Archive for November, 2013

All I Want For Christmas . . .

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

. . . is for slavery-defending buffoon and ministerial mogul Douglas Wilson to go to the movies and see “12 Years A Slave.”  Then I want him to write a “monograph” — heck, I wouldn’t mind if he plagiarized again — expressing his profound sorrow for ever having called slavery in the Antebellum South anything other than a fetid sewer of sinful and vicious debauchery.

Really.  That’s all I want.  Unfortunately, he appears to be unable to ever admit to being wrong, much less having been horrible, so I imagine that Christmas morning I’ll be disappointed.  But he may consider this a public call to repentance, again, once more, and I pray he responds as he should.

Jesus’ Masculinity . . . Wasn’t (Part 2)

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Last week, we discussed the cringeworthy comments by retired Col. Jerry Boykin at the International Men’s Prayer Breakfast, wherein the conservative patriarchal icon discussed in odd detail the masculine traits of Jesus Christ and fumed that evangelicalism these days has made its buff, sinewy Savior into an effeminate wimp no Real Man would want to hang out with.

Well, Boykin says, it’s no wonder guys aren’t coming to church.  They think Jesus is “sissyfied.”  And whether the playground is ecclesiastical or Greek fraternal, guys simply don’t want to associate with, hang around with, or become like sissyfied men, much less worship one.

That Boykin, whose stunning manliness evidenced itself in his Iraq War assertion that the U.S. was fighting a war against “good and evil,” and that Iraq’s god is Satan, would be asked to speak to any group of Christians anywhere, or, indeed, any group of vertebrates anywhere, might be a better explanation for what’s wrong with the Church than its apparently bothersome lack of emphasis on Jesus’ musculature.  But let’s shift our focus from Bubba Boykin and dissect what he’s said about the need for a “masculine” Jesus, although in doing so it’s important to recognize that Boykin isn’t alone or particularly odd in his assessment.  Mark Driscoll, who famously said he couldn’t worship a Savior he could beat up, and other Biblical patriarchs like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, John Eldredge, Doug Wilson, and disgraced Vision Forum founder and uber-masculinist Doug Phillips have lead a resurgence of in-your-face masculinism in evangelical circles that’s been welcomed as a need antidote to the “sentimentalism” and “effeminacy” of the popular culture.  Boykin isn’t alone in pinning the supposed failure of the Church of the Lord Jesus on its reduction of Jesus, and by extension the men who follow him, into soft, wimpy, saccharine touchy-feely gentlemen who, predictably, are overrun by their screechy, bossy, bitchy womenfolk.

Because, you know, when you have wimpy, wishy-washy men, you need only look to the front of the line for the bossy women . . .

I don’t argue that Boykin, et al, should be criticized because I find their comments offensive.  No, I argue that they should be criticized and should be denied audience and authority in the Church because their promotion of a “masculine” Jesus is noxiously opposed to the Person and Gospel of the One they presume to defend, and to defend with indefensible theology that clearly poisons his message.  They appear to take enormous comfort in the maleness, and, to them, the masculinity, of the Savior, when Scripture insists that there is one mediator between God and humankind, the human one, Christ Jesus.  The Greek doesn’t say “the male one, Christ Jesus.”  It says, “the human one.”  The patriarchs’ concern for Biblical inerrancy requires, then, that we establish what the literal text establishes:  It’s the humanness, not the maleness, of Jesus Christ that, with Jesus’ deity, produces our salvation.

That salvation, rightly understood, rescues men and women from masculinity; it does nothing to make males less male and females less female, because those categories, male and female, are biological sex categories that remain unchanged and unaffected by the Holy Spirit.  The Creator God who is both female and male is evidenced in females and males.  What the Spirit does seek to do is to eliminate the gender categories of “masculine” and “feminine,”  which are results of the Fall of humankind and cannot exist without the other.

“Masculinity” is that gender construct that seeks domination, thrives in competition, strives in acquisition, and enlivens patriarchy, the control over and oppression of women, children, and weaker men by one man — or, in society, the cultural domination of men over those deemed “less-than” that is in turn enshrined as right and good by other men.  It cannot exist without “femininity,” the status of the dominated that defines their subjugation, weakness, and oppression — again enshrined by the male-dominated, masculinist culture.  These are the categories that cause us to say that a violin-playing boy is “effeminate,” and that an athletic, confident girl is “masculine.”  That they exist is a result of the Fall, where this both-female-and-male God promises Eve that as a result of sin, she will desire close communion with her man, and her man will respond by ruling over her.

Christians believe, however, that the life, message, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ renewed this fallen world, cleansing it once and for all of sin’s ruination of men and women and calling forth, in the peculiar tension of the “already-and-not yet” of the Kingdom.  This Kingdom mandate is not simply woven through the New Testament; it IS the message of the New Testament.  The Kingdom of our Savior and Lord cannot rightly countenance what he came to defeat, and yet it is the Church, corrupted by the toxic masculinism of the culture around it, that has done the most to wrongly elevate the masculine — which leads to a defined feminine — and poison the Gospel it seeks to spread.

