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Is God a Respecter of Persons?

A new article on The Christian Post talks about beliefs that God is male centered, that God prefers males more than females and that God wants Christianity to have a “masculine feel”, whatever that is. Apparently, at a conference for pastors at the Minneapolis Convention Center on January 31, 2012, a well-known complementarian pastor stated that repeatedly God has chosen the masculine over the feminine.  The speaker said ” God’s intention for Christianity is for it to have a masculine feel.”       You can view it here.          Is his statement really true?

Acts 2:14-21 quotes the prophet Joel who prophesies that God will pour out His Spirit on ALL flesh. 1 Cor. 12 does not segregate in any fashion the anointings of the Spirit and ministries into gender designations. Neither does Romans 12 or Ephesians 4.

Romans 12: 3 says (TNIV) “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”

Is it sober thinking to claim that males are more important to God than females? What are some of the Scriptures that show otherwise?

131 Comments

  1. Don
    Comment #95635 posted February 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm
  2. Don
    Comment #95636 posted February 5, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    http://equalitydepot.com/doeskephaleheadmeansourceorauthorityoveringreekliterature1.aspx

    allows purchase of Richard Cervin’s article which rebuts Grudem’s claims on kephale.

  3. Don
    Comment #95637 posted February 5, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    P.S. Cernin, McCarthy and Nyland are all Greek scholars, while Grudem is not. Grudem has made elementary mistakes in Greek in some of his published papers. One can discern which side of the debate on kephale is more credible just from this, but I recommend reading and studying both sides and making your decision.

  4. Comment #95638 posted February 5, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    BT. As I see it this whole complementarian defence of their position, by resorting to such terminology as, ‘essential equality’ and ‘functional difference’ is an obfuscation that only further demeans (read devalues) women in their full identity in Christ. No one disagrees with the fact that women are biologically different in their essential ability to bear and nurse children etc. But to suggest that this biological differentiation limits their spiritual potential is what is at issue here. In Christ men and women are equals (Galatians 3:28, as you have already stated) which means that every former barrier which separated them is done away with just as has happened with racial, ethnic and cultural divides.

    Egalitarians essentially believe that most complementarians place limits and interpretations on the Galatians 3:28 text, to suit a complementarian perspective, that are not imposed by a careful reading of the entire context.

    When I read and hear what well known and respected teachers like John Piper have to say on this issue I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:17 (NIV), “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” As sincere and well meaning as people like John Piper are they are trying to defend and preserve an old order, just as the pharisees of Jesus day were. The old, male priesthood and patriarchal way, is no longer the way of the Kingdom of God. The new has come as Peter announced in Acts 2:16-21 concerning the prophecy of Joel, which reads in part:

    “In the last days God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
    Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.” (TNIV)

    What I see here is the Kingdom message being taken out of the hands of the religious elite and given to ordinary, everyday Spirit empowered people of every age, race and gender without distinction. This was supremely evident in the early church, as is recorded throughout the book of Acts. There we see the emergence of gentile believers and prominent women featured strongly alongside the men.

    To my mind we are in danger of limiting the gospel of the Kingdom in the same way as the Pharisees and Judaisers of old when we adopt a classist mentality and restrict leadership and ministry opportunity to men alone by adopting a ‘masculinist feel’ church. It is a construct of our own making which neither originates in God nor brings Him pleasure. To say that women can minister to women, thus expressing their spiritual gifts, but not to a mixed congregation, is mere semantics and limits the workers being thrust out into the harvest.

  5. Comment #95639 posted February 5, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    “Women and men are essentially equal but functionally different.”

    I’d like to relate a (true) allegory on this idea of essentially equal but functionally different. Last week my adult son, who has an intellectual disability, visited our town library to apply for a membership card. On hearing his request the library attendant said he would have to go away and bring back a letter from a responsible person before he could be granted a library card. My son replied he was a 27 year old adult (he has a very healthy beard!), on which the attendant checked with another attendent and both affirmed the first attendant’s instruction as library policy.

    Now, should I explain to my son that he shouldn’t be concerned over this, that he should resign himself to the fact that God has ordained he is forever to be essentially equal but functionally different, and send him back with his letter so that he can flourish joyfully alongside the other library members? Or should I call injustice injustice and encourage him that God never intended that his differences should limit his experience of life.

