Monday, August 30, 2010

My Critique of the Danvers Statement, Part VI of VI (Rationales 7 - 10)

Link HERE to a my Reponse to the Affirmations.

Here, I offer my own response to the Danvers Statement, but I also draw from Dr. Robert K McGreggor Wright’s response as noted in the Journal of Biblical Equality.

Responding to CBMW’s Danvers Statement Rationales:
  • CBMW’s statements are noted in DARK BLUE.
  • Dr. Wright’s commentary or references to his work are noted in PURPLE.

The Danvers Statement Rationales 7 - 10
We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:
  1. the emergence of roles for men and women in church leadership that do not conform to Biblical teaching but backfire in the crippling of Biblically faithful witness;
  2. the increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts;
  3. the consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity;
  4. and behind all this the apparent accommodation of some within the church to the spirit of the age at the expense of winsome, radical Biblical authenticity which in the power of the Holy Spirit may reform rather than reflect our ailing culture.

As in previous posts, these assumptions beg the question and rely upon circular reasoning.  One must accept a their complementary canon in order to rightfully and truly embrace their rationales, but they do not make the more disturbing points of their canon readily known or clear to the reader of the Danvers Statement alone.
 Rationale 7
One must presume that “roles” are appropriate in the church as opposed to “function” or “operation”, a drift in language that author Kevin Giles traces in his book, “Jesus and the Father.”  As previously established, the word and concept of “role” is actually consistent with how the word “hypocrite” is used in the New Testament.  The statement also makes vague references to hierarchy, as it is assumed that all proper function and operation of men and women in the church are rightfully encompassed and attributed by CBMW, and that CBMW represents the pure, plain and clear teachings of the Bible.  Plenty of devoted and honorable Christians reject these concepts and live out Biblically faithful witnesses.  This Rationale subtly masks the elitist and very cultic nature of the divisiveness of complementarianism.  If you do not agree with their concepts, you cannot live a faithful life as depicted and defined in the Gospel, an erroneous concept.  If you do not agree with them, you are not really Christian.

Russell Moore has stated many times in several venues that if one rejects complementarianism, by default, that person rejects God’s Lordship over all creation.  To believe and practice anything other than the paradigm that CBMW defines equates to fundamental rebellion against God because CBMW presumes that Jesus is subordinate in authority to the Father, though they deny the statement.  Bruce Ware maintains that Jesus does not have the authority to hear and answer prayer, only to carry prayer to the Father.  Though he maintains that God the Father gets the “ultimate” and “supreme” worship and authority within the Trinity, Ware also simultaneously denies that this means that the Father possesses more of the praises and authority than does Jesus (verified via private communications).  Denny Burke says that Jesus had to choose between equality with the Father and incarnation, and Jesus chose incarnation instead.  Doug Phillips has said at homeschooling conventions in the late ‘90s that “the Father homeschooled Jesus” before the earth was created.  Denial of any of these principles and living accordingly constitutes denial of God’s Lordship and amounts to open theism.  This is spiritual abuse, folks.  This is the Dispensing of Existence, a technique used by cults to bully followers into accepting their doctrine.

Rationale 8
On this point concerning the pejorative of term of “hermeneutical oddities,” I will defer to Dr. RK Wright’s Response to the Danvers Statement:

People threatened by newness often appeal to what to them seems to be "obvious" as the correct meaning of the Bible.  Hence it was once "obvious" that the Bible legitimized slavery, and even that it taught that the world was flat and geo-centric.  Advancing scholarship inevitably means that "apparently plain" verses will turn out to mean something else entirely, but this only shows that a fully Biblical conservatism will continually ask itself whether it is conserving the right things or merely falling back into a reactionary traditionalism.  The claim that Romans 16:1 teaches that the NT churches normally had female deacons is hardly a "hermeneutical oddity."  The KJV rendering of diakonos in Romans 16:1-2 by "servant" is very definitely a hermeneutical oddity, and reflects clearly the prejudice of 16th Century Anglicanism against women in ministry.  Why should E. M. W. Tillyard's Elizabethan World Picture define the world view which should be the standard for the twentieth Century translator?

Rationale 9:
This is hysterical to me and psychological projection at it’s finest, accusing others of what the person who makes the accusation does themselves!  CBMW does exactly what Rationale Nine points out as one of their concerns.  Why do they so heartily contribute to this problem if its occurrence is a matter of their concern?  It is CBMW who has established a group of their own demi-gods and system of popery to discern the Word for Believers and then declare that their critics aren’t legitimate, orthodox Christians.

