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Monday, September 27, 2010 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Debate with Wade Burleson on Complementarianism v. Egalitarianism - SBC Annual Meeting 2012

In recent days I have found myself fed up with constant attacks against the clear Biblical teaching that God designed men and women with distinct roles in mind for each to fulfill in both the home and in the Church. For 2000 years, the Holy Spirit has illuminated texts like Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2 consistently to reveal that God intends that men and women to take on different roles and created them to do just that.

But, let's face it - the culture has changed (or at least it has in America). Increasingly, Christians have begun to eschew their fidelity to Scripture in favor of adopting cultural mandates in regard to gender roles. They have even radically reinterpreted passages, with no historical or exegetical precedent in order to render them incapable of providing the very clear instructions God gave us through the Biblical writers by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

In light of this assault on Biblical truth, I have decided that enough is enough and challenged one of the most vocal critics of the Biblical position to step out from behind his keyboard and debate me publicly on the main Scriptures which those who hold to the traditional position (known popularly as the Complementarianism) find the most compelling.

Wade Burleson, Southern Baptist pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK and owner and operator of the very popular Baptist blog, Grace and Truth to You, in both public and private correspondence has accepted the challenge and agreed to debate me on Complementarianism v. Egalitarianism at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012, which will be held in New Orleans, LA. In the coming weeks I hope to secure an organization to sponsor and a venue to host the event. Check back for more details.

My hope is that through this debate the Word of God will be illuminated, the Glory of God magnified, and the design of God's creation celebrated.

I want everyone to know that due to the sensitive nature of this subject and the sorts of attacks of character that many have engaged in over the past few days, I am changing my comment policy. I will now moderate all comments.

For this post, please stick to comments in regard to the actual event. I will not post comments which seek to debate this issue on this blog, nor will I post comments which I deem innappropriate or unneccessary.

Are you proposing Ware's summary of complementarianism as the proposition?


The focus is not so much an application of the two positions, but the proper interpretations of passages such as Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2. I recognize that each Complementarian (or even Egalitarian) has their own understanding of how these passages are to be applied specifically. I am not concerned with that. I am more interested in debating which interpretation is most likely the correct one. For me this debate is about fidelity to Sola Scriptura.

Yes, that is the clarification that I was looking for - that you are going to focus on the scripture and not on the application.

However, I now am wondering if you propose to defend a traditional interpretation of the relevant scripture verses, or on the other hand, the current complementarian interpretation. In your post, you conflate complementarian with traditional, but in fact, they can be very different.

For example, Gen. 3:16 according to the page you link to, a complmentarian interpretation, means, "sin would bring about in Eve a wrongful desire to rule over her husband (contrary to God's created design)," while a traditional interpretation suggests instead that Eve's desire subjugates her to her husband, as in the Vulgate, and KJV through to the last ten years. The complementarian position contrasts with the traditional intepretation.

So, I am asking further clarification. Are you intending to defend the traditional interpretation, or the complementarian interpretation of the relevant verses? (I hope this is a legitimate question.)


I think yours is a legitimate question, but not one that I am willing to dive too deeply into on this blog. I would simply say that I hope the focus of the debate will be on the interpretation of the two passages I mentioned above with some consideration to passages like Genesis 3.

In using the term "traditional", I am referring to the general position of Complementarianism, whereas there are indeed specific and distinct roles for each gender. In regards to specific interpretations, I recognize that on both sides of the issue there has been some tweaking of their specific positions to come in line with their overall paradigm.


I deliberately chose Gen. 3:16, as it is not the focus of your debate. However, it serves as an excellent example of the wide gap between the traditional and complementarian interpretation which exists for most scriptures relating to this topic.

I do appreciate your response and I realize that this is early days for you to define your terms. However, I am concerned over the continued ambiguity, whether you will be defending the general position of complementarianims, or the traditional interpretation of the scripture - and will follow your this discussion with interest.

I will not, unfortunately, be able to go to that convention, nor is it likely I'll be able to catch anything on streaming video, so I hope that someone gets ambitious and provides a transcript of the debate.

You know, I have a lot of respect for Wade, even though I don't agree with him on every point. I am pretty well convinced that his desire is to follow what the Bible says, I'm just not always convinced that his understanding of it is correct. There are more than a few times when it seems to me that his interpretations are at least partly driven by his determined opposition to the good-ol--boyism he sees so rampant in the convention, and as a result, he seems suspicious of every position they take.

Well, they may be wrong some of the time, maybe even a lot of the time, but it doesn't necessarily follow that they are wrong all of the time.

Still, should be a good debate.