The Church has, in effect, enshrined sin by attributing to Christ Jesus the very traits he not only failed to evince in his life but destroyed in his death.  Yeah, I’m guessing Jesus was muscular — and so is anyone, female or male, who is a carpenter by trade.  Yes, Jesus was sweaty and had dirty nails — just like anyone else who lived and worked in pre-industrial Palestine 2,000 years ago.  And without question Jesus had a penis in the Incarnation — which Scripture, again, considers irrelevant next to his humanness in his Redemptive work.

Perhaps the biggest indictment, though, against the often-juvenile, always-dangerous masculinism of the contemporary Church and the patriarchs who delight in it is that Jesus — the rabbi who taught women, included women among his followers, appeared first to a woman after his resurrection, was supported financially by women, and who left Biblical evidence of a female apostle and numerous female church leaders — requires of the believer that she or he be “conformed to the character of Christ Jesus” by the fruit of his Holy Spirit.  Galatians 5 lists those evidences of Christlike character:

“(The Spirit) will produce this kind of fruit in us:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . . ”

A male person who exhibits sacrificial love, lives in unquenchable joy, promotes peace, practices patience, exhibits boundless kindness, seeks only goodness,  stands in remarkable faithfulness, cultivates profound strength in gentleness, and devotes himself to self-control” is conformed to the nature of Christ Jesus and has defeated masculinity.  A female person who does the same isn’t, because we wrongly, in this patriarchal world, equate these virtues with “soft women” and not “regular guys,” more “feminine” — she has defeated femininity with its defined oppression and victimization.  The Gospel sounds the death-knell to masculinity and femininity by announcing a world where no one oppresses and no one is oppressed.

Sadly, the white men who run the evangelical megaculture cannot find it within themselves to conform to the character of Jesus Christ, because masculinism benefits them.  They’ve convinced themselves and the women who are told to listen to them that this is right and righteous; they convince others that Godliness is inherently masculine and that, for women, Godliness is accepting subjugation as women, as the feminine.  How proud they are that they hold to the masculinist gospel of their masculine Savior.  And yet, they freely dip into wells of masculinism, fill their cups, toast each other in evangelical bonhomie, and they bring shame and disrepute to the Gospel while they contribute to the oppression of women and children — the women and children who fill their churches and whom they call “sisters.”

But the man who benefits from, participates in, and excuses the world system that subjugates the women around him cannot really ever be my brother, nor can I ever truly be his sister.  For that reason, my husband and I will not fellowship in churches that defend and practice “complementarianism.”  I cannot decide whether or not they truly love Jesus, but I can decide, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to not cast my lot with those who would gleefully look me in the face, see the oppression of my sisters, and tell me it’s not only all good, but all God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Masculinity of Jesus . . . Wasn’t “Masculinity” (Part One)

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Yesterday greeted the evangelical community and the media that watches them with the exciting announcement from a retired Army general that Jesus was, in fact, a “man’s man,” with “big ole bulging veins” and muscles, a trim waist, and broad, strong shoulders.  He was not, the audience at the annual Men’s International Prayer Breakfast was assured, the “effeminate” Jesus that the Church has presented — the one who so repels modern men.

And the crowd inside shouted a hearty, masculine, “Amen,” although my guess is that there was some consternation among the attendees, given that very few were likely to match their Savior’s body type and fewer still were comfortable applauding the chiseled form of another man.

But while the evangelical guys in attendance were applauding and sucking in their collective guts, the rest of the world was howling.  In a world where questions of sexuality and gender, maleness and femaleness, masculinity and femininity, are discussed and debated and most often rejected as hopelessly anachronistic, here was a controversial, uber-patriarchal evangelical Army man sneering at a contemporary evangelical portrayal of Jesus as someone that he, the General, just wouldn’t want to hang around with — soft, tender, effeminate, and hopelessly out of touch with his own masculinity.  No wonder so many guys don’t like going to church, the General boomed.  Who wants to hang out with — which we charitably here presume means “abide in” — a guy like THAT?  Reports indicate that he was met with thunderously masculine applause.

Ahhh, revival.  Such a wondrous thing.

But what’s being “revived” here is the pernicious Victorian Christian emphasis on Jesus’ maleness (his sex) and his masculinity (his gender) that swept the American Church when those dainty ladies of the era left their proper sphere of home and hearth and began rocking their communities and congregations with astonishing displays of the Holy Spirit’s power.  As is the way of masculinity, no thought toward the righteousness of their actions and beliefs was given before the preaching patriarchs of the day condemned them, the work they did, and the soft, sentimental, unmanly climate that presumably spawned the horrors of such things as women preaching, women evangelizing, women teaching, and women setting the world around them on its religious and cultural rear end.  Soon, women were ushered back to where, God be praised, they refused to remain, and rugged men of chest remade the Body of Christ into a hearty and hideous masculinist parody of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom it announces.

Men retook their pulpits and pews, developed weak and piteous arguments against women’s involvement in ecclesiastical matters, and inflamed those teachings into a dominant evangelical culture that rewarded stubbornness and certainty, independence and competition, hierarchy and dominion, and law over grace.  As the First Wave of feminism spread throughout a culture steeped in and sickened by political and social patriarchy, the Church clamped down harder, refusing women the exercise of the gifts God had given them and cursing by its actions the legacy of centuries of strong, beautiful, passionately gifted sisters before it.  Men were called “back” to “Biblical headship” in their homes and women were called back to the pews and out of the pulpits, back to their kitchens and out of the meeting rooms, and back to silence and out of positions of influence in home and in society, but especially in their Church.  And while the rest of the world was accommodating the advances gained by women, if not necessarily grateful for their presence, the Church in the United States clung to sinful masculinism, applauded the harm wrought by patriarchy, congratulated its men on their status in the world and rebuked its women for daring to aspire to any status not dependent on their wombs, and decided to cooperate with Satan by attempting to win the world for the Savior with half of its strength and twice the bluster of the sinful world around it.

