Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Danvers Delusion

In part five of her book, Margaret Kostenberger attempts to show that, apart from the egalitarian (whom she calls the “evangelical feminist”), there is another evangelical perspective (called the complementarian position).

To start this fifth division of the book (and new chapter), Kostenberger quotes from “The Danvers Statement,” written in 1988 (can be found at
Redemption in Christ aims at REMOVING THE DISTORTIONS INTRODUCED BY THE CURSE. In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives…in the church, REDEMPTION IN CHRIST GIVES MEN AND WOMEN AN EQUAL SHARE IN THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION; nevertheless, SOME GOVERNING AND TEACHING ROLES WITHIN THE CHURCH ARE RESTRICTED TO MEN (Gal. 3:28;1 Cor. 11:2-16; 1 Tim. 2:11-15).
-- Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,
The Danvers Statement” (1988)- (quoted by Margaret E. Kostenberger, “Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?”, page 179).

I want you, the reader, to see some things here. Look at the first statement I capitalized. It says that redemption in Christ REMOVES the effects of the curse. In order for the complementarian to be able to prove that male headship in the body of Christ is still a reigning factor, he or she has got to be able to prove to me that man was given headship over his wife (and the church) PRIOR TO the fall. I have discussed Wayne Grudem’s argument about patriarchy before the Fall, but I have also shown that Grudem (as well as Kostenberger and others) don’t have an argument. They can’t prove that Adam was given rule over Eve PRIOR TO the Fall because IT ISN’T THERE!

Look at Ephesians 5. There Paul talks of the relationship of husbands and wives mimicking that of Christ and the church:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and(BH) the two shall become one flesh." 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31b-32, ESV)

Even when discussing Adam and Eve, Paul uses the reference from Genesis and tells us that this passage, used for “man and wife,” is a picture of Christ and the church. But Paul never once uses the statement from Genesis 3:16. The verse itself is a part of Genesis 3, which concerns the Fall; and if Paul really wanted to get the message across that this curse of male domination over female was a rule to be admired, he clearly would have stated it. If redemption in Christ nullifies the effects of the curse, then this also includes marriage—for marriage was a gift of God and was also affected by it (Genesis 3:16). Keep in mind that Jesus Himself stated the following in Matthew 22:

30For in the resurrection they neither(AI) marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matt. 22:30, ESV)

Next, look at their statement on the operation of the church. Notice that they affirm what they do earlier: “redemption in Christ gives men and women an EQUAL SHARE IN THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION…” What does this mean? It means that because all are in Christ, they all receive the blessings of salvation, all receive the promised Holy Spirit as well as the eternal inheritance, Christ and eternal life.

But what the complementarians do next in the Danvers Statement is appalling, to say the least: they actually separate work in the church from the “blessings of salvation”: “SOME GOVERNING AND TEACHING ROLES WITHIN THE CHURCH ARE RESTRICTED TO MEN.”

This is where the complementarian gets it wrong. First off, the Bible never mentions anything about ROLES in church. It only mentions “gifts.”

Let’s look at Romans 12:

4For(K) as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we,(L) though many,(M) are one body in Christ, and individually(N) members one of another. 6(O) Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if(P) prophecy,(Q) in proportion to our faith; 7if(R) service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity;(S) the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with(T) cheerfulness. (Rom. 12:4-8, ESV)

Verse 6 says, “Having GIFTS that differ ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN TO US, let us use them…” There are no ROLES without GIFTS. The roles in the Body of Christ are dependent upon the gifts. This is why Paul writes, “If prophecy, in PROPORTION TO OUR FAITH” (12:6). You can only use what you have—if you don’t have a certain gift, then you can’t operate or have a role in the Body of Christ BASED ON THAT GIFT! Your role in the body of Christ can only be based on your gift; and how are the gifts given? “According to the grace given to us.” Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor.” The grace that we’re given in the gifts is not based on our merit or our worthiness. It’s not based on whether or not you’re male and I’m female, or whether I’m rich and you’re poor, or whether or not Paul was Jewish and I’m Gentile. No—the gifts are based on the grace given to us BY THE SPIRIT. Look at the instructions in the same chapter, given earlier:

3For(G) by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you(H) not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,(I) each according to(J) the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For(K) as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we,(L) though many,(M) are one body in Christ, and individually(N) members one of another. (Rom. 12:3-4, ESV)

Paul tells the Romans not to “think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, EACH ACCORDING TO THE MEASURE OF FAITH THAT GOD HAS ASSIGNED.” The tendency of most believers is to think that they should have a certain gift, when the problem is that God never WILLED that gift for them! God never gave them that gift, never gave them that measure of faith. It’s alright to desire great things for God—but make sure that you desire the things of God that He has in store for you. Otherwise, you’ll make a terrible mistake that you’ll regret years down the line.

Notice that the measure of faith we receive, “GOD HAS ASSIGNED.” God has appointed a certain gift or certain gifts for us. And how does God assign the gifts? Based on what He desires for us. There is no other indication in the text of a gift being given based on gender. If complementarians wanna make this case, they’ll have to show me an instance in Scripture where gifts and gender are directly linked to one another…

I could go through the other passages on the subject, but I think one will suffice. The other issue, however, with the Danvers Statement is that it SEPARATES the “blessings” of salvation and “roles” within the church. As I said earlier, roles in the church are dependent on gifts—so in essence, the statement separates “blessings of salvation” from “gifts.”

How can this be? Let’s see what 1 Corinthians 12 has to say:

13For(AA) in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—(AB) Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and(AC) all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13, ESV)

Most complementarians will say that Galatians 3:28 mentions ONLY that we all are “baptized into one body,” so the passage itself is stressing unity in the body. However, here, we see that, not only are believers given salvation (“baptized into one body”), but that “ALL were made to drink of one Spirit.” If this is true, and the Spirit gives gifts “as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:11), then how is it that women can be equal in the BLESSINGS of salvation but not the GIFTS of salvation?

The logic of the complementarian view doesn’t hold water. The truth is, that, without the fundamentalist interpretation of texts like 1 Timothy 2, the complementarian has no case. Complementarians, make up your minds: you can’t give women the blessings of salvation and then take them away. Which is it gonna be?

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