Stan Gundry’s Open Letter to ETS on Lasts Year’s Resolution

Last year at ETS, four resolution were passed by the society pertaining to issues about gender and sexuality:

(1) We affirm that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess inherent dignity and worth.
(2) We affirm that marriage is the covenantal union of one man and one woman, for life.
(3) We affirm that Scripture teaches that sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage as defined above. This excludes all other forms of sexual intimacy.
(4) We affirm that God created men and women, imbued with the distinct traits of manhood and womanhood, and that each is an unchangeable gift of God that constitutes personal identity.

In an open letter published by ETS, Stan Gundry, a former ETS President, explains why he voted against the resolution: “Because the resolutions went beyond the Doctrinal Basis of the Society and were inconsistent with the clearly stated Purpose of ETS.” Gundry – a publisher and a friend – is concerned that the resolution is part of a “conspiracy” to push ETS in a specific complementarian direction when the society has no formal commitment to complementarianism and egalitarianism. Gundry worries that the resolution is a covert effort to:

 1.) ease out biblical egalitarians, 2.) exclude women from the leadership of ETS, 3.) let qualified women scholars know they are not part of “the old boys network,” 4.) shut down discussion of contentious ethical and theological issues, 5.) marginalize those who do not come out on the “right side” of those issues, 6.) “pack” the nominating committee so as to get their compatriots in the positions of leadership, 7.) question the evangelical and inerrantist bona fides of those who ask hard questions and come up with answers that most of us are not persuaded by, and 8.) propose and pass a poorly framed set of four resolutions that makes the Society sound more like the Family Research Council or the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood than the intentionally diverse “medium for the oral and written expressions of thought and research in the general field of the theological disciplines as centered in the Scriptures” as stated in the ETS Purpose statement.

Please do read Gundry’s statement if this is part of your context and tribe. Let me add that I believe in ETS, I believe there is good will among the leadership to make it a broad evangelical tent (broad as the gospel at least!), and ETS remains a great forum to promote discussion and debate by evangelical scholars. However, there are legitimate concerns about those who may be trying to take ETS in a very particular direction which would not accord with the stated intention of the leadership to try and attract more women and minorities. But I’ll let others debate that  point.

I wasn’t at the Atlanta meeting last year and I would not have affirmed the resolution. Not because I’m some ultra-left wing tree hugging femonazi from Harvard who rails against heteronormativity; rather, I simply think # 4 of the resolution is notoriously inadequate. Issues related to gender identity and gender dysphoria require a multi-disciplinary medical, social, theological, and pastoral response, not a 30-word precis.  You cannot offer superficial responses to complex topics, passing them as resolutions, and be expected to be taken seriously.

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