had the opportunity to go to the conference, in retrospect it probably would have been better for people like me who are still in school to give up their places for others who are in ministry. Rather than simply asking women to give up their places, it seems it may have been better to ask those who are students, etc. (and have opportunity to hear great teaching regularly) to give up their seats for men who would be much better served by a refreshing conference.
Here's to hoping that the next conference (2008) is in a venue large enough to accommodate all who wish to come.

Chris Petersen said...

Well said, Michael.

Cultural Heretic said...

Thank you for your courage and the concern which prompted you to write as you did. As one sitting on the fence - the exegetical arguments seem so compelling on both sides !!! - I value the careful disticntions and nuanced comments in your blog about the matter. May we all read and receive it in the 'spirit' it was intended. Or is that an intentional falacy we are warned about by post modern hermeneutics .. hee hee :)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Egalitarians need to remember that complementarians do not wake up every morning rejoicing in another day filled with opportunities to thwart and hamper women from exercising their spiritual gifts.

Maybe so, but Greek and knitting were the two gifts handed down to women in our family for several generations. If only you knew how may more times I have been asked to teach knitting.

Celucien joseph said...

Mike,

It took great courage and boldness to articulate those words as you did, yet in a christian and loving manner.

Keep up the good work

adam said...

At the beginning of your blog I was greatly annoyed. However, by the end (of which was quite lengthy)I was "corrected". As a complementarian I am vigilant with regards to Biblical manhood and womanhood however, I certainly do not wish to exclude or go unconcerned about the welfare of my sisters in Christ.

Sisters:
Perhaps you could consider the 2006 Women in the Church Conference supported by the PCA? (http://www.pcacep.org/wic06/index.htm)

CJW said...

Well done Mike!
This was a fantastic post - among your best. Given that the supposed together-ness was for the cause of the gospel, you would have justified writing more forcefully. Nonetheless, differences with Reformed Christians aside, I do pray that the conference does forward the gospel.

P.S. cultural heretic: I am both an egalitarian (I believe men and women are equal) and a complementarian (I believe the sexes are not the same but complementary). However, I am not a hierarchialist (I do not believe that Christian leadership or gospel ministry is inherently masculine).

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Michael wrote:

"Why it is wrong for a woman to take the place of a pastor at the conference, while it is okay for a male pew sitting couch potato to take the place of a pastor?"

Good question. Send the couch potato home and give his seat to a woman by all means. Why do you guys have couch potatoes in you churches anyway? Don't you teach the priesthood of all believers?

"... one woman was asked repeatedly to give up her place so that a man could attend "

Very tacky.

CSB

graham old said...

I'm so glad someone said it! I've been reading some of the blogs that have raved about this with something close to shock.

As someone who is neither a Calvinist, nor an Evangelical, I didn't feel that it was worth commenting on those blogs. Yet, I can't shake the idea that they are bringing the issue of complementarianism into the very heart of the gospel. Wow!

In fact, aside from all of that, I am concerned with the specificity of the statement. Without meaning to be inflammatory, I cannot get away from the idea that it is an exercise in exclusion. This appears to be a new kind of statement for a new age.

Adam Omelianchuk said...

I am very thankful for your heart and your courage to write this. When I heard of the T4G conference over a year ago I learned that it was forbidding women to attend. This was the breaking point, and sent me on my journey towards becoming an egalitarian.

Article 16 uses all the obfuscating language that is customary in complementarian statements. "Differences" and "roles" are politically correct insofar as they communicate the obvious: who could disagree, without being an absolute radical, that women and men are "different" and have different "roles"?

I have been waiting for the day when an official complementarian statement decisively says egalitarians are compromising the gospel. As far as I am concerned it is the easiest and most effective argument one can make to marginalize--not refute--a viewpoint.

Already/Not Yet said...

An important question is whether or not we believe the Great Commission is for the entire church? If the sponsors of the conference answer in the positive, then they must agree that women are commanded to participate in spreading the gospel and can thus be evangelists. How, then, can they be a hindrance to the gospel.

Perhaps, the real hindrance is pereptuated by the sponsors of the T4G conference in equating the gospel with justification by faith rather than the the kingdom of God and its basis -- the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor 15:1-3, 25; Acts 2:32-36)).

David Shedden said...

Mike, thanks for this remarkable post. I think your very last sentence gives away more than you intended. The problem I understand with our evangelical Reformed culture is that it is destroying any sense of NT fellowship, gathering, 'churching'. It seems to me that arbitrary people just organise conferences, statements, etc. We are burdened with unbiblical views of ministry and office, so that the policy that you write against can even be plausible, when the bigger question is: are these conferences biblical, nevermind whether or not women should be allowed to attend (I guess organisers of conferences have some right to decide who they want to address)?! Thanks, David

Joel said...

