The most common understanding of both Complementarianism and Egalitarianism goes something like this:

Complementarians: Do not let women be pastors over men.

Egalitarians: Do let women be pastors over men.

or…

Complementarians: The husband is the leader of the family.

Egalitarians: The husband and wife co-lead the family, with no priority.

or…

Complementarians: Wives submit to your husbands.

Egalitarians: Husbands and wives are to practice mutual submission.

While I think that these are characteristics of both groups, they are not foundational characteristics that define each group. In other words, I don’t think that they are helpful in defining what it means to be a complementarian or egalitarian and they serve to cause a great deal of misunderstanding that leads to emotional bias that is very difficult to overcome once set.

In fact, I am going to say something very radical here and then explain. Here it goes:

It is possible to be a complementarian and believe that a women can serve in the position of head pastor over men.

Did you get that? Reread it. Reread it again…

Complementarianism is not first defined by it view of the roles of men and women in the church, family, or society.

Here is what Complementarianism is:

Complementarianism is the belief that men and women have God given differences that are essential to their person. Men and women are ontologically (in their essential nature) equal, but often, functionally, take subordinate roles (like the Trinity). These differences complete or “complement” each other. Due to these differences, there will be some things that women are predisposed and purposed to do more than men. As well, there will be some things that men are predisposed and purposed to do more than women. Therefore, there are ideal roles for both men and women that should be celebrated, exemplified, typified, and promoted in the church, family, and society. To deny these differences is to deny the design of God and thwart his purpose.

Here is what Egalitarianism is:

The belief that God has created men and women equal in all things. Men and women are ontologically and functionally equal. The way the sexes function in the church, society, and the family is determined by individual giftedness, not role distinctions according to the sexes. Therefore, each person should be judged individually when being placed in a particular position. We should exemplify this reality by overcoming the stereotypical placement that has traditionally been a part of societies in human history, thereby giving freedom to individuals to follow the path that God has uniquely created them for, whatever that may be. In doing so, we should no longer educate or indoctrinate according to any of the former stereotypes, including those of basic masculinity and femininity.

These, in my opinion, are the foundational tenants of each position without giving examples on how this plays out in the family, the church, or society.

The case I am making here is that in order to be a consistent egalitarian, one must deny virtually all differences that typify men as men and women as women. It is not just about getting women behind the pulpit or the concept of mutual submission in the family. It is much more complex and, in my estimation, more difficult to defend with sensibility.

I had a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who was an Egalitarian (he left because of this—I won’t mention his name). I loved this guy. Still do. Great teacher, thinker, and Christian. In fact, I had him come speak to our pastoral staff at Stonebriar to challenge us on why he became egalitarian and to defend his position. I wanted the staff to understand the “other side” from a very able defender. During his presentation, he painted himself into this very typical corner that I find most all egalitarians end up. 

He was advocating a foundational principle of egalitarianism: there are no essential differences between men and women other than reproductive stuff. We were all quite taken aback. Every example we brought up, he shot down by giving a counter-example in the form of an exception. His basic argument turned on finding exceptions to everything. Whether it was that men were less emotional, more aggressive, more one tracked in their thinking, less tender, more competitive, unable to nurture as well as women, or even liked the color blue more, he brought up exceptions that he believed neutralized the “pattern”. Finally, I thought I had him. I said “What about physicality? Men are stronger than women.” He would have none of that. He then brought up examples of German women who were stronger than men! We could not stump the guy!

The problem is that in order to defend egalitarianism consistently, he had to deny all of the common sense distinctions that people have made about men and women since the dawn of time. I won’t get into the science or psychology of this issue as there are many very good resources that do this. To me, it is rather bizarre that one would actually be inclined to produce evidence to prove that men and women are different!

I am of the opinion that many egalitarians would have been appalled by Peter who said that women are the weaker of the sexes (1 Pet. 3:7) siting every exception to this rule and bemoaning this stereotype until Peter cried “uncle.”

Complementarianism says that men and women are different by design. We are different and God did it. It is that simple.

