A Rebuttal to Kathy Keller’s Review of Rachel Held Evans by Morgan Guyton

"It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion."  CS Lewis

Morgan Guyton
Morgan, Cheryl, Matthew and Isaiah Guyton

Our post on the controversy surrounding Rachel Held Evan's book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, garnered the most comments in the history of this blog (well over 500). I am in the process of reading her book on my Kindle. One of our astute readers, Val, linked to a post on the Mercy Not Sacrifice, A Blog of Morgan Guyton (link). Guyton responded to the somewhat negative review of the book on The Gospel Coalition blog by Kathy Keller here.

I gotta tell ya, between The Gospel Coalition and Denny Burk (well, they really are one and the same), you would think that the survival of the faith as we know it, rests upon demolishing any potential positive take on RHE and her book. When people get so upset, one knows that either the faith or sacred cows are being challenged. I lean towards the sacred cow theory.

I was impressed by Guyton's analysis. It is thoughtful,  sincere, unemotional (unlike your humble blog queen) while, at times, appropriately lighthearted. I decided that this would be a perfect post to recommend to our readers. Morgan kindly gave us permission to reprint it at TWW. I am sure, after you read this, you will want to visit his blog. You should. Here is what his biography has to say. (PS:  His wife is a certified candidate for the ministry. This is called "rubbing it in".)

I’m the associate pastor of Burke United Methodist Church and lead pastor for our Lifesign contemporary service. My wife Cheryl is a certified candidate for ministry in the United Methodist Church as well. She’s served as a hospital chaplain in the past, but is currently taking some time off to stay home with our two boys Matthew (5) and Isaiah (2).

I’m a broken person whose brokenness is what qualifies me to love and serve other broken people. I’m learning to be less ideological and subordinate everything else that I believe to trusting in God’s love. I’m very passionate which can turn into arrogance when I don’t have enough loving friends around to call me out. Above all, I seek to be saved from the prison of self-justification that Christ died to help me overcome. The more that Christ liberates me from the need to be right all the time, the more that I grow capable of love.


Editor's note: The formatting of paragraphs has been altered slightly for the benefit of our readers.  All bolding is mine. Also, this is the link to Guyton's post, Why Al Mohler Doesn't Get Rachel Held Evans. It is not necessary to read that well-written post to understand this one. I think he is being a bit hard on himself!

I’m not sure how long the manila package sat in the bin beside my desk. It was postmarked September 14th. I noticed the package yesterday a few days after I had written a blog post speculating about the postmodern language barrier that may have caused Al Mohler’s misunderstanding of Rachel Held Evans’ new book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Inside the package was the book that had served as the excuse for my tangential theorizing. I opened it and dove in yesterday, heart-sick about all the online gloating I had encountered over Kathy Keller’s “hard-hitting” review of Rachel’s book (Kathy is the wife of famous reformed pastor and author Tim Keller who has been a huge theological influence on me).

What is clear from the way that Keller framed her critique is that she decided ahead of time to interpret everything about the book as an attack on her own beliefs. She must have kept her arms folded pretty tightly to defend herself against the disarming self-deprecating genuineness that oozed out of the story of a year that a Southern Christian woman took to learn about Judaism, the Amish, contemplative prayer, babies, Martha Stewart-style homemaking, and a whole lot of Bible. Perhaps Keller was using Rachel’s book as a point of departure for building her own brand like I did with my silly theorizing. Having read the book, I realize how ridiculous my speculation was. Rachel is not a postmodern hipster like me; she’s way too earnest. The main problem with what Kathy Keller and I both tried to do is this: Biblical Womanhood is too much of a story to be treated like an argument.

It’s the playfulness of this book that made me enjoy it, and I don’t usually go for books about gimmicks, year-long experiments, and that sort of thing. Each month, she had a different female virtue to embody and a different mix of silly and genuine challenges she would tackle in order to cultivate this virtue. In October, when the virtue was gentleness, Rachel had grown fascinated by the “contentious woman” who haunted the book of Proverbs, which says in verse 21:9,

“It is better to live in a corner of the roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

So Rachel came up with a goofy way of embodying this verse. Does the Bible actually instruct contentious women to sit on a corner of their roof as penance for being contentious? Of course not! But why should that stop someone from doing something epic and ridiculous like sitting on their roof for an hour and twenty-nine minutes as penance for all the snarky things they said from that month?

I’m not sure why Kathy Keller felt the need to criticize Rachel for having fun with the practices  she chose to implement (“In choosing what passages you would take as models for your behavior, you chose narrative passages rather than prescriptive ones”). Rachel was not trying to make fun of the Bible by sitting on her roof; she was being playful in the same way that high school Young Life leaders are playful.

Though there were some elements of farce, like calling her husband “Master” in an “I Dream of Jeannie” voice during the month on obedience, every month was a sincere spiritual journey that didn’t at all come across like Rachel was trying to belittle anyone. She really embraced the challenge of learning how to cook, sew, and clean the house. She interviewed and spent time with women who embraced more conservative gender roles such as the Amish and even a Christian polygamist wife. One of my favorite moments was when she discovered that the Amish lady she was visiting actually used a hula hoop to keep in shape even while wearing her ankle length dress.

One of the interesting twists that the book took was the degree to which it became an exploration of Judaism. Rachel befriended an Israeli Orthodox Jew named Ahava during January when she was exploring the nature of the Proverbs 31 woman whose name eshet chayil Rachel prefers to translate “woman of valor” rather than “wife of noble character” (wife and woman are the same word in Hebrew).

