Grudem’s Logical Errors

Grudem’s Logical Errors May 8, 2013

David Cramer, in “Assessing Hierarchist Logic: Is Egalitarianism Really on a Slippery Slope,” in Priscilla Papers 27.2 (2013) 5-9, takes the author of Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? to task at the logical level. Cramer chose in uncanny fashion not to mention Grudem’s name in the text in order to keep attention on the arguments and not the person. Priscilla Papers is a fine publication of the Christians for Biblical Equality. Link to article now available.

Before I begin we observe that Cramer describes the position as “hiearachist” instead of its preferred “complementarian.” This deserves some consideration. In general I prefer that a person be described the way that person wants, and since most of this view call themselves “complementarian” it is wise to give them that label. Having said that, however, I want to support what Cramer does here: time has convinced me that the focus of the complementarian is not how “roles” are complementary but that instead the focus is male leadership. Therefore, the complementarian view is essentially — by consensus of their approaches and emphases — a species of hierachicalism. I therefore find Cramer’s term appropriate and accurate. Those who want to focus on male-female complementarity in roles should be called complementarian; but if the focus is male leadership and female submission then the term hiearchicalism is the better term.

He finds three crucial and book-diminishing logical mistakes in the book. There are others, such as guilt by association, but Cramer’s focus is on these three:

First, there is the fallacy of hasty generalization or selective evidence. This happens when supporting evidence is emphasized and counter evidence is ignored or minimized. [I found the same logical fallacy in Grudem’s approach to the warning passages in Hebrews.] Or when a universal claim is made on partial evidence. The problem here is that Grudem connects egalitarianism to liberalism; the former leads to the latter. Only there are so many contra indicators, esp the number of Wesleyan and Holiness women in ministry that vastly outweigh the number of “liberal” women in ministry (3 or 4 to 1), that the author is guilty of a hasty generalization. The correlation, then, is only possible. Cramer concludes that Grudem’s argument is ultimately a tautology.

Second, the fallacy of equating correlation with causation. This one is simple: that some liberals are egalitarians, or even if all were, there is no necessary causation between being egalitarian and becoming liberal. It is far more likely, something Grudem does not explore adequately, that other factors are at work, and not all of them the same between the two groups. Cramer suggests Grudem should have abandoned this logic and argued that egalitarianism or evangelical feminism could be called the new forms of liberalism. Grudem gives no logical reason “to worry that evangelical egalitarianism is a cause of liberalism” (7).

Third, there is the fallacy of the slippery slope argument, which the author criticizes in the case of the “trajectory hermeneutic” and which the author could have applied equally to his own arguments. This argument only works if there is a logical necessity between egalitarianism/Christian feminism and liberalism; there is none. Cramer: “there is simply no logically necessary relationship between these positions” (8). Cramer sees too many psychological issues at work here.

For those with a mind to listen, this will be a landmark article demolishing the logic of one man’s attempt to right the ship.

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