However, most people would not be willing to go as far as my former professor. They realize that sustaining a proposition that men and women have no essential differences is a battle that cannot really be sustained in real life (only theoretical ideology). Men and women are different. Even most egalitarians that I know would give me this. Hear this again. Most egalitarians that I know would admit, when push comes to shove, that there are some essential differences between men and women. Most would even say that there are essential differences that go beyond reproduction and physicality. But I would argue that these people are not really egalitarians, at least in the way I have defined it. They would be complementarians because they would have given up what I believe to be a central driving tenant of egalitarianism and embraced the central tenant of complementarianism: men and women are different by design and their differences complement each other.

Now, having said this, I believe that it is theoretically possible to be a complementarian and yet not take a traditional complementarian stand on the issue of women in ministry. In other words, someone could believe that men and women are different by design yet not think that these differences have any bearing on women in leadership in the church. They may be convinced that the Bible does not really teach that women should not teach men, and yet be complementarian in other issues and, broadly, in their theology of the sexes.

I am interested and committed to complementarianism for more than just the women in ministry issue. This is just one application. But (and here is where I get in trouble with fellow complementarians), I don’t think that it is the most important issue in this debate. Neither do I think that it is the most “damaging” issue.

You see, when people are truly committed and consistent egalitarians, they have to defend their denial of essential differences. In doing so, they will advocate a education system in the home, church, and society which neutralizes any assumption of differences between the sexes. In doing so, men will not be trained to be “men” since there is really no such thing. Women will not be encouraged to be “women” since there is no such thing. The assumption of differences becomes a way to oppress society and marginalize, in their estimation, one sex for the benefit of the other. Once we neutralize these differences, we will have neutered society and the family due to a denial of God’s design in favor of some misguided attempt to promote a form of equality that is neither possible nor beneficial to either sex.

We will have troubled men and women groping to find their way and feeling pressured to repress their instincts and giftedness. We will no longer be able to train up men and women in the “way” they should go since there is no “way” they should go. Women can act masculine and men can be feminine. Men can retreat in the face of responsibility because, in truth, they don’t have any “responsibility” other than the one that they choose. This is to say nothing of the implications this has on the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage.

But in a complementarian worldview (even one that allows women to teach men in the church), men are taught to be men and women are taught to be women. They both have defining characteristics. Masculinity and femininity find their place and are exemplified and celebrated. Men protect women from physical danger and take their positions of leadership seriously, without trepidation or fear that they will be seen as power mongers. And women support this. Women take up their positions of nurturing and supporting the emotional well-being of the world. And men support it. No role distinction is seen as inferior because in a complementarian worldview both are seen as essential and of equal importance. Only in complementarianism do we not define the rule by the exceptions and bow to the least common denominator. Only in the complementarian worldview, in my opinion, can freedom to be who we are supposed to be find meaning.

The true spirit of complementarianism is that God has intentionally created men and women with differences and we are to celebrate this in every way. The true spirit of complementarianism is never domineering (that is a sinful corruption). The true spirit of complementarianism provides no shame only freedom. The true spirit of complementarianism speaks to God in appreciation.

When we attempt to neuter this design, we have lost much more than authority in the pulpit.

Complementarians, while I believe that the Bible teaches the ideal that women should not have authority over men in the church, let us promote the true spirit of complementarianism then simply defending its particular applications.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    637 replies to "What Complementarianism is Really all About"

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      EricW asks: “TUAD:

      Have you ever thought of working for eHarmony?”

      I suppose “eHarmony” could stand for Egalitarian Harmony. And I’m doing a good job matching up compatible Egalitarians.

      For example, Don was sharing in #456 how he had studied both sides in their own words and then because of it, he became an egalitarian.

      So a good match for Don would be fellow Egalitarian EricW in #460: “Which proves… what? That people on both sides of the issue can diligently study the issues and change their understanding of God’s Word and joyfully and fearlessly (or with a measure of fear and trembling) embrace what they’ve discovered about God and the Scriptures?”

      One vexing eharmony challenge was Sue and her regular discourse on abuse and appeal to abuse. Lo and behold! This was solved again by the warm and consoling nature of her fellow Egalitarian EricW in #479:

      Misuse and abuse are sometimes in the eye of the beholder.

      Ahhhhhhhhhh, yes. Nothing like Egalitarian Harmony, aka eHarmony.

    • cherylu

      TL,

      Here is the link: http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/

      Probably you didn’t find it because it was in one of the comments quite a ways down in under her article “Male Voices”.