Rachel’s friendship with Ahava becomes a narrative thread throughout the book. Ahava coaches Rachel through such things as preparing a Passover seder meal, the niddah (monthly time when Orthodox Jewish women must avoid contact with their husbands), and finally the rituals around Rosh Hashanah with which Rachel concludes her yearlong journey. Rachel also learns that the way Jewish culture uses the eshet chayil of Proverbs 31 is less about telling wives how to behave and more about teaching men to appreciate what their wives are already doing. Ahava shares with Rachel that her husband sings the words of Proverbs 31 to her every week at the Shabbat table.

Incredibly, Kathy Keller completely dismisses the fruitfulness of Rachel’s exploration of Judaism, writing

“all Christians have known that observing the ‘clean laws’ of the Old Testament is no longer incumbent on them,”

again revealing her unshakeable commitment to the presumption that Rachel’s purpose is to discredit the Bible. Rachel didn’t make a Passover seder to showcase the unreasonable expectations of a Biblical woman. Just because we don’t have to make challah bread since Jesus died for our sins, why shouldn’t we do it if it tastes yummy and provides us with a meaningful learning experience?

It is true that there are some very disturbing truths that Rachel has to name. In her chapter on beauty, she talks about how the erotic love poetry in the Song of Songs has been used by fundamentalist pastors to instill anxiety about body image into brides at their weddings:

“It is your responsibility to delight your husband throughout all stages of life so that he has no reason to stray.”

It’s a pretty astounding feat to turn the delightful Song of Songs into a source of oppression.

Similarly, Rachel talks about the disturbing Quiverfull movement that the 19 kid Reality TV Duggar family is a part of, which promotes having gigantic families through a warped interpretation of a psalm as a Biblical prescription for family planning. As Rachel says,

“Poems were never meant to be forced into commands” (112)

which pretty well summarizes the way that so many parts of the Bible have been abused by those who need to turn the whole thing into an “owner’s manual.”

To her credit, Kathy Keller talked about the importance of not conflating “description” and “prescription” in Biblical hermeneutics. She writes,

“I agree with much of what you say in your book regarding the ways in which either poor biblical interpretation or patriarchal customs have sinfully oppressed women.”

If we presume that Keller is not engaging in a disingenuous rhetoric construction and take this statement at face value, we can be confident that Keller will share her thoughts on these matters with Gospel Coalition members like Mark Driscoll about how they should approach preaching and writing books on texts like the Song of Songs.

Truth be told, Rachel’s book is not just a story; there is a little bit of argument about how to interpret the Bible. It comes mostly at the end. Rachel quotes Peter Rolllins:

“In being faithful to the text we must move away from the naive attempt to read it from some neutral, heavenly height and we must attempt to read it as one who has been born of God and thus born of love: for that is the prejudice of love” (294).

Basically Rollins is calling out the modernist folly of pretending to read the Bible without an agenda. Everyone has an agenda; feigned “objectivity” is the agenda of privilege. Rachel asks whether we should read the Bible

“with the prejudice of love” or “with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest, and greed” (295).

Kathy Keller responds to this with a very presumptuous and uncharitable indictment:

“If you say, ‘Parts of the Bible express love, and other parts express power interests,’ you’ve clearly gotten your standard and definition of love from outside the Bible—specifically, from contemporary sensibilities—and these are your ultimate authority and norm.”

Beyond the breathtaking unfairness of leveling such a strong accusation with so little supporting evidence, the palpable irony here is that Rachel, without naming (or perhaps realizing) it, has articulated the hermeneutical principle of the spiritual godfather of the Reformation, Augustine, who says in his opus De Doctrina Christiana:

“If it seems to you that you have understood the divine scriptures, or any part of them, in such a way that by this understanding you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, then you have not understood them” (De Doctrina 1:36:40).

Augustine is calling upon us to do precisely what Rachel tells us to do: read the Bible with the prejudice of love. This is similar to the hermeneutical standard of the famous 18th century British evangelical John Wesley who said, “No scripture can mean that God is not love or that his mercy is not over all his works.”

Neither Peter Rollins nor Rachel invented the hermeneutical standard of charity. It has been the core of what Biblical interpreters throughout the last two millennia have called the “analogy of faith”: using the most explicit passages from the Bible as the interpretive lenses for the less explicit ones. The reason that building up the twin love of God and neighbor has been at the top of the hermeneutical pyramid for Augustine, Wesley, and so many other Christians throughout the centuries is because Jesus said that

“all the law and all the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40).

No other sentence in the Bible presents itself so explicitly as the basis for reading everything else.

Scripture is not a perspicuous, self-interpreting document. It is a recent modernist innovation to think that anyone is capable of reading the Bible “without an agenda,” which is how people subconsciously import their own self-serving worldly “standards and definitions” into their Biblical hermeneutics, the most prominent today being the idolatry of the mythical Eisenhower era nuclear family, whose archetypal Pleasantville housewife has no connection whatsoever to how Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Mary Magdalene, or any other Biblical woman who actually lived.

The way that we attribute to the Bible completely un-Biblical affirmations about womanhood and marriage based on very recent, self-validating middle-class sensibilities is by convincing ourselves to read the Bible with the populist, ahistorical hermeneutical approach of Biblical literalism, which gives us permission to dismiss the need to read the Bible in conversation with its interpreters throughout the ages or with any consideration of its original historical context.

And then we let our independent megachurch pastors, who operate outside the discipline of any magisterial authority, come up with the Biblical interpretation that will play the best with their target audiences. What’s utterly comical is the way that what so many Christians today call “conservative Biblical values” are really a market-driven reinvention of the Bible in the image of contemporary suburban sensibilities.

