John Piper, what he said

John Piper, what he said February 3, 2012

The internet is ringing with stuff about pastor John Piper and his recent opening comments about masculine Christianity, and he said these things before an address on J.C. Ryle. Some have summarized his words not so well; others are simply clipping from a report on Christian Post, which was itself a clip of what he said. So I thought I’d post what he has himself posted.

The theme of his conference this year is God, manhood, and ministry. He knows he’s stepping into a quagmire, or should I call it a field of landmines, and he has done so because he believes in what is often called “biblical manhood and womanhood.” I have no reason to speculate why he chose this topic, though a number of friends have written to me to make suggestions.

What do you think of his definition of masculine? Any thoughts? What do you think of all this recent opining on the the importance of  “manliness” and “masculinity”? Do you think he’s forcing the idea?

Here are his words, the key being the last paragraph (after the jump) on how he defines masculine Christianity:

In dealing with the life and ministry of John Charles Ryle, my hope is to clarify and commend what I mean by the value of a masculine ministry. But before we turn to “the frank and manly Mr. Ryle,” let me make some clarifying comments from the Bible.

God has revealed himself to us in the Bible pervasively as King, not Queen, and as Father, not Mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son. The Father and the Son created man and woman in his image, and gave them together the name of the man, Adam (Genesis 5:2). God appoints all the priests in Israel to be men. The Son of God comes into the world as a man, not a woman. He chooses twelve men to be his apostles. The apostles tell the churches that all the overseers—the pastor/elders who teach and have authority (1 Timothy 2:12)—should be men; and that in the home, the head who bears special responsibility to lead, protect, and provide should be the husband (Ephesians 5:22–33).

Masculine Christianity

From all of this, I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And, being a God of love, he has done it for the maximum flourishing of men and women. He did not create women to languish, or be frustrated, or in any way to suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy, in a masculine Christianity. She is a fellow heir of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families where Christianity has this God-ordained, masculine feel. For the sake of the glory of women, and for the sake of the security and joy of children, God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.

And, of course, this is liable to serious misunderstanding and serious abuse, because there are views of masculinity that would make such a vision repulsive. So here is more precisely what I mean. And words are always in adequate when describing beauty. Beauty always thrives best when she is perceived by God-given instincts rather than by rational definitions. But we must try. What I mean by “masculine Christianity,” or “masculine ministry,” or “Christianity with a masculine feel,” is this:

Theology and church and mission are marked by overarching godly male leadership in the spirit of Christ, with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, and contrite courage, and risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading, protecting, and providing for the community—all of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s the feel of a great, majestic God, who by his redeeming work in Jesus Christ, inclines men to take humble, Christ-exalting initiative, and inclines women to come alongside the men with joyful support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work.

Then Piper, at the end, gives traits of what he is calling masculine leadership:

1. A masculine ministry believes that it is more fitting that men take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose women to this assault.

2. A masculine ministry seizes on full-orbed, biblical doctrine with a view to teaching it to the church and pressing it with courage into the lives of the people.

3. A masculine ministry brings out the more rugged aspects of the Christian life and presses them on the conscience of the church with a demeanor that accords with their proportion in Scripture.

4. A masculine ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.

5. A masculine ministry heralds the truth of Scripture, with urgency and forcefulness and penetrating conviction, to the world and in the regular worship services of the church.

6. A masculine ministry welcomes the challenges and costs of strong, courageous leadership without complaint or self-pity with a view to putting in place principles and structures and plans and people to carry a whole church into joyful fruitfulness.

7. A masculine ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church.

8. A masculine ministry models for the church the protection, nourishing, and cherishing of a wife and children as part of the high calling of leadership.

There is a Greek word for “masculine” (andreia), it never occurs in the New Testament (a word close to it occurs in 1 Cor 16:13, but seems to be addressing the whole church — and means courage). Nor does it appear once in any words quoted here of J.C. Ryle.  This is a colossal example of driving the whole through a word (“masculine”) that is not a term used in the New Testament, which Testament never says “For Men Only.” Pastors are addressed in a number of passages in the NT, and not once are they told to be masculine.

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  • Some other elements of this convo that I think are important:

    -Another speaker at the conference, Doug Wilson, described masculinity as “the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.” You can see clips from him at the Desiring God website.

    -This weekend Mark Driscoll preached a message on men and marriage, and furthered the above statements, saying “the essence of masculinity is taking responsibility.” You can watch the whole sermon at the Mars Hill sight, it was “Men and Marriage”.

    -Finally, a pretty well known blogger, Rachel Held Evans, has asked for some discussion about the above ideas and asked male theologians to respond to the above with blog posts that “that highlight the feminine images of God found in Scripture or that celebrate the importance of women in the Church”, and she has decided to read through as many as possible and link to several after review. Google her name to get to her blog.

    Personally, I am a little saddened that thoughts about masculinity have moved from anthropology to Christology/theology proper.

    I think these men are making an over-reliance on the male nature of Christ, and images of a male God in Scripture, while neglecting attention to female imagery of God elsewhere in the Bible.

    I love the idea of “sacrificial responsibility taking” being a virtuous action people should make, but think these men have made an error of identifying that action with true masculinity instead of true humanity.

  • Sean E

    “There is a Greek word for ‘masculine’ (andreia), it never occurs in the New Testament (a word close to it occurs in 1 Cor 16:13, but seems to be addressing the whole church — and means courage).”

    “A word close to it…” – how close, exactly?

    “Seems to be addressing…” – what are the arguments to the contrary, and how would you address them?

    “…means courage…” – could you take a moment to explain why some translations, especially more literal ones, have chosen not to translate this word as ‘courage’?

    “word… does not appear in the new testament…” – by this criteria, should we do away with all theological concepts which employ words not specifically used in the New Testament?

  • I read some of these quotes a few days ago. I find myself stymied by the definitions and bewildered by the force of the exposition.

    So, I began to reflect on a different matter: Why would Piper want to end his ministry with this kind of emphasis? He’s not getting any younger: so, why this sense of urgency? What’s the mission here that I’m missing? Why “go out” this way?

  • Paul W

    I’m from a church culture in which few would recognize the name John Piper. For me, this discussion seems really odd although I’m not sure I can readily articulate why.

    Piper seems to be relying in large part on some commonly shared cultural presuppositions about how to understand masculinity. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to try to parse the meaning of it. And so I wondered if this is in some way an important and pressing issue. Perhaps it is. But it sure does feel petty and vacuous to me.

    Neither am I convinced that the best way to define masculinity is by way of a set of character traits. And even if it were, it doesn’t seem to me that most of what Piper describes as “masculine” is at all connected to gender.

    I’d be interested to hear from anyone involved in the social sciences about this.

  • EricMichaelSay

    Over time, I’ve begun to see this whole “be a man” schpeel to just be a ploy to make church cool again. Or at least what the insiders perceive to be cool.

    I am disappointed that the full transcript is even more lame than the pieces I had read previously.

  • Joshua

    Most of what he says can be applied to women, and is not only offensive, but wrong to not apply it to them as well.

    I remember hearing a recent interview by a mega-church pastor who talked about how manly Jesus was because he was courageous. I was floored – is courage not valued in women and by women, too?

  • MattR

    Well, here is a big example of taking culture without critique (a particular sub-cultural view of masculinity) and imposing it on the text… Sure there is grace, we all have cultural blind spots. But my question is similar to others here… why push this so hard? Why now?

    My hunch is Piper and others feel the very Gospel is at stake. They have deeply tied complimentarianism into their theology, and feel it is being threatened. And to lose it would be to lose something big about the Gospel and the way God works in their view.

    Of course I strongly disagree.

  • DB

    It is not that comments such as these are made by well-known church leaders. It is not even that they have such currency in some sub-cultures of the sub-culture of the evangelical movement. It is that the fullness of the gospel has been supplanted by conversations over such matters that cause those outside of the conversation to dismiss the gospel itself as a result, that we should be so grieved. To engage in conversation with such communities seems to be more of a snare than anything. Can anyone say, “Well done Wormwood?” I have no Biblical or pragmatic basis for suggesting this, but I’ve noticed as a matter of experience that when otherwise wise individuals rise to the bait of discussing nonsense, that it becomes mere quicksand. I wonder if it wouldn’t simply be better to ignore it and when asked or prompted to comment, to simply say, “We refuse to be involved in that conversation and we live a fuller gospel than that.”

  • RJS

    For Piper, of course, this isn’t a new position. It is a consistent position he has taught since he was a young college professor. At that time he was both a divisive and charismatic presence. Attracting followers, but also leaving some students (especially women) calling him names I won’t write – but that still come up in dinner conversation about college days.

    Dorothy Sayers noted the trend – what is good, what is pure, what is noble, must be masculine when identity is this tightly tied to gender … and this makes women less than human. It is absolutely and inexcusably derogatory toward women and of the Devil to make noble human characteristics gendered. Courage, responsibility, wisdom … these are not gendered qualities.

    What is good, what is pure, what is noble is human – and through the grace of God let us all be motivated in this direction – both male and female humans.

  • DRT

    I bet none of Israel’s leaders nor Jesus were pale complected. I feel it is obvious that Christianity should be led by dark skinned people.

  • scotmcknight

    John Lussier, I fail to see how “sacrificial responsiblity” is any more masculine than it is feminine. That is, to me, adult moral responsibility. Women do the same.

    If one is asking me if young adult males lack responsibility in our culture, that is an observable trend, but that is about adulthood not masculinity vs. femininity.

  • scotmcknight

    Sean, the Greek word is andrizomai. It is not used for males. You can read 1 Cor 16 for yourself to see if you think it is addressing leaders. The word is translated variously because it has that kind of flexibility and capacity. The last point can be used any time anyone wants, of course, but I’m using this evidence as a counter to the emphasis Piper uses on one word in this address — masculine — a term and category that are not present in the NT for leaders. I don’t think any of the points I’m making at the end should be controversial. Open the link to his address and do search and find on the word “masculine” — and then see where they are — none of them are in his evidence but instead they are all in his own explanation of the whole.

  • Diane

    To be generous, though the post is offensive and patronizing, the church has more women than men and perhaps that is the concern. However, what Piper has done is to try to force the New Testament to confirm to stereotypical concepts of masculinity as defined by the culture rather than pull the culture towards redefining masculinity to look more like the life and teaching of Jesus. How many goddess worshipping pagans he has now formed? Several points:

    God as compassionate IS a pervasive image in the Bible and the Hebrew is closely connected to womb. This pervasive image is a female image.

    Paul said their is neither male nor female in the body of Christ.

    I read on this blog about men who “would lay down their lives for their wives” and other statements about heroic self-sacrifice that stays safely in the realm of fantasy. I will go out on a limb and say that most women don’t want these fantastic self sacrifices but do want a helpmate. God did not create women so that men could heroically throw themselves on grenades to “save” her. In the garden, they functioned as equals, quietly going about simple, non-heroic tasks. This is the Biblical model.

  • Albion

    Wow. I feel bad for Piper and Wilson and the rest of these guys who are taking the illogical leap from an historical set of facts about male leaders (kings, elders — setting aside Junia for the moment) to describing human qualities as exclusively male qualities. Piper’s list of traits seems oblivious to the sex-blind call of Jesus to follow him. Should only male followers of Jesus expose themselves to the lash of criticism for the sake of his name? Should only male followers of Jesus seize on full-orbed doctrine (?) and live it out in the world? Gah! Who are the mother and brothers of Jesus but those who do the will of his father in heaven? How does following Jesus become a masculine vocation and women are left to be nurtured by these rugged and more responsible men?

    This is not only illogical, it’s just bad theology. It substitutes a bit of complementarian “doctrine” for the story of God, the purpose of community, the eschatological realities of the kingdom. It tells women they have no part in sharing the sufferings of Christ, becoming like him in his death, pressing on for the upward call of God in the Messiah Jesus. It really is stunning.

  • Diane

    Another comment–I am in my last semester at a multi-denominational seminary populated by some of the wisest and most spiritually mature people I have ever met–and yet, nobody–nobody–should have the the kind of power being “God’s representative” brings. The authority is very dangerous, and we have sadly seen the results of its misuse. The best we can do, in my opinion, is as much as possible spread this task out, and not create a “priestly” caste. Including women and the marginalized in the priesthood emphasizes the human element of those we chose to represent God for us.

  • Susan N.

    Well, I nev-ah! So much of what was stated as “masculine” Christianity isn’t, in my view, exclusive to males.

    A lot of the language used is very dramatic (“lash”, “assault”, “seize”, “press”, “rugged”, “heavy”, “painful”, “urgency”, “forcefulness”, “penetration” – *holy smoke*!)

    The only word in all that which I might ascribe to Jesus is, perhaps, painful; because he suffered real pain as a result of loving and sacrificing for others. The words I think of when I think of Jesus are wise, compassionate, gentle, humble, forgiving…none of the above-noted words fit the Jesus I know and love.