      It is Sue’s blog and she call’s it “Suzanne’s Bookshelf.”

      Hope that helps.

    • Susan

      Gosh, everyone’s getting a bit punchy at this hour. No surprise I guess, and better than edgy!

      Cheryl I also agree with your rant. I believe that God wanted to make His communication with us generally understandable to all of His children, and that no scripture is of ‘private interpretation’.

    • Rebecca

      Everybody…time to stand up and stretch and clear your Etch a Sketch! It’s the first lyric of my new rap song!

    • cherylu

      EricW,

      I guess maybe all of the folks that have spent many hours translating the Bible into the languages of people all over the world so that folks could have ready access to it have maybe made a huge mistake, huh? Maybe they should of just spent all of that time teaching everyone to read Biblical Greek and Hebrew!

      Don’t think I will tell that to my friend that spent many years of her life in Africa helping to translate the NT into the local language of one of the people groups there!

      And by the way, seems to me like I have heard it said recently on this site somewhere that there is a saying about knowing just enough Greek to be dangerous! So how much effort do you think we all need to put into this anyway?

      I’m sorry if I sound frustrated–the fact is I am!

    • Hodge

      I think this is exactly what Schreiner meant when he commented that egals are trying to win the argument by sheer volume. This conversation has been one bombardment of false information after another. Importing ideas into texts and then claiming that Cherylu was somehow snipping the text because she didn’t import all of the false data into it as well, claiming that prophecy is the same as teaching, adopting a Bultmannian Hermeneutic when it comes to this issue. This is a game to try to win, ironically, through power. Making comments about how the Hebrew and Greek don’t transfer to English to someone who doesn’t know them is dishonest. That fact has absolutely nothing to do with this issue. And having read scholarly journals for some time, they often obfuscate more than clarify, because you have so many people with so many agendas, many of whom are simply trying to argue for their preferences and cultural biases. There is one glaring issue that has not been discussed and that is the solo Scriptura idea prevalent in this discussion. Both sides can make exegetical conclusions (although I don’t see a whole lot of linguistics applied very well—most of the egal stuff is a regurgitation of older stuff that ignored appropriate uses of lexicography), but the real issue is which side can bounce their idea off of the collective of Church History. One fulfills the priestly prayer of our Lord by being united to Christians of all ages on this issue, and one counters it. Perhaps, they were all wrong, and the paganized Western mind of the late twentieth cent is correct instead; but that, My Friends, will be a matter of belief, not argument. The presupps determine the conclusions, and apparently, the evidence is not enough to sway a person one way or another. So what is left but to believe and trust the Church or to believe and trust the current culture in which we have been indoctrinated.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hodge: “I think this is exactly what Schreiner meant when he commented that egals are trying to win the argument by sheer volume.”

      And that’s …

      What Egalitarianism Is Really All About.

      😉

    • EricW

      Hodge, you’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

    • Rebecca

      Hodge, I feel your comment directly above supports what I was trying to convey in #49, 61 & 67. It does feel to me that few respond to the “mere” Christian on here who is not a “scholar”. I’m glad Jesus wanted to sit it out with folks like me. I say the trees are beautiful and someone else says perennial woody plant and insists that is more correct. What is more correct, that the technical name is perennial woody plant or that they are beautiful? But the “expert” gets lost and never sees or remarks on the beauty that I noticed. I noticed the trees! And I’m glad I did.

    • minnow

      CMP #340 “Egals are always fighting for the chair of leadership” WRONG.
      They fight for the sharing of that chair and the sharing of the nutruing chair which in my experience most male comps don’t want to be bothered with for whatever reason, but most would say it’s not their “gifting/bent”.
      Susan #438 The problem is we do not agree on the “straightforward reading of the text”. If I ignore the cultural/situational context of 1 Timothy 2:12 and ignore other examples in scripture where women indeed are allowed to speak and lead and simply take a word for word (English translation, of course) reading of this verse not only can women not be senior pastors (which CMP seems to think is our only real beef) but they may not even speak. It’s all right there in the very same sentence and so far no one has been able to show or tell me why we need to adhere to one part of the sentence but not the other. Personally, I prefer to notice the other examples from scripture where women are allowed to lead and speak and say to myself, “hummm, must be something off about how we have “always” interpreted this particular verse. Maybe I should try and understand why.”