It would take a very determinedly unsympathetic reader to conclude that Rachel’s yearlong experiment living out her own playful, genuinely curious version of Biblical womanhood was reducible to some kind of mockery or lampoon. She learned a lot; she grew a lot. She came to understand a positive way of reframing each of the stereotypical female virtues that she had considered oppressive at the beginning.

Moreover, Rachel models for us how to be a God-wrestler, which is the approach to the Bible we are supposed to follow if Israel is indeed the name of God’s people. We can’t just let our systematic theologians and megachurch pastors tell us what the Bible says if we believe in the priesthood of all behaviors. In Phillis Trible’s Texts of Terror, she said that she refused to let go of the Bible until it gave her a blessing. I’m glad that Rachel wouldn’t let go of the Bible, because what it gave her was a blessing to me.

Lydia's Corner:   Leviticus 24:1-25:46   Mark 10:13-31   Psalm 44:9-26   Proverbs 10:20-21

Comments

A Rebuttal to Kathy Keller’s Review of Rachel Held Evans by Morgan Guyton — 231 Comments

  1. Of course the historic Protestant position on the Bible affirms both the perspicuity and self-interpretation of Scripture. “Modernism” denies these things, and like RHE denies even the internal consistency of Scripture.

    Reading the Bible in it’s original context will not result in egalitarianism of any kind, as that finds it’s origins in the Enlightenment. This is not to comment on the merits or demerits of egalitarianism, of course.

    Ironically, after denying the perspicuity of Scripture, the author calls on us to ignore systematic theologians and pushes the modern radicalized version of “priesthood of all believers,” giving that term a meaning the Reformers didn’t.

    Then I note at the end the author invokes a liberal feminist book “Texts of Terror.” This will not help make his case with theologically conservative readers.

  2. I should clarify that in the previous comment I did not attack egalitarianism or push Complementarianism. I was just noting that our modern concept of Egalitarianism is rather new, and we have to be careful not to read it into Scripture.

  3. Nicholas – neither term is found in scripture and the word complementarian was invented in the last 25 years and is not found in a dictionary. Complementarian is a newer concept than egalitarianism. I believe Deb could refer you to some previous articles where this was discussed. You could also Google “Danvers Statement” to get a little of the short history of complementarianism as well.

  4. “. . . giving that term a meaning the Reformers didn’t.”

    Are we defining terms by what the “Reformers” say or don’t say? Can we read and study the scripture without overlaying on it what the “Reformers” thought? I’m of the thinking that the “Reformers” didn’t reform enough :)

  5. “The Reformer’s didn’t reform enough”!? I used to think that when I was a Baptist. Thank God I’m now a Lutheran!

  6. “Reading the Bible in it’s original context will not result in egalitarianism of any kind, as that finds it’s origins in the Enlightenment. This is not to comment on the merits or demerits of egalitarianism, of course.”

    Actually the concept is found in Gen 1 and 2 if you read it without the patriarchal overlay of “creation order” which makes cows in authority over Adam (wink) and pay close attention to what God says in Gen 1.

    And then we see after the fall patriarchy rear it’s callous head. It is a reult sin. Pure and simple. So basically a lot of folk are teaching sin as a virtue. It is insidious.

    “Ironically, after denying the perspicuity of Scripture, the author calls on us to ignore systematic theologians and pushes the modern radicalized version of “priesthood of all believers,” giving that term a meaning the Reformers didn’t.”

    Radicalized version? The “Reformers” were tyrants and despots. They tortured, imprisoned and bannished people for refusing to obey the letter of the law of the “state” church. The Reformers are going to define the “Holy Priesthood” for us? I think not. (btw: there are no “laity” in the New Covenant. If saved, we are all priests)

    I am really astonished at how popular and iconic dead tyrants have become with some segments of Christendom, especially the young. It is creepy. It is a cult of personality. Sort of like resurrecting the cult of personality around Lenin or something.

  7. Nicholas, I think the word you may be looking for is “patriarchs” as in scripture = patriarchy.
    There.
    I’ve said it.
    Let the flaming begin.

  8. Nicholas,

    What makes you think the historic protestant position got everything correct?

    It’s almost as if you elevate it to God-like status (as if it is deity itself).

    Biblicism (as a religion) has been a topic of conversation. Perhaps we have yet a new religion — “historic protestant positionism”.

  9. Nicholas seems to be making “historic protestant position(ism)” true north, the true plumbline:

    This kind of reminds me of some of my parents’ friends. They are gravely concerned that their grandkids do not know the hymns. They are making it a priority to teach them the hymns.

    It’s as if the feel danger. Danger of truth being lost in the mists of the passing of time and the passing of generations. They identify hymns as “truth”, or at least as the one & only legitimate form of musical worship. And without them their grandkids will be somehow cut off from God — and surely the church of the future will die without them (the hymns).

    It is, of course, very erroneous. It’s a good example of mistaking sentimentality for what is exclusively true, real, legitimate. Also of the urge for control, and fear of change.

  10. our modern concept of Egalitarianism is rather new,

    You know, the early church had women at every level of “power” – not that that was something to aspire to, since it usually resulted in Roman prisons or arenas. It was around the time the church became more mainstream that men began pushing women out of power. They also were watching young virgins be burned alive for their faith, and probably some greedy dude decided he wanted one of them as his wife, but I digress.

