28 June, 2008

Childbirth: A Work of Salvation According to Bruce Ware

Bruce Ware recently spoke at the Denton Bible Church as part of a series on Complimentarianism. Some of his quotes from this sermon should make us all wake up and consider what some of these SBTS professors and others are really teaching our next generation of pastors. Frankly, I have been concerned for sometime what Russell Moore, Wayne Gruden and CBMW have been teaching about women and their ‘role’.

For the sake of clarity, here is a link to the podcast of Ware’s sermon: DBC’s podcast.

When referencing 1 Timothy 2, Ware said a woman "shall be saved in childbearing," by teaching that the word translated as "saved" always refers to eternal salvation.

He goes on:

"It means that a woman will demonstrate that she is in fact a Christian, that she has submitted to God's ways by affirming and embracing her God-designed identity as--for the most part, generally this is true--as wife and mother, rather than chafing against it, rather than bucking against it, rather than wanting to be a man, wanting to be in a man's position, wanting to teach and exercise authority over men," Ware said. "Rather than wanting that, she accepts and embraces who she is as woman, because she knows God and she knows his ways are right and good, so she is marked as a Christian by her submission to God and in that her acceptance of God's design for her as a woman."

My friend at undermuchgrace calls this an addition to the five solas. The sixth is Ware’s own “sola gravita”

Of course, Ware will tell us that is not what he means... that woman are saved by bearing children (staying in their role)... but where else could this teaching possibly lead us? He gives himself an out if the ‘works’ heat becomes too great from fellow Baptists with these words in the first sentence: --for the most part, generally this is true—

Who gets to decide if the woman has submitted to God’s ways or not? And where is the comparable work of salvation for a man?

Oh, I know many will say we did not understand Ware and we are misquoting him but those are his words. But I have been reading Ware, Moore, Grudem and CBMW for a while now and I happen to know this is exactly where they are headed: Full blown Patriarchy. I really do believe that they have made 'authority' and submission an idol. Even within the Trinity.

My dear ones, there is NO work of salvation for women. It is free but the blood was NOT cheap. There are no specific ‘roles’ for women because a role is something you ‘play’ or ‘pretend to be’. To be saved is to be in Christ. As Paul said: To “live” is Christ.

Just look around you and ask yourself if this could possibly be the right interpretation of this verse. We have drug addicts giving birth to children they do not want. We have deeply spiritual woman who cannot have children and are so very wounded over that lack in their lives.

What Ware is teaching is not only false but cruel. God designed it so that fallen humans, saved or not, pro-create. It is an immutable law, like gravity, that affects the saved and the unsaved alike. To link salvation to a ‘work’ of childbirth is an insidious twisting of God’s Holy Word.

If you are interested in a scholarly look at this passage in the context of the entire book of 1 Timothy, please go here for a verse by verse exegesis. Cheryl Schatz has done some very intensive research on this and other issues. I highly recommend her DVD series: Women in Ministry: Silenced or Set Free. Here are some links to previews on youtube.

As always, be a Berean in all things and pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate His Truth to you as you read His precious Word. My our Lord correct me if I have gotten anything wrong.

But one thing I know for sure: Salvation cannot be earned. But, as my friend Bob reminded me: It costs you your life.

Other blogs discussing this sermon:
Suzanne's Bookshelf
DennyBurke- Be sure and read the comments. Some have not been deleted…yet.
Jim West


Bob Cleveland said...

Dr. Ware demonstrates once again that one can be highly educated, fairly smart, and still say some really stupid things.

And as for salvation being free, when I read Romans 10:9-10, I'm led to believe that salvation costs me my life. If I don't give Him that.. and I mean in a very real way, then I don't get it.

Lin said...

Good point, Bob. I guess I should rephrase that to mean what I was trying to convey. I cannot earn it. Even by giving birth.

oren said...

I think that you are grossly misconstruing Ware's words. As many hermeneutics books say: context, context, context! Having read many of Ware's books and articles, it is clear that he does NOT hold to any form of synergistic salvation (just read his chapter on unconditional election published by Broadman & Holman). Rather, the proper living out of the woman's role(s) is a demonstration that she is saved. This also applies to the man and his designed role by God, namely, to lead, love, and protect as Christ does the church. This is not harsh headship, but loving, servant-hearted, Christ-like headship (cf. Eph. 5:22-33). Ware strongly affirms that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. But this does not mean that works have no part in our salvation. Works are not the basis of our salvation, but they are necessary as evidence of genuine saving faith )cf. Phil. 2:12-13).