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hodge: “Making comments about how the Hebrew and Greek don’t transfer to English to someone who doesn’t know them is dishonest. That fact has absolutely nothing to do with this issue.”

      DISHONEST!

      Why don’t you say how you really feel, Hodge? Don’t mince words this time. 🙂

      “So what is left but to believe and trust the Church or to believe and trust the current culture in which we have been indoctrinated.”

      I’ll choose the Church, thank you very much. The egalitarians can put their trust in the current culture for their indoctrination.

      As the late Professor Gordon Clark said:

      “The Protestant Reformation, for all its opposition to Romanism, never questioned the practice of ordaining men only. Now, if this practice has continued from the time of Abraham down to 1960 or thereabouts, those who are innovators surely must bear the burden of proof. The Westminster Confession indeed says, ‘All Synods…may err, and many have erred.’ Therefore it is theoretically possible that the Reformed Presbyterian Church is in error. But when the agreement is worldwide over 4,000 years, it is, I repeat, extremely improbable. Therefore a mountainous burden of proof rests on those who advocate the ordination of women.”

    • Rebecca

      Minnow, I do have to disagree on that. How many male pastors have started new churches? This does not silence females. It might silence them in one church. If you feel that is incorrect theology and it is something that is a deal breaker, you can go to a church that agrees with you or start your own. Churches have been started for all sorts of needs and no reason why this not be one of them. If, however, anyone insist that it be in the church they currently attend, then the motive is wrong and a waste of precious time. It is about taking up your cross and spreading the gospel, not getting hung up in church politics.

    • Sue

      I believe that somewhere in the last 50 comments, Susan (Sorry Susan I can’t find it) said that abuse is not a good enough reason to do away with headship authority.

      However, this is directly contradicted by C.S.Lewis and Tim Keller who cited him in his paper on Women in Ministry.

      Keller said that because of sin and abuse we must live in a democracy. We must have access to places of authority, and leaders must be subject to the vote, but only in society and not in marriage. In marriage, Keller teaches rule and submission.

      So, my question is why have authority structures become democratic for men in society, but in the home, women cannot live in a democracy. Why do men claim one thing for themselves and offer women something else. This is directly against the teaching of treating others as you want to be treated.

      Men who teach that women have to live under a non-democracy in the home have sinned against women. I can’t see how to interpret this any other way.

    • Don

      The agreement is NOT worldwide for 4,000 years or even 2000. That is just propaganda.

      The RCC says that only males can be priests, this is contra Bible, as all prots know. Furthermore, they say this is true because the priest represents Jesus. No prot I know agrees with that.

      Prots agree that the institutional church made mistakes, the question becomes when did they start? Was it in the 16th century or before. I think it was as early as the 2nd century with the gentilization of the church and the loss of Jewish context to the Scriptures.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Sue: “However, this is directly contradicted by C.S.Lewis and Tim Keller who cited him in his paper on Women in Ministry.”

      Did Tim Keller cite this paper by C.S. Lewis titled “Priestesses In the Church?”

    • Don

      P.S. The 2nd century church were all believers, and were doing their best, but that does not mean they did not make some mistakes. And by the 4th century with Constatine the church became a way to seek power in the state, so the members were not all believers.

    • Sue

      Wow, just because we haven’t had decent dentristry for 4000 years, that’s a good thing!

      Hodge,

      (although I don’t see a whole lot of linguistics applied very well—most of the egal stuff is a regurgitation of older stuff that ignored appropriate uses of lexicography)

      Let’s just admit that we don’t have an occurence of autenteo in a positive context near the time of the NT. And Schreiner does not supply one.

      Now, shall we begin the conversation called “Is context enough?”

      Because you seem to think that something has been established here.

      My position is that we cannot provide a word-for-word translation of authenteo because we are not quite sure what the word means. And if we don’t have the “literal words of God” we will have difficulty proceeding with a foundational doctrine.

      When I found out all these things about authenteo, it was clear to me that these details had been hidden in all the basic books on the issue. Does Schreiner reveal the facts on this. He goes into endless detail, but is less than completely honest about the occurrences of authenteo while I have them on my blog.

