"Evangelicals [need] to come together to produce a new statement of conviction concerning these current challenges. This will be hard work and will likely take some time. But it will be worth the effort to produce a statement of evangelical unity on these matters that can serve as a reference point for churches and Christian organizations that are looking for confessional language on these issues."
Thirty years ago (1987) a group of evangelical leaders held a clandestine meeting in Danvers, Massachusetts to hammer out their core beliefs which would come to be known as "The Danvers Statement". It purportedly justified the need for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). The following year this group published the Danvers Statement in its final form. You can read the rationale and affirmations here.
The term "complementarian" was invented by this group. Not only that, key leaders of CBMW began promoting something called "The Eternal Subordination of the Son (to the Father) aka ESS. Those who affirm ESS claim that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father, as is the Holy Spirit. Rachel Miller has written an excellent summary in case you would like more detail. Many consider ESS (as well as EFS and ERAS) to be heretical.
As we have previously discussed, last November the focus of last year's Evangelical Theological Society meeting was "The Trinity". There were heated debates about it, and we kept waiting for the ETS to release some sort of information regarding what had been discussed. Nothing was forthcoming.
Then Kevin Giles shared some very important information, which we discussed in our posts entitled:
In the second post, we highlighted these words by Kevin Giles in his recently released book The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity:
"Powerful complementarians who a year ago were enthusiastically teaching the complementarian doctrine of a hierarchical ordered Trinity and confidently grounding women’s subordination in divine life are now saying they reject this teaching."
When Denny Burk was named as CBMW president (due to Owen Strachan's resignation), Aimee Byrd challenged him in her post What Denny Burk Could Do. To our knowledge, she received no response.
In the wake of The Trinity debate at last year's ETS meeting and thirty years after the Danvers Statement was crafted, CBMW, which now describes itself as "A Coalition for Biblical Sexuality" has released a new manifesto called the Nashville Statement.
John Piper has already gushed over it. In a recent CBMW post, Denny Burk explained why they came up with this statement and why now. In that post, he explained about the timing of the Nashville Statement (see below):
I have been asked numerous times today why this statement and why now? We began planning this statement months ago. In fact, when I accepted the position as president of CBMW over a year ago, I announced what we planned to do:
Evangelicals [need] to come together to produce a new statement of conviction concerning these current challenges. This will be hard work and will likely take some time. But it will be worth the effort to produce a statement of evangelical unity on these matters that can serve as a reference point for churches and Christian organizations that are looking for confessional language on these issues. We will need all hands on deck for this effort, and I am hopeful that a broad coalition of like-minded brothers and sisters will come together to have a hand in this work. I am confident that we can achieve this.
About nine months ago, we began making plans to convene the meeting in partnership with the ERLC’s research institute (which is headed by my good friend Andrew Walker). The ERLC’s national conference is held annually in late August. So once ERLC agreed to host our meeting to finalize the draft, the date was set—August 25. We have been planning for this particular date for many months now.
I'm irritated about the above date (August 25) they selected because that's my birthday!
According to an article in The Tennessean,
It's named after Nashville because a coalition of scholars, pastors and other leaders finalized a draft of the statement in Nashville, said Denny Burk, president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, in an email.
The group met last week at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center during the annual conference for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
The mayor of Nashville is upset about the statement's name, and Burk explained the reasoning behind it (see below)
There is a long Christian tradition of naming doctrinal statements after the places where they were drawn up: The Nicene Creed (325), the Constantinopolitan Creed (381), the Chalcedonian Creed (451), etc. Even more recently, there was the Barmen Declaration (1934), The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978), The Danvers Statement (1987), and the Manhattan Declaration (2009). There are countless other examples. In each case, the name simply indicates where the statements were drawn up. Whether The Nashville Statement will prove to be as enduring as those others remains to be seen. But that is the reason for the name. We were simply following a precedent set by many before us.
In his post, Denny Burk indicated that they have received the most push back because of Article 10, which states:
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
Aimee Byrd over at Mortification of Spin has expressed her concerns about this new statement by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womahood (see screen shots below)
Various news outlets are beginning to respond to the Nashville Statement and leveling much criticism at CBMW. If you just search "Nashville Statement", you will see what we mean.
One of our astute readers had this to say regarding the Nashville Statement:
This is going to turn out badly. Of all the things they could rally around, why this? Statistically, the types of churches that would sign on to this probably have many more abused children and women in their congregations than people who are LGBT. This shows that they don’t care about abuse. Many people are going to be damaged by the fallout of this. I don’t believe the signers care all that much about LGBT issues. I think it’s a backdoor way to subordinate women now that ESS failed. See articles 3, 4, and 13, and this statement from the preamble: “his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female.” They are using the LGBT issue to solidify gender roles, which directly supports their goal to subordinate women. The people damaged by this new statement will be shrugged off as incidental collateral damage.
We hope you will take a look at the Nashville Statement and share your thoughts with us.