14 November 2011

Rejecting both Patriarchy and Egalitarianism in the Church- Part 3

For those familiar with the terms, do this mean I’m arguing the Complimentarian position? Maybe, but if I go to the Wikipedia article on Biblical Patriarchy I can agree (in part) with many of the notions outlined there as well. The key differences are with regard to Dominionism and the questions it engenders in the social sphere and my main critique with regard to many in the movement is that they make these issues into components of the gospel.

Cynthia Kunsman’s video is worth watching. Many of her critiques are very astute and though I often disagree with her, she sees some crucial things that others have missed.

A caveat…her charge of Trinitarian Subordinationism does not stand. She seems to be somewhat ignorant of the discussions between the Economic and Ontological relationships within the Trinity, in that she views any Economical discussion as tending to an ontological subordination. Or to put it another way…the Trinity can only be discussed in Ontological terms.

Overemphasis on Economy will ultimately lead to Tri-theism. Overemphasis on Ontological Unity leads to Monarchianism…ultimately Unitarianism. As with many theological issues, Rationalism is the problem. That’s what drove many of the New England Puritans to embrace Monarchianism and ultimately the Unitarianism so prevalent in the 18th and 19th century.

As much as I may disagree with some of the people she cites, heterodox Trinitarianism is not something I would charge them with. There’s a whole host of issues that come up with regard to theological method and hermeneutics and I would be willing to discuss that, but Kunsman’s charge doesn’t stand.

She wants to trace back the core error to their doctrine of God. Usually that’s a good way to think through theological problems. But in this case it’s not an abuse of Trinitarianism, but Dominionism that drives what they do with not only the unbiblical concepts they come up with up, but how they interpret Biblical ideas. They take things that are good and right…and by placing them in a different context, abuse them.

Dominionism can indeed affect one’s doctrine of God, and it’s worth discussing. And I also will grant that the theological methodology they employ and how interacts with the Trinity can lead to some difficulties…but I don’t think Subordinationism is the right assessment.

And sadly she loses most of her credibility in the second portion of her video when she turns to psychology as a tool of critique. Her employment of this mostly bankrupt system has led me away from recommending her video to people. Even if you’re sympathetic with Patriarchy it’s worth a look. By no means do I agree with all her interpretations. Culture is affecting her just as much as it is affecting those she critiques, but it does not invalidate many of her observations.

In some ways it’s interesting because it’s an interesting lesson where both parties are somewhat right and yet both are very wrong.

How does Patriarchy corrupt the Gospel? It ends up putting a Pietistic emphasis on the Christian life and Kingdom building. But aren’t they Transformationalists? Yes, the two can overlap. Their Pietism is not a strategy like you might find with some of the Holiness groups. Their Pietism is a tactic they employ to survive in a hostile world. A Dominion minded eisegesis (reading into, rather than exegesis which is ‘out of’) leads them to develop some of the concepts of family and gender roles somewhat beyond what is clearly found in the text. I would suggest these concepts are largely derived from cultural and historical narratives. Such statements would lead them to mark me as a feminist, which I’m not.

There are variety of tactics and sub-narratives. Some in Theonomic circles believe that Christendom can be rescued and put back on track. Others, and it would seem most in the Patriarchy movement are thinking this way, want to sit along the edges, breed abundantly, and prepare. When the West collapses they will have an army ready to go, trained in politics, arts, law, and all aspects of culture. From the ashes, the West will be re-born.

The Duggar family who have their own reality television show seem to be of this ilk. Another example would be pastor and author Kevin Swanson’s concept of the 2nd Mayflower. They’re fleeing to the fringes and will raise a new City on the Hill. I’ve written about this before. Sometimes these folks are called Separatists. They’re not at all. That’s just what they’re doing at present to survive their perceived collapse of the West. Later, they plan to take over. That’s not Separatism and that plays into the twisted historical irony you find with some of these folks.

The Mayflower Pilgrims were Separatists…trying to get away from Dominion-Christendom minded folks…like Kevin Swanson. He’s appealing to historical characters that would have had nothing to do with him.

But back to the question regarding the corruption of the Gospel…

The focus is really turned away from Christ and the Christian life does not consist of learning about Christ and the glories of His Kingdom. Instead the focus becomes subjective and inward…practical. There’s nothing wrong with being practically minded, but the Christian life becomes the constant honing of these issues regarding manhood, womanhood and family and the issues that are part of their social narrative and critique…agrarianism, home economics and so forth.

Please don’t misunderstand; I don’t have a problem with talking about small farms, family business and the rest. It’s fine and I’m sympathetic, but with some of these folks these things become almost essentials, delineators determining if you’re on the right path. That’s what I’m arguing is extra-Biblical, coming from the culture, not the text.

Rather than talk about Christ, Justification, Galatians 3, or something like that…the real day to day emphasis is on the model-narrative and the social critique, the focus ends up being on right clothing, right birthing practice, right kind of nursing practice, diet, homeschool model, and much more.

Rather than the sum, the core of the Christian life being……Knowing God, we end up with Culture War. Rather than seek to know the things that the angels desire to look into and to contemplate the person and work of Christ, all that matters is whether or not you have the right number of kids, are pursuing simple living, don’t have a television, and don’t visit the mall.

They often can’t see it and it’s pretty sad. They don’t realize that they are caught up in a maelstrom of ideas that are not driven by the Bible but by the culture.

Again…all these things can be good things to talk about, and on certain levels must be contemplated, but then if you don’t go along with certain facets, it’s not a matter of disagreement about a certain issue…

No it’s much more serious. Your standing in Christ is in doubt. Why? Because these issues become the gospel, the divide between Christian and non-Christian.