Perhaps its just me, but it seems that the question of paedobaptism (whereever one falls on that) is prima facie more "a threat to the Gospel" than egalitarianism since it involves an ordinance that in some manner embodies and marks out the Gospel among God's people. Like egalitarianism, it's not adiaphora, but it does strike me as something that "sits closer" to the Gospel than the role of women. The irony is that T4G is relatively indifferent to the question of paedobaptism.

A. Keith Strahan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A. Keith Strahan said...

Did any of you actually attend the conference or know someone who did?

If so, You would have found out that it was a pastors conference and focused on preaching.

So, therefore, the organizers were gearing it to be towards as many preachers as possible. For those will be the ones filling the pulpits and leading the churches.

I know, I know. Many of you will say, "well that's a complementarian view of Scripture, you sexist."

No, It is a Biblical view.

I see the beef egalitarians have w/ the conference. But those complementarians, this should not be a real problem for you. I read the post and yes, Mike, I see your concern. But I don't see it as particularly valid. What it really has done has undermined the point of the conference. And left a lot of your readers doubting the headway made there, and the future of evangelicalism.

Michael F. Bird said...

Keith,
1. You say complementarianism is biblical - perhaps so - but you should at least acknowledge the weight and gravity of the arguments for an opposing view point even if you are not finally convinced by them.
2. T4G was a conference for pastors and preachers, granted, but the conference was not restricted "only to active pastors and preachers" as the only group restricted from attending were women. The statment "not women" does not equal "only pastors". Alas, not all men are pastors!
3. Was progress in evangelicalism made at T4G? Perhaps so, all in all I think the conference is a good thing, but I am unwilling (and down right defiant) against attempts to import complementarism into the gospel.
4. My objection crosses theological lines and I am blessed by the fact that many complementarians understand and share my concerns. I have no beef with complentarianism if it's consistent. Yet "equal" but "separate" is not consistent within complementarianism.
5. Like I said, I don't have a problem with "pastors only". But pastors only means exactly that "pastors only" it does not and should not mean "no chicks allowed".
6. If I am undermining the gains of the conference, that is only because the conference itself has (unintentionally I believe) injured the "togetherness" of the gospel by unnecessarily excluding only women.

Thank you to everyone (even Keith :-) for your interaction and comments. I made this post fearing a back lash from my reformed evangelical friends. Am I glad to see and hear that many of you believe in the "good things of the gospel" but share my concern that "together" in the gospel include women.

SDG

A. Keith Strahan said...

If you went. Which most I see didn't.

The only really dis-heartening thing was the lack of a racial diversity.

That is a real criticism that should be explored within our 'love of the gospel.'

Why are we all white? (That's more a question to ponder than a physical analysis)

thunderbeard said...

mike,
as usual, you've embodied my concerns eloquently and honestly. i used to be a student at boyce college (the undergrad school of the southern seminary), and i'm not there, in part, because the things you mentioned here also concern me.

i'm what is called a black coffee calvinist, so it isn't like i'm opposed at all to many reformed positions. however, the way in which many american evangelicals (who swim also in the reformed pond) operate in a way that is counterintuitive and counterproductive in regard to the gospel (with the events surrounding this conference as a good example).

Jim Hamilton said...

Mike,

I think that these guys are standing strong against so many cultural currents in putting on this conference, and I didn't perceive any abusive attitudes toward women. . . You can't fight every battle all at once, and you can't have the perfect conference this side of heaven. Maybe that's my own enculturated blindness, but there was something strong about all those men gathered together from the trenches to worship together and be encouraged together. Maybe I'm naive (though I don't think so on this point). My impression is that they genuinely wanted to speak to men pastoring small churches in small places, places where this man is probably the only staff person. I'm willing to think the best of the conference organizers on this point, and I am confident that they would all affirm women on equal footing before the cross, women having vital roles in ministry, and women having access to theological education and encouragement. I think that Southern Seminary has aggressively pursued a women's studies program, for instance, tayloring the biblical and theological instruction women will receive for the specific responsibilities women will have--kind of an application of the word to let the older women teach the younger. . .

I was blessed by T4G, and I think the male-only (or at least mostly male) atmosphere added some unique benefits that would not have been available had there been a large number of women--not that it's bad to have women around--it just creates a different dynamic. I thought the atmosphere of the conference was very encouraging. There's a place for women and men being at a conference together. . . and it's okay, too, to decide you're mainly aiming to encourage men, which seems to be the decision they made when they designed the conference. . .

For biblical manhood and womanhood,

Jim

thunderbeard said...

