“With our culture’s continued march toward sexual anarchy, the term complementarian still helps explain what the Bible teaches about men and women. And it does so by standing together with other brothers and sisters who labor to teach a Biblical understanding of sex and gender.”
My good friend, Todd Pruitt, recently wrote a post in which he gave several reasons why he no longer considers himself a complementarian. I must admit, there is much in Todd’s article with which I agree. I share his concerns about the way in which the term complementarian has been sometimes been “freighted with unacceptable doctrine.” Additionally, I have found the recent debate on the Trinity to be both helpful and insightful. Theology is ultimately a study about God; and, if we miss the mark on who the Triune God is then everything downstream from it (and everything is downstream from it) is ultimately affected. The doctrine of the Trinity must be carefully defined and defended.
I also agree with Todd about the necessity to be Confessional. I spent several great years on staff with a large parachurch campus organization. I ended up leaving because I couldn’t handle the pragmatic and progressive ways in which the Bible was being treated by many of those with whom I labored. Then I read Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative and breathed a sigh of relief. I learned that there was someone who could actually articulate, in an intelligent fashion, the rationale for the angst I was feeling. We had handled the Scriptures as if they were no longer wedded to the traditions of the Church Catholic. There was no place for the historic creeds and confessions of the Church. Consequently, the interpretation of Scripture could swing wildly, depending on the particular needs of the moment. Though often well-intended, the organization with which I served was developing policies and strategies that were simply unbiblical.
The Creeds and Confessions of historic Protestantism serve as the guardrails for our interpretation; and, as Todd pointed out in his recent post, our denomination holds to a Confession of Faith and a Book of Church Order that addresses a myriad of issues affecting the church today. The pilgrim path Christians must navigate today is perilous and treacherous. Now is a time when I am especially grateful to be hemmed in and protected by these guardrails. I, too, am Confessional.
But I am still a complementarian. While I share Todd’s concerns about the Trinity, I think there is still much value in the term complementarian. I don’t think we should jettison it just yet. Let me explain by way of analogy. I am a Presbyterian. Sometimes when I speak to people about being a Presbyterian there comes a point where I have to say, “I’m not that kind of Presbyterian.” In the minds of most people, the term Presbyterian is equated with the liberal mainline denomination. Perhaps there will come a day when I think it necessary to ditch the term “Presbyterian,” but I’m not there yet because it still describes who I am. There is still greater benefit than liability in using the term. It might require some explanation, but the term is still valuable enough to keep it. I don’t believe that the term complementarian has become so synonymous with the doctrine of the Son’s eternal subordination to the Father as to be rendered useless.