Over at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website (www.cbmw.org/Blog/Posts/Never-Apologize-for-Gods-Truth) a blog post was put up on October 28. The title of the post: “Never Apologize for God’s Truth.” The blog post is a discussion about my essay, “Some Reflections on the Role of Women in the Church: Pragmatic Issues,” posted at http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=6133. I thought it misrepresented my views in some serious ways, so I wrote a response. I had thought that that response would either get posted on the site (it wasn’t), would have caused the author to alter what he said (he didn’t), or at least have stimulated the writing of a letter to me from the CBMW folks (they weren’t). Regrettably, I have to post my response here, because of the one-sided story that was given at CBMW. Here’s what I wrote:
A friend sent me the blog that was posted at CBMW about my recent essay on the role of women, posted at bible.org. I’m honored that my views would be considered worthy of discussing at CBMW. But I have to say, I think I was misrepresented.
Here’s what the blog post said, “Wallace responded by admitting that he could never embrace egalitarianism because it is clearly unbiblical; the text just does not support egalitarian claims…”
That’s far more than what I actually wrote on two fronts. First, nowhere in the essay did I say that I could never embrace egalitarianism. Not even close. Instead, what I said was that I could not go against my conscience and that, in my view, egalitarians were doing exegetical gymnastics. But even here I couched my statement with a note of personal perspective. Throughout the essay you will see qualifiers such as “For me at least,” “I think,” “probably,” etc. These points were mentioned specifically in relation to my exegetical certainty about the role of women in the church. Probably the strongest statement I made in terms of certainty was “I may not be comfortable with my complementarian position, but I am unwilling to twist scripture into something that it does not say. (I’m not saying that those who take an egalitarian position on this passage are willing to twist the scriptures! But I am saying that I think they are, in effect, probably doing this just the same.)”
Second, I did not say that egalitarianism was clearly unbiblical. Again, I couched all from my own perspective. As I concluded my essay, “after all the exegetical dust has settled, to deny some sort of normative principle to 1 Tim 2:12 is probably a misunderstanding of this text.”
I believe that the blogger got wrong his whole premise for the post because he assumed that I was certain in my exegesis and cowardly (or at least wishy-washy) in my behavior.
The irony here is that I was quoted out of context and misexegeted. I’m sure that some egalitarians will jump on this and say that complementarians do the same thing with scripture!
Allow me to clarify my view: Both since my exegesis is not certain and since this is not a central issue to the Christian faith, I cannot be as firm in my position or attitude as I can be on other issues. What is at stake here is one’s doctrinal and pragmatic taxonomy. The way the blogger wrote about my views it sounded as if he had a flatline in doctrinal nuancing. That, in my view, is not the healthiest way to think about scripture.
Daniel B. Wallace, PhD
Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts