15 February 2012


by Frank Turk

Some of you may know that a couple of weeks ago, John Piper had the DG Pastor's Conference, and had a lot of men there.  Well, this offended a lot of women, and Scot McKnight, and they had a lot to say about it as you might expect.  Most of it didn't really make any sense, but it's Wednesday, and we can't just leave this space blank.

The message that seems to have really bent them all out of shape and put them off their yogurt and vitamin water is the biographical sketch Dr. Piper did of J.C. Ryle.  In particular, they took offense to Dr. Piper saying this by way of introduction:
For the sake of the glory of women, and for the sake of the security and joy of children, God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.

And, of course, this is liable to serious misunderstanding and serious abuse, because there are views of masculinity that would make such a vision repulsive. So here is more precisely what I mean. And words are always inadequate when describing beauty. Beauty always thrives best when she is perceived by God-given instincts rather than by rational definitions. But we must try. What I mean by “masculine Christianity,” or “masculine ministry,” or “Christianity with a masculine feel,” is this:

Theology and church and mission are marked by overarching godly male leadership in the spirit of Christ, with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, and contrite courage, and risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading, protecting, and providing for the community—all of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s the feel of a great, majestic God, who by his redeeming work in Jesus Christ, inclines men to take humble, Christ-exalting initiative, and inclines women to come alongside the men with joyful support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work.
Now, what exactly about that is offensive?  As I said, I couldn't make heads or tails out of what was being said by the egalitarian offended class, but I did garner a few things from them which are at least enjoyable to hear them say out loud:

1. There's no difference between being a decent "husband" and being a decent "spouse".  That is: in marriage, the roles of husband and wife are interchangeable.  Whatever it is you do to be a good spouse is the same for both men and women, so let's not try to get too worked up about the relationship between the sexes in marriage.  In the end, it's no wonder people who think like this might think that marriage could therefore be two men or two women -- it's just jobbing, just role playing, and you just have to make sure that all the job description items are filled.

2. There is in fact no difference between the sexes when it comes to having friends.  For example, one woman explained to me that she did nothing wrong being a confidant to a man whose marriage was in trouble.  She was quite shocked and outraged that his wife thought otherwise -- can't a man and a woman just be friends?

3. Of course the pastoral office is not explicitly for men -- and certainly not for men who are inordinately manly.  I didn't realize we're all Anglicans now, but I realize I can't keep up with all the newest news.

It's sort of like hearing lap dogs describe what it must be like to drive a car.  It's as if they don't even understand that even Science has said there are significant differences between men and women that maybe we can't even entirely explain.  What will happen when they discover that a men's public restroom is different than the women's?

That's really enough for today.  That's probably all the tender-hearted among you can take anyway.  I have a full plate at work and I leave it to you to talk amongst yourselves -- in an ambiguous and androgynous manner, of course, so that nobody's feelings get jostled.


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Darlene said...

"No, I was referring to John Calvin, and even though I'm not sure why you felt the desire to address that particular point..."

I addressed it in that I thought it apropos that the origin of Calvin's comment, or even more precise, his understanding of the necessary connection between God as our Father and the Church as our mother derived from those church fathers who had preceded him. Surely they recognized on many occasions the pillars of the faith that had come before them, even before the Great Schism of East and West.

"But it is important that the historic reformed view of the Church not be obscured.

One does not learn of the Christian faith in a vacuum, and the Reformers didn't discard the wisdom of the early church fathers entirely. (emphasis: entirely) Furthermore, there is a historicity of the Church that predates Reformed theology and ecclesiology. It is that history to which I point in referencing the words of St. Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

If you have anything further to say to me, Tom, you are welcome to email me @ mpalshan @ sbcglobal dot net.

Darlene said...

Merrilee: You said, "There are far too few older women who are even available to teach the younger women because the older ones have gone into the "work force" rather than into the ministry to their fellow sisters in Christ."

There is so much wrong with this comment on so many levels. Not all women have the luxury to be married to men whose salaries are able to support the family without the aide of a second income. Some women work outside of the home even though they don't want to. They have no choice.

Then there are the women who are in the lamentable position of being single, either because their husbands left them, or they were never married, or due to any other number of circumstances. These women must be employed within the work force whether they like it or not.

Then there are those women who work outside the home who have invaluable professions where God uses them for His purposes. Nursing, teaching (pre-K all the way through college), law enforcement, attorneys at law, physicians, counseling, the list could go on. I am thankful that I have a female physician who understands my needs. If I were ever assaulted (esp. sexually) I would want to confide in a female police officer. If I needed counseling, more than not I would prefer a female over a male. Of course, if I were in a burning building I would much prefer being rescued by a muscular, strong male than a female counterpart.

