EFCA Theology Conference Session 2

The second session of the EFCA Theology Conference was done by Dr. Bob Yarborough again who gave us a biblical framework for studying the complimentarian position. He began by asking the question: why not chuck “complimentarian” rather than redo?

The first reason we should not do so is because of an ecclesial reason in that well over 90% of those in church affirm the historic view of men and women in church and marriage. Those who advocate for egalitarianism are going for a schism. Avoiding the ordination of women also avoids losing witness in many parts of the world who view ordaining women as imposing western worldviews on them.

The second reason is that there is an empirical reason to not abandon complimentarian, even as we improve upon a historic complimentarian understanding. Dr. Yarborough then quoted an article from Christian Century which showed that when men led the church, the church was overall healthier.

Third, there are hermeneutical reasons not to abandon this term. This calls into question the teaching of Scripture when cultural changes occur. Western culture has seen as pullback from some of the aspects of classic feminist doctrine as well. A helpful articled titled ‘Where Have the Good Men Gone?’ was read. Also, number social indicators in the West point to disastrous results for large numbers of women and children since the 1960s when social circles began an aggressive departure from biblical teaching in areas like sexuality, divorce and abortion, and as women’s ordination became more acceptable with the rise of feminism. (see the July 9 edition of the Wall Street JouranlThe Divorce Generation’).

Fourth, there is an evangelistic reason not to abandon the term complimentarian. Marriage, by definition, is supposed to be hard, therefor getting men and women to work together in the church isn’t going to be east. The church is also a volunteer organization which makes things even more difficult. Men also have a tendency to avoid a church if women are ordained there because they will chafe agains the leadership, just as they chafe against women leadership in the home.

Another question Dr. Yarborough asked was Why do we cling to the complimentarian teaching when Paul was so obviously a flawed man of his culture when it comes to this topic, and when the household codes he used to dictate to women are so obviously cultural artifacts with no bearing on today? And also what about slavery? If the Bible is wrong there, why can’t we be wrong about its teaching on the sexes?

To answer this he began by talking about the importance of the Bible and its implications (see Ephesians 5-6 and 1 Corinthians 11). The term “helper” in Genesis 1 is a term of functional subordination. It is not enough just for a couple to enjoy each other, there also needs to be an outpouring of love. The church is also God’s household (1 Tim 3), a family of redeemed families which natural reflects family polity. Galatians 3:28 tells us that we are together the body of Christ.

Many people point to slavery as a gradual shift that should continue with the roles of women. However, slavery in the Bible is very different than the form of slavery that comes to peoples minds today. In the Bible we have the first appeal to treat humans as humans for human sake, and not just for the interest of the masters. During Bible times, slavery was typically for a limited amount of time as well. Slavery is also a universal human institution and still goes on in many parts of the world. Western culture was the first culture to break away from slavery with the help of Christianity. F.F. Bruce says that, “the Bible brings us to a place where the institution [of slavery] could only wilt and die.”

The final question he left us with was, “Is our church order an apt vehicle for administering God’s grace in the church by the gospel of our crucified, risen, ascended, reigning and returning Lord?”

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