    As the church became more wealthy and influential, the power of the Holy Spirit began to disappear. Healings were no longer common, etc. They cannonized the texts around this time and one of the texts they canonized mentioned Junia (only ever a female name, and a common one at that – among the upper class) as an apostle. There is a long history of trying to change this fact – an 11th C. monk switched her to Junias (would be the male counterpart to Junia, except it has no recorded use as a male’s name, and it actually means “teen” or “youth” in Greek). Now, they are trying to say Junia was just “known to the apostles” in the ESV and a few other translations. But here is why we know that is all bunk. Origen and others write about the problem of Junia being a FEMALE APOSTLE. Yep, history backs up the fact women were apostles.

    To understand how important apostles were, the Catholic church changed that title to archbishop. Well, bishops, and archbishops for the “outstanding” ones. See Romans 16:7 for Junia’s standing as an apostle.

    Now, let’s talk about the early church. Up until the 10th C. more than just priests were ordained. They also ordained teachers, prophets, apostle’s, etc. This was so a travelling teacher could show their credentials in a new province/region and be allowed to teach there. The Roman Empire was huge and there was no electronic communication. Women were ordained as teachers, prophetesses, etc. Around the 10th or 11th C. the church began to deal with rebellion and cancelled all non-cleargy’s ordinations. Women were shut out of their status as ordained at this point. Women, in convents and cloisters, were still highly esteemed. Theresa of Avila was named a Doctor of the church. Tell a Catholic you don’t think women should teach, it isn’t traditional, and they would be surprised. Not in their tradition. Long, long before the enlightenment women were doing what Protestants claim wasn’t happening.

    Now, the huge western schism (I am leaving out the fact that during the cancelling of non-cleargy ordination, that shift in the power politics of the western church also resulted in some teachings that made it split from the Eastern Orthodox church completely, and sticking with the west here) between Catholics and Protestants, which threw western Europe into bloodshed and near anarchy did birth some movements with strong women leaders. Remember also, most of protestant Europe still believed in the “Divine Right of Kings” and that in England, in particular, the Regent was also the head of the church. OK, women in various charismatic movements that sprung up are recorded. There are prominent women in the early Reformation. Also, Queen Elizabeth, head of the church of England, was lauded by John Knox (despite his earlier diatribe against women in general when her half-sis, Queen Mary was on the throne).

    This fantasy that Egalitarianism grew out of some modern, individualistic movement since the enlightenment is crazy. It originated with Jesus, who commended Mary for sitting at his feet – a saying that means she was a pupil of a rabbi – translation: Mary was being trained to be an apostle. There is (some say another) Mary, who Jesus hands the great commission to – the men go to see what the women are talking about at the tomb, then leave. Then Jesus appears to Mary, to tell her he has risen – and to go spread the news. If men are so vital to this imaginary tradition of yours, why didn’t Jesus pop up when the men were by to see about the missing body?

    To Jesus’ way of thinking, anyone who humble’s themselves as a servant of Jesus, and has a servants heart, can be an apostle, teacher, prophet or administrator. The gifts aren’t gender specific, nor are their any true “offices” a later Roman/Latin translation of calling, since hierarchy is reversed in the Kingdom. Those scriptures, which you say are so internally consistent with patriarchalism are what show me you are wrong. Pricilla taught an apostle, Junia was an outstanding apostle according to Paul, Mary was trained as an apostle by Jesus.

    Do I care if the reformers got this right or not. No, Jesus is my lord, and I follow his example. If I felt a women was called to be an apostle, teacher or leader in my church, I would throw my support behind her, regardless of her gender. Yeah, that would upset the apple cart, so what, doing what Jesus calls us to do is more important that someone’s allegiance to movement. A Calling is something given by God, not by the standards, rules or writings of man. Many reformers also want people to sign endless doctrines to prove they are “one of the group” rather than just look and see if the power of God is evident in their life. Do they love God with their all and all, and do they love their neighbours (living rightly towards them)? If so, that is enough. Asking for more than confessing Jesus as Lord is putting faith in man-made systems, that is idolatry.

    To clarify, sure, you can ask if one can, in good conscience, sign a statement of faith, but that is different then weighing their faith, salvation, or grasp of scriptures on a statement. Judas would have likely signed. Signing something means little to nothing. Look at all the SBC pastors who sign stuff then protect pedophiles over small children. Are they saved? Na, it’s a heart thing, not a head thing anyways.

  11. Actually the concept is found in Gen 1 and 2 if you read it without the patriarchal overlay of “creation order”

    This fantasy that Egalitarianism grew out of some modern, individualistic movement since the enlightenment is crazy. It originated with Jesus….

    Established by God in creation and reaffirmed by Jesus and Paul! Amen!

  12. Morgan is absolutely right. His point is that Reformed theology is bad. Which it is, because its appeal to objective biblical truth (among other reasons), or “infallibility”, is merely a way to subordinate believers to a particularly western version of conservative sexual politics. The irony he so astutely points out is that this middle class Americanized version of the nuclear family has nothing to do with the truth of how men and women are to relate as equals in God’s eyes.

    Reformed Christians stuff humans into “roles”, which is to make the human being irrelevant and to kill the spirit. Enlightened Christians define humans as “free indeed”. Especially from the spiritual stocks of reformation interpretive premises.

    The bible is for man, not man for the bible. The reformed crowd denies this, and show themselves thus the heirs of those who murdered the prophets.

  13. “The irony he so astutely points out is that this middle class Americanized version of the nuclear family has nothing to do with the truth of how men and women are to relate as equals in God’s eyes.”

