After a quick survey of American evangelicalism in 2019, it’s been suddenly discovered – much to everyone’s surprise – that there are no egalitarians any longer in existence. This may be hard for some to believe, given the radical shift toward acceptance of females in ministry, but egalitarianism apparently has been totally eradicated.
Egalitarianism is the theological term for believing that because men and women are equal in God’s sight, they must have the same roles within the home and church. Egalitarians believe that women are called to the highest forms of church leadership, in spite of what the Scriptural epistles say.
The Conservative Resurgence in the SBC began in 1979 with the election of Adrian Rogers. The battle was over Scriptural inerrancy, with much of the warfare conducted over female ministers, in which conservatives claimed that upholding inerrancy would prevent. Moderates, who denied inerrancy, demanded female preachers. The conservatives won that battle by 1993 and had sent the moderates packing (or in reality, hunkering down and waiting).
In the year 2000, the Baptist Faith and Message was revised in Articles Article VI and XVIII to reinforce the SBC’s complementarian position. Adrian Rogers, who again served the SBC as president in 1986 and 1987, iterated to the press that the revision was designed to stop egalitarianism in its tracks.
When asked about the changes to reinforce the SBC stance against female pastors and preachers, Rogers complained, “Many denominations are being swept along by the culture,” before adding that “The Jesus that we love is the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of the imagination.”
Arguing that women should not be preachers during the 2000 BF&M revision, Southern Seminary president, Albert Mohler, said that complementarianism and egalitarianism represented “two different versions of the Baptist faith.”
Richard Land, Russell Moore’s predecessor at the ERLC, said, “You don’t have a right to believe whatever you want to believe, and still call yourself a Southern Baptist.”
During this resurgence of conservatism, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was formed in 1987. The organization then adopted The Danver Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which argued for a complementarian rather than egalitarian understanding of Biblical gender roles. Joining in that effort was Paige Patterson, a fearless opponent of female preachers.
At the time, its other signatories and drafters included Ray Ortlund, John Piper, D.A. Carson, and Bill Bright (of Campus Crusades for Christ, now Cru). Although these men were all opposed to females preaching in 1988, Patterson is the only living signatory left who has retained his view (Bright is dead, but Cru is now militantly ‘woke’).
Wayne Grudem’s Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood lays out the foundational Biblical principles that should lead us to shun female leadership and authority in the church.
Today, in 2019, women are enrolled in ministry degree programs (including homiletics or preaching classes) in Southern Baptist seminaries. Southern Baptist Churches regularly have women on staff who carry the title “pastor” or “minister of [such and such].” The organizations founded by developers of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (like John Piper’s Desiring God and D.A. Carson’s The Gospel Coalition) all promote female leadership in the church and female preachers. The Southern Baptist Convention president, JD Greear, has advocated for females preaching to even men and even during the Lord’s Day Assembly.
BUT DO NOT WORRY. THERE ARE NO EGALITARIANS LEFT IN AMERICAN EVANGELICALISM.
Yes, that’s right. You can’t find egalitarians. Literally no one will call themselves such. Not even John Piper (who encouraged men to listen to Beth Moore preach) will call himself an egalitarian.
After all, how could they admit to having changed their views by 180 degrees? They founded the CBMW. They helped revise the BF&M2000.
Their views have absolutely, beyond-a-doubt, 100% changed, no matter what Danny Akin recently claimed.
If Danny Akin had held that view, or let it be known, when he became president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he would not have become president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Greear, the SBC President, is hashtagging his egalitarian views #BFM2000. He is doing so because the revision does not technically state that men and women have different gender roles, but only that men must be the ones in “offices.” Of course, all the men who revised the statement (at the time) were very clear on their position against female preachers and that they presumed that preaching was pastoral in nature (because it is).
Greear’s argument is that women can do pastoral things, including the zenith of pastoral responsibilities – preaching – so long as they don’t technically have the title “pastor.” In doing so, Greear undermines the entire concept of gender role differentiation that undergirds the Conservative Resurgence and CBMW and instead only insists on a title differentiation.
Now, new terms have developed to explain the egalitarian position of evangelical leaders who don’t want to use the term egalitarian. They will let women preach, hold pastoral office, and do anything a pastor does, except retain the title itself.
The term they use now is soft complementarianism, which is as flaccid as their argumentation.
Rhyne Puttman, who is an SBC professor and also a Research Fellow for the Soros-funded ERLC, used this term recently.
Putman should be aware (and probably is) that the differentiation between types of complementarianism is as new as Beth Moore’s last haircut.
What Putman means by “soft complementarianism” used to be called “egalitarianism.” What Putman means by “hard complementarianism” is what the drafters of the BF&M 2000 and CBMW all held to 20 years ago.
Justin Peters rightfully mocked the terminology.
Hilariously, even random people know intuitively that egalitarianism and “soft complementarianism” are synonymous.
Southern Baptist intellectual leaders like Rhyne Putman and everyone else using the term “soft complementarianism” do intellectual honesty a disservice. It’s an offense to both history and the truth. It brings confusion rather than clarity.
Flaccid Complementarians, or whatever term they choose to refer to themselves, just need to (wo)man up, admit that their views have changed, “repent” for their past position, and stop pretending as though the issue is about the title of pastor and not the function.
Conservatives need to acknowledge that we lost the Resurgence and that we should have left the SBC three decades ago rather than fight for something that God doesn’t love.
What will proceed out of a liberal’s mouth just prior to denouncing complementarian positions is, “I’m a complementarian, but…”
They are egalitarians. They just refuse to speak truth because they lie and their father is the father of lies, the devil.
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