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).

10 thoughts on “Rules of Engagement

  1. When I saw that Jeff Robinson originally wrote these, I almost fell backwards in my chair. Robinson has written some of the most ridiculous and one sided hit pieces on the TNIV I really have to call into question his exegetical honesty. I would never trust anything this guy writes.

  2. All the guiding principles are squat if you don’t follow them. Mine are something like

    1. Be humble.
    2. Be diligent.

    If anyone (myself included) can actually follow those, it’s rare and they have my admiration.

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