[Many thanks to David Mills for the excellently evocative phrase, exegetical solvent, which he used in correspondence about his own post on Matthew Vines. That’s really the only tool the religious progressive needs, isn’t it?]
In his otherwise excellent review of Matthew Vines’ “God and the Gay Christian”, Albert Mohler quotes Terry Mattingly:
“There is no way to avoid the showdown that is coming.”
Which is not exactly inaccurate, but it misses the set up. There has already been a showdown, about 30 years ago, which Evangelicals lost. Untethered from the Great Tradition by the Reformation battle-cry of Sola Scriptura!, Evangelicalism proved itself unable to slay the revisionist beast of Feminism.
Instead, Evangelicalism split into two collegial camps, neither willing to do what needed to be done to vanquish the other. The more tradition-minded Evangelicals formed their new group with their new explanation and their new word* (which, 30 years later, people still can’t spell) because they feared overtly embracing the traditional, historic, orthodox and proper term more than they feared the enemy. Complementarianism was born because they weren’t willing to actually put feminism to death (at least theologically speaking). The fear of openly embracing Patriarchy was greater than the fear of feminism. They prized collegiality more than orthodoxy. And the feminists had no need of any sort of obviously ultimate vanquishing of the Patriarchal foe because, simply by getting their nose under the edge of the tent, they had already won. It was easily done, being aided in great part by their own newspeak term, Egalitarianism. After all, who wants to oppose “equality”?
What we’re seeing now is the clean up operation. Young Mr. Vines would not be having his secret meetings and he would not be seeking out the silent supporters if the feminists had not first softened the ground. This is the second great challenge to Evangicalism. But it is less of a genuine challenge than a revealing of the softness of Evangelicalism’s defences.
The good news about this, I believe, is that more will end up where I did. Seeking ways to adequately respond to the current challenge, they will discover Rome already has them. Discovering, further, that the Church not only has answers but that they are rich and deep, our seekers will realise they haven’t been fair to Rome, and they should be.
They’ll eventually realise that Mr. Chesterton was right, the decision to be fair to the Church is often the first step to conversion.
*Complementarianism was their new word, which they actually “stole” from Gordon Fee, and others, who had been using it to describe their early version of Egalitarianism (religious feminism). Thanks to Scot McKnight for that bit of hidden history.