    I am a woman, and I am also courageous!

    I don’t think I want to be “protected” and “nourished” by my husband in some childlike dependence (notice that Piper lumped wives in with the children). I don’t mind being cherished, but that goes both ways, too.

    Goes without saying that I wouldn’t personally want a pastor who fit the description that John Piper has provided. Neither would I feel good about my children (a boy and a girl) being indoctrinated in that type of thinking.

    Thankfully, and a little surprisingly (even to me), my husband cannot stand that type of aggressive, male-dominant preaching and teaching. One of the aspects of Hindu Brahmin religious culture that turned him off even as a kid was the hierarchical — both gender and caste — structure, which, in his eyes, too often led to corruption and abuses within the religious community and outward into the larger society. My husband’s attitude toward that, expressed early in our relationship, is one of the things that I first loved about him!

    Where and when is this distorted religious doctrine going to end? It’s such a bad witness for the Christian faith. It makes me sad for the many who will be turned off completely from learning of Christ, and also those who are “in” the system, believing, and living this as if it is right and true holiness.

  • EricW

    Sean E:

    ἀνδρεῖος, εία, εῖον (s. ἀνήρ; Trag., Hdt. et al.; ins; PLips 119 II, 3; LXX; Jos., C. Ap. 2, 292; Test12Patr) pert. to being manly, manly, courageous subst. τὰ ἀνδρεῖα heroic deeds worthy of a brave person (Philo, Mut. Nom. 146) ἐπιτελεῖσθαι πολλὰ ἀ. do many heroic deeds, of famous women (sim. Aristot., Pol. 1277b, 22) 1 Cl 55:3.—DELG s.v. ἀνήρ B. TW.

    1Cor 16:13 Γρηγορεῖτε, στήκετε ἐν τῇ πίστει, ἀνδρίζεσθε, κραταιοῦσθε. => ἀνδρίζομαι fut. ἀνδριοῦμαι LXX; 1 aor. mid. impv. ἄνδρισαι Na 2:2 (s. ἀνδρεῖος, ἀνήρ; Pla., X. et al.; Lucian, Anach. 15 et al.; PSI 402, 3; 512, 29; PPetr II, 40a, 12 [c. 233 b.c.] μὴ οὖν ὀλιγοψυχήσητε, ἀλλʼ ἀνδρίζεσθε; LXX; JosAs 24:7; Jos., Bell. 6, 50) conduct oneself in a courageous way w. κραταιοῦσθαι (like חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ; cp. 2 Km 10:12; Ps 26:14; 30:25) 1 Cor 16:13; w. ἰσχύειν (Dt 31:6, 7, 23; Josh 1:6, 7 al.) MPol 9:1. ἀνδρίζου act like a man! Hv 1, 4, 3. Of an old man, whose hope in life has been renewed v 3, 12, 2. Also of a woman who is girded and of manly appearance v 3, 8, 4.—DELG s.v. ἀνήρ B. M-M. TW.

  • It may never use the word “masculine” in the NT, but Paul says this explicitly to the Corinthians (1 Cor 16:13):

    Γρηγορεῖτε, στήκετε ἐν τῇ πίστει, ἀνδρίζεσθε, κραταιοῦσθε

    That is: “Take heed, stand fast in faith, be brave like men, and make yourselves strong.”

    Which doesn’t sound like a genderless challenge to me. Thoughts?

  • Well since we are into a supposed masculine ‘feel’ here! – I’m always struck by how ‘feminine’ the fruit of the Spirit ‘feels’: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

    Now that IS in the Bible as the evidence of God’s presence within a believer (male and female) – as opposed to the mid-20th century American subjective rugged Marlboro man construct proposed here. What complete tosh.

  • Also, it’s a pretty big leap — one which is seeking to find offense, mind you — to say Piper’s comments say Christian is “for Men Only.” Even watchbloggers can to better than this. Piper’s point is that the NT does in fact say that elders ought to be men, and as men, they ought to demonstrate virtues of being men.

    Food for thought, indignant egalitarians: if a man and a woman get married, do you really think that if you were counseling said man and woman that you would give genderless, sexless advice to them about how to make their marriage work Is there really no difference at all between being a good wife and a good husband? So why do we think the rest of life is totally bereft of man/woman distinctions which are good, useful, and godly?

  • scotmcknight

    EricW, how do you get that stuff online?

    Frank, I commented on it if you read my last paragraph and a comment above. I would say it is a virtue and character trait more than a gendered thing. (Hence, many translate it be “courageous” and the “like men” in “brave” is perhaps the point that makes it too gendered. (I’m thinking of Deborah.)

  • “Male and female made he them.” There is the correspondence aspect, and there is the differences that make for correspondence aspect. I think Piper is fair for spending some time on the latter. Surely there must be plenty of room granted for this. I am suspicious of any paradigm that shuts down the trajectory of that discussion. I think that anthropology in Calvinism has always been closely linked to Christology. Jonathan Edwards’ is a case in point. It is his anthropology for which he is best known.

  • EricW

    Kittel (my post above was from BDAG):

    The word ἀνδρεία is not found in the NT. 1 Cl., 6, 1 is the first emphatic reference to the apostles as men. But in face of the powers of darkness Paul admonishes ἀνδρίζεσθε, κραταιοῦσθε (1 C. 16:13). In this respect, as in so many others, he is echoing the LXX (ψ 30[31]:25;14 2 Βασ‌. 10:12; 1 Ch. 22:13 etc.). He might have used the same expression in Eph. 6:10 ff. and 1 Th. 5:8.
    ἀνδρεία occurs in the LXX only in books strongly influenced by Hellenism, like Prv. (21:30); Qoh. (2:21; 4:4; 5:10); Wis. (8:7); Macc. (1, 9:10; 4, 1:4 etc.; 5:23; 17:23). The equivalents תְּבוּנָה and כִּשְׁרוֹן are perhaps themselves translations of terms for the Gk. cardinal virtues.

    Lust (LXX):

    ἀνδρεία,-ας N1F 0-0-0-12-12=24
    Ps 67 (68),7; Prv 21,30; Eccl 2,21; 4,4; 5,10
    manliness, courage, virtue Prv 21,30; skill Eccl 4,4
    ἐν ἀνδρείᾳ mightily, manfully Ps 67 (68),7

    ἀνδρεῖος,-α,-ον+ A 0-0-0-1-6=7
    Prv 10,4; 11,16; 12,4; 13,4; 15,19
    manly, masculine, courageous 4 Mc 2,23; courageous, virtuous, brave (also of women) TobS6,12; bold Prv 28,3; strong, vigorous Prv 10,4; diligent Prv 15,19

    ἀνδρειόω V 0-0-0-0-1=1
    4 Mc 15,23
    to fill with courage; neol.?

    ἀνδρείως+ D 0-0-0-0-1=1
    2 Mc 6,27

    ἀνδρίζομαι+ V 3-11-4-5-2=25
    Dt 31,6.7.23; Jos 1,6.7
    to play the man, to be valiant Dt 31,6; to strengthen oneself Sir 31,25
    *Jer 2,25 ἀνδριοῦμαι I will strenghten myself-⋄ אישׁ for MT נואשׁ ⋄ יאשׁ it is hopeless, see also Jer 18,12
    Cf. Passoni dell’Acqua 1982a, 178–191; →TWNT

  • Frank #20
    the difference between roles of men and women in Christian marriage? Giving birth and breastfeeding come to mind. That’s about it.

  • Joel

    If we extend Pipers logic, much of God’s interaction with his people, whether Israel or the Church is portrayed as “Husband not Wife”. That makes the Church the “wife” or female role…

    I wonder how that fits into the rest of the argument.

  • scotmcknight

    EricW, but do you have them somewhere online so you can copy and paste?

  • Susan N.

    Patrick Mitchel (#19) – I just checked Snopes to be sure that I wasn’t repeating an urban legend, and confirmed that the Marlboro Man, ironically, died at the age of 51 from lung cancer. Proving that even “cowboys” are neither invincible nor immortal…

  • EricW

    Scot: I’m cutting and pasting from my Logos library volumes in my Logos iPhone app that Logos has permission to make available for iPhones/iPads/Android (e.g., I cannot access LSJ or HALOT, just “Middle Liddell” and BDB, as Logos doesn’t have rights to make HALOT and LSJ (Oxford) available on mobile devices).

  • Krister S

    RE: #4 on Piper’s list of traits “A masculine ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.”

    People like Dr. Piper easily and naturally substitute proffering of questionable and even poor hermeneutic practices as “painful realities in the Bible.”

    It does indeed require much courage to sum up the whole of the Bible into a speech such as this. Such confidence!

    No, I say “Such myopia!”

  • EricW

    Nope, not online. These aren’t public domain or online-subscription available, just to Logos owners who bought those volumes (also accessible via Logos’ Wish I could come to Chicago to see/hear you at Logos’ Pastorum Live!

  • David W
  • DanS

    I am not a huge Piper fan, nor am I entirely in agreement with some of the justifications for complementarian views. Certainly “courage” is a trait that can apply to men and to women and biblical examples of such can be cited.

    But this post and the comments following are not a fair hearing of Piper either. Pointing out “Father” and “Son” as names for two members of the Trinity, words used for centuries in baptismal formulas and creeds, is not an example of imposing a cultural view onto the text. Neither is the exclusively male priesthood in the OT. Granted a case may be made for Junia, but New Testament leadership was overwhelmingly male.

    Objections here seem more about a dislike for Piper than an honest engagement with his whole argument. Also seemingly ignored are his statement that: “A masculine ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church”.

    Again, I am not a Piper fan. But scripture seems to balance two realities – there is no male or female in Christ, affirming the equality of worth between the sexes; and men and women are not the same – there are real differences that have implications for roles and implications for how one perceives God as “father”. (“Mother” is a term that seems best applied to the church.)

    Seems to me the egalitarians tend to ignore the differences between the sexes and the complimentarians sometimes don’t emphasize the equality enough. Piper does, at least, wrestle with both.

  • So is he saying that the bride of Christ should be masculine?

  • Scot thank you for giving us a fuller view of John Piper’s statements and for the insight at the end. I’m alarmed that a man who could go through seminary and be such an influential leader in the Church can ignore the context of those passages and force a perspective that’s simply not there. His exposition is full of errors. How does one come to such a interpretation?

    Scot- when you interpret a passage what is your process? do you look at context, traditions of the day, greek, intertextual citations, etc?

  • Rick

    To Frank and others: a great read, if you haven’t already, is Sarah Sumner’s book “Men and Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership.” I think her scholarship is excellent and she is very even handed. Her conclusion is there is a biblical difference in man/woman in church (equals in all regards) and home (where there are roles of sorts.)That short blurb doesn’t do it justice. Her point, there is a dichotomy between Gal 3:28 and the housetable. Anyway, not enough room here – but I highly recommend the book to both sides of this debate.

    And, as I hope you all do, I continue to pray that this issue doesn’t cause more disunity that surely does give the enemy a foothold. Let’s rigorously debate but continue in humble submission and love (an oxymoron in politics, but not in the Kingdom!)

  • Chris

    DanS: “Pointing out ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ as names for two members of the Trinity, words used for centuries in baptismal formulas and creeds, is not an example of imposing a cultural view onto the text.”

    It depends on the meaning you import into those terms. Do the words “Father” and “Son” mean the same thing when describing the divine persons as it does when describing human persons? The church fathers almost universally said no. We can’t use these terms in the same way for humans as we do for God, because the meaning of “Father” and “Son” are different for God than for humans.

    That was one of Athanasius’s arguments in “Against the Arians.” The Arians said the Son was “begotten” in the same sense a human Son is begotten–in time, as a created being. Athansius said no: the Fatherhood and Sonship of the Son have to be understood differently than human fathers and sons. The words are the same, but the meaning of the relationship is not the same, because the divine “begetting” is different than human begettings. “It is not right to measure the generation of God by the nature of men.” (Against the Arians, 1.26).

    So, the real question isn’t the use of the terms but the meaning Piper ascribes to them. Is he projecting human masculine properties into the word “Father” and then applying it to God? If so, then ironically, his view of God is working “from below to above”–i.e., he’s starting with the human definitions and then applying those human definitions to God . That would mean that he’s measuring God by human standards. And he ends up with a very human, masculine God, who looks a lot like…him.

  • John W Frye

    The word in Hebrew in Genesis 3:15 by the author of Genesis should make Piper and his kind stop and really, really think about what they are promoting as “a masculine feel” of the Jewish and Christian faith. “her seed” is the term: *totally illogical* because women do not in ANE thought have or produce “seed.” That is the male component to creating a family line. And if Piper and his kind object that it simply means offspring, then the writer of Genesis could have used the word for family, etc. A woman’s seed produces the conqueror of the serpent! Hmmmm. The Hebrew word זַרְעָ֑הּ

  • DRT

    DanS#32, please do not take this as an insult, but have you never got to know a woman well? Or have all women you have known been more effeminate that every man you know?

