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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Consistent Complementarianism

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I meet more and more young men who are excited about the concept of male leadership in the home. As far as it goes, I think that’s a good thing.

But I also see a lot of men who assert their headship in their home, but who do not take a consistent approach to the authorities set over them by God (or God himself). A few examples:   

1.    Some men complain about their wife’s unwillingness to submit to their authority while they (the husband) embrace secret sins in their lives. As if their wife should submit to their authority, but they shouldn’t have to submit to God’s authority.

2.    Some men extol the glories of male headship but never think to consciously submit their lives and decision making to the authority of their elders and fellow church-members. As if God designed a husband’s authority to be a blessing at home, but all other authority is arbitrary and unimportant.

3.    Some men think nothing of venting their spleen about their boss, the government, or the leaders of their church, all the while insisting that their wife speak about them in tones of hushed respect.

It is spiritually dangerous to be in this position, exercising authority without submitting to it.

But I think this is also an important factor to consider when trying to identify men who can serve the church as elders. I would not want to put a man into a position of authority in our church unless he himself were able to joyfully submit to the authorities placed over him by God. A man who will not submit to others should not have others submitting to him.   

I also appreciate the point that Thabiti makes in Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons: A crucial part of an elder’s work is knowing how to submit to other biblically qualified, gifted, and Spirit-filled men who will, from time to time, see a matter differently. It’s proud to think this will never happen, and it’s proud to think the other elders should always submit to you. (pages 102-103)

If you want to be a good leader, perhaps you should begin by being a good follower. If you want to know whether you are a good follower, try asking the people God has put in authority over you!

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Thanks for this timely article.

Can you expand a little more on the phrase "never think to consciously submit their lives and decision making to the authority of their elders and fellow church-members".

What sort of decision-making (at home?) should be submitted to the authority of the elders?

Thanks!

Hi Tim,

I don't have any specific issues in mind, but I think Jonathan Leeman's post a couple of weeks ago gets at it pretty well:

http://www.9marks.org/blog/your-church-and-your-life-planning

Thanks!

mike

I would asked the confused mebmer,to ask for clarity about any questions from the Church Leaders,even people who are happy to hear you talk about the Church you are mebmer of make mistakes,so if a Deacon has not answered your question satisfactorily,in this Church you have so much freedom to tell your Deacon politely that you are not satisfied,The Deacon can go to his Priest to get more clarity on that question until you now feel you are satisfied.Like I said We dont question what other Churches do in their services in Church,even if what they are doing is not written in scriptures,we mainly reveal what is hidden in the scriptures and preach the Truth(the gospel).Christ said that the holy spirit will teach the Apostles even those things he never taught.Children who are confirmed are not forced,in fact i have seen many who chose not to be confirmed.Hav you heared what a Priest says when He baptises a baby,I bet you have not listened closely to the words.The Priest says it clearly that the responsibility of the baby is with the parents.I wonder if you have understood that part.I just clarifying those points,because you say you are a mebmer.People who are happy that you dont understand want you to join them thats why i see somenone giving you the e-mail address.Hear are my words,let God his power in to you,if you are really an Apostle you know what that means,in did God wil reveal Himself be it tomorrow,next week,next year even after seven years

How do you think we should balance criticism of bosses, government, church authority, etc with submission? Criticism, of course, isn't bad, and can be good within its proper place. Is it just about attitude?

Sam,

I think there's definitely room for criticism - in marriage, in the church, towards the government. But as you say, criticism can convey an attitude of respect or an attitude of rebellion!

Thanks,

m

I'm garteful you made the post. It's cleared the air for me.

I am sorry,David, but I do think that some of those in positions of ecaopspil authority have responded to threats, perhaps with justification when some dioceses are so fragile, or when the whole Communion is threatened with schism.That aside, you accuse me of not challenging the arguments of those who actively discriminate against me. I am surprised that you thing that the victimised minority should be made to justify why they should not be victimised, although that is of course the classic position of the oppressor. The problem of course is that, apart from quoting the very few direct references to homosexuality in Scripture, those who support discrimination rarely articulate why they choose to accept a particular interpretation of scripture on this issue and not on other issues.Perhaps you should start, David, by articulating why you, and the College of Bishops, support continued discrimination against lesbians and gay men within the Church, and yet freely ignore with little demur the Dominical injunction against heterosexual divorce.

I think we can reason from the husband-wife relationship to these other areas. When a husband is in need of correction, it is not wrong for a wife to be the one to point that out, without compromising her submission to his God-given authority. Ultimately, her goal should to build her husband up! Certainly, the natural sinful desire of a wife is to undermine her husband's authority, and the husband's sinful inclination is to shirk his duty. But in a Christian marriage, the wife's goal should be to strengthen her husband's authority for the good of the marriage, and the husband's goal should be to see his responsibilities through.

I think the same principle applies to employers, government officials, pastors, etc - when we bring criticism to them, our attitude must be one of submission and respect, and our goal must be for the upbuilding of the person (or institution) in question.

