Monthly Archives: July 2008

Twenty years and counting

Today (well looking at the clock I mean yesterday ie Wednesday) was our 20th wedding anniversary.

Yes we had flowers, chocolates and a meal out together (no kids!). We also spent time at a funeral, which is maybe not the most romantic thing to do on your wedding anniversary, but this was an important one.

Anyway, still very much in love, more so than ever before and very happy to be growing old together :-)

Anyway it seemed timely to mention it given: Complegalitarian: Will Positive Examples Be Taken Seriously?.

And Are They Yet Alive

John has the best summary of activity relating to the blogging handover of Methodist President and Vice President in: Listen : Think : Act: And Are They Yet Alive.

Since then David Walton, the new VP, has posted: The President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference: At last (2)…!

I have, of course, subscribed to Ruby’s new blog: A good woman’s price is far above rubies.

Are we going to dare to hope for a blog from our new General Secretary (Martyn Atkins)?

The three links

Three recent links to 42.

Firstly, a link which should be categorised as "Oop’s": Today is the One Year Anniversary of My Ordination « Ramblings from Red Rose.

congratulations to my friend Dave Warnock at 42, who I met a year ago
on the ordinands retreat and who also celebrates his one year

Thanks Will, sorry to have forgotten to say thanks before now.

The next two are related through Mark Driscoll. The first from a great fan (not):

In Two blokes blog: Mark Driscoll.

"I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot
worship a guy I can beat up."

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.

But I have a very
important question for you to consider. Who would win in this fight:

Mark Driscoll v Todd Bentley

No spiritual weapons or metal bars allowed, just man on man, UFC rules.
In a metal cage. Serious answers only please.

I suggest you just let your minds bloggle at the thought.

Secondly, from MetaCatholic » Interpretation: from Bible to Beatles (a weekend round-up).

baffled by the way in which the subordination of women seems to be
becoming a renewed tenet of some forms of evangelical orthodoxy as
ideas from the Us culture wars cross the pond. See this post by Dave
Warnock. In the name of taking a “biblical” position on women, the
frankly appalling Mark Driscoll (see this post) is very clear that
family must come before church. As Jesus said. Not.

Reforming Reformed Ministry

I read:

This is the mentality of the gospel. An attitude of trust toward
others. An attitude of generosity and warmth. Ortlund finds himself
being read by me, a fellow ‘Reformed’ blogger, but imagine if we all
took on this humble gracious approach to one another. Trusting other
Christians instead of suspecting them. Seeking what was best for them. [at: the blue fish project: This is the acid test of a truly Reformed ministry – that other believers need not be Reformed in order to be respected and included in our hearts]

That post quotes from Christ is deeper still: Truly reformed which ends with:

My Reformed friend, can you move among other Christian groups and
really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them
in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of
your heart – toward them or away from them? If your Reformed theology
has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to
abandon your Reformed theology. The remedy is to take your Reformed
theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it
humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be
around. The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful
Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people.
Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally
one – in Christ alone.

I confess my heart sang. A change of heart, a new beginning, hope for reconciliation, recognition, mutual support and encouragement. A move away from the blue fish project: Christianity & Liberalism that includes:

What we can observe is two different religions. One called Liberalism

The ministry of the Holy Spirit divides.

But then I noticed some of the key phrases included in the post like:

Whatever divides us emotionally from other Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Christians is a “plus” we’re adding to the gospel.

So does this mean this new approach is only to those the "Reformed" define as Bible believing? That typically means an understanding of Scripture that goes beyond the Evangelical Alliance Basis of Faith by demanding a belief in the inerrancy (itself recent and modernist) of Scripture.

[Aside] For some of what I have written before on inerrancy see 42: Series on Inerrancy, 42: What’s wrong with biblical inerrancy?, 42: Loads more in inerrancy and Biblical Authority and 42: Self-identity shock [end aside]

I look forward with some hope and my prayers are that this will be a turning point, a real change in the attitudes of those who self-identify first as Reformed and second as Christian. A change that will allow other Christians to work with them following acceptance of their discipleship.

The End of the PCUSA? Revisited

Mark Roberts has written a significant piece. The 8 parts are collected together at The End of the PCUSA? Revisited. In his conclusion he writes:

For thirty years members of the PCUSA have battled over the ordination of active homosexuals, with one side fighting for justice and the other side fighting for righteousness.

It seems profoundly sad that there is this huge divide, I think that although it seems hugely simplistic to summarise the two positions in this way it is as helpful a summary as is possible.

I do struggle with the perception that it is not possible to hold to the justice view from a Biblical perspective, I do not believe that is the case. However, I accept that reconciliation over this issue seems to be beyond us at present (clearly not beyond the power of the Holy Spirit and I would say that reconciliation is clearly demanded by the Gospel – but we often fail to allow the Holy Spirit freedom to heal and change us).