    Frank Turk#20;

    Food for thought, indignant egalitarians: if a man and a woman get married, do you really think that if you were counseling said man and woman that you would give genderless, sexless advice to them about how to make their marriage work Is there really no difference at all between being a good wife and a good husband? So why do we think the rest of life is totally bereft of man/woman distinctions which are good, useful, and godly?

    Frank, Yes, advice should be given irrespective of sex.

    Now let me clarify that a bit more. I know many relationships where the wife is the bold outspoken steady handed one. I know many women that can only be described as strong and courageous.

    The point is that the advice in a relationship needs to be given based on the reality of the personalities and dynamics of that specific relationship, and not relative to the stereotype of what male and female roles are.

    And not only that, there are many relationships, mine included, when the roles switch back and forth depending on the exact situation and our moods. To try and make that conform with a stereotype is deeply offensive to both men and women.

  • T

    I think the problem that I’ve had over the years with the push toward “Godly manhood” is that it distorts our focus. Jesus is our focus, for men and women alike, by definition in our discipleship to him, and his character is plenty challenging to both sexes. What I’m saying is that I don’t see an emphasis in the scriptures on being “masculine” or “feminine.” I see a clear push toward the character of Christ, regardless of sex. Perhaps a better way to phrase it is “What character qualities of Christ should a woman avoid, and on what basis?” This emphasis on masculinity or femininity is misplaced, even for complementarians.

    The inevitable outcome if such emphasis is that we fix our eyes on something not quite Christ for men or women. The men exagerrate the so-called “masculine” parts of Christ and ignore or underplay whatever the so-called “feminine” parts would be, and the women do the opposite. That’s just not the same as “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Further, despite this attempted list, how exactly does scripture tell us how we could divide Christ’s character into masculine and feminine parts? It’s an impossible task.

    Case in point: for decades I’ve grown up hearing it is the “man’s” role to “provide for his family.” And what verse is given in support? I Timothy 5:8. That’s all well and good, except that I Timothy 5:8 isn’t talking exclusively to men! It says that children and grandchildren should care for their aging parents. But this idea we bring to the scriptures of “masulinity” results in this verse being cited in every book or class I’ve ever seen that teaches that godly men are to be “the providers.” Does not this example alone give us clear evidence that we (evangelicals) are having serious difficulty keeping our view of “masculinity” from coloring and overshadowing what the scriptures actually teach? Wealthy women “provided” for Jesus. Even the much heralded “proverbs 31” woman buys a field and thereby “provides” for her family. “Providing” for others is simply not a “masculine” trait. Taking responsibility for others is not an exclusively “masculine” trait, not according to the scriptures. But, again, the point I see scripture driving is not sorting out what is masculine and feminine. The driving point is what is Christlike and what is not.

  • DRT,

    I certainly agree with you that we should counsel in appreciation of the character and situations of the respective spouses.

    However, this doesn’t argue in any way against ALSO counseling with regards to their sex.

    Perhaps we Westerners are taking egalitarianism a bit too far. We certainly don’t extend equal rights and roles to children, nor should we! Why then can’t we affirm the Biblical sexual role distinctions?

  • T

    I should add that if anyone doubts that Paul very much has men and women mind in providing for others, one only needs to read on to I Timothy 5:16. It seems that some women were taking responsibility and caring for multiple widows, perhaps not even family members, and Paul encourages women to continue to provide for them, not that a man should come in and provide.

    I’ll add as well that the “doctrine” that men are to be the providers (again, still supposedly based on this verse in current evangelical publications) has been used too many times to count to shame/judge women who work outside the home and the so-called “men” who would “allow” such and/or do more for the kids. “Fix your eyes on Jesus [but only after securely putting on American-style gender glasses].”

  • RJS

    Daniel Mann,

    No we don’t extend equal rights to children. But we do expect children to grow up to become mature adults.

    Women don’t grow up to become men as though “male” is the ultimate progression in human development.

    We are all called to grow and become mature Christ followers. In Christ there is no male or female.

  • Don’t we end up being “The Bride?”

  • I won’t repeat what many have said here in response. Only to say Piper makes my heart hurt. I recently read a quote attributed to Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) where he stated,

    “re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your soul.” My soul is insulted.

  • Susan N.

    #42 – Thank you, RJS. Well-said.

  • I have not seen anybody mention it but I’m wondering if the “masculine feel”: Jesus was a man, most prophets were men, most disciples were men is more an incarnation issue than anything? The Bible is the story of God entering into a covenant relationship with humanity. Is it possible that this seeming man emphasis is more descriptive than prescriptive? Does God compromise (that may not be the best word) to take on some of the cultural norms to have positional power to speak to humanity from with in? In a way He allows His words to work through the contextual forms of that time period. It seems to fit the nature of God as a missionary God.


  • David Dollins

    Seems to me to be another “pro-ESV/anti-NIV” speech. These people seem so fixated that they are missing Jesus. Just wondering what would happen if they focused on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ…or the Work of the Holy Spirit in and through the church. Wondering how many ‘sermons’ the Apostle Paul preached on masculinity? Really??

    “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2-5

  • Steph

    I would dearly hope that (more?) complementarians might see that there is a leap from “men and women are different,” and “men and women are complementary” and even “men lead and women support and together they are the church” to what Piper has written here. It’s the latter point especially, but it has some noxious ideas thrown in and that’s where he forces the idea. It goes way beyond “we’re just following instructions” to exalting maleness (poorly described).

    For example, what does this mean: “For the sake of the glory of women, and for the sake of the security and joy of children, God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel” (Piper, above). The “glory of women” is probably too vague an idea for it to be explained, but I think he could make a stab at explaining how the security and joy of children depends on a masculine Christianity. It’s as if femininity and a feminine world is a danger to children, an unwholesome world, and I cannot see any other interpretation here other than that my femininity can not come through outside the smallest circle of influence because it threatens the security and joy of children to be in a feminine world. *Femininity, when expressed enough to be felt, weakens Christianity.* I am invited, as a woman, to express the “masculine” traits too, but I am coming alongside a man in a man’s masculine world in order to do so. So, we’re back to “men lead and women follow” and we can exhibit the same traits at many if not most times.

    Male headship is not a new argument and Piper would not have deserved all this pushback if that was all he meant. Clearly, even he doesn’t argue that’s all he meant.

    Piper’s argument:
    1. This is the way things function in the Bible. Men lead, etc.
    2. I infer (his word) from that the idea that Christianity is masculine when it is at its best and most healthy.
    3. I develop a picture of masculinity based on the qualities needed to lead the charge, since men lead.(Christianity is now a religion of leaders who must try to serve as they lead.)
    4. I concede women have these masculine traits too, but they demonstrate them in service to a masculine church to support male initiatives. (Is that what makes the traits masculine, that we exhibit them in support of males and they exhibit them in support of … God?)

    So, I should be left only with “men and women can have these traits but men lead and women follow,” but I am left also with no net good that my femininity (whatever that is) can provide to the church as a whole except as I act manly and help men. I don’t see what else than other contempt for and distrust of femininity could produce this argument.

    So, yes, he forces the idea. Not “good old” complementarian thinking, which I grew up around. Complementarianism was following a set of perceived instructions for male/female relationships but this is preoccupation with influence over the church through and through.

  • Juniper

    I really think Piper is skating on the edge of preaching a different gospel. To suggest that the fullest flourishing of mankind lies in a masculine church (as so helpfully defined above) has a faint gnostic trait. Moreover, his descriptions of masculinity fit better some kind of romance novel ideal of a hero than anything in the real world. (I’ve read a few.) This is the philosophy of the Promise Keepers movement turned on its head and made doctrine.

  • Steph

    OK, here’s the deal. Masculine Christianity is concerned with teaching doctrine, rugged aspects, heavy and painful realities, truth, and meeting challenges without complaint. Now, Piper and others, describe feminine Christianity. Is it opposite? Complementary (describe it!)? Same but diluted/weaker? What is the nature of femininity that it should not color Christianity through and through just as well as masculinity might?

  • The word “trinity” doesn’t appear in the Bible either.

    I really have no horse in the women-in-ministry/egalitarianism debate. I simply could not care less.

    But I tend to judge a movement or philosophy in part by its enemies. When its enemies appear to come completely unhinged or to stand on your head and squint to follow their arguments, it makes their opponent seem reasonable.

    I have to say, Scot, lately you have been the best argument for complementarianism around.

  • Tim

    One word…


  • Thanks for all of the thoughtful comments here.

    As a seminary prof, I almost always relate to my students my crisis of faith story when my bible college teachers started to challenge my pre-mil dispensationalism, and my young-earth creationism. Those had become intertwined with the Gospel for me. It took me a while to realize they were not. I had built a house of cards. I think the same thing is going on in the Piper/Driscoll/G.C. circle. Their interpretation of the texts about men and women, and their view of masculinity (heavily tied as it is to their modern context) has become so intertwined with the Gospel that it is one and the same for them.

  • Brandon

    Although I lean slightly toward complementarianism, I am not comfortable with the Pipers and Driscolls of the world. That’s based more on the way they convey their message than it is the actual message. Unfortunately, I have yet to read/hear a more convincing, exegetically-based argument in support of egalitarianism. Suggested resources (preferably from scholars) would be appreciated.

  • TJJ

    True, “Sacrificial Responsiblity” can be a female as well as male trait. But I do agree that men do have a unique calling in this regard.

    Consider the recent sinking of the ship off the coast of Italy. In that moment of confusion and chaos, and danger and risk, and peril, I am sure there were both woman and men who stepped up to help get passengers off the sinking/capsizing ship.

    But in that singular moment, there is an understood and viceral order to things that kick in: The safety and welfare and security of woman and children first, the the old and infirm, etc., and last the able bodied men.

    For an able bodied man to jump into a life boat in such a time, ahead of or in place of a child, a woman, and elderly person, a wheelchair person, is almost as unthinkable is it is shameful and scandalous.

    In fact, there were rumors in the news after the event that some wealthy businessmen did just that, paid for a spot on a lifeboat. And it was reported as a scandalous thing if it were true. I don’t know if it was or not, but the point was, it was shameful if true.

    I would be ashamed of myself as a man if I did that. I would be ashamed of my sons, if they did that.

    I don’t think that is just cultural, because it seems to cut across cultures. It is not just modern age sensibility, because you also find this in the ancients.

    I think it is much deeper and fundemental than that. Those who argue for a strict egaltatian approach to gender need to more seriously consider and wrestle with things like this, and not get consumed with blind advocacy of a political/social/theological agenda or passion.

  • Don Johnson

    I think everyone and especially women need to abandon Piper and those like him. Let him go off into a corner and spew his sexist nonsense with others like him. Over time they will become fewer and fewer.

  • I understood Piper to be reshaping / redefining masculinity as Christian sacrificial leadership, rather than shaping Christianity into any kind “manly” presupposition. I certainly did not understand him to say anything about Christianity being “men only”, indeed he spoke about the flourishing of women and their ministry.

  • Steph

    ChrisB, 51, all Scot did was quote at length and ask for comments. Sometimes he has to tell commenters to “take a deep breath,” and he should not be confused with “unhinged” commenters.

  • DRT

    Well, everyone here is too polite to say it, but I have to. Methinks Piper likes masculinity too much.

  • #38 DRT —

    So you think that the way a man loves a woman is exactly the same thing as the way a woman loves a man? Seriously?

    I have dear friends where the wife is far more intense and object-oriented than her husband, and the husband is far more relational and nurturing than his wife. Yet he is not effeminate, and she is not masculine: the things he must do to comfort & care for her are masculine things, and the things she must do to comfort him are feminine things. To give either of them generic advice (or worse: advice to act in a post-sexual way) is actually funny — and they would see it that way.

    Those of you who think this is just old-school sexism need to ask yourself: how many wives are comforted by the sight of their husbands crying because he is emotionally overwhelmed? How many husbands are reassured when their wives tell (for example) them to shut up and man up? The tally will be zero in real life — that is, all examples you can find not in internet comment threads. To say that men and women are not different and are therefore not subject to different needs and desires are simply blind people, self-absorbed people who only want what they think are all the benefits of both sexes without any of the burdens or challenges inherent in being one sex or the other.

    I am also looking forward to the deconstruction of 1 Cor 16:13 — because Paul is not giving bad advice there, and it’s advice the people high-fiving Dr. McKnight here need badly.

  • DRT

    TJJ#54, in a males stay behind and let women and children go first type of situation, it makes perfect sense for men to have evolved to be the one to take the fall to protect the species. It only makes sense. You probably only need one man per hundred women or so since their roles in reproduction are quite different. That instinct has played out in society quite well with men going to war etc.

    But that is not what is going on here. We are not talking about preserving the species and ensuring progeny.

  • BradK


    Not sure if this is what you were asking as you are probably already aware of it, but the LSJ is available online here…

    Just tossing ἀνδρεῖος gives the LSJ entry as the second hit. Usually tossing any Koine word (at least the lexical form) into google along with “LSJ” will yield a similar link.

