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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Equal in power, unequal in authority

Dr. Mariottini has drawn attention to the amendments to the ETS doctrinal statement and responded to Doug's comments on this subject.

However, Peter, in a comment on Doug's post, brought up the same problem that I have. How can Denny Burk retain the original doctrinal statement in the new, when he is quoted elsewhere as teaching something which could be construed as meaning* the exact opposite. Here is the ETS statement,
    "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."
Here is Jim Hamilton's assessment of Denny Burk's recent book on articular infinitives,
    Burk thus renders the sense of the verse as, “Although Jesus existed in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God as something he should go after also” (139). The payoff, then, of Burk’s careful grammatical investigation is that Philippians 2:6 affirms the ontological equality of Father and Son while maintaining the functional subordination of the Son, even in his pre-existent state (cf. 139–40 n. 46).
Members of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood might also have difficulty with the ETS statement. This is a description of the role of the Son in relation to God, the Father, in an article by Bruce Ware. It is endorsed by the Executive director of CBMW.
    The Father possesses the place of supreme authority, and the Son is the eternal Son of the eternal Father. As such, the Son submits to the Father just as the Father, as eternal Father of the eternal Son, exercises authority over the Son. And the Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son. This hierarchical structure of authority exists in the eternal Godhead even though it is also eternally true that each Person is fully equal to each other in their commonly possessed essence. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles and Relevance by Bruce Ware. page 12.
While I am unsure of what Denny Burk's doctrinal beliefs actually are, the beliefs presented in Ware's document is eminently clear. Christ is not equal in authority to God.

For those who teach, on the one hand, that Christ is not equal to God in authority, but believe, on the other hand, that Christ is equal to God in power and glory, there is only one solution. "Power" and "authority" must be two distinct attributes. Christ is equal in power to God, and unequal in authority to God.

At this point someone would have to rewrite every lexicon in English and Greek that I am familiar with, as well as place several Bible translations off limits. The King James version, already does not meet the CBMW standards. This is one more major case against it.

In the KJV, εξουσια, the word which is normally translated as "authority" in modern translations, was translated as "power" 67 out of the 101 times that it appeared in the Christian scriptures. "Power" appears in the King James version as a synonym of "authority".

In the LSJ and BDAG lexicons "power" is a definition of εξουσια. Luther translated εξουσια as Macht, "might" also meaning "power". In the Concise Oxford English Dictionary "power" is the first meaning of "authority".

How is one supposed to reconcile "equal in power" and "unequal in authority", and still remain within the broader teaching of the Christian tradition? Or is this kind of difficulty one of illiteracy rather than apostacy?

If the CBMW is going to continue to exert influence over people's opinions on what Bibles are acceptable, then the King James version will eventually be placed off limits as distorting God's word. This kind of censorship would not be a good thing for those who wish to publish better Bibles.

* Edited for greater clarity. I have not been able to discern exactly what Burk is trying to prove about Christ's equality or inequality to God.

39 Comments:

At Thu Sep 20, 08:36:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I've long had a pet peeve with translations and commentators who confuse the notions of power and authority, which are indeed very different things. It might be that some Greek or Hebrew words could be translated either way, but the concepts are different.

Power is having the actual ability to do something. Authority is having the right to do it. Authority is authority over something. Power is simply an ability to accomplish something. Authority often brings power along with it, but it might not. Two persons of the Trinity can very easily have equal power without having equal authority.

So I see no reason why complementarians should have any problem whatsoever signing this statement. As a member of the subsidiary organization The Evangelical Philosophical Society, which uses the same statement of faith, I will have no problem at all signing the statement of faith even though I fully believe that scripture teaches Jesus as being under the authority of the Father.

 
At Thu Sep 20, 08:56:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

I was hoping you would comment.

It might be that some Greek or Hebrew words could be translated either way, but the concepts are different.

Does the Greek and Hebrew keep these two distinct? I could see that it is possible but I am not sure that the difference would be useful to the issue at hand.

Authority is authority over something. Power is simply an ability to accomplish something.

Where does this come from? Why can't you have "power" over something?

