Monday, January 23, 2012

The Fatal Flaw Within 'Together for the Gospel' Men

New Testament writers did not express divine revelation in a vacuum. The koine (common) Greek words used by Spirit-inspired biblical writers carried cultural connotations long before they became part of the sacred text. Take for instance the Greek word hamartia (sin).  Aristotle described hamartia as "an action causing unintentional injury to others by one who misses his objective."  Bible scholars define hamartia as "missing the mark."  In Greek tragedies, hamartia was described as the hero's fatal flaw. The hero intended to accomplish something good, but because of an error in judgment or  an unintentional mistake, the hero achieved something disastrous or tragic. This is why a Greek drama with a hero possessing hamartia (a fatal flaw) is called a Greek tragedy.

There is a modern tragedy within the evangelical conservative movement called Together for the Gospel. The men, pictured above, have wonderful objectives. They desire to fellowship around "the joyous declaration that God is redeeming the world through Christ, and that He calls everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation." Amen. We can all agree. Our theological heroes, however, have within them a fatal flaw. They have defined their gospel movement as having "a theological anchor defined by four points." The third major theological point is their fatal flaw. They have insisted that the gospel demands 'complementarian relationships.' This is theological lingo for 'men should always lead and women should always follow.' The absolute absurdity of making this view a major theological tenet is seen in the video answer that John Piper gives to the question, "Should a woman submit to abuse by her man." Watch the video and you will see the fatal flaw within these men. Conservative, evangelical Christians like myself--people who might otherwise fellowship with these men around the gospel of Jesus Christ--find ourselves running from them as fast as possible. The intended desire of these men (fellowship around the gospel) has created the opposite results. Conservative Presbyterians have already put on their spiritual tennis shoes and sprinted away fast. It is only a matter of time before others do so as well.


Debbie Kaufman said...

Could these leaders watch a woman be verbally or physically abused and feel the same way? I wonder if they realize what the repercussions are for the outlandishness of these words from John Piper. It's just as outlandish as the advice Paige Patterson gave a few years ago. It's wrong, and the advice itself is abusive and a "slap" against women.

I would also like to know the scripture they think would make this "advice" palatable.

Anonymous said...

I find it incredible that they think that women's submission is one of the anchors of the gospel. I don't ever recall Jesus speaking about it and I think that if it was so essential to the gospel, he would have mentioned it. Where is the "good news" in this?

But I was very encouraged to read that the ECO is "fully committed" to allowing female clergy.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


Thank you for speaking out against these Christian leaders! They are driving a wedge between faithful Christians by elevating their complementarian doctrine to that of firet-tier importance.

I pray that MANY pastors will join you in taking a stand against this divisive "gender gospel", which doesn't reflect the true Gospel.

Off The Cuff said...

I too would like to thank you for the voice that you have given to this issue. I cannot imagine why anyone, male or female, would willingly remain under the tutelage of a Pastor who held this complementarian view. I certainly would not want my granddaughters subjected to such teachings.

Lamar Wadsworth said...

The only way to maintain the subordinate status of women is to argue that the atoning work of Christ is less effective for a woman than it is for a man. If a woman is being held in a relationship by abuse, fear, and intimidation, that is not a marriage, that is a hostage situation, and Jesus said that he came to set at liberty the captives. A woman's choice to leave an abusive spouse can be a bold act of obedience to God! Paul makes the case for mutual submission, not one-sided submission (Eph 5:21--we totally miss the point if we start at v.22 instead of v. 21). Teaching the subordinate status of women at all is false doctrine. To make it a essential point of orthodoxy is a denial of the atoning work of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the plight of the formerly privilege (white) man.

First, that upstart Lincoln freed the slaves.

Then thanks to welfare system--like it or hate it--some people no longer had to kowtow to the powers that be or starve to death.

Then to add insult to injury, came the culture wars. They really should have won that one--the scripture is pretty clear what is sin and what is not sin--but since they were doing the things it labels sin themselves, they laid down their arms and slunk home.

But--the $64,000 question became this: who am I better than? I have to be better than someone to be anyone, so who am I better than?

I can't hold onto my racism and be acceptable, but I better be better than someone!

Ah, the women. That's it--now that racism is taboo, and poverty is being battled and folks freed from it, and education is open to all, we'll subjugate the women.