    • Sue

      Did Tim Keller cite this paper by C.S. Lewis titled “Priestesses In the Church?”

      Don’t think so. Yes, of course, Lewis was against women in leadership. It is “Pie for me, and celery for you” all down through history.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Don: “The RCC says that only males can be priests, this is contra Bible, as all prots know.

      Wrong. It’s certainly not contra the Bible. See the quote from Dr. Clark about male-only ordination.

      Furthermore, they say this is true because the priest represents Jesus. No prot I know agrees with that.”

      Wrong again. There are some Anglicans (who are Protestants) who believe the priest represents Jesus.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Sue: “Yes, of course, Lewis was against women in leadership.”

      I like C.S. Lewis.

    • minnow

      Rebecca–I do not understand what you are saying to me. I was trying to point out how some try to take 1 Timothy 2:12 and make it prescriptive yet even CMP only takes part of the verse as such. The rest he (and others) conveniently ignore. Why? I suggest it may be because there are enough other example in scripture to show that Paul was not saying all women for all time should be silent in Church. But CMP and others don’t want to have to admit that what is good for the later part of that sentence is probably good for the first part of the sentence as well and that they should maybe look at other options of how to interpret that sentence of scripture so it can agree with the rest of scripture both by word and example. My comment has nothing to do with where I choose to fellowship,

    • Sue

      I understand that Lewis reformed after he married. Nor do I feel obliged to agree with him, just because I may like some of his books.

    • Rebecca

      Minnow quotes CMP #340 “Egals are always fighting for the chair of leadership”

      Minnow replies: “WRONG.They fight for the sharing of that chair and the sharing of the nutruing chair which in my experience most male comps don’t want to be bothered with for whatever reason, but most would say it’s not their “gifting/bent”.

      Sorry Minnow, I should have let you know specifically what I was responding to. It’s the “fight for the sharing of that chair” Why would anyone, any female fight for it?

    • TL

      “It’s the “fight for the sharing of that chair” Why would anyone, any female fight for it?”

      When God calls someone to something, and fellow Christians seek to deny that person from exercising their gifts and callings, it’s a major problem in that person’s life. I wouldn’t exactly call it fighting, because it’s a losing battle in some ways. If someone doesn’t want to accept you, or hear you, eventually you have to walk away and leave them to their problem.

      But the person that is called must figure out where God wants them to be so that they may mature into the maturity of Christ and do the works of Christ in the Body of Christ. Often there is a spiritual battle of speaking the truth in love and standing up for what you have in the Lord. There is freedom that results. In the long run, it is well worth all the hassles.

    • EricW

      Don wrote:

      Prots agree that the institutional church made mistakes, the question becomes when did they start? Was it in the 16th century or before. I think it was as early as the 2nd century with the gentilization of the church and the loss of Jewish context to the Scriptures.

      Absolutely. We know G-d has a sense of humor, but entrusting the church to the goyim was a bad joke carried too far and for too long.

      Och un vai!

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      I just want to salute the complementarians on this thread:

      CMP, Hodge, Susan, Rebecca, Cherylu, Lisa Robinson, et al. (If I’ve forgotten to name you or if I accidentally classified you as a complementarian, please accept my apologies).

      You’ve all done a superb job in beating back the egalitarian shouting. As Hodge identified previously, “egals are trying to win the argument by sheer volume” and the collective efforts of complementarians have skillfully navigated the ship of God-glorifying, biblical obedience amidst and despite the bombastic, cacophonic din of these sirens to shipwreck the faith.

      Keep up the fine work.

    • EricW

      I know you are, but what am I?

    • minnow

      EricW 627#: I get it, I do but still I shake my head, perhaps in sympathy.
      Rebecca–Thanks for clarifying. I used the term fight only because it was first referenced as a fight by CMP. I would agree with TL and say that to make it an actual “fight” is unBiblical and I personally would not go there. This is also why I do not fellowship in a “traditional” setting.

    • mbaker

      Actually from some of the snarky comments by some complementarians on this thread, I am beginning to wonder if you guys are really interested in having a productive discussion or shouting down the other side down the other side.

