What Piper said … really
The one post that I found to contain the most information on what John Piper said about Christianity having a “masculine feel” is by a woman defending Piper. Peta took the time to post extensive excerpts from Piper’s recent series on masculinity and church leadership in her reply to Rachel Held Evans. Thank you, Peta. I recommend that anyone who wants to rebut Piper start here.
I have taken one of his lesser publicized passages to respond to. According to Peta, “In commenting specifically on the style of preaching involved in his ideal ministry Piper says again:”
Again the point is not that a woman is not able to speak this way. The point is that godly men know intuitively, by the masculine nature implanted by God, that turning the hearts of men and women to God with that kind of authoritative speaking is the responsibility of men. And where men handle it with humility and grace, godly women are glad.
My sense is that much of Piper’s argument is based on male intuition. He intuitively feels that authoritative speaking is the responsibility of men. Of course, women are glad when men handle authority with humility and grace. Of course! But is turning the hearts of men and women to God with authoritative speaking the responsibility of men? This is the role of the prophet and wise person in the scriptures. Who are these people?
First, the authors of written text are for the most part men. But if we dip into the narrative, women are represented. Authoritative speaking by female prophets include Deborah, Huldah, Anna, Mary, Philip’s daughters and any other true prophet who was a woman. But some say that authoritative speaking was the role of judge and leader, not prophet. That still leaves Deborah.
But we find another class of persons rarely refered to who speak from God and give advice that is to be followed. This is the wise man or wise woman. (It is very odd that in Biblegateway, there is a search title for “wise man” but not for “wise woman” although there are just as many wise women as wise men.) Here are the wise women. In 2 Samuel 14, Joab has a wise woman approach King David and intercede for Absolom. In 2 Samuel 20, a wise woman demands to speak to Joab and gives advice to “all the people.” The wise woman also features in Proverbs. Another woman who speaks with authority is Esther.
For men, among those refered to in the context of wise men, there is Joseph and Daniel. Solomon was wise but was seduced by women and riches. Moses and Aaron shared leadership, since neither one of them possessed the necessary attributes of authoritative leadership by themselves. We don’t know what role Miriam played, but she also seems to have been necessary to the maintenance of full leadership for Israel.
I find John Piper’s appeal to male intuition fascinating. I can’t even argue against it. It is what it is, a religion based on male intuition that Christianity ought to have a masculine feel. Put that against the often female-led Salvation Army, an organization of aggressive Christianity, a vehicle for Catherine Booth authoritatively addressing men regarding issues of vice and dishonour. She did not base her ministry on female intuition, but basic human need for women to be given protection and respect by other women and by the law, and on the scripture. My sense is that Catherine Booth would want to protect women from the “masculine feel.”