I have avoided being critical of the Bayly brothers because one of them has said some things about me that provide circumstantial evidence if someone wanted to accuse me of being motivated to find fault. All I can say is that God knows my motives and I have not lost fear of the judgment seat of Christ. I offer this opinion for what it is worth.
I think this letter against the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is irrational and wrong. The idea that women can never have a prophetic voice in a parachurch situation is a textbook case of binding people under yokes that are not found in Scripture and fly in the face of Biblical precedent. The English word “Council” implies nothing ecclesiatically in the 21st century. I could go on but that is enough to give a general idea of my concerns about rationality
But, more importantly, in an age of when we must constantly defend ourselves and our flocks from reactionary zealotry, we should be thankful for rational apologists for a Biblical worldview who actually use persuasion, rather than encourage and recruit the self-righteous. I’m speaking here of other ministries centered on issues of Biblical gender roles, not of David or Tim. I thought CBMW was supposed to be an alternative to several less helpful possibilities. We certainly need such a thing.
The idea that we will promote faithfulness, please God, or spread the kingdom by multiplying litmus test and shibboleth tests (“patriarch” is a standard of righteousness over “complementarian”?) and purity tests of this sort is simply the reverse of reality. We will only build a rapidly fissionable sub-culture of Pharisees with ever more extreme codes of conduct, speech, and thought. This is a dead end that will not do anything to actually promote a culture of Biblical gender roles in the Evangelical church or in any other group larger than a tight kinship group.
This is exactly the situation Jesus addressed most of his ministry as we find it in the Gospels, and it is something the Apostle Paul constantly has to ward off.
I may well have some common concerns with David and Tim, but this was a perfectionistic attack at best (i.e. if they were right on every single issue they raise). Why not try to get the most important of these reforms in place without writing public wishlists to the public? After all, where is this supposed to end? Is it likely the CBMW will adopt all this at their next business meeting? So what then? Do we need another group of letters to remember representing yet another Evangelical organization? How long before someone reads out of their Bible yet another way in which that new acronym has fallen short of God’s patriarchical standard and demands a yet another, more marginal, organization? Is this path from extremism to extremism really the path God demand of us?
Of course, I have fallen short of all that I am no invoking more times than I know. But I do think this is the upward call of Christ to which we should all strive in the grace of God. It is true the Bible time and again warns us against all compromise. But that has never been the only warning in the Bible. The Gospels give us both Saducees and Pharisees, and anyone can pick up the book of Jeremiah and see how obvious it was was to his contemporaries that he was merely a “fifth columinst” for an encroaching pagan establishment. Daniel was ruling with Nebuchadnezzar when Jerusalem was destroyed; what did the conservative Israelite patriots think of him?
If David and Tim have considered all these issues and consequences and think their concerns still warrant this road, they are welcome to travel down it. I have no written standard by which to make these decisions. It takes wisdom and good Christians will disagree. Wolves are real but so are sheep who make mistakes and/or who sin. But it seems obvious to me that we are all called to live in peaceful fellowship with other sinners, and this means we have to have areas in which compromise is not only allowable, but demanded. American sectarian utopianism is a heritage going back further back in our land than feminism. In my opinion, there may well be a cause and effect relationship between the two phenomena.
I do think that Tim and David are ministers called and equipped by the Holy Spirit. I trust that they posted their list publicly in order to have public discussion. For what it may be worth, here is my initial reaction. I trust it has stayed within Christian bounds. Since I’m going out of town for a couple of days, I’m leaving the comments closed for the time being.