    Yes. And they deny the “spiritual” relationship and make it a cultural one in order to be on top. The biology is obvious. Only a fool would deny that. In their world, the woman relates to God through a male. It is insidious.

    “Reformed Christians stuff humans into “roles”, which is to make the human being irrelevant and to kill the spirit. Enlightened Christians define humans as “free indeed”. Especially from the spiritual stocks of reformation interpretive premises.”

    Yes! And I do not understand this reformed hatred of the enlightenment. As if divine right of kings is somehow more spiritual? It was bloody before the englightenment and bloody afterwards. Which side of the enlightenment is better for us today? I often think these people would prefer a state church. Why do people still long for earthly spiritual/political kings when we have the indwelling Holy Spirit?

    “The bible is for man, not man for the bible. The reformed crowd denies this, and show themselves thus the heirs of those who murdered the prophets.”

    It is strange how much the church institutions today mirror the priestly system of the OT.

  14. Nicholas (who is technically my namesake, though I never go by all three syllables) wrote:

    Ironically, after denying the perspicuity of Scripture, the author calls on us to ignore systematic theologians and pushes the modern radicalized version of “priesthood of all believers,” giving that term a meaning the Reformers didn’t.
    Then I note at the end the author invokes a liberal feminist book “Texts of Terror.” This will not help make his case with theologically conservative readers.

    Permit me to review what the author wrote (before going on to consider what he meant by what he wrote):

    Moreover, Rachel models for us how to be a God-wrestler, which is the approach to the Bible we are supposed to follow if Israel is indeed the name of God’s people. We can’t just let our systematic theologians and megachurch pastors tell us what the Bible says if we believe in the priesthood of all believers [not, I assume, “behaviours” as actually printed above]. In Phillis Trible’s Texts of Terror, she said that she refused to let go of the Bible until it gave her a blessing. I’m glad that Rachel wouldn’t let go of the Bible, because what it gave her was a blessing to me.

    The author calls on us not to swallow uncritically the statements of systematic theologians and megachurch pastors about a book which, after all, we can (and must) read for ourselves. In other words, he does not call on us to ignore systematic theologians but to weigh their output. (And even if he did, what of it? Do systematic theologians have divine authority? Are they infallible?) If I may so observe: seeing even a simple paragraph of commentary being so forcefully misunderstood, hardly increases my willingness to entrust my eternal salvation to the perspicuity of scripture. It’s not surprising that there are an estimated 30,000 protestant denominations, most of them convinced that the “perspicuous” scriptures agree with them and not the other guys.

    Ironically, so far as I have been able to discover (never having met Luther personally), Luther adhered to a belief in the perspicuity of scripture precisely in order to liberate “ordinary” believers from the then papal authority. The point of the early reformers was that anybody, not just a privileged elite, can read and understand the bible. This is the very point made at the end of the article here: we must read the Bible for ourselves, and not allow a professional career Christian (however well-qualified as such) to tell us that the Bible, whatever we may pridefully think it says, actually agrees with him. Theologians and megachurch pastors who call lower-ranking churchgoers “arrogant” for imagining that they can understand scripture are near-perfect analogues for those whom Luther fought against.

    Unfortunately, the “perspicuity of scripture” rapidly became a pendulum swing from one human authority (the papacy) to another (reformed theologians), without ever re-admitting the Holy Spirit to the church. He was still no more than a point of doctrine; just a different doctrine. The fatal mistake of the reformation was the deification of the bible.

  15. “Unfortunately, the “perspicuity of scripture” rapidly became a pendulum swing from one human authority (the papacy) to another (reformed theologians), without ever re-admitting the Holy Spirit to the church. He was still no more than a point of doctrine; just a different doctrine. The fatal mistake of the reformation was the deification of the bible.”

    Great point, Nick. And I would add another fatal mistake was replacing the sacraments as central with a “pastor talking”. Talk about elevating man over God! The pastor simply became the focus. Not Jesus Christ. Even today, reading many REformed/YRR blogs that is the focus….the pastor preaching and “his” message. One wonders how they keep from elevating their importance to the Body. Their importance simply grows and grows in their own minds.

  16. Nick, that “30,000 denominations” statistic is problematic. First, every country usually has it’s own Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, Baptist, Methodist, etc., denominations. Likewise, within the USA you have the PCA and OPC, for example, which both adhere to the Westminster Standards but left the liberal mainline Presbyterian denomination at different times. So this statistic is counting as separate denominations which share the same confessions. Second, the statistic is counting the liberal mainline “Protestant” denominations which no longer believe in Sola Scriptura, the inspiration of Scripture, or it’s perspicuity. The number is also counting non-Protestant groups like Catholic separatists. Finally, it is counting cults like the Campbellites, Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, Word-Faith, Christian Science, Unitarians, Armstrongites, etc. None of these cults practices Sola Scriptura. This “30,000 denominations” tactic is commonly used in the propaganda of Catholic apologists and now atheists, but it is dishonest.

  17. Anon 1, reading your comments, it’s hard to know where to even begin. Historic Protestants, like Lutherans, Anglicans, and Reformed do not elevate the “pastor talking” above the sacraments.

    Do not confuse historic confessional Protestantism with modern day low-church evangelicalism (which is what YRR is).

    You obviously have been reading a lot of anti-Protestant propaganda. Are you a Roman Catholic by any chance?

