Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles

Kathy Keller,
Zondervan, 2012.
Peter Barnes

Kathy Keller (wife of Tim) records her experience of gender roles at Redeemer Presbyterian Church: “Over the years sexuality and gender, as well as personal choices in these areas, have been at the top of our list of topics that provoke outrage, tears, shouting, and disappointment.” In fact, “one woman told me tearfully when she learned Redeemer did not ordain women as elders or pastors, ‘It was like finding out that your fiancé is a child molester!’.” The subject has certainly made for drama and melodrama. authority.

Mrs Keller has written quite a helpful little book on this subject. However, on one of the key texts, 1 Timothy 2:11-12, she is unconvincing in seeing it as prohibiting authoritative teaching rather than teaching and having authority.

She considers it as parallel in some ways to “It’s good and cold outside today” or “The baby was snuggled up nice and cozy in the crib”. In this she follows James Hurley’s otherwise very compelling work. The Redeemer view is that “anything that an unordained man is allowed to do, a woman is also allowed to do”. I suppose that depends whether Redeemer allows an unordained man to preach.

She mocks what she calls “the imaginary heresy of eternal subordination within the Trinity”, and claims that no complementarian has ever espoused such a thing. This is less than accurate, as there are many Trinitarians who think there is a functional subordination in the Trinity. This has implications for 1 Corinthians 11:3. This is useful, but not the last word on the subject – assuming there is to be one!

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