Furthermore, women can and should make themselves available to other women in the church regardless if they work outside the home or not.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Dear Tom,

Please do forgive me. My hair trigger is uncalled for, and I do apologize to you. I will be perfectly honest with you, Tom; and this is why I responded with such rapidity. I so appreciate your contribution to this blog, very, very much, and I have learned so much from you, but...and here comes the blushing honesty part...I have always felt you were a bit condescending towards women, and had the feeling that you felt women were not your spiritual equal.

I’m glad, brother, that this faulty perception on my part has been addressed. You are a good man, Tom Chantry! I was "totally" out of line.

Tom Chantry said...

Well, I don't know if blogger is messed up or if I just can't make it work. The post says 204 comments - this page says 200. Can't access anything past 200. Stupid blogger. It's their own fault for messing with the word verification.

Aaron Snell said...

Trog FTW

WV: "oosytis inftitution" I love medical jargon.

Joshua W.D. Smith said...

@ Mary Tyler, 11:39

The "your desire will be for your husband" phrase in Gen. 3:16 is exactly parallel to the end of Gen.4:7, "[sin's] desire is for you." So, that phrase doesn't mean desire to help in any way, but to desire to overpower and turn aside. Interestingly, this indicates that a besetting sin for women is to want to be the one really in charge.

Deb W. said...

Tom Chantry wrote: "Did I miss something?"

Yes, absolutely. Both you and Frank have completely ignored the comments made by Rachael Starke and myself (7:50 pm, February 15).

I think there are still some serious outstanding questions that haven't been dealt with, which are not related to male elders/deacons, etc..

For instance:
What exactly is a "masculine feel"? An oxymoron, I presume.

Since when is Masculine Christianity a hallmark of complimentarianism? And what of all the scripture references that depict the Church in feminine terms? And what of all the discriptions of Christian ministry which contain both masculine and feminine (mercy, hospitality, giving, etc) attributes?

Bottom line question: did Piper mis-speak or not when he characterizes Christianity as primarily masculine?

It seems so.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Thank you, Joshua. I am aware of that. I have several commentaries on my bookshelf, and try to read those before I open my mouth and insert foot.

What I was trying to point out, is that most women I know have a very strong desire to look to men to fulfill their spiritual, physical and emotional needs. That's all!

BTW, Tom Chantry is a wonderful man of God and everything is fine between us. We talked this out over email. I was totally wrong about him. We are fortunate to have him here at Pyro. May we all keep learning from his wellspring of knowledge. His humor is not too bad, either. :)

Edward said...

I have some inside information on this discussion. The Holy Spirit told me (through His word) that He does not permit a woman to teach, preach or usurp authority over a man.

1 Timothy
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

People say Paul said but it is the Holy Spirit said.

The people trying to twist other scripture to allow women to be preachers are saying God contradicts Himself by doing that. It is clearly stated here what He allows.
It is like the homosexuals saying God is not against homosexuality because Jonathan loved David. Also some use Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus to justify women preachers. If there is neither male or female what does that do to the family or one man one woman marriage. What about no Jews and greeks and the implications that has with the whole bible.
It is all about pride. If people would just read the Word and obey what the Holy Spirit says we would not need these types of discussions.

Aaron Snell said...


You said,

Maybe if men could deal with strong women who love theology and scripture as much as men do, are able to decipher scripture as well as men, this wouldn't even be a subject that gets under some men's skin as it seems it does here...Yes, I am saying that men are threatened and don't know how to deal with women who are smart theologically and want to use their gifts for more than they are currently allowed to do which restricts them.

But you also said,

And while I believe complimentarians are sincere, they are sincerely wrong.

I'm confused. Which is it? Are complimentarian men threatened men who don't know how to deal with strong women, or are the sincere?

Aaron Snell said...

*are THEY sincere

F Whittenburg said...

Darlene and Deb W, thanks for the quotes by St. Cypria of Carthage and John Calvin discussed the feminine aspect of the church. I don't study Calvin, but I always suspected that if he was alive today he would agree with me.

"Well, just for good form and fair warning, I'll be closing this thread tonight sometime. Get your last licks in."

Thanks for the heads up Frank, I just walked in the door, so I hope this last lick makes it in.

I still take issue with what Piper said as seen in my previous post about the church being the bride of Christ having a masculine feel.

"God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry."

But the part of the ministry of the church in proclaiming the Word of God by the pastors and preachers is compared by Paul to a woman giving nourishment to a child at her breast. That is feminine.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2 KJV).

Men don't make milk. Piper needs to clarify his position more on this or someone will eventually call him on this. That is not being mean.

Rachel keep a close watch.

F Whittenburg

Tom Chantry said...

Deb W.

Sorry I missed that. I have no idea really what Piper meant by that phrase. It seemed to me like a poor way to introduce his thoughts, but what he said subsequently made more sense

Deb W. said...

Thank you Tom! See you on another thread...

Frank Turk said...

And ... We're done! Nice One!

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