“There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24 RSV
“True friendship, or spiritual friendship, is not disposable. It is not friendship for friendship’s sake. It is not self-seeking for advancement; it involves collaboration for something outside us. We find true friends by being virtuous people who live for truth in community.”
“What is friendship? It isn’t just some poetic ideology. Friendship is something that we do. To be a friend, we need to exercise virtue. Friendship requires moral excellence because it is not primarily for our own benefit but is formed through our sacrifices for another. Others-centered virtue creates a friendship that enhances the souls of all participants.”
“Hence even the philosophers of this world placed friendship not among the accidents of mortal life but among the virtues that are eternal. Solomon seems to agree with them in this verse from Proverbs: “a friend loves always.” So he obviously declares that friendship is eternal if it is true, but if it ceases to exist, then although it seemed to exist, it was not true friendship.”
Byrd, Aimee. Why Can’t We Be Friends? : Avoidance Is Not Purity (pp. 96-98). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Until recently, Todd Pruitt, Aimee Byrd, and Carl Trueman were the trio that comprised the “Mortification of Spin” podcast. I must confess that the Mortification of Spin (MOS) was a podcast that I listened to quite regularly. Trueman was the sharp-witted academic of the group and seemed to take pride in the fact that he abstained from social media. He was usually good for a spot-on quote concerning the excesses of Big Eva. He formerly was a professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and an OPC pastor. For reasons unclear to me, he resigned from both of those jobs and moved to northwest PA to teach undergraduate students at Grove City College.
Pruitt is a pastor in the PCA denomination. I best remember him for his lectures on the evils of social media and bloggers like me. At one time I believe he had both a Twitter and a Facebook account, and of course, the Podcast which, in my opinion, is a social media outlet, albeit devoid of any input from the rabble. Pruitt dumped his Twitter account back in June.It was probably a good move on his part as it seemed he wasn’t well suited to the give and take that is common on Twitter. (Probably a good thing Pruitt wasn’t around in Martin Luther’s day!)
Aimee Byrd was known as the Housewife Theologian and she was my favorite individual of the podcast. She strikes me as a deep thinker, is well-read, intelligent, has a good sense of humor, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is the type of person I would love to have as a college professor, or, (I say this at the risk of being branded a heretic), a Sunday school teacher!
Aimee Byrd’s most recently published book, “Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” has ruffled the feathers of a group of men who call themselves the Genevan Commons, as well as some within the para-church organization called The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (Or, as I prefer to label them, the Men are Better than Women Club!) These guys seem to think that inside every intelligent woman lurks a rabid feminist just waiting to waylay an unsuspecting conservative Christian with smooth words that will cause the dolt to abandon his or her faith. Or maybe, in the case of Denny Burk, President of the Men are Better than Women Club, he fears Byrd’s book will further damage the credibility of his organization, having already had their foundation cut from under them when it was proven that their foundational doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son is heretical. Call me cynical, but I would guess a guy like Burke pulls down a hefty salary for a job that is not very demanding. The last thing he wants to see is his organization become irrelevant.
Burk wrote a very unfavorable review of Byrd’s book. Byrd responded on her blog with this:
“A friend said something about Denny Burk’s “review” of my book that really resonated with me. I’m trying to have a conversation about discipleship in the church. In my book, I ask church officers to lead discussions as I look through Scripture, identify the struggles of men and women in the church, and explore within the bounds of our confessions. Burk dismisses all of this and wants to tell us all what to think: what to think about me, what to think about my book, and what to think about biblical manhood and womanhood.
He turns me into the Repugnant Cultural Other by using scare words from his tribe, poisoning the well by suggesting to his readers that I am a closet egalitarian feminist who is trying to lead a whole generation away from “biblical” manhood and womanhood. He completely misrepresents my writing in this, suggesting that I am part of the problem they are trying to save others from with their blessed Nashville Statement, saying that I commend “’marriage-like’ same sex friendships,” and suggesting I am pro-LGBT.
I still can’t wrap my head around how this can pass as an academic review in Southern Baptist Journal of Theology and be posted on SBTS’s website…
Christians are a confessing community. We hold to our creeds, explaining what Scripture teaches on first order doctrines. We have this standard for orthodoxy. Our denominations hold to different confessions within this orthodoxy, from which we can worship together, be discipled, and speak from in more detail about what we confess. Christians are also a loving community—it’s our greatest commandment! We are to love our God and love one another. It is how we are to be known!
So how has this all flipped upside down, where Burk can downplay our creeds and CBMW’s teaching an unorthodox position on Eternal Subordination of the Son, all the while making me a Repugnant Cultural Other? How have we moved from leadership in helping others to think within the bounds of our confessions to telling them what to think?”
Aimee Byrd, “WHEN WE TELL OTHERS WHAT TO THINK: ANOTHER REFLECTION ON DENNY BURK’S “REVIEW” July 9, 2020.
