Monthly Archives: July 2011

Teaching in stark contrast: your preference?

Here are two posts from yesterday, both from Newfrontiers bloggers.

I felt it was worth comparing the style of teaching between

Dave Bish: People are bruised reeds, please don't break us.

Which fits the new style of Newfrontiers better?
One takes US aggressive teaching and welcomes it while the other wrestles with it.
I know which I want to make time to read and am able to engage with positively.

The Dangers of Feminism!

I wonder how the "Complementarians" and supporters of "Male Headship" who don't like my campaigning against Male Headship teaching in Churches such as Newfrontiers will respond to this: Women of Christian Modesty: The Dangers of Feminism! By David J. Stewart

Some choice quotes:

  • "Feminism is a deadly evil, responsible for most divorces today, especially in America! Feminism is so prevalent that many Christian families have been infiltrated with this destructive menace–virtually undetected."
  • "Weigand, a lecturer at Smith College, shows that modern feminism is a direct outgrowth of American Communism."
  • "Christ-honoring Christians will eventually be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for "terrorizing" homosexuals."
  • "Feminism is anti-God, anti-marriage, and anti-family."
  • "There are few things worse in my opinion, than a woman who takes on the disposition of an authoritative man."
  • "Feminism is rebellion against the Word of God. Feminism is impatient, and seeks immediate divorce from a husband who exercises his authority over his wife."
  • "Women today have been brainwashed by domestic violence literature to seek divorce at the first sign of abuse."
  • "You probably won't like this; but a husband has a God-given RIGHT to decide who his wife associates with, where she goes, when she goes there, when she has sex with him, how she dresses, etc. Now a loving husband will be fair, and desire for his wife to have a happy life; but the husband should have veto power in a marriage."
  • " I am not advocating domestic violence; but a husband who tracks his wife's time, whereabouts, and associations is NOT being abusive–he is RULING over his wife as God expects him to."
  • "Today, a woman living in America can CRUCIFY her husband if he tries to control her, which is his Biblical right. Feminism forbids a husband from controlling his wife in any manner; but God says the husband should have total control."
  • "Please don't misunderstand what I am saying; I'm not against helping a legitimately battered woman getting on her feet. However, many of the women claiming spousal abusive are shiftless, lazy, irresponsible, cut-throat women who simply exploit the system to leave their husband. They're looking for an easy way out. The system is often a "way out" for careless and irresponsible women who leave their husbands holding the bag–the job, the mortgage, the kids, the problems, the debts, etc."
Jane and I celebrated our 23rd Wedding anniversary this weekend. Not too bad for a pair of feminists, now I just need to join the Communist Party for my life to be complete.
I belueve those who support Male Headship or it's marketing friendly cousin Complementarianism need to
  • show clearly how their teaching cannot be understood in this way and how their view of submission is not a slippery slope to this hateful treatment of women
  • clearly reject this understanding with clear teaching on why the Bible does not support this view.
  • demonstrate through the way they include and support women in their Churches that the treatment suggested in this article will not be tolerated

Note that in this instance I am not asking you to renounce Male Headship but to agree that this is a gross mis-representationship of your understanding of Male Headship.

Don't you hate it when those "Communist New World Order" feminists tell you your husband can't rape you?

How to move forward?

So I was thinking about the news particularly from Somalia and Norway but also of Amy Winehouse.

Seems to me the answers can only come from a combination (in any order) of

  • truth
  • justice
  • recoincilation
  • love
  • forgiveness
  • mercy
  • compassion

When it comes to the how and where we can find this in our hurting, broken world I have only one idea. Jesus.

But that will require us to search for, find and understand in radically different ways to the ones we so often tried and experienced in the past.

When faced with the horrors of the past few days what have we to lose? We see that the current ways are not working. Seems like it might be time to try something different, something radically different.

How different can we dare to think God wants us to be?

How different can we dare to allow God to re-make us?

How different can we dare to think God is working for through his Holy Spirit right now?

Meanwhile let us hold the people of Somalia & Norway in our prayers along with the family & friends of Amy Winehouse and all others who mourn loved ones today.

Newfrontiers a new start?

