Complementarian Beliefs: Biblical Consistency

Picking up from where I left off, the next main point that grabbed my attention were the shifting definitions/words that egalitarians used to defend their position. Formally, this is called the equivocation fallacy, and if you read through Christians for Biblical Equality’s statement, you will see this fallacy a lot. But here is a more formal explanation taken from the book A Pocket Guide to Logic & Faith by Dr. Jason Lisle:

When debating on any topic, it is very important that we pay close attention to the meaning of words and how they are being used in the debate. Most words have more than one meaning, but only one of these meanings will properly fit the given context. When someone shifts from one meaning of a word to another within an argument, he or she has committed the fallacy of equivocation.

Now, my husband likes to call the equivocation fallacy a ‘bait and switch’, and I think that this is a good way of thinking about this fallacy in general and also in considering the egalitarian arguments. For a brief example, consider this tenth point under their Biblical Truths section:

The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matt 20:25-28, 23:8; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:13-17; Gal 5:13; 1 Peter 5:2-3).

On the surface, it is kind of easy to agree with them. However, you have to consider their word choices and why they used the words in the way they did. For instance, they speak of the “function of leadership”. Does the function of leadership nullify the role of a leader? Or does the function of leadership change the fact that leaders, by definition, have authority and rule over the people they are in charge of? (Why else would you call them your leader?) And if not, why would they say that the function of leadership is meant to empower others for service rather than exercise power over them?

This is just a small example of what you will see as you read through their document, and the matter becomes worse when you actually read the Scripture references they have listed in support of their positions. When you read those Scriptures, I encourage you to read before and after the verses for a better context and understanding of what those verses mean, and then, think about whether those verses are really applicable at all to their point.

Let me look that up…

Ultimately, it is crucial for Christians to recognize how easily people change words or equate the same meaning to different words to further their own arguments. When it comes to what we believe from the Bible, being firm and confident in our understanding of the Scriptures is paramount in living a victorious Christian life, and it keeps us from being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). Consequently, as Christians, our only safeguard against this error is to know the Word of God for ourselves and to be willing to tear down faulty arguments that stand against the truth of God’s Word, recognizing that we must be prepared to not only work the defense, but also the offense in this spiritual war (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

This is also why I commend the complementarians who crafted the Danvers Statement and appreciate the fact that they pointed out this serious concern in their rationale statements:

8. The increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts;

9. The consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity;

The issue that is ultimately at stake is the authority of the Bible over the Christian life. If we say that Scripture is not clear enough, or if we underhandedly change the meaning of scriptures, distort the context, or read things into the text that are not there, then we are undermining the fact that the Word of God was given to us by God Himself to be the “only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience” (LBC 1.1)

Therefore, I encourage all of my egalitarian brothers and sisters to carefully examine the Scriptures again. Consider the fact that God is immutable, His Word is never contradictory, and “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which are not many, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.” (LBC 1.9)

My final encouragement for my complementarian brothers and sisters (and all those people who waver or find themselves moderately in the camp) is that you would also carefully study and examine the Scriptures for yourself. Know why you believe what you believe, and be able and ready to give an answer for your beliefs and your choices in living out this Christian life.

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