My guess is that this difference between power and authority was not perceived in the same way in past centuries. I feel the translations show this pretty clearly. I think Luther and translators of the KJB would have a lot of difficulty agreeing that Jesus had less authority than God.

Can you show me any theological work that indicates that there was a belief in the orthodox church that Jesus had less authority than the father?

I realize that this is something which some Christians today believe. I just don't see how it could be part of a traditional Christian belief. I would be very interested if you have picked up any citations on this throughout history.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 09:44:00 AM, Blogger Justa Berean said...

Certainly the Athenasian Creed shows a monumental difference of opinion to CBMW's interpretation of the Trinity.

By saying that God the Father has more authority than God the Son, one is also saying that they have different Wills.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

JB,

I have enjoyed reading your blog. I was expecially touched by the post on personal autonomy. It is the core problem - that women can be deprived of this by the teaching that if they do not submit to man they rebel against God.

You wrote,

However, everyone experiences a large degree of personal autonomy. We get up and go to bed when we want, have the job we have decided upon, wear the clothes we choose, eat the food we want, live in the house we want, all from the choices available.

Some women are deprived of these freedoms.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I don't see the issue as just one of "power", there is also a point about "glory". If the Father and the Son are "equal in ... glory", surely that implies equal rank and no subordination.

Jeremy, how would you understand Matthew 28:18, where the risen Christ says "All authority (exousia) in heaven and on earth has been given to me"? How can he have all authority in heaven and also have less authority than another being in heaven?

 
At Fri Sep 21, 12:42:00 PM, Blogger drm said...

Hm...I'm a little confused.

Bruce Ware is not an evangelical. He is Eastern Orthodox. Why is he writing theological statements for the ETS?

 
At Fri Sep 21, 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I must not have made this clear. Denny Burk is writing the ETS ammendment, and Bruce Ware writes the Christianity as hierarchy material for CBMW. Bruce Ware's work has been growing in prominence with CBMW as it moves from the compelementarian position to the marriage as hierarchy position.

I did not know that he was Eastern Orthodox nor do I know why his writing is now dominant at CBMW.

Maybe I am wrong about this, but if you check the CBMW website you could see his article on the complementarian position.

I guess I just assumed that CBMW folks would want to be able to sign the ETS doctrinal statement.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 01:32:00 PM, Blogger drm said...

Ah! I goofed up! Bruce Ware is an Evangelical - Timothy (Kallistos) Ware is Orthodox.

My bad!

 
At Fri Sep 21, 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

drm,

Thanks for that. You really threw me for a loop there. Bruce Ware is one of the foremost complementarianism as hierarchy writers.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 05:10:00 PM, Blogger drm said...

Ha! Threw myself for a loop, too!

I remember now that I read something of Bruce Ware's before..an article critiquing an Open Theism book.

I found his arguments so un-convincing there that it caused me to be much more sympathetic to Open Theism than before I read it!

 
At Sat Sep 22, 10:57:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I wasn't making a linguistic argument. I was making a conceptual distinction. I have no idea if the Greek words correspond to these concepts. I doubt they would. But I see the concepts as very different, and I see texts that seem to be talking about authority translated with power-language (and vice versa but less so). In English we don't even recognize this distinction linguistically. We say that a professor making sexual overtures to a student is abusing a power relationship. According to the conceptual distinction I'm making, the English word 'power' in that sentence means what I'm calling authority. It may also involve some powers to influence the person, but it is the fact that the person is in authority that gives the person those powers.

Now as to having power over something, that's a separate issue. You can have power over something, and you can have authority over something, but the two are different. Having power over something means you have influence or causal ability with respect to something. Having authority means you are in a position where you have responsibilities for those under you and a decision-making or leading role in some official capacity.

Peter, the view I have in mind is the following. All glory and authority of God belongs to the Father and the Son equally, but the Son is eternally in submission to the Father, thus not grasping hold of what is his right, which is to be equal in glory and authority. Thus in a sense they do have equal authority, and in another sense they do not. In incarnating himself as human, the Son takes a subordinate role, and since this was plan was in God's mind from eternity the relationship of submission is eternal. It is voluntary submission and not because of nature, but it is eternally true.

