Heidelcast 178: Responding To Criticisms Regarding Ontology, Feminism, Nature, and Grace

With this episode (the second this week) I am interrupting the series, on eschatology and 1 Peter, As it Was In The Days Of Noah, for a brief reply to some comments recently made on another podcast. In this episode I play about 5 minutes of audio from that podcast, where the host and guest, raise a number of issues, and then I analyze their comments and reply to their critique. These comments touch on some difficult questions and their comments provide a good opportunity to work through the issues I raised in my essay (on which they are commenting) and to explain some important issues in Reformed theology, piety, and practice. I understand that when I write in public I am going to be criticized in public but I want to sure that there is no misunderstanding about what I am saying. The question before us is this: are there ontological differences between men and women? Is there is a hierarchy of being among men and women? By divine design there are natural differences but are those differences well described by using the category ontology? I doubt it. Along the way we end up discussing Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, nature and grace, and what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, to Timothy about ministers, elders, and deacons, and how to interpret Scripture (the clear interprets the less clear). Editor’s note: the guest on the podcast is question is Zachary Garris, not Morris. The Heidelcast regrets the error.



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Show Notes

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  1. This is probably the single best resource to explain what I have been thinking about for some time but, couldn’t articulate.
    I must add though, that the patriarchalists often confuse nature and revelation in my reading. Since the Bible tells wives to submit and not teach men, the patriarchalists extrapolate it to all areas of life. For many (largely Piper followers) submission becomes the largest, if not the only, factor in differentiating between men and women. As a result, these people have also argued a man submitting to a woman in whatever context are effeminate and women in any authority are masculine. This alleged role reversal is akin to homosexuality and transgenderism in many circles. Sounds bizarre, but I have seen this routinely argued or used as a trump card if one does not want to make hasty generalizations about men and women besides the obviously.

  2. It seems to be a straw man to criticize patriarchalism based on some of its advocates defending it on the basis of ontology. The ancient world up until the Industrial Revolution and modern technological society was patriarchal on the basis of nature. Whether we should still follow that pattern now is an open question. Stephen B. Clark reportedly attempts to answer that question in “Man and Woman in Christ.” There are very strong biological differences between male and female, particularly as it pertains to sexual selection (male-female pairing), that strongly undermine modern gender egalitarianism. Several secular authors have written much about this. For example, why are marriages where a man makes less than a woman so likely to end in divorce? Why do women find tall strong men more attractive than shorter, weaker ones?

    With that said, defending ontological differences between male and female is another useless derail. I don’t know how these men get down this rabbit hole. “God made man male and female after his own image.”

  3. Dr. Clark, thank you for the excellent explanation of the distinction between ontological and natural distinctions between genders. Another thought that was pointed out to me on this very discussion is that if we say that men and women are ontologically different, then would we not make the sacrifice of Christ of none effect for women? Since it was necessary for Jesus to be fully human to be the perfect sacrifice for human sinners (Gal 4:4-5), his humanity must have been ontologically equal for both men and women. If men and women are ontologically different, and Jesus was only ontologically male, then women would not be included in that important relationship and thus excluded from his propitiation.

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