Around the turn of the last century, of course, the culture soon to be lost by the Church was in turmoil, and blaming soft men for unladylike women was easier, given that most of the society around it was still unfamiliar with the presence of women in positions of leadership in the home and out.  As women began finding freedom in the world around them and shedding the fetters of patriarchy, many of them, confident of the promise of Jesus in the Gospels that there were, in His Church, to be no division between rich and poor, slave and free, and men and women, flocked to evangelical congregations that welcomed their pies and their childcare skills but objected to their voices and their ideas.  But as the women’s movement grew, the men of the Church, enjoying their taste of power and influence in a burgeoning culture, clamped down on the role of women within its doors.  Let the gals of Babylon take over business and leave their children in daycare, the patriarchs bellowed — we keep ours where God intended.  And if the world around us mocks our truculence and marvels at our impotence, they said, then Hallelujah!  After all, persecution is a sign of the Church’s obedience and God’s approval.  How great, they wondered, must be the blessings of God that the world beyond the church’s door finds the people inside hopelessly irrelevant.

And so, then and now, the Church limps along, bringing the knife of masculinist voices to a cultural gunfight and tying one arm of female strength behind it as it grapples with a fully-equipped enemy.  That the world around it marvels that the Church would overthrow the entirety of the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ — and call itself faithful — while clinging to three or four dissonant verses in the New Testament easily understood and accepted once examined bothers it not.  Indeed, the patriarchs widen their stance, adjust their belt buckles, clear their throats, and confidently, absurdly, defend what empowers them, promotes them, and assures their positions of prominence wherever they go, insisting that the voices of women and men in their own congregations are hopelessly contaminated by the culture around them.  They gorge themselves on testosterone and congratulate themselves on remaining “true Christians” as they systematically mock the Fruit of the Holy Spirit that, when evinced among other men, looks effeminate and sissyfied.  And they watch their sisters in Christ walk out the door in disgust or wither on the vine in despair, offering only rebuke and remonstration, always speaking, never listening, never hearing, never feeling, knowing much and yet utterly lacking in wisdom.

These are the men who need a big tough guy who tells them that the Savior they worship is as big and tough as he is.  They deserve your anger, your rejection; they need your prayers and deserve your pity.  For the One they call Lord stands in judgment of this world and holds the keys to the next, and when His Church deliberately wanders from the truth He established, no amount of muscle, no amount of bluster, no amount of power, will open the gates that Jesus Himself has declared off-limits to those who seek the world and still pretend they adhere to the Way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision Forum, The Dougs, And What I Know

Friday, November 15th, 2013

By now, most of conservative evangelicalism knows about the resignation of Vision Forum founder Doug Phillips after his confession to a lengthy and inappropriate relationship with a woman, albeit one that he insists didn’t constitute “knowing” her in “the Biblical sense.”

Ahhh, the finesse of the “julienned confession,” shaped and carved like so many strips of carrots or lengths of potatoes . . .

I’ve said on other forums that this whole thing is a tragedy, period.  No one should get any joy from Phillips’ sin, his confession, or his resignation.  Real people were hurt here, his wife and children especially, and thousands and thousands of people in this country have had their theological foundations shattered because of Phillips’ fall.  They are not likely to be healed by Phillips’ repentance and restoration, if that occurs.  That’s one of the terrible fruits of public sin.

Repeating:  I am an enemy of sin.  I am not an enemy of those struggling with it.  I applaud repentance.  I don’t call it “repentance” until time allows for the demonstration of its fruit, and I hope that happens here.

Further, there’s a great deal I don’t know about this, and you don’t know it, either.  Like most people I know more about what’s happening locally than I do about what’s happening in San Antonio; like most wise people, I try to focus on what I do know.  And in this case, what I know is that two ugly things have come from Moscow’s Doug Wilson, another famous defender of “Biblical patriarchy,” in his Blog and Mablog analysis of the whole sad, sordid situation.

The first is that he continues to defend not just male headship and masculinist ecclesiology, but insists that however corrupted the term “patriarchy,” even in the eyes of those who embrace it, it must still be used to describe what he says is the Biblical pattern for families.  I, of course, believe he’s wrong.  That’s pretty much been the point of this blog — proclaiming a better, more Biblical view of the Kingdom birthed in the Gospel, a Kingdom that rejects divisions based on sex, race, and class.  Patriarchy is a result of the Fall.  A true understanding of the Gospel requires that we work to reject the rotten fruit of the Fall.  Patriarchy asks that we embrace, enshrine, and enliven it.  Any defense of the indefensible is wrong, particularly given that those who profit from and benefit from the indefensible exercise such energy in proclaiming it true, beautiful, and good.

