Friday, August 28, 2015

A Critique on Alistair Begg's support for Complementarianism

Text: I Timothy 2:11-15

This is a response to Alistair Begg, a man of God whom I have always respected (and still do) as a pastor-teacher despite our differences (I am no longer classical nor Calvinist because of it's "technically" revisionist view of Scripture). Unfortunately, because of his position on this which not only did he make public, but emphatically suggested that his interpretation has the authority of the Word of God.

As always, I may not be comprehensive in my coverage but at the minimum will point out the ridiculous logic that comes with Scripture-twisting.

Begg claims that Paul has the same authority as Jesus Christ.

Our response: Perhaps and most probably but definitely NOT in all things.

How would Begg interpret 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Should women wear head-covering in public today? In fact, verse 6 actually says that it is a disgrace for women to cut their hair, Well, I would surmise that 98% of the evangelical women are disgraceful according to Begg's postulate and interpretive method! Or women like Beth Moore should stop teaching in public because she does not cover her head according to verse 5!

Well, Begg might say, but that is a cultural thing. Well, if we follow your statement that Paul has the same authority as Jesus Christ, then note that Paul justifies his stand THEOLOGICALLY by citing verses 7 to 9. He also appeals to instinct in verses 14 and 15! This passage has exactly the same structure as his sermon text: I Timothy 2:11-15.  They start with an instruction or command and then support it with some theological analogy. So why would one be cultural and the other not? Isn't that quite arbitrary?

Or perhaps, men should not wear hats in public. Note that Paul was first and foremost a Jew both by birth, upbringing, education and culture. Orthodox and conservative Male Jews wear a Yamaka to worship? So, is that a disgrace?

Now let us look at 1 Corinthians 7:12. Here Paul explicitly admits that his statements following from verses 12 to 16 at least are his opinion and NOT NECESSARILY God's opinion. Jesus Christ NEVER made any such qualification in any of His statements or sermons in the Gospels or even after.

It is obvious that whatever response Begg may have will be highly arbitrary as to which one to obey and which one NOT to obey without offending either Paul or our present Christians. Now, why is this so?

I believe it is because there is a flaw in some of the hermeneutic assumptions being used. When Christ elevated the Law and the Prophets in Matthew 5:17-20, there were no gospels nor Pauline letters in existence.  We also have to realize that the councils that actually cannonized the New Testament books are 100% gentiles with a Hellenistic upbringing.  Whereas the first century church used the "apostle's teaching" as some Book of Discipline or a Denominational Manual, the councils elevated them to be equal to the Law and the Prophets or the Very Word of God.

Note that the Law and the Prophets were personally authenticated and cannonized by Jesus Christ Himself in these verses.

If the teaching were cultural and not moral, it was not because the Roman (and Jewish) societies and cultures were patriarchal. On the other hand, the teaching was cultural because these prevailing cultures were inherently chauvinistic as seen in both their statements and practice. Women were never given the privilege to get formal education in the same level as men did, nor did they have any say in politics.  And we call these societies backwards and obsolete.  Yet where are these same voices when it comes to women in leadership whether it be in the secular field or much more so under the kingdom of one who is no respecter of persons? Male chauvinism is still one of the most protected sacred cows of the so-called Christian church and culture.

2,000 years after the birth of Christianity, we expect an awakening among Christians that created democracies when the main Biblical model was monarchy (Kingdom of God), emancipated slaves (Paul actually told slaves to remain submissive to their masters as unto God), created women suffrage (Paul told women to be silent in churches as in any other public forum in their culture), created schools to educate even women (Women had no public education pretty much like the feudal Muslim cultures of today). 2,000 years! So now, we know that EVEN PAUL practiced chauvinism just because HE DID NOT KNOW ANY BETTER as well as was desensitized to it. In fact, from our moral viewpoint today, Paul was backward!!! (with triple emphasis).

And yet well-meaning Christians continue to practice a form of Christian Sharia law! Patriarchal is when men dominated leadership, chauvism is when you treat them as second class people instead of treating them as spiritual and intellectual equals, confining them to subservient positions and requiring them to keep them silent and wear a headress or long hair unconditionally, otherwise, according to Paul's words, IT IS A DISGRACE! After 2,000 years, we in the 20th century should know better! We now know that there is a basic difference between partriarchalism vs. chauvinism; we now know that slavery physically defies the freedom we have in Christ; we know that blacks are not necesarily slaves and whites are not necessarily slave-owners; and yet Christians of today seem to be quite feudal in the area of women leadership especially in the church of the God who designed these HIGHER values!

It is instructive to look at the evolution of women rabbis in the Jewish religion. Here is a quote from "Women in Judaism: A History of Women's Ordination as Rabbis" by Avi Hein at

"The role of women in the rabbinate has been hotly debated within the Jewish community. The first female rabbi ever to be ordained was Regina Jonas of East Berlin. On December 25, 1935, Rabbi Dr. Max Dienemann, head of the Liberal Rabbis Association of Offenbach, ordained Jonas to serve as a rabbi in Jewish communities in Germany. In the United States, the Reform movement ordained its first female rabbi in 1972, the Reconstructionist movement in 1974, and the Conservative movement in 1985. The Orthodox movement has yet to officially accept women in its rabbinate, although a few Orthodox women have been ordained in some seminaries.

Each movement, except the Orthodox, has come to accept the right of women to become rabbis after long periods of reflection and debate regarding their own religious philosophies."