  • TJJ

    Follow up to post #54…….now if a woman wants to also stay behind and also help get other women and children off that ship, that is great. I have no problem with that. But to me, an abel bodied man has a unique responsibility to do that. And that is both an indicator and methaphor for unique gender roles and responsibilites, within the larger framework of equality and mutuality and respect and love.

  • Elaine

    Complementarians like Piper follow the four processes identified by sociologists as central to the reproduction of inequality like they wrote the book on it.

    Step one: “Othering” – the process whereby a powerful group defines into existence an inferior group. “Othering” commonly entails the overt or subtle assertion of difference as deficit. The symbolic tools used to accomplish othering include classification schemes and identity codes, which are the rules of performance and interpretation whereby members of a group know what kind of self is signified by certain words, deeds, and dress.

    “Boundary Maintenance” which refers to the ways in which power groups and individuals protect their positions by ensuring that their resources and power are transmitted to only members of their own group.

    “Emotional Management” by superiors helps keep subordinates’ feelings of shame, anger, resentment, and inferiority under control so they won’t erupt and cause problems. Subordinates are given tokens of appreciation or “the appearance of status” to distract them from awareness of their very real lack of voice. (ie. “equal being and unequal role” – minorities easily recognize how this maps to “Separate but equal.”)

    “Subordinate Adaptation” follows due deprivations by the power group – these offer practical knowledge of how to get by, and alternate criteria by which to judge one’s self. (ie. “A Woman’s High Calling” by Elizabeth George, conferences offering “True Womanhood”).

    The paradigm is maintained by the implied possibility of people being “held accountable” as members of any of the hierarchial order’s categories. To be held accountable is to stand vulnerable to being ignored, discredited, or otherwise punished if one’s behavior appears inconsistent with what is prescribed.

  • BradK

    Sorry, my above post should have read “just tossing ἀνδρεῖος *into google* gives the LSJ entry as the second hit.”

  • Elaine


    How many husbands are comforted by the sight of their wife crying because she is emotionally overwhelmed?

  • TJJ

    DRT….taking your evolutionary model at face value, human nature however it came to be our “human nature” cannot be compartmentalized. It is a whole that impacts wholly all that men and woman do. So I would respectfully disagree with you, and say yes, this is exactly part of what we are talking about here. But I appreciate your imput brother.

  • DB

    Wow, Elaine #63. That sounds like very much like what the progressive media and the Democrat Party operatives do to the Republicans and what the Republican Party does to the poor as a group.

    Still, I’ll side with the poor in spite of how the Republican Party gets treated because God will prosper those who support and defend the marginalized.

    And on this issue, I’m firmly in the camp that has no patience or tolerance for marginalizing women or any other “group” for that matter.

  • Susan N.

    It has always seemed to me that for a woman to submit to the belief that males / masculinity is the true model of holiness, one must necessarily despise herself. To need man’s validation for my existence and worth in God’s economy seems contrary to all that Jesus taught and lived. As Kate (#44) said, it is an insult to my soul.

    To be fully alive, and *not* living in a state of denial as to both my strengths *and* weaknesses, I simply cannot live *whole* in the type of authoritarian, hierarchical religious structure that John Piper is campaigning for. It seems like he naively sees this model in terms of the “glory days” of Judaism and Christianity, and fails to admit the injustices that arose from those cultural contexts.

    What I really want in “Christian community” (a/k/a “church” and home life) is the type of relationship and accountability that affirms and encourages my strengths, gently calls me out and upward out of my weaknesses, and ALSO allows for me to do the same with my male contemporaries. We’ve all got them — weaknesses, that is, and in God’s economy, it’s about spiritual matters of the heart. Not physical manifestations of strength and power. DRT, I like the way you described your marital relationship. Sometimes, you are stronger, when needed; sometimes your wife is the strong one. I can attest to that truth as well.

    I wonder if John Piper is struggling with his mortality? Fear is the enemy of love.

  • Ed

    what is sad about this to me is their overbearing ideas of masculinity!

    genuine strength, found in both men and women, doesn’t have to “force” or “press” their ideas on anyone, particularly those who don’t want to hear their skewed, imo, ideas of the Bible.

  • DRT

    TJJ#66, what? are you saying because men have evolved to be the ones that most naturally sacrifice themselves in life or death situations that they are somehow superior and should be the leaders?

  • DRT

    Men should use their dominant status (that they just happen to find themselves in because of where they are born) to fight for women, not to put them down. To use that for self supperior arguments is against nature. It is being selfish.

  • DRT

    I am going to have to walk away from this for awhile because I am getting emotional about this (and I am a man), but to see men like Piper taking advantage of their sex to put women down is about the ..least masculine thing I can think of.. Time to take a walk…

  • #21 Dr. McKnight —

    Given that the word we are trading here is “ἀνδρίζεσθε”, (“andrizomai” for the greek-impaired) saying what you say is pretty funny. It is certainly not “andreia”, but it is utterly the same root meaning, utterly the same cultural meme. “ἀνδρίζεσθε” means “to make a man of”, and in the passive voice here, it means “to make a man of one’s self.” When it’s used of women in Greek literature, it plays against the deep-seated Greek cultural issue that there are things women don’t do which men must — and while it may actually be heroic of a woman to, at some time, “ἀνδρίζεσθε” or “man up,” it is actually because there’s no man to do it. Plato uses it to mean “to play the man,” as in: to do the things a man would do.

    You can say it means something else, but all the lexical evidence undoes you. Consider it.

  • TJJ

    DRT…..Superiority has nothing to do with it. That is a value and construct and label you are imposing, not me.

  • Fred Harrell

    >>how many wives are comforted by the sight of their husbands crying because he is emotionally overwhelmed? How many husbands are reassured when their wives tell (for example) them to shut up and man up? The tally will be zero in real life — <<

    Frank – a man who has the courage to cry when emotionally overwhelmed is not equivalent to a wife (or a husband) telling their spouse to "shut up and man up". The latter is just bad "spousing". The former – as a pastor for 22 years and a frequent marriage counselor, I can give you a gazillion examples of wives who just wish their husbands would finally let them "in" to their lives and the sight of them crying, of being human, would be the most welcome sight in their lives. So no, you are wrong, the tally would not be zero, and your thinking that it would be zero should make you consider why you have the view of masculinity that you do. I'm pretty sure Jesus was emotionally overwhelmed (among other things) in John 11 at the tomb of Lazarus. That he was further confirms in my soul that he IS a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.

    The characterization that egalitarians don't believe there are differences between men and women is false as well. Biblical equality is complementarianism without hierarchy. I suggest Discovering Biblical Equality: Complimentarianism Without Hierarchy.

  • Susan N.

    Fred (#76) – wise words. My husband cries freely when deeply moved. I wouldn’t say it is a “comfort” to me, but in those moments of vulnerability, my husband’s true strength was evident to me. I have loved and respected him most of all in those moments, and comforted him compassionately and empathetically. Conversely, in those moments of my own vulnerability, when I have wept openly, my husband has been strong for me. That is truly when we have been at our best, Christlike selves, and our relationship has reflected the glory of God, imho.

    If and when my husband is acting like an arrogant jerk, I don’t mind calling him on it, telling him to knock it off, and hold him to a higher standard, either. He does me the same favor 🙂

    If marriage and “the church” are metaphorically similar, Piper’s version of doing church seems to miss the point altogether.

  • Daniel

    The last paragraph says it all. Why devote an entire conference to a topic the Bible never directly addresses?

  • DRT

    TJJ, When we have an organization where only men are allowed to lead, and the leading men say that their god exemplifies a male way of being, then we have to call it what it is regardless of the words that come out of their mouths.

    It is putting males in a superior position.

    All of the rhetoric around the heirachial position is simply double talk, non-sensical double talk. One has to look at what is really done in the end and call it what it is.

  • I think there is a lot riding on this question. Are women imagio dei or aren’t they? And what are we telling them if they aren’t?

    More here:

  • Don Johnson

    The real ministry question is: From whom does one allow oneself to learn?

    The CBMW folks decline to learn from a woman in certain cases, it is their loss. So their worldview impoverishes the body of Christ. It is exactly because they reduce the effectiveness of the church that they need to be opposed.

  • Piper sometimes reminds me of Uncle Andrew from the Magician’s Nephew.

    “Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny. As he said this he sighed and looked so grave and noble and mysterious that for a second Digory really thought he was saying something rather fine.”

  • So,I posted a question last night- not that anyone needs to reply to it- yet, I admit that it still seems sad to the extreme that Piper takes this mission on as he approaches the conclusion of his service at his church.

    After a remarkably long tenure of humble service- even if I don’t always agree with his theology- Piper wants to die on a hill that serves a section of humanity that continues to hearken to a vision of human relationships that appears to have the Gospel serve oppression than liberation.

  • Scot McKnight

    Frank, I happen to be the one who put 1 Cor 16:13 on the table, not Piper. And not only did I put it on the table, I made the observation that this word is never used in conjunction with male leadership of a church or male things — it is a statement for an entire body, and that suggests in fact that it is a moral virtue and not a male virtue. Paul isn’t saying “be men as men” but “be courageous.” My point is that the NT doesn’t teach Greek masculinity as a character trait of church leaders.

    What there is present is a cognate with a different meaning: it isn’t saying “males, man up and be men.” It says “be courageous.”

  • TriciaM

    I had no intention of jumping in until Frank #59. “how many wives are comforted by the sight of their husbands crying because he is emotionally overwhelmed? How many husbands are reassured when their wives tell (for example) them to shut up and man up? The tally will be zero in real life”

    Seriously? I love that my husband can express when he is emotionally overwhelmed – with tears if it helps. And if I have to be honest with a guy who needs to get another perspective on what’s going on in our lives, it will happen and the point will not be to reassure him! And it’s all mutual. We’re there to comfort each other and to challenge each other and to support each other. Each other. Till death &etc….

    I’m thinking that’s a far more normal experience in the real world of long-standing relationships. Anything else is just old-school sexism.

  • T

    ChrisB (51),

    I don’t think judging someone’s arguments by how badly some react to them is really probative at all. I say that as a lawyer who sees lots of arguments and loads of different reactions. I think it’s better practice to evaluate an argument based on the best reactions/answers to it, not the worst.

    That said, without repeating what I said in 39 and 41, do you see any downside to emphasizing gender and saying “our faith is predominantly masculine” in “feel?” Or with then attempting to parse out which of Jesus’ qualities were “masculine” as opposed to just godly?

    Frankly, the tendency to associate masculinity with violence, or with providing materially, or with dominating, even by respected teachers and to allow that association to essentially eclipse Christ’s centrality is common enough to make me think we are focusing on the wrong thing to focus on godly masculinity rather than just plain godliness.

  • Larry Smith

    I think Piper sees how “men” in society are becoming more and more feminized. That is, men are being passive and not leading in relationships, in the Church, and in various other ways. This is not to say women are bad. Women have very important roles in the Church and without them, ministry would be incomplete. Following the example of people throughout the Bible, men and women are to be bold and courageous. However, men are called to lead their families and their churches. I think Piper sees how men are becoming more and more like the worldly man. We are becoming passive and indecisive and not leading courageously. His stress on “masculinity” is about men rejecting the worldly man and pursuing Christ and leading those around us.

  • Dans

    DRT #38. Yes, I am offfended by your comment as would be my wife of 29 years and as should be every woman who leans complimentarian. The arrogance of your opening line is rather stunning.

  • RJS

    MikeK (#83),

    I did respond to it in #9, indirectly anyway. I am not in the social sciences and I cannot address it in that fashion … But Piper is standing on the same hill he staked when my husband and I were in college back in the 70’s and very early 80’s, when Piper was a young college professor at the same institution. He is nothing, if not consistent…

    You call it a “long tenure of humble service” but, frankly, I view it somewhat differently.

  • Kriste

    When I first read Piper’s comments (full disclosure: I’m a woman who has wounds related to a gender in the church) I was deeply hurt. But now, after having had time to sort through my initial visceral response, I can’t help but think this bodes well for egalitarians.

    One of the main arguments for complacency about gender issues in Christianity has been that it’s not a “primary issue” and as Christians we should simply focus on the gospel. Complimentarians are finally saying what Egalitarians have been saying all along: it is a primary issue.

    The plot thickens…

  • I don’t mean to be silly, and maybe it might seem to be obtuse, but perhaps this question might have some little bearing on what it means to be men and women of God: In the resurrection, will we be anatomically correct? That is, will we be identifiable as men and women?

  • RJS (#89):
    I suppose we’re not that far off from each other.

    But, for some context, Piper and some of his staff consciously lived in the same community as the physical location of Bethlehem Baptist. Rumor has it that Piper also made some decisions that his compensation would not become sky-high, and book royalties were directed toward evangelism and relief projects. I don’t have dog in this hunt, and won’t go out trying to do fact-checking on all of the rumors.

