Dr. Danny Akin On the Theology of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, SEBTS, May 2019

Cody Libolt
For the New Christian Intellectual
20 min readJun 8, 2019


Transcript — Dr. Danny Akin On the Theology of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, SEBTS, May 2019

Audio available at:


NOTE: This is a first draft of a transcript. I have not noted who was speaking at what time. Most of the speaking is Danny Akin. For now, please refer to the audio recording (linked above) to check voices. If anyone has time to make some highlights to show Akin vs. other voices, I can add that.

You could riff on that or you could riff on-

Let me pick on, or draw from one of the primary authors and architects of Danvers and that’s Wayne Grudem.

Okay. Just so you know, we just finished walking through the rationale and the affirmations of the Danvers statement literally moments ago.

Grudem back in about ’95 or ’96, I don’t know what the issues were that precipitated this, but some questions came up again as to what was the intent of Danvers? What were they trying to do and what were they trying not to do.


And basically he argues for a big-tent understanding of Danvers and says that what we were making plain and not negotiable, is one: ontological equality between men and women, that’s not up for any sort of debate or any sort of question. Secondly, that the boundaries are drawn in terms of headship in the home, headship of the church as the body in elders. So in other words, let’s just jump real deep into it.

Is what Beth Moore did a couple weeks ago outside of Danvers? I don’t think so. Now I don’t agree with it. She would not preach from-

For people who don’t know what you are referring to.

Who doesn’t know what I am referring to? Wow. Okay.

So just the short version.

Short version is a few weeks ago on Twitter, Beth says: Preaching at such-in-such — preaching on Sunday March 8, shhh don’t tell anybody. Absurd.


Which is stupid. And let me quickly add, I consider Beth, not a very close friend but friend. Unlike some of my friends-


I don’t think she’s a demon. I don’t think she’s of the devil and I’m actually very grateful for her. I think God has used her significantly over the last 15 to 20 years. I don’t see obviously see eye-to-eye with her on everything, but I’m grateful for her.

You’re not mad at her.

No. I think she said something dumb. And I think she was trying to kind of dig a bit and that’s just not helpful. Not helpful to people like me,

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

-who wants to advocate a kinder, gentler, complementarianism. I don’t ask the first question, what is it that woman can’t do? I ask the different question, what is it that woman can do, and I think they can do a lot.

We’ve had the scriptures draw a very clear, hard line at the office of the elder. A woman cannot be an elder, she simply cannot fulfill that office and be faithful to scripture. I have much more respect for people that say, this is what Paul said and Paul was wrong than for people will say, well you know he didn’t really mean that. No he really did mean that in 1 Timothy 2 and 3 and Titus 1. Just the whole flow of scripture has an understanding of equality in essence but difference in assignment.

All right.

So I don’t think what she did puts her outside of Danvers. So do I think what J.D. has written puts him outside of Danvers?

You don’t think what Beth did in preaching-

She would still say I do not believe a woman can be an elder.

Okay, but she — would she see herself as



She would certainly see herself as a Complementarian. I am now becoming aware of the fact that there are conversations going on among women in leadership positions in the SBC, that want to push a little bit on the aspects of Danvers. Now they will be very clear, we are Complementarians, we do not believe we can be heads of our homes, we do not believe we can be elders of the church. But I think, for example Jen Wilkins thinks, that one of the affirmations at least could be understood to affirming that all women are to in some ways to submit themselves to all men on certain levels and certain contexts, which I don’t think it says that. I think that would be a misrepresentation of it. It certainly would go beyond the intent.

Although, sometimes when you hear Grudem talk and you hear Piper talking, those are the two main architects of Danvers, there are others who had input, but they’re the two men- just like Keller and Carson are the two main architects of the Gospel Coalition, they were the main architects of Danvers.

Piper can sometimes say some pretty interesting, I think even irresponsible things, he will take implications of male headship to a place I wouldn’t go.


And so-

Can I ask you a question about that? Do you think that in the natural order outside of home and church, in say civic context or societal order, that there is a natural law that’s at work between male and female in general? Not that every woman would submit to every man, I’m not saying that, i think that goes beyond Danvers.

And scripture.

And scripture. I agree with that. Do you think that there is a natural God-given order that will appear in different relationships and in different ways?

