At least for me. During my own time within the egalitarian CRC, it always seemed to me that the ordination issue was a battle between the culturalists who wanted men to know the world is flat and those who wanted women to know their place. There was very little room at the table for those unprepared to cast their lot behind either. But so it goes in a less-than-doctrinalist denomination. And so it is warming to read Trueman’s insights here about the curiosities of setting aside matters that historically have divided and putting in their place those that haven’t.
Given that the issue of complementarianism is raising its head over at The Gospel Coalition, it provides an opportunity to reflect on an issue that has always perplexed me: why is the complementarian/egalitarian debate such a significant bone of contention in parachurch cobelligerent organisations whose stated purpose is to set aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel? Why, for instance, is this issue of more importance than, say, differences over baptism or understandings of the Lord’s Supper? Historically and confessionally, those have been the issues that divide, so it is strange to see the adjective ‘confessional’ applied to movements which actually sideline the very doctrinal differences which made Protestant confessions necessary in the first place…I am simply not sure why it is such a big issue in organisations whose stated purpose is basic co-operation for the propagation of the gospel and where other matters of more historic, theological and ecclesiastical moment are routinely set aside. If you want simply to unite around the gospel, then why not simply unite around the gospel? Because as soon as you decide that issues such as baptism are not part of your centre-bounded set but complementarianism is, you will find yourself vulnerable to criticism — from both right and left — that you are allowing a little bit of the culture war or your own pet concerns and tastes to intrude into what you deem to be the most basic biblical priorities.