    But, that was the pretext for my comment on “long tenure of humble service.” I doubt many of us would disagree with that kind of enacting of the Gospel by any pastor who chooses a zip code that the majority of the church wouldn’t dare to consider.

    I totally agree with you regarding his “consistent” theological position.

    It’s just that the articulation of the position regarding gender identity as related to the church and its mission has recently amplified in ways that exceed his previous history. And that expansion strikes me as just a sad way to enter his later years of ministry.

  • Jim

    This is a topic that I have researched many times over many years and find my views always evolving and changing. When I became a believer in my early twenties, people like Piper played a part in my theology. Interestingly now, due to seeing life through community, Scripture and experiences; I can understand when/how/why my views have changed significantly. Especially on this topic where I started as a complementarian and have become an egalitarian in this regard.

    Before continuing, I want to say that I am a little irritated at how people are ripping John Piper down. I will not say I agree with his beliefs but I would much rather talk about his beliefs than my dislike for him about those beliefs. While I don’t agree with much of his theology many of his books have benefitted the Christian community at large (such as Let the Nations Be Glad).

    Now, the problem I have with his beliefs on this subject are numerous. The first part is that he talks about a masculine Church. On my wedding day, I could not stop staring at my wife. Her hair, her dress, her makeup and her jewelry were all absolutely perfect and she was gorgeous. On that day, I cannot think of any flaw or blemish about her; she was glorious. The reason I say this is because throughout Scripture we see God’s people always talked about as His bride! In the New Testament, we specifically hear this imagery used for the Church. How can one equate the idea that Christianity or God’s Church is meant to be masculine? Metaphorically speaking, this idea doesn’t make sense.

    The second problem I have is how quick complementarians are to use the ideas of Jesus being a man, God being referred to as “He” and how the priesthood was male. The reason I have this issue is that they almost never mention or quickly dismiss the discussion of Deborah, Mary Magdelene and/or Priscilla. Also, in Genesis, we see that matriarchs are as important if not more-so as patriarchs in the stories of Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel. In the New Testament we see that Jesus’ dedication was in front of both a man and woman in the Temple. How quickly people forget about Anna! Then, his ministry involved both male and female alike and after His death, His Church had female leadership in women like Priscilla. Finally, in talking about the Priesthood, let us remember the entire nation of Israel was originally intened to be the Priesthood. In the New Testament we read both Peter and John talking about Jesus making us a “Kingdom of/and Priests.” Are Peter and John specifically speaking to males? This is all said without mentioning how often God is described with more “effeminate” traits.

    The third reason I have is how this discussion so quickly misses the point that it creates women as inferior to men. I have seen many women hurt by this discussion due to “loving” brothers who say that the women are not inferior but then immediately tell them what they cannot do. The lines between male and female came down numerous times in Scripture. Both Jesus and Paul prove this. If the belief that the Church must be masculine holds true, than how do we explain the successes of people such as Lilias Trotter and Mother Theresa along with countless other female Church-planters and Kingdom-growers?

    My last complaint is actually one my wife pointed out to me when we read this blog together. She asked, “if that is supposed to be Christianity, where is there any room for single women?” After thinking about this, I could not come up with an answer. Logically speaking, single women would run into the same problems that we see throughout time. If they weren’t married or were single they would be even more inferior than other women. As this thought progressed, it struck me that this whole process creates a caste-system or a social structure based on worth.

    I can continue but these are just a few of my thoughts on the subject and my lunch break is over!

  • Joe Canner

    Larry #87: Assuming that what you are saying is true about today’s Christian men, isn’t there a better way to encourage men to engage in their responsibilities (whatever they may be) without shutting women out and twisting the Scriptures to say something about Christianity that it was never meant to say?

  • Susan N.

    Larry (#87) – It seems to me that Jesus taught his disciples, through his example and his oral teaching, to follow his lead by coming alongside, “being with”, and serving others in an attitude of humility. The masculine, authoritarian leadership of Piper’s vision doesn’t look like Jesus. Remember the lead-up to the Passover Festival/Last Supper?

    John 13:12-17 (NIV):

    12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

    Surely this *is* the Son of God – I believe! The honor and worship is in the doing…get real low, under those whom we wish to serve; not set ourselves above them, let alone above Jesus himself.

  • I find what Piper has said to be patriarchal, condescending to women, demonstrating a deep misunderstanding of the New Testament and – offensive. Phew…feel better now!

  • T


    You’ve provided a perfect example. You’ve asked how many women would be comforted by their husband’s crying. At a minimum, you’re saying that crying is feminine. Yet, not only did Jesus weep, the bible gives several examples of men grieving, weeping, or being overcome with emotion. Jeremiah became known for it. Paul warned and pled with a church with tears. The bible even commands all of us to “weep with those who weep” and the command is not given only to females. The example from my own ministry that shoots to mind is that of a pastor’s daughter who had been raped. Despite her deepest longing, her pastor/father was stoic. Worse, because he knew of no way of expressing his emotions, he was distant and pulled away from his daughter whenever she brought it up. Churches are filled with men who are not at all courageous enough to allow anyone to see their feelings of hurt or fear or shame or even joy. Maintaining a “masculine” image is frequently at odds with being Christlike and allowing ourselves to reveal our actual feelings at the time we feel them, which may indeed be very healing to those around us.

    I could give another example. I failed to get up and walk out of a movie that I was watching with my wife, my younger sisters and some of their friends, including my sister’s fiance. After the movie, I apologized to my wife and my sisters specifically for my lack of courage, with many tears, both both for this sin and for others. As an unexpected outcome, my sister’s fiance asked to talk with me privately. He confessed his lukewarm stance with Christ and gave himself to the Lord.

    I don’t know how many wives are comforted by their husband’s crying (though I share Fred’s conviction about that in 76). I know I’m not generally ‘comforted’ when my wife cries. I generally feel some degree of shared pain and am sympathetic, as I believe she does for me. But the salient point is that if we identify crying as feminine, then we identify God or Christianity as having a “masculine feel,” then the implication is that men shouldn’t cry, and perhaps women who want to be godly should keep it to a minimum. Do you see what happens there? Nevermind that scripture says (regardless of sex) that there is a time to weep. Nevermind that Jesus wept. Nevermind that we are commanded to be compassionate, sympathetic, and weep with those who weep. This teaching from Piper and many like it place a chill on everything that isn’t obviously masculine to our eyes.

  • TimHeebner

    Four words sum it up – “The Bible Made Impossible”

  • Robin

    Does anyone else think it is at least a little bit ironic that literally one post after everyone was cheering about the Catholic and Orthodox churches opening a dialogue, the issue of complementarianism/masculinity comes up and the bulk of the commenters here agree that Piper is preaching a different gospel and him and his ilk should be shunned and excommunicated?

    I mean, is there even a little bit of self-awareness?

  • By the time I finished reading all the comments, I had no energy left for commenting. Sigh….

    I mourn for those who are trapped in these mind games rather than set free by the example of Jesus — who showed by the totality of his life the full nature of the Father. Human males meet to get over themselves and see with the eyes of Jesus.

  • Brad Jones

    Here are a couple of questions that I would love to have answered:

    Is gender an objective reality, and not just a social construct? If God has created us as gendered beings, has God done so with a purpose? If there is a reason for God creating us as gendered beings, then is there more to our gendered nature than just different sex organs and hormones? How ought we to understand what it means to be men and women in the image of God? What actual difference should these ideas have in our lives?

    To have an honest and fruitful dialogue, we must wrestle with these questions and talk about them. We must not engage in the unfruitful bashing of an individual. Piper may not have used the best words to express his thought, but out of respect we ought to try and understand whatever good point there may be, and offer a better formulation if we’re able. Criticism should be as charitable and constructive as possible. Just a friendly reminder.

  • Robin

    And what’s with all the Piper-bashing from people who just Luuuuvvvv Catholicism (Looking at you DRT and Susan N.). That is a global institution in which women aren’t allowed to preserve as chief leaders at the local level or anywhere else in the heirarchy…but they’re totally cool, it’s just these wicked complementarian protestant we need to get ginned up over?

  • …tablet posting 8) “need” not “meet”

  • Larry Smith

    #94 & #95

    I am not advocating an all-out masculine Christianity as Piper seems to. I am talking about men being masculine. This means for men to reject passivity and accept responsibility. This doesn’t mean men are to be arrogant and haughty. I agree with you, the best leadership is to serve.

    Masculinity in men (a distinction from masculinity in the Church) doesn’t mean the degradation of women. Part of men being masculine is to love our sisters in Christ as Christ has loved us.

  • Robert

    A house of cards built on a minimal amount of extremely selective quoting. It’s the sort of abuse of the Bible I can’t stand.

  • DRT

    Robin#99, you are rabble rousing. I certainly do not believe he should be excommunicated or shunned and I don’t think anyone has said that. I actually would like to get that guy in my living room 🙂

  • Aaron

    So I guess according to the views expressed at this conference:

    Women can’t take risks or be decisive
    women are to weak to handle criticism
    Women are not courageous and are more likely to engage in self-pity
    Women are inadequate to teach hard things that people want to hear
    Women don’t herald truth with urgency and forcefulness

  • Forgot to post, but thanks to this overview, I’ve posted this response (“Of Piper and Power”) on my own blog:

  • I’m all for coaching men to become more rooted in the character of Jesus and challenging them to grow up emotionally. I’ve done a lot of this in my own pastoral ministry over the years.

    But I guess I don’t understand why in pursuing that a pseudo-enemy must be created. Why does developing men have to be done with a backdrop of demoting woman? Is this a certain type of rhetoric science that to define manhood it has to been done over-and-against something else?

  • Piper makes me wonder how “rugged” and “meek” go together? Furthermore, I know my husband has deliberately ensured that his teams have women, because both genders working together are less apt to succumb to group-think than wholly single-gendered groups. His real-world observations rather fly in the face of Piper’s #4-6!

  • Susan N.

    Robin (#99) – shunned and ex-communicated, no. It is John Piper’s specific *beliefs* about a “masculine Christianity” that I shun. Since he has made this such a central issue of his ministry, it makes it very difficult for me to embrace the good amidst the overwhelming bad in his doctrine.

    And, as you mentioned, I do try to see the good in other faith traditions, as with your reference to my affection for many aspects of Catholicism.

    Scot did ask, “What do you think of his definition of masculine? Any thoughts? What do you think of all this recent opining on the the importance of ”manliness” and “masculinity”? Do you think he’s forcing the idea?

    To the last question, I answer, “Yes. And how especially grievous a forcing it is in the evangelical faith tradition.”

  • Richard

    Hmm… my concern echoes comments 6 and 9 from the beginning of the thread. There is a danger in ascribing all things positive to ‘masculinity’ and it ignores that to be consistent forces us to ascribe the opposite negatives to femininity. Or that it forces us to ascribe things like ‘pride’ to men rather than women (ignoring that it’s a very human trait).

    For someone as intelligent as Piper seems to have been over the course of his career and as surrounded with other intelligent men (since I assume he wouldn’t receive counsel from a woman in these matters), this sort of statement seems to reflect some large blind spots in his self-awareness.

  • P.

    What utter hooey hooey. Nonsense like this makes Christianity look bad.

    So, we’re supposed to shield women from the assaults on ministry? We’re so emotionally fragile that we have to be protected? Piper has no concept of reality of what women go through in the world. Just look at women out in the every day world, and also look at Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkle, Condoleeza Rice, and on and on. Also, look at the women who stood by Christ on the cross when the men had fled!

    It’s time that people like Piper and Driscoll stop being a force for darkness and become true Christians. Yes, I did just say that. I’m very suspicious of people who promotoe this male worship. People are rejecting Christ over this nonsense.

  • Susan N.

    And, a further thought to my comment at #111 to Robin (#99) – No one here has implied that John Piper’s faith in Christ is in question, as was the case in the discussion we were having earlier this week (e.g., the question of evangelicals prosyletizing to Catholics). I think questioning doctrine is quite different from questioning someone’s “authentic” faith. Robin, would you not acknowledge this difference? You may not care to practice your faith as is common to the Catholic tradition, but it isn’t necessary to go so far as to say that a Catholic does not have authentic faith. Similarly, I resent the implication in John Piper’s masculine-Christianity-as-THE-one-right-way-to-be-a-Christian. False!

  • Luke Allison

    I’ve often thought that the masculinity advocated by pitbull complimentarians more closely resembles a Western, stiff-upper-lip, “temperate” British guy than it does a Middle Eastern man. Anyone actually been to the Middle East? “Masculine” in that context is a very different game altogether.
    For instance, view a middle-eastern protest vs a western protest.Completely different hand motions, gestures, body language, posture, facial expressions, etc.
    One man’s masculine is another man’s, well, “a little strange.”

    The thought that the creative God of the universe has intended a particular, one-size-fits-all blueprint for emotional intelligence in either gender is just plain boring. What do we tell women with abnormal levels of testosterone? I suppose they just need the New Birth and a cessationist hermeneutic to fix them. Yawn.