What can they do? They have less power than anyone, and we don't even have to lynch'em if they get out of line--just cut off their allowances and beat them a bit "for their own good."

Came the excesses of women's lib--and there were some--and backlash.

All I can say to the third clause of this "gospel" is what I read in the Cotton Patch Verson of Galatians today.

If anyone comes to you with another gospel--to hell with him!


Christiane said...

It is difficult to watch a man who feels he can 'rule' on the question of how a woman should meet with abuse.

The pride of this man leads him to 'pronounce' in a way that can lead to harm. I wonder, do people like this man ever consider the emotional and psychological scars on abused people and how they can accumulate and lead to self-destructive behaviors?

Abusive husbands belong in jail.
Their wives deserve a clear-cut pronunciation from the Church that no level of abuse is tolerable in a marriage.

The recommended 'submission' is harmful to both husband (perpetrator) and wife (victim, as it is being toted in Piper's speech. And he doesn't even realize it.

No discernment.

Juniper said...

I've always been of the opinion that a lot of the complementarian rational comes from ideals that might have been popular (on TV) in the 1940s and 1950s but don't comport with reality. One of the best examples of a life lived by a godly woman is a former boxing/kickboxing teacher of mine who died in 2007. She was strength personified. She would not have fit the stereotype. Her biography is here

Sallie said...

I would like each of these men to sit and watch their daughters being physically and verbally abused by their sons-in-law.

Just "for a season."

Anonymous said...

I disagree that this women topic is an end-point of the gospel. However- they never said it was, did they? Some of the commenters here obviously didn't even read the mentioned links themselves. It is called a "theological foundation of four points"... Not the gospel. Nowhere do they call this the gospel. In fact, the gospel itself is one of the four points of their theology. The Spirit, Relationships (Women), and the Church round out the list. Hardly the "anchors of the gospel" as your commentors seem to believe. They are simply anchors of their theology.

It's equally ignorant to take your word without research, as some have done here, as it is to follow Piper or anyone else without research. Only one word comes to mind here: sheep. You have your blind sheep, Piper and friends have their blind sheep. I’m not sure what makes one set of sheep more valid than the other, both are rooted in blind ignorance.

That’s my first beef.

My second beef (being someone who viewed the links) is with Piper’s “absurd” video? Hardly. Let’s see what he actually says, there are three main statements made:
1) Her submission is rooted in the gospel, and the higher allegiance is to Christ and not the husband. (A far cry from the “The husband is lord of the wife” belief you and your commentors seem to create)
2) If the husband were to ask her to sin, and her allegiance is to Christ above the husband, her submission would look like: “Honey, I want to follow you as my leader, but I cannot go there” – refusing to sin because your allegiance is to Christ foremost is “Absurdity”?
3) You endure verbal abuse for a season (chance for conviction/repentance), and if it were to continue on and she were to get smacked some night, she is to seek help from her fellow Christians in the Church for protection and intervention… Biblical model of church discipline is “absurd”?

I’m sorry, Wade, but only your comments here ring more absurd. You’re simply stirring the pot and making this more fanatical than it is. I have seen a common trend even more common than your women topic as of late: slamming the same pastors over and over again. I don’t quite understand why this is. I’ve listened to many pastors in my time, and I’d put you on the same footing as Piper, Chandler, and the other pictured individuals when it comes to Biblical strength and accuracy. So I have not quite figured out the turn toward them when there’s plenty of Joel Osteens out there that are an actual massive threat to the gospel itself.

I also see a bit of hypocrisy in regards to the women topic, as can even be evidenced in the comments here. “Wow! They make women an anchor to their theology? Can you believe that? Absurd!” - condemning some pastors for placing a large emphasis on this topic. But if I go back and look at the past dozen or so posts from you: what topic would you suppose dominates your own postings? What topic are you placing a large emphasis on? It’s horror for these pastors to make a large emphasis on their view of women, but the same topic dominating your own discussion is, different?

Rex Ray said...

My name is Rex Russell Ray; what is yours? You analyzed ‘Should a woman submit to abuse from her man’ so well, maybe you’re John Piper.

His video made this “blind sheep” feel nauseas.

A woman submitting to abuse makes as much sense as the answer to why someone was hitting themselves in the head with a hammer: ‘It feels so good when I quit.’