Maybe that's my own enculturated blindness
Maybe I'm naive

yes and yes. also, i think you're missing the point here. people keep mentioning the fact that the conference was intended for pastors. however, i happen to know that there were plenty of men there that weren't pastors, and a few that aren't involved in ministry at all (they just wanted to hear some good stuff from some famous guys). why is it, as mike said, that if this was supposed to be for pastors, only women were asked not to attend and the men not at all involved in ministry weren't asked to give up their seats?

oh, and i've heard from a couple of people (on the condition of anonymity) that at southern seminary, white women aren't allowed to participate in certain academic degree programs that black women are allowed to participate in. my sources are pretty reliable ones (people who have intimate knowledge of the admissions process), but this could still be untrue (or half true). either way, for people that talk about the importance of being complementarians, it seems odd that this would even be floating around in the world of hearsay .

A. B. Caneday said...

Thanks for this thoughtful and thought provoking piece.

49erDweet said...

Well done and said, Michael. Some will see only what they want to see, looking always past their own personal "beams". Others will be thankful that any ministry building at all was accomplished. I agree with all of your thoughtful suggestions for future conferences of a similar nature.

God bless you and your family as you struggle there in Scotland trying to accomplish your worthwhile goals amid such a stubborn folk as those. (smile).

Tad Thompson said...

Just think of this as a promise keepers for pastors (don't think I am equated the two conferences - not even in the same ballapark). The conference would not have been the same with women present. This was important - if you were not there you just would not understand the spirit of fellowship present between the men. The purpose was by no means to exclude - but women were simply not the focus.

Sarah said...

Maybe there was some kind of 'special fellowship' that men had, which they wouldn't have if women were there. But this kind of gender segregation, which is practiced and encouraged in churches which propagate the idea that men and women have different roles to play rather than equal giftings, denies people (because that is what I am, primarily, not a sister or a woman but a person) a special kind of fellowship - fellowship with people who value each other as people, irrespective of gender.

Jim, you say you didn't perceive any abusive attitudes towards women: perhaps that is because you don't perceive the abuse perpetrated against women who are not allowed to exercise their god-given gifts. Having grown up being told, explicitly or implicitly, that I can't do things because I'm female, I perceive this abuse. Not deliberate, perhaps, but it doesn't need to be to be harmful. And this kind of hierarchical approach harms all of society.

Oh, and to all those who ask if people whoa re commenting actually went, I see your point, but no, I didn't go. Does that mean that because I was excluded from going I'm excluded from having an opinion?

Andy Rowell said...

Michael,
This was an outstanding post. I have forwarded it to various people. My hope is that your passionate, gracious, and biblically-rich response will raise the level of sensitivity and discussion regarding this issue. Thank you for your courageous post.

Jeremy Duncan said...

Thanks for your comments. I am a strong egaitarian but your measured and thoughtful response has gone a long way to helping my see complimentarian thinkers in a more generous light.

Blogmaster General said...

Hi Michael,

I think you've misread Article XVI. The "further deny" denial refers to the rest of the denials, not the affirmances in the article. This means that "confuse the issues" refers to "cultural conditioning", "male oppression or prejudice", and "meaningful ministry." If that's true, then it is clear why that confusion damages one's witness to the Gospel: it compromises the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture.

It is not unthinkable that the last sentence is intending to be a blanket statement, referring to the rest of the Article. However, there is no general pattern of concluding statements in the rest of the Articles. Rather, it appears to be a "strengthen the previous several sentences" statement. That means that it is intended to sum up the denials, not the affirmances. See, for example, the "further affirm" in the affirmances of Article XVI, which sums up the affirmances. I don't think there's any reason to think the last sentence sums up the whole article.

Chuck said...

Ok, let me play the bad guy here. I was blessed to be able to attend the conference, and it gave me much to think about in reference to my preaching-especially J. Ligon Duncan's lecture on preaching from the O.T! Anyway, the reason women were excluded is simple: it was for pastors. Actually, to be accurate, woman were originally allowed to register provided that there was going to be enough room for all the men (ostensibly pastors) to attend. The offical site was, if memory serves me correctly, amended once they realized a lot more men were planning to attend then they thought ever would. In fact, the Gault House Hotel was woefully inadequate to hold this event, and the seating was so cramped as to barely be able to have any sort of bag with you.
As far as men who are non-pastors attending: that was an organizational necessity of sorts. Very few people were involved in the overall organization and planning of T4G, and requiring all men attending to fill out some sort of questionnaire and have churches send letters of ministry involvement, etc., would have added an unbearable finanical and organizational strain. Should they have emphasized the centrality of 'preaching and preachers' as the centerpoint of this conference? Maybe, but to be honest anyone who read the site carefully when they signed up would have realized this.
All in all, I think that the role that complementarianism played in this decision is a little bit overemphasized here. Past the belief that women should not be pastors, the decision to host men rather than woman was primarily a spacial and organizational, not a theological one. In fact, once any extra room was found, some women were able to sit in on Thursday evening.
That's my .02.

