The week before Thanksgiving, I attended the 57th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Evangelical scholars gather annually at this meeting to present scholarly papers on sundry biblical and theological issues. Out of all the papers and addresses that I have heard over the years, only a very few have stood out to me as particularly good.
I have to say that the best paper presentation that I have ever heard at ETS was given at this latest meeting by Russell Moore of Southern Seminary. The paper was titled “After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians Are Winning the Evangelical Gender Debate” and can be accessed here. Not only was Dr. Moore right on target in what he was arguing, but he delivered the paper with passion and conviction (two traits that are sadly lacking in too many ETS paper presentations).
Last week, Moore blogged on the post-paper fallout on Touchstone magazine’s blog site. He wrote,
The stakes of the gender debate for all of Christian theology are apparent even at the ETS meeting itself, with egalitarian theologian Alan Padgett arguing for mutual submission between Christ and the church from Ephesians chapter 5. In his presentation, Padgett argued that Jesus “submits” to the church at the cross. Touchstone readers will remember Padgett for his interaction with Touchstone editors in the pages of the magazine over feminine God-language.
This proposal assumes that service means submission. The church did not send Jesus on the redemptive mission; the Father did. Jesus everywhere notes that he is freely offering his life in obedience to the Father’s mission. Moreover, Jesus in his love for the church refuses to submit to the foundation stones of his church, when they demand that he will never be delivered over to the Romans. Instead, he sets his face like flint toward Jerusalem. That is servant leadership, and that is headship.
Stunningly, in his paper presentation Padgett argues that the church’s submission to Christ ends at the eschaton. This is sub-Christian at best; Canaanite at worst. An article about the Padgett presentation can be accessed here. If this is where evangelical feminism is going, it is clear that the movement is even more self-consciously more feminist than evangelical; more egalitarian than Christian.
Download and read Moore’s paper. You will be glad that you did.
FYI-postscript: My very favorite plenary address was delivered by John Piper at the 1998 meeting, and it was titled “Training the Next Generation of Evangelical Pastors and Missionaries.” My second favorite plenary address was at last year’s meeting, and it was delivered by R. Albert Mohler: “Truth and Contemporary Culture.”