• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Church Leader Linked to Vox Day in Non-Sexism Shock

While researching something else, I came across the website of Christians for Biblical Equality, an international evangelical organisation founded by Alvera Mickelsen in the 1980s. Somewhat to my surprise, the site features a prominent endorsement from Vox Day’s spiritual mentor Gregory Boyd (who, like Mickelson, once taught at Bethel College). Boyd may have exotic views about demons and spiritual warfare but he’s no sexist. We knew already that he agreed with women ministers, but there’s more:

Thanks to many committed Christian activists in the 19th century, the western Church woke up to the truth that the practice of slavery, allowed in the New Testament, was not part of God’s plan for all time. Yet many segments of the Church today persist in the assumption that the first century limitations placed on women are part of God’s plan for all time. The effects of this are not much less tragic than the effect of mistaking slavery for God’s ideal. I know of no organization that is doing as much as CBE to help the church wake up to God’s ideal regarding women in ministry and women in marriage. They are among the “abolitionists” of the 21st century and I’m proud to be among their passionate supporters!

Although is he proud to have his theology linked to a video game designed by a man who wants to deny women one of the most basic signs of equality, namely the right to vote?

According to its Statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality, Christians for Biblical Equality holds these beliefs, among others:

The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and equal partnership. The word “helper” (ezer), used to designate woman in Genesis 2:18, refers to God in most instances of Old Testament usage (e.g. 1Sam 7:12; Ps 121:1-2). Consequently the word conveys no implication whatsoever of female subordination or inferiority…

The Bible teaches that, in the New Testament economy, women as well as men exercise the prophetic, priestly and royal functions (Acts 2:17-18, 21:9; 1Cor 11:5; 1Peter 2:9-10; Rev 1:6, 5:10). Therefore, the few isolated texts that appear to restrict the full redemptive freedom of women must not be interpreted simplistically and in contradiction to the rest of Scripture, but their interpretation must take into account their relation to the broader teaching of Scripture and their total context (1Cor 11:2-16, 14:33-36; 1Tim 2:9-15).

But is this going to be the old “equal but different” cop-out – the old “yes, men and women are equally important, but men are better suited to discharging certain responsibilities”? An article by Alan Padgett on the site suggests not:

God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.

Discussing Genesis:

We sometimes hear teaching in the churches today that the man is the “priest of the home,” or that women need the “spiritual covering” of a husband in order to be fulfilled. There simply is no biblical basis for this teaching. Women and men are both priests in Christ, as has already been stated. Men are not spiritually superior to women in the Bible. This is simply another form of traditional male domination of women—common to Western civilization for thousands of years—being read into the Bible by traditional, conservative Christian leaders.

Padgett then sets about deconstructing Paul’s letters to argue that where Paul implies male domination, a fuller contextual understanding shows that was not his intention (whether this truly reflects the historical Paul is debatable, but it’s a good case made).