Now I don't claim to be arguing for this view here. I just want to make it clear what the view says. I'm convinced that you can say all that without denying that Christ has access to all the power of God in terms of God's omnipotence, God's ability to accomplish anything possible. I don't see how a view like the one I just outlined could possibly involve a sacrifice of omnipotence. They seem to be completely different issues.

Now, as you note, there is language about all authority being given back to Christ upon his ascension. Matthew 28 isn't the only place you see that. It's also in I Corinthians 15. But Paul goes on in the latter passage to say that Jesus immediately surrenders it back, indicating that his submission continues even then.

 
At Sat Sep 22, 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

For men to use their "authority" to influence women to be in submission to them, is an abuse of power.

If, as Lig Duncan explains in his sermon on the CBMW site, men and women are different by design, and then this difference, according to Lig Duncan, is that men are more vulnerabale to sexual temptation, then is it not dangerous in the extreme to give "men" authority that women do not have?

I just find this whole set up to be against every tenant of an ethical society.

 
At Sat Sep 22, 01:52:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

In incarnating himself as human, the Son takes a subordinate role, and since this was plan was in God's mind from eternity the relationship of submission is eternal.

Just because something was in God's mind from eternity, that does not mean that it is "eternal" in the sense of being true at all times, which is how I understand "eternal" in the teaching of eternal subordination. In fact the logic of your argument is that Jesus voluntarily became subordinate at the time of his incarnation, implying that previously he was not subordinate, thus his subordination is not eternal.

It's also in I Corinthians 15. But Paul goes on in the latter passage to say that Jesus immediately surrenders it back

Where do you get "immediately" from? Verse 28 seems to say that the Son will surrender his authority to God (not the Father, and so presumably, in terms of later theology, the whole Trinity), but this will happen at the future consummation of all things, not immediately after the ascension. Thus the Son is not subordinate to the Father in the current church age, which implies that he is not eternally so.

But I accept that the Son voluntarily submitted himself during his time on earth. As I argued in another comment, this is not just to the Father but also to his disciples. Now, during the church age, we see his continuing submission to and service of his people at the same time as he holds all authority. This is at least to some extent to be a model of the mutual submission of a Christian marriage, as in Ephesians 5:21-33, especially vv.25-28 where Jesus is the model of a husband serving his wife.

 
At Sat Sep 22, 06:06:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Peter, I'm not trying to argue for this view here, just explain what it holds. I don't think that the fact that it was in God's mind as part of a plan means it was always enacted. When I said it was always part of God's plan, I meant that it was true from eternity in exactly that sense. When I said that Christ continues to submit post-ascension, I meant that it continues on post-ascension. I haven't pretended to give an argument that it was always true before the incarnation, though, not as an enacted relationship of submission. I don't know if I have an argument for that.

Complementarianism doesn't need that, though. What complementarians sometimes claim is that the eternal role submission of Son to Father means equals can have role distinctions involving submission. I don't think you need it always to have been true to make the point, though. All you need is that it will always be true, and it violates Rebecca Merrill Groothuis' claim that it is outright inferiority if the submission never ends. She'd say that even of a relationship that started as equals.

Jesus hands his authority over at the consummation, but isn't that when he really receives it anyway? Isn't there still some sense in which he hasn't fully been glorified, since the completion of his work is yet to work itself out in history?

For men to use their "authority" to influence women to be in submission to them, is an abuse of power.

So it's immoral to teach what the Bible says if you're involved in a teaching ministry? The Bible does indeed tell wives to submit to their husbands. Everyone in this conversation seems to be acknowledging that. What is a teacher to say when that passage comes up? It would apparently be an abuse of power to tell women that Paul was telling the truth and that wives should submit to their husbands.

I don't know Ligon Duncan's views, but I don't see how it is automatically immoral to place someone in a position of authority who might be more vulnerable to certain temptations that come from such positions. For one thing, it may be that the people you're putting in authority are more qualified (although it's not my view in this case). For another, it may be that the alternatives are as susceptible to other temptations (which may well be the case in this case). A third reason is that such utilitarian considerations, while important in the absence of any other considerations, may easily be outweighed by a deeper moral principle. If God has a good reason for restricting eldership to men, as complementarians believe, then on the complementarian view it makes good sense to support that even if one particular consequence of that in a fallen world is unfortunate. That's the case with virtually everything in a fallen world. Why should it be a further problem here?

