Friday, January 26, 2007

Ethnic and Gender Diversity in Pastoral Appointments

Adrian has now come up with a subject which I would like to take up. He reports on John Piper's message about Ethnic Diversity and "Affirmative Action" for Pastoral Appointments.

Affirmative action is of course a controversial issue, and I agree with Adrian in being unsure about Piper's strategy here while applauding his goal of ethnic diversity in his church leadership team. Also, in general I agree with Adrian's comments that it is better to appoint pastoral staff from within one's own church than from outside. Sadly perhaps, that is not the usual practice in my Church of England; indeed the church will consider for ordination only those who are prepared to serve in congregations other than the one they are leaving.

Holy Trinity Brompton is a very rare exception in that Nicky Gumbel was originally an ordinary church member, then a curate (assistant pastor), and is now the vicar (senior pastor) there, apparently without ever serving at any other church; but then HTB, the home of the Alpha Course, is an exceptional church in many ways.

Having said that, my own congregation appointed from outside, according to the normal Church of England procedures, a vicar from an ethnic minority, a Palestinian Arab. This was not because of any affirmative action but because he was the best qualified candidate, and has proved an excellent pastor. But if we had looked to our own congregation we would never have chosen an ethnic minority person, because we have rather few in our church - although more than the 2.6% non-white population of our parish according to the 2001 census statistics. Also we probably would not have found among ourselves such a good leader, certainly not someone with the same training and experience.

But unfortunately John Piper's appeal for diversity in leadership appointments looks rather hollow to me because it applies only to race and not to gender, although the arguments he makes for racial diversity apply just as much to gender diversity. I wonder how he would react to the following adapted version of his own reasons for pursuing ethnic diversity as an argument for gender diversity in the pastoral ministry:
  1. It illustrates more clearly the truth that God created male and female in his own image (Genesis 1:27).
  2. It displays more visibly the truth that Jesus is not a male deity, but is the Lord of both genders.
  3. It demonstrates more clearly the blood-bought destiny of the church to be those "redeemed from mankind (anthropoi, gender generic) as firstfruits for God and the Lamb" (Revelation 14:4).
  4. It exhibits more compellingly the aim and power of the cross of Christ to "reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility" (Ephesians 2:16).
  5. It expresses more forcefully the work of the Spirit to unite us in Christ. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).
(Quotations from ESV, so Piper can't complain. I note that Ephesians 2:16 is primarily about the hostility between Jews and Gentiles, a religious matter, and so to apply it to gender is stretching it no more than to apply it to race.)

Yes, the church in New Testament times discriminated against women, because the first believers, like many conservative Christians today, brought the presuppositions from their partly patriarchal society into their church. For similar reasons slavery was not explicitly condemned in the New Testament (although of course slavery at that time was not linked to race as it was in 18th-19th century America). And there are significant Christian movements in the USA today which support not only the patriarchal system under which women are oppressed but also slavery. Piper, to his credit, does not seem to be advocating slavery, and certainly not racism. But he needs to realise that the same approach to interpreting the Bible which allows most modern evangelicals to condemn slavery (indeed it was evangelicals like William Wilberforce who led the campaign to end the slave trade 200 years ago this year) also implies condemnation of the patriarchal system and an end to discrimination against women in pastoral appointments.

19 Comments:

At Monday, January 29, 2007 1:10:00 am, Blogger Glennsp said...

Peter, you said,

"And there are significant Christian movements in the USA today which support not only the patriarchal system under which women are oppressed but also slavery."

Which significant movements?

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 12:11:00 am, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thank you for asking, Glenn. I'm glad someone asked, because I was aware that I had left this point open but I didn't have time to explain properly. I don't have time now either, so I will simply point mention Philip Lancaster who was referred to in my post Driscoll's God: only metaphorically Father?; for more about him follow the links in that post to Adventures in Mercy. Philip Lancaster is closely associated with Vision Forum, which as I understand it is a major supplier of home schooling materials in the USA, and is also linked with RC Sproul. I don't think those links explicitly mention slavery, but this one and this one (a series) do. The strategy seems to be not so much open advocacy of slavery as historical revisionism claiming that slavery was not a bad thing, and biblical. But Rushdoony and North, significant thinkers, do seem to promote actual slavery for debt.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:07:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

As I thought Peter, no significant movements at all. None.

R C Sproul Jr is the one your thinking of, not R C Sproul, and yes there is a huge difference.

This attempt to link complementarity to the ravings of a few fringe extremists would be like calling all Christians racist because the Klu Klux Klan advocate racism and claim to be Christian.

In other words you are going to have to do a lot better than this.

The best you can come up with are 2 blog posts by someone who very obviously has a huge chip on their shoulder! Dear oh dear Peter if this wasn't so sad it would be hilarious (this last sentence is in reference to your attempt to link complementarity with advocacy of slavery)

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:07:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Yes, Glenn, you are right, I should have referred to R C Sproul Jr. Considering that Junior is a former editor and continuing contributor to the magazine of his father's Ligonier Ministries, it is hardly fair to put them in opposition to one another.

