Tuesday, July 09, 2019

"Reformed" lies about ESS and the view of male headship


Surely, if God wanted to convey an absolute and unequivocal identity in how man respectively are constituted as human beings in the image of God, He couldd have created each in the same manner. ... But God wanted to convey two theological truths (not just one) in the formation of the woman from the rib of Adam: Since the woman was taken out of the man, 1) she is fully and equally human since she has come from his bones and his flesh, and 2) her very human nature is constituted, not in parallel fashion to his with both formed from the same earth, but as derived from his own nature, so showing a God-chosen dependence upon him for her origination. (Wayne Grudem, ed., Biblical Foundation for Mandhood and Womanhood, p. 83)

As I have said many many times, the major problem for me when it comes to criticism of ESS (Eternal Submission of the Son) is the constant misrepresentation of the position from its critics. Surely, if ESS is so unbiblical, the critics including Carl Trueman could accurately represent what it teachers, couldn't they? I mean, isn't representing what another person actually say and believe basic obedience of the ninth commandment? If ESS is so so heretical, then surely the most basic part of correctly representing it is not such a hard thing to do?!

It so happens that I decided to respond on Twitter to an outrageous meme which lumps ESS with a whole bunch of questionable teaching as being a Trojan Horse of "heresies" infecting the Reformed churches. The claim, so asserted by this sister on Twitter, is that complementarianism believes that the image of God in women is mediated through the man. Of course, I asked for proof, and I was directed to Wayne Grudem's book, Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood at page 82. Unfortunately, I was busy then so it is only now that I could actually check out the source material to see if this sister's assertion is true or false. It seems that I actually do have a copy of the book so I just had to go through my bookshelf and find the book in order to check whether it is true that Grudem asserts that to be true.

When I look through page 82 in the following section, this is what I found: (1) The topic of discussion is the relation of male and female complementarity and the image of God; (2) the particular section proceeds AFTER stating unequivocally that both men and women are equally in the image of God (pp. 80-81); (3) The section in which page 82 is situated discusses the differentiation between male and female as they relate to the image of God; (4) the conclusion of that section is this: "While both are fully and equally the image of God, there is a built-in priority given to the male that reflects God's design of male headship in the created order" (p. 87). Therefore, we can conclude the following: (1) The discussion deals primarily with how men and women come to have the image of God during the events of Genesis 2, and thus it is a discussion of the workings of an historical event; (2) From this discussion of the image in history, Grudem aims to draw a lesson of how headship links to the image of God; (3) Since the woman is NOT created ex nihilo but created out of the side, the woman Eve came out of the man Adam; and thus (4) In light of biblical passages concerning generation (i.e. Seth becoming the image of God from Adam (Gen. 5:3)), it can be said that the image of God in Eve comes from the image of God in Adam. From all these, Grudem argues that headship reflects the priority of Adam to Eve as seen in the derivation of the image in Eve from Adam.

Now, after looking at what Grudem says in context, is there anything here that has any relations with this sister's assertion that "complementarianism believes the image of God in woman is mediated through the man"? Note the word "mediated," which implies that without a man, a woman does not have the image. What she asserts is definitely not what Grudem has actually said, for "priority" is not the same as mediation — not even close! According to Grudem in this book, both men and women have the image of God equally. Women does not need a man to have the image of God, an idea totally foreign to Grudem's thought!! Rather, the priority of men is seen in how women historically in Eve get their image, from Adam. Note again the word "historically"! It is not an ongoing thing in the present!

I continually emphasize the concepts used by Grudem in contrast to the concepts used by this sister, only to make it manifest that what she is asserting about Grudem is most certainly not what Grudem is actually saying. This does not necessarily exonerate Grudem of this teaching, but it most certainly shows that, at least in the book Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, in pages 82 and following, Grudem did NOT teach that the image of God in women is mediated through the man. That assertion is a misrepresentation of what Grudem actually teach! Whether you are for or against ESS, whether you think that ESS is heresy or orthodoxy, surely being truthful is what we should aim to be.

While it is probably too much of a stretch to ask Reformed critics of ESS to be less rancid in their criticism of ESS, perhaps I can hope that ESS critics can stop making the assertion that Wayne Grudem in page 82 of his book Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood teaches that the image of God in women is mediated through the man. That is clearly not what Grudem teaches, so please retract that accusation. Also, please if you wouldn't mind, be a bit more charitable to those who disagree with you on ESS, and entertain the possibility that perhaps you may be wrong in your assessment of ESS!

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