 
At Sat Sep 22, 06:53:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

How come you don't teach that dictatorship is the best kind of gov't. You don't like slavery, you don't like an absolute monarchy, you don't believe in one indivisible church on earth. You really only support the one submission that is submission to males. This is the first time in Christianity that all submission is sex-based.

After all, those who fought slavery were accused of not being biblical and those who fought the monarchy also, as well as those who rebelled against the one catholic church. Why were they justified and those who fight for equality for women are not.

 
At Sat Sep 22, 09:16:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

How come you don't teach that dictatorship is the best kind of gov't.

I do. A benevolent dictatorship is indeed the best form of government. The problem is that humans aren't benevolent, so we have to balance out the best form of government with one that works pragmatically. That means sometimes putting single people in charge of things who are really good at it and have the best intentions and sometimes relying on the masses to rule to counterbalance the problem of finding the best people and the problem of corruption.

You don't like slavery

Actually, my view of slavery isn't as simple as that. I've written at length about it in this series. There's a lot not to like about most forms of the more serious kinds of slavery in the world, but I merely have mixed feelings about much of the less severe kind, such as the waged slave system of capitalism that exploits my labor while also benefiting me or the indentured servant model operating when the Americas were colonized. I would defend the moral permissibility of the kind of slavery allowed in the Mosaic law, and I would insist that the priority of those who think it's wrong to own slaves is not to end slavery but to reverse the roles and serve the slaves in whatever way will best accomplish that (which may involve freeing them but may not).

you don't believe in one indivisible church on earth

Well, it's united in heaven, it is one church, and it manifests itself in every congregation of genuine believes. It does have one absolute monarch, who is also fully human (but not merely human). But I'm not sure how this is relevant.

You really only support the one submission that is submission to males.

Not remotely. I support a fairly radical (by contemporary standards) version of submission to the government, so much that I think Rosa Parks acted immorally by sitting in the front of the bus, and I think the American Revolution was a an unjust war on the part of the colonists.

I also support pretty much all the kinds of submission that you, Wayne, and Peter have been insisting on (with perhaps a few variations). I'm just not convinced those are what the NT calls submission.

I also believe wholeheartedly that I should submit to the elders of my congregation, and last I knew I wasn't female. There's nothing sex-based there.

Now there are serious questions related to the hermeneutics of slavery, gender, and so on, and I haven't tried to answer all of them. But it's pretty late, and it's hard to motivate myself beyond just correcting your misimpressions of my views at this point.

 
At Sat Sep 22, 09:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

A benevolent dictatorship is indeed the best form of government. The problem is that humans aren't benevolent, so we have to balance out the best form of government with one that works pragmatically.

That would be my point. I suppose you think husbands are benevolent dictators. But you don't deal with the fact that they are not benevolent. Apparently you think that men should have a government that works pragmatically but women don't need that.

I am also surprised that you don't appreciate the freedoms won by the revolution.

 
At Sun Sep 23, 04:22:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I suppose you think husbands are benevolent dictators.

Actually, I think husbands are neither benevolent nor dictators. Your argument against male headship (as authority) applies against any form of government. The fact that some husbands are not perfect (and some are very not perfect) is not an argument against male authority headship any more than the fact that some governments are not perfect (and some are very not perfect) is not an argument for anarchy.

I also don't think the kind of authority a husband has biblically is anything like a dictatorship. There are lots of things that authority can involve that it doesn't have in every case. I see no biblical warrant for the idea that husbands should make every decision without involving their wives, and the biblical injunction for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church allows for as much freedom in a wife's actions as members of the church have in working out their salvation and serving God with their gifts. I would actually say there's a good deal more, because merely human authority simply cannot be taken to the same level as a divine being who is absolutely sovereign and who is over any human authority.

