Sunday, April 10, 2005

Judy Brown, IVP, and Responses

Regarding the IVP book situation (which I blogged on here and here). I wrote to the co-editors of Discovering Biblical Equality, Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, asking them if they had known of Rev. Brown's crime and sentence before the publication of the book. If they had answered in the affirmative, I believe it would have been an ethical lapse to proceed with publication. On the other hand, if they answered in the negative, it would clear away any suspicions, rumors, or misperceptions about them. I wanted to give them a chance to clear the air.

I appreciate their timely responses. Here they are:

I am deeply saddened to hear of the tragic events mentioned in your article. I learned of these for the first time yesterday, Thursday, April 7, 2005.

Ron Pierce

* * *

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis
April 9, 2005

I had no communication from Rev. Brown after July 2003, nor did I hear about these matters from any other source. I had no knowledge of the allegations against Rev. Brown until April 7, 2005, when InterVarsity Press informed me of them. I was shocked and grieved to learn about this situation. I support IVP's decision to cease publication of Discovering Biblical Equality until a revised edition of the book can be prepared without Dr. Brown's essay

As far as I'm concerned, the question of the responsibility of the publisher and editors is essentially over. I'm sure that the editors and the publisher would agree that, in retrospect, it is strange that they heard nothing of this until the publication of the book. And yet at the same time, the fact is that they hadn't, and obviously couldn't be held responsible for continuing to publish Rev. Brown's essay since they had no knowledge of it.

Some reflections:

I am a committed complementarian. I think the issue is important, not secondary, for the health of the church. A correlary to this is that I don't want egalitarianism to succeed as a vision for men and women in the church. But this does not entail that I take any joy in Rev. Brown's fall. I grieve for her and for those she has damaged with her actions. I pray that God would grant her mercy and peace, and that through her repentance the church would lovingly discipline and retore her.

I commend InterVarsity Press for how they have handled themselves. Blogging is a new world where anyone with a modem can bring things to light. As has happened numerous times throughout the past year or so, the mainstream media has chafed at this democratization of information. The thinking is the old rules still apply, and that in ignoring the situation the questions will go away. IVP showed integrity and modeled how to respond. They responded quickly to my questions, and they took the appropriate action by pulling the current version of the book from circulation. This is a costly move for them (reindexing, repagination, retypsetting, etc), but it was the right thing to do.

Finally, the question has been raised in the comments about the connection between egalitarianism and homosexuality. There is a legitimate question about logical implications. But I would urge caution in raising it in this situation. This is a single, tragic incident. Little can (or should) be made from it alone.