About a week ago, I posted a link to Adrian Warnock’s Complementarian-Egalitarian Spectrum. While I considered it a helpful resource, I wanted to elaborate on the issue of biblical interpretation, and promised a follow-up post.
But the follow-up post was beginning to look more like follow-up book. There just wasn’t enough space to do justice to all the topics I wanted to cover, so I’ll be posting my thoughts in pieces over the next week or so.
Warnock, a complementarian, wrote that “Moderate egalitarians may need to approach the biblical text in a different way than complementarians, but many of them will value the Bible just as much, and remain committed to biblical inerrancy.” While I appreciate his acknowledgement that egalitarians aren’t just playing fast and loose with biblical interpretation, the wording of his statement betrays his bias. Egalitarians don’t “need” to approach the text “differently” for the purpose of supporting their views–the way they approach the text simply supports an egalitarian interpretation, which is why they are egalitarians in the first place.
I think many people would be surprised to learn how many well-respected evangelical leaders, theologians, denominations and seminaries quietly hold egalitarian positions–people like Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser, Willow Creek founder Bill Hybels, the late, great theologian F.F. Bruce, the beloved Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright. It’s not just musty mainline denominations that support female ordination–the Evangelical Covenant, American Baptists, Vineyard, Christian Reformed, Salvation Army, Assemblies of God, and many, many more, affirm women in every level of church leadership. Egalitarianism is not some strange, fringe theology for liberals who don’t take the Bible seriously. It is for people who take the Bible very seriously, indeed–too seriously to pay lip service to a theology that is widely accepted, but that they don’t believe lines up with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
So I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the basic principles egalitarians use for understanding and interpreting the Bible. They’re not “egalitarian principles”–many complementarians use them too–but they are crucial to understanding where egalitarians are coming from.
Over the next few days I’ll be posting about The Whole Counsel of the Word of God; God’s Intent at Creation; Attitudes Regarding Authority; and Love, Leadership and Submission. I’m looking forward to some great conversations!
Note: Adrian Warnock has very kindly tweaked the wording I quoted. Read his post here.