So I'm not sure where this uncharitable assumption is coming from that there's nothing pragmatic in how husbands' sacrificial, serving love for their wives and wives' submission works out. I already said that I agree with pretty much all the things you, Peter, and Wayne are saying about mutual submission except that in one case it's not what I think the Bible would call submission. Doesn't think count as a pretty good reason to think there is a pragmatic concern that counterbalances the dictatorship considerations?

I have no idea why you think I don't appreciate the freedoms won by the revolution. All I said is that it was wrong to do it. Unless you think the end always justifies the means, it shouldn't follow from the good consequences of the revolution that it was the right thing to do.

 
At Sun Sep 23, 10:22:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The fact that some husbands are not perfect (and some are very not perfect) is not an argument against male authority headship any more than the fact that some governments are not perfect (and some are very not perfect) is not an argument for anarchy.

Jeremy,

Because leaders are not benevolent, the government is a democracy and responsible to the people. Because men are not benevolent, a marriage should be a democracy and husband responsible to the wife.

Male headship is equivalent to an absolute monarchy. You still want democracy for the man and hierarchy for a wife. You do not think a woman has the same need to live under a responsible government as a man does. It is sort of like saying that the those who live in dictatorship don't nave the same need for freedom as Americans do.

Interesting that you would characterize lack of male headship anarchy.

 
At Sun Sep 23, 02:07:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Suzanne, this is the sort of thing that makes almost every conversation I've ever had with you extremely tiresome. You insist on taking everything I say in the most uncharitable way possible. I didn't come remotely close to characterizing lack of male headship as anarchy. I gave an analogy between removing government because it can be corrupt and removing a male leader in a home because he can be corrupt. That doesn't mean removing male headship is the same as removing government in every respect, and it doesn't mean lack of male headship is anarchy. My point was that the problem with how things work out in practice is a problem with how things work out in practice, and that's true of both cases, without a need to remove the structure to deal with the problem. An analogy is often only useful for the elements that are being compared, but you seem to want to push me into using it to say a lot more than what I actually said.

 
At Sun Sep 23, 02:20:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

It is possible that I misunderstood you on anarchy, and made a false connection. It was hard to tell. One thought just seemed to flow into the other.

But I am not talking about removing the structure of marriage, but the structure of male lead hierarchy.

We agree that men are not benevolent. We agree that gov't has become a democracy to avoid irresponsible leadership by those who are not benevolent. But you cannot see why women do not want a male lead hierarchy by non-benevolent males (i.e. all males).

What I don't understand is why you want democracy yourself and hierarchy for women?

After all, democracy was against the clear instruction of the scriptures.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 06:51:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy asked:

So it's immoral to teach what the Bible says if you're involved in a teaching ministry? The Bible does indeed tell wives to submit to their husbands. Everyone in this conversation seems to be acknowledging that. What is a teacher to say when that passage comes up?

It's immoral to teach this apart from the context, the first part of the sentence, which is that all should submit to one another, including the husbands to the wives as well as the wives to the husbands. It's about as immoral as to teach that the Bible says there is no God on the basis of Psalm 14:1.

I think the American Revolution was a an unjust war on the part of the colonists.

Ah! Now we are talking!

 
At Tue Sep 25, 08:25:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Peter, I think it would be immoral to teach complementarian views on Ephesians 5 without insisting that the Bible is clear that all should seek to serve all others. My point is not that Eph 5:22ff. should be taught apart from that. It's that 5:21 may or may not mean mutual submission, and nothing in the egalitarian or complementarian debate stands or falls on that issue.

Suzanne, I do not advocate democracy. That would be disastrous. In a pure democracy, every member of society has to be involved in every decision. Everyone can occupy any position of authority, and the slots are filled by lottery rather than election, because elections require a kind of elitism that pure democrats never approved of. Elections in the ancient world were always seen as contrary to democracy. What we have now is what figures like Aristotle and Polybius argued for as a distinctly mixed government, allowing for aspects of democracy alongside aspects of monarchy and oligarchy/aristocracy. I think that's the most practical and effective form of government given a sinful world, and I think it's true in running large-scale political structures as well as smaller-scale family structures. I don't see the inconsistency you're pointing out between advocating some non-democratic structures in the church and family and advocating some democratic structures in the state, because I allow for some role for both in all these realms.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I think it would be immoral to teach complementarian views on Ephesians 5 without insisting that the Bible is clear that all should seek to serve all others.