Lin said...

Oren, thanks for commenting.

I have been reading/listening to Ware and Russell Moore for years and am well aware of what they teach about women's role in marriage and the church. I completely understand their 'context' of this issue which is not the same as scriptural context.

I gave a link to Ware's teaching on this passage. Problem is, this passage has nothing to do with women having children. It is a reference to the seed that would come through Eve in Genesis 3 and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Ware's teaching is man centered and puts a husband in the place of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the marriage. I say this because I read what he writes and teaches about on the subject of men and women in marriage.

oren said...

Lin - thanks for your kind response. I agree that in one sense God has provided a Savior through the seed of the woman (i.e., Eve), but in the context Paul's point is also broader (notice the change in preposition from "she" to "they" in v. 15).

On your other point, if Ware can be charged with anything it is not being man-centered! Just read his 2 books, God's Lesser Glory and God's Greater Glory. It is Scripture that makes the corrolation between the example of Christ and the man's role in the home and in the church (1 Cor. 11; Eph. 5). Men do not replace Christ and the Holy Spirit; rather, men seek by the Spirit to imitate Christ and his relationship to his bride, the Church.

Lin said...

"in the context Paul's point is also broader (notice the change in preposition from "she" to "they" in v. 15)."

When "gune" and 'aner" are used together in Greek it almost always refers to a husband and wife and fits this context. Being saved by childbearing fits NO context that has anything to do with Jesus Christ in the Word. Not even in the sense of sanctification. Bruce Ware is teaching it as a work of salvation even though he gives himself an 'out' that it does NOT apply to every woman.

Also, Paul, In 1 Tim 1 was writing about false teachers in the plural until he comes to 'A WOMAN' and it becomes singular Greek. Why? Why not keep it plural if it relates to all women for all time? Because he is talking about ONE woman who is teaching false doctrine (probably to her husband) and Paul understands that she is deceived out of ignorance (like describes himself in chap 1) and not teaching false doctrine on purpose like Hy and Al who he 'names'. He names names with those who are teaching it on purpose but is compassionate toward those who are deceived out of ignorance. He gives a declarative permission statement when he says: Let her Learn in quietness and submission. This is how students learned back then.

Again, there is a wonderful verse by verse expostion of entire passage in a link in my post.

Ware can write a hundreds books but because of what he teaches consistently on this subject yet on 'authority' he is 'man-centered'. One can have incorrect doctrine in one area and not the other. But he is well known for his teachings on the 'pre fall' account that have to be READ INTO the account. Like others at CBMW, he wrongly interprets "ezer" and "teshuqua" in Genesis 3.

You are probably not aware that he also teaches that a woman is NOT made in the 'direct image' of God...but in the 'indirect image' of God. She is a 'derivitave' of man. Ware has read a lot into the pre-fall creation account that is NOT there. Not only is he reading INTO the creation account but he is ignoring Genesis 1.

For some reason, like some others in Christendom today, he focuses quite a bit on 'authority'. Who has authority. Why they should have authority. Submission for wives and women and 'laity' in church, etc. You may agree with that but I find it idolatry not only because it seems to be a favorite subject by too many but also because scripture focuses on servant hood not lording it over others. Not on who is in charge over others in the Body. It focuses on submission to one another...not lording it over. It focuses on servanthood NOT rulership. I have an excellent exegesis on the misapplication of some misinterpreted 'rule' verses on the sidebar of my blog.

If there is going to be a focus that is man-centered, let it be on the Beatitudes.

Blessings to you.

BTW: I believe completely in the inerrancy of scripture. Just not in the inerrancy of the translators. :o)

Kathleen F. said...

Lin, you've articulated well some of the problems with that passage of Scripture, and how modern CBMW types like Ware have erred in the handling of Bible texts. Context IS everything.

From what I've experienced in an FIC/homeschooling church, I got the distinct impression that many couples there have fallen for CBMW's papal bulls, like Ware's. Some live their family lives with these types of teachings (Ware, Vision Forum, Gothard) and can get rather ruffled if you suggest the Bible teaches otherwise.

Lin said...

Kate, We are headed toward Rome. Never thought I would live to see the day the SBC would sanction such a thing.