Monday, August 2, 2010

A Review of Andersen's "Woman this is War" Part II of III (Concerning Doctrine and Gender Bias)

Why I Never Bought the Whole of Complementarianism: 
A Review of "Woman This is War:  
Gender, Slavery, and the Evangelical Caste System"

The Kingdom of God Suffers Violence,
and the Violent have Taken Some by Force.
Jocelyn Andersen Takes Back Major Ground in her New Book

Read Part I of the Review HERE.

The book also explores the doctrinal problems within Complementarianism in a thought-provoking way, putting far more eloquent words to my greatest criticism of complementarian explanations of Scripture.  I've long wondered whether these scholars ever really understood Jewish culture or Greek culture and how the original language was used in context, particularly concerning the doctrines regarding gender!  I studied Greek with a pastor who converted from Judaism, teaching Greek from the perspective of how the Jews used the Greek language which greatly enriched my understanding of Scripture.  Andersen describes compementarianism's narrow perspective as Gender-Biased-English-Translation-Theology.   This chapter establishes a strong basis for other doctrinal arguments she makes while addressing complementarian teaching.  I'm inclined to state that this is perhaps the most valuable thesis stated in the book, but that does not do justice to the rest of the content of the book.

I love the quote from Dr. Walter Martin's "Kingdom of the Cults" on page 119 of the book: "God never said, 'Reason out of the construction of spiritual substance and nature' or 'limit my character to your reasoning powers.'"  This appears as a preface before the chapter discussing the idea that gender reflects a hierarchical order within the Trinity, and it states what I have found to be obvious. Andersen astutely points out the connection to the derived concept of the Covenant of Redemption that is not so stated in Scripture but is an assumption made in some sectors of Covenant Theology.  I believe that certain individuals within complementarianism pride themselves on the idea that they can trace every doctrine they teach back to the Doctrine of God as inextricably bound to gender through this Covenant of Redemption.  Note that this teaching does not appear plainly in Scripture and many respected Covenant Theologians rejected this interpretation/application of the doctrine.  Consequently, the primary Covenant of Redemption concept itself does not argue hierarchy either, and many who do not embrace Covenant Theology reject both ideas because they are not clear in Scripture.

The author does well to note that men like Dr. Walter Martin and Adam Clarke warned against the threat of the Arian derived concepts of the doctrine of the "Eternal Generation of the Son" (pg. 124).  She also captures the sense of human hubris demonstrated by the advocates of Eternal Subordinationism, demanding that this concept is necessary to complementarian doctrine, as if the creation can clearly discern the Creator's perspective, that which even the Apostle Paul called a mystery.  It is also sad to note how complementarians use this doctrine to demean fellow believers as sub-Christian for their rejection of their concept of hierarchy within the Trinity.

Andersen also tackles most of the primary the teachings of complementarianism with an impressive exegesis, concepts that I have largely understood but take for granted that all Believers also understood the Word in these terms.  (A part of me is incredulous that so many people accept some of these teachings without protest.)   Needless to say, I am delighted to see such a thorough and much needed review of these Scriptures and I found her review refreshingly validating.  I look forward to studying some material that is new to me in greater depth concerning the kephale reference in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and the consistent use of the word in the Greek Septuagint preceding the reference.  This information is new to me, and as a good Berean,

I look forward to investigating this new information independently and in greater depth for my own understanding before I agree with her well-waged defense.  The only place where I differ from the author can likely be found in the description of the beliefs of C.S. Cowels in Chapter 13 who teaches that women "voluntarily subordinate themselves to men for the sake of congregational order."  I don't think that I share his beliefs to the degree that he describes based on 1 Cor 11:3, though I only defer to general male governance in the office of senior pastor only because I believe that 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are not clear enough to argue definitively that women should be senior pastors.  But at least with Andersen, I am honored though we may differ in this interpretation, and I am not called all manner of pejorative for such!  Such is not the case with my hard comp critics.

to order your copy of 
"Woman this is War."