Arguably Sproul Jr is an insignificant lightweight, but the same cannot be said for R J Rushdoony, who "is widely credited as the father of both Reconstructionism and the modern homeschool movement". See here for some of his words on slavery.

See also this page for some more recent explicit advocates of slavery. It is hard for me to tell how significant these people are, but they seem to have links with Pat Buchanan who is not insignificant. They are certainly linked to Howard Phillips, former presidential candidate for the Constitution Party and the father of Doug Phillips, founder of Vision Forum.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:39:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

Peter, this really will not do.

You have still not shown the slightest link between these people and their revisionist outlook and complimentarianism; you have equally failed to show any link between these people and any truly significant Christian movement.

I repeat one of my earlier statements - "This attempt to link complementarity to the ravings of a few fringe extremists would be like calling all Christians racist because the Klu Klux Klan advocate racism and claim to be Christian."

Search on the internet and you can find someone or some group who supports anything you want and in many cases they will be able to link those views with someone who can show so called 'academic credentials'.

You are clutching at straws Peter and the clutching appears to be getting more desperate.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:53:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Rushdoony is not a "fringe extremist" but a writer whose theological and philosophical thoughts have had a profound effect on right wing American politics and Christianity.

Sproul Jr is only a "fringe extremist" if you say the same about his father's Ligonier Ministries, and other ministries like CBMW of which Sproul Sr is a board member. I do consider these ministries "extremist", but sadly I cannot call them "fringe" because their teachings are so widely accepted in the USA, and among a minority including yourself here in the UK.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:21:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

Okay then Peter, show your evidence for CBMW supporting the reintroduction of slavery. Also at the same time provide your evidence for the involvement of R C senior in the same.

To be frank, if you had such evidence you would have presented it already. All you are doing is trying to make it so by claiming it is so.

Be honest, you don't have proof of these outrageous claims and it shows.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:48:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

The real target of your spurious accusations becomes clearer and it is ,as a thought, the ministries of CBMW, Dr Grudem, Pastor C J Mahaney & SGM, Newfrontiers etc.
In fact anyone and any ministry which supports the Biblical premise of male leadership.

Surprise, surprise, you managed to find some very extreme examples of deluded people who think they are Christian but support delusional ideas such as the rationalisation of slavery and advocate its return.

As I said above, if your methodology is correct, which it isn't, then all Christians are racist because the Klu Klux Klan claim to be Christian and they are racist.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:12:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Glenn, let's clarify what exactly are the "outrageous" claims which I made. I never claimed that CBMW supports the reintroduction of slavery, although I do wonder if it should include in its board the leader of a ministry which allows an alleged slavery supporter, Sproul Jr, to edit and contribute to its magazine. I cannot take CBMW seriously if it does not explicitly dissociate itself from pro-slavery teaching.

The only claim I made was that "there are significant Christian movements in the USA today which support not only the patriarchal system under which women are oppressed but also slavery". And I stand by that claim. It is slightly weakened in that I confused the two Sprouls, and I have no evidence that Sproul senior, the leader of a significant Christian movement, supports slavery. But there are other Christian movements which support slavery as well as the patriarchal system, and I have given links to several of these. Exactly how "significant" these movements are may be debatable, but Rushdoony's Reconstructionism is certainly significant. Also Vision Forum is a leading supplier of home schooling materials (big business in the USA!), and its materials promote a patriarchal system and teach that slavery was not a bad thing. There is also a link to the Constitution Party, which is actually the third largest party in the USA and so hardly insignificant, although not explicitly Christian.

But as for your observation that "The real target of your spurious accusations [is] anyone and any ministry which supports the Biblical premise of male leadership", you are spot on, apart from the words "spurious" and "Biblical". I have made genuine and provable statements which are intended as support for arguments against the unbiblical and anti-Christian patriarchal system which is being promoted by at least some of the ministries and leaders you name. I have not claimed that these ministries and individuals support slavery. But I would claim that the logic of their system, based on Old Testament law and hierarchy rather than New Testament grace and equality, implies that slavery is not wrong. Rushdoony accepted the logic of his legalist position and accepted slavery. Piper and others may generally reject this legalism, but their insistence on the patriarchal system, even after the logic of this system has been destroyed by Christ, shows that they are trying to have one foot in each covenant. They are still in Galatians 3:1-3, 23-24 whereas the true Christian position has moved on to Galatians 3:25,28.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:53:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

So lets see, you have no evidence connecting the ministries I mentioned to the viewpoint of reintroducing slavery, but they support the viewpoint because....you say so!!!

Ummmmm, as I said, your accusations are spurious in the extreme.
Equally you have no NT evidence for the inclusion of women in the leadership of the Church and you have no evidence (apart from your preference) for Jesus (as you put it) "logic of this system has been destroyed by Christ".