      What about those of us who share beliefs from both sides? I for one am a believer in the word of God, but when someone else tries to act superior simply because they believe they are more ‘right’ in their view, either on one extreme or the other, I am totally turned off.

      Especially those who deny there is real abuse against women because of the misuse of some of these verses. To me, that is proving the case for a more egalitarian point of view, not the opposite.

    • ahunt

      I was raised egalitarian in a soft comp household…

      IOWs, Dad was in charge right up until Mom, in her soft, firm Louisiana Lady style, put the brakes on. ..as in “Bill, it is time to lowah yoah voice, and listen.” (Mom’s southern drawl always became more pronounced when she was in battle mode.)

      The dynamic was fascinating, and in fact modeled mutual submission, although my Mom firmly believed that Dad (retired colonel) was the head of the household, and demanded that the five of us respect him as such. But in practice, Mom often called the shots, not with Dad’s permission, but as the parental authority in her own right.

      ELCA born and raised here…and frankly, I think the proof is in the five children who have remained in the faith, generally happy in our marriages, definitely secure in God’s love, with a total of eleven grandchildren sending His message downrange.

      I think that those folks who are more interested in the rigid structuring of the marital/family relationship, and less concerned with who we are as children of God…defy God’s intent. Talent, ability, judgment, discernment, are not qualities handed out on the basis of gender. To insist that these qualities can only manifest in terms of “roles” is to put man-made limits on God’s gifts.

    • mbaker

      “I think that those folks who are more interested in the rigid structuring of the marital/family relationship, and less concerned with who we are as children of God…defy God’s intent.”

      Amen!

      When we do this taking sides thing, we are forgetting that God does not choose to save on the basis of gender, race or anything else, but upon our belief in Christ and what HE did for us.

    • Hodge

      “Actually from some of the snarky comments by some complementarians on this thread, I am beginning to wonder if you guys are really interested in having a productive discussion or shouting down the other side down the other side.”

      No, a side is not interested in truth when it bombards a person with fifty lines of discussion from ten different people. Those people are interested in winning. That’s why the cults do it when they visit your house. If someone wants to discover the truth then they will pursue it one question at a time. I’m not saying Sue and I are perfect in that, but I do think our previous discussion provides an appropriate pattern in that specific instance.

    • mbaker

      Hodge,

      I’m really not understanding why you are intimating you agree with Sue when it is so obvious you do not. Are you perhaps meaning Susan instead?

      I am somewhat confused as to your rather oblique answer otherwise. Winning is certainly not my object in taking part of in a discussion where I am so clearly outnumbered. 🙂

    • Hodge

      mbaker,

      I didn’t say I agreed with Sue. I said our conversation was the pattern that others might want to emulate. We pursued one question rather than slamming each other with fifty different objections that no mere mortal could ever hope to deal with in a thread. When people do this, they are interested in venting and winning by the sheer volume of their words, rather than seeking to pursue and clarify the content of a particular truth. I don’t care to discuss it any further. I just think it is ridiculous and utterly ironic for those who believe in “mutual submission” to overpower and destroy their perceived inferiors.

    • Sue

      Hodge,

      You have repeatedly made reference to outmoded methodology in determining word meaning. I am well aware of the notion that we can derive meaning from context. This is not news to a language teacher.

      However, it turns out that eventually language teachers decided to test our ability to derive meaning from context. Here is the result from one study found in Vocabulary Instruction: Research to Practice by Baumann and Kameenui, page 23 available in Google books.

      The study asked adults to guess the meaning of blanked out words in grade 4 to 6 books. The results were that in directive contexts they could do this 86% of the time, general contexts, 49% of the time, and for other categories less. Here is their conclusion,

      “What these results mean is that adults, reading stories for fourth and sixth graders, were able to identify meanings of words already in their vocabularies, slightly less than half the time.”

      Please understand that I am well aware of the research background in deriving meaning from context. It is true that if we know the range of meaning of a word, we can narrow down the possible meanings, by using the context. But our chances of guessing what a word really means from context alone are not high enough to formulate doctrine.

    • Sue

      Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought, page 123,

      “Language is a lever with which we can convey surprising facts, weird new ideas, unwelcome news, and other thoughts that a listener may be unprepared for. This leverage requires a rigid stick and a solid fulcrum, and that’s what the meaning of a sentence and the words and rules supporting them must be.