In another video, Piper said it’s not a sin to listen to a woman preacher unless you depend on her to teach you. Huh?

Anyone defending Piper is as big a nut as he is.

It’s time for churches to correct their pastors if they yell at their secretary, “GET OUT OF HERE AND SHUT THE DOOR!” like addressing a dog killing a chicken.

Christiane said...

I find the 'absurdity' of any Christian man who thinks abusing women is at all permitted, anytime, for any duration, for any reason, any place, any how.

What is wrong that a person can call themselves 'Christian' and even remotely give credence to the placing of another Christian person in a situation of 'submission' where abuse occurs?

Oh yeah. said...

Anonymous 11:02,

Thanks for your comment. I freely admit that my word "absurd" is inflammatory, and in normal circumstances, I would not use it.

However, when one's view of women is placed on first-tier doctrinal status in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ, then I must stand by the word absurd.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

I see your point that we shouldn't criticize people for over-emphasizing the importance of the woman question if that's what we, ourselves, talk about a lot. However, I think there are some details you have missed here.

First, no one (to my knowledge) has claimed that this blog represents a "theological anchor" in believer's lives. So, when we talk about women's issues, we're not claiming that anyone's theology should be "anchored" on what we say here; we're just chewing the fat at a blog and offering info/advice about a common passion.

These men, however, are indeed saying that their interpretation of the woman question is actually a theological anchor.

That, to me, is a major difference here.

Also, I'm not sure why you think "absurd" is the wrong word to use for Piper's admonition that a wife who is asked to sin should lovingly reinforce how much she enjoys her husband's leadership. If a husband is so deep in sin that he asks his wife to sin with him, he needs to be firmly confronted with the truth that his sin is wrong. Piper made it sound as though the wife should reinforce how great her husband's leadership is and act like she wishes she could obey him. But this would be a lie, if the husband in question is using his leadership in sinful ways. why would a wife want to affirm sinful use of leadership? Why would she want to imply to him that she "wishes" she could enjoy it?

That's what's absurd here. The idea that passivity and ego-stroking are so important to the marital state that they trump a spouse's ability to confront the other spouse with their sin.

Rachel Davis

Victorious said...

I tried to find something profound to say that refutes these men's "theological anchor," but I'm so appalled that words fail me. Will their unethical, unscriptural agenda never end?

Color me very sad.... said...


Well written.

rebeca cole said...

Well, I must be the only Christian in America who wasn't familiar with John Piper. I went to the YouTube link you posted and watched his ridiculous response.. and let me say, I am no theologian but seriously? When a man STRIKES a woman, it is not for the church to step in, it is for the POLICE to step in. A woman being physically abused needs to get away if she can as soon as possible and call the police and file charges. I would hope any church would offer safety to a woman being abused and then stand by her side while the justice sytem did its work. You don't get all touchy feely with a guy who hits women - I guess Piper would put an abusive husband in some sort of church discipline "time out"..done ranting now, thanks again Wade for all you do...

Anonymous said...

If the Church wants to help marriages, it can do pre-marriage counseling for couples, and it can hold marriage counseling workshops to encourage married people.

But when a group of men who have advocated 'submission' of one Christian person to another Christian person,
then try to 'step in' when it all goes bad . . .

they already 'stepped in' . . . with a program for a pattern in marriage that sets up one Christian at the expense of another,
a 'power' situation that can go bad with little provocation.

Anonymous said...

John Piper and others from the patriarchal crowd very nearly did for me what Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan never could do: Convinced me that marriage is a bad idea for a smart woman!

Thankfully, though, pastors like Wade Burleson and others helped me to sort through the confusing emotions and enslaving theology created by Piper, Grudem, Driscoll and others.

This doctrine hurts female believers in many, many ways that don't result in a legal definition of abuse.