  • I’m astounded at the number of people rebutting Piper with… points he made himself! Makes me wonder how many bothered to read the entire transcript (which would be ironic given the charge against him of selectivity).

  • Ty w

    You said:

    If one is asking me if young adult males lack responsibility in our culture, that is an observable trend, but that is about adulthood not masculinity vs. femininity.

    This is a good observation. My question is that while this statement is true, there does seem to be an observable trend that young males are not embracing the responsibility of adulthood as readily as females are. If this is so, is there a time, place and context for addressing this issue specifically to and about males? I know many pastors and leaders that would like to see stronger involvement an passion from men, what is an appropriate way to address this?

  • Luke Allison

    AndrwwF –


  • Wyatt

    Aw Come on. No one like my blatant sarcasm. Too bad. But I still maintain Piper is shoveling too much endorsed bad thinking into the church.

    What I don’t get is how he gets so much air time. Between him and the angrier Mark Driscoll, we ought to be asking some serious questions.

    But alas we won’t. We’re too afraid of what we will find.

    Regarding the sarcasm, how is it our moderator tolerates inane comments about Piper’s faith but won’t permit a bit of a slap in Piper’s direction. he desreves it. The prophets slapped sometimes and used some graphic language to boot.

    Peace out homeys. The church is still run by Jesus and it’s to Him we will all answer.

  • scotmcknight

    Ty w, this is a socio-development issue tied into how our culture works right now. It’s complex, but is about manhood only in that males are developmentally slower in acquiring responsibility. Most, so far I have read, trace this to how parents treat/nurture/train young girls and young boys. Yes, I believe this is a serious, serious issue at work in our culture, to the degree that right now about 65% of college students are females … what this says for male employment, and a host of other things and much of which I don’t know … but I would counter that “responsibility” is a both-sexes requirement and not a male requirement. Making sense?

  • Richard

    @ 115

    Good point. When a male Haitian friend held my hand while I was giving a tour to American missionaries the caucasians in the group were visibly uncomfortable and I had to explain to them the cultural expression of friendship and what refusing to hold his hand would have communicated to him.

    I even reflect back on the male-male touch of 50+ years ago and how uncomfortable modern macho-men would be with that physical expressiveness.

  • James White


  • Luke Allison

    Richard #115 –

    Not to mention the holy kiss of Scripture!
    I’m bringing it back, y’all. Dr. McKnight, let’s hope I don’t meet you anytime soon! The King Jesus Gospel deserves two or three holy kisses.

    Okay, I’m done for a good while.

  • I tried to scan the comments as best as I could – with limited time – and I hope I’m not repeating over-much what has already been said. I’d like to offer a perspective from within a “mainline” denomination that has been ordaining women since (if memory serves) 1956. I’d also like to make a general comment about men (especially young men) and their development (or lack thereof) in these days.

    As a United Methodist, I fully support, accept, value and affirm women’s full participation in every aspect of church leadership. I’ve been a college professor and chaplain since 1995 and I have actively encouraged women to go to seminary and consider ordained ministry. I likewise consider the scriptures our final authority, which means I have tried to grapple with all the related exegetical questions and I’m glad for the work of people like Scot McKnight, who are clarifying, I believe, some sketchy exegesis.

    All that said, I think Piper, Driscoll, et. al. who are calling for “masculine” Christianity might be touching a cultural nerve, in a way not getting lots of notice (at least in higher ed.) and I’d like to ask us to notice, even if we disagree (as I do) with Piper’s conclusions. For the record, I agree with others who say that “masculine” Christianity is really just adult Christianity, both male and female.

    Yet, some sobering observations, based on statistics, but I won’t include them here. Young men are falling further behind women in higher education. Since about 1980, more women than men have been entering college. Men (especially ethnic minority men) drop out of college far more often, at almost twice the rate of women. Anecdotally, I’ve been watching at the institution where I serve, and women win the awards, both the academic ones as well as student affairs-related ones, at the rate of about 70% to 30% or even closer to 80% of the time, in certain cases (our male-female ratio is pretty close to 50-50). I hasten to say, God bless the women and their accomplishments. My concern is pastoral, not political.

    I realize that I’ve introduced a topic that, in some ways, is only loosely connected to the Piper discussion. But I also hope we won’t let our tensions about male-female roles cause us to miss the sad trends among young men these days. Young men need some attention. In my part of the world, we need to ease up on the sweeping, breezy references to male privilege. I hear it all the time. Is it possible, then, that Piper is feeling a disease in our culture that needs attention, even if he is offering the wrong cure?

  • Rick

    Stephen #123-

    “Is it possible, then, that Piper is feeling a disease in our culture that needs attention, even if he is offering the wrong cure?”

    That is where he is coming from. And that is even more so where Driscoll is coming from, as he has said again and again. Unless we recognize what context they are speaking from, especially Driscoll in his Seattle setting, we miss a large amount of their perspective(s).

  • Diane


    I am assuming that you “could care less” because you are male? Women have little choice to care. When I read Piper, it is as someone had their hands pressed on my windpipe. Elaine, thank you for the concise sociology of othering. Susan, I always appreciate your comments–and DRT! We finally agree! (I think.)

  • Strange stuff. My wife is my equal in our spiritual lives. And we have a wonderful pastor, Sharon Brown. Our church does not have merely a masculine or feminine feel.

  • Susan N.

    Stephen (#124) – I really appreciate the spirit in which your comments are given. I have a son, too, so I care about his future very much. I am raising him to be strong and have an ethic of justice and responsibility. I appreciate your wise words about the societal issues involving young men.

    Rick (#125) – I see many comments defending Mark Driscoll’s “style” and, now, John Piper’s on the issue of gender roles in the church. My question — aside from what is considered “biblical” or unbiblical — is: Why does this renewed effort to minister to males need to be communicated in terms of a “zero sum game” for females? Are (most) males truly unable to assume responsibility and become mature disciples of Christ when surrounded by strong females?

  • JohnM

    Susan N. #114 – You must have posted that before you had a chance to read P. #113. Hopefully P. is paying attention to you.

  • Joe Phillips

    We best protect women from undue criticism. Something I am sure they never receive as wives or mothers.

  • P.

    JohnM @ 129. I did see her comment, and I stand by my comment 110%. They’re stong words, but they need to be said.

  • P.

    Oops! Sorry, “stong.”

  • P.

    LOL. Apparently I can’t spell at all on Friday afternoons.

  • DRT

    Luke#123 – I should kiss you.

    OK, I need to buy a new domain name . How about


    how about:

    Someone help me out! I will buy it and put up a page.

  • Susan N.

    JohnM (#129) and P (#131) – yes, no sooner had I posted my comment (#114) than I saw P’s comment at #113.

    I have been in a bad place before, spiritually, when I was hurt and angry about a lot of the injustice in the evangelical faith tradition. Also sad, because of my need to leave that environment. I don’t judge or condemn P for saying it.

    I’ve mostly come to a place of respecting others’ ways of *knowing* and living out their faith. In that spirit, I don’t go there in attempting to judge who’s “in” and who’s “out.”

    This will be my last comment on this post. As Peggy said, “Worn out.” But, I am grateful for the overall very thoughtful discussion and interaction, and the opportunity to participate in it.

  • I’m curious as to why it is that, despite sin, the fall, and total depravity, the socio-sexual hierarchy of male over female throughout history has been assumed to be the ‘natural’, God ordained order. That IS what Mr Piper is saying, is it not? How is it that this order has survived this long throughout history, uneffected by the fall?

  • Luke Allison


    The thing is, if you interact with Piper, he’s a very comfortable, wiry, beautifully kind man. I actually think he’d probably be more likely to engage in a masculine holy kiss than some others.

    I’m so interested in this whole masculine/feminine dichotomy. Especially the idea that egalitarians are somehow LESS masculine (responsible???) than their opponents. One of my best friends used to kickbox professionally, owns an M-4 and a couple handguns, has a taste for fine scotch, cigars, and loves watching MMA. Also a strong egalitarian. He would totally own any of these “masculine” guys in a fight. Of course, he would never get in a fight with any of them to begin with. But, realistically, I know quite a few egalitarians who would give Driscoll a wedgie and a noogie and send him packing.

    Immature? Absolutely, but it must be said.

    I’m contemplating starting a pastor cage match bracket much like Suvudu’s villains and heroes battle.

  • DRT

    Luke, but I have Elaine’s formula in #64!

    Step one: “Othering” – We all know when he says complementary what that really means, right? No need to talk to him about that.

    Step two: “Boundary Maintenance” If I don’t allow comments on my website, like he does not on his, then I can maintain a wonderful and easily fortified boundary.

    Step three “Emotional Management” etc

    “Subordinate Adaptation” etc.

    No doubt he is a great guy. I have listened to many of his lectures and videos, and have one of his books. But the reality is that we have to look at the end product of what people advocate independent of their rhetoric occasionally. His end product is not nice. He is deluding himself, and worse, many others.

    I will volunteer for the cage match. I do not have licensed hands, so it would be fair 😉

  • Piper makes some very large cultural presumptions and overlooks the witness of history. I have blogged on this. Here’s the link. Pat

  • JohnM

    Luke Allison #137 – And I’ll bet some of those egalitarians are women! 🙂 But I have wonder, what does your friend thinks of people who don’t like M-4s and handguns and would stop him from having them if they had their way? More women than men in that category, so let him wrap that in his egalitarian cigar and smoke it. 🙂

  • DRT

    Hey wait, isn’t Piper like 100 years old? We could get one of the women to do this……this could be great!

  • DRT

    I will stop now, but my monkey is loose…

    It would be like the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs tennis match for 2012!

  • Luke Allison


    I don’t know…the best marksman in my Basic Training platoon was a woman. Scored 39/40 consistently on the range.

  • Luke Allison

    Um….that took a slightly awkward turn.

  • @ EricMichaelSay #136

    That’s a great question! I’d love to see an explanation!

  • DRT

    What turn Luke?

  • DRT

    To help get this back on track, I want to offer my take aways:

    – It’s OK, and probably needed, to beef up the engagement of men in taking responsibility
    – What is not OK, is doing that to the detriment of others
    – That makes this a two layered issue, one is complementarianism, the other is getting men to man up
    – There is a very strong visceral reaction to the antics of Piper and we strongly request he change his approach

  • Luke Allison

    Deleted comment.

    145: That WAS a great question. I’ve often wondered the same thing myself.

    Is sin the problem, or are gender roles the problem? Or are improper gender roles the primary result of sin?

  • Sue

    To Frank Turk.

    ἀνδρίζεσθε is a completely genderless challenge. The woman of Proverbs 31 was andreia, as was Ruth, as were all the women martyrs described by the church fathers. It was a word that meant heroic and brave. Christian women are particularly called on and expected to be andreia. There is no question of women not being able to be andreia.

  • Piper, I believe, has set up his own straw man. It’s easy to knock down if you think about it.

    #136, most of the masculine talk in the evangelical “manhood” movement does draw on fallen aspects of masculinity to make their case. What is more, when they appeal to sociology for evidence, they use a discipline that simply describes how things are, not the way they ought to be–again appealing to fallen masculinity.

    I find the evangelical manhood movement is very off when it comes to this discussion. Secular advocates for men and women have jumped off this ship after the secular men’s movement of the 90s and are making better progress on asking the right questions. My talk, very pertinent to this discussion, on “Masculine Myths” can be heard in our resource library here:

  • Jim Byrne

    I recommend Dale’s (#150) link.

  • SB

    (The first paragraph was left out of my first post. Sorry.)

    I was at the conference. I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool complementarian. I’m also not a pure egalitarian. Knowing that this is one of Piper’s bell-cows did not deter me from wanting to go to the conference (nor did his Calvinism). My interest is building men for the kingdom. That this is true does not mean that I am against building women for the kingdom. I desperately want both genders to be built up for the kingdom. In my local church context, I see too many men not stepping up at home and at church.

    I want to say one thing, and before I say it I want to be clear that I did not scan all of the comments. Much of the hubbub (I don’t mean this in a pejorative sense) was “soundbiting.” It is not my intent or desire to defend Piper. That’s a job that he should do. However, the stories that are hitting the net are not capturing the flavor of the conference. They are focusing only on Piper. Perhaps they only intended to do just that. I do not think it is fair to judge the entire conference by what the stories say. That being said, had all of you been there and heard all of the sessions, I would have really valued the give and take, as I am still journeying in my faith in this area. Bottom line: I think taking soundbites from a conference is not being fair to all that went on there. Perhaps this journalist knew that the story would stir the pot on the blogosphere?

  • scotmcknight

    SB, your concern with soundbites is why I posted Piper’s full statement.

  • SB

    Scot, the full conference messages are available at Perhaps there will be no takers for listening/watching the sessions, but again, the soundbite/full statement does not capture the flavor of the conference. Nevertheless, the full statement may indeed be spot on with Piper’s staunch complementarian views.

