Friday, June 27, 2008

A Wife Calls Abuse Down On Her Own Head? And "Spawn For Salvation" (Salvation Through the Womb And Not The Cross)

"A Republican Form of Government and No Domestic Violence" from Harper's Weekly, March 6, 1875

The other day, I received an email with a link to Denny Burk's blog. I wish I were in a better place to be able to discuss this topic, but I am absorbed by another matter. Oddly, it is peripherally related to this subject, a topic also mentioned as an example by a very ignorant person offered in a comment to justify Ware. When I'm in a better frame of mind and reference, I may share my opinions and evaluation of this. I very well may not need to do so. The wise women who are responding to this on Burk's blog, a couple of whom I boast as dear friends, are doing a stellar job. Oh my! Women thinking again? I don't think that the zealous, hard complementarians like that kind of thing too much. Skirts and theology don't mix, and it's taboo in some circles to suggest that committed, Bible-loving believing women can challenge a theology professor. (Where are all the qualified men who should be doing so?) The discussion there, when last I looked, concerned how a woman's behavior calls down physical abuse on her own head, somehow making the man less culpable if not somewhat helpless against circumstances. And I cannot remotely begin to address this issue now. Feel free to read the trenchant discussion on that blog.

Bruce Ware has further delineated his ideas on the subject of women, submission in marriage and abuse. I've heard some similar ideas from Russell Moore, but the statements were not this straightforward. (It makes me wonder if the faculty at SBTS are even permitted to disagree with one another or whether they are all just required to read from the same, authorized script. This should never be confused with the "authorized verson.") So it seems that my joking that I Timothy 2:15 would replace John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9 for women only was not so far from the truth.

I noted today that Bob Allen at Ethics Daily did take it on in his fashion, reporting the highlights of Bruce Ware's sermon this past Sunday. I would just like to point out one of the quotes that he mentions specifically, as I have joked about this for some time. (Now I weep that this has come from the halls of a Baptist seminary by way of a church in Denton, TX.)

Ware also touched on a verse from First Timothy saying that women "shall be saved in childbearing," by noting that the word translated as "saved" always refers to to eternal salvation.

"It means that a woman will demonstrate that she is in fact a Christian, that she has submitted to God's ways by affirming and embracing her God-designed identity as -- for the most part, generally this is true -- as a wife and mother, rather than chafing against it, rather than bucking against it, rather than wanting to be a man, wanting to be in a man's position, wanting to teach and exercise authority over men," Ware said.

On this twist however, I will note a brief comment. This has many implications and many logical conclusions, some of which I will briefly and dispassionately attempt to enumerate.

1. Salvation by grace through faith that is God's gift (Eph 2:8-9, a verse every Christian should know by heart) either means or can mean something very different for men than for women.

2. For women, interpreting I Timothy 2:15 in the manner Ware describes (apart from the full context of the verse, even withstanding previous complemenarian teachings) argues that God mediates salvation to women differently, through certain works in combination with faith. (Ware states that "saved" is always in reference to eternal salvation.)

I Tim 2:15 (KJV) - "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

3. Childbearing as an act of submission in combination with faith, charity, holiness and sobriety mediate eternal salvation for women ("for the most part, generally this is true") because of the way he defines all New Testament usage and interpretation of "saved" as eternal.

4. It could be interpreted that he is arguing or providing the basis for arguing that there are two means by which a woman can be saved and receive eternal life. If the Timothy verse which does not discuss eternal salvation in context is relevant to how a woman receives eternal life, one could easily argue that salvation comes through works and may not require SAVING FAITH alone (in Christ), because it is partially shared with these specific works.

NOTE: Ware claims to be Reformed, embracing the "Five Solas."

Make that six... Sola gravida

5. I suppose that his clause of "for the most part, generally this is true" provides him sufficient insulation against criticisms like mine which assert that he is preaching a Roman Catholic-like belief that eternal salvation is not by faith alone for women ONLY but requires a synergy of both faith and works. [This phrasing does not ameliorate the consequences of his germane point, for this is a pretty meager equivocation.]

6. My husband (who I study under in quiet submission, sitting here as I type) and I have discussed this, and though he states that I'm being more faithful to what Ware probably believes to be true, he believes that from these quotes, it also argues that women might actually have two means of achieving salvation. Either they can obtain salvation like a man does ("they can take it like a man"), or they can take the alternate path. One could argue that not knowing Christ at all, women can earn salvation through childbirth as a salvific act of submission to man in combination with basic virtue only. The basic virtue and childbirth are not separate from one another, as they are mediated through submission to man. Man becomes a woman's obligatory savior.

7. I could go on and on finding indefinite numbers of logical conclusions to this illogical premise, such as childbirth that results from rape, etc. I can think of many.

Let me conclude this post with a statement from my husband, "steemed" (though esteemed) scientist, and former seminary professor:

"I think you [Cindy] are being far too gracious there [to Ware] in stating that what is clearly frank heresy as an only an "illogical premise."

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