Yes but I think that’s fuzzy and that is not a space where I would want to drive down a stake and exclude someone in terms of fellowship. So for example, she’s dead now, but if the equivalent to Margaret Thatcher were alive today in America, could I, would I vote for her for President? In a heart beat, ten-thousand times over the President we have in the White House right now. You betcha I’d want to. Certainly over anyone in the

Democratic Party. I could never vote for Pro-choice candidate under any circumstances that impacts the way they look at… it’s not just… I’m not a single issue person, but it is going to of necessity impact the way we think about other things.

So I don’t see — I don’t find anything in the bible — where it says that a woman cannot be king or a queen, or a prime-minister, or president.

A civic leader.

I don’t see it impacting that.

Where I don’t, and this is again preference, I don’t thinks it’s smart to have women referees for NBA basketball games, or a woman coach for a bunch of guys, but flip it. I don’t think you should have a man be a referee for woman’s basketball and I think it much wiser to have a woman as the basketball coach for female teams.

Now that’s a wisdom issue. I can’t give you chapter and verse. Kind of comes back to what we were saying. I do think there is embedded in certain ways certain kinds of-

A more ideal setting.

But when we come back to our [inaudible 00:08:17] or let’s go back in history, would I rule out WA Criswell? Criswell was outside of Danvers. He talks about his wife teaching co-ed bible studies for over 50 years at First Dallas. No. I think it was unwise.

I think it was probably even, and it’s difficult if I say that. I just say that and I don’t it was the truest expression of what the scriptures teach about what women do. In other words, I don’t have a problem with a woman teaching in a- pick the context- and women could exceptionally, but not normally. So if Lottie Moon were alive today, would I allow her to come to my church and speak on a Sunday morning? I would. But she wouldn’t be there every Sunday in the authoritative position of teaching elders.

Or even in an ongoing position. No.

Now if someone said now you can’t do that, okay, I actually respect that and understand why they go there.

Who wouldn’t want Lotti to speak on a Sunday morning?

Uh where do you want me to start? Al Mohler? (Chuckles across the classroom.) He’s harder on this than I am. Now does that keep us from being best friends? No. We’ve been working together for eight years? No. In having-

Would you make a distinction between teaching and preaching? Or preaching and prophesying?

See that’s a quagmire, what in the world is prophecy in 1 Corinthians 11?

We were hoping you could come by and actually answer-

I wish I did know the answer to that. It might make some of these conversations easier.

What I do know without any question, is that women were allowed to speak in certain contexts and in certain ways when the body was gathered. That’s clear. Don’t tell me 1 Corinthians 11 is not talking about what was going on in the gathered body. They certainly can pray in public and I would extrapolate out that they could read scripture in public, they could bare testimony in public. Can they do that and say take your bible and turn… and start exegeting the text? I begin getting uncomfortable with that. I do. I think JD would even say, and certainly others as well, when a woman does that she certainly is fulfilling (is how I would argue — It’s a good argument…) she’s fulfilling the function of an elder. And to make a distinction between office and function is a false dichotomy and

I can certainly appreciate that.


So that’s why again, would I invite Beth to come in and preach? I would not. That may be unwise.

So coming back and weighing very clearly in ’95 and ’96 that we intentionally kind of created the boundaries for the faith, I believe that is comes back to any of our confessions, I believe more than is in Danvers. Nothing less than what’s in Danvers. I will trust (inaudible) engage my brothers and sisters in respectful conversations, and try to persuade one another that this is a more true understanding of the bible and Danvers and I’m good with that.

What happens unfortunately in our day-in-age, I was talking to my four sons, the recruitment app that five of us are on makes their mother madder than a wet hen. She says I’ve birthed the four of you all.

How am I not in the club.

But our thing what we want to talk about, we don’t know that. We talk about sports and talk about like last night we got into a thing, have you seen the Ken Copeland interview on Inside Edition? The lady walks up to him? Oh my gosh, is he a psycho or what?

I have not seen that.

It’s brutal. I think his eyes are going to pop out of his head. It’s crazy. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s crazy. So we were going through that and then we’ve been talking about in recent days the Top Five NBA of all time, the Top Ten of MVP of all time, is Kyle going to able to… And she doesn’t give a-she doesn’t have a sports cell in her body.

She did birth some athletes.

Yes, she did. She did birth some good athletes. We were dialoguing and talking about all of this leading up to the convention and even all four sons, we’re very, very close but we’re not exactly in the same place. So for example, let’s jump in a bit deeper. Would I have a problem with women serving the Lord’s Supper? I would not. Would I have a problem with women baptizing? I would not. As long as it’s done under the authorization of the church so lets say a mother leads her boy to Christ-

Similar to a deacon motion.

