It's Time for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to Close Up Shop...

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Several days ago I sent a copy of the following to my brother Tim, co-author of this blog and former executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). During the period Tim served as CBMW's executive director I worked as a volunteer for CBMW, establishing their first internet site and helping with a variety of tasks from the planning of CBMW's 2000 conference to attendance at ETS meetings and CBMW board meetings to editing of the CBMW Journal. My work with CBMW ended after Tim's resignation as executive director in 2000.

Tim responded to this piece by sending a letter of resignation from the Council to CBMW president Ligon Duncan. I had no intention in writing this of causing Tim to resign. Nor do I have anything but sympathy for the position of Ligon Duncan and CBMW executive director Randy Stinson, men who have inherited rather than caused the culture described below.

CBMW's positive work was largely concluded with the formulation of the Danvers Statement and the publication of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Those were worthy initial steps. But it is now time, I believe, for CBMW to consider whether it has become an impediment to the cause of Scriptural truth. I suggest this for the following reasons....

Ten Failures of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW)...

1. Its name is false and self-serving. The one thing CBMW has never been is a true ecclesiastical council. Instead, it's a self-appointed, self-referential group of individuals, the vast majority of whom cannot speak authoritatively for a particular church, let alone the Church.

2. It's ashamed of Biblical language. Instead of using the natural biblical term for the principle of father-rule, 'patriarch' (from the Greek, patria or father, plus arche or rule), CBMW manufactured the term of equivocation, 'complementarian.' How much better it had been if CBMW's patriarchs had not rejected the Biblical term, 'patriarch.' Who has ever questioned the reality that the two sexes complement each other? Even feminists still need men to become pregnant. But how they complement each other--that's the question. Sadly, it is precisely this question which CBMW's founders have carefully begged.

3. CBMW steadfastly refuses to engage culture with Biblical principles of patriarchy. Instead, it speaks only to the Church and the home. Where is its statement on women in the military? Where is its statement on father-rule in society? On this, CBMW lacks the courage of John Knox's pinkie.

4. CBMW refuses to see this as a battle for the souls of men and women. Academic collegiality rules all CBMW says and does. Within CBMW's culture, the ultimate test of a prophet's faithfulness is if he's able to go out and sip a cup of tea with his opponent following the dialog.

5. CBMW should not have women on the council. What council seeking to pronounce an authoritative word to the Church of Christ has ever included women?

6. Rather than a cross to bear or a hill on which to die, the Biblical message of father-rule has too often been a means of personal advancement for CBMW's founders.

7. CBMW has carefully tailored its message and publications for an audience of scholars. Whenever CBMW has come close to addressing the average Christian, Council members have fled and leaders have sought to distance themselves and the organization from conflict.

8. In consequence of CBMW's self-referential nature, her leaders have refused to acknowledge the significant and faithful work of others in this battle. It would be hard to imagine a more significant book promoting father-rule than Doug Wilson's classic, Reforming Marriage. Pastors across the country have turned it into a best-seller by their constant recommendation of it. Meanwhile, CBMW seems unaware that it exists, and senior CBMW leaders have consistently opposed utilizing Wilson, a champion of father-rule, in any CBMW venue.

9. CBMW refuses to declare that evangelical feminists deny the authority, not to mention the inerrancy, of Scripture. No matter how tortured the exegesis or twisted the hermeneutic, CBMW will not seek to cast the wolves out. In fact, CBMW's leaders seem not to believe in the existence of wolves within evangelicalism.

10. CBMW has no doctrine of sexuality. It has many exegetical defenses of specific passages having to do with sexuality. It has many thoughtful points about sexuality. But it has never given itself to the development of a theology of sexuality that starts with the archetypal Fatherhood of God, working its way down to the universal patriarchy written on the heart of His Creation.