So, no evidence, but you will still attempt to slander the ministries I mentioned. Fascinating, ridiculous, but fascinating.

Oh yes, by your own reasoning you must be a racist and a bigot. The Klu Klux Klan claim to be Christian, they are racists and bigots, you are a Christian - ergo you must a racist and a bigot.

I quickly point out that I am not claiming that you are a racist and a bigot, but I am just demonstrating the illogical and nonsensical nature of the type of reasoning (to use the term loosely) that you are attempting to apply.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:54:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

Also you will find that R C Sproul Jr is not currently on the Board of CBMW, nor is he on the Board of Reference and nor is he a member of the Council.
R C senior is in there somewhere but not Jr.
Maybe you should have checked before hand.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:12:00 pm, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

No, Glenn, the ministries you named do not support slavery, and I did not claim that they did. I did not suggest that just because some complementarians support slavery, all do; I just pointed out that there are complementarians who support slavery. Nor did I claim that R C Sproul Jr is on the board of CBMW. Indeed I wrote specifically "CBMW of which Sproul Sr is a board member"; note that "Sr" is an abbreviation for "Senior", not "Junior".

The only accusations which are "spurious in the extreme" are the ones which you have made up and tried to put into my mouth.

 
At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 6:58:00 pm, Blogger Glennsp said...

Peter, you said,
"But I would claim that the logic of their system, based on Old Testament law and hierarchy rather than New Testament grace and equality, implies that slavery is not wrong."

First, it is based in NT teaching and in creation before the fall.

Second, this is a rather thinly veiled attempt to accuse whilst trying to claim that you are not accusing. Tsk, tsk.

I refer you again to the 'KKK logic' or rather lack of.

 
At Thursday, February 01, 2007 4:39:00 pm, Blogger Light said...

Peter, one person you are overlooking in this movement is Doug Wilson in Moscow Idaho. He was responsible for the resurgence in the classical Christian education movement in the U.S. That's not a bad thing - my kids have benefited from such an education - but Wilson is also a hard patriarch who believes slavery is not unbiblical. Several years ago published a book called "Southern Slavery as It Was" which garnered a significant amount of attention. Wilson is also linked in with George Grant, Rushdoony, RC Sproul JR, and more. These guys are definitely the dark underbelly of complementarianism/patriarchy today.

 
At Saturday, February 03, 2007 11:54:00 am, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Light, thanks for mentioning Doug Wilson. But I wasn't ignoring him. One of the links I gave in my comment of Jan 30th 12:11:53 AM was about him. And it seems to me that his movement is significant. But Glenn didn't agree, and I don't know enough to be sure on this. My main point was that people like this exist and can't be ignored, but not that the views of CBMW, Piper etc are the same - I am glad to say that they are not.

 
At Saturday, February 17, 2007 12:42:00 am, Blogger Glennsp said...

Peter, maybe in future you should refrain from allowing your antipathy towards all things Complimentarian to be your guiding light when making remarks that ultimately do not stand up to scrutiny.
Despite your efforts to claim otherwise, it is patently obvious that you were trying (desperately) to malign complimentarians by trying to link them with extremists who are trying to turn back the clock in regards to slavery.
I am glad to see that in your last comment you finally gave up trying to link true complimentarians with this particular travesty.

 
At Saturday, February 17, 2007 5:34:00 am, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Glenn, I never claimed that all or most complementarians supported slavery, just that some did, and that there are logical links between these teachings. This was only your deliberate misrepresentation of what I had written. I took back nothing in my last comment. If you choose to characterise people like Sproul Jr, Wilson and Lancaster as not "true complementarians", that is up to you, but as I understand it these people have essentially the same views on gender issues as Piper, Grudem etc.

 
At Sunday, February 18, 2007 12:15:00 am, Blogger Glennsp said...

Peter you said "I never claimed that all or most complementarians supported slavery" yet that is exactly what you were trying to imply in your earlier comments; I suggest you re-read your earlier comments.

 
At Monday, February 19, 2007 10:28:00 am, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I have taken your suggestion, Glenn, and re-read my earlier comments, including this one from 30th January 5:12:43 PM which not only implies but makes explicit the very opposite of the claim which you are trying allege that I have made:

I never claimed that CBMW supports the reintroduction of slavery...

The only claim I made was that "there are significant Christian movements in the USA today which support not only the patriarchal system under which women are oppressed but also slavery". And I stand by that claim. ... But there are other Christian movements which support slavery as well as the patriarchal system...


Then later:

the ministries you named ["CBMW, Dr Grudem, Pastor C J Mahaney & SGM, Newfrontiers etc"] do not support slavery, and I did not claim that they did.

In other words, I stated explicitly that some but not all complementarians supported slavery. I never even suggested that they were a majority, just that they were not an entirely insignificant group as you claimed.

 

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