Good! We have a measure of agreement here. You have been persuaded to depart from the position of at least some of the more extreme complementarians. I take it that you are insisting that husbands should serve wives, as well as vice versa. This is the major point which we do not see in so much complementarian rhetoric, which emphasises how wives serve husbands, and husbands love wives only by providing for them in a patronising way, not doing what the wife wants but what the husband decides is good for the wife.

But on what basis do you claim that "the Bible is clear that all should seek to serve all others" while denying that the Bible is clear that all should submit to all others? After all, the language used in Galatians 5:13 and Ephesians 5:21 is exactly the same, with the same reflexive pronoun allelois.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

A government that is abusive can be deposed. It would be nice for women to have some participation and contribution in the marriage before she had to leave and get a divorce. It is a harsh situation, stay and take it, or leave completely.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 12:56:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

You write,

some non-democratic structures in the ... family

If there are only two people and one is "the leader", then the entire marriage from day one till the day you die is non-democratic.

Do you vote? Do you ever vote against the goverment?

The wife is entirely at the mercy of her husband as to whether she can work outside the home, pursue her own interests and goals, etc. There is no structure at all to deal with this.

Do you really think that treating women as "the followers" and men as "the leaders" relates in any way to Christ's command to treat others as you want to be treated. This was the major teaching of Christ and complementarians believe that they don't have to follow it because women are different from men.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 01:48:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

You have been persuaded to depart from the position of at least some of the more extreme complementarians.

Suzanne, how long have we been doing this? You already know that about me.

I would submit, however, that some of these more extreme positions are not really complementarian but are simply traditionalist. The point of complementarianism was to provide a middle road between such traditional views and full-blown egalitarianism. It's sort of vague which views will end up counting as egalitarianism, but it's hard for me to see a dictatorial marriage relationship as complementarian, at least when you use that term in the way the people who coined it originally meant it. I know people whose views on husbands and wives are very traditional and not complementarian, and complementarianism struck me as much more healthy when I first heard it taught. I had seen it modeled in my parents (although I think they are too traditional in a few ways), but I never heard it taught carefully when I was a child. It took until college for me to see the middle ground that I had long seen in my parents actually put into words.

A government that is abusive can be deposed. It would be nice for women to have some participation and contribution in the marriage before she had to leave and get a divorce. It is a harsh situation, stay and take it, or leave completely.

My wife and I decide a lot of things together, and we often do what she wants when I want to do something else. Usually when we disagree, we do what she wants. There are plenty of things she decides without me even knowing about it.

I also do think that cases of serious abuse justify divorce. I take the allowance of abandonment to include that kind of abandonment and not just physically leaving. It's a serious abandonment of what the marriage covenant involves. As for women contributing to the marriage before that point, I of course agree with you, as I've been saying.

Peter, when I say that the Bible is clear about loving each other and serving each other, I take that to be the teaching of a lot of different texts, and I think there is inductive evidence that Jesus meant this to include all because of how he treated people. I also can't think of any way that loving people is supposed to be connected to roles people have that draw out love, because it's actually the opposite in scripture. You love those who are not in positions where you'd expect them to deserve love.

I took a look at O'Brien on Ephesians, and here are his arguments:

1. The term for submission is always used within a structured, ordered relationship, with one person submitting to another's authority. It's used of Christ submitting to God, demons submitting to Christ, citizens submitting to government, the universe subject to Christ, church members submitting to leaders, the church subject to Christ, servants/slaves subject to masters, and so on. There's no use, according to him, of simply acting in a considerate way.

2. The pronoun used for "one another" is sometimes used for symmetrical relationships, but they are not always used so. Rev 6:4 has people slaying each other. I don't think it has in mind that each person kills each other person. Gal 6:2 has people bearing each other's burdens, but it's not that everyone bears each other person's burden, and it might be that one person only bears burdens and another only has them borne. O'Brien puts it in terms of everyone who is more able bearing the burdens of those who are less able. This is not symmetrical, but it has the same grammatical structure.