It is just possible that we might be starting to see positive change from Newfrontiers.

Following a significant speech from Dave Stroud at this years TOAM "Together On A Mission" which David Matthias describes as A very important 10 minutes we now have the first public challenge I have seen of Mark Driscoll from Newfrontiers. Also from David Matthias we have a call for an apology in A real shame.

Of course Christian repentance is not just about saying sorry but about a change of heart & direction, a desire for forgiveness and reconciliation. However, even a call for an apology from Newfrontiers is a step in the right direction and to be welcomed.

I have already mentioned Dave Stround's speech in 42: Newfrontiers want to welcome radical feminists. I have since listened to it (and it would be much easier to respond accuratelty and fairly if there was a transcript available). There are some welcome challenges to some of the attitudes that we have seen in the past. Many of the changes Dave Stroud talks about in a 10 minute section of his 80 minute speech are welcome. Hopefully it will result in a changes in the style of interactions we see from Newfrontiers bloggers for example:

  • less ignoring women (deleting comments, ignoring emails and comments etc)
  • less redefining evangelicalism to exclude others
  • fewer accusations of blasphemy or heresy
  • more willingness to challenge hatred from the likes of Mark Driscoll

Even more important would be some changes on the ground. Just one simple example is that I know many Methodist ministers, especially those that happen to be women, would appreciate a more generous, welcoming and inclusive approach from Newfrontiers.

However, just as I welcome the possibility of these positive changes so we need to recognise that there are still significant issues. 5 of the most obvious within Dave Stroud's speech are:

1. When he talks about scripture it really bugs me that the use of Scripture by Male Headship devotees is just so bad. This bad scholarship should not be a mark of Evangelicalism which has always held a high value on the authority of Scripture. As always for a Male Headship supporter Genesis 1 is ignored (because it totally contradicts Male Headship) and the exegesis of Genesis 2 never gets to grips with the reality of gender in Hebrew and so is a shaky foundation for Male Headship. See this excellent series 

Then of course the way that he talks of all the women as leaders in the Church in Romans 16 while refusing to recognise that several of them are in roles that Newfrontiers denies for women. Junia as a apostle and Priscilla as the leader of a Church in her home are very obvious. For more detail (lots and lots of detail) see the excellent posts from Suzanne MacCarthy on Junia.

2. The way that Dave says that Newfrontiers theology is not going to change is a problem. He is making a mistake that many other Churches have made in the past. When we say that our theology is not going to change we suddenly elevate Tradition to a higher authority than Scripture. It is a vital key for all Churches to recognise that our Traditions (including our cherished understanding of Theology) must be subservient to the authority of Scripture. I was privileged to be in the Vatican some years ago and hear the head of their Biblical Studies (sadly can't remember the proper name of the group or the man in charge) say that the Catholic Church now recognised that all traditions needed to be subject to the final authority of Scripture (I know there is a debate on how real this has proved to be so far). Newfrontiers need to do the same.

3. I was saddened by the cheap accusation near the start of the talk that "the churches that we have left do nostalgia but we are different because instead we look back with gratitude". It would be good to see a more generous spirit here and for Newfrontiers to recognise is that other Churches change as well. As when the reformation is only remembered in terms of the start of Protestant Churches we miss the reformation within the Catholic Church that resulted. So for example some recognition that the Methodist Church is not the same as it was 30 or 40 years ago.

4. While the bit about engagement with social action was good it is sad that Newfrontiers don't recognise the work of others, still far too little attention paid to good work by others and to working together. For example why don't Newfrontiers start relating to JPIT or at least read their excellent stuff such as the paper (pdf) on poverty presented to this years Methodist Conference.

5. I also find the whole presentation of how decisions are made about the future of Newfrontiers bewildering. Why would anyone want to be part of a Church run by group of essentially self-selected, self-appraising and self-accountable men? Scary that this small group of men can decide anything they want about the future of the movement without needing any public accountability or even consultation except as they want it. 