The second and perhaps more tellingly odious on Wilson’s part is his presumption that the woman involved is just another “Foxy Bubbles”-type harlot hell-bent on bringing good men down.  You can see it on yesterday’s Blog and Mablog, as well as the circle jerk of laudatory, “wow, great message, Pastor!” comments that follow.  If we knew nothing, nothing at all, about the woman Phillips sinned with, we would, if we were wise, reasonable people, refrain from even discussing her.  And, regardless of what we may find out about her,  I would suggest that he not just “sinned with” her but victimized her, given his insistence on complete female submission to the brothers, fathers, husbands, and other men in their lives, an insistence that, coupled with his power in the movement that prescribes their unequivocal submission, makes it extraordinarily unlikely that she had much if any volition in the matter.

Phillips operated in a world where the only women in it were born to be unquestioning followers of the men “in authority” over them.  It’s not like he regularly engaged with women “out in the real world” that views him as a power-hungry, manipulative entrepreneur who built an empire on the most shifting of sands, which he attempted to prop up with his Bible.

But Wilson is neither wise nor reasonable, and so, in discussing the minefields that litter the ways of powerful men, he feels free to toss off an assertion that there will always be “Foxy Bubbles” types to jump out and trip them up.  A little blame heaped on top of his blather is trademark Wilson; in this case, though, it’s blaming and slandering the victim and her character.  That’s a true mark of Wilsonian thought, but evidence coming to light suggests that the “Foxy Bubbles” archetype doesn’t work here, that “that kind of woman” was, in reality, not Phillips’ problem or provocateur.  If I were the kind to suggest a name, based on information coming out regarding his relationship with the woman, I’d maybe go with something like “HannahSarahVirginalContentment Helpmeet-in-Waiting” — in other words, a young woman nurtured, or, rather, poisoned, on Phillips’ own wretched patriarchy and the harsh, unbending, legalistic culture it spawned.

Apron strings make remarkably effective chains, you know, and those long skirts, literally and figuratively, make it hard to run away.  And to whom — other powerful men who believe apron- and skirt-wearers are born to obey?

It costs Wilson nothing to condemn Phillips’ sin, but he went further — he presumed, if only by implication, that a Bad Woman, a product of anti-patriarchal theology, was involved.  See, then, how bad anti-patriarchal theology is?  See how awful Phillips’ way of practicing the same thing Wilson defends is worse than Wilson’s way?  Patriarchy, Wilson says, is not the problem — abuse of patriarchy is.

To those abused by patriarchy, however, it’s like suggesting that cyanide-laced drinking water isn’t the problem –abusing cyanide-laced drinking water is.  The problem is, cyanide-laced drinking water is what “leaders” insist their followers drink; patriarchy is as toxic, so inherently toxic that to exercise it is to abuse it.

After more than 11 years of debating Wilson, I expect him to be offensive.  I expect him to be obnoxious, vicious, and far, far, less brilliant than his Beholden Toadies believe him to be.  But not even I expected that in analyzing Phillips’ fall, he would find a way to demean the woman involved.  But he’s Doug Wilson, and casual belligerence and breezy insult are the toxic sludge he spews forth.

And what nurtures it?  Patriarchal privilege — and a paucity of people able or willing to challenge him on it.

I continue to pray for the Phillipses, and for the woman involved.  Let’s trust that the Lord will silence the voices of those who assume that, somewhere and everywhere, when a patriarch sins, a bad woman MUST be involved — while worse theology is and will forever be utterly absolved.

 

Answering Seth: My Exegesis Of A Few “Slaveholding” Verses

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

“Answering Seth,” rather than the title of a new indy flick, is my promised response to erstwhile Doug Wilson defender and crecmemes.com correspondent Seth B., who asked me to explain how it is that I fail to understand Wilson’s defense of slavery  in light of Bible verses that would seem to support it.  I appreciate the sincerity and respect with which Seth has asked me these things, and I would point out to him what you already know:  I am not a seminary-trained theologian.

Doug Wilson and I have that in common.  The difference is that no one’s employment, grades, or ecclesiastical security is dependent on their agreeing to my interpretation — which strikes me as the better way to engage with one another in trying to understand the Scriptures better.  “Iron sharpening iron,” as it were, rather than “iron leaving a bloody serrated edge” on the disputant, which in metaphor is preferable to the wounds Wilson actually inflicts on those who publicly disagree with him.

In addressing Wilson’s indefensible defense of Antebellum American slavery, which he has never withdrawn, Seth asks me to look at Philemon 12 through 16, Ephesians 6:5-9, and Colossians 4:1, all penned by the Apostle Paul and, Seth and I agree, the Spirit-inspired Word of God.  The Philemon passage is an appeal to Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave and newly-converted Christian brother, Onesimus, while the Ephesians and Colossians examples, from Paul’s pastoral letters, involve the first-century household code typified under Roman occupation.

