Well, of course we may.
But, to focus the question down: May we speak of indelible, God-given, complementary roles for men and women?
Kevin Giles (What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women) is a strident critic of this notion, and I want to look carefully at his concerns.
What follows is a summary of Giles’ critique. Then, I’ll offer a few comments by way of response.
Giles credits George Knight III with the ‘invention’ of evangelical complementarianism, in his 1977 book New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women.…
Kevin Giles, in his What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women (Cascade Books, 2018) selects one major ‘conversation partner’ from the complementarian side as a foil to his egalitarian interpretation of Scripture.
That ‘conversation partner’ is God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey, by Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger (Crossway, 2014).
I have discussed elsewhere some of the substance of this debate.
In this post , I would like to consider how Giles treats the Kostenbergers and their work.…
Kevin Giles (What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women) repeatedly complains that Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger (and other complementarians) accuse evangelical egalitarians of teaching undifferentiated equality between the two sexes.
‘Evangelical egalitarians do not deny male-female differentiation, they affirm it.’
‘Yes, in Gal 3:28 Paul speaks of the equality of the sexes in salvation but this does not negate male-female role differentiation.’
‘The Köstenbergers and all complementarians argue that evangelical egalitarians reject the authority of Scripture, embrace cultural relativity, and deny male-female differentiation, arguing for “undifferentiated equality.”…
Nestling at the back of what I fondly call my mind has been a reference, by O.R. Johnston (in his 1979 book, Who Needs The Family?) to an important but neglected piece of research which presented evidence for a positive correlation between sexual restraint and cultural achievement.
I was pleased to track down Johnston’s book, and his discussion of the research in question. Here is what Johnston has to say:
I turn now to the various types of marriage pattern in different societies and ask what advantages scholars have perceived in the different types of sexual regulation.…
1 Sam 16:14 – ‘Now the Spirit of the LORD had turned away from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.’
Bergen describes this as a very unusual form of expression: unique, indeed, in the OT.
It could equally be translated, ‘troublesome’ spirit.
It was a condition which (as Bergen notes) Saul himself was unable to deal with. It was his attendants who ‘diagnosed’ it, and they who suggested an effective treatment.
Key texts include:
John 6:38 “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
John 14:28 “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.”
John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”…
Perusing the 2nd edition of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan Academic, 2020), I was struck by his complaint that his (and Bruce Ware’s) position on the Eternal Submission of the Son has been ‘seriously misrepresented’ by Aimee Byrd (in her book, Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, published earlier in 2020 by Zondervan).
Byrd, writes Grudem,
‘falsely claims that Bruce Ware and I, in advocating the doctrine of “eternal relations of authority and submission,” are making a serious doctrinal error because “this doctrine teaches that the Son, the second person of the Trinity, is subordinate to the Father, not only in the economy of salvation but in his essence,” and we are therefore “unorthodox teachers that are not in line with Nicene Trinitarian doctrine.”’…
The literature (especially online literature dating from 2016 onwards) is huge.
Here, however, is a selection.
Bird, Michael F. and Harrower, Scott (eds). Trinity Without Hierarchy. Kregel, 2020.
Byrd, Aimee. Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Zondervan, 2020. (Not primarily about ESS, but of some relevance, given Byrd’s involvement in the debate)
Butner, D. Glenn, Jnr: The Son Who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son. Pickwick, 2018.…
There is an order in the mode of subsistence of the Three Persons, which cannot be reversed, and properties that cannot be interchanged, an order of relationship. This is not to be construed as subordination, however. These distinctions between the Persons are not distinctions of essence, but of person. They are “the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” The essence of God involves infinite, eternal, and unchangeable being and perfection. The fact that we recognize each of these persons as deity implies that there can be no subordination of essence.…
1 Corinthians 15:28 ‘When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.’
Donald MacLeod refers to the ‘formidable difficulty’ contained in these words.
‘They seem,’ he writes, ‘to teach blatant subordinationism: the Son himself will be subject to the Father. Does this not place him very clearly on the side of creation rather than on the side of the Creator?’…