Baited and Switched by The Bait and Switch of Complementarians?

The CBE published a post on May 15th by Mimi Haddad titled The Bait and Switch of Complementarians.  I came across it by the usual suspect, Rachel Held Evans (whom I follow without trying to troll because I have learned from her), and even Scot McKnight linked to it (without commentary one way or the other).  But, judging from the publicity and the number of posts it was quite a hit.

I’m not going to levy an argument against egalitarianism or for complementarianism.  I’d just like to point out that we “got bait-and-switched” by reading the article.  How?  Well, you click a link to find an argument towards a solution and only receive a restatement of the problem.  I’m a beginner in seminary and I caught that.

The problem has always been whether it is legitimate to say that beings who are equal in ontology can be unequal in other areas (i.e., like telos).  Complementarians have consistently said they could, arguing from the Trinity (equal in ontos, but, no, Holy Spirit, you may not be incarnated).  Egalitarians have never really cared for that distinction (how legitimate is the analogy with the Trinity, anyhow?).

All that Dr. Haddad has effectively done is state the problem.  No solution.  No argumentation.  It’s popular only because it is cool.

The closest that Dr. Haddad gets to an argument is the statement:

Unless the Christ-exalting telos of Christian womanhood and Christian manhood opens equal opportunities to lead and serve with equal authority, regardless of gender, one questions whether they share equally in newness of life (ontos)—the fruit of Calvary. If the purpose (telos) of Christian discipleship is the result of Christ’s work on the cross (soteriology), it is inseparable from men and women sharing authority in the work of the church (ecclesiology), as Gordon Fee notes.

She states the problem backwards.  If the egalitarian believes equal ontology –> equal (roles to) telos, then the unequal (roles to) telos means, more than likely, there is unequal ontology.  But, this, of course, is only true if you already are an egalitarian and deny what Complementarians believe about ontos and the telos.  A

Second, the problem with authority and ecclesiology is something that will take a long time to nail down.  I do not critique Dr. Haddad for not elaborating.  She is writing a blog post, not a dissertation.  But, in some Baptist circles, i.e. Clifton Baptist in Louisville, the authority of the church is derived from the the congregation–and women have equal votes with men.  The authority is actually equal, but that is because, formally, the pastors and elders aren’t the final authority.

If you derive from an different ecclesiological structure, I can see that being different.  But, I’m just noting, the closest thing to an argument presented only works in certain structures.

In sum, Dr. Haddad’s blog post is near useless.  McKnight’s link to the article has ended up being an exercise in rallying the troops around an egalitarian mantra, but not for any argumentation.

Leave a Reply