The response, feedback, and debate stemming from Zondervan’s ebook series Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry has formally begun. Its causing a bit of a stir in Evangelical Anglican circles in Sydney and round about (wonder if Kath Keller is getting as much air time as Dicko and I are?).
Some reviews include:
Tamie Davis at Meet Jesus at Uni
Dan Patterson at Otherness
But the biggest opening salvoes come from Moore Theological College faculty with Principal Elect Mark Thompson and head of the NT Department Peter Bolt heading up the rejoinders. These two criticisms do not engage the content of Dickson’s and my arguments, they are more like prima facie remarks in a court case, which set forth ad hominem arguments against the defendents (now remember, in rhetoric, there are two species of ad hominem arguments, the aggressive and the circumstantial; the duo are not making aggressive ad hominem arguments [e.g., Bird and Dickson are liberal whackos so just ignore them], but Thompson and Bolt both appeal to a set of particular circumstances that will negatively dispose their implied reader against the authors, yet without having to engage the substance of the author’s arguments – that’s what I mean by ad hominem).
Thompson (who I have engaged with in private correspondence and has graciously responded) raises concerns about general egalitarian arguments that import historical reconstruction and theological categories over the plain reading of the text; the general danger of capitulating to cultural trends; and urges readers to be wary of anyone claiming a “fresh” interpretation of anything. I actually agree with these points and thus fail to see how it impugns anything that I say in the ebook. In fact, I am all the more perplexed because I explicitly say much the same in the book! Coming to Bolt (Peter Bolt was my gracious doctoral examiner) wants to situate the ebooks in the genre of “Shift Story” analagous to William Dever and Bart Ehrman’s stories of their deconversion from faith (Mike Bird and Bart Ehrman is quite a juxtaposition). He equates changing one’s mind with Eph 4:14 and being tossed and blown around by waves and winds. But I protest on the grounds as to whether people who changed their minds from egalitarian to complementarian like Al Mohler or Kath Keller could be construed as being similarly tossable and immature. Also, I think Eph 4:14 refers to people who are erratic and lacking maturity, you know, Calvinist one day, Arminian the next, then Greek Orthodox, then join a Richard Simmons weight loss clinic, then Independent Baptist, we know these people, they are fickle and easily fooled; but I hardly equate changing one’s mind a little bit on one issue with theological capriciousness (some still call me a complementarian for goodness sake!) Again, I’m not sure how much mileage that criticism actually scores about what I actually say in the ebook. Bolt claims that change is good, as long as the change takes one towards ”truth, peace, God’s good order, life as we were created to be and for which Christ redeems us.” But that is precisely what Dickson and I would claim we have moved towards in changing our views. In any case, the charge, “He changed his mind,” does not strike me as a convincing rebutal about anything. But more will no doubt follow. Would be wonderful if we could have a day at the Priscilla and Aquilla Centre to set out these views with respondents and get into the ducks guts of the issues.