I read the sections as they came out and commented on one: A Brief Account of the Not-So-Brief History of the PCUSA and Homosexuality, Section 2. Mark had written:

“I was walking out behind a man who had spoken strongly in favor of a biblical understanding of homosexuality”

I wrote (and still do feel) that

I think this is a poor choice of words. It makes it seem that you
believe there is no other possible understanding of scripture than your
own. Yet we should recognise that there are many who, after detailed
study of their own, have come to a different understanding of
scripture. At the very least I think you ought to modify the phrase to
something like “a traditional biblical understanding of homosexuality”.

It is easy to write and speak in polarising ways (and I know that my blog writing can easily come over more polarising than I am face to face and more than I am happy about).

As one of those  Mark would characterise as being on the justice side of the debate I find comments that imply that I do not hold myself accountable to scripture (such as in the post at the blue fish project: Christianity & Liberalism) or that I am uninterested in righteousness frustrating in their refusal to take my discipleship seriously.

Obviously it is easy for me to cause offence on the other side by implying that those whom Mark characterises as being on the righteousness side are all bigots, uninterested in justice, with a poor understanding of their interpretation of Scripture and an unwillingness to recognise other understandings of Scripture.

While there are obvious dangers of going to either extreme, I am personally confident that I would rather face my Lord having focused too much on justice than too much on righteousness.

I don’t recall Jesus rebuking anyone for their focus on justice. Whereas in the gospels there are harsh words for those who are over focused on righteousness. In saying that I am well aware that those on the righteousness side would want to put clear water between themselves and the Pharisees and I am certainly not flinging about accusations of Pharisaic behaviour. It is simply that the reminder makes me content with the place I am at and the focus I have.


Becki’s Wanderings: Together on a Mission

I have at last found a post that mentions the sessions at the New Frontiers, Together on a Mission conference that mentions the sessions led by women: Becki’s Wanderings: Together on a Mission.

As you would expect those sessions appear to have been all about how to be a proper Christian Woman. Becki came away entused and inspired to read a book ‘God’s Design for Women’ by Sharon James which raises my normal hackles. See this about the book:

Women today are encouraged to think they can ‘have it all’: career success and family fulfilment at the same time. But these external measures of ‘success’ leave many feeling inadequate. Sharon James shows that every woman has dignity as she has been made in the image of God, and that every woman can find true fulfilment when she understands, enjoys and fulfils her creation design.

God’s design for women has been written for:

- Christian women who want positive biblical teaching on womanhood, including issues such as singleness, marriage,  motherhood and workplace

- Church leaders who want to encourage biblical women’s ministries

- Students and others who want a biblical perspective on modern feminism and women in ministry

Questions for group discussion are provided.

Sharon James has degrees in history (Cambridge University) and theology (Toronto Baptist Seminary). She has taught history in the UK and Malawi and has written articles for a number of Christian journals. Her husband Bill is pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Church, Leamington Spa, and they have two children.

Aarghh, I hate this hijacking of "Biblical perspective" and "Biblical teaching". They should actually go and read some feminist theology and discover that it is in fact Biblical teaching. Or they should be honest and admit they are talking about "Male Headship teaching" and "Male headship perspective".

I hate the way that these huge side swipes are taken against feminist thinking and equality as if they are the cause of

"Women today are encouraged to think they can ‘have it all’: career
success and family fulfilment at the same time. But these external
measures of ‘success’ leave many feeling inadequate.

Such thinking has nothing to do with Feminist Theology, in fact it seems to me that the stress on needing to be a perfect wife and mother comes principally from the male headship movement because that is all they value in women (or at least it gets a whole load of attention – just look at how frequently men in the comments on 42: New Frontiers and Women tell us how they value women for their work in the home and childcare).

In my experience Christian feminist thinking is actually freeing for women and men. It sets us free from stereotypes that may not fit and free from rigid expectations, free to be the people that we are created to be. Free to work out our relationships in ways that are appropriate for our personalities, preferences and abilities.

Stress results from trying to meet contrasting expectations. I see that most where you have a male headship Church (marketed as complementarian as that sounds better) conflicting with a society that does not demand a women to achieve fulfilment by serving men. Note that male headship can be just as destructive for men as it can for women (the discomfort of being such a church when in a happy relationship where the woman is the natural leader).

Of course if you abandon faith and do not see yourself as a servant of Christ, a disciple, then worldly definitions of success can kill you, but that is true for both men and women. It is not the result of feminism but of materialism, of greed, of pride and status ie of sin.

[update] See thoughts by Auntie Doris at  Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.

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