"I can tell you now that I don't know anyone who regards complementarianism as a central matter of the gospel."
The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is putting much effort into clarifying its position on complementarianism vs. patriarchy. Don Carson's article What's Wrong With Patriarchy? was published on TGC's website a few day ago. He explains:
"In their defense of complementarianism, several Council members in The Gospel Coalition have been known to preface their remarks with the insistence that complementarianism is not to be confused with either patriarchalism or with mere traditionalism in men/women relationships. To some observers, however, all three expressions are roughly synonymous. So why do we insist on the difference?"
I am confused because some high profile members of The Gospel Coalition do equate complementarianism with patriarchy; however, when I sense confusion in the Calvinista camp, I take comfort in 1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV), which states: "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."
Carson goes on to explain that patriarchalism conjures up both good and bad images. For some who look favorably upon "Father Rule", it stands for order and stability. For others, it represents male oppression of women. Carson describes it this way:
"…for many others "patriarchalism" conjures up macho condescension toward women, self-promoting arrogance at the expense of "the little woman," and even (God help us) terrifying sexual abuse. Why would any Christian organization want to defend such grotesque distortions of what God has ordained?"
Carson next defines "traditionalism". Then he explains that the term "complementarianism" was coined by John Piper and his colleagues (back in 1987). As Carson confirms, this word did not have any negative connotations when it was invented; however, twenty-five years have passed and some of us see this word for what it is – a misnomer. I like the comment made by Mary Spaulding under Carson's post. She wrote:
"I read as much as I can about complementarianism but I still don't know what it means in every day life. I need specifics. What does it mean in the church? What does it mean in a marriage? It still sounds like 'men rule.' "
I also appreciated the remarks made by Jim who stated:
"As an outside observer of the Gospel Coalition who appreciates much of its emphases and theological vision, I am genuinely confused that this issue takes up so much "air time" on this site. Would someone please explain to me why complementarianism is a central gospel issue and not, say, infant (or believer) baptism?
Representatives of the evangelical Reformed tradition like Roger Nicole (to name one figure who was much celebrated on this site when he passed away) suggest that the "gospel center" includes a variety of "complementarians" and "egalitarians", both of which honor the Scriptures as the Word of God. But the Gospel Coalition does not allow for this honest difference in opinion on the Bible's teaching. Why not?
I don't mean to be a gadfly. I would really like to understand why the Gospel Coalition takes the position that it does. I am hoping that the promised Carson-Piper-Keller will shed more light on their reasoning."
Carson concludes with this explanation:
"In this case it is not so much a particular term that TGC wishes to defend, as the theological stance the term seeks to summarize, because we are convinced that the theological stance to which it refers is not only biblically mandated but also for our good—something to rejoice over rather than to rebel against. And we are unaware of any other word that encapsulates this position as well, while remaining relatively clear of distorting baggage."
I am deeply disturbed that Carson believes the term "complementarianism" properly communicates "biblicaly mandated" principles for our good. I believe those affiliated with The Gospel Coalition are in a closed system, and they are really good at talking amongst themselves. If they would get off the stage and come dialogue with us ordinary folk, they might discover how terribly confused we are. As we have discovered from our investigation, some Gospel Coalition Council Members (and their followers), equate patriarchy with complementarianism. One of the loyalist commenters has made that patently clear.
In our upcoming post, we will have much more on this topic as we show video clips which demonstrate tremendous confusion regarding "complementarianism".
Lydia's Corner: Genesis 28:1-29:35 Matthew 9:18-38 Psalm 11:1-7 Proverbs 3:11-12