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lindagray

Terminology

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Although much of the contemporary literature settles on the terms Complementarianism and Christian Egalitarianism, a number of other more pejorative terms are frequently encountered.

In Complementarian literature, the term "Christian feminism" is sometimes incorrectly used synonymously with "egalitarianism." For examples, see books by Wayne Grudem on the topic. Christian Egalitarians generally object to being labeled "feminist" or "evangelical feminist." Their belief in biblical equality is said to be grounded in the biblical teaching that all believers have been given authority in Christ. Conversely, feminist ideology is derived from cultural factors and philosophies. Christian Egalitarian author Rebecca Groothuis writes, "Like most cultural systems of thought, feminist ideology is partly true and partly false—almost entirely false at this point in history."

In Christian Egalitarian literature, the terms "gender traditionalist," "patriarchalist" and "hierarchicalist" are sometimes used with reference to Complementarians. The use of these terms in egalitarian literature is defended in Rebecca Merrill Groothuis and Ronald W. Pierce, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, IVP 2004, p. 17. "…it is probably most fitting to refer to those who believe in restricting leadership to men as simply advocates of male leadership, or patriarchalists… traditionalists… or hierarchicalists."

William J. Webb describes himself as a "complementary egalitarian." He defines this as "full interdependence and 'mutual submission' within marriage, and the only differences in roles are 'based upon biological differences between men and women'." He uses "Complementarianism" to describe what he calls "a milder form of the historical hierarchical view." Complementarian scholar Wayne A. Grudem objects to Webb's use of "complementary" and "egalitarian" together to describe a thoroughly egalitarian position. Calling the terminology "offensive and confusing," he reasons that doing so simply confuses the issues by using the term "complementary" for a position totally antithetical to what complementarians hold. Grudem finds Webb's use of the term "patriarchy" to be especially pejorative because of its connotations in modern society. He also rejects the term "hierarchicalist" because he says it overemphasizes structured authority while giving no suggestion of equality or the beauty of mutual interdependence.

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