"Last week a reporter asked me to define “complementarianism.” She didn’t know what it meant. And that’s not entirely surprising."
The 25th anniversary of the Danvers Statement and the incorporation of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) is less than five months away. For those not familiar with the history of CBMW, I provided a summary several months ago. It was based on Wayne Grudem's detailed explanation of events that occurred, which I found on the CBMW website. That website is undergoing 'reconstruction', and Grudem's historical account is not currently accessible. Fortunately, significant excerpts have been preserved here at TWW at the link provided. Grudem explained:
"We next met at the Sheraton Ferncroft Resort in Danvers, Massachusetts, on December 2-3, 1987, just prior to the 1987 ETS meeting at Gordon- Conwell Seminary. We finalized our statement, called it the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and voted to incorporate as the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. CBMW was off and running.
But we were still meeting secretly in 1987, not posting the meeting anywhere, not letting anyone know what we were doing. We just didn't want to get involved in controversy and argument while we were still getting organized and deciding what exactly we would stand for."
Mary Kassian, a friend and colleague of Grudem who helped craft the Danvers Statement, recently spoke at a conference sponsored by The Gospel Coalition (TGC) called Here is Our God. It was held June 22-24, 2012 and was the first ever TGC women's gathering, although there were some male speakers including John Piper, Don Carson, and Tim Keller. As an aside, Kassian also spoke at the SBC Pastors' Wives Luncheon.
About a week after the TGC conference concluded, Kassian wrote a post on her Girls Gone Wise blog called "Complementarianism for Dummies". It is making the rounds and has been featured on Justin Taylor's blog and the True Woman website. In her blog post Kassian writes:
"Last week a reporter asked me to define “complementarianism.” She didn’t know what it meant. And that’s not entirely surprising.
“Complementarity” is a word that doesn’t appear in the Bible, but is used by people to summarize a biblical concept. It’s like the word “Trinity.” The Bible never uses the word “Trinity.” But it’s undeniable that it points to a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Though the concept of male-female complementarity is present from Genesis through Revelation, the label “complementarian” has only been in use for about 25 years. It was coined by a group of scholars who got together to try and come up with a word to describe someone who ascribes to the historic, biblical idea that male and female are equal, but different. The need for such a label arose in response to the proposition that equality means role-interchangeability (egalitarianism)—a concept that was first forwarded and popularized in Evangelical circles in the 1970s and 80s by “Biblical Feminists.”
I’ve read several posts on the internet lately from people who misunderstand and/or misrepresent the complementarian view. I was at the meeting, 25 years ago, where the word “complementarian” was chosen. So I think I have a good grasp on the word’s definition.
In this post I want to boil it down for you. In emulation of the popular “for Dummies” series of instructional books, I’ll give you a “Complementarianism for Dummies” primer on the intended meaning of the word."
Perhaps the reason Kassian found it necessary to write "Complementarianism for Dummies" is because of information like this.
Here is how complementarianism is described by Wikipedia:
"Complementarianism is a theological view held by some in Christianity and other world religions, such as Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. The word ‘'complementary’' and its cognates are currently used to denote this view. For those whose complementarian view is biblically-prescribed, these separate roles preclude women from specific functions of ministry within the Church, It assigns leadership roles to men and support roles to women, based on the interpretation of certain biblical passages. One of its precepts is that while women may assist in the decision making process, the ultimate authority for the decision is the purview of the male in marriage, courtship, and in the polity of churches subscribing to this view."
The Wiki article provides the following list of supporters of complementarianism:
"Complementarianism is promoted by parachurch organizations including the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, FamilyLife, Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Promise Keepers. Noted supporters of the Complementarian position include J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, C. J. Mahaney, Adrian Rogers, Richard Land, Ligon Duncan, Gerald Bray, Terry Virgo, John Wimber, Tim Keller, John F. MacArthur, C.S. Lewis, John Piper and Elisabeth Elliot, missionary and wife of the missionary Jim Elliot."
When the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 was embraced by the Southern Baptist Convention, I was supportive of complementarianism. My family belonged to the same church as Paige and Dorothy Patterson, although they rarely attended due to their busy schedules. Beginning in the fall of 1988, I tuned into Adrian Rogers' weekly television outreach called Love Worth Finding. I would NEVER miss it because I was hungry for God's Word. I ordered cassette tapes of his sermons and faithfully listened to them. That was my routine for around five years.
A Baptist church in our area held a conference featuring Elizabeth Elliot, and I attended because I was impressed by her. I had several of her cassettes as well. I participated in a number of Bible studies including Bible Study Fellowship for seven years, beginning with Acts of the Apostles and ending with the Minor Prophets. I continually listened to messages on Christian radio from John MacArthur to Alistair Begg to David Jeremiah. My pastor taught at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and I began attending chapel services there from 2006 until 2008. The ONLY reason I share all of these details is to help you understand that I am very serious about my Christian walk and have been for almost 25 years.
One of the reasons Dee and I started The Wartburg Watch is because we are very concerned about some of the trends we are seeing in Christendom, particularly complementarianism. Being the mother of two daughters who are grown but not yet married, I am deeply disturbed when I hear discussions like this.
Chaplain Mike over on the Internet Monk website has written several posts on complementarianism which we highly recommend.
Rachel Held Evans received a whopping 370 comments on her piece called It's Not Complementarianism; It's Patriarchy.
Denny Burk, who teaches at Boyce College (the undergraduate arm of Southern Seminary) and is involved with CBMW, wrote a rebuttal to Evans' article that can be accessed here.
Then Evans responded to Burk with a post that garnered over 500 comments.
Also, The Gospel Coalition is featuring an article Debatable: Is Complementarianism Just Another Word for Patriarchy? which has generated quite a bit of discussion.
Now that Mary Kassian has come out with her article "Complementarianism for Dummies", we expect the debate to rage on. In our upcoming post, I will share my motherly advice about complementarianism in a memo to my daughters.
In the meantime, we'd love for our readers to share their views on complementarianism.
Lydia's Corner: Nahum 1:1-3:19 Revelation 8:1-13 Psalm 136:1-26 Proverbs 30:7-9