Confusion over gender roles in the church is anything but a phenomenon peculiar to postmodern America
Confusion over gender roles in the church is anything but a phenomenon peculiar to postmodern America.
The churches of Norway are also struggling to recover traditional biblical role definitions that put men and women in their biblically-ordained places.
Last month, Randy Stinson and Pete Schemm of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) lectured at Norsk Laererakademi—a seminary of over 600 students with an entirely complementarian faculty—on issues of gender roles in the church.
“The failure of the church in Norway to stand firm on the biblical view of men and women has produced the same devastating results as it has in the U.S.,” said Stinson, CBMW executive director.
“In fact, the lectures are all being translated into English because nearly all of the content and application will transfer immediately to the US culture and challenges we are facing here.”
Thomas Bjerkholt, a Norway pastor who organized the CBMW lectures, confirmed that complementarianism has fallen on hard times among Norway’s churches.
“The situation is very similar to what happens in the USA,” he said. “Many churches go for an egalitarian theology. The complementarian view is pushed back. We were very happy to listen to lectures of very high academic standard.”
Schemm, CBMW member and professor of Christian theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, lectured on Trinitarian theology as it relates to gender and also unpacked the historical Christian view of Galatians 3:28. Egalitarians typically use the Galatians verse to defend such notions as female pastors.
Schemm said it was clear that conservative scholars in both Norway and America speak a common language: that of holy Scripture.
“When serious Bible students come to the original biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic), no matter what their native tongue, they often end up with the same conclusions,” Schemm said.
“This was the case as one Norwegian scholar argued for the significance of male headship in the epistles of Paul. To hear a person do biblical exposition in another language while working from the Greek New Testament strongly affirmed my belief in the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God.
“The language of the text was communicated more clearly than the Norwegian translator was even able to relay. It has been quite some time since I have sensed the powerful authority of the Word of God as I did on this trip.”
Though the situation in both Norwegian and American churches sometimes appears bleak, Stinson says he was encouraged by the unity forged with the Norwegian scholars through an honest, straight-forward reading of Scripture on gender issues.
“The encouraging thing for me was to see that when believers in two separate countries, half way around the world from one another, simply come to the text of Scripture and humbly ask, `What does the text say,’ there is no other position at which one can reasonably arrive, other than the complementarian position,” Stinson said.
Conference lectures will soon be available at new.cbmw.org.
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