The Next Generation of Complementarianism: A Response to Mike Winger

The Next Generation of Complementarianism: A Response to Mike Winger December 6, 2022

I only recently learned about Mike Winger. A friend alerted me that he had posted a not-so-flattering discussion of The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth. I wasn’t terribly surprised by this since Winger earned a ministry degree from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, an extension campus of Calvary Chapel Bible College which states in its doctrinal statement that men and women were created to “complement and complete each other.” Indeed, the Bible college is part of the Calvary Global Network which is “officially Complementarian.” What was a surprise to me was how dismissive Winger was of me.* After a short twitter discussion with him, I promised to take him up on his offer to review his videos on women in ministry. When Andrew Bartlett and Terran Williams approached me about a series they are releasing on Winger’s videos, I asked if I could highlight their resource at The Anxious Bench. The remainder of this post is Bartlett and William’s introduction to their new series. I hope you enjoy, and I especially hope you pass this along to devotees of Winger’s series on women. 


Women in Ministry: After Grudem and Piper, Mike Winger is here! But so are some other voices. 

Many Christians and church leaders turn to stalwarts Wayne Grudem and John Piper for Scriptural defense of men’s authority over women in the church and in the home (and, in the case of Piper, maybe in society, too).

But now, reflecting the ascendancy of free videos over scholarly books as a go-to source of information, the Californian YouTuber, Mike Winger, has suddenly eclipsed the inventors of complementarianism.

In 1987-88 Piper and Grudem and some others wrote the Danvers Statement, widely regarded as the complementarian creed. In their 1991 book ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’, they called it a “new vision” of complementarity. Then in 2004, Grudem published his 800-page ‘Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: an analysis of 118 disputed questions’, in which he claimed to have defeated every argument that was put forward to support women’s full and equal participation with men.

In the same way, Winger now claims to provide an exhaustive survey of the topic, in more than ten videos. He mostly arranges his teaching around excerpts from egalitarian authors, which he criticizes.

But there are some differences.

Grudem writes in scholar mode. Winger clicks the record button and speaks to camera, with an immensely likable demeanor.

Grudem views egalitarianism as a kind of liberalism. Winger reminds his audience that Bible-affirming egalitarian scholars genuinely love Jesus and that this is not a primary issue to divide us.

As for the reach of their content, we guess that Grudem slays his tens of thousands, while the YouTube counter says that Winger slays his hundreds of thousands.

And Winger has a delightful cat, which makes occasional guest appearances.

Winger is a 2006 graduate from the School of Ministry at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Known for his commitment to a correct interpretation of Scripture and a readiness to research a matter, he has become a trusted voice to many. With a half million subscribers to his YouTube channel, he has proven fearless in the subjects he navigates—whether progressive Christianity, Roman Catholicism, or Joel Osteen.

When he started releasing his Women in Ministry series early in 2022, he said it had taken months to prepare. Before he had done his research, he was unsure, and was ready to become egalitarian if that was what the Bible taught. But in the course of his research his questions were answered. Currently, he is sure that egalitarianism is wrong. At times he speaks with emotion and eloquence, using words such as “completely false”, “bogus”, “weird”, “egregious scholarly error”. So, he remains complementarian. Yet he distances himself from strident Christian patriarchalism and prefers to call himself a “soft” complementarian.

He methodically works through various topics—”Was Women’s Submission Just a Curse to Be Overturned?” “How Women Could and Couldn’t Lead in the Old Testament” “Women Leaders in the New Testament” “Male Headship: Is it REALLY Biblical?”

These videos average about two hours long. He recently posted “All The Head Covering Debates (1 Cor 11)” at a whopping 6 hours and 45 minutes long! Amazingly, on its first day of being posted 47,000 people viewed it. Someone comments: “Does Winger really think I am going to spend seven hours watching a video? Absolutely!”

Judging by the 1000s of affirming comments on YouTube, he is persuasive. He is, after all, the “BibleThinker”, the man trusted to critique aberrant theologies.

There’s just one problem.

His own views and his critique of others have not yet received critique. As the biblical proverb goes, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (18:17, ESV)

We love Mike’s heart. He knows he is as fallible as all the rest of us. He keeps putting out invitations for pushback. Near the start of his Part 8 video, he says: “If you’re a scholar who’s really studied in this area and you want to give me pushback, I really would like to read it now. If I’m wrong, I want to know it. Love to see that pushback.” And near the end: “I’d like to see serious pushback. And … if I can see I’m wrong, I’ll happily come out and recant and change and clip pieces out of a video and make a video telling everybody. That’d be fun.”

As far as we know, we are the first to take up Mike’s winsome invitation. Who are we?

Andrew, based in the UK, is the author of ‘Men and Women in Christ: Fresh Light from the Biblical Texts’ (2019). He has been studying Scripture for nearly 60 years. In his day job as an international arbitrator and judge, he specializes in dispassionate analysis of texts, evidence and arguments. He has a degree in theology and has served in lay leadership in several churches.

Terran is a South African pastor-teacher, with a ministry of planting and nurturing churches. He is the author of ‘How God Sees Women: The End of Patriarchy’ (2022) and a number of other books.

At the time of writing our books, Andrew was a member of a complementarian church and Terran had just finished a long tenure as a pastor of a large complementarian church, where he taught the same outlook that Mike Winger is now teaching. We each engaged with the leading scholarly complementarian works and independently concluded that God’s word, rightly understood, does not subordinate women to men.

We are delighted to take up Mike’s invitation and to offer a biblical critique of his videos on Women in Ministry. We are hopeful that his engaging with our feedback will result in a good conversation in which we all make real progress in our understanding.

So far, we’ve written responses to four of his videos, with the rest on the way. We affirm what we can, but then—following his own approach—home in on faulty logic, inadequate research and unsound interpretation. Sometimes he misunderstands, and hence misrepresents, what other scholars have written.

Complementarianism vs. egalitarianism can be a heated issue – with people taking sides rather than listening. We are on the same side as Mike on this: loving God with our minds means we must not be swayed by anything other than trying to interpret Scripture in a correct and scholarly way, so that, as Mike says, we can ‘live all of life rightly’.

In view of the extent of disagreements, some may wonder if we can ever know God’s mind on the matter. Having immersed ourselves in the subject for some years, we are confident that this is possible. But it involves a readiness to listen deeply to each other, to be aware of partisan mindsets, and to stay with the conversation for long enough.

For a summary or a full-length version of our reviews of Winger’s teachings, go to and click on “Articles”.

Andrew Bartlett and Terran Williams

*originally I (Beth) had included a sentence explaining Winger’s dismissive attitude toward me. However, folk have objected that I have misconstrued Winger. I relistened to the episode. While I have removed that sentence so as not to hinder the real point of this post–go to for responses to Winger’s videos on women, I stand by 2 of my 3 statements. The original comment was how dismissive Winger was of “my scholarship (the title of the video clip that I now know was edited by a third party but it was the one I originally saw was “Beth’s Bad Argument?”) and my faith. His video states my scholarship is poor, that I approach the issue emotionally, and that I am possibly not Christian.” I added the ? mark to the end of Beth’s Bad Argument, which I did inadvertently leave off (however, I also included the link directly to it, so I wasn’t intentionally misleading anyone–my gifts are just not proof reading). As for my statements that he argues my scholarship is poor and driven by emotion, I stand by that. It is how he represents me. My concern that he questioned my faith does appear in the video clip, but it was not Mike Winger who did that; it was a third party who edited that into it (not original to Winger). So I retract that statement. BUT, the overall point is the same: go to Terran Williams’ website. 

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