When a Christian brings some items to their employer's attention that they think need to be addressed, their motivation should not be to get him fired so that they can have his job, but rather, to strengthen him in his position.

When a believer criticizes government policies, taxes, expenditures, their motivation should not be to undermine or cast off the governmental authority over them, but rather to build up that government by making it more just and godly. If our country is ruled by a parliament, we want it to be a just and wise and godly parliament. If our country is ruled by a dictator, we want it to be a just and wise and godly dictator.

When a church member brings a criticism to their pastor, they should strive to do it in the utmost humility and love, since pastors get more than their fair share of harsh, unloving criticism. (We should also approach our employers and our politicians in humility and love, by the way.) When we bring an issue to our pastor, our intent should not be to undermine his authority within the church, but rather to strengthen it, for the benefit of the entire body!

David, thank you for engaging in with me in this diucsssion. I don't think I was suggesting inclusiveness without boundaries, but the points I was trying to make above were that those who support direct discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the Church do so by placing conditions on those such as yourself in positions of authority: if you treat lesbians and gay men equally we will: leave your church, not pay our quota, not accept your authority take your pick of their threats. Whereas lesbians and gay Christians are saying please treat us equally and we will continue to respect the integrity of those who do not think we should be treated equally whilst disagreeing with them . No threats but then we don't have the power to make threats. Secondly they discriminate against us not because of what we believe, but because of what we are, because of what God made us.Do I understand you to say that if a view is held with integrity it is unchallengeable? Hitler had very strong beliefs held undoubtedly with integrity. Racists have strongly held beliefs supported by the authority of scripture as they interpret it. Supporters of slavery had very strong beliefs supported by the authority of scripture as they understood it. Integrity is no criterion of truth of beliefs. It is the other side who draw the lines to exclude lesbians and gay men. You will probably know the quote: those who draw a line of exclusion are often surprised to see Jesus on the other side of it.

Phil, I think +David is right. This conversation was eatilscang in ways that are not productive.That is not to say that there isn't a conversation there that is much needed, but once it reaches a point that neither person feels able to respond to what the other is saying, it is time to step back and seek another opportunity to engage more constructively.Maybe we can address some of the issues at the listening day? (so, on the one hand, Phil's concern that church sometimes denies the full humanity of gay people, and David's concern that no one argument (either a particular view of scripture, or a particular way of expressing issues of justice and inclusion) trump all others without an attempt at mutual understanding.)

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It looks like some of the written text in your posts are running off the screen.

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browser because I've had this happen previously. Thanks

Mike

You mention a quote from Thabiti about elders...

“A crucial part of an elder’s work is knowing how to submit to other *biblically qualified,* gifted, and Spirit-filled men who will, from time to time, see a matter differently. It’s proud to think this will never happen, and it’s proud to think the other elders should always submit to you.”

Was wondering...

Who determines if someone is *biblically qualified,* as an elder/overseer? Or NOT qualified?

Does someone have to submit to an elder/overseer if they are NOT *biblically qualified?*

I appreciate your comment on being prepared to submit to church authorities.

This is why it is crucial to be at biblical churches, that are more interested in faithfully expositing and living out Scripture than they are worried about monthly attendance or giving numbers.

Unfortunately as many churches have lost their grip on the role they should be playing in congregants lives', the church members have lost any of their loyalty for any one particular church body.

The church one attends is no longer a part of a person's identity, just as no one identifies with Old Country Buffet though they eat there once a week.

I agree with you, but--just to clarify--you're NOT saying something like "a husband should not expect his wife to submit until he perfectly submits to his authorities" or "wives need not submit to their husbands unless their husband has a spotless record of submission to all his authorities."

I'm not saying that you claimed those things, but I can see some people mistakenly taking that from points 1 and 2. "The heart is deceitful above all things."

That's correct. Thanks for making that clear!

mike

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Just because I feel like it hasn't been said yet - excellent article; Biblical and humbling and challenging, but encouraging to see the entire body of Christ work together instead of segmented as well! As a young single man and Youth Pastor, I want to say thank you for encouraging me in this!

Dan :)

Thank you so much. for a convicting encourgaging post. Authority is not an entity so much as a line. I learned this from the military. If I am over someone, i am over them as being under someone else. isn't this reflected in the meaning of "hupatasso" in greek?

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where is the pity for all those women living under those conditions?

Yep Cornerstone folk have been mixing msriitny with business for a long time now and would know a lot. I guess I would have a problem running a pizza store, dispensing such shocking nutrition to the world around me:) I'd be a goer for Sumo Salad instead!I guess there is also a downside in that in the world of business things from time to time go sour, and that can create huge perception and credibility issues in the community. The challenge is not just to use business as a great missional vehicle but to act ethically and stand out amongst the business community for those reasons.There have been plenty of schemers who have used gullible Christians in church for bad investment schemes, etc.

Am I a good follower?

:)

no way, Justin. i wrote this with you in mind! :)

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