After Dave comments on the explosion of Methodism in the 2nd and 3rd generations. I find it very interesting to reflect that it was at that time that Methodism decided it did not want the brilliant but autocratic leadership of another John Wesley and went for Christian conferring within a democratic structure that has seen a deliberate shift of power away from individuals and the clergy. Yet Newfrontiers have chosen to stay with autocratic "Apostolic" leadership albeit now in a self selected team (which comes across as a friendship circle with the inner circle of people).


A curates egg that needs to be welcomed but watched.

Newfrontiers want to welcome radical feminists

This years "Together on a Mission" conference has now finished and we see a new reshaped Newfrontiers emerging. A new structure with Apostles and Apostolic Spheres (and yes it is all a load of balls as they ignore the Biblical precident for women as apostles in Junia Romans 16:7 – for the best series on this see the amazingly detailed work by Suzanne Maccarthy who destroys the various (and conflicting) arguments put forward for either Junia not being a woman or not being an apostle).

Anyway beyond the new structure we see this from Adrian Warnock's report on one of the sessions:

3. Affirming Leadership Ensure that our churches are environments that are equally liberating for both men and women. We must not change our theology. But we must live consistent to it. We are complementarian which means we believe that men and women are equal but different. We must make sure that we do not stress the difference more than the equal. We must make sure that we recognize male and female gifts, and that we train women as well as men. Keller says “The real challenge is to do things in such a way that even a radical feminist if she was to come into our churches would feel the freedom of the Kingdom of God.” The Apostle Paul speaks of his fellow workers and around half of them are women. How many of us can say the same? We do need to help men to be men. ht TOAM Session 4 David Stroud on the future of UK Newfrontiers.

Remember that Newfrontiers is defined by a number of core values. Of these two are particularly relevant.

Value 7:

‘A church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, where godly parenting is taught and practised and where the special value of singleness and its unique opportunities are affirmed.’

Value 8 now reads:

‘A church where elders are honoured a servant-leaders caring for the flock and providing appropriate spiritual disciplines where necessary.'

Sadly in the new launch of Terry's website these "resources" have been moved around and no longer seem to have the text that used to go with them. But in 42: Lessons in rubbing salt in wounds from New Frontiers I quoted value 8 as:

‘A church led by male elders (one of whom is clearly understood to be gifted to be lead elder) who are ordained by the Holy Spirit, recognised and confirmed through apostolic ministry. These men are to be helped in fulfilling their calling through ongoing fellowship with trans-local ministries.’

So has something changed?

When David Stroud says:

We are complementarian which means we believe that men and women are equal but different.

Does the New Newfrontiers

a) Still support their value 7 that wives should submit to their husbands?

b) Still support male only elders and apostles?

c) Still invite only Men to speak to their National Conferences (except when speaking to sessions just for women)? All the speakers that Adrian Warnock has mentioned are men and the conference program overview mentions only men (just checked and all the main session speakers are men, there are some women listed for seminars but no indication what these are or who they are for).

d) Only have men as Church planters (usually or always supported by their wives who are nevertheless not considered elders of these Churches).

When David Stroud says:

Keller says “The real challenge is to do things in such a way that even a radical feminist if she was to come into our churches would feel the freedom of the Kingdom of God.”

I would like to know from some radical feminists how much they will feel the freedom of the kingdom when they come into a Church that requires them to submit to their husband and specifically denies them the opportunity to respond to God's call to leadership as an elder or an apostle?

I would like to know from anyone in the New Newfrontiers how welcoming they think radical feminists will find them.

Mark Driscoll, no apology instead announces book and website

Mark Driscoll has responded to the fury over his appalling facebook status in Resurgence: The Issue under a lot of issues in this post he does not apologise, in fact he justifies his original comment with more rubbish Biblical interpretation:

I had a recent conversation with a stereotypical, blue-collar guy who drives his truck with his tools, lunchbox, and hard hat to his job site every day. He said he wasn’t a Christian, but he was open and wanted to learn what the Bible said. In that conversation, he told me he’d visited a church but that the guy doing the music made him feel uncomfortable because he was effeminate (he used another more colorful word, but that one will suffice in its place). He asked some questions about the Bible, and whether the Bible said anything about the kind of guy who should do the music. I explained the main guy doing the music in the Bible was David, who was a warrior king who started killing people as a boy and who was also a songwriter and musician.

