Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Doug Wilson on whether we should work with those who differ on complementarity/egalitarian issues.

The true gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) calls us to a life of repentance and faith, and it is not possible to work together with men "in the gospel" when they are refusing to call people to repent of the principal corruption of our day, which is that of sexual confusion. This confusion includes homosexuality, porn, fornication, divorce, women's ordination, and so on. This is the front line of the battle, and if I decline to strike hands with a man who is confused at this point, I am not saying that he is going to Hell. I am only saying that if he cannot detect a strategic moment in history like this, then he ought not to be a general. Keep him on our side, but him back in the Red Cross tent and ask him to wind some bandages. From here.

I disagree with Wilson that sexual confusion is 'the front line of the battle'. What would you identify as the front line?  


  1. Oh dear.

    I guess it depends who you think you're fighting what the front line of the battle is. It sounds like he thinks the Jesus stuff is background stuff but I reckon that's our main deal. But perhaps everyone in his context is convinced on Jesus so they don't have to fight on that? (Trying to be generous here!) I think I'd go with something like the uniqueness of Christ as the front line battle.

    The battle language perplexes me somewhat. I wonder whether it comes more from the American culture wars than it does from the NT? The clearest references seem to be 1 Tim 1 which uses the language to talk about holding onto faith and a good conscience and James which uses it to talk about the battle with sin. Both those seem kind of internal to me....

  2. Internal, as in, about the life of the believer, putting to death the old man..

  3. In the battle within me it is certainly in putting to death the old man.

    Thinking about the progress of the gospel to the (western) world, I'd say that pride, arrogance and self sufficiency is where it's at. We don't need God because we are awesome.

  4. Yeah, I'm not with him on that one. I think one problem is that it assumes that there is only one type of egalitarian and one type of complementarian. I'd call myself a complementarian but I'd probably have significant issues with some complementarians. And likewise, there would be some egalitarians whose views on the authority and inspiration of Scripture I wouldn't be able to work with but others with whom I'd have little conflict.

  5. Doug is a pretty black and white kind of guy though, in my experience of reading his stuff. And he does love a good battle analogy too. I agree, Deb, it does sound like the argument is based on there being only one type of egalitarian and one type of complementarian. And I've experienced exactly what you've just said about having issues with some other complementarians. Or perhaps that they have issues with me. Even to the point where I've occasionally felt like I might have been relegated to the Red Cross tent.
    Totally agree with you too, Simone, that it's self-sufficiency and pride that are the hardest things to overcome. And it's not just the non-Christians that have this issue. I struggle with my own self absorbed tendencies every day....

  6. Far more "front line" is creation vs evolution. This is a foundation issue - if there were no Adam & Eve there'd be no sin from which we needed rescuing and therefore no need of Christ, His death and resurrection. In that case, Christ's death would have been pointless - the work of a capricious and cruel god who killed him on a whim, for no purpose - who'd want to worship that?

    As for hang-ups about "women's ordination", we're all "ordained" because we are all part of a royal priesthood (Hebrews). But, hey, what would I know - I'm merely a woman and therefore not worthy of working with anyway. ;-)

  7. I'm not sure that your front line and his are either-ors Simone. When Carson was here he mentioned how Tim Keller described the biblical view on same-gender sexual relationships as a 'defeater belief' - something that automatically discredits Christianity for many Westerners (especially the cultural gatekeepers). Pretty well everything on Doug Wilson's list is in that camp - at the moment almost all the defeater beliefs are focused on sexuality or gender (not quite all, but certainly the sexuality ones are the ones that seem to provoke a big media reaction).

    In contrast, rejection of pride, arrogance and self-suffiency aren't defeater beliefs for Westerners. While we're all guilty of them, there is a strand of fashionable lamentation of Western arrogance by Westerners - it doesn't do anything but people see it as quite 'normal'.

    While we can argue that something else is more basic and the cause of the things Wilson is nominating (pride, you; evolution, Laetitia; unbelief, me), the things on his list is where there is sustained serious pressure on the church to modify its teaching and practice. Hence, his not wanting to partner with someone 'confused' on the issue - long-term resisting the pressure is, humanly speaking, unlikely with someone who isn't crystal clear and convinced about their position when it is not in line with that pressure.

    So I think yours and his front-line are complementary, not alternatives. Unless you're saying that Westerners find it fairly easy to accept biblical positions on sexuality and gender relationships as good and right, and he's just got that wrong altogether. Otherwise, complement, not alternative, I suspect

  8. I think I'm with Mark on this- I'm not sure that your front line issues of pride, arrogance and self sufficiency are that different from his of 'sexual confusion'.

    It is in these very areas that we are accused of being arrogant and proud because the world cannot tolerate the idea that someone else might have something to say about an issue as personal as sexuality.

    And the refusal of 'society' to listen to God on issues of human sexuality shows the arrogance and pride of Western society. I think it is probably just how pride and arrogance is being played out in this generation- perhaps it was different in other generations (perhaps not). We don't want to be told what is good for us, especially in something as personal and important as our sexuality.

    But it would seem strange if the creator of sex and sexuality didn't know how it worked best.

  9. I think Mark makes some very good points.

    My first thought to your question, Simone, was maybe something like our general complacency- to holiness,to the salvation of others etc. We live in that sleepy, comfortable sort of culture where being blase about God slowly strangles our faith and our ability to be of any use to others while we are here.

  10. Like Tamie, I think the battle image is misleading so I'd be reluctant to talk about a "front line". Who or what am I supposed to be battling?

    Secondly there seems to be a category mistake, putting women's ordination in a list alongside homosexuality, porn, fornication and divorce. Women's ordination may or may not be right, but it is certainly not an example of sexual misconduct.

    Thirdly I'd be wary of the implication that we should only work with people who share all our views. This is perhaps a nervousness from my and my in-laws association with the Brethren, but following that logic can quickly lead you into a very exclusive position, because after you've stopped collaborating with people on that ground, you could stop on something else - perhaps on the grounds of teaching about the correct interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, as per Laetitia (you're probably not suggesting that Laetitia - purely for the sake of illustration!), or with people who are proud and arrogant as per Simone, or any one of a host of other things. Before long we wind up like the old joke - there's only two righteous people left, thee and me, and I'm a little doubtful about thee.

  11. I'm with Mark, that issues relating to sexuality are defeater beliefs - just today a friend of mine posted on FB comparing the new Sydney Diocese 'submit' vow to Saudi Arabia. How does one speak to such an un-nuanced and, frankly, hysterical reaction to what is a traditional viewpoint?