1. Belief that God created women "less." This feels humiliating, painful and angering.
2. Belief that the Gospel is really enslaving to a female convert, not freeing. How can I share the "good news" when it is not so good? (The true Gospel IS amazing and good news!!)
3. For me, the most painful: Belief that as a woman, we can't trust our own relationship with Christ because we may "be deceived" when the Holy Spirit speaks to us (misinterpreting or not recognizing God's voice..being fooled, in other words)
4. Resentment towards the husband and interference with a couple's sex life.( Guys, would you feel like freely loving someone who "ruled" you and had to "think" for you and make decisions for you? If you have a marriage like Piper describes, you need to ask yourself if your wife is enjoying sex with you because she loves you or if she's suffering trhough it whenever you feel like doing it because John Piper told her she has a duty to submit to you.)
5. Disdain for a husband towards his wife. Why should he respect someone who should never be offering an opinion to him because she is quite frankly not created well enough by God to do it?
6. Disunity in the Body.

This lust of John Piper's and those with him is never satisfied, it seems: They first wanted women to stop being pastors. Then they didn't want them in any leadership position. Now they are telling women and men in the Body that unless we all agree to the complementarian position, we can't even fellowship in certain groups.

HOw can we maintain unity as the Lord would have us do, without accepting this strange doctrine of theirs?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said

"I disagree that this women topic is an end-point of the gospel. However- they never said it was, did they? Some of the commenters here obviously didn't even read the mentioned links themselves. It is called a "theological foundation of four points"... Not the gospel. Nowhere do they call this the gospel."

I didn't say that they make the women's issue an end-point of the gospel. They themselves call their movement "Together for the Gospel." Then claim that women's submission is one of the four theological anchors of this movement. I still do not see anywhere that Jesus linked women's submission with the "good news" of setting captives free, or relationships. Jesus teaching on relationships was always mutual service and submission.

I have read/viewed, all of the links before I posted--and not for the first time. I have seen Piper's video numerous times. He really does not understand either the nature of abuse or how his teaching robs women of their voice and their human dignity. Instead he promotes a teaching that puts women on a level with children.

His statement about trying to determine if the abuse is "just verbal unkindness" implies that a woman can't tell the difference between an unkind word spoken occasionally and a pattern of abuse.
As to your points under your second Beef:
1. Nowhere does Jesus' Gospel require women's submission, as Piper claims. If a woman's submission is rooted in the gospel, it is rooted in the same way that a man's is, such as when Jesus said that all who wish to be great in the kingdom must become the slaves of all, or when he said "this is my command--love each other." There isn’t one kind of submission for women and another kind for men.

2. His suggestion for what a wife might say to her husband is a form of walking on eggshells in order to flatter him. It is a form of manipulation (something which women have historically been condemned for). He recommends that she should say something like "honey, I would love to follow your leadership but..." Why can't she just say, "That is wrong and violates my conscience. I won't do it"?

3. This point (enduring abuse for a season and letting the elders correct the husband) demonstrates that Piper doesn’t understand abuse. By the time a woman comes to her pastor for help, she more than likely has already “endured verbal abuse for a season,” received numerous apologies and promises to change (repent), and it is likely that she has already been “smacked” on more than one occasion. To imply, as Piper does in the video clip, that a woman would run to her pastor for help at the first sign of “verbal unkindness” shows just how little he thinks of women’s ability to reason, discern, and interpret reality. Also, Piper is not talking about biblical church discipline—he is removing her entirely from the process. Only the elders can deal with him, not his wife. It is this kind of teaching that encourages women to be passive and puts them in danger in the first place.

Rex Ray said...

I believe Wade’s post could be on ‘discrimination'.

With that thought in mind, do some churches discriminate against the elderly?

We see the foolishness of this in 1 Kings 12:13:
“But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people for he rejected the advice of the older counselors.”

Our new and only bylaws state: “Any member, when qualified, may hold elected or appointed positions.”

But I was told I’d be removed as a deacon in two months when I become 80 as this was the custom of the church.

Do Baptist churches practice this, is it wise, and would our bylaws need to be amended for this to take place? said...

Anonymous 11:42:

Well written. I learn as much from the comments on my blog than I do in the research for the writing. :) Well done all.

Kristen said...

The place of "complementarian relationships" as one of four "theological anchors" is disturbing. I mean, the other three seem different in quality. A theology based on the gospel. That's basic and foundational. Spirit-led lives. Again, basic and foundational. Missional churches-- meaning, I suppose, churches that really try to help people and serve them. Basic again.

But "complementarian relationships?" One would expect, looking at the other three, that the fourth foundation would be "relationships rooted in God's love." Didn't Jesus say love was the greatest commandment? Didn't Paul say that love was the greatest of the things that abide, the other two being faith and hope?