Yeah, so again, eye-to-eye I don’t have a problem with women deacons as long as we don’t ordain them in clearly a leadership- this simi-, quasi- unbiblical thing that most deacons in most in Baptist churches do is to-

Executive order.

Exactly. A board of deacons is unbiblical.


And very [crosstalk 00:13:53]

I definitely agree, I’m just at a church that does it.

I’ve seen that what you have are cardinal deacons who function like semi-cardinal elders and it’s just a debacle.

And then again, the ideal is one thing. Start your own church. You can be more quickly going in that direction, but if you inherit something then you know, you’ve got to give it what you got.

So for an example, would you be comfortable, if on a Sunday with a woman reading scripture publicly say, before the sermon?

They do it all of the time in chapel.

Reading the scripture?

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

The serving of the Lord’s table.

Well they don’t do that, now.

Assisting with baptism

Yeah. Fine with that all day long.

H. Carroll didn’t have a problem with it. He didn’t have ordained deacons either. He had deacons and deaconesses, primarily for assisting in baptism.[crosstalk 00:14:55]

Women did women, obviously and men did men.

If you’d have asked me to boil down what I think is the most ideal picture of what God’s intent is in this area it’s Titus 2. Older men instructing younger men. Older women instructing younger women. That’s the natural flow of what we’re walking. But would the church get it? Likely because of issues with Beth and the fact that you now have this Women’s Leadership Network, all of them are big friends of mine. All of them want to be absolutely crystal clear, so please hear me: We do not want or think that it would be feasible, much less wise, to have a women as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. But these idiots out there, that are saying that there’s this movement among women to have a woman president of the SBC, well none of them among the movers and shakers among women, that’s not true. That’s absolutely not true.

So what they simply want is to network with one another and they want to… you know I think they would like to have a voice, which I can’t find any place where they shouldn’t have a voice. And that’s where they are coming from. These are all hard core complementarians. To a person. (Various names listed), there’s your grandmothers and then you’ve got (various names), and I just go right on down the line.

I’m very much where, I think I’m accurate here. I’m very much were Russ is. Russ has been one of the ones that’s been telling us-

(Russell Moore)

-to help promote the Women’s Network and they just recently, last week, at the ERLC, engaging these questions and I will say this, they were severely wounded by Owen

Strachan’s blog piece. And I thought he was flat wrong, both in tone and content.

So, Owen Strachan responded to Beth’s tweet, is that right?


And she responded back and he’s been engaged with the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

He was the President.

He was the president for a season. And he resigned in — (inaudible)

So it’s interesting, and I guess what I would say Kyle is, I find it good to have respectful, healthy conversation, dialogue and debate but what I don’t find helpful in social media is just in this context just an unmitigated disaster. It lends itself to pot-shots and no conversation, it’s almost like the secular media does.

And so we can’t talk about it and people will quickly be in their defensive postures.

So if you were to rewind, if you could get into a time machine and go back, would you say Danvers should be more precise? It should be a tighter tent.

There’s wisdom in a big tent, just like I think there is a wisdom in a big tent in the 2000.

Now, I believe more that is above Danvers and I believe more than is in the Chicago Statement. But I think it in some ways is too narrow and in others ways it is too big.

Even you and I, you guys are now are all PHD students, we live in a world where -[crosstalk 00:19:00

They’re not all PHDs?

He’s an undergrad student, the rest of them are all Masters.

Ah, Masters. So you’re not PHD yet? Oh, wow. Good for y’all. Proud of y’all.

Let’s make it official today.

Honorary PHD, yeah good.

So I believe more than all of that, and I don’t believe less than that. And so what I can do is draw the line. I’m pre-millennial, pre-tribulational and I’m glad my school is a big part of that. I’m on board at (inaudible) and Liberty, and CIU, and Masters and so if you’re not Premil, Pre-trib, you can’t teach there. Used to be at Dallas Seminary, you couldn’t graduate if you were premil, pre-trib. They have every right to do that, I’m glad we don’t. I know we hired a dean, Merkel, who is an amillennialist, and I applaud my colleague Ken Keithly — every time he teaches eschatology he brings in Ben and lets Ben present the amillennial position, he brings in John (inaudible) and lets John present the historical pre. He’d brings in (inaudible) and let him present the post-millennial position as with[crosstalk 00:20:37]

