Authority And Complementarians’ Role Theology: Part II The Intolerable Goal Of Role Theology -- By: Del Birkey

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 015:2 (Spring 2001)
Article: Authority And Complementarians’ Role Theology: Part II The Intolerable Goal Of Role Theology
Author: Del Birkey

Authority And Complementarians’ Role Theology: Part II
The Intolerable Goal Of Role Theology

It Is Not Biblical Theology, It Is A False Doctrine Of Male Rights Built Upon An Extrabiblical And Deductive Presuppositional Foundation.

Del Birkey

Del Birkey is a graduate of Columbia International University, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and he holds the D.Min. from Bethany Theological Seminary. His pastoral and teaching ministry includes intentional church renewal through the house church model; he is the author of The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church (Herald, 1988).

Editor’s note: In part I of this three-part study (“Gender Authority,” Winter issue, Vol 15, No. 1, p. 16), the author addressed complementarians’ circuitous idea of gender authority. Here, in part II, he looks at their concept of authority as set forth in a “theology of roles.”

In recent decades, traditionalists have dug for deeper roots in search of a viable biblical theology on which to support their superstructure of hierarchy. What has emerged instead in contemporary complementarianism is a sociocultural and extrabiblical “theology of roles.” It is this to which we will direct our critique.

In part I of this study we observed coauthor John Piper’s “clear biblical vision of the nature of femininity and masculinity” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. But that vision is fogged as he fails to establish a biblical “doctrine of masculinity and femininity” from Scripture. In fact, the Bible does not address femininity and masculinity as independent realities, because they are constructed and reconstructed in learned relational behavior in the world’s cultures. It is no surprise, then, that Piper’s “vision of biblical complementarity” musters but a few texts to bolster his gender presumptions.

In our quest to understand “role theology,” we are grateful to Piper for granting us his telling illustration of why complementarian men are so passionate about gender-role authority. He writes:

It is simply impossible that from time to time a woman not be put in a position of influencing or guiding men. For example, a housewife in her backyard may be asked by a man how to get to the freeway. At that point she is giving a kind of leadership. She has superior knowledge that the man needs and he submits himself to her guidance. But we all know that there is a way for that housewife to direct the man that neither of them feels their mature femininity or masculinity compromised.1

An illustration is supposed to clarify. But if this one clarifies how roles functio...

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