3. The structure of the argument in 5:21-33 is supposed to favor his view also. He expresses the submission to each other and then fleshes it out with ordered relationships. I'm not at all convinced that the structure establishes anything either way. The inclusion of husbands and wives seems to count against this view, although that does use a different word (love), but so do the commands to children and slaves (obey). So I don't think the structure indicates much unless I don't understand O'Brien's argument.

But the first two arguments seem pretty good to me if he's right. The second argument shows that this grammatical structure can be used for this purpose, and the semantic range of the term itself shows that it's how it should be taken in this case. It depends on a lexical issue that I can't evaluate (but I know of no arguments against the claim) and a grammatical point that is obviously true given the other verses he cites with this grammatical structure.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I think there is inductive evidence that Jesus meant this to include all because of how he treated people.

Indeed, for loving one another and serving one another, and also, I would submit(!), for submitting to one another. The strongest such inductive evidence is in John 13:1-17, where the footwashing is clearly a symbol of Jesus submitting to his disciples. See also Mark 10:42-45.

I also can't think of any way that loving people is supposed to be connected to roles people have that draw out love, because it's actually the opposite in scripture. You love those who are not in positions where you'd expect them to deserve love.

Indeed. And just the same with submitting to others. There is nothing here about roles of authority and submission, except for the mentions of lords and masters as being subverted institutions.

Thanks for the summary of O'Brien's argument. The second argument fails because there are, as far as I know, no cases of allelois dividing people into separate roles or categories. A may bear B's burdens, but the teaching is clearly intended to be that in another circumstance B should bear A's burden, rather than that A is a permanent member of the burden-bearing caste and B of the burdens-borne caste. Similarly "killing one another" cannot mean that one pre-designated group or army massacred another group. There is as far as I know no case of the kind of asymmetry which O'Brien is proposing for Ephesians 5:21. But I accept that I have not looked at this in detail either.

As for argument 1, I have never claimed that submitting means "simply acting in a considerate way".

 
At Tue Sep 25, 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I am part of the government, so my voting is always part of the government. I'm not sure what it means to vote against the government, actually. I do vote against people in positions in the government, but that's because I'm given that power by the government.

The wife is entirely at the mercy of her husband as to whether she can work outside the home, pursue her own interests and goals, etc. There is no structure at all to deal with this.

I'm not sure why you think this. The only sense in which I can see this being true is also true of egalitarian marriages. There are civil authorities and congregational elders to deal with this kind of thing. Sometimes they fail, but can't that happen with egalitarian models too? I just don't see how this is an issue with complementarianism.

Do you really think that treating women as "the followers" and men as "the leaders" relates in any way to Christ's command to treat others as you want to be treated.

Perhaps you should rephrase that in terms of complementarianism rather than its caricature. I know of no complementarian who thinks of all men as leaders in some special sense. All believers are to be leaders in some sense, including all women. Some men are to be elders. But only a few men are in that position, and most men's leadership in the church is no more than most women's, and some women's may be more significant than many men's.

I certainly don't think that doing unto others requires me not to submit to my elders, and I certainly don't think it requires them not to teach authoritatively or to exercise church discipline. So I'm not sure why adding a gender requirement changes that. So again this isn't an issue with complementarianism. I think you just have an issue with authority, one that I'm not willing to share.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 03:44:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

Suzanne, how long have we been doing this? You already know that about me.

It wasn't me who wrote what you cited here.

One person having their say be "it", and being the leader most of the time is abuse. This is what is taught and modeled by the leaders in the church always being male. This is what is taught by the CBMW.

It may have absolutely nothing to do with you, personally. I don't doubt what you say about yourself. I don't mean any disrespect of your personal lifestyle, it is the paradigm.

I'm not sure why adding a gender requirement changes that.

That is incredible! Elders are apponted for a time to work on behalf of all members who share authority, which comes from baptism - read Luther. To then say that women have to be in a 24/7 authority-submission relationship because they are women is just like slavery. They should put up with it, or get divorced, so they do have some say, they can vote with their feet and some do, but it is terribly hard not to have other resources for conflict resolution other than that.

