CBMW, Denny Burk and Aimee Byrd

Aimee Byrd’s recent post on Denny Burk‘s recent statement is worth a reading of the whole post, but this clip gets to one of the main points of contention:

Burk concludes that there is no need for CBMW to get involved in this Trinity stuff anymore and paints a picture as if CBMW’s teaching has nothing to do with all this controversy:
I am a Danvers complementarian. That view of gender is not and never has been reliant upon an analogy to the Trinity. Biblical complementarianism neither stands nor falls on speculative parallels with Trinity…
CBMW exists to promote the Danvers vision, which is silent on this current controversy. For that reason, my view is that CBMW does not need to be adjudicating the Trinity debate.
This conclusion is just plain irresponsible. Much of the teaching that we have been critiquing has come from CBMW sponsored events, the latest book by the former CBMW president, and writings from men who are either on the CBMW council or board. In fact, here is a CBMW document from 2001 on their position on the Trinity, connecting ESS directly to complementarian position. It contains statements such as these:
These arguments will be weighed and support and will be offered for the church’s long-standing commitment to the trinitarian persons’ full equality of essence and differentiation of persons, the latter of which includes and entails the eternal functional subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Spirit to both Father and Son.
 
Because the structure of authority and obedience is not only established by God, but it is, even more, possessed in God’s own inner trinitarian life, as the Father establishes his will and the Son joyfully obeys, therefore we should not despise, but should embrace proper lines of authority and obedience. In the home, believing community, and society, rightful lines of authority are good, wise, and beautiful reflections of the reality that is God himself. This applies to those in positions of God-ordained submission and obedience who need, then, to accept joyfully these proper roles of submission. 
 
We more readily associate God with authority, but since the Son is the eternal Son of the Father, and since the Son is eternally God, then it follows that the inner trinitarian nature of God honors both authority and submission. Just as it is God-like to lead responsibly and well, so it is God-like to submit in human relationships where this is required. It is God-like for wives to submit to their husbands; it is God-like for children to obey their parents;… We honor God as we model both sides of the authority-submission relationship that characterizes the trinitarian persons themselves.
You can’t make a claim that ESS and CBMW complementarianism aren’t connected when there’s an official statement on your website connecting the two. And what has happened since then is a building upon this connection. In fact, just as recently as this spring, at CBMW’s last official conference, “The Beauty of Complementarity,”many statements were made connecting ESS/EFS to complementarianism, and not in the way Burk is now trying to frame it within an economic context, but rather an ontological one of authority and submission. Conveniently for the then president Owen Strachan, this conference also coincided with the release of his new book, firmly connecting ESS/ERAS with complementarity, a book that Denny Burk, Albert Mohler, and Bruce Ware all wholeheartedly endorsed.
Furthermore, Owen Strachen pushed the matter in his conference talk, stating, “The gospel has a complementarian structure.”  The implication is that anyone who does not subscribe to his teaching on complementarity, the one that directly connects ESS to “biblical” manhood and womanhood, is denying the gospel. There were many respected leaders at this conference who could have expressed their concern on some of the teaching going on next to their own. But they didn’t, rather they stood by silently while the entire paying audience absorbed it, sanctified testosterone and all.
So seeing Burk write that there is no connection, downplaying any relation between CBMW and the errant teaching on the inner life of the Trinity just isn’t true.
In his post, Burk gives advice to his readers to listen to their critics. This is what I havebeen begging CBMW to do from the start, not only with the extremely important teaching on the Trinity, but also with the other strange teachings they have published on complementarity.
Burk’s post has two other elements worthy of consideration:
1. The change from “subordination” to “submission” is not small change; in fact, it is a major concession without confession that subordination was not only wise but at times dangerously so. It is not right to whistle along now as if “subordination” really meant “submission” all along.
2. Why did it take the strong Reformed crowd’s strong rebuttals of Ware, Grudem, and Strachan to get their attention? These things have been said by others for more than a decade, and they ignored and brushed the folks aside. What this shows once again is the tribalism at work. It took someone closer to them to jar them into rethinking what they have been saying for a long, long time.
About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.