Monday, March 9, 2009

Doers of the Word

“22But be(AN) doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law,(AO) the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts,(AP) he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25, ESV).

On a post I published a few days ago, I made the point that complementarians tend to focus on the status of women BEFORE GOD, while failing to emphasize the equal status of women BEFORE GOD’S PEOPLE!

In this post, I am gonna continue to expose the philosophical and theological differences between complementarians and egalitarians.
Stanley Grenz writes in his book, “Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry,” regarding the complementarian view:

“Complementarians generally limit the implications of Paul’s declaration of equality in Christ to our POSITION as redeemed persons. They see Galatians 3:28 as a statement of our soteriological position, but not of our soteriological function. In their understanding, rather than arguing for ‘social equality’ between male and female, Paul merely declared our fundamental equality of ‘position’ before God (coram Deo). As Robert Saucy explains, ‘The thrust of these statements is the truth that all are equally sons of God; all are equally clothed with Christ; all are equally heirs of the promise. NOTHING WHATSOEVER IS SAID ABOUT ALL BEING EQUAL FUNCTIONALLY IN THE CHURCH OR FOR THAT MATTER IN THE HOME OR IN THE STATE” (Grenz, “Women in the Church,” page 100).

Let’s contrast Saucy’s quote (by Grenz) with the egalitarian view:

“Egalitarians…assert that equality of soteriological position in Christ MUST RECEIVE AN APPROPRIATE OUTWORKING IN THE PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH (AND IN SOCIETY AS WELL)” (Grenz, “Women in the Church, pg. 101).

We have been discussing (under my section on “Philosophical Factors”) that Thomists assert that God’s will has been revealed to us and that, whenever a person demonstrates spiritual giftedness, that we should place them in their properly ordained role within the church to use their giftedness. Scotists on the other hand believe that God’s will only lies within the mind of God and that we don’t see God’s will demonstrated in reality.

The problem with the Scotist is that he is so hung up on theory that he fails to see application as having any importance. Nowhere in Scripture do we find theory without application. Take for example, the Book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1 we find the following words:

“3(E) Blessed be(F) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing(G) in the heavenly places, 4(H) even as he(I) chose us in him(J) before the foundation of the world, that we should be(K) holy and blameless before him. In love 5(L) he predestined us[b] for(M) adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,(N) according to the purpose of his will, 6(O) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in(P) the Beloved. 7(Q) In him we have(R) redemption(S) through his blood,(T) the forgiveness of our trespasses,(U) according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9(V) making known[c] to us the mystery of his will,(W) according to his purpose, which he(X) set forth in Christ 10as a plan for(Y) the fullness of time,(Z) to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10, ESV).

These eight verses tell us what Christ did for us: He chose to adopt us as sons before time began (through His Son), redeemed us (through His death and resurrection), and made known to us “the mystery of his will,” the mystery being found in Christ. This is what we call spiritual theory—learning what Christ did for us.

But the Book of Ephesians does not focus just on theory, but also on APPLICATION. Look at Ephesians 3:

“ 1I therefore,(A) a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to(B) walk in a manner worthy of(C) the calling to which you have been called, 2with all(D) humility and(E) gentleness, with(F) patience,(G) bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in(H) the bond of peace. 4There is(I) one body and(J) one Spirit—just as you were called to the one(K) hope that belongs to your call— 5(L) one Lord,(M) one faith,(N) one baptism, 6(O) one God and Father of all,(P) who is over all and through all and in all. 7But(Q) grace was given(R) to each one of us(S) according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Ephesians 3:1-7).

Here, Paul shifts his focus from what Christ did for the Ephesians (and us), to what they were expected to do—IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S ATONING WORK ON THE CROSS. This is why Paul tells them “to walk in a manner worthy OF THE CALLING TO WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED.” Because they were called and predestined to be a part of the family of God, they had to adhere to God’s expectations. What Christ did for the Ephesians was supposed to manifest itself in the church body. This is why theology is more than just studying Christ’s work—it involves DOING CHRIST’S WORK! Just as Christ responded with humility, so was the church at Ephesus to respond in the same way. The church body at Ephesus was to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” which means that the unity of the church would take work, effort, sweat and tears!

As the Book of Ephesians has shown us, Paul was concerned with more than just our SOTERIOLOGICAL POSITION BEFORE GOD—but also how that SOTERIOLOGICAL POSITION was to be lived out amongst fellow believers. The Ephesians were to act on Christ’s work—and so are we. James said it best in chapter 1 of his epistle when he told the scattered believers to not only HEAR the Word, but to DO it. Complementarians, at the least, seem to be more concerned about THEORY; and less concerned about APPLICATION. If we listen to the complementarian, God is playing biblical “hide-and-go-seek” with His children…and they may find Him…but they may not.

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