Rules of Engagement

The Gender Blog has written a post on some “rules of engagement” that they think every Christian should follow:

  1. If I find something with which I cannot agree, I am wrong.
  2. If I find something which I cannot understand, I am wrong to judge it on that account. Here Lyons gives an unforgettable quote from the great D.M. Lloyd-Jones: “You have a very small brain and you have a very poor spirit within you; do not be surprised that you cannot understand.”
  3. If I find something which would contradict the clear teaching of Scripture elsewhere, I cannot be right.
  4. If I find something which would slander the revealed character of God, I am certainly wrong.
  5. If I find something which brings up an apparent contradiction, I am wrong not to face it squarely.
  6. If I find something which leads to a summary principle, I am wrong if I do not follow it to its conclusion.
  7. If I find something which disturbs my settled convictions, I am wrong to dismiss it on that account.
  8. If I find something which calls for decisive action and I remain inert, I am fatally wrong.
  9. If I find something which I dare not follow in its practical drift, I am destructively wrong.
  10. If I find something which others blush to admit or struggle to avoid, I am unwise to follow them at that point. A great quote from Calvin: “The delicacy of those who affect an appearance of greater prudence than the Holy Spirit in removing or resolving difficulties, is quite intolerable.”
  11. If I find something upon which popular religion frowns, I may presume I am on the right track. C.H. Spurgeon famously said, “Be assured there is nothing new in theology except that which is false.”
  12. If I find something which would tend to humble man and glorify God, I am most probably right.

Unfortunately, they’ve forgotten rule 13, which everyone already does follow (unfortunately without awareness typically):

13. If I find a text in scripture that doesn’t fit with another text of scripture then I go with the one I like and explain away the other.

We like to pretend that we don’t do this. But we do it all the time – both Complementarians, Egalitarians, and every other theological debate. The irony is that when both sides follow #13 – and they typically do, they accidentally break #5.*

There’s a tension that we don’t like between Galatians 3:28 and passages like 1 Cor 14:34-35 that both side pretend (often unknowingly) doesn’t exist.

* To be honest, I also find these twelve rules overly simplistic and almost naive as if we can understand and interpret scripture so obnoxiously mechanically (e.g. on #6, what one person calls a “summary principle,” another person may very well call bad exegesis).