Critiquing the Left—And the Right

Critiquing the Left—And the Right

We commended Darrin Patrick’s new book Church Planter before, but here’s a particular word for the preface, titled “Why Focus on Men?” It may be one of the best short articles on biblical manhood now available.

Below are a couple paragraphs that give the flavor of Patrick’s even-handed perspective—an approach that critiques both the left and the right, and thus steers clear of both the liberal and conservative errors.

These sentences won’t sit well with the left:

The persons of the Trinity are equal, but there is, nevertheless, submission within the Godhead by the Son and by the Spirit to the Father. My interpretation of this divine deference is that submission is a characteristic of a healthy relationship. Submission indicates a pervasive humility and mutual trust that orients the partners in relationship. Submission is good and requires not only that one person submits but that one assumes the leadership role. God, in his wisdom, has placed the man in the leadership role, both in the family and in the church. And the character-shaping work that God wants to do in husbands, pastors, and fathers will be done in the context of the leadership role (16).

And here’s a word of challenge and admonishing for the right:

There is absolutely no indication in Scripture that gender plays any role in God’s sovereign distribution of spiritual gifts. It is troubling that those who love the Bible tend to focus on what women can’t do instead of what they can do. The focus, unfortunately, is on the restriction rather than on empowerment. In general, complementarian churches have done a deplorable job of equipping and empowering women to use their God-given gifts in the church. I believe women can use any gift that God has given them in the church and that only the office of elder is reserved for men. This may seem paradoxical, but I think it is biblical (15).

May Jesus give us the grace to stand in the gospel center, and not mishandle the Bible, and its applications, to either the liberal left or the conservative right.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.