Monthly Archives: December 2006

Slave Traders?

From a comment by Adrian on INTERVIEW – Dr. Wayne Grudem – Highlights and Reflections.

Perhaps it is just my faulty perception, but it sure feels that way from the emotion that gets thrown about. Certainly Dave Warnock regularly likens complementarians to slave traders…and he isnt as far as I can tell just refering to the arguments over ethical trajectories.

I do? Well just to check I used google on myself (full google, not the "Christian Web" as I am not a Christian). NB The results will obviously change when this  post gets  indexed.

  • Google for "Slave Trader" on 42 zero results.
  • Google for "Trader" on 42 zero results.
  • Google for "Slave" on 42 five results, none relevant to this discussion.
  • Google for "Slavery" on 42 about 24 results. Of these what might be relevant?

I have listed below every relevant text where "slavery" appears in a post or comment by me on 42. If there were truth in the claim "Certainly Dave Warnock regularly likens complementarians to slave traders" then surely one of these google searches would have found it.

Now the nearest is in the first one (fully quoted and linked below). I said:

 

When I have written about
slavery and the articles I have read both have basically pointed out
that Slavery was supported through scripture for many years, the way
Scripture was used and the arguments presented are now discredited.
However, many of the arguments for "male headship" used by Wayne
Grudem, I would claim, are a) similar b) under threat from more careful
and considered readings of scripture. In that way I would claim that
there is a similarity between those who supported slavery from the
Bible and those who support "male headship" from the Bible. This is not
a trajectory, it is not a slippery slope. It is a comparison. Of course
the comparison is very challenging to the "male headship" supporters so
they would rather invoke the threat of slippery slope language.

 

 

The quote from Wayne Grudem
is simply in denial. It is well documented that Christians did argue
that the Bible supported slavery, denominations passed resolutions
supporting slavery from Scripture. Yes we absolutely now believe that
to be wrong and yes I absolutely expect that in a few years we will
feel exactly the same way about those who argue for "male headship"
from the Bible. Oh wait, I already do.

I cannot see that this is a comparison between "male headship" supporters and slave traders.

It is a comparison between arguments that scripture supports slavery and arguments that scripture supports "male headship".

On reflection I would change the word "supports" to "demands support for". Also the sentence "I absolutely expect that in a few years we will
feel exactly the same way about those who argue for "male headship"
from the Bible." is not very well worded and does not accurately reflect what I would wish to say.

Bit to take this and turn it into "Certainly Dave Warnock regularly likens complementarians to slave traders" seems to be going a long long way past what the evidence will support.

What do you think?

Detailed quotes from 42 on slavery in relation to gender.

 

In 42: Wayne Grudem, interview reflections I said:

4. Trajectories.

This was the first I had heard of this argument.

Advocates of evangelical
feminism argue for an "ethical trajectory" approach to Scripture,
appealing to slavery as an example, shortly to be followed in the
debates on the role of women.

I
have re-read it and it seems backwards to me. Wayne Grudem frequently
appeals to the slippery slope argument (which is in plain English what
I believe is meant by an
"ethical trajectory"), I have never heard it used by advocates of evangelical
feminism (although I am not taken by that term especially as it has become a derogatory codeword when used by Wayne Grudem).

When I have written about
slavery and the articles I have read both have basically pointed out
that Slavery was supported through scripture for many years, the way
Scripture was used and the arguments presented are now discredited.
However, many of the arguments for "male headship" used by Wayne
Grudem, I would claim, are a) similar b) under threat from more careful
and considered readings of scripture. In that way I would claim that
there is a similarity between those who supported slavery from the
Bible and those who support "male headship" from the Bible. This is not
a trajectory, it is not a slippery slope. It is a comparison. Of course
the comparison is very challenging to the "male headship" supporters so
they would rather invoke the threat of slippery slope language.

The quote from Wayne Grudem
is simply in denial. It is well documented that Christians did argue
that the Bible supported slavery, denominations passed resolutions
supporting slavery from Scripture. Yes we absolutely now believe that
to be wrong and yes I absolutely expect that in a few years we will
feel exactly the same way about those who argue for "male headship"
from the Bible. Oh wait, I already do.

In a comment on 42: When did the practice of ordaining women begin? I wrote

Pam is correct that the Church for many years used scripture
(particularly Paul) to justify slavery. Now some parts of it use it to
justify keeping women from ordination. We see the issues as being
related.

