I just came upon an article first published eleven years ago called “The Patriarchs are Coming! Why are they arriving on the scene and in our churches?” It was originally published by Christians for Biblical Equality and the link to it above is on Home Church Central. I am linking to it here because it is so prescient of what has happened since and because in the years since it was first written Vision Forum has become one of the leaders of this self-styled and self-identified patriarchy movement (if you have any question of that, see Vision Forum’s Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy). You should read the whole thing, but I’ll post some excerpts here:
Make ready for the inevitable oddity–the patriarchs are coming to church! But who is coming to church claiming such an epithet? In fact, the neopatriarchs who are now coming are those who identify with the ancient, old-order patriarchy. And why are they now arriving on the scene and in our churches? And what is their agenda, hidden or spoken?
The Truth about the Pursuit of Patriarchy
- Patriarchy, is not a biblical doctrine. Nowhere is patriarchy mandated by God, nor is it taught anywhere in the entire Bible. Neither is there a single verse in the New Testament linking patriarchy with believers in Christ. Any genuine “New Testament patriarchy” will have to be founded on more than inferences and conjectures from ideas of male “headship” or from texts such as 1 Tim. 2:12. The several New Testament verses about the patriarchs cited at the outset all point backwards to the early Hebrew religious patriarchy that was accommodated with the cultural/social patriarchy of the pagan nations.What the Scriptures do reveal about patriarchy is to describe it as a fallen structure, recording the critical predicament it created in the times of Old Testament accommodation: the daily dominance women suffered under male rulership, which hardened into a clearly inferior feminine status, the occasional equilibrium women and men attained within its influence, and the rare exceptions when women leaders transcended patriarchy’s protocol.
- Patriarchy is a hermeneutical quagmire. A fundamental hermeneutical rule forbids building a Christian doctrine based on a few texts. This is ignored when a “system of patriarchy” is built upon the New Testament churches’ foundation (cf. 1 Cor 3:10-11). There is, of course, the theological truth about Abraham, who “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Jas. 2:23). And this grace, Paul asserts, is the same also to “those who are of the faith of Abraham; he is the father of us all” (Rom. 4:3, 16; Gal. 3:6f.). In redemption’s progress, Abraham was the first to receive the fuller revelation of salvation by grace through faith, and so he is our spiritual “father” (patros) in the broad sense that we all receive that same grace in the same way. But Abraham is not our “patriarch” whom we follow into his “patriarchy.” It is his person of faith being emphasized, not his patriarchy, which has no relevance to our faith in Christ (cf. Heb. 11).
- Patriarchy is an ancient but contemporary dominion worldwide. There is no “doctrine of patriarchy” in the Hebrew Bible. However, the rationale for gender-specific domination is explicitly traced to the Pentateuch. From the Gen. 3:16 pronouncement that men are predisposed to dominate women, patriarchy survives and thrives in gender bondage worldwide. Although patriarchy took root and was nurtured within ancient religious systems, the socioreligious philosophy festers within national cultures and people groups everywhere in our world. Ominously, patriarchy has long been deeply integrated into the vast ecclesiastical confederations of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Moreover, partiarchal gender discrimination undergirds the sometimes volitle hierarchies of Islam and all other major religions, and most cultes. What is happening to the liberating good news of the gospel? And why are some “preaching a gospel other than the one we preached”? (Gal. 1:6-9). The neopatriarchs’ ambitions are based on unchristian hegemonic attitudes of masculine sovereignty which were instigated by the Evil One in the Fall. The encroaching phenomenon of “patriarchal Christian men” perceiving themselves in charge under God is a parody in Christ’s one body of absolute equals. Jesus prayed for his people “that they may be one as we are one.”