But instead of setting their fourth foundation in love-centered relationships, they set their foundation on proper "roles." Instead of noting that God is love, they place the Father at the top of a hierarchy with the Son and Spirit below Him, and then tell us our human relationships should be the same. Instead of "God, teach us to love," our prayer must be "God keep us all in our proper stations."

A table with one short, weak leg is going to topple if anyone actually tries to set anything on it. This set of theological foundations is in the same state.

Cheryl said...

Thank you for calling these "leaders" out. We should all be holding them accountable. At God's Word To Women's web site there is an article by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. It's A Challenge for Proponents of Female Subordinaion to Prove Their Cases from The Bible. It is located at:
I believe these men should be called to a panel before the Professors Emeriti mentioned in this article before their congregations and challenged in their own "Authority".

Anonymous said...

These men know nothing about domestic violence and should not be giving women advice. I'm disqusted at any "pastor" or "elder" that gives this type of advice or anything of the like. Piper and anyone else that feels this way has no clue about the danger that the kids are in too.I guess they would give this type of advice to their own daughters. Sickening.....

Keith said...

Instead of noting that God is love, they place the Father at the top of a hierarchy with the Son and Spirit below Him, and then tell us our human relationships should be the same.

Actually, Paul told us that. Its in 1 Cor 11. Then again, if the Bible isn't your authority then I guess that appeal won't mean much.

Anonymous said...

Aw man. Stuff like this really bugs me. I mean really bugs me. In the end for this kind of thinking to work it seems obvious that Complimentarians have to view women as sub human. They can be nice about it but in the end the raw truth of their belief is that women aren't as good as men and are not worthy of getting out of a nose diving, crash n burning relationships. To them God loves men more than women. End of story.

Say for instance a man was being abused by his wife. These people would immediately tell him to defend himself and establish order in the name of God. But what can a woman do? What can she do? Nothing but cower. And she's screwed if her church doesn't see anything wrong.

Anonymous said...

Brother, I don't know if I can agree with you on this issue. I think woman having leadership (Pastoring or Deacon) is an idea that people like. Wouldn't you agree that the bible can be very offensive at times? I'm a Christian and I love Christ, but it's true. Our view of what might be right is not always right in the eyes of God. I would dare to say that there is nothing good in us outside of Christ. None of our deeds are clean; nothing we do is good! In Isaiah it says "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment" In context this is saying we are like ONE who is unclean, a sinner. We are sinners and because we are sinners, our deeds are worthless to God. (Filthy) I don't know if you'll agree with me on this and my guess is that you want, but it's worth a shot for you to think about my view. I don't believe these men are for woman being abused... I think these men have a DEEP passion for the gospel. I believe woman DO have a place in the church to pour out in children nurturing them, teach other woman, and most importantly they are an encouragement; these are just to name a few. I believe they are a part of the body (Church) and every member of the body serves a purpose. Without woman the church would be in trouble just like it would be in trouble without men. In Genesis, God made Adam first, Adam was lonely, needed a helper. God put Adam to sleep and took a rib from him. The rib God pulled was used to create Woman. When the fall happens and Eve sends the Human race into sin, whom does God go to first? He goes to Adam. He comes to Adam first saying, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" (Genesis 3:11) It was Adams responsibility, as the leader and man, to lead Eve. He clearly FAILED at being the leader for Eve. I don't know how that is not evident that man is the leader. God also says in Genesis "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Notice that this verse is before "the fall". This is important to understand the two becoming one. This means that there must be some type of leadership between the two right? Two people can't be in control. Are you in control of your marriage or is Christ? I know when I try to take charge of things in my life; I always fall. But when Christ takes charge of my life I always succeed, because He has control. Just like in Genesis, man answers to God. Man answers to God in the identity of the relationship, but not in the identity of the being. I say “the identity” because I don’t want the two getting confused and that the woman cannot be in relationship with God unless she is married. The man answers to Christ. When we think of marriage being an example of Christ being married to the Church what else is true about marriage? Christ is The Groom and The Church the bride? Christ is our leader, correct? All I hear is conservative, moderate, and liberal theology. I believe God would laugh at all three because He is God and we are men.