Egalitarian or Complementarian?: Lausanne Theology Discussion (4 of 7)

Welcome to the fourth of seven articles in response to the Lausanne Theology Working Group's paper on "The Whole Church Taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World."  If you've not had a chance to read the paper, you can do so by following these links:

You can also read all seven parts of this series here.


2. Regarding the Whole Church

Another concern and question that I have regarding the LTWG’s paper arises out of the “Whole Church” section under the sub-section pertaining to catholicity.  This is overall a powerfully important part of the document.  However, I am concerned by one of the specific affirmations therein.  On p. 18 (full version) we find the following:

“We affirm that ministry gifting and calling are not defined by gender, or by ethnicity, wealth, or social status.  Since the whole church is called to mission, the whole church is gifted for mission.”

My question here is on the issue of gender role separation.  I’m wondering if this sentence is meant to represent the LTWG officially “taking a stand” on the ongoing debate between egalitarians and complementarians on gender and ministry roles.  I would venture to say that there will be a fair number of complementarians (like myself) in attendance at Cape Town and I would be surprised if there wasn’t a significant number of them on the LTWG itself.  So it seems to be a strange statement to make or at least an unclear wording?  Let me be clear, I’m not wanting to open up that particular debate here, but rather I’m seeking clarity on this statement.

Question #4 – Is this affirmation by the LTWG meant to be an affirmation of the egalitarian view over against the complementarian? If not, can this be clarified?

As a complementarian, I eagerly affirm that all the gifts of the Spirit are distributed according to his will to both women and men.  I also affirm that both genders have a duty to exercise these gifts in the context of God’s Church.  However, I disagree with the notion that gender irrelevant to the question of how and in which particular context these gifts are exercised.  That is both a biblical and cultural anthropological conviction for me.  And, from that perspective, this statement causes a good deal of hesitation for me. 

1 comment:

  1. The Manila Manifesto provides an excellent mediating statement on the issues of gender roles in the Church. I see this statement as doing a better job of addressing the issue than the newer statement produced by the LTWG paper. In the Manifesto we read,

    "God created men and women as equal bearers of his image, accepts them equally in Christ and poured out his Spirit on all flesh, sons and daughters alike. In addition, because the Holy Spirit distributes his gifts to women as well as to men, they must be given opportunities to exercise their gifts. We celebrate their distinguished record in the history of missions and are convinced that God calls women to similar roles today. Even though we are not fully agreed what forms their leadership should take, we do agree about the partnership in world evangelization which God intends men and women to enjoy. Suitable training must therefore be made available to both."

    This, in my view, is as powerful statement that the Church can unite behind and it should be a model for us as we consider any statements made on this issue at the Congress.