Philemon 12-16 says, “I’m sending him back to you, which is like sending you my own heart.  I considered keeping him with me so that he might serve me in your place during my time in prison because of the Gospel.  However, I didn’t want to do anything without your consent so that your act of kindness would occur willingly and not under pressure.  Maybe this is the reason that Onesimus was separated from you for a while so that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, that is, a dearly loved brother.  He is especially a dearly loved brother to me.  How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually, in the Lord!”  (Common English Bible)

Two things are significant here as we read Paul’s appeal.  The first is that slavery in Rome was entirely legal and that, in this pagan society, extending aid to a runaway slave or interfering with his return was a crime.  In fact, the slaveowner was legally allowed to execute a returned runaway.  The second is that Israel was only allowed to enslave foreigners for an indefinite time; Hebrew bondsmen and -women could only be enslaved for six years (Deut. 23:15), and that servitude looked much more like the “indentured servitude” once common in the U.S., not the kidnap-driven, race-based, generational, life-long, and abusive owning of a human being that typified the South.

It’s astonishing that, with such pronounced legal punishment levied against those who interfered with Roman slavery, that Paul acknowledges that he thought of “keeping him with me” in the service of the Gospel, and this hint of potential civil disobedience sets the context for, and is confirmed by, the rest of the passage.  Paul was not a champion of civil disobedience, insisting that the Christian could only rightly break the law when that law directly compelled him or her to sin against God.  But Paul is clearly requesting that Philemon not simply conform to the law that allowed him to retain ownership of an escaped, captured, slave, and he just as clearly assumes that Philemon, converted to Christ and filled with Spiritual understanding because of it, would step away from his “rights” to extend egalitarian fellowship — “no longer as a slave but more than a slave — that is, as a dearly loved brother” — to the man whose services he once owned.  Paul clearly believed that both Onesimus and Philemon would be better off as brothers than as slaveholder and slave.  No, it’s not a denunciation of Roman slaveholding — directly, that is.  Paul’s letter IS a clear appeal for the end of Onesimus’ entirely legal servitude — on the basis of Gospel fellowship that encourages a man not to exercise his own rights so that he might better defend the God-given rights of his brother.

We might wish — in fact, we do wish — that the New Testament were filled with thundering denouncements of slavery.  It isn’t.  But it’s important to remember that the infant Church was living and growing in hostile territory, where acts of temporal civil disobedience would ruin the eternal aim of the Gospel.  More important, the Roman slavery of the era was not the Christian’s concern, and the Hebrew slavery of the era was strictly guided by the Hebrew Scriptures — God-given rules almost uniformly defied by the South, which fed its slaveholding system through kidnapping, was based solely on the race of the slaves, lasted for a lifetime, extended through generations, and involved savage brutality, rape, exploitation, and a determination to keep slaves from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  THAT was the “Christian slavery” of the American South, and from root to fruit, it was a foul, despicable, evil practice that we can safely say Paul would have railed against, committed, as it was, not by an occupying pagan force but by men who took the name of Christ to do what Christ’s Word expressly said they must never.  Wilson seems unable to grasp that; I hope Seth can.

I’ll deal with Ephesains 6:5-9 and Colossians 4:1 together, again quoting from the Common English Bible:

“As for slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling and with sincere devotion to Christ.  Don’t work to make yourself look good and try to flatter people, but act like slaves of Christ carrying out God’s will from the heart.  Serve your owners enthusiastically, as though you were serving the Lord and not human beings.  You know that the Lord will reward every person who does what is right, whether that person is a slave or a free person …”  (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Verse 9 of Ephesiasns 6 echoes Colossians 4:1, and I’ll quote Colossians:  “Masters, be just and fair to your slaves, knowing that you yourselves have a master in Heaven.”  There is no substantive difference between Col. 4:1 and Eph. 6:9. — both enjoin slaveholders to be fair and kind to those they enslaved, because both slave and slaveholder were slaves to the Lord Jesus.

It’s worth repeating, precisely because it never is in Wilson’s argument, that Paul had no ability to effect change in the Roman system, and that both Roman slavery and Hebrew slavery were entirely different from the slavery of the “Christian” South.  Roman slavery had its own laws and practices, and, as a vital part of a pagan economy and culture, offended God.  Israelite slavery was strictly regulated by the Old Testament, and Israelites who enslaved Israelites could do so for only six years.  A “redemptive-forward” reading of Scripture sees a liberalizing continuum throughout the centuries in regard to slavery — from the nascent pronouncements of the Old Testament, which represented a vast improvement in humanity from the viciousness of the pagan Hammuraibic Codes to an implied undermining of slavery in the New and, in the Gospel message of egalitarianism so perfectly enshrined in verses like Galatians 3:28 that represent the continuing fulfillment of the kingdom-establishing work of God — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” — a stark incompatability with anything that promotes those hierarchical divisions in the Church.

Further, I would ask Seth to consider the “seventh-year Jubilee” freeing of Hebrew slaves commanded in the Old Testament.  The parallel to this is the “Christian” slaveholder who, after prohibiting his slaves’ access to the Gospel by prohibiting anyone from teaching slaves to read, and who regularly perverted that Gospel by insisting that the only “message from God” was the household passages in Ephesians that, in isolation, served to exalt the slaveholder and further chain the slave, nevertheless had a slave come to relationship with Christ Jesus.  I think Seth will agree that the record of history is not one of these “Christian” slave masters releasing their Christian slaves after six years, as the Scriptures insist, and that the record is, instead, of “God-fearing” slaveowners doing their damnedest, to the point of death, to make sure that the liberating message of Jesus Christ never reach them.  I think that speaks volumes; it certainly is voluminously recorded by trained historians and not blithering hacks who, in their insistence that they’ll “never be embarrassed by the Word of God,” nevertheless embarrass themselves and the Word with their sloppy, insensitive, reckless handling thereof.

Wilson defended a practice whose birth and whose sustenance was rooted in sin, based on the Word of God, whose victory was in its viciousness, in defiance of the Word of God, and whose adoption by “Christian” patriarchs centuries after Paul’s passionate plea for Onesimus’ and Philemon’s brotherhood, which, once realized, represented the promise of the Gospel, was and continues to be despicable.  I trust that Seth sees not only the difference between pagan Roman slavery, about which Paul, living under occupation, could do nothing; Israelite slavery, which rightly practiced was an indentured servitude with a six-year limitation for the brethren; and “Christian” Southern slavery, which began with the abomination of manstealing and ended by the grace of God working through the Christian, Bible-believing abolitionists Wilson scorns as unGodly “enemies” of the Cross.

It is in that — his understanding of unGodliness — that Wilson reveals his expertise, and I pray that Seth and his thousands of other defenders and followers come to understand that soon, before their souls become too calloused to hear reason or feel the rebuke of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Taking a break, it seems, from the Memes . . .

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

I was disappointed this morning to read that crecmemes.com, the often-hilarious, always-dead on analysis of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC), the denomination created by Doug Wilson when it became clear that reputable, established ones weren’t eager to embrace him or his curious theology, is suspending publication.  While the 500 or so previous memes and the comments following them are still up and available, the site’s pseudonymous author, Jonathan Bitterness — a nod to Wilson’s tiresome assertion that every single person who’s ever confronted him is a veritable font of bitterness — says, in a final, poignant and potent essay, that it’s time to take a break.   As always, I wish he weren’t using a pseudonym, but he clearly knows the price paid by those who’ve left Wilsonland and dared to criticize him in public.  CRECmemes has provided a real service to its community of readers, and it’s been something I’ve looked forward to reading every day.

So I was saddened to read that, at least for the time being, the author isn’t planning to add any new memes.  You can read his explanation here:

http://crecmemes.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/why-there-arent-any-memes-recently/comment-page-1/#comment-509

I’m glad he’s keeping the site up, comments included; in fact, my next post will be a response to a CRECmemes opponent, Seth B., who challenged me on the site to explain my take on several verses that could, he says, support some of Wilson’s more controversial teachings — like his (execrable) defense of slavery in the Antebellum South.  Although Seth’s comments were on the “memes” site, I don’t want to hijack someone else’s place on the ‘Net, and I’ve directed Seth and others to Prevailing Winds for my response.

In the meantime, though, I continue to recommend CRECmemes.com.  And, in its discontinuation, and only for those with an iron stomach, I’ll direct you to two websites that convincingly and exhaustively demonstrate Wilson’s sordid ministerial history.

 

One is “Dougsplotch.com;” the other is “FoederoSchism.com,” named after Wilson’s curious Federal Vision teaching, which has caused predictable turmoil in Reformed theological circles.  The comments in both sites are harsh, but supported by primary-source documents and first-person witness accounts.  That takes them out of the realm of gossip and secures their place as necessary testimonies of this terrible man’s actions in the Moscow community and in the larger Church.  I don’t know the authors — I am NOT the author of either — and, again, wish they weren’t anonymous.  The sad thing is that, after checking them out, you’ll find yourself understanding why they are.

You’ll also find yourself very likely in tears, or fighting nausea, or enraged beyond what you thought possible.  The sites are no longer being updated; indeed, most of Wilson’s critics have wound down their efforts.  That doesn’t make their contributions toward understanding him and his work any less important, however.  I appreciate their efforts, and I pledge to continue my own.  Because this is a vile, dangerous, and disturbing man for whom the flock is a convenient punching bag, a smorgasbord to devour, and a captive audience for his gleefully belligerent rants.

So read up, stay tuned, and above all pray for Wilson — and for me.  The stakes are very high, eternally so, and I contend that silence here is assent to a very great evil.

 

 

Hatefel Men Call Other Ministers “Dykes.” Doug Wilson Is A Hateful Man.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

This gem from the unrepentant bigot Doug Wilson gives you an idea of his ecclesiastical sincerity, not to mention his openness to the call of the Holy Spirit received by his sisters in Christ Jesus.

But don’t get the idea that this observation, from the stink of Wilson’s Blog and Mablog today, reveals anything even remotely pastoral.  You’re as likely to get a pastoral, Spirit-filled response from Doug Wilson as you are from a bullying Miami Dolphins linebacker, although it’s possible that the jock might show some contrition when the heat’s on.  Not so with the Provost of Unnecessary Provocation.  In his criticism of evangelicalism, which manages to nonetheless embrace its worst elements while sneering at legitimate moves of the Spirit, he offers this:

“Like termites need wood, so also unbelief needs the structures of faith that a living faith once built. They can’t get at the wood when it is still alive and growing, but once the living truth has gone through the sawmill of accreditation and become a standardized two by four of truth — watch out. A brief review will make the point — just imagine Fuller sitting in on a few classes at Fuller Seminary, Carl Henry dropping in at CT (Christianity Today) after reading the three most recent issues, or Thomas Cranmer trying to make it through the homily of the most theologically-minded dyke in the diocese. The word “scene” comes to mind.”

(Doug Wilson, Blog and Mablog, Nov. 5, 2013)

I would submit that perhaps the problem in the evangelical church isn’t that there are women in the pulpit, or even lesbian women in the pulpit.  No, I think the problem with the evangelical church today is that, at least here in Moscow, we have a preeningly belligerent bully in the pulpit.  How he got there is interesting — and a couple of online sites I’ll mention later give you a picture of how this Sultan of Snottiness ascended his throne.  It ain’t a real pretty picture.

 

 

A Perspective On The Resignation Of Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

It’s interesting that just as I finished my second read of Kathryn Joyce’s remarkably insightful book, “Quiverfull,” an example of the Biblical patriarchy movement that I find repellant in its stark disregard for the Gospel of the New Testament, news of the resignation of one of Christiandom’s most powerful patriarchs rocked the Right Wing.

Doug Phillips, founder and president of Vision Forum Ministries and head of its commercial arm, Vision Forum, Inc., has stepped down from his ministerial, speaking, and leadership position after acknowledging a “lengthy and inappropriate” relationship with a woman.  The father of eight young patriarchalists and wife of a staunch anti-feminist has promised that he will devote this time apart from ministry to reestablishing trust with his family and followers and demonstrating true Biblical repentance and restoration.  As I have said elsewhere, I feel great sorrow for the Phillips family and I wish Doug Phillips the fullest measure of God’s restorative grace and healing.  This is not a time to rejoice.  While I believe that “Biblical Patriarchy” is a vicious oxymoron that promises a perverted Gospel of female subjugation and oppression, I can’t — and you can’t, either — rejoice in any person’s fall.  I don’t.

But I do believe it’s important to continue examining this movement — not just Vision Forum, although its beliefs and practices, not to mention its heavily sex-segregated toys, are repugnant to me in their arrogant embrace of hierarchy and control — but other groups, individuals, and movements who call for the dominion of the world through “full quivers” of children in submission to patriarchs.  The Quiverfull movement that Joyce so aptly describes is a horror, turning the Good News of the Gospel into a life of fetters and prison bars for the women redeemed by it.  This is a pernicious cancer in the Church, and my prayer for Doug Phillips is that he would emerge not just as a repentant, restored sinner and brother, but a man who recognizes that the fruit of Biblical Patriarchy is so rotten that it deserves to be buried in a theological, exegetical, doctrinal Gehenna.

The Huffington Post has an interesting take on Phillips’ resignation.  You can read it at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-ingersoll/doug-phillips-the-big-scandal_b_4195155.html

Well, We’re Not Sweden — But We’re Not “Christian,” Either

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

You’ve seen them — the Internet memes that show how a country like Sweden, for example, is 80 percent atheist and yet has lower rates of incarceration, or crime, or violence — whereas 78 percent of all Americans claim to be Christians, and we have massively higher rates of all three.

The point, of course, is to applaud the sensible atheism, as they see it, of those safe, profitable, egalitarian, and almost idealic places to live, as well as to shame the “Christianity” of a country like the United States, which is and has forever, pretty much, been awash in myriad social problems that reek of immorality, injustice, unrighteousness, and unconcern for the poor.  Predictably, these memes outrage Christians.  They should.

But not for the reasons they usually do.

If the economic, religious, social, and political climate of this  country is the result of more than three-quarters of its people sharing a profound devotion to Jesus Christ, something’s wrong.  In fact, something’s fatally wrong, because the society our “Christianity” has brought about is killing people directly and, also directly, causing them to scoff at and reject the message of Christ.  So there seems to be a bit of a conundrum here.

But wait. Could it be that these 78 percent of “Christian” Americans actually just share a profound devotion to American Christiandom instead of to Jesus Christ? Could it be that American Evangelical Christiandom, or Christiandumb, has become a sad, sick, impotent and irrelevant expression of Jesus’ message? Could it be that TV preachers and their almost uniformly silly and vapid or foul and perverted “gospel” has defined the faith for so long that we haven’t the faintest idea what lives of mature discipleship and solid theology even look like? And could it be that a huge chunk of this 78% presumes that they’re Christian simply because they once said a prayer, or said the Pledge, or were born not-something-else, and, for the purposes of the rich and powerful who shameless exploit them and still garner their support, that was good enough?

Could it be that a huge percentage of the huge percentage of Americans who call themselves Christians have no idea whatsoever “taking up your cross daily” and following the Messiah really means?  Because something’s not right here.  Either atheism is a preferred practice for individuals and communities, or Christian faith is.  So when the Christian faith that’s evinced leads to the horrific injustices here not found there, we probably ought to — need to — examine if what we’re calling “Christianity” has the slightest thing to do with the message and life of Jesus Christ.