  • scotmcknight

    It’s what Piper posted for his talk.

  • Jim Byrne

    Sadly, Dr. Piper, who has some ability as a scholar and preacher, also has a long history of trying to make his reputation as a theological “shock jock” through twisting words. Go back to “Christian hedonism,” “The father’s pleasure in bruising his son,” etc. Granted, it all looks tame compared to Mr. Driscoll. I don’t see anything masculine about it.

  • E.A.B.

    Brandon #54

    Here is a list of resources that advocate an egalitarian view of the kingdom of God (all of them written by theologians, professors, etc.):
    Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy
    Beyond the Curse: women called to Ministry–Spencer
    Man and Women, One in Christ–Philip Barton Payne
    Beyond Sex Roles–Dr. Bilezikian
    Paul, Women and Wive–Craig Keener
    Women, Authority and the Bible: Some of Today’s Leading Evangelicals Seek to Break Through a Critical Impasse
    The Eternal Generation of the Son–Kevin Giles
    Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes–Kenneth Bailey
    Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes–Kenneth Bailey
    Global Voices on Biblical Equality: Women and Men Serving Together in the Church
    Who’s Tampering With the Trinity?–Millard Erickson
    Women, Men and the Trinity: what Does it Mean to be Equal?–Nancy Hedberg
    As Christ Submits to the Church: A Biblical Understanding of Leadership and Mutual Submission–Alan Padgett
    A Sword Between the Sexes?: C. S. Lewis and the Gender Debates–Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen
    why Not women?: A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership–Cunningham, Hamilton

  • E.A.B.

    EricMichaelSay #136
    The hierarchy of male over female was a result of the fall (Gen, 3:16). It is a descriptive statement and it just “is the way it is.” All you have to do is look around the globe.

    But some choose to view it as a prescriptive statement—this is the way it should be—and so they say it is God’s ordained order.

    It (hierarchy of male over female) may be “natural”,” but it doesn’t follow that it is God’s ordained order.

  • Maria

    As much as I try to be logical and analyze this speech, all I hear in this is “Christianity is for men. Women can be here too, as long as you’re quiet and do what we say. If you think you can be a strong, thoughtful woman, we don’t want you here.” That makes me so sad.

  • Chip

    Back to the original question: “Do you think [Piper’s] forcing the idea?”

    Well, no — not given that this is far from a new emphasis for either him or a million other pastors. I’ve heard this understanding of masculinity as normative since my conversion nearly 30 years ago. It’s easily the strongest-held view among popular-level evangelicalism: It’s what you hear normatively preached on Christian radio and is the standard for many, if not most, nondenominational megachurches. This is true even in many churches that are influenced by or come out of the holiness tradition, where women have been pastors for centuries but men are still expected to be the primary leaders — the heads, if you will — at both church and home. Move away from evangelical centers of academia and churches heavily influenced by them, and this is in general (i.e., not on every specific point) by far the most prevalent view from what I can tell. Egalitarianism seems to be much less frequently held than complementarianism within popular evangelicalism.

    Contrary to stereotype, these churches often have plenty of women in serious leadership roles. Even so, you’ll find the normative expectation in these congregations to be that males should have the primary leadership roles.

  • Piper passionately loves God, and is to me, a beloved brother. A beloved brother with macular degeneration on this particular subject. I find his comments ethno-centric with great global/missional incongruity.

    Two Thirds of the pastors in the unregistered church in China are women. A majority of effective missions in North Africa is being conducted by single young women. Historically, single women missionaries have courageously braved death, spoken hard truths, been the recipient of hard criticisms, and have many sheathes of harvest to lay at the feet of Jesus.

    Once while praying, I had a picture of a horse that was hobbled on three legs bravely trying to stand on one remaining leg. There were men in suits surround the horse scratching their heads why such a horse could not run. I knew immediately that the three hobbled legs were racism, women, and the clergy/laity chasm. If we were to address these issues, the gospel could run swiftly throughout the earth, bringing joy to all peoples, and great glory to God.

  • I’ve got to admit, this really bothers me, but #8 put an additional craw in my side. If we are to believe Paul, and the example of Jesus, single persons are fully qualified to serve as ministers of the grace of Christ. In fact, maybe they are uniquely qualified.

  • Excerpt from J. Lee Grady’s book 25 Hard Truths About Women in Ministry

    Sister Peng pays a high price to be a Christian in China. She has been arrested many times, and she will go to jail again if the police catch her preaching the gospel. Forced to live as a fugitive, she must sneak into her home at night to visit her husband and young daughter.

    The first time Peng was taken into custody, just after the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989, she was delivering a fresh shipment of Chinese Bibles to some unregistered pastors. She was thrown into a dirty detention cell and tortured with an electric cattle prod in an effort to force a confession of her “crimes.” She shivered in that cell for months. Guards offered no coats, blankets or feminine hygiene supplies.

    “For eight months I had no contact with anyone. I just ate soup in my cell,” Peng told me when I visited China three years ago. “It is really God’s mercy that he fed me and kept me warm.”

    When Peng was transferred to a women’s prison, she spent two lonely years there. But during that time she led 32 female inmates to Christ. Upon her release, she immediately resumed her itinerant preaching ministry.

    Now 43, Peng doesn’t let her thin frame or her femininity stop her from taking on dangerous assignments. And she is not alone. She is one of the many female heroes of China’s underground church movement.

    When I visited a group of unregistered church leaders in a city near Hong Kong in 2001, I discovered that between one-half to two-thirds of all church planters in China today are women, most between the ages of 18 and 24. These women, along with their male colleagues, lead an estimated 25,000 people to Christ daily.

    One evening after a meeting with these humble Chinese leaders, I returned to my hotel room and discovered two of the female leaders waiting at my door with a translator. “They would like you to pray for them,” the translator said. “Are you pastors or evangelists?” I asked, hoping to better understand their needs. They smiled and replied, “Yes.” “How many churches do you oversee?” I inquired. The translator pointed to the woman on the left. “This one oversees 2,000 churches, and this other one oversees 5,000 churches,” he said.

    I was stunned. Some denominations in the United States are still arguing about whether a woman can stand behind a pulpit, I said to myself. Meanwhile, women in China are engaging in dangerous missions and governing thousands of new churches. There’s something wrong with this picture!

  • @ Dan jr. comment #46;

    Eastern Orthodoxy seems to handle this gender tension stuff more deftly. Theosis is the goal, not defining roles between the sexes in or out of “church”.


  • Fish

    I’m not sure if it’s been addressed, but the rule is actually no longer “women and children first” when evacuating a ship. Entire families with children go first. And that is right, I think. I know if I were an 80-year-old grandmother I would happily give my seat to a 30-year-old dad with 3 children and a pregnant wife.

  • Fish

    In fact, I would insist and not take no for an answer.

  • JohnM

    Fish, will you ever be an 80-year-old grandmother? If not I guess you’re fairly safe saying what you KNOW you would HAPPILY do. Would YOU, the person you actually are, give up your seat to a 30-year-old dad with 3 children and a pregnant wife? Or anybody? If you were the 30-year old dad would you insist an elderly woman give up her seat to you and be happy about it?

  • DRT

    Clearly none of us really knows if we would lay down our lives for anyone else, but I have given this issue much thought over the years and have concluded that we should at least train ourselves for how to make that decision if the time comes.

    I can’t wait until we are on a sinking ship to say whether I would give my seat to a younger guy with a future and perhaps family. I might irrationally suddenly think that he and I are equals, and that he should be getting the woman on board, ….

    As my first AARP card showed up last Wednesday I have renewed interest in making this call ahead of time.

    JohnM, I would give up my seat.

  • JohnM

    DRT #168 – I respect that:
    a)You start with the humble acknowledgment “Clearly none of us really knows…”
    b)You’ve thought about it, and then…
    c)stated with apparent resolve what the actual YOU would do

    For clarification’s sake though, when you say you would give up your seat – you mean to the younger man? You said PERHAPS a family, which implies his having dependents is a consideration but isn’t the primary matter for you. In this scenario is the issue for you that you’d expect the younger person has more years to live? Is that what should be the deciding factor?

  • DRT

    JohnM, yes, to the younger man. The sentence with *perhaps family* would have reflected my thought better had I written it like this “…I would give my seat to a younger guy with a future and who may also have a family”. I was not setting up younger guy vs. family too. Instead it was younger guy + potentially also having a family.

    Years yet to live is not it for me.

    For me, I feel quite grateful that I have lived my life quite fully. I have gone for it in almost every aspect of my life. That means both hedonistically as well as spiritually. Life is not a numbers game.

    Frankly it comes down to the fact that I would never want to be the cause of someone else not having the opportunity to taste life, God, and family. Those relationships are what is important and those need time to reach realization.

  • Sue

    I thought this over a few years ago. I am over 50 and my children are adults. I would absolutely give up my place in a life boat for someone younger, male or female, and I don’t think that I need to list the attributes of that person ahead of time. I know in my heart, that this is what I would do.

    Just like I hold the door open for my friends if I get to the door first, and they do the same for me. And if I need a technical job done that I can’t handle myself, I pay someone to do it, just the way anyone else would if they knew what was good for them.

  • JohnM

    Sue #171 ” And if I need a technical job done that I can’t handle myself, I pay someone to do it, just the way anyone else would if they knew what was good for them” – I’d love to know the backstory on that one. 🙂

    My gut reaction is that I couldn’t bump an elderly person from the lifeboat in order to save myself. Not if I were a 30-year old father(which I have been) either.

  • Sue


    “I’d love to know the backstory on that one.” I just got tired of men listing all the things that they think women can’t do as well as they can. But I can either do it myself, or hire somebody who can. No problem!

    Half of women my age are single, them’s the facts, and life goes on. We don’t like to hear that we are to have no public voice, no part in the decision-making of the church, nor can we be part of the image of the church. We are, however, from my extensive reading of Piper’s sermon, allowed to do home visiting.

    And regarding the lifeboat, you and I are both of us showing proper human feeling and we are doing what we are told, in esteeming others better than ourselves. This is Christian mutuality. This is right and proper. This is what some men deny to women, by saying that Christianity is about some people submitting to other people.

  • DRT

    I think the more interesting question is whether, I, Sue, or JohnM would have allowed a 50 year to give up their seat for us when we were younger….

  • Sue

    Yes, I would have. I reflect differently on these things now. Then, I would have just gathered my children and tried to survive. Now, my children are stronger than me, they don’t need me in that way. I would also not allow them to give up their life for mine – that goes against our natural desire to see our family survive. There things are really quite straigtforward, and male intuition, a la Piper, gets in the way of the normal processes of life.

  • Sue

    An older women taught me all this years ago, when my children were young. I was afraid to undertake a certain physically risky trip. And she said, “of course you are, you have young children, but when you are my age, (over 50) things will look quite different.” She was just explaining a natural process in aging, that we cling to life less, since our responsibilities to our children are less. Hence, women in my age bracket who take up sky-diving, or motorcycles, who would not have done so before.

  • Luke Allison

    This discussion in regards to a sinking ship takes on new relevance when we hear stories from this current cruise ship tragedy. Apparently, older people were panicking and shoving children aside in their frenzy to get on a life boat. Interesting and applicable, methinks.

  • JohnM

    Luke Allison – I think relevant too. If I can say anything about the scenario it is that I wouldn’t push anyone aside, but particularly not children – or the elderly, or anyone else who seemed to be weaker and more vulnerable than I am. That’s easy to say from a position of safety, I know, but I can say it with the same confidence expressed by DRT and Sue. Beyond giving up a seat even, if I am the more able I should be HELPING those who are less able into lifeboat. That would be one instinct, admittedly competing against the instinct to survive, but an instinct that would be the stronger in proportion to the perceived need of the other to be helped and protected.

    All that said, remember, in some situations the right thing to do, for the good of all, is to just shut up and follow the instructions of those who are legally and logically in charge. Assuming those people are present and the instructions are forthcoming of course.

  • Sue

    I think we all agree then that this is not primarily a gender issue.

  • If there is one seat in the lifeboat who should get it – the man or the woman (all things else being equal)? And why?

  • Oops… just asked this question without reading above comments. Clearly this very topic is being discussed.

  • JohnM

    I should be done here but…been thinking too much. Sue #178 – Yes, I think I might agree to say not PRIMARILY a gender issue. Or I might put it, not directly. Or not soley.

    I just note that all else being equal men are more likely to run over women in the rush to the lifeboats than vice versa. And all else being equal young adult males are going to be the least likley need help and the most capable of rendering help in a disaster. Both points I think make a difference to relative obgligations. I qualify my statements if that makes anybody feel better, but some of you may have to satisfied with half a loaf 🙂

    To answer John Thompson – If it’s my wife, she gets the seat hands down. If it’s between me and any other woman, all else being equal?? – I still don’t think I’d feel right taking the seat. Maybe some are offended by that answer, maybe some agree and can offer a rational explanation. For me, once again, whether it’s nature or nurture, it’s just my off the top gut reaction.

