By Elizabeth Prata
I was saved in around January 2004. For 18 months I followed Joel Osteen, until I got a Bible that is. In mid-2006 I moved to Georgia and began attending church, and was baptized.
Since then, the acceleration of false teachers populating the faith and their numerous public implosions, seem to be accelerating. Even previously solid-seeming platformed teachers and theologians are falling like dominoes.
I used to listen to Reformation 21’s Mortification of Spin Podcast with Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt, and Aimee Byrd. I’m not a huge fan of listening to women, I prefer men, but I was pleased that the so-named “Housewife Theologian” was able to speak on theological issues in a roundtable with men. ‘Good for her’ I’d thought. ‘If she has time away from family to do that.’
Aimee wrote as to why she wrote her book Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary and joined the podcast in 2013, “Much of my blogging speaks to why it matters to know the true God and what hinders our growth in this in our own church culture.”
Initial reviews of her first book were good:
Jodi Ware at TGC wrote, She evidences how thinking rightly about God and his revelation strengthens and directs women in their particular roles of wife, mother, and homemaker; though, gratefully, much of what she writes also applies to women in other circumstances and in different stages of life. ~Housewife Theologian: How the Gospel Interrupts the Ordinary, 2013.
Downgrades have always happened, they’re cyclical. “Church history is a series of cycles. You can see what’s going to happen by knowing what happened before.” ~Phil Johnson.
But does it seem to you like it does to me that the downgrades, controversies, falling pastors, teachers exposed as false, whole ministries disqualifying themselves, is happening at an ever increasing rate? It seems to me it’s speeding up.
So in 2013 Aimee Byrd appeared suddenly when her blog got noticed, was put on a podcast, wrote a book, seemingly solid in 2013, but by May 2020 she was gone. Seven years for her arc to appear, crest, and crash. What happened?
Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is what happened, Byrd’s 2020 published book where she rejected complementary roles for women, confused the lines between biblical masculinity and biblical femininity, insinuated patriarchal abuse, and more. The book was an outward evidence of her inward drift.
Her drift and new feminist-ish stances upset many. Her book sparked many questions, some of them put onto a lengthy list by Greenville Seminary President Dr. Jonathan Master, published at Reformation 21 titled “Questions for Aimee“.
Byrd replied to Dr. Master at Reformation 21 somewhat wide-eyed innocently that she was ‘a bit perplexed’ by Master’s questions, saying “I wrote a book highlighting how a contemporary movement has damaged the way that we disciple men and women in the church, focusing on the way we read scripture, the way we view discipleship, and our responsibilities to one another.“
No. No, it wasn’t. Most people could see that.
Either Byrd didn’t see it, failing to pay close enough attention to her own drift (Hebrews 2:1), she was cunningly masking it (2 Corinthians 11:15), or she knew exactly what she was doing (Galatians 2:4).
The Council for Manhood & Womanhood was not perplexed with Byrd, but a bit perturbed. The Council knew, as Andy Naselli wrote, that “For the past several years on her podcast and blog, Byrd has been criticizing the version of complementarianism that leaders such as John Piper teach.” They weren’t blindsided at Byrd’s drift, but perhaps they were surprised at the now public level of her rejection of male-female roles. Andy Naselli wrote at the Council that the premise of Byrd’s book was that “Byrd argues that “biblical manhood and womanhood” is not all biblical. A lot of it is unbiblical. A lot of it is based on cultural stereotypes that wrongly restrict women and thus prevent them from flourishing.“
In June of 2020, a month after her book hit the shelves like a bombshell, Aimee Byrd still maintained at Reformation 21 that she was writing about ‘just discipling’, “There are some fundamental differences in the lens CBMW writers and I use in understanding men and women. Also, “I take a look at some of these to see how the female voice functions in Scripture, often telling the story behind the story, making visible the invisible.“
If a person is telling a story not in the Bible, then it’s made-up and based on man’s – er – woman’s biases/philosophies/ideas… Right? Right.