And guess what?  I’m pretty sure that I’m on solid logical, social, and, more important, Biblical ground in asserting that the injustice-indifferent, corruption-coddling, masculinist, materialistic, feel-good, market-driven, unbalanced, childish spectacle that tickles our ears and makes us willing to whore ourselves with every Gospel-countering political movement that soothes us even as it offends Christ isn’t Christianity at all.  It is, however, a potent portrait of patriarchy in practice, and I can’t think of much else that’s more antithetical to Jesus Christ than that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the religious, economic, social, and political climate of this country is the result of more than three-quarters of its people sharing a profound devotion to Jesus Christ, something’s wrong. Oh, wait. Could it be that they share a profound devotion to American Christiandom instead? Could it be that A.C. has become a sad, sick, impotent and irrelevant expression of Jesus’ message? And could it be that a huge chunk of this 78% presumes that they’re Christian simply because they once said a prayer, or said the Pledge, or were born not-something-else, and, for the purposes of the rich and powerful, that was good enough?

A Mass Of Contradictions — To Others, That Is

Friday, November 1st, 2013

I hear this all the time — “You’re a feminist AND a Christian?” “You’re an evangelical AND you believe in evolution?” “You’re a woman AND you pastored?”  “You trust the Bible AND you believe that lesbian and gay couples have the rather obvious right to civil marriage?”  “You’re a Christian AND you like punk music/want marijuana legalized/hate today’s Republican Party/are opposed to capital punishment, period, in every case?” “You’re an American AND you have refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance for 40 years? And you think it’s odd that other Jesus-followers do?” “You hate masculinity AND you cherish your husband of 29 years?”

“You’re a woman in her fifties AND you believe that high heels and dresses are tools of patriarchy that limit women’s mobility and compromise women’s safety, and you despise the gobbling up of these fetters and straightjackets by young women?”

The staff at the UPS store where I collect my mail probably has noticed a bit of an apparent contradiction:  On any given day, I get literature from the Democrats, because I subscribe to The Progressive and Mother Jones, as well as from the Republicans, because I order Bibles from Christian Book Distributors.  I get personal mail addressed to Keely Emerine-Mix, which is my name, and to Mrs. Jeff Mix, which is not. And that package I pick up is as likely to contain a nice blouse that caught my eye in the L.L. Bean catalog as it is a copy of some feminist book you’ve never heard of, and that they’ll never make a movie of.

Really, if you know me, you probably don’t know what to do with me.  And if you don’t, you’re likely just as confused, at best, or, at worse, you dismiss me as a confused nutcase.  Or, more likely, you don’t care enough to form an opinion.  Fair enough, and probably healthier.

But as I get back into the blogging groove, these things will become more obvious, and if you’re a Christian, you’ll perhaps be horrified.  Believe me, I hear from you, and I do listen.  But the things I believe, I believe because of my discipleship and allegiance to Jesus Christ.  I won’t go into all of them here — that’s what five-plus years of blog archives are for — but I am confident that the things I believe, the things that motivate me to write, the things I would demonstrate for, be arrested for, and even die for, are things that I believe to be consistent with my Christian faith.  The dissonance, I think, comes from people’s assumption that the Christian faith has anything at all to do with American evangelicalism in the 21st century.

That would be a really faulty assumption.

My faith has more to do with the Gospel than the gaudy, oppressive, masculinist parading on TV that passes for “Christianity” in the media, and in the minds of far too many Christians.  My faith seeks the Way of the Cross, the Third Way that isn’t left or right, but horizontal and vertical.  I practice it poorly — do I really even have to say that? — but it’s what I live for, or, more correctly, it’s why I live at all.  I seek wisdom from Therese of Lisieux and Julian of Norwich and Teresa d’Avila and St. Benedict; I couldn’t care less what John and Stacy Eldredge, Emerson Eggerichs, Focus on the Family, or Ron Luce have to say about anything.  In fact, I only pay attention to them when they say something that not just contradicts, but offends, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I won’t settle for anything less than the full equality and dignity of all that Jesus died for.  I don’t believe you should, either.

I believe that patriarchy, which is most often expressed through violence, money, and power, is the root of all social evils, and I believe that the Church has fallen for Satan’s great lie in denying women full participation and exercise of their tremendous, God-given gifts.  God is not sexed — God is both male and female, and so God is not gendered — the Divine is free from gender, neither masculine nor feminine, but Spirit.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit isn’t masculine or feminine.  It’s the only full demonstration of Godly love, allegiance, and character.  Period.  So I despise Christian masculinism, Christian patriarchy, and Christian virility.  I think they’re oxymoronic, as well as most often simply moronic, and very, very often utterly despicable and violent.  I am a woman who was raped in 1980, and three-plus decades later, I refuse to “examine myself” to see if I “held any responsibility” for a man’s decision to pound himself into me.  I think you would be well-advised to not suggest that I do.  I have a bit of a temper, and more than a bit of a holy anger.

So I invite you to join me where the Prevailing Winds blow, and I always welcome your comments — remember, send them to me at siyocreo@live.com, not at the blogsite (I’ve been spammed).  I will always try to engage with as much love toward my critics as I do toward my friends, and I’ll also tell you the truth:  A prostituted political party that wrongly says that President Obama wants, for example, to “ban all guns,” deserves to be referred to as “dipwads.”  “Whitewashed sepulchres” doesn’t pack a punch anymore, so I’ll go with the more commonly understood term for liars, charlatans, and hard-hearted hedonists who claim Christ.  I try to link some of my Facebook comments to this blog, and vice-versa.  “Dipwads” came, unrepentantly, from a FB post yesterday.  I look forward to hearing from you all, and I truly appreciate your reading.