Furthermore, towards the end of the article:

"Orthodox women began pursuing a role in the rabbinate several decades later, but their enthusiasm has been continuously squelched by prominent Jewish leaders. Some women, however, have broken through the barriers to become rabbis. At least two women have openly declared that they have received Orthodox smicha and several Orthodox women are currently studying in Israel to receive smicha under an Orthodox rabbi. Blu Greenberg has advocated for women to become rabbis since the mid 1980s. “Orthodox women,” she wrote, “should be ordained because it would constitute a recognition of their intellectual accomplishments and spiritual attainments; because it would encourage great Torah study; because it offers wider female models of religious life; because women's input into p'sak (interpretation of Jewish text,) absent for 2,000 years, is sorely needed; because it will speed the process of reevaluating traditional definitions that support hierarchy; because some Jews might find it easier to bring halakhic questions concerning family and sexuality to a woman rabbi. And because of the justice of it all (Greenberg, Moment Magazine, 52, 74).”

Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, rabbi of Los Angeles Congregation B’nai David-Judea, agreed with Greenburg. He said, “The stupidest thing the Orthodox community does now is not having women rabbis. It wastes intellectual and spiritual talent” (JTA)."

The Jews have awakened to modern developments! How about feudal Christianity???

Probable support that Alister Begg did not use in his message:
1 Corinthians 14:34.
For some reason, Christians who believe like Begg seem to find it easier to impose women not being in authority compared to keeping these women silent (not in America, it is like finding a polished diamond to find any woman silent in church). They find it much harder to force women to wear a head covering in public although the Roman Catholics used to be successful at this. Because of these difficulties we can see the arbitrariness of these interpretation in confining their legalistic thinking only to women preaching or teaching the Word in public, and not applying the others such as head covering and silence and even creating as long a sermon as they do on male authority.

Believe it or not, it is this very people who even have a hard time imposing a ban on divorce and remarriage, an issue that Christ ACTUALLY MENTIONED AND DISCUSSED!!! How many American Christians are divorced and remarried to another divorcee? That is an obvious violation of Matthew 5:32 that no divorcee can remarry another divorcee UNCONDITIONALLY. To state this more bluntly, any divorcee who marries another divorcee is PUBLICLY COMMITTING ADULTERY. This is not Paul's opinion but Jesus Christ's very unqualified words.  How come these preachers have a hard time devoting as much preaching time to this subject???  Because they are biased and arbitrary, there is no other reason!

Christians used to blame homosexuals for AIDS. I personally blame these divorcees (including so-called Christian divorcees!) for creating a new breed of homosexuals who lost their parents in divorce, do not have a good father-image or mother-image, and so experiment in aberrational homosexual practices. So they are the FIRST CAUSE, not the homosexuals. But I digress...

[Update 2017-01-06] - VERY INTERESTING: I have been reading Leclerc's book on Discovering Christian Holiness: The Heart of Wesleyan-Holiness Theology and as it traced the start of American Methodism and the subsequent rise of the Holiness movement to the present, it is really peculiar to point out that historically, it is those who belong to the Holiness section of the church that promoted egalitarian principles which included anti-slavery or abolutionists, women suffrage, and women preachers both White and African, etc. Those on the other side that stuck with more Calvinistic theologies were not really too excited about these. In fact, even those on that side who were interested, subsequently gravitated to disinterest. Hmmm, perhaps theology may have something to do with this? Tsk, tsk....[end update]

Applying common sense hermeneutics to this issue, we will discuss the following questions:

  1. Does the rest of Scripture support this teaching?
  2. Does it contradict a MAJOR principle or doctrine?
  3. Are the gifts of the Spirit like preaching and teaching biased as to gender (like ONLY men can ever have those gifts)?
  4. Is this supported by experience? Golda Meir. Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Deborah the judge
  5. Is this a teaching of "righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees" or is the teaching in fact Pharisaical and legalistic, if not chauvinistic, partial and discriminatory.
  6. Does it serve to build character or build the church or does it promote the opposite? Discuss God's purpose in history,  rationality and consistent logic.
  7. Is the teaching spiritually Kingdom-minded or secularly feudal?
  8. To what extent is the New Testament the Word of God? The Apostle's teaching was mainly and primarily about doctrine and not about cultural do's and don'ts.


  1. Do you pastor a church? I'd love to know more about your public ministry, or do you only have a blog/online presence? If you prefer not to reveal your identity will you let me know if you are female or male, please? Thank you very much.
    God bless.

    1. Hi Sandy, I do have a public ministry as an Inductive Bible Study leader at CrossCulture in Pomona. We regularly hold body life fellowships including worship and Bible Study on Sundays at the Fairplex Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center from 3:00 pm to 7:00pm Sundays. I am male and I used to believe what folks like Alistair Begg believes. But I am contextually and logically convinced that such belief is based on faulty hermeneutics and ignoring Christian progress and cultural modernizations in history especially the anti-slavery movement, women suffrage and education. As you notice in the blog site we have no fear of censuring even popular doctrines if and when they contradict the nature, design and project of God as revealed in Scripture.

  2. Did this discussion die? I always look for what Jesus said in the Gospels. On the other hand, I wonder when the Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life he must mean he is the Holy Spirit that certainly comforts me. I wonder how the Holy Spirit influences other cultures. I can certainly see God in American Indian culture for example. I do like Alistair Begg but I take him along with all the other signals that God is giving to us. Love God and your neighbor as yourself are minimum requirements.

    1. Hi psmiley, no discussion in this blog is dead. It's just mostly no takers or no relevant comments. BTW, there are new blogs actually dealing with what Jesus said and meant and emphasized in the Gospels. So, please keep on reading and feel free to comment, positive or otherwise.

    2. As far as Jesus being the only way, Read Acts 4:12. If Christ is not the only way, then what purpose did he come to earth as man for? To confuse us with another religion? Keep the questions coming. Thanks.