Do you see feminism on the horizon? Or even closer? Many did. Shortly after her book’s publication and the public back-and-forth on blogs etc, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, which sponsored the Reformation 21 podcast, released Byrd from their cadre of contributors. They wrote:
This post is motivated by the recent action of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Board of Directors to part ways with our long time contributor, Aimee Byrd. Those asked to leave have one thing in common; they have caused our audience to respond in a largely negative way. They have caused other contributors to either speak up, to sit out, or to leave altogether. And these situations often and recently have kept other contributors from joining us. Yet it must be a conversation, a two-way dialogue, and done so graciously. When that is not possible, when contributors will not or cannot define or defend what they believe, continuing together is no longer viable.
The firestorm heated up, naturally, with more militant feminists insisting that Byrd’s release was either due to cyberbullying (Julie Roys’ contention), or that Byrd’s dismissal was due to the fact that the patriarchy is threatened by strong women. (Rachel Green Miller’s contention). Byrd herself countered that she was targeted, underwent spiritual abuse, and was subjected to ‘misogyny’. She insisted she was complementarian, perfectly satisfied with the distinction between male and female roles.
But… if a person is a complementarian inside a complementarian camp, they are not a “threat”, are they? If a person is complementarian, why would they need rebukes? If their biblical orientation of male and female roles was orthodox, why dismiss her from a podcast hosted by two other men who are also orthodox in their biblical views of male and female roles?
It’s a case of speaking out of two sides of the mouth. On the one side, words come out that are supposed to quell the waves of concern, and on the other, words that stir up the waves in the first place. Most people only listen to one side of the mouth of the double speakers. But if you’re ‘inside the camp’, you don’t part ways with same-believing folks.
When Byrd’s book came out in 2020, Denny Burk said of Byrd,
“I predict arguments like Byrd’s will prove over time to be a briefly held way-station on the movement from narrow complementarianism to egalitarianism. Readers who do not wish to take that journey should be cautious about Byrd’s book.” ~Denny Burk.
Well he nailed it. People with discernment see the markers of the slide much earlier than others, and alert the church to them. This month, we see that Aimee Byrd is preaching. Byrd has gone from way-station to terminus.
Colin Smothers at the council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wrote this month of Byrd’s slide downward,
From the article above: The reason Byrd’s article from 2013 is suddenly relevant today is because this week, in an apparent reversal from the position she once articulated, Aimee Byrd preached her first Sunday morning sermon…
But what is new is Aimee Byrd’s position on preaching, which was on display this past Sunday. How she squares her new position with 1 Timothy 2:12 is yet to be seen. As Andy Naselli pointed out in his excellent review of her 2020 book, 1 Timothy 2:12 is conspicuously absent from Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which she wrote as a trenchant critique of CBMW’s ministry. CBMW was formed in 1987 to help the church faithfully live out verses such as 1 Timothy 2:12, and to not ignore them.
It is of course sad that people drift from the Rock, and if unchecked, drift into deep waters of sin. But the Hebrews verse is pointed, and applicable to each and every person, you and me included.
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every violation and act of disobedience received a just punishment, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:1-3).
What happens when we do not pay attention? Aimee Byrd is what happens. A very public, and very sad, implosion. But make no mistake! This could happen to any one of us, me included! Drift is an ever-present warning. Our flesh is so strong. We underestimate how strong. Add to that, God put the usurping curse on us (Genesis 3:16). So while it is sad that Aimee Byrd is now usurping the pulpit, hers is an object lesson for all of us. Do not neglect so great a salvation. We will want to, we will sometimes, but pray to the Spirit of God to draw us back. And if we still neglect it, and still drift happily away from the object of our love and devotion, and cease reading His word as our anchor, pray the Spirit will yank us back. Yes, it’s unpleasant when He does that, but it is for the glory of God above all, and our good. Where Byrd landed is the rocks of usurpation and the reefs of feminism. We need to remain under the wings of love.
For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. Psalm 63:7.