Complementarianism and Eschatology: Engaging Gordon Fee’s “New Creation” Egalitarianism -- By: Everett Berry
JBMW 13:2 (Winter 2008) p. 59
Complementarianism and Eschatology:
Engaging Gordon Fee’s “New Creation” Egalitarianism
*Associate Professor of Theology
The New Testament teaches that the redemptive work of Jesus Christ marks a pivotal transition in history because it finally addresses humanity’s deepest problems. Christ’s sacrifice atones for sin and propitiates God’s wrath against sinners. His resurrection defeats the curse of death. His victory thwarts the schemes of the devil and accomplishes his Father’s mission so that the kingdom of heaven might eventually become a full reality on the earth. Taken together then, these realities indicate that Old Testament promise has moved to new covenant fulfillment in inaugurated form. Now the present age simply commences on a divinely-set stopwatch ticking down the last days until the age to come arrives in its complete form, a day which is otherwise known as the Day of the Lord when the glorified Christ returns to save his people and judge his enemies.
Yet as the church awaits the fulfillment of these events, it would be an error to miss the implications that our eschatological hope has for the present time. Though the anticipation of the future does address how all things will be made new, this hope also goes to the very heart of New Testament ethics and the dynamics of church life in the present. The way things will one day be informs us on how we should conduct ourselves now. To think biblically then, one must learn to think and live with an eschatological orientation. But this being said, many questions still remain as to how this kind of theological mindset should be expressed in practical terms. This indeed is a complex question, especially when it pertains to gender issues.
Our interests about such topics as male headship, spousal roles, and Christian service are all intertwined not merely because they pertain to how God’s people should co-exist relationally but, at a deeper level, they reflect our views of what it means to be a part of the new creation in Christ. This is why complementarian and egalitarian polemics are often engaged in terms of how male and female roles should be defined in light of the results of salvation. Egalitarians, for example, contend that all present categories of identity such as economic status, ethnic background, and gender have now been “Christified” under the new covenant so that they no longer have any relevance for defining the functional roles of believing men or women.1 It is not that such categories no longer exist. Indeed they do and believers cannot escape them entirely. Nevertheless they are now passing away in lieu of...
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