      If meanings could be freely reinterpreted in context, language would be a wet noodle and not up to the job of forcing new ideas into the minds of listeners.”

    • TL

      “No, a side is not interested in truth when it bombards a person with fifty lines of discussion from ten different people. Those people are interested in winning. “

      Excuse me! Do you think it’s a conspiracy, that we’ve all gathered together and planned on coming here and what to say?

      Facts are most of us don’t know each other. And I don’t know of anyone who planned on what to say or to whom or when. Yeeesh Bro! You’ve been on the computer too long and are having computer delusions.

    • Sue

      And here is C Michael Patton himself on this topic.

      “Obscure passages can be the most dangerous teachings in Scripture. Sadly, it is often the case that many people and traditions take obscure passages and pack their theology into them since there is no definitive way to say that they are wrong in their interpretation. This is a common fallacy committed among “Christian” cults. In other words, there simply is no more fertile ground for cults and false teaching than obscure passages of the Bible.”

      I submit that 1 Tim. 2 is an obscure passage which does not permit us to estblish one certain interpretation.

    • Sue

      Excuse me if I seem to be bombarding people with information. I finally found a minute to say something relevant to the discussion.

    • mbaker

      Hodge,

      The conversation you and Sue were/are pursuing is something more in the line with Greek language usage and syntax, and no offense intended to either of you, and not that it isn’t an interesting subject, but there are other very good ideas here as well which deserve to be respectfully considered.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      It’s rather telling that an egalitarian would appeal to an atheist and an evolutionary psychologist such as Steven Pinker to bolster her claims.

    • Hodge

      “Please understand that I am well aware of the research background in deriving meaning from context. It is true that if we know the range of meaning of a word, we can narrow down the possible meanings, by using the context. But our chances of guessing what a word really means from context alone are not high enough to formulate doctrine.”

      I don’t think you understand it, Sue. I realize you’re aware of it, but understanding it is a completely different ball game. If we must first know the semantic range of a word apart from contexts, then since none of us are native speakers of Classical Hebrew or Koine Greek, we wouldn’t know a single word of the Bible. Context determines meaning. It gives you the semantic range. We do have enough of the word to discover that it has something to do with authority. What kind is going to be understood through context. I’m really not going to repeat myself over and over again. As much as you think this speaks to your case, those who understand the issue of a word’s meaning and its context, don’t argue from the lexicography of authenteo; but from other factors instead.

    • Hodge

      TL,

      The only one who has put forth a conspiracy theory thus far on this thread is you. My point has nothing to do with you all being in league with one another, but the fact that you felt the need to dump loads of material, stemming from multiple directions in multiple posts, in order to oppress a perceived inferior. I do think it is absolutely laughable to see how egalitarianism really is a practical joke. It doesn’t happen in real life. If this sort of conflict existed in the home, who would decide it’s outcome? The one who showered warheads on the other the most? No thanks. I’ll stick to lovingly talking things over with my wife as we both trust that God will guide me, as the leader of the home, to make the final decision that best loves everyone involved, and allows everyone shine in their respective role. But I see no other option for the egal, since there is no head, than to just have to try to win as many arguments as possible if he or she really believes that his or her way is right and the other is wrong.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hodge:As much as you think this speaks to your case, those who understand the issue of a word’s meaning and its context, don’t argue from the lexicography of authenteo; but from other factors instead.”

      Sue has been told this before. Over 2 years ago, in fact. See this post by Fr. Bill.

      Excerpts:

      “Sue,

      If you think that studying dictionaries is the way to do theology, I think we’ll always be talking past one another. It helps to read all the words, in the Biblical text, rather than run to a lexicon and cherry pick your way to the conclusion you want.”

      “Sue,

      There’s no problem with running to a lexicon. The problem arises when one gets there and finds a range of meanings, dependent on context, which the lexicon-user then ignores, resorting first to an interpretive criterion alien to the text in which the word appears. This generates any number of word-meaning fallacies, some of which I referred to in that link I provided. The “root fallacy” is one of the more common of these. It is the root fallacy that rears its head in your treatment of vir/virago, aner/andreias, and what you (incorrectly) infer to be the case with ish/issha.