And I am not talking abuot YOUR view but about specific teaching at the CBMW webisite, that women cause all the problems by not being good followers.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 03:55:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Suzanne blogged:

This kind of censorship would not be a good thing for those who wish to publish better Bibles.

So true, but this is what has been done with the TNIV including the call by prominent conservative media figures to boycott it, and the decision by many Christian bookstores to follow that call.

Just go into a typical Christian bookstore in the U.S. and look the for TNIV. You will probably not find it. If you ask why not, as I have done, you will typically be told, "It's a corporate decision." Yet they stock other Bible versions which treat gender language as does the TNIV, including NLT and The Message. I'm glad that they stock the NLT and The Message. I just wish that the TNIV were not censored. Let people have easier access to it, read it, study it, compare it to the underlying Greek and Hebrew, and decided for themselves whether or not it is an accurate translation.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 04:45:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

I need to take a break and I sure don't want this to end up looking like a judgement of you personally.

All I want is fair treatment for women, to have the same rights that a man has living in the same country.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 06:56:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Suzanne,

Sorry for mixing up your comments with Peter's. Sorting them out might have gotten me a little lost when I was trying to respond to both of you at once.

I too need to take a break from this, but I do want to respond to one thing:

specific teaching at the CBMW webisite, that women cause all the problems by not being good followers

I don't always agree with everything the leaders with the CMBW say, but that seems far removed from anything I've seen from any of them. This surprises me greatly. I wouldn't expect to see anything remotely close to this from Piper, Grudem, Kostenberger, Schreiner, or anyone else I've read anything by in that organization.

Peter, in the slaying case there are two clear categories: those doing the slaying and those being slain. It might be that someone does some slaying of some people and then gets slain by someone else, but no one is both slain by and slayer of the same person. That strikes me as particularly parallel for that reason.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 07:50:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

I think it is called, What to do when the wife won't follow.

Let's take a break - I am not accusing you of anything at all, and you know you will never persuade me that patriarchy is a good thing.

We all have other things we can enjoy in common. Did you post your MB type yet?

Pax,

Suzanne

 
At Tue Sep 25, 08:38:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Jeremy wrote:

It might be that someone does some slaying of some people and then gets slain by someone else, but no one is both slain by and slayer of the same person.

Jeremy, I don't wish to enter the overall discussion in this comment thread, but if I understand you correctly, are you suggesting that mutual slaying cannot occur? It doesn't often happen, but it's not a logical impossibility and it has happened. Two people may have guns pointed at each other and pull their triggers closely enough in time that they each die from the gunshot wound inflicted by the other.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Wayne, no, I'm not saying it can't happen. Just that it's almost certainly not what Revelation is referring to in those verses. That would be really odd and not the natural way to take such language.

Suzanne, when my wife doesn't follow she doesn't follow. I'm not sure what you're suggesting, but I see nothing in scripture anywhere telling husbands to make their wives submit. Most complementarians even make a big deal out of saying this to men.

Do you mean Myers-Briggs? I'm ISTJ, and I'm near the extreme on all four.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 09:44:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

Suzanne, when my wife doesn't follow she doesn't follow.

Sounds like a deal. :-) We both have children to take care of, and lessons to prepare and Bible translation to talk about. Thanks for sharing.

 
At Tue Sep 25, 09:45:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Since I'm an INFP, maybe we are sometimes talking at cross purposes. :-)

 
At Wed Sep 26, 03:11:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

no one is both slain by and slayer of the same person

No, Jeremy, this is not true. It is quite possible and indeed common in battle for someone who is mortally wounded to be able to kill their assailant, so the two literally do kill one another. But that is not my main point. The parallel with your view of hierarchical marriage would demand that there are two distinct groups, with a pre-existing distinction and no possibility of switching from group to group, the members of one of which kill the members of the other. Or if you want to take the parallel the other way, you might get to a situation of marriages in which in each marriage one partner is submitted to the other partner without any link to the predetermined characteristic of gender.

 

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