Theologically Sound. Culturally Relevant.


The complementarian debate is still about doctrine

SBCVoices is a notorious theologically liberal Baptist blog, helmed by Dave Miller. In an article titled “Is Anyone Else Tired of Complementarian Food Fights?” he laments the debate over gender roles in the church as being about power and not doctrine. He prefaces his argument by stating he is as theologically conservative as one can be before the proverbial “but” begins.

I am sick and tired of complementarianism, paternalism, egalitarianism, and such matters dominating the discussion of the SBC. It is, I believe, a fruit of the accusations of liberalism being made by certain groups who falsely state that the SBC is being taken over by the left. To bolster those views, they have to find a bogeyman, and “women preachers” is one of the best. Anyone who does not share their interpretation of complementarianism is outed as liberal, egalitarian, a supporter of women preachers, and the witch hunt continues.

This ignores the long history where such matters, along with modernism, defined the Southern Baptist Convention as the denomination that it is today. The BFM 2000 codifies complementarianism into the denomination’s core doctrine. All of this occurred to weed out the theological liberals of the previous generations. Dave Miller believes that issues like Critical Race Theory, homosexuality and transgenderism, and women preachers are fake issues being conjured by people, like myself, the Conservative Baptist Network, and other discernment ministries. But this clearly is not the case.

Progressive Baptist Church, a church as liberal as it sounds, would host heretic Beth Moore to preach on a Sunday, in opposition to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. Charlie Dates and his church would leave the SBC over the denomination not accepting Critical Race Theory fast enough. Beth Moore would later leave the denomination as well.

Moreover, the North American Mission Board has been funding egalitarian churches. In January it was uncovered that NAMB was funding an egalitarian ARC church. But this was far from the only oversight under Kevin Ezell’s leadership.

There are a half-dozen or so passages in the NT about the roles of men and women. They matter. There are about 250 (a preacherly estimate) passages on love, unity, gentleness, kindness, and such things.

Dave Miller sets up an argument to where he claims that egalitarianism/complementarianism are not primary concerns. For comparison, he’s referencing a theological hierarchy. In truth the official Evangelical Dark Web Theological Hierarchy lists women in ministry as a secondary issue. I secondary issues as “issues that are worth leaving a church/denomination over.” However, with regards to the complementarian debate, over time I am less convinced that egalitarianism is not a proxy for undermining the authority of Scripture. Dave Miller is less convinced on the clarity of Scripture. Despite claiming their to be a minefield of debate on the passages in 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy 2 is unmentioned in his argument. This passage is exceedingly clear on women preachers. Thus it would not be wrong to make this issue a “brick wall” as he puts it.

Conclusion: We are not fighting over complementarianism but over control. Certain groups want to enflame us with the notion that liberalism abounds and that we are “moving left.” I am not moving left, but I am seeking to conform to Christ and his word. That says a LOT more about my heart and my reactions than it does about “Christic manhood.”

The debate has always been about what the Bible says about church governance. On this particular issue, only in the last few centuries did it really become a debate. Given 1 Timothy 2, is it really unfair to think of this issue as a proxy for the authority of Scripture? It certainly is a no-brainer for Baptists.


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