This is actually typical of how the powerful men in Big Eva operate, if they don’t like what you are saying they will attempt to silence you, although they generally choose to do so privately, through back channels. In this case perhaps Burk was so desperate to keep people from reading Byrd’s book that he felt the need to go public. Carl Trueman, himself the recipient of this type of behavior, had this to say in way back in 2014:
“What I’m not going to do is the kind of ostentatious tactics that I see the Mark Driscolls of this world pursuing and, quite frankly, I’ve experienced myself from the top men at some of these para-church organizations, where if you criticize them, they work behind the scenes to shut you down; they are going to try to make sure that you don’t have the avenues of speaking out.
I’m not going to leverage informal means of control and influence in the way that I think the “Young Restless and Reformed” culture has done so, and, which frankly has ultimately led to its invidious corruption.”
All of these establishment figures have suddenly emerged and they’re all heroically standing for the truth at this point – literally rather pathetic.
I haven’t received any apologies from the “top men” who were sending me such unpleasant emails behind the scenes and telling me to shut my trap about people like Driscoll.”
-Carl R. Trueman, “Mortification of Spin” podcast, 8-27-2014
Below is a quote from Aimee Byrd explaining the nature of the controversy her book ignited:
“My writing has aimed to examine the scriptures with the help of our confessions as we continue to see how the church is continually in need of reforming. This has dovetailed well with the mission of the Alliance. However, after the publication of my last book, Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a blog was posted on their website asking me to answer nine questions by a group of concerned, unnamed people. I responded, expressing my confusion at the nature of the post, nevertheless answering the first question and saying I was not sure that I would answer the rest. I then received an email from the chairman of the Board imploring me to answer these same questions for the Board of Directors. I do not know who is on this Board.
After seeking counsel, I declined to answer the specific questions, directing them instead to my book itself. I replied that some of these questions are addressed in my book already. And while I expect and welcome disagreement with some interpretations and applications in it, my book is in line with the confessions in which my Orthodox Presbyterian Church subscribes. Others of the questions seemed to misrepresent my writing, suggesting I was saying things that I wasn’t. Additionally, my book does not aim to answer all of the questions that were asked. It is not about church leadership or marriage. It is not meant to be an end all book on all matters of gender. There are many other books that aim to answer those questions. My book is about discipleship for laymen and laywomen in the church. My aim was to ask serious questions about how men and women are identified and discipled in the church and to call Christians and Christian leadership to examine this against Scripture. My aim was to offer another voice, alongside other voices, as we look at scripture and life together.
During this time, I was informed by our producer that she was notified not to book new recordings at this time and that they will be airing reruns of the Mortification of Spin. Then I noticed that they’ve discontinued my credentials to log in to post blog articles. While no reference was made to my future participation in the podcast, I later received an email from the Director in which they thanked me for the work I contributed for them and said that they “will strive to be gracious upon my exit.” Technically, ACE has related to me as an independent contractor. That’s all I really know.”
-Aimee Byrd, “Byrd’s New Nest,” June 17, 2020
Christianity Today picked up on the controversy and wrote the following article:
Included in this article are the following quotes:
I am not privy to the inside information of what led to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals to effectively “fire” Aimee Byrd from the MOS podcast, but it seems to have also resulted in the shattering of the friendship between Byrd, Trueman, and Pruitt. I am deeply grieved by that. The Christianity Today quote above states that Pruitt has publicly defended Byrd, but I have not been able to find any record of either him or Trueman publicly defending Byrd.
In fact, it seems quite the opposite initially occurred. In an article written by Pruitt but signed by both he and Trueman they apparently accused Aimee Byrd of slander. The article is titled “Coarse Joking, Doxing, and Forgiveness” and can be viewed here.
Below is a short excerpt from the article:
“June 25, 2020
In an earlier version of this post we referred to the articles by Aimee Byrd and Ed Stetzer as being slanderous. We now see that this was incorrect and that, in doing so, we had ourselves spoken wrongly. We sincerely apologize for this and have corrected the article accordingly. We should have reserved the term ‘slander’ for actions of the person or persons who had engaged in the dox and/or subsequently used the information therein for smearing the characters of those who played no role in the sinful conversations on the Geneva Commons website.”
One can imagine how much the false charge of slander by Byrd’s two good friends hurt her, yet Byrd seems to have always taken the high moral ground in this controversy.
Personally, I no longer listen to the Mortification of Spin podcast. I tried listening once but turned it off after five minutes. Aimee Byrd made that podcast great. I really miss her and it just isn’t the same podcast without her. I would guess many others feel the same as me. I doubt she will ever be brought back, but I do hold out hope that Todd Pruit and Carl Trueman will have the courage and humility to do whatever it takes to restore their friendship with Aimee. It is shameful to terminate a friendship because… why? A differing of opinions? I suppose there is more to it than that, but as I quoted Aimee at the top of this article, “True friendship, or spiritual friendship, is not disposable.”
I hope Aimee continues to speak out and to write books. We need her voice.