    I am not an academic, I am not a scholar, but it seems to me academics have become very adept at coming up with long winded phrases to excuse what God would call the sin of prejudice.

    I am happy to say the library has since apologised for their ‘mistake’ and my son has his library card, without the need for a covering letter from a ‘responsible person’.

    Some may see my allegory as irrelevant to the current discussion. To me it is very relevant, and very clear.

  6. Comment #95640 posted February 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Trevor: “What I see here is the Kingdom message being taken out of the hands of the religious elite and given to ordinary, everyday Spirit empowered people of every age, race and gender without distinction.”

    Your comments encourage and inspire me, and especially this sentence. Thankyou, you have expressed God’s heart with clarity, humility and wisdom!

  7. Comment #95642 posted February 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    What irks me about this the most is how Piper seems to assume that women cannot lead God’s people “in the spirit of Christ with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, contrite courage, risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading and protecting and providing for the community. All of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus.” Why is this a “masculine” trait?

  8. Comment #95643 posted February 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    I also really appreciated this response to Piper’s remark about the “male” apostles:

    http://www.jrdkirk.com/2012/02/03/on-jesus-choosing-twelve-males/

    written by a Fuller professor.

  9. Comment #95644 posted February 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Hello BT, #95620

    ”Laurie, I would suggest that that verse you quoted is meant to communicate something else. Whether the Hebrew uses the word “male” or not, the point is not about gender, but about God not being human.”

    Well, I’m of the opinion that along with the context words matter. I do not think it accidental that in Numbers 23:19 first God used ish and then God used adahm. When translated exactly, God is saying that He is not a male and He is not the son of humans, that He should be like humans who lie. The end result is that God covered the whole thing. God is neither male nor is he a human male. One has to wonder why He would say that. Perhaps, there was a move in those days as well, to make masculinity more godly than femininity.

  10. Comment #95645 posted February 5, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Let me add this for a devotional thought:

    “John 4:24
    God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.””

    It does not say that God is a male spirit or a female spirit, or that He is more male than female. God is Spirit and is to be worshiped IN Spirit and Truth. Those who have an ear to hear will understand that in God’s economy, all this talk about God
    and His people having a “masculine feel” (as God’s preference) is moot and frivolous. God IS Spirit. God created gender for us. God doesn’t need it. It doesn’t impress God.

  11. Donald Guffey
    Comment #95646 posted February 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    This is just another example of the new patriarchy that is spreading its poison across Christendom. Piper along with his alarmingly large young restless and reformed crowd are trying their best to bring back this idolatrous form of Christianity. I find it rather funny that preachers are saying the church needs to have a more masculine feel, last time I checked the scriptures God seemed pretty clear that the Church is to have a “Jesus feel”, a “Holy Spirit led feel”, and also the last time I read the book of Acts it states that Holy Spirit would pour out his Spirit on all flesh and that sons and daughters would both have a hand in spreading the message of the redeemed. So for a preacher to say that the church needs to look more human (or shall we say fleshy, worldly…you fill in the blank) especially considering Piper is a Calvinist and as such would no doubt believe in mankind’s total depravity (or are males not as depraved…hmm). In my opinion if one would simply read the Bible through the lens of Christ himself who by the way is the Living Word and base their theology on what Christ said and did, including his treatment of women, one would easily see that this idea of a masculine church is totally contrary to Scripture. As a man I absolutely abhor the idea of a more masculine church! In case Piper and his lot haven’t noticed men have run the church for thousands of years and history shows what a good job they have done! Let’s see, sex scandals, paedophilia, the crusades…oh yes, give me even more male dominated leadership! I would argue if there is anything wrong with the masculinity of the church it’s that there is too much of it. That’s just my two cents on the matter.

  12. Comment #95647 posted February 5, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you, Donald Guffey! Well said!!

    Or as one blogger said, if you look back at church history, all the heresies have been introduced by… men!