  18. The problem is that Christians continue to want to hold to their interpretation of what constitutes proper “humility” before God (e.g. the reformed ideas of election, total depravity, biblical inerrancy), and yet concede that THEY are actually capable (read “reasonable creatures)of interpreting scripture for themselves and choosing, of their own free volition, to do GOOD. This is metaphysically and theologically contradictory and impossible. Either you are depraved, or you are not. Either the Bible is truly inerrant and your life consists of molding yourself to whatever “orthodoxy” defines its infallible TRUTH, or you can make your own interpretations based on study, conscience, prayer and the Spirit. Their is NO compromise with the reformed doctrine! Read Calvin’s institutes again. He would never concede that you can subvert your utter inability to offer ANYTHING to your faith and salvation. Because you are a sinful madman.

    In other words, we want to confirm the idea of “Sola Scriptura” because we think that makes sense, and at the same time, want the freedom to interpret what is TRUTH in our own lives, using a combination of our own grasp of reality and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

    Thus, Christians want their doctrinal cake and to eat it to.

    This is not impossible. The idea of Biblical infallibility, which is based on sola scriptura, says that the Bible is TRUTH,which means that it cannot be separated from the perfection of God. The BIBLE becomes the plumb line for EVERYTHING the believer thinks. Now, the logical conclusion from this is that the Bible then becomes God. And the Holy Spirit is thus subordinated to the Scriptures. And who interprets the Scriptures for the pervasively depraved?

    Your reformed pastor, of course, down at your local meat grinder; where the sheep go to become mutton sandwiches for the shepherds who own them. And this, for no other reason than someone decided that THEY were the shepherd and YOU are the sheep. Their right to mutton and wool is by fiat, of course. (How else to you explain the “authority” of SGM pastors, most of whom possess no qualifications outside of either SGM’s particular brand of “perceiving gifts”, or…being the son of pastor (the nepotism is worse than that of the Royalty of England).

    So, appeals to sola scripture equals an appeal to Biblical infallibility, which is an appeal to scriptures as God, which is an appeal to the sheep to subordinate all of their thoughts to the divinely appointed gnostic standing in the stead.

    We must stop being so timid. We need to call it what it is:

    Idolatry

    There is no THING which is perfect. The only perfect TRUTH is that which IS God Himself. Thus, the Scriptures must be subordinated to MAN, because MAN has the Spirit of God. If we trust in the irrelevant idea of biblical infallibility, then the idea that David can eat the consecrated bread,or the disciples can pick the grain, or Jesus can heal on the sabbath becomes impossible, because the Scripture is God. Any deviation from that truth becomes sin. And how did the Pharisees know that Jesus was “sinning” by healing? Because THEY had decided how to interpret the idea of “sola scriptura”. A violation of THEIR traditions was a violation of the Torah which was a violation of God Himself. And that is why the sought to kill Him.

    The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. And you can substitute “Bible” for “Sabbath” and the truth is not unchanged.

    We need to remember that God is MAN focused, not Scripture focused. Scripture is going to be subordinate to the divine work of the Spirit, because HE is God, not the Bible. This is not the say that the Bible is not God’s revelation; but it does not comprise the entire sum of how an INDIVIDUAL believer will manifest his or her faith. Surely, there are obvious truths and revelations which the Holy Spirit will uphold. But it is the Spirit working in the life of the believer which proves the TRUTH of the Bible. It isn’t that the Bible is TRUTH apart from God.

    The problem with Reformation Theology is that its philosophical roots are FALSE. Thus, any interpretation of the faith based on it is not going to yield fruit in keeping with GOOD outcomes. Not to say the Holy Spirit is subverted by anything, but I submit and argue that any good fruit being born out of reformed thought is because something is happening in SPITE of the doctrine, not because of it.

  19. Nick,
    Have you read Jonathon Edwards’ Treatise on Free Will? These ARE the ideas of historic protestants. The good old confessions were based on the TULIP ideas of John Calvin. Anon1 is right. Anti-reformation “propaganda” is nothing except the realization that modern day neo-Cals are merely implementing reformation protestantism very, very well. Their medieval western European protestant ancestors would be proud.

  20. Argo- wrong. The Scriptures are breathed out by God the Holy Spirit, and are a part of Him. The Spirit in man would never contradict God’s Word. Thus, man is to be subordinate to the Scriptures, not the other way around.

  21. Argo, I am a Lutheran, not a Calvinist. But it is true that man’s will is enslaved to sin, and that the only way believers can do any good is thorugh the imputed righteousness of Christ.

  22. Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy of Luther assuming his own will at the expense of his proper Catholic “authority” on the one hand; and then decrying man’s reason as a “whore” on the other?

    If reason is a whore, by what right does HE claim to assume his own authority by fiat? For if he is in fact totally depraved, and possesses no reason, then he has no moral grounds for seeing sin in his divinely appointed papal leader. And he is certainly in not position to declare that he has some special line to the Holy Spirit; for only the divinely appointed leaders can claim that right, according to HIS OWN doctrine of sola scriptura.

    The entirety of the protestant reformation is founded on doctrinal doublespeak!

    The protestant reformation was, in the words of the great, great Roger Daltry of the inestimable Who, the new boss, who was and is the same as the old boss.

  23. The argument that a straight reading of scripture won’t yield egalitarianism is an interesting one, because the entire point of Rachel’s book was that a straight reading of scripture ALSO doesn’t yield the complementarian system that most modern churches hold up as “Biblical” gender roles.

    I think there may be something to be said for this. The Bible presents us with stories of how God treats women and stories of how man treats women. Which side we decide to align ourselves with is our business, but the Bible never tries to label either side with labels or a specific set of rules.