In a comment on 42: A4G: Introduction part 1. I wrote

Yes there is a reading of scripture that gives male leadership. But
there are other readings and these are accepted many many denominations
and Churches that ordain and have been ordaining women for many years.
Given this fact it is inappropriate to act as if all Church leaders are
male, or as if that is the only valid interpretation of scripture.

200 years ago conservative Christians argued that slavery was
biblical in very similar ways. Do you accept that interpretation was
wrong? If so then you have to consider the possibility that huge
numbers of churches and denominations that have examined this issue and
chosen to ordain women MAY be right, therefore to claim an exclusively
correct understanding of the gospel is what is ridiculous.

In a comment on 42: Can you respect scripture and allow women to teach, lead, minister? I wrote

Ah Libbie,

My apologies. My quote should be more specific and refer to
authority. eg Jesus choosing women to be the first witnesss to the
resurrection, Jesus saying Mary is right to study at his feet (ie train
for ministry). However I find it hard to reconcile men putting limits
(by the way they interpret scripture) on what women can do with saying
that thay have a vital role. To me it has reminders back to slavery and
racism where people said "My slaves are happy because I treat them
well".

I saw Ligons response on Jollyblogger. I found it arrogant and
condescending. He talks about Roger Nicole saying nobody loves him more
than they do while re-asserting that he is damaging the witness of the
Gospel.

Yes I totally dislike these labels. I propose a change. Instead of
"complementary" let us use "insulting" for the position that denies
women their God given role. (NB Warning, this was a poor attempt at
humour).

What is the Christian Web

In Comments, Links, Copyright Policy, and Searching the Christian Web we read that Adrian has:

Searching the Christian Web

I have implemented a modified
Google seach engine at the top of this blog. You are free to implement
this search engine on your site or to suggest major Christian websites
I can include in it via email.

To include the seach engine on your site, simply utilise the following code:

I can find no details on what this Christian Web is. Is Adrian now the sole judge of what is Christian or not? Seems a bold claim? How do we find out what sites are on the white list?

Maybe Adrian could commercialise this discover, others have spent years trying to find out how to project children from unsuitable content on the internet. Clearly all they needed to do was ask Adrian. How does he find the time to run a successful blog and monitor the billions of web pages around the world?

Oh and no surprise to discover that I don’t appear to be Christian, please don’t tell the Methodist Church before they ordain me. On the other hand it appears the Methodist Church is not Christian either (so you won’t be able to find them on the internet to tell them I am no longer Christian). Mind you this is not anti Methodist as neither the Baptist Union, nor the Church of England are their either. Wow suddenly looks a bit small this Christian Web!

As Pam said in a comment:

The ironic thing about "leadership", I have found, is that if one does
what is right and one does NOT want power over others, people will
follow you. That, to me, is true leadership and it can’t be faked.
People by and large know if a person is pretending not to want power
over them but really does.

21 years ago today

Approximately twenty one years ago today, Jane met my parents for the first time. That was at my 21st birthday celebration and came a couple of weeks after our first date.

So today I have been dating Jane for more than half my life (the better half).

Thank-you Jane!

Can the gender debate move forward?

In A Thaw in the Gender War? Adrian has linked to my earlier post 42: Failing Jesus and living under attack (also I just noticed he has added a comment directly).

However, he has not quoted the last paragraph which is:

"Finally I pray for love, wisdom, understanding and compassion as I seek to engage with Christians who hold very different views. I recognise that I find this most difficult as I seek to stand alongside those who I believe are not receiving justice. Lord help me to stand for justice alongside the weak and powerless and to do so in a way that points to you, that reflects your way, that at all times gives you honour."

The significance is shown in Suzanne’s comment on Adrians post:

For my part, I feel that I have stayed with telling the truth and
quoting books. I feel that others who comment on this blog have said
some very unpleasant things both about me and to me.

As I
said, I don’t, as a women, feel very comfortable here. Complementarian
men and egalitarian men may be equal, but women are not. I feel very
hurt by the way I have been treated.

That comment from Suzanne demonstrates why I think my last paragraph is important. I fully agree with her sentiment and my post was not intended to show acceptance of "male headship", nor was it intended to support any kind of club between men of different views against women.

Instead I was intending to move the debate into a more appropriately Christian frame by recognising my own failings.

Adrian, Can we take this forward?

I am concerned with scripture, justice and faith. Therefore I will not drop this issue. However, I am also concerned about how to pursue this in a Christian way.

In your case I do feel that people have tried to engage with your side of the debate, however, there are 2 missing features:

i) I think it is time that your reciprocated. When is there going to be a similar engagement with thinking of those with views that are different to yours? Pam’s post How to Dialogue with "Liberal" Christians (note that I don’t particularly consider myself a liberal) provides some good hints on what is needed. There are plenty of posts that it would be good to see you engage with or simply do a respectful interview with a leading theologian who is on the other side of this debate to you. Alternatively there are plenty of challenges that the "male headship" view avoids addressing (except it seems to me by attacking the people rather than the argument) – why not ask Pam, Suzanne, Molly, Sally, Maggi Dawn or another of a million prominent woman theologians for an interview (making sure they get final approval over everything that is written).

ii) is there any hope of an approach from you that recognises the hurt that Suzanne, Pam, Molly, BD and so many other women feel? See the comments on your own blog as well as those on 42: Wayne Grudem, interview reflections. An approach that also addresses the use of language in your recent posts that causes further offence to people who disagree with you? You know what I mean. The slippery slope, the implications that those who disagree are neither evangelical nor at times seemingly Christian. The implications that Wayne Grudem is worthy of more respect because he is male.

Why do I think these things would be helpful. Well I am absolutely certain you are on both the wrong side and the losing side in this debate (and I recognise that is a difficult place for you to be), however, on your side at this point – the ways and means are of far more importance than the results.  In a comment to 42: Wayne Grudem, interview reflections I quoted

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -Mahatma Gandhi

Which stage are we at in this debate? (hint I don’t think you are on Gandhi’s side). Pam, Molly, and Suzanne have all related to being ignored, ridiculed and fought – when are you going to recognise the inevitability of justice and jump to the end?

Please, having accepted my post 42: Failing Jesus and living under attack recognise that the ball is now in your court, fill me with joy as you demonstrate grace, reconciliation and grace to those of us who disagree with you and have been hurt by your recent posts.

Note that I am not realistically expecting you to change your view on this issue. I am hoping and praying that you will make my heart sing with joy by the way you now respond with grace, love and respect.

Failing Jesus and living under attack

It seems to me that one of the problems with the debate over the ordination of women and the roles of women and men generally is that both sides feel that they are being attacked. Or at least if they are attacking that they are doing so in response to injustice.

I have just been reading on Adrians blog Michael Burer Enters the Junia Debate to Support the Article He Wrote with Dan Wallace in particular I think the comments from Wayne Leman are very important, they include:

Let’s stop talking about egalitarians and complementarians as if they
are enemies. Instead, let’s love one another as Jesus said we must, so
that the world will know that we are his disciples. And instead of
stereotyping people by our assumptions of them based on our beliefs
about their beliefs, let’s get back to the biblical text. We’re never
going to convince each other just arguing our ideologies. We must focus
on the biblical text. And when we differ, we differ. We have to live
with that. It’s been that way for millennia and the church has
withstood that tension.

As I reflected  on my own behaviour and writing that lead me to the following.

I confess and ask for forgiveness that despite my greatest desire and best intentions to love others as Jesus did and as he told me to do as well that I frequently fail and that recently Adrian Warnock and Wayne Grudem have got the brunt of it.

I also confess that my failings to love also demonstrate my failings as a pacifist. It has seemed to me more and more a requirement that to follow Jesus closely I should renounce violence in all aspects of my life. I don’t do this very well and I am sure that this comes across in what I write here on 42.  Therefore I specifically confess and seek forgiveness for my desire to wring Wayne Grudems neck and my desire to shake some sense into Adrian.

I also confess and ask forgiveness for the way I may seem to reject other Churches and Christians when they seem reject things I hold dear. I do not believe that is the way of the Gospel and I recommit myself to walking alongside those I disagree with, to being vulnerable in front of them just as God became vulnerable alongside us at Christmas.

I also confess and ask forgiveness for my actions that seem to show that I believe that I should only show love, acceptance and forgiveness if those who disagree with me will do it as well and preferably first. That is not the way Jesus lived or taught and whenever I live by those rules I fail him.

In reflecting on this I notice that I find these things easier face to face. That here in Raunds I am able to work with the Community Church (Pioneer), the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. That face to face can be easier than online post to post. In light of that I offer a warm welcome to Adrian and Wayne Grudem to spend some time in worship and fellowship with me next time they are near the centre of the world that is Raunds.

Finally I pray for love, wisdom, understanding and compassion as I seek to engage with Christians who hold very different views. I recognise that I find this most difficult as I seek to stand alongside those who I believe are not receiving justice. Lord help me to stand for justice alongside the weak and powerless and to do so in a way that points to you, that reflects your way, that at all times gives you honour.

trying to be good while following bad advice = failure

So I have spent a couple of days trying to try to increase the amount of riding I get to do. I followed this: How to Become an Early Riser (well sort of. Well more honestly not a lot – cos I think it is simplisitic and inapplicable to my work/role).