Looking forward to any other upcoming posts!

Please keep me posted about the debate. I'd love to be there.

In Him,


Wow! You are a brave man, D.R. I'm going to mark your blog, and remember to pray for you. Thank you for being willing to defend the Word of God in this way.

I saw your reference over at Thatmom to female raccoons. You know, I have had dealings with female racoons, and they are pretty aggressive and scary. They'll rip your face off if given the chance. I understood the analogy perfectly.

Of course, you must not offend the goddess, don't you know?

Yes, I should do like Mt. 18 and tell them directly, but Ms. Campbell would not take very kindly to my trying to violate the purity of her blog with my anger and negativity. We have a history.

I just had to stop by and let you know that I will be praying for you. You have your work cut out for you, and I hope you survive!

Of course, we don't need to survive. We do need to declare the truth as God enables. May God give you His strength. There is joy in serving Jesus.

God bless you, and please take care,
Mrs. Webfoot

For example, Gen. 3:16 according to the page you link to, a complmentarian interpretation, means, "sin would bring about in Eve a wrongful desire to rule over her husband (contrary to God's created design)," while a traditional interpretation suggests instead that Eve's desire subjugates her to her husband, as in the Vulgate, and KJV through to the last ten years. The complementarian position contrasts with the traditional intepretation. >>>>

Suzanne, I attended Bible school in Canada, graduating in 1979. The interpretation that you are calling Complementarian, not Traditional, was taught to me at that school in the late 70s.

IOW, that interpretation has been around much longer than just the last 10 years, and predates the establishment of the CBMW. I am wondering where you are getting your information.

Ms. Webfoot,

Thanks for the encouragement and your thoughts. I figured the other comment wasn't for publication, so I left that one moderated. And thanks for alerting us to the teaching you were exposed to prior to CBMW's origin. I suspect that the way some use the term "traditional" is based on their own context.

I enjoy many of the articles in this blog. On the matter of your views with regard to men and womens role in the home and relationships. You stated that many have eshewed the cultural rather then biblical roles set out in the bible "at least in america". In that you are right. But here is something to think about. The Bible layed out those roles based on the culture of its times. And Jesus changed some of that culture by insisting that the polygamy be dropped as a way of having large families.

Furthermore we don't live in an agrarian society any more and men do not carry themselves like men and women don't either. Our culture is so very different that if an American were to see and live a biblical life they would have to go to the middle east and witness it first hand.

Genesis 3:16 Is a prophetic scripture it doesn't imply that men and women should behave like this as a matter of course but that they would because of sin having entered into the human family. Eves craving for her husband when you think of craving the first thing that comes to mind is lust,anxiety, anger, seperation depression and even oppression. Many of these emotional responses are found when one craves be it someone or something. It is a strong emotion that comes with alot of negative and complex outcomes. Being that this is do to sin the prophecy leans to say that human relationships between the man and the women would be marred by the negative implacations and consequence of fallen flesh unable to keep a perfect law of love. The Mans problem would also be dominence and rulership not really a right idea but one of an arbitrary unfeeling kind over his wife. She would become a possession rather then a companion. So my take is that God started the relationship with the two on a complimentary basis but when sin entered into the picture it would as a result of our fallen state become Egalitarian. Jesus commanded husbands to love their wives as their own flesh or as he loved the church. For without our wives being treated so we cannot enter into his rest seperately. He is thus stearing Christians dispite our sinful flesh toward complimentary relationships following the perfect law of love.


You said:

"The Bible layed out those roles based on the culture of its times."

This is a huge assumption and I would say it is an incorrect assumption. If the Bible is true, then what it pronounces as truth is always true.

Now, having said that, there are certainly cultural elements in Scripture, but Paul's comments on the role of women are not based in culture, but in theology.

Notice for instance his words in 1 Timothy 2:11-14:

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Paul doesn't make a cultural argument for why women should not teach or exercise authority over men. Rather, he makes a theological one. He points first to priority in birth order, a significant point in Judaism and a recognized status. Then he points beyond that to the reality of the Fall. Adam was not deceived, but rather it was Eve. Thus, the daughters of Eve are not to teach and open themselves up to more deceit by Satan. Instead they should put themselves under submission to their husbands, who is to lead with discernment and love.

So while there are some cultural issues in the Bible, one cannot say that the roles of men and women are culturally conditioned. After all, it was God who set the roles from the beginning and God who chose to reveal Himself as Father, send His Son, and choose 12 male apostles and many more male Early Church leaders.

If anything can be deduced from the Bible, it's not that culture has defined gender roles, but rather God, Himself.

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Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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