Sam H. said...

Let's face it--in most American Christian churches, many men are anemic and spiritually passive. Too often they won't take a stand. I have a guess that t4g recognizes that as part of their thinking (in some fashion), hence the mostly male approach. There's all sorts of things to gripe about, this seems small potatoes...

Beyond Words said...

It just struck me as I brace myself to get ready to go to my severely complementarian church, that we have created a new male priesthood when we deny women the right to teach and lead according to their gifts. What about the priesthood of believers?

I often laugh at myself for being a female chauvinist. Although cultivate friendships with women, I can't have conversations and deep discussions about theology and hermeneutics with them. I'm starving for something that goes beyond household management and child rearing and having a great "quiet time".

When so many resources are devoted to training and equiping men, women are left ignorant and ill equipped. They are never allowed to reach their priestly potential. And the sad irony is that the real ways men and women complement each other can only be practiced and realized when they are made accessible to the body of Christ at all levels of leadership. By excluding women from the higher eschalon, we maintain a male-dominated perspective and never allow women to have the full adult and priestly priveleges men have.

If we really believe in the resurrection, why are we so hung up on a few verses that ambiguously seem to qualify us for service according to the function of our sex organs?

slaveofone said...

If prayer makes one's post that powerful, maybe I should start doing it before I blog as well ;)

If you have to draw a distinction, where do you draw it? Whatever the choice--and they should be free to make it, whatever it is--consistency is essential. If they are going to say the restriction is for pastors and preachers but then restrict women and let male non-preachers and male non-pastors in, this is inconsistent and gives the appearance of deception.

R S Christian said...

Dear Mike,
You say:

or else it is not a gospel because the gospel creates a new creation where those distinctions no longer matter in relation to the church's corporate witness (2 Cor 5.21; Gal 3.28; Col 3.11).

But...
we deal with two levels of distinction in the NT. Paul constantly reiterates CREATIONAL distinctions. God created all kinds of differences that are not changed when Christ comes: water doesn't become land; men don't become animals; men don't become women; and most of all, creation doesn't become the Creator.

These differences are maintained even when other "differences" are abolished. Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, men and women are all united in salvation through the gospel because of Christ's body on the cross, yes. But Paul emphasizes over and over again that God has designed our sexuality as a part of our expression of the gospel.

So, I take issue with your ability to denude the gospel of its creational structures and still call it gospel.

You say:

it is a topic where faithful, Bible-believing, Christ-proclaiming and God-honouring Christians disagree. I will not regard my egalitarian friends as “damaging” to the gospel.

Take a look at 1 Tim 6:1:
KJV "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed."

and, in parallel, Titus 2:1-5
"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;that they may teach the young women to be wise, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

Although servants and masters are all one in Christ, servants who don't take submission to their masters seriously leave the NAME of God and the DOCTRINE open to blasphemy. Women who do not take seriously their calling as women leave the WORD of God open to blasphemy.

Without going into what the pagan culture around us wants to do to the church by shoving us around in these areas, I will say that relegating creational/gospel structures about which the Apostle Paul speaks so strongly to a secondary category is dangerous thinking indeed.

I won't enter into the particulars of the conference. I will only vouch for the godly treatment I (a woman) have personally received from two of the conference's organizing pastors, with whom I have had occasion to work in furthering the kingdom.

SingingOwl said...

Next time they should invite pastors? Well, perhaps they better specify "MALE-PASORS" only need register. There are women preaching the Word, friends. We should not have to call and ask "Are women pastors welcome?" But I've done it more than once. Sometimes total silence is the first response. Foolishness, imnsho. Does God care who we learn from? I think not. God uses whomever and whoever he chooses.

Jason Goroncy said...

Thanks for this post Michael. I don't often read posts this lengthy but found your tone in this self-confessed difficult-post-to-write such a good model for dialogue (something us Reformed folk could learn to do much better) and the issue too important to just click on. Well done.

Jason Goroncy said...

Thanks for this post Michael. I don't often read posts this lengthy but found your tone in this self-confessed difficult-post-to-write such a good model for dialogue (something us Reformed folk could learn to do much better) and the issue too important to just click on. Well done.

Kathryn Vance said...

Complementarians act as if the differences between men and women must be deliberately preserved because those differences will disappear if they are not so preserved. This is a profound misconception, and is probably one of the reasons they fear equality between the sexes. They are worried about nothing. I have listened to many women preachers over the years, and water remained water, land remained land, and those women remained women. Let Gospel freedom ring!