Mark Dever on the Centrality of Complementarianism

Mark Dever on the Centrality of Complementarianism October 8, 2007

Mark Dever is not a man who is shy of controversy. For example, during my recent interview with him, he stated concerning the book, Pierced For Our Transgressions, “If you don’t like that book, you don’t like Christianity!” Strong stuff!

Before we leave Mark for awhile, I want to share with you once again some excerpts from what I believe has been his best blog post ever. It was written in 2006 and is entitled “Undermining Tolerance of Egalitarianism.” Whatever your views on this subject may be, you will surely see in these quotes his passion and the reasoning behind his strong belief in the crucial nature of the controversy facing the Church over this issue:

“. . . it is my observation that those older than me who are complementarian generally want to downplay this issue, and those younger than me want to lead with it, or at least be very up front about it. . . .

Mark DeverThe older group is among peers who see women’s ordination as an extension of civil rights for people of different races. The younger group is among peers who see women’s ordination as a precursor for creating legal categories of gay rights. But having a certain skin pigmentation is to the glory of God; having a sexual partner of the same gender is sin. The younger group is more alarmed not simply by the egalitarian position, but by what it is assumed that will eventually entail, either in those who allow it, or in those who come after them.

There are, of course, many evangelical feminists. Some Christians whom I most love and respect and have learned from are in this category. . . . ‘Well then,’ you might say, ‘Why don’t you leave this issue of complementarianism at the level of baptism or church polity? Surely you cooperate with those who disagree with you on such matters.’ Because, though I could be wrong, it is my best and most sober judgment that this position is effectively an undermining of—a breach in—the authority of Scripture. As Lig [Duncan], the paedo-baptist, has often said, ‘If there were a verse in 1 Timothy saying, ‘I do not permit an infant to be baptized . . .’ we wouldn’t be having this conversation about baptism! There is such a verse about women serving as teacher/elders!’

Dear reader, you may not agree with me on this. And I don’t desire to be right in my fears. But it seems to me and others (many who are younger than myself) that this issue of egalitarianism and complementarianism is increasingly acting as the watershed distinguishing those who will accomodate Scripture to culture, and those who will attempt to shape culture by Scripture. You may disagree, but this is our honest concern before God. It is no lack of charity, nor honesty. It is no desire for power or tradition for tradition’s sake. It is our sober conclusion from observing the last 50 years.”

For more information about Mark Dever, see the following sites: Together for the Gospel Blog, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and 9Marks.

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