    What I mean is, nowhere does the Bible say “spouses should consider themselves equal in calling and vocation.” It does, however, give us the story of Genesis, in which God gives man and woman the same calling (tend the creation) pre-fall. We are left to draw our own conclusions about the implication of this. For another example, the Bible never says specifically, “Women are as trustworthy with responsibility as men are,” which is indeed an egalitarian sentiment–instead, it gives tons of stories about women who supported ministry, turned the tide of wars, and the women who were the first to tell of Jesus’ resurrection. Again, the Bible makes no direct claims about gender roles; we are simply presented with these things and left to draw conclusions.

    So while I agree that the Bible doesn’t advocate egalitarianism as a system, or complementarianism as a system, I think it’s legitimate to try and tease out what scripture says about how God views women. Rachel’s point is that the complementarian camp usually gets it hilariously wrong.

  24. Nicholas,
    If that is your position, then you and everyone else is functionally irrelevant. If you are always a slave to a force external to your will (sin nature on the one hand, “the good you do” IS the Holy Spirit” on the other), then you are pointless. Which makes God the perpetrator of the greatest redundancy in all of creation: man.

    God declares who will do what and when and where. Those who do good, it is because God has willed it (read, does it for you), those who do evil, it is because they are created as slaves to sin nature. There is no MAN in there anywhere to be found.

    If you have no rational will of your own, then you have no YOU.

  25. Nicholas,

    Your argument for man being subordinate to the scriptures is rank idolatry; no offense. What you are saying is that the Bible is the fourth person of the “Trinity”. You are equating them with being PART of God; and any part of God is God by definition, for there is no such thing as “partly” perfect. So, you are saying the Bible is God Himself.

    If this is true, then man is in big trouble. For how can man be expected to apply God? How can the fallible be expected to understand and implement divine perfection? There is only one way…man is irrelevant; divine determinism. There is no YOU that matters.

    Welcome to Calvinism, everyone.

  26. I still find it insane how so many of these Neo-Calvinists simply start all their theology 1500 years after the Crucifixion, when John Calvin was living. How could so much culture, history, philosophy, and theology be ignored?

    I have a close friend who is “Reformed”. I try not to get into debates with him, as I see them as pointless, but, none the less, we got into one over predestination, elect, etc. etc. It got to the point where he said that the idea that we have free will is inherently sin, and those who believe we have free will is in fact living in sin.

    Now, I understand that not all have such a radical view on this subject, but I see a rising trend in this thought. But the crazy thing is that it’s a thought that started 1500 years after Christ. The idea of total predestination wasn’t even really debated until then. I really don’t understand how so much can be ignored.

    Awhile ago I read Augustine’s book “Free Choice of the Will”. It’s a very interesting read, although difficult. By the end of the first chapter he states that man must have free will. The idea of any form of predestination isn’t even discussed. And this is 350 years after Christ, which makes me raise a few questions. How much of these “reformed” views were practiced in early church? How much of what Christ taught and practiced is being held up in these circles? If predestination was truly what was practiced why doesn’t Augustine even bring the subject up in a book about free will? Why would we pursue things not upheld by the early church, and not even discussed until so far after the Resurrection.

    The train of thought, to me, doesn’t add up, unless one is simply trying to seek power, control, etc. instead of really following Christ.

  27. Nicholas – I’m Lutheran too – born and raised. And I doubt many Lutherans would agree with you on there being a single take in “historic Protestantism,” let alone among Lutherans.

    There are many different Lutheran synods in the US… and they have differing takes on doctrine. The Creeds don’t change, though, and they come to us from far earlier than the time when the Western church split along multiple axes.

    Just curious: what synod do you belong to?

  28. “On historic Protestantism,” not “in.”

    Please realize that what you are saying is – largely – your opinion and your interpretation of history and doctrine. There are people with widely differing opinions who post here, and I hope you will show the same respect to all of us as you would expect us to show to you.

  29. Missouri Synod. I’m a recent convert to Lutheranism, having previously been a Baptist. I agree I shouldn’t have made it sound like “historic Protestantism” was all one thing. To me the Calvinists are only right in the places that they agree with Lutheranism!

    I view the pietistic Lutherans as non-Confessional.

  30. I didn’t mean to sound disrespectful anywhere. I’m sorry if I did. Internet comments don’t give the nuances of speech.

  31. Yes! And I do not understand this reformed hatred of the enlightenment. As if divine right of kings is somehow more spiritual? It was bloody before the englightenment and bloody afterwards. Which side of the enlightenment is better for us today? I often think these people would prefer a state church. — Anon1

    Not exactly, Anon1. They would prefer a State Church with THEMSELVES as Pope and Cardinals. Divine Right of Kings IS far more spiritual as long as THEY are the ones bestowing and witholding that Divine Right.

    “Dominance and Submission!
    Dominance and Submission!”
    — Blue Oyster Cult

    “The only goal of Power is POWER.”
    — Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, 1984

  32. Nicholas – I’m not exactly a fan of Calvin, either (major understatement ;)), but I think that a lot of what’s discussed on this blog is a kind of neo-Calvinism that is actually trying to meld certain ideas from Reformed theology with unabashed patriarchalism and a highly fundamentalist approach to both Scripture and doctrine.

    The results … well, you can see for yourself, no?

  33. As an aside, I think “hatred of the Enlightenment” has been around in the US for a long time. I 1st experienced it in (surprise surprise) discipleship movement circles, back in the late 70s-all of the 80s.

    Given the Scopes trial (etc. etc. etc.), it obviously goes back a lot further, but I am not up on the history of evangelicalism and fundamentalism in the US, so can’t speculate on “beginning” dates.

