Archive for December, 2008

Submitting Women

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

“Mutual submission does not reduce the wife’s responsibility articulated in the traditional position; it merely reminds the husband that he, too, must submit to his wife as a fellow-heir of the grace of life.”
Craig Keener, ibid

Subordinating Women

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

“Eve’s deception led to her subordination under man (Gen. 3:16). This is presented as part of the curse, and, like other aspects of the curse (labor pains, toil in the fields, sin, and death), does not need to be praised and enforced by church rules.”
Craig Keener, Baptist minister and professor of New Testament, Eastern Seminary, from “Paul, Women and Wives”

Silencing Women

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

“There is in the entirety of the New Testament no evidence for the subordination of women that is practiced in many of our churches today and certainly not sufficient evidence for men to rule out the validity of women’s calls to minister the Word of God. When men claim that God has called them, we do not question their call, if their lives and ministry bear witness to that claim. When women claim that God has called them, we ought to evaluate their calls on the same terms. If we judge other people’s calls on the basis of a narrow and ill-considered interpretation of several texts, ignoring the clear examples of other texts, we may succeed only in silencing some of God’s servants needed for our generation. And if we do that, we invite God to pass judgment on our own call as interpreters of God’s Word.”

The Rev. Craig Keener, Ph.D., “Paul, Women and Wives,” Hendrickson Publishers, 1991

"A Christmas Carol" at the Kenworthy

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Jeff and I caught the opening night performance of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” tonight at the Kenworthy. What an outstanding production! I was particularly impressed with the versatility of the cast and the creativity of the sets, and I thought a certain young man named Jonah Mix performed delightfully, as did all of the actors. The show continues tomorrow night, Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2. p.m., and repeats next weekend at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and the final performance is Sunday at 2 again.

Bring a few extra bucks to contribute to the Salvation Army — the play’s solicitors will be engaging in a little fundraising performance prior to each show. My son is the ponytailed solicitor in the retro-fabulous light blue plaid suit, and his mom is maybe just a little bit proud of him.

Lions and Tigers and Female Deacons, Oh My!

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Blog and Mablog, that Internet depository of Wilsonian wisdom and wit, leaves behind for the moment instructions about food and the eating thereof to warn the Church of a great and dire calamity poised to attack it. Quoting Wilson:

“The principal threat (not the only threat, mind you) confronting the Church in the West today is the egalitarianism of pomosexuality. The thin edge of the wedge, in denominations like the PCA, is the issue of women being ordained as deacons. And if anyone believes that once women deacons are installed, that will be the end of the matter because we now have Phoebe in place and are eminently biblical . . . well, I have some marshy real estate in Florida to sell you.” (Douglas Wilson, Blog and Mablog, Dec. 1, 2008)

Actually, there’s some marshy real estate on the North Polk Extension he’s already selling, but I digress.

First a couple of definitions. “Pomosexuality,” for those not in the Anselm House Cognoscenti, is Wilson’s tag for any form of what he calls post-modern sexuality. A derivative of this is egalitarianism, which both he and I define as sexual equality in roles, function, and worth in the Church and home. (Sarah Palin’s brief ascendancy to political superstardom appears to have taken “and society” out of the pomosexual equation for Wilson, who has conceded that any support he might muster for John McCain was due to the presence on the GOP ticket of the anti-abortion Governor of Alaska). Wilson believes that all expressions of pomosexuality are anti-Biblical, and that egalitarianism is a prime example. I, too, believe that post-modern society has embraced an un-Biblical sexual ethic, and yet I view egalitarianism in church, home, and society as a Biblical sign of hope in a churning sea of sexual and gender immorality.

Doug and me, we don’t agree on a whole lot. I had no idea, for example, that he would consider my co-pastoring of a small, Spanish-speaking church in the late ’90s to be so dangerous to the Body of Christ. Better to him, I suppose, that the Mexican immigrants to whom I ministered had not heard the Gospel than to have heard it from the lips of a woman, and yet I’m at a loss as to how the preaching of the Gospel and its reception by those who hear it represents “the principal threat” to the Church.

Even the ordination of women as deacons — a practice few conservative evangelicals believe to be un-Biblical — causes concern for him, and he calls on his friends, the Bayly Brothers, to bolster his contention that a female diaconate isn’t the end of egalitarianism in the Church but only the beginning of a full-scale war against what Wilson and the Baylys see as a feminized Church unable to withstand the raging pomosexuality of women who seek to serve and the wimpy men who seek to support them. No, Wilson says, it won’t end with what I’ll call a “give us a Phoebe and we’ll go away” deal. Female deacons, it seems, pry open the floodgates of male-only leadership in the Church. A flood of gifted, Godly women serving and leading based solely on their Spirit-giftedness and not on their gender both disgusts and terrifies Wilson and his friends; the beaten-down pomo eunuchs who “let” them — and who no doubt are suffering from Father Hunger, Wilson’s diagnosis for every symptom — are men in name only who risk the wrath of the Father in shirking their male duties. This type of “pomosexuality,” he says, is the most significant threat facing the Body of Christ today.

No, not Biblical illiteracy, or poverty, or materialism, or the widening gulf between the Church in the Third World and the First, or abuse in the home or from the pulpit, but women deacons and the pomosexual feminists crouching under their robes — these portend the principle threat to the Church. I sometimes wonder what kind of world Wilson lives in, but I’ll have to assume that he and I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the same things.

I’ve written at length about egalitarianism in the Church, and I’m happy to answer any questions put to me. For now I’ll simply suggest that the reversal of the effects of the Fall wrought by Christ’s death and resurrection require the eventual end of gender-based service in the Church. “Being the Church” in harmony with the reconciling, restoring message of Christ requires serious study in his Word. Men who fear women deacons are generally eager to point out that they’re serious — a sober, masculine kind of “serious” — about living in obedience to Scripture. It seems they aren’t, however, willing or able to mine the depths of the Word when such digging, for both context and application, is absolutely imperative.

Patriarchalists and complementarians who oppose the presence of women in the diaconate, eldership, or pastorate generally rely on three Pauline verses to overturn the testimony of the New Testament, translating them with little regard to immediate, cultural, or ecclesiastical context. The basic hermeneutical principle of translating odd or seemingly aberrant verses in the light of the clear testimony of Scripture has eluded them. And if you disagree, if you believe that all verses must be read, interpreted, and applied on the basis of a literal first read, then tell me, please, what to do with James 2:24, which proclaims that “. . . a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone,” which in and of itself denies everything we know about the faith-by-grace Gospel of Christ. The non-Federal Visionists among us realize that interpreting that verse out of context would deal a fatal blow to the Gospel; in the context supplied, however, it serves to make a point. Not the point it makes on a first, quick read, but another, very different point, and it’s the work of the Bible student to discern what the real message is.

Those who would bar women from ecclesiastical leadership would do well to read egalitarian studies of First Corinthians and First Timothy that conclude, based on a deep regard for and intensive study of Scripture, that these cultural restrictions have no place in the world we live in now. But the world our patriarchal brothers live in now is a comfortable one, seemingly insulated from the real problems of the world around it and feigning horror at the sight of women who seek to look outside. How delighted Satan must be, having successfully disarmed half of the Body and, most cleverly, having done so under the guise of Biblical fidelity.

It will take every man, woman, and child who honors Christ to defeat the lie of continued gender hierarchy and to claim, finally, the reality of Galatians 3:28. The evil one’s work can only be defeated by an army of Spirit-led men and women determined to honor their Lord in battle against the very real threats that face His Body, and women and men must join hands in the full, free, egalitarian fellowship provided by Christ and assured us in His Word.