And then he himself will present the pre-mil, pre-trib, I just think that’s one of the wondrous things about Southeastern Seminary. And I think that’s a good thing for the SBC, because the lines are drawn very, very hard, back to triage. They are drawn where they need to be drawn. And I’ll say this and stop, all these people in this conversation right now, every one of them, inerrantists, classic trinitarians, all affirm penal substitution, all affirm the exclusivity of the gospel, all confirm the biblical understanding of marriage, family, and gender role, that’s a lot of agreement that the outside world looking in would say yeah, you all are just a bunch of whacked out fundamentalists. But then within there we have some conversation, and we then start raising it from level one, we’re not going to go and think to level one but we can move it into tier two where we just can’t fellowship together, or we can’t go to churches together, or we can’t partner in (inaudible), at that point, I think that moved — we’ve made a big mistake.

So just to clarify that: He’s saying if the man-woman issue becomes a distinctive that really keeps you from-

As long as you are still affirming headship in the home and elders in the church, then no, that’s non-negotiable. So I had a guy recently that was upset at us, thinking Southeastern is going the way of cultural Marxism and intersectionality.

(Facetiously) It’s written all over you, I can see it. I can see it.

He said well, and complementarianism came up, and they want to bring that in as well.

Quote: It’s all a part of the same train. It’s just a different car. Now I don’t see that at all.

So it’s all interconnected, complementarianism, intersectionality, Cultural Marxism, all that stuff. So he said well there’s a guy right down the street from us that they are about to ordain a woman as an elder. And I said that’s easy, he’s not a complementarian any more. I don’t care what he says. Just like I’m an inerrantist — but…. You know once the “but” is in, I’m like “hold on.” And that’s like when I was at Southern.

I got so ill of hearing guys say to me, I have a very high view of scripture. To which I would always say, wonderful can you affirm the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy? “Well I have a very high view of scripture…”

I’m glad. You didn’t hear my question, so let’s try again. Can you affirm the Chicago Statement on biblical inerrancy? And needless to say, not a one of them ever were able.

They didn’t believe the bible was completely without error.

Can we have five more minutes?


Another question that you might have just to press while you have him…

Can I ask a quick question?

Yeah, of course.

What do you two ladies think about all of this?

I have a question.

Does this grieve you, encourage you? Somewhere in between?

I went to an all-women’s college so I came in with that as my background, and stood with Pell, I’ve been married for three years and that whole role as the helper was a very big struggle for me just because of my back ground and what I’ve been taught. So, I am very excited about this class and to learn more about that role so I can better serve.

Did you have a question?

Yes, my question is, it went back to your comment about a woman teaching the co-ed Sunday school class, how do you feel about a man and a woman co-teaching, or co-facilitating at such a class in that context or a parachurch context?

It sounds good in theory. It almost always doesn’t work well in practice because (again, there’s certainly out there people I think would be a good pair) but most often the woman tends to override a passive male.

So if she’s an effective communicator and teacher and she winds up taking (inaudible) — is that what you are saying?

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

And I’ve just not seen too many scenarios, having said that I think that it all works pretty well in a home context.

Like a bible study. Yep.

(Inaudible) like if you’re having Sunday school and we have co-ed teachers, let me say again: I think one of the problems with a strict complementarianism is that… I’ll put it this way… I think men would be well served to listen to women from time to time.

What a novel idea. As long as there are lines of course.

But don’t let them into the group chat.

[crosstalk 00:26:07]

[inaudible 00:26:13]

[crosstalk 00:26:13]

I think it has the potential to work better in that kind of context, not as well if you’re in a Sunday school class, traditional kind of thing. It’s just awkward. But I do think if I were king of the world and I would do marriage conferences like I do a lot (and Charlotte’s not one to speak publicly. I’ve had to urge her to do as much as she does today and it makes her a nervous wreck, its just not what she wants to do. She’s happy to be in the [inaudible 00:27:02] … but do I think men would be well served to sit down like this and say, can we just ask you questions about forty years of marriage? And what it’s like in order to fulfill the role of a helper? At the same time not to get smothered in all of that.

Further more, how your husband’s wired in terms of ministry. And how that- gosh I think that would be valuable. I don’t see anything there that’s violating the scriptures.

So I do think that there are very legitimate, bonafide — you know Priscilla and Aquila exhorted Apollos in a more perfect way, it wasn’t happening in the official gathering of the church. So coming back to your question, I do think there are legitimate contexts where something like that can and should go on.