Anyway yesterday morning I went for a lovely ride at 7:30 for an hour before a prayer meeting. Despite the drizzle rain it felt good. So I went for the repeat today.

Not so good.

Today was icy and going around a parked van in Hargrave I came off. Well more accurately, my bike went down fast and lacking levitation skills I went with it. No real harm done except to ego, but I did come home a much shorter way than planned.

I have spent quite a bit of the last few days/weeks visiting in hospital, maybe I should have fallen a bit harder and then it would just be a walk down the corridor to do all the visiting, much more efficient don’t you think.

Sadly I have setup my trike for Jane to ride at the moment, otherwise I would have been on that enjoying sliding on the ice. I bought my first recumbent trike soon after coming off on the ice (amusingly I was on the way to the chiropractic at the time – he ended up with more work than expected). It is one of the times that a trike really scores over a 2 wheeler.

Anyway I did go and read a few pages over at this StevePavlina.com site (the one that tells me how to get up in the morning. It also tells me how to make a fortune from my blog. If I look long enough on there I am sure I can find a piece of simplistic advice for every situation that could me money for Mr Pavlina. One question you rarely hear from self help people is "why?". So when I read

If your blog provides genuine value, you fully deserve to earn income from it.

I like to ask "why?" and "what does this tell me about the author and their value system?" Then I can see how relevant the advice is. As I do not live in a world where value can only and is only defined in monetary terms, hence the advice is not relevant.

In the words of the old story.

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding
their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the
students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of
potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The
teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow
old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do."

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass
by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student,
"Your eyes are open and you see the world."

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to
chant, nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third
student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with
all beings." The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding
on the golden path of non-harming."

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle." The
teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said,
"I am your disciple."

Well I write on my blog to write on my blog (at least on the good days when I don’t write to remove the sack of potatoes from my back.

Oh and when I have a ride like yesterday I ride my bike to ride my bike. Today I rode my bike to get my body back home. :-)  Yesterday was so beautiful as I rode towards the sunrise with my fixie running along absolutely silently – lovely.

Oh and the bad advice I was trying to follow can be summed up as

"Don’t think for yourself about your own situation, just follow these simple rules and all will be well"

Which means

  1. when you are out til late most nights for work it might not a good idea to set yourself the goal of getting up early every day.
  2. when there has been freezing fog at night it may not be the best time to go out for an early bike ride
  3. reflection is good. I should do it more.

Wayne Grudem, interview reflections

Adrian has written a new post INTERVIEW – Dr. Wayne Grudem – Highlights and Reflections I have some comments, also some on the related topic of Adrians post Comments, Links, Copyright Policy, and Searching the Christian Web. Finally as a Methodist Probationary Minister heading for ordination in the summer I want to relate some of these issues to Methodist Doctrine.

This may take a little space.

1. The problem of understanding.

Adrian writes:

If there is one thing that
stands out from this whole interview, it’s the fact that egalitarians
simply don’t understand what complementarians like Wayne Grudem are
saying.

This may well be true. However any response is difficult because this comment makes an assumption I reject. The assumption is that if only I really understood Wayne Grudem then I would accept his theory of complementarianism ("male headship").

My problem is that I have done my very best to understand Wayne Grudem’s view. I have even waded through his book "Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth". I have read numerous articles by him and other "complementarians" ("male headship" supporters). I have discussed this extensively with a variety of people face to face and online. I have spent hours in Bible Study and Prayer. After all this I sum up my understanding as:

The complementarian ("male headship") agenda is deeply divisive, highly offensive, naive, and scholarly inadequate. It does not stand against the tests of Scripture, tradition, reason or experience.

I therefore reject it entirely. But it seems this is not acceptable to Adrian, he thinks it is still because I don’t understand it. Believe me Adrian the more I attempt to understand this the more I find it offensive.

2. The problems with the arguing

The way that the argument for male headship is presented continues to increase my determination to stand against it. For me this is illustrated by Adrian’s new policy on comments and the wording relating to links to other sites. Now I am totally sympathetic to the need to delete spam, other sneaky advertising and utterly offensive comments. I am also very aware that when you get orders of magnitude more comments than I do then moderation may be needed as a technique.

However, IMO typical of the "male headship" view is what I consider control freakery about silencing dissenting opinions. For one thing it always gives me the impression that the arguments are known to be weak and therefore criticism has to be censored. We can see this in Peter Kirk’s posts.

