Today we conclude the discussion we started Monday regarding the Eternal Son Submission (ESS) teaching that is prevalent in our evangelical churches today.
The following was the second question posed to Cindy Kunsman and below is her answer.
If the pastors aren’t preaching it in the pulpits, where are they getting it?
The second factor involves the use of seminaries to train people with Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology which was first published in 1994. In his book, Jesus and the Father, Kevin Giles states that Grudem’s text had then become the most widely used Systematic Theology text in the English speaking world.
People in seminaries across the world are now trained using Grudem’s text which, while likely being sound on most other points, it also includes this aberrant view of the Trinity.
This really plays with people’s perceptions and does present a great deal of confusion. You should be able to pick up THE book on doctrine from any given Bible School and be at least able to trust what is written there about the Doctrine of God, shouldn’t you? With Grudem’s book, you cannot do that. How can a foundational text like that be “a bit off” on the basic doctrine of who God is? Yet it is.
So as a matter of informal logical fallacy, people are mislead through the appeal to authority. If that book is so widely accepted by so many different groups and is so widely used, how can something that basic within it be that wrong? It must be right.
So this was a vitally strategic measure toward selling Eternal Son Submission (ESS) — and they’ve done so through the seminaries — nearly all of them according to Giles. How can the average guy in the average pew in the average church somewhere have any authority or right to stand up to so many seminaries and experts and Grudem himself?
The third factor flows from this issue of feeling intimidated. As part of what people understand to be their local part of the Body of Christ, by standing up for their convictions, people actually have much to lose. I believe the pressure is also worse for pastors.
People have been browbeaten and blackmailed [or blackmaled] into accepting complementarianism, simply because the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood (CBMW) has acted like a big playground bully. People are terrified of those bullies most of the time, and it seems easier to just play along or not pick a side in order to avoid the pressure of the conflict. They play on fear. (Note from Shirley: a group of us, including Cindy Kunsman, demanded an apology from the CBMW).
For rejecting complementarianism, people risk and fear being run out of their churches as a consequence. They will lose their social group and their faithful friends if they cross the uncrossable line to stand against the doctrine in most churches. (That comes from the leadership and is the tone that is set by leaders and enforced by leadership. That plays upon the false belief that being agreeable all the time is a Christian quality — that Christians don’t act in controversial ways and should be sugary sweet to everyone all the time.) Some people will lose their families. This is again because people have sold out the Gospel of the Kingdom in favor of what society tells the church about who and what the church is and should be.
In many of the seminaries, making disciples means nothing more than making clones who can spout more about men’s doctrines. They really don’t want the young men in seminaries thinking and discerning anything on their own.
I think that there are plenty of pastors that reject this doctrine, but they will be shut out of what they believe provides them with the best opportunities for what is now seen as spreading the Gospel. And I believe that pastors grossly underestimate their witness to their congregations by way of even tacitly accepting these doctrines.
I’m not entirely sure where these doctrines are openly taught outside of the seminary systems. When you do hear of those strongly associated with CBMW or the ESS doctrine in other churches where they are hired to speak, they talk about peripheral matters related to gender as opposed to ESS directly. At least, this is my understanding of what these leaders teach. They seem to reserve the discussions for academic settings, and I don’t think that the doctrine would go over very well via other venues.
I have been told by many people that the discussion of the doctrine has come up in small groups and Bible studies, and the teachers and lay ministers pull out Grudem’s text as evidence for those in the class. Now, whether people do not challenge these things in these classes because they fear reprisal, because they lack confidence, or because the just don’t understand enough about these matters to bring them up critically, I know not. But it is my understanding that most people who do teach these things in small groups do go unchecked. And why would anyone challenge them if a person can produce scholarly appearing works written and accepted by vetted experts in theology?
Much thanks to Cindy and her thoughtful answers to these questions. Cindy talks about the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood (CBMW) and was one of the signers of the Demand for an Apology from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood.