The average person sitting in the pew doesn’t have any idea of what is going on regarding the theology of women’s submission and where it came from. They listen to their preacher and they tell me “my pastor doesn’t say those kind of things.” And they are right. But these Southern Baptist pastors believe those things that the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood (CBMW) and others are putting out.
The Letter I’ve printed several times is from a woman in the church where I had attended for 11 years and sat just a few feet away from each Sunday. I didn’t really know her as she was involved with a different SS class. Our pastor never preached the Danvers Statement message that she was spouting about harmony in the marriage. So where did she get it? In fact, our pastor is for women, but he can’t admit it because when he did mention it, people left the church.
I posed the following questions to Cindy Kunsman and below is her answer to the first question. Wednesday you will find her answer to the second question.
- Is it as big a deal as I think it is – that most SBC pastors think this way – or is it just a small offbeat group that believe in the Eternal Son Submission theory (the Trinity) and this strange theology about the husbands being the representative of Christ and male headship?
- And another question – If the pastors aren’t preaching it in the pulpits, where are they getting it?
Cindy Kunsman answers the first question.
I’ve been giving it some thought. I don’t think that it’s quite that simple of a question but it more insidious.
First, consider the backdrop of Biblical Illiteracy. Churches are full of people who can’t tell you much of anything about basic doctrine, and they go just because it’s what they’re supposed to do or because Church is a country club. If they know any doctrine, it’s probably not terribly complicated stuff.
Move on to the Trinity. It’s essentially inscrutable, because in our mortal state or even in our state as God’s creation, we can’t see things clearly. We see through a glass darkly, and much about God we have to take by faith. People generally don’t like faith and want to be able to comprehend things easily without having to think very much. What Eternal Son Submission (ESS) provides, even though it doesn’t make much sense to me, is that it offers easier answers to the complexity of the doctrine. It does recreate God in terms of who man is, and it doesn’t require as much faith in God.
Some choose to put their faith in Wayne Grudem, co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Systematic Theology, 1994) and Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (See Trinity; and Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance, 2005) instead.
But doing so gives an individual the illusion that they are not responsible for any errors made in the belief. If the teaching was wrong, it provides the illusion that it’s someone else’s fault and not their own error. So not only is it much easier, it’s pre-packaged and makes people feel less responsible. People love to pass on responsibility when it comes to these complicated things, because it’s very hard to come face to face with the realization that you are just human and limited.
In addition, in many Evangelical churches, people are taught that the Father is mean and tough, always looking to smite someone. They don’t understand God as Holy God, because that again means that they have to face their own true nature. For most people, the Father is not separate from us because He is holy. They think it is because He is just mean and rough and demanding, like an authoritarian.
Jesus is seen as the nice guy who likes us, and even He has to go to this mean Father and beg and plead on our behalf. They don’t see intercession as making a way for us or standing in the gap, satisfying the law and the demands of God’s quality of holiness. They see Jesus as someone who has to try to beg the Father to be forgiving and to put up with us, as if Father God had some gross lack of a forgiving spirit.
It is easier for us to understand God as three separate people with three very different personalities instead of the complex and inscrutable Creator.
There are some things about God that are a mystery that even Paul could not explain to us with greater clarity, and I believe that he certainly would if he could have done so. So when Bruce Ware comes along with his and Wayne Grudem’s perverse twist on that approach to the Trinity which strips the Mystery of mystery, I think that for most people, the surface of the doctrine makes more sense.
To sum up the answer. It seems on the surface to solve a lot of mystery, it’s easier, and someone else seems responsible so you can pass the buck if it’s wrong.