It literally reaches the point that if you’re not having kids at home, dressing a certain way…then you’re not walking in obedience…thus living in unrepentant sin.

Pietism always goes down the Legalist road and in this case you have the worst of both worlds….Pietist/Legalist Transformationalism.

 A real mess.

And you have to ask…would a Christian in Cambodia, Kenya, or even Russia come up with these ideas from the Bible? Even though many of these things are good, do they become bad distractions and even harmful in the way they’re emphasized? Because it would seem to me they’re not getting this from Scripture, but from a host of influences few of them are recognizing.



Cal said...

I see your critique of the Patriarchy in Dominionism, which is all very well and good.

I am somewhat sympathetic to the egalitarian position, but not on grounds most posit. Ontologically women are worth the same as men, they stand equally accountable for what they do. This idea is sometimes lost in over thinking the complementarian view, which over emphasizes a wife being subordinate to her husband, without realizing the husband must sacrifice as Christ for his wife. All comes down to forgetting that Christ told His disciples to not be as the Gentiles who lord it over others; 'servant leadership' (if one can stomach catchphrases).

There seems to be an inherent egalitarianism in that the woman be subordinate to the man, and the man serve the woman; albeit in different manners. Does that make me complementarian? Whatever.

You can even see that the Gospel was so liberating to the women of the 1st century that Paul had to remind them that freedom is to sacrifice for the good of others. Yes women, you are equal to men in the eyes of God; but don't think that means you can run them over. Maybe I'm a feminist in the traditional sense, over and against treating women as property (which is European culture, not Gospel). However the Feminism of today is telling women that if they want to be someone or go somewhere, you got to become a man. Act like a man, fight like a man, be cruel like a man. Not man as God intended, not the New Adam, but wicked sinful man who is lost trying to build babel.

Anyway, I also remembering reading that for your wife to have to work would be a sin. Is it in regards to raising the children? Curious on your opinion.


Protoprotestant said...

That’s funny you mention my statement regarding my wife working. I was just re-reading that the other day. Periodically I go through and try to clean up old posts…typos and what not.
I guess what I would mean by that is along the lines of what I said in the post. As far as the normative model for the Christian home…yeah, the wife is to be a keeper of the home.
If she’s the husband’s helpmeet then sure he can employ her to help in the office or whatever.
Is it always sin for the wife to work outside the home? That’s where I want to be careful. Usually I would say that is a case of either the woman desiring ‘the career’ which I don’t agree with, or it can also point to a problem with standard of living. Many Christians say, we have no choice…because where they live, unless the guy makes serious money, they simply cannot make it.
At that point my separatist proclivities kick in. I say, well, then that means that maybe I can’t afford to live in Fairfax County or San Diego County. Maybe I have to live somewhere else. Maybe our culture is such that to live in the mainstream, in these sort of culture-center hubs…I have to compromise my family and I’m not willing to do that.
Consequently I live in the boonies. I make less here, but the cost of living is extremely low…the main issue being real estate and taxes.
Additional thoughts…
If my wife worked full time, yes that would hinder our homeschooling which I believe to be pretty much essential at this point in time. I know many Christians still support the public schools. Many in this area are perceived as ½ Christian because of the population base. I cannot agree.
Okay could she work part time? My inclinations are to say no. But if pressed I will say…it depends. I would want to look at things like motivation first. Second, it would very much depend on the work. For example, for years I’ve done contract work for people allowing me to observe different office environments. All I can say is…I wouldn’t want my wife in those environments. I wouldn’t want to subject her to the politics, games…the manipulations and minds of other men. I can see what’s happening there and I don’t like it.
Could she work 15 hours a week for the older lady that owns a local greenhouse? That’s quite different.
So I would say, my earlier statement was probably somewhat of a sweeping generalization. I would not say it is sin in every case…though very often it is sin.
I hope that makes some sense?

Protoprotestant said...

With regard to your statements regarding egalitarianism……yes, ontologically speaking…100% egalitarian.
Economically speaking…(order not money to those who aren’t familiar with that usage of the term)…the man is the head of the family.
The Economical relationship of course disappears at the eschaton. Since we live in both the Already and Not Yet, we have both 100% egalitarianism right now (in Christ) but we also have a hierarchy in the Not Yet.
Forcing the ontological reality on the present (the not yet) is a problem of over-realized eschatology. I don’t think you’re doing that…but many are.
The mutual submission thing……I’ve pondered that too. I’m not sure if that’s living In Christ/Eternally/Eschatologically/Ontologically which is certainly valid as Kingdom citizens or if it’s simply the outworking of love.
As we all know our culture is very muddled on the idea of love. Rarely do you hear someone saying I love that person so much that I want to place them before me. The husband and wife are supposed to do that for each other. It all works wonderfully when that happens.
But parallel to that, the husband leads. If he’s worth anything, part of his leadership is doing everything he can to help his wife, meet her needs, security etc…
And of course she’s thinking about him and giving him what he need, respect etc…
I will agree with you that Culture has treated women as property. The early Church improved that but it was later lost during the Middle Ages. Patriarchy doesn’t promote that verbiage, but their kind of cultural-familial concept of Covenant (a hyper- problem to my mind) approaches the concept of property. This does not mean that the Covenant concept is in error…but how it works out in their larger framework.
And I agree…older feminism was about equality. The contemporary model is about power. We now have the weird phenomena of these young women that hyper-sexualized in their appearance and such…but despite the fact that everything is on display…they’re still masculine. They’re not feminine at all. The feminine ones are the guys.
I appreciate your comments. Friendly provocation is always profitable. It’s great! In my early days as a Christian I was blessed with some friends and we would sit up to the wee hours working stuff out. Not only was it beneficial to deal with the individual subjects, the very exercise itself was profitable. You learn how to think and work through things.