Russell Moore, who comes from a region of the country where there are two kinds of Northerner, the Yankee and the Damned Yankee, may agree with me that Evangelicals seem to be similarly divided. To “get my blood going” the other day, he sent me a link to this posting by Alan Johnson that “summarizes a recent panel discussion at the ETS [Evangelical Theological Society], with final comments by I. Howard Marshall.”
It appears that “much anguish is felt by women whose God-given talents [we are speaking here, of course, primarily of the God-given talent of preaching at men, which it cannot be denied nearly all of them possess] have been denied expression.” The first point of Marshall’s summary of lamentations pretty much covers the rest. It is,
The inability of complementarians to provide any coherent and persuasive reasons for denying women these positions in church—women are asked to accept a scriptural command simply because it is God’s will even if they cannot understand why it is so.
I hope it is plain enough that what this really means is "our fingers are in our ears with regard to your opinions, but we insist you keep on listening to ours."
Whether one accepts "complementarian" arguments or not, no reasonable person, having actually listened to them, can identify them as incoherent. What strange, little sectarian world do people inhabit who cannot understand the reasoning in, for example, Mulieris Dignitatem? To be sure, all this traditionalist gabble makes no sense in the context of egalitarian presupposition, but this is quite beside the point on the more fundamental question of whether egalitarianism itself is or can be Christian–if, that is, Christianity is to be defined by its scriptures and its history. What we have described here is women for whom the Christian faith causes anguish. They, in the wrenching pain of their souls, join many others.
To assuage that pain egalitarians are attempting to reinvent the faith from the Trinity on down. Blaming their opponents of prooftexting from scripture (that is to say, interpreting the classical loci in the customary way), they impose bizarre interpretations on it and comb church history for the tiniest crumbs of evidence of their rectitude. When they find something they think will do for their purposes, they typically remove it from context, distort it beyond recognition, and tell us something has been suppressed or misunderstood for several thousand years until they brought us the light. The “Evangelical” normally avoids crossing the “The Bible is Just Plain Wrong” line, since in that tradition it would identify him as a liberal and lose him his funding. Most, however, at the end of the day, admit they just can't work with St. Paul. That he is, and has always been regarded by the Church, as an apostle of Jesus Christ, whose "opinions" (except where he says they’re not) are constituitive, must be in some way disposed of. Touchstone has chronicled several of their more creative approaches to the problem.
The egalitarians join heretics of every stripe for whom Christianity has been incoherent, anguishing, unfair, illogical (the Arians had deep problems with that), backwards, bloody, too Jewish, too Gentile, pacifistic, patriarchal, too strong, too weak, or whatnot, and actually, as here, have thought that the umbrage they take gives them, in measure to the intensity of the pain they profess to feel, the right to change it to something they like better and still call themselves Christians.
I know, I know–how can you say this about these fine orthodox people who are so fond of “Jesus” and so damned Evangelical? Well, somebody has to.