Biblical Scholar Warns of Unsuspecting Path to Theological Liberalism
- Wednesday, February 07, 2007
CW: Standing on a literal interpretation of Scripture seems like a position of strength, but it doesn’t always make one very popular. What resistance or criticism have you encountered thus far, since Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism came out?
Grudem: Well actually, many people have written me, and said essentially, “Wow. I didn’t realize that there were that many wrong arguments used to support women’s ordination or to support an egalitarian position.” In any case my goal wasn’t to be popular but to teach the Word of God faithfully, and warn the church. It seems to me many churches are slipping away from their commitment to the authority of Scripture through this path of endorsing evangelical feminism. And they’re not aware that these arguments they’re adopting are so dangerous, so disruptive in other areas of thought as well.
CW: In your book, you mention how before Francis Schaeffer passed away, he had begun – in The Great Evangelical Disaster – to talk about this trend. But over 20 years down the road now, how difficult is it going to be for the Church to reverse gears, now that we’ve come so far down the path?
Grudem: Well, there will be resistance, because people ordain women as elders or as pastors and then they say, “Oh, I like this person. She’s my friend, she loves the Lord, aren’t people blessed by her sermons?” So it all becomes based on experience and relationships at that point. And the question is: are we going to be faithful to the Word of God, even if it means taking actions that some friends disagree with, maybe actions that will cost us some friendships? Then will we believe that God is faithful and that He will bless faithfulness to His Word?
Paul encouraged Timothy, when he wrote to him, about difficulties in the church at Ephesus. In 1 Timothy 5:21: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without pre-judging, doing nothing from partiality.” In other words, the leaders who were doing wrong in the church were no doubt many of Timothy’s good friends. But when they were doing wrong, Paul told Timothy he had to rebuke them, and exercise discipline against them. Of course, that wasn’t going to make Timothy popular, but Paul is saying God is watching, and Jesus is watching, and the angels are watching, and you have to do this without partiality, without showing favoritism to the people who are your friends. You have to be faithful to God and His Word.
CW: I’ve heard the argument put that, “Oh, come on, you know that the Bible – and Paul in particular – talks about relationships between slaves and their masters. And obviously, socially, that dynamic has changed. So why can’t it have changed in regards to the role we have for women in the Church?” How would you respond?
Grudem: Well, people have to realize that what some Bible translations call “slavery” is very different from what we think of slavery when we have in our minds a picture of the terrible abuses of human dignity and justice that were found in 18th- and 19th-century United States and in the slave trade. I think a good translation of that Greek word doulos is “bond-servant.” The New American Standard translates it that way, and the ESV footnote. Those bond-servants in the first century had immense responsibilities. In many cases they were doctors, or teachers, or shopkeepers, or foremen of farms or factories, or had other significant responsibilities. It was the most common employment situation in the first century. Bond-servants were far better off than the day laborers who had to go into the market each day and hope that someone would give them a job.
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