So Dr. Scot McKnight is at it again with the issue of egalitarianism and complementarianism. This time, with the question of whether the complementarians or the egalitarians in the Evangelical world are the ones accommodating.
Strangely, McKnight lower-cases the term “evangelical” so one can assume that “evangelical” here either means to include us high churchers (an umbrella term I would use to describe Catholics, High Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians), or he means to use the term to describe the Evangelical movement within the Christianity and his lower-case term implies that high churchers are not truly “evangelical” (spreading the good news). I would assume he means the primary term. To which I am rather astounded as to why his posts on women in ministry does not take in any of the high church criticism of women in ministry. He instead focuses on the Evangelical criticism. Because of this, I think he actually means to state that high churchers are not truly “evangelical”. Whatever he means, I will just simply state (and if he reads this post, I would hope he takes this into account), that when he is referring to the Evangelical movement within the Christianity to capitalize this in the future. Otherwise, it sounds like you are calling high churchers not truly “evangelical” or are including high churchers into the mix even though you don’t honestly take high church criticism of women’s ordination into account in any of your posts.
McKnight talks about how the term complementarian initially was used by those who are now called egalitarians in the egalitarian-complementarian debate within the Evangelical movement. He cites Kevin Giles frequently. This, I’m not as concerned about. Let the Evangelicals figure this one out, I say. The way he concludes though is what bothers me. “Who’s accommodating now?” Well, if you pay attention to the overall history of the Church’s overall debate on this issue, what you will see is that it is arising from a culture that had women serving as vestal virgins (priestesses). As Met. Kallistos Ware has pointed out, “it is not correct to state that women were generally excluded from the priesthood in the ancient world” (“Man, Woman and the Priesthood of Christ”, Women and the Priesthood, 25). “In limiting the priesthood to men, the early Church–while remaining faithful to its Judaic inheritance–was going directly contrary to the general spirit of surrounding pagan society” (25).
Of course, for most in the Evangelical movement within Christianity, this objection may seem miniscule. We are all priests! And Catholics, High Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians would agree with this assessment. There is the priesthood of all the baptized, the sacrificial priesthood that administers the eucharist, and the high priesthood of Jesus. For high churchers though, the real question is whether or not a woman should be ordained. This question is something I wish Dr. McKnight would discuss interacting with a more high church position. But to ask the question, “Who’s accommodating now?” after presenting two arguments in an Evangelical circle is to exclude a major segment of Christianity. It is to exclude the most ancient sectors of Christianity. It also deliberately leaves out the factor of the religious culture that Christianity emerged from. As Met. Ware notes, there were women were not generally excluded from the priesthood in the ancient world. This was counter-cultural at the time. For some Evangelicals, the sacrament of holy orders really matters not. But for Catholics and Orthodox at the very least, without the sacrament of holy orders, there can be no valid eucharist. I feel that McKnight’s post today on the issue of women in ministry excludes more ancient forms of the Christian faith. On what basis though I wonder. Certainly, the ancient variations of the faith are in fact evangelical and he talks about evangelicals in his post. They would not be Evangelical but they are evangelical.