I can’t do the topic the justice that Dr. Wright does in his response (emphasis mine):

an illegitimate discouragement to legitimate enquiry.  The often-expressed notion that the Bible's incidental mention that Phillip had four daughters that prophesied (Acts 21:9) is "the exception that proves the rule" is as clear a case of "technical ingenuity" as I can think of.  The reference is really the exception that proves the rule never existed!  I am reminded of a friend who once commented that the Bible has always made more sense than its interpreters.
The real problem is that the traditionalists have finally woken up to the fact that "prophesying" in the New Testament (as well as in the Old) normally involves preaching and teaching and counseling, along with the general application of the Word of God to the life and culture of God's people, and that if this is allowed, the traditionalist case against women preachers is seriously weakened.  In this instance therefore, "hermeneutical ingenuity" must be employed to prove that "prophesying" is always distinct from "preaching."  In fact one of the originators of the Council which produced the Danvers Statement (Wayne Grudem) having located himself in a highly charismatic church of a type which has traditionally given great freedom of leadership and preaching to women, has seen the problem clearly, and has recently published a book trying to prove that prophesying never included teaching or preaching!  [Blog host note to the reader:  Please note that this paper was originally authored/presented in the late eighties and was revised in the early nineties.]  It might be worth remembering in this connection, that during the 1500-1600s, when male supremacy was virtually unquestioned, the Puritans held preacher-training sessions called "prophesyings" and wrote books promoting preaching with titles like The Liberty Of Prophesying.  As long as male supremacy was unquestioned, it never occurred to the Puritans that prophecy was anything but mostly just preaching, although it might have been on occasion modified in an extraordinary way by the Holy Spirit's acting sovereignly as he willed at any moment, as was the case with the inscripturizing of the Canonical books.  Grudem's tour de force is an attempt to block a hole in the traditionalist fence, which women preachers have always managed to get through!

Rationale 10
I understand this as the principle that should have been stated and addressed at the outset:  claims that, in terms of gender and how it is understood, the Church has capitulated to the culture.  This assertion is saved until the end after the reader has hopefully accepted the other assertions because they have been so vaguely defined.  It remains so vaguely defined, most people gloss over this point and find it too vague to discern.  But it sounds intellectual...

This is a subtle declaration of their radical gender war.  It is wrong to be kind to the sinner, or worse yet, to those Christians who do not agree with you on all points of doctrine because “winsome” Christians have capitulated to the culture and have thus been overtaken by it.  I think that those who crafted the Danvers Statement are reading the Bible through a grid of what Chip Berlet calls Right Wing Populism.

If the Church has actually capitulated to the culture so significantly in terms of gender, what then stops this movement for rallying to reverse Women’s Suffrage and freedom for slaves.  During the “War of Northern Aggression,” arguments were made that slavery was a legitimate means of dealing with poverty and debt.  Doug Phillips does not openly promote his idea that slavery of some type should be reintroduced in this country, but he has taught this to his congregation and to people who’ve attended his “Faith and Freedom” Tours.  How extensive does CBMW think that the distortion of the rights of women extend?  Does it extend as far back as the arguments to free slaves that were deemed slaves based upon race?  Where does the regress stop?  It stops when CBMW says it stops, based upon whatever it’s whims of preference determine.  It depends on how far their concerns of conspiracy and fear of women, inspired by their Right Wing Populist pessimism and paranoia extend.

Again, I will defer to Dr. RK Wright:
Historical study is increasingly demonstrating that there have always been at least some Evangelicals at the vanguard of movements for the emancipation of women from the arbitrary restrictions of a male-dominated traditionalism.  Janette Hassey's No Time For Silence is a good example (1986).  To paraphrase a famous Puritan pastor as he sent some of his flock off to the New World, "The Lord hath yet more light to break forth from the history of women's ministry!"  And much of this history does not particularly flatter our male traditionalism.  Have we forgotten how bitterly the reactionary conservative clergy inveighed against even so elementary a development as allowing female citizens the right to vote?  Would a modern signatory to the Danvers Statement like to argue that the women's vote is the cause of today's social corruption?  Since the "spirit of the age" is still male-supremacist, and the suppression of women (in cheerful fulfillment of the prediction in Gen. 3:16) is the natural stance of all heathen cultures, I fail entirely to see how our practicing the implications of Galatians 3:28 could be rationally thought of as conformity to the spirit of the age . . . .

I encourage the interested reader to also review the writings of Kevin Giles, principally both Jesus and the Father: Modern Evangelicals Reinvent the Doctrine of the Trinity and The Trinity and Subordinationism:  The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate.

Robert K. McGregor Wright, "A Response to the Danvers Statement:  Part I". The Journal of Biblical Equality, July 1992; (copyrighted revision, Aquila and Priscilla House Study Center, Johnson City, TN, 1995):3.

Please Visit the archive which consolidates this series and also includes the summary of Shirley Taylor's interpretation of "What the Danvers Statement Really Says."