Time and time again arguments against "male headship" are silently rejected, dismissed as irrelevant or (and in particular) subjected to ad hominen attacks. Two powerful examples are:

It is not of course a surprise that those supporting "male headship" are so dismissive of arguments presented by women, no matter how well qualified, no matter how well researched, no matter the style in which they are written. I suppose we should give them some credit for consistency.

3. Confidence in the Bible
You may be be surprised to find that I am amused by:

At first sight Dr. Grudem’s
charge that it is inevitable that an evangelical feminist positon will
erode confidence in the Bible seemed unduly harsh to many readers.

My point is that making claims that are unjustified and incorrect about the Bible (Inerrancy for example) is far more damaging to confidence in the Bible that anything else can be. Simply shouting that the Bible is inerrant because it says it is (especially as it does not make this claim) discredits serious use of the Bible. The task of serious Bible Translators, Scholars, Students and Readers is all made more difficult by claims to inerrancy against all the evidence.

Then the supposed "killer" quote:

"If I come to a pastor who is wanting to put women on the elder board, or to ordain women as pastors, and I say, “1 Timothy 2:11–14
prohibits that,” and he just says, “I don’t want to hear about that
verse because it’s disputed,” then he has really decided that he won’t
let that verse speak to the controversy. But that is the most central
passage in the whole dispute, the one that speaks most directly to the
issue! If we refuse to be subject to passages that speak most directly
to an issue, then we are almost guaranteed to come to the wrong
decision. I’m not sure if I can think of a better way to come to a
wrong decision than excluding from the discussion the verses that speak
most directly to an issue."

Ok, here I am a Pastor who wants (and celebrates) ordained and lay women in positions of authority. Please listen to me. I do not say “I don’t want to hear about that
verse because it’s disputed,” I have never said
“I don’t want to hear about that
verse because it’s disputed,”. In all the discussions over the years I have never heard anyone say
“I don’t want to hear about that
verse because it’s disputed,”. Instead I have seen time and time again people seriously dig into that verse and the wider text, its meaning, its relationship to the rest of Scripture, its context etc.

4. Trajectories.

This was the first I had heard of this argument.

Advocates of evangelical
feminism argue for an "ethical trajectory" approach to Scripture,
appealing to slavery as an example, shortly to be followed in the
debates on the role of women.

I have re-read it and it seems backwards to me. Wayne Grudem frequently appeals to the slippery slope argument (which is in plain English what I believe is meant by an "ethical trajectory"), I have never heard it used by advocates of evangelical
feminism (although I am not taken by that term especially as it has become a derogatory codeword when used by Wayne Grudem).

When I have written about slavery and the articles I have read both have basically pointed out that Slavery was supported through scripture for many years, the way Scripture was used and the arguments presented are now discredited. However, many of the arguments for "male headship" used by Wayne Grudem, I would claim, are a) similar b) under threat from more careful and considered readings of scripture. In that way I would claim that there is a similarity between those who supported slavery from the Bible and those who support "male headship" from the Bible. This is not a trajectory, it is not a slippery slope. It is a comparison. Of course the comparison is very challenging to the "male headship" supporters so they would rather invoke the threat of slippery slope language.

The quote from Wayne Grudem is simply in denial. It is well documented that Christians did argue that the Bible supported slavery, denominations passed resolutions supporting slavery from Scripture. Yes we absolutely now believe that to be wrong and yes I absolutely expect that in a few years we will feel exactly the same way about those who argue for "male headship" from the Bible. Oh wait, I already do.

5. Hope for the Future

I 100% agree

". . . it is always wise to
have a governing structure where the highest governing offices in the
church and the highest positions of influence are open to lay people as
well as ordained people. The denominations where only clergy have the
highest of authority seem to be the ones that are never able to be
brought back once they drift into liberalism because the ordinary lay
people who have common sense and are reading their Bibles every day
don’t have any way to regain control of a denomination that has gone
astray if it has that kind of structure."

When he starts thinking and writing inclusively of all people rather than just men suddenly Wayne Grudem almost starts to make sense.

6. Methodist Doctrine

A reminder from the British Methodist Deed of Union

The Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which is the Body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the apostolic faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation. It ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread scriptural holiness through the land by the proclamation of the evangelical faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission.

The doctrines of the evangelical faith which Methodism has held from the beginning and still holds are based upon the divine revelation recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Methodist Church acknowledges this revelation as the supreme rule of faith and practice.

Yes I am a Methodist and therefore an evangelical and very proud of it.