Monthly Archives: June 2007

Things in common?

What do the following have in common:

  • Our Hamster "Fred" in an exercise ball
  • A playmobile train
  • Scalectrix
  • A radio controlled car
  • Ephesians 3:14-21

All props in use during tomorrows service at Raunds Methodist Church and the connection explained. For anyone just reading this on the internet – tough! You should have come and worshipped with us :-)

Going the wrong way

The comments on 42: Some catch-up have focused on the idea that Church and particularly prayer meetings are feminine.

Warning rant ahead!

I have been thinking about this and have come to the conclusion (again) that this is a load of rubbish. This on at least two counts.

First it is grotesque to claim that anything but warrior prayer is feminine and not for real men. Secondly, it is a total sell out to a violent world to claim that 50% of humanity cannot escape from violence & male headship and that Christian worship and Spiritual life must therefore pander to this world view.

Both these assertions (although generally proponents attempt to present them through clever marketing) are a betrayal of the idea that all humans are created in the image of God. They manipulate and devalue the humanity of Christ.

If the world is saying that the Church is feminine because it expects men to pray and that prayer includes things such as meditation, actually getting to know something about yourself and about the God you worship then the world is wrong. If Christians attempt to get men into the Church by claiming that the world is right and that it needs to be more "masculine" by accepting violent language and aggressive prayer then the Church is wrong.

I strongly believe that this butch view of masculinity is not of God and that it is not supported by the New Testament. When God chose to become fully human as Jesus the Christ it was not as some modern understanding of a butch masculine warrior (although as we see in the gospels that is exactly what many wanted him to be).

When people claim that the Church is to feminine and that men are being put off by this then we need to look long and hard at their understandings of masculine and feminine and be ready to challenge the extent to which they have surrendered the gospel to the ways of the world.

Now do not take this the wrong way. I have no objection to mens prayer meetings, nor to womens prayer meetings. I have no objection to challenging the ways of the world (indeed I believe the gospel demands it). I absolutely believe the gospel is a vital message of salvation for men and women that will transform their lives and the communities in which they live. I absolutely believe in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in God’s people. I sincerely pray and work for revival in this land and think that many of the points made by Alasdair in his posts are important and that the church has failed and is failing many communities. But to blame this on feminisation of the Church is a red herring (especially as that claim is being made about Churches in which the leadership is still overwhelmingly dominated by men).

As an aside I am pleased to say that in the Churches that I serve there is a higher % of men in prayer meetings than in Church for Sunday worship (not that either the % of men in Church or the % of worshippers in prayer meetings is anything like what I would like to see).

What I suspect is happening is that some powerful men with an agenda have seized an opportunity. They see that some parts of Christianity have a low view of the power of God to transform lives and communities today. They see Churches that do not appear to believe in the Holy Spirit at work today. They see that some churches have opened up to allow and encourage wider participation and leadership in worship & mission. Then they make a huge leap onto their own agenda and blame all the things that they do not like on "feminisation" of the church. It gives them an open playing field to fight for their own agenda of male headship.

I challenge this view and fortunately the evidence is all around to support me. Once you take scripture seriously and move beyond a few out of context proof texts the idea that the New Testament, that Jesus himself supports this masculine view is preposterous. The evidence of women throughout Scripture and Church history as well as in the world today also demonstrates the absurdity of that view.

If we are to reach a world that needs Christ more than ever before then we are going to need the God given calling, gifts and talents of every woman, man and child working together for the glory of God. Yes that means change, yes that means radical discipleship. But lets not demean, degrade and lie about it by calling it a move to a masculine Church.

Some catch-up

A variety of things I have been meaning to blog about but have not given up on properly doing so. All are worth reading:

Wow no more open tabs. Fantastic.

The pain of boots on other feet

In an update to Christianity Magazine reviews Pierced For Our Transgressions Adrian writes

I am beginning to get that those with more traditional understandings are not entirely welcome within the UK Evangelical movement.  I had hoped that this was just a false impression.  Since writing this article, I came across a piece from Carl Trueman that alleges that some UK ministers feel that they are being leant on quite strongly on the issue of the atonement.  It is important for me to stress that this article is not meant as a criticism of the entire UK Evangelical scene,  but is rather my own personal reflections on a sense I am getting that UK Evangelicalism is heading in a direction I am increasingly uncomfortable with.

I find it rather ironic that during Adrian’s series on atonement he has been leaning very hard on anyone who does not completely accept his own view on penal substitution (which is over on one extreme of those who accept PSA) and now when some seem to have the boot on the other foot he is complaining that he does not feel welcome. I feel like shouting welcome to the club that you have been busy putting everyone else in over the past months.

However, I will be restrained.

I do not believe in a Christianity, or an Evangelical Christianity which does not welcome Adrian and those like him who believe so strongly in PSA. Mind you I also do not believe in a Christianity which demands that all believe in PSA nor an Evangelical Christianity which demands the same understanding and acceptance of PSA that Adrian has.

I do believe that in his series Adrian has demonstrated clearly that the form of PSA he believes in is rather extreme (the focus on God’s wrath, on God killing Jesus, on the absolute centrality of PSA to the gospel as examples). However, none of those mean he should be excluded from being part of the ecumenical community.

We do need to recognise though that it is always a difficult challenge to include in a community those who continually attempt to exclude others.

Personally I feel that a great deal of vague accusations fly in this debate and as a result attempts are made to nail down in concrete things that should not (and  never have been before) so absolute fixed and rigid.

Many of us have been on the receiving end of what we consider abuses on PSA. That should not lead us to assume that all supporters of PSA are going to abuse us or the theory. Equally denying that anyone has ever abused PSA is unhelpful, we are sinful human beings and we do sometimes get things wrong.

Essentially what we need around here is a good example of undeserved love that we can come together around, fortunately we do all know of one such example. May we come together under the Lordship of Jesus.