  • JohnM

    I see – Thomson, not Thompson. Not the first and it won’t be the last.

  • Richard Cronin

    “I fail to see how “sacrificial responsiblity” is any more masculine than it is feminine. That is, to me, adult moral responsibility. Women do the same.If one is asking me if young adult males lack responsibility in our culture, that is an observable trend, but that is about adulthood not masculinity vs. femininity”

    This quote by Scott above is the crux of the matter for me.

    Piper et al imply that the lack of maturity in adult men is a problem that has its causes in the rise of feminism. I think they are wrong but a lack of maturity is a problem for men in today’s society. Rather than egalitarians saying that Complementarians are wrong perhaps they would be better served by addressing the very issues that is driving piper in the first place.

  • Sue

    In Greek, the term andreia (manliness/courage) was the opposite of deilia (cowardice.) This word “deilia” was not related to femininity, no connection. In some ways, the word “aner” refered to a citizen of status. In Plato’s Laws, the term “aner” refered to “citizens” of adult age, male AND female, who were equally responsible for children and elders. It refers to the age of mature responsibility. It is sometimes a male specific term and sometimes a citizen specific term which excludes slaves, children and the dependent elderly. It really does mean “adulthood.”

    As an adjective, andreia, was used for the woman in Proverbs 31 (who also had strong arms) and for female martyrs in First Clement, and for virgins in the Shepherd of Hermas. It was a common expectation that a Christian woman should demonstrate andreia, (also chayil in Hebrew refering to Ruth). It does not refer to “maleness”, but to the quality of full and responsible citizenship and adulthood, which a woman should also demonstrate.

  • Sue

    Therefore, Piper ought appropriately to call for a mature Christianity. Christianity should have a mature feeling to it, not a masculine feeling.

  • Mark Driscoll revealed the reason why masculinity is so important in reformed circles in his interview with the British guy. The most important thing about God’s masculinity is that He needs to be able to roast people for all of eternity without batting an eye. If we allow our image of God to be tainted by “motherhood,” then we start to have doubts about the central importance of the eternal barbecue. “Manly” preachers are those preachers who are un-bothered by eternal conscious torment. That’s the issue. The problem with women getting in the pulpit is they’re too naturally empathetic to talk enthusiastically about hell.

  • Chika Chukwujekwu

    Can any of the John Piper’s supporters explain 2 Kings 22: 3 – 20 where a high priest (male) and a scribe (male) and a bunch of other ‘important’ men had to go to a mere woman (the one that cannot be a priest) to inquire of the Lord? How come the high priest who leads in the temple and the scribe that writes up history, and all the other men in the land could not hear from God if that is God’s ordained way of ministry? Why did God choose to speak through a woman when there were male priests and she had a husband? She was God’s chosen prophetess in a land teeming with men? So God initiated a non-masculine ministry there by John Piper’s standards, n’est pas? Take note, God.

    The Lord has a great sense of humour, he allows the men to hog all the important posts but refuses to comply with their expectations. When the crunch comes he uses WHOM he chooses to use irrespective of gender, e.g Huldah, Deborah, Jael, Rahab, Abigail, Mother Theresa etc

    The Lord cannot be contained in our tiny and limited formulas and thank goodness he provides enough examples to expose the lies men prefer to tell about what is God ordained or not. That God chooses to work within the limits of a culture sometimes (like having male priests and Jesus having twelve male disciples) doesn’t mean he approves of that culture wholly or that he makes it a principle for all time. After all, polygamy abounded in the old testament but no one is making a case for it.

    I have left the Evangelical church precisely for this hypocrisy of screaming sola scriptura yet very intentionally shaping the bible when it suits one towards a very different agenda that is not God’s and definitely wasn’t Luther’s when he initiated the reformation. Evangelicalism has assumed the role of the Roman Catholic church in creating doctrines and rules that are unbiblical in essence. A true Ichabod.

  • John Franklin

    Thanks for this post – it is not a debate I give much time to – but stumbled on it today and will offer a brief comment.
    It seems that Piper and friends have taken a number of basic biblical principle modeled in Jesus the one who shows us what true humanity should look like, and they co-op/colonize/take over these values/virtues and embed them in their understanding of the masculine. What they say is not at all convincing and appears a biased and selective rendering of scripture for the sake of a weak and unchristian ideology that favours men over women – surely it is obvious that this has something to do with power.

  • Hi Scot,
    Thanks for this helpful post, which has helped to form my own reflections on John Piper’s “masculine Christianity” here:

  • SarahFull

    I would love for someone to address Brad’s questions (#101):

    Is gender an objective reality, and not just a social construct? If God has created us as gendered beings, has God done so with a purpose? If there is a reason for God creating us as gendered beings, then is there more to our gendered nature than just different sex organs and hormones? How ought we to understand what it means to be men and women in the image of God? What actual difference should these ideas have in our lives?

    I totally agree that the church has little meaningful to say about this subject, especially how redeemed masculinity and femininity work themselves out as we are all conformed to the image of Christ.

    Also, it seems that we muddy these waters by ALWAYS tying discussions of masculinity and femininity to that of gender roles. Cannot those who want to understand fully what it means to be feminine and masculine be either complementarians or egalitarians?…or whatever…?

  • Elaine


    What if our bodies are made differently, without those differences being ultimately determinative of individual gifting, callings and conforming to the image of Christ?

  • JR

    The 1 Cor. 16 passage that Frank Turk is using to tranlate ἀνδρίζεσθε to “man up” is understood by most Biblical commentators historically (Henry, Barnes, Calvin, Clarke, et al.) to mean “be a grown up” to not be like a child tossed by the waves hither and tither by every manner of doctrine. It was not meant to be exclusively masculine, even if there is a sort of masculine tone to the passage. Taken on the whole, scripture pretty much refers to the Church primarily in feminine terms. So whether you believe in male elders only or not, the Church is not supposed to feel like something that you would only see on WWF or ESPN or whatever other ridiculous stereotypes that guys like Piper, Driscoll, and Turk invent.

  • Jim

    I have now listened and read the full lesson taught by Piper that day. I wanted to see if Scot gave a fair representation about what Piper said (due to a previous comment which criticized the post for sound-biting).

    I feel that there are two massive problems with the entire lesson. While I appreciate Piper and the fact that he wants to pay homage to “heroes” of the past, I also feel that there are times when he does a gross injustice in HOW he uses them. His teachings about the lessons we can learn from the life of JC Ryle are a great example of one of those times.

    In the entire lesson, he never really showed anything about how JC Ryle lived a masculine Christianity but instead showed how he lived a courageous, brave, strong, devoted and firm Christianity. Instead of just using these adjectives (which I would have loved), he takes it a step further by then stating that these things are all “masculine” in nature.

    It would be like saying, “The Beatles wrote songs that were beautiful” and then saying that music is feminine because “beauty” is a female trait. That was his first massive mistake.

    In my opinion, his second mistake is actually a common mistake. It is that he does not take context into the situations. The situation isn’t that God sent Jesus into the world as a male to show that males should be leaders. It was that God sent Jesus into the world as a male because that was the ONLY way He could communicate to the society around Him.

    I have really taken criticism from friends for this view but I believe that God put Jesus into a specific situation. For example, if Jesus came down into a heavily matriarchal society that was lead by Priestesses; would He have been a male? Or if Jesus came 2000 years later to a modern day America or Europe, would all His disciples be male? The reason Jesus had to be male wasn’t because male leadership should be exalted but instead because Jesus was the perfect Israelite who would lead others into His Kingdom. If He was to be a legitimate King who people would follow, He could not be one as a female due to the context of when He lived His life.

    Now, I will say that I also have huge issues with Piper’s words and I feel that Scot actually left out some of the more controversial comments. For example, under John’s first comment about how masculine ministry feels it fitting that men take the lash of criticism, he says, “But we wish the men were numerous enough and strong enough and courageous enough (to take harsh criticism) that the women could rejoice in the men rather than take their place.” I don’t know if this was intentional, however; it puts the worship on man and not God.

    The other terrible statement he makes is under his fifth point where a masculine ministry heralds the truth of Scripture. In this point he states, “The point is that godly men know intuitively, by the masculine nature implanted by God, that turning hearts of men and women to God with authoritative speaking is the responsibility of men. And where men handle it with humility and grace, godly women are glad.” What is speaking authoritatively? Is it speaking only in Church? Is it speaking to your children? Is it speaking to your friends? Is it your evangelism? Women should be just as evangelistic as men in all avenues of life!

    Now one last note to conclude (as this comment has gotten long-winded). JC Ryle was undoubtedly a godly man. But, in his case as in others, I do feel we neglect to see something crucial. In his second marriage, his wife was “confined to London five times for two months each.” Instead of taking time away from his duties, he continued to pursue his life as a minister. I would be extremely critical of this point but in the mind of John Piper, he says that, “no matter how difficult the homelife of a pastor, it is part of the calling, part of the masculine ministry.”

    I feel this idea is a big problem for society in general. What woman would want to be a part of a Church that says, “duty is more important than family?” While I agree that Christ needs to be our cornerstone, I think we have to be careful to remember that His Kingdom is one that is about all avenues of life which includes family.

    For years we have exalted missionaries and ministers even though often their own families were in turmoil. While these men should be remembered we shouldn’t exalt them to a place where doing their “duty to God” meant neglecting their “duty to family” as both are part of the same bigger scope of Kingdom-living.

    I would love to hear any commentsabout these thoughts. Any input or discussion would be great as I am teaching this topic to our Youth Group next week!

  • Mike

    Piper took a year off and this is what he comes up with…? Here’s hoping he goes quiet for a decade… Though after that who knows what he might come up with – he might actually try and say G-d is a man…

    And, not to use the “Gospel”s to dispel the “gospel” coalition, but couldn’t help thinking how fitting this verse in Luke 24: “but they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them (the male “leaders”) like nonsense.”

    2000 years later some men are still trying to silence women. The very Gospel these men claim to coalition around was presented to men by a group of eye-witness women. The men were too arrogant and proud and clueless to see it. They missed the real Gospel. Sadly, some things never change…

  • Lynn Alan

    Although I would not regard Christianity as a “masculine” ministry, I do believe the Scriptures teach different roles for men and women within the church. The Old Testament makes the distinction that God “created him [man/mankind] male and female,” yet all are created in His image (Gen 1:26-27). In the New Testament the male is given the role of leader and head of the household, whereas the woman is to submit herself to him–not as a slave, but an helpmate. There are three interchangeble terms that refer to the plurality of leaders for each autonomous congregation of which Christ Himself is Head Shepherd overall. The Greek words are ἐπισχοπἠ, πρεσβὐτερος, and ποιμαἰνω and each word depicts a different aspect of the role or office. Also, Paul, in writing to both Timothy and Titus when describing the attributes qulifies men as those that are to be placed into this position.
    The evangelist or “preacher” of the gospel is depicted as a male as well as those aspiring to become special ministers (deacons) to the congregation. The Christian woman may take upon herself a leadership role among other women and children, but not over men. This is not meant to be discrimanatory, but according to the Holy Spirit through Paul gives the following reason:
    “For it was Adam who was first created, then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression”(1 Timothy 2:13-14).

  • Elaine

    Lynn @196,

    “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well” (Romans 16:1-2).

    Paul called Phoebe a “sister,” “deacon,” and “benefactor” to the church at Cenchreae as well as a sister and benefactor to Paul. The notable thing about the Greek word diakonos or “deacon” being used to describe Phoebe is that it is the masculine form of the word used to describe a woman. It is the SAME word Paul uses when he calls Timothy and Titus “servants” or “deacons” of their respective churches. Another thing that makes this phrase notable is that Phoebe is called the “deacon of the church of Cenchreae.” This is the ONLY place in the New Testament where ‘diakonos’ is followed by the name of a specific congregation. This is the ONLY place linking a specific person’s ministry with a specific church.

    In Ephesians 5:21 all Christians are called to submit to one another -“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Husbands are not exempted from this imperative to submit to one another.

    Where in the New Testament are husbands told to lead their wives? Where in the New Testament are men called the “head of the household”?

  • Nancy

    To Mike K re Feb 3 post:
    I’m a little late for this discussion but boy did your comment about single women hit home. Divorced single women are an even lower cast than single women and not only judged by the men but even more judged by married women. Try to get back into ministry when you acquire the Ms. title after having had the Mrs. We do this kind of thing to each other. If it’s not gender we are judging then it’s racial or financial status or appearance or education or marital etc. I agree though that John Piper has been instrumental in the spiritual development of thousands of believers and we need to applaud that but I really do think he needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.

  • Let those without doctrinal error cast the first stone… and those who are in error, in Love, discuss what we understand so little about so we might mature – eveyone of us – into His Image (not the Image of Piper or McKnight etc)!

  • Christopher Erik

    Wow. Sad but true.