  13. Frank
    Comment #95648 posted February 6, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Let me say, as one whose own roots are in the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition, that John Piper, Bruce Ware, and other Neo-Calvinists do not speak for me. I firmly believe in the sovereignty of God in the salvation and preservation of his people in Christ; I believe in complete human depravity, i.e. that the human mind, heart and will are so polluted by sin that regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit are absolutely necessary for our salvation and growth in holiness; and I believe Christians can and must persevere in a life of holiness, love and service by using “the means of grace” God has made available, e.g. obedient reading of Scripture, prayer, support and encouragement by other Christians, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

    But, unlike Grudem, Piper and Ware, I also believe that Jesus and Paul, in their overall teaching and practice, have shown that in the New Age that has been inaugurated by Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and his outpouring of the Spirit on the Church–Believers form a new humanity in which secondary characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and gender are no longer to be recognized or permitted as barriers to leadership and ministry; that it is the gifting and calling of the Spirit, which is done in full agreement with the common will and choice he shares with the Father and Son, that determines where and how we serve in the Church; and not mere human, culturally based traditions and rules; and that to forbid a woman or man to be a leader or minister in the Church on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender is not only unjust, but is to oppose the will and choice of the Triune God–a very grave error.

    In part, I have mentioned the above matters for the sake of BT, whom I perceive as a “young Calvinist” who has a high esteem for Grudem and Piper, who present themselves as champions of Calvinism. The fact is, contrary to what some might think, not all Calvinists are Complementarians. Nor is it a necessary component of Calvinistic theology, in my opinion.

    But I have also brought these matters up as a basis to point out that not only is Wayne Grude far from being the best Greek scholar, but also reveals in his promotion of the concept of “essential equality but functional inequality” as regards the relationship of the Persons of the Triune God, that he is far from being the best representative of the Augustinian-Calvinist tradition. As I have pointed out here in previous discussions on the Trinity, Augustine, John Calvin, B.B. Warfield, and others have taught the Three Persons are coeternal and coequal in being and character, fully sharing in all the divine attributes, and their taking particular roles in creation and redemption on the basis of covenantal agreement, not because One Person possessed some trait or attribute the Others did not.

    But this is not the view of Wayne Grudem. On the one hand, he asserts that the Three Persons are “essentially equal” because they share the same divine attributes, but then that they are “functionally unequal” because it is the role of the Father alone to “command” while it is the role of the Son and Spirit to “submit” to the Father. And this authority/submission relationship is not based on a covenantal agreement to carry out the works of creation and redemption in time and space, nor on the basis of differing competencies existing between the Three Persons.

    No, according to Grudem, its basis is that the fundamental expression of the Son’s “sonship” is eternal submission, while the fundamental expression of the Father’s “fatherhood” is to exercise eternal authority over the Son and the Spirit. The problem here, of course, is how to explain how Each Person is suited for a role of authority or a role of submission, by virtue of what they are as Father and Son, if it is indeed also true that as God they fully and equally share all the divine attributes necessary for Godhood? How can it be that they do not differ in attributes and competencies, if their roles are necessarily related to who they are? If fitness for authority entails supremacy of One Person, then it necessarily entails the inferiority of the Other Persons. How then is this possible, unless there is a real difference in the essence or being of the Three Persons?

    Quite frankly, not only is Wayne Grudem’s teaching on the Trinity not rationally inconsistent and incoherent, but it is nothing more than a modern form of Semi-Arianism, a heresy condemned by the Eastern Church in 381 A.D. and by the Western Church in 382 A.D. Beware of this teaching, for it is harmful.

  14. Comment #95649 posted February 6, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Thanks for that link MaryAnn. Another from that same source I found to be so well put together and truly amazing.

    http://disorientedtheology.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/the-radical-femininity-of-christ/

    There has been a huge male response to this issue on Rachel Held Evans website.

  15. Lamar Wadsworth
    Comment #95650 posted February 6, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Charis (comment 95606)hit the nail on the head. This is precisely the right scripture to challenge this “masculine Christianity” foolishness. It is nothing but forming god in the image of somebody’s idea of what a “manly man” should be. My quarrel with the “masculine Christianity” bunch is first of all at the point of idolatry, fashioning themselves a god in the image of man. My second quarrel with them is in their deficient doctrine of the atonement, because the only way to maintain the eternal subordinate status of women is to make the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ less effective for females than for males.

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