So if we’re in a community group setting, in a home and a husband and wife are- the husband’s sort of primarily leading the group but his wife speaks in that context and she says something that you know very clearly aligns with scripture, and is teasing out that application and some of the younger men hear from her, they are allowed to learn from her in that moment?

I would say, yes. But the most hard-core complementarians says no. She would be sinning and they would be sinning. And I just think that’s ridiculous.

Well I will come back here and conclude, I want to ask the question not what women can’t do, I want to ask the question, what can women do. I believe the scriptures allow women to do a lot. But they cannot be the head of their home. They cannot be a teaching elder of the church, that office.

Listen, if God would have said that’s women do and men sit on the side… But here’s the problem. And this is (inaudible) as well, we’ll have others say when women preach, men walk out. There’s a lot of truth to that. What I used to say is men leave and men will sit back and watch, because they are sorry. The fall. That if women lead, men will sit back and watch. [crosstalk 00:29:18]Men by their very nature are slothful, lazy (inaudible) think they’ll abdicate their responsibility to go back to the garden.

Final question. If I can. Chandler is thinking about doing a PHD in theology, why should she do that? Can I give this to you right now?

Okay, sure.

First of all, there’s no reason for her not to.


That’d be the first thing.

She be allowed to do it at Southeastern.

Absolutely. She can do it in “Preaching” if she wants to. Now I always tell folks-

It’s going to be an awkward thing.

Well, it’s going to be awkward. And secondly, just understand I can never recommend you to be a pastor. I could never do that. See when I first got here — and it was a set up — I got a phone call asking so what would you allow women to do at Southeastern? I said pretty much anything. It’s a college and seminary.

Well can they get a PHD? And I said, yes they can.

Well I feel like God called me to be a pastor and if I meet all the requirements can I enter the PhD program in preaching? And I said, yes you can. Understand this, I will hold you to the same strict standards I hold the other person in the program and secondly, you do all the work, you write your dissertation, you pass your comps and your defense, and you’ll get your PHD in preaching. But you need to understand under no circumstances will I ever be able to recommend you to be a pastor. That I love you.

Throughout the summer, we had a large number, one semester, of African-American women. And their traditions are different and their backgrounds are, so I had two ladies that came into my class at the college actually, it was their first day and they were so glad to be- they were very exuberant- they were so glad to be here. God has called us to preach the word. And I said well, wonderful. I’m glad God’s calling you to preach the word, and God, in one sense, calls all of us to preach the word. I said, now understand something. This is a class geared towards pastors and I’m glad you’re here. And I hope you learn and do well and I love you. And nobody will be unkind or rude to you in this class, and I would not allow that. But you need to understand that throughout the semester my goal is to be to persuade you that though God maybe giving you a speaking gift in ministry, He is not calling you be a pastor or elder of a church, that’s an office reserved for men.

And they just kind of looked at me and well okay. So throughout the semester I loved them and cared for them and at the end of the semester they came up to me and said that this is one of the most wonderful classes we’ve ever taken. After that we are still convinced that God’s given us a ministry to proclaim His gospel, but we also recognize it cannot be as a pastor.

I couldn’t have done that if I had said to them on the front end, you’re not welcome. Why aren’t you home bare-foot and pregnant in the kitchen?

That would not be good.

Theology is your interest?


I know you’ve got a full day, thanks for taking-

Yep, this I think they’ve encouraged, I’m going to a guest-. Participate tomorrow in the funeral of Emmett Owens, who died at the age of 105. Now the rest of the story, his daddy died at 98, his daddy was also a pastor. Between these two men, you have more than a 150- he graduated from Southern in 1939- between the two of them you have more than a 150 years of faithful gospel preaching.

And there’s probably a real sense in which if it were not for him, certainly him and others like him, we would not be sitting here today. He was the stalwart, along with Mark Quartz, Ed Winston at Calvary for inerrancy when it was not popular to be an Inerrantist in North Carolina, because Southeastern Seminary was founded in 1950 from its inception as a progressive, liberal institution. And when the moderate side — y’all took over what was ours — well in one sense that’s true. We did return Southern and

Southwestern and New Orleans to where they once were.

That’s right much earlier, 1858, 1901 and so in 1940s. But Southeastern was founded as a liberal school. And so it was hard being an evangelically-minded Baptist in North

Carolina in those days.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you guys.

That was fun.



Cody Libolt
For the New Christian Intellectual