      And, that’s why you and I use the lexicon differently. I am guided by a set of criteria obvious in the Bible that relates to God’s ordering of the relationships between the sexes, while you are guided criteria which discount (or, flatly reject) these same Biblical criteria.”

      “Like I said, Sue, you’re an unimpeacheable exemplar of the root fallacy.”

    • TL

      “as we both trust that God will guide me, as the leader of the home, to make the final decision”

      Got a Scripture for that?

    • Sue

      Hodge,

      We know the meaning of the Bible because we have depended on bilingual versions of the Bible and translations.

      What if I said,

      “It has been really sunny lately so I decided to put on *****.”

      You have no idea whether the missing word is “shorts” or “sunblock.” You don’t even know if I want to avoid the sun or get more of it. You don’t know whether a woman’s greatest fear is getting skin cancer from too much sun, or getting breast cancer from too little sun.

      What you need to demonstrate is that context is the appropriate way to determine the meaning of a word of unknown semantic range – using a publication that is not designed for exegesis. You need to show that it is a general principle that context enables readers to determine the meaning of a word from context.

      That you insist it is “authority” puzzles me because it was not translated with the meaning of “authority” until Tyndale. Before that it was dominari – to be the lord of. That relates in some way to power but hardly relates to being a leader in church.

      I am not sure if you know the history of interpretation, but no translations are done without the preceding translation in front of the translators to supply the already known meaning of words.

      Jerome went to Palestine and learned Hebrew with Paula. He already knew Greek. Zwingli studied with Pellican who studied with a Jewish convert to Christianity. Pagnini also studied with a converted Jew. They read the rabbinical commetaries carefully. They did not sit down and deduce the meaning of words “from context.”

      Everyone else used Jerome and Pagnini and the commentaries. There is no such thing as a translation done from scratch.

    • Sue

      TU..AD,

      You need to read what was written,

      “It helps to read all the words, in the Biblical text, rather than run to a lexicon and cherry pick your way to the conclusion you want.”

      Mr. Gender and Faith, Father Bill, you know whose blog this is – he clearly says that you are not to cherry pick. He says,

      “The problem arises when one gets there and finds a range of meanings, dependent on context, which the lexicon-user then ignores, resorting first to an interpretive criterion alien to the text in which the word appears.”

      The fact is that he mentions “a range of meanings.” He is saying that the meaning chosen must be in the lexicon in the first place. I argue that in this case it is not. Authenteo is not mentioned as having the meaning of “to lead in church” in any lexicon, or to have any meaning which can be construed that way.

      You have to have the meaning as one of the possible meanings before you can decide from context that it is or is not the correct one.

    • Sue

      Excuse me, it was Erasmus who first translated authenteo as “autoritatem usurpare” and that was the first time that authenteo was associated with the English word authority.

    • Hodge

      “We know the meaning of the Bible because we have depended on bilingual versions of the Bible and translations.”

      1. We have not always depended on bilingual versions for meanings.

      2. What goes for the languages I mentioned also goes for the languages in the bilingual versions or polyglots.

      Context helps because it’s more like this:

      ““It has been really sunny lately so I decided to put on *****.”
      Pants would be too warm, but a skirt would limit my running, so the cut-offs I had were perfect.

      Mystery word? Most likely shorts, the kind of shorts are referenced in the context.

      Jerome’s translation is dominari, which means to have authority. Your translation “to be lord over someone” has connotations in it that the word dominari does not have. “Lord” is not always a reference to God’s power. Hence, many people are called lords. But “lord” in English sounds like divine authority that a man should not have. You’re reading modern English connotations into the Latin and Greek.

      Plenty of translations are done from scratch today. Were the English versions based largely upon each other? Sure. What does that have to do with it? Someone in the 16th Cent can misunderstand a word in Latin as much as someone in the 21st. In fact, I would strongly suggest that is from whence the KJV got “domineer” (i.e., from the Vulgate translation).

      BTW, I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this but my definition of authenteo is not “lead in the church.” It’s ‘to have disciplinary authority/governing authority/divine authority to discipline” etc.

    • Hodge

      TL,

      Of course, you know that I do. You just dispute them. Let’s do one at a time: 1 Cor 11:3.

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