Given that David was also an aldulterer why didn't Mark Driscoll add that to the list of qualifications?

So now it seems the qualifications for being a leader of worship include killing people and committing adultery & murder. 

What the qualifications do not include is any reference to the Prince of Peace, to Jesus who taught & practiced non-violence, who taught about lovcing your enemies and doing good to those who hurt you.

What the qualifications do not include is any reference to the Holy Spirit whose work brings the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

So Mark Driscoll does not apologise but instead announces a book and a new website for him to tell us all why we are wrong and why Christianity is supposed to be about violence and hatred. The cynic in me wonders how much of this was all to gain extra publicity for the up-coming book and website.

Hat tip: Rachel Held Evans | Mark Driscoll responds.


Terry Virgo of Newfrontiers thanks Mark Driscoll

Thanks Peter for noticing and commenting on this: Terry Virgo of Newfrontiers thanks Mark Driscoll – Gentle Wisdom.

Adrian has written a blog post on the thanks to Mark Driscoll Terry Virgo on the reverberations of Mark Driscoll’s visit to TOAM.

After recent criticism of my coverage of Newfrontiers I would be very grateful for any pointers to something somewhere by someone connected with Newfrontiers that addresses the problems that are busy reverberating around the world regarding Mark Driscoll (for that matter also relating to CJ Mahaney).

This is why I stand against male headship

And I will continue to do so.

And I will continue to do so especially focusing on Churches like Newfrontiers that celebrate the teaching of Mark Driscoll and the like and who try to bring American style Male Headship to the UK.

Sadly the author of "It is better to speak" is not alone, and this is not a problem restricted to the US.

For more on the Mark Driscoll story see Rachel Held Evans | Mark Driscoll is a bully. Stand up to him.

For more of what I think anbout power and Male Headship see 42: The dangers of power in Male Headship.

The loved are free to love (if they are men)

I was reading the blue fish project (dave bish): The loved are free to love. Sadly a promising start "There's nothing macho about Christianity" goes downhill as even when writing against bullying masculinity (presumably including this: We Mixed Our Drinks: Mark Driscoll, the Facebook status and the blogosphere fallout) those who believe in Male Headship can't find a way to include all people:

The loved are free, sons who can become fathers.

Please tell me how a woman is supposed to understand this or relate to it. I only ask because I thought the gospel was for all people not just 1/2 of them.

The post quotes from the last of a series of 6 posts on Galatians You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!: Freedom and Slavery in Galatians (6). The quote begins:

The true son rests solely in the love of God shown in the cross of Christ – He needs no other affirmation, encouragement or reassurance.

I find it amazing that a series on Freedom and Slavery from Galatians does not mention freedom from gender divisions (Galatians 3:28) once. Despite the clarity with which Paul declares that freedom in Galatians 3:28 the whole 6 posts refer consistantly to men only.

It seems that supporters of Male Headship can only read the first part of Galatians 3:28, the literal understanding then ends. Galatians 3:28 is now literally true for slaves but not for women.

Dave Bish almost makes a jump that could have been a powerful argument when he refers to humans as the bride of Christ:

Hosea 1:11 sums up the gospel as concerning the appointment of Christ as Head, as the true husband who gives himself for a desperately unfaithful whore of a wife. The image isn't flattering – we're the whore.

However, he then jumps straight back into masculine language where humanity is only ever referred to as men, sons, fathers & he. Where is the exploration of what it means for us to be this bride? Where would it take us if we considered all of us as women, married to Christ? Not much macho masculinity in that! Incidently, there is a huge interpretative jump to get to that meaning from Hosea1:11, at least read from verse 1 for it to make any sense.

I am left with these questions:

  1. If freedom is so important as a contrast to slavery then why is the second part of Galatians 3:28 ignored?
  2. I want to know how these writers believe women should relate to Christ. How do they think women will understand these posts which refer to humanity and God only as "he", "man", "son"?
  3. I want to know why the image of all humanity as the bride of Christ is not explored and how that would be understood. It seems to lump men in with women as the bride of Christ. How does this support any hierachy between men and women?