Another Christian organization called Christians for Biblical Equality also retains many conservative, evangelical men and women on their Board. These fellow evangelicals, like those who serve on The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, are articulate, theologically astute, and do much to provide the evangelical world with a great deal of scholarly research on the biblical roles of men and women in modern society and the church. Their conclusions are egalitarian and they believe their views to be completely biblical. Gilbert Biliezikian, resident theologian at Willow Creek, represents the kind of scholarly approach taken by those affiliated with CBE. Dr. Biliezikian's book Beyond Sex Roles will probably be the standard bearer for the Christian who comes to his egalitarianism through a belief in the sacred, sufficient and infallible text. Endorsers of the Council for Biblical Equality are some well known, conservative theologians including Dr. Samuel Tang, Professor at Golden Gate Theological Seminary.
The purpose of this post is not to advocate complementarianism over egalitarianism or vice-versa. I simply would like to ask a question. On the home page of The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood there is a rotating list of quotes by prominent evangelicals who oppose egalitarianism. One particular quote caught my eye. It is written by Mary Kassian, a self professed 'homemaker,' a Southern Baptist professor of 'Women's Studies' at Southern Seminary, and a member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Mary writes:
Biblical feminists seek to retain an evangelical base while at the same time modifying Biblical interpretation to be sympathetic to the concerns of the women's movement. However, in order to embrace both, Biblical feminists need to compromise the Bible. Biblical feminism therefore has become a theological crossing point between conservative evangelical theology and liberalism . . . Feminism and Christianity are like thick oil and water: their very natures dictate they cannot be mixed.
Other than pointing out to Mary that many conservative, evangelical egalitarian authors, including Dr. Biliezikian and Dr. Tate, might take umbrage at the allegation that their egalitarian views 'compromise' the Bible, I would like to sincerely ask Mary - and other complementarian evangelical friends - a very serious question.
Is it not possible to be a conservative, evangelical Christian who believes in the infallible and sufficient Word of God and come to egalitarianism through a study of the sacred text?
The official Statement of Faith for Christians for Biblical Equality emphatically declares:
We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, is reliable, and is the final authority for faith and practice.
Someone told me last week that the violence in some African nations was worse between African tribes with various Christian views than between African Muslims and African Christians. I scratch my head when I hear stories about Christians fighting Christians in Africa thinking that there must be something distorted in the Christianity of those tribes. Likewise, I wonder if there is not something out of kilter with American evangelical Christianity when various views about the role of women in society and the church become "the crossing point conservative evangelical theology and liberalism." Ironically, both groups base their beliefs on 'the sufficient text.'
I never question the sufficiency of the Bible. It is the sufficiency of some evangelicals to reflect the spirit of Christ toward others when disagreement arises over intepretations of the sacred text that cause me to doubt whether or not we have genuinely experienced the Christianity of the Bible. I may be a complementarian, but I sure don't see the fellowship between my Christian egalitarian friends and myself as 'oil and water,' and I also have a hard time viewing this issue as 'the crossing point to liberalism.'
In His Grace,