  34. Your reformed pastor, of course, down at your local meat grinder; where the sheep go to become mutton sandwiches for the shepherds who own them. And this, for no other reason than someone decided that THEY were the shepherd and YOU are the sheep. Their right to mutton and wool is by fiat, of course. — Argo

    Shouldn’t that be “By Divine Right” instead of “by fiat”?

    Or “by God’s Will” (“IN’SHAL’LAH…”)? Mohammed was also very much into God’s Sovereignty, Omnipotence, and Predestination.

    (How else to you explain the “authority” of SGM pastors, most of whom possess no qualifications outside of either SGM’s particular brand of “perceiving gifts”, or…being the son of pastor (the nepotism is worse than that of the Royalty of England). — Argo

    Surely you’ve heard of Divine Right of Kings, inherited from father to son? Why not Divine Right of Truly Reformed Celebrity Pastors, inherited from father to son?

    God declares who will do what and when and where. Those who do good, it is because God has willed it (read, does it for you), those who do evil, it is because they are created as slaves to sin nature. There is no MAN in there anywhere to be found. — Argo (in answer to Nicholas)

    In’shal’lah… Eh, Kismet…

  35. Keller gave a “somewhat negative review” is the understatement of the year.

    Keller identified 3 (I may have miscounted, could be more) major hermeneutical errors with the book. Keller said Evans was disingenuous or deceptive. Keller said that the book’s hermeneutics lead people to a place of less understanding than greater understanding.

    I have not seen anyone on here take issue with Keller’s points. If Evans wrote such things, the points seem pretty unassailable.

    Guyton doesn’t really take issue with Keller’s specific points either, a sure sign that a general defense along the lines of “Evans is a good, sincere person who is just joking and having fun blah, blah, blah.”

    A book that claims to engage biblical interpretation in a serious way, and then makes fundamental misstatements and mistakes and misrepresentations about biblical texts, seems to be one that has missed the mark.

    Guyton’s reference to Augustine and scriptural passages about love are great. I would be surprised if Keller would take issue with that.

    But trying to rehabilitate Evans by joining her with Augustine just won’t do. It’s a nice try, but it’s pretty clear why this won’t work.

    The comments here pretty much sum up the status of things. People who are all bent out of shape over Calvinism and Complementarianism like the book because, despite the mammoth errors and problems that Keller identifies (that no one really cares to engage, apparently), because it affirms their world view on issues that Evans is trying to address. It’s just that simple.

    If you are a modern egalitarian trying to make a change, you will see past all the worst sorts of errors and problems to praise what little there may be to praise in a work that helps you make your point.

    And that’s basically it.

    There are real scholars who make these points and make cogent presentations about solid biblical hermeneutics along the way. The Complementarians should be glad that a book by one of them hasn’t caught fire.

    Instead, they can take pretty easy pot shots at a work that appears to have major problems, written by a person apparently uneducated in the topic and unprepared to present good arguments.

    Evans will remain at hit with the secular media for obvious reasons.

    Evans will remain a hit with those who love her perspective.

    And Evans and her supporters will have to simply have to endure the “somewhat negative reviews” and try to fight back.

    But if Keller’s review is any indication, the wider Christian world will move on from this sideshow soon, if they’ve stopped to pay attention in the first place.

  36. Headless Unicorn (you know…I just now got that! Pretty funny. Is there a reason for the irony?)

    Yes, Divine Right of Kings is surely appropriate. I like the term “fiat” because it reminds me of the assassination of Julius Caesar. Oh, the irony of it all; it is sooooo like how these neo-Cals rise to power. They claim that the “pope” (or whatever denomination) is getting too powerful, and too dictatorial; and so, they claim the throne for themselves.

    I’ll prove that I’m a better “authority” for you to blindly obey…by first committing a rank act of hypocrisy by denying my own.

    Yeah…I like fiat.

  37. Nicholas –

    You might have added to the text a bit.

    “16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
    17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” Scripture

    “Argo- wrong. The Scriptures are breathed out by God the Holy Spirit, and are a part of Him. The Spirit in man would never contradict God’s Word. Thus, man is to be subordinate to the Scriptures, not the other way around.” Nicholas

    There are other places where God speaks of breathing out – – one of them is when he creates man.

    Man is to be subordinate to Scripture . . . the Pharisees thought this way as well and desired Jesus’ death because of their beliefs in the Scripture.

    What is the purpose of the Holy Spirit? Is Scripture to take the place of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to be our Helper?

  38. Nicholas,

    Regarding your comment above:

    “The doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture doesn’t mean that everyone is able to understand everything in the Bible easily.”

    Something can’t be perspicuous if it’s not clear and easily understood, as that is the definition of word.

  39. Anonymous –

    Are you the same Anonymous that declared you hadn’t read the book and probably wouldn’t?

  40. It doesn’t surprise me that Keller would completely miss the whole point of exploring the ancient Near Eastern and Jewish backgrounds of the OT. Most within the Reformed movement (and especially the Calvinistas) act as though Christianity arose out of 16th century Europe. They also get very uncomfortable about “Jewish stuff,” perhaps because their hyper-Calvinism makes it tough for them to address the role of the Jewish people in God’s plans (c.f. Romans 9-11).

  41. Anonymous….I will take issue with RHE’s hermeneutics if there’s a real problem with them. I haven’t read the book yet, so I can’t. One of recent commenters made the very wise point thst this is not the kind of book evangelicals are used to, which are often of the ‘A Biblical Guide to…’ type, where the theological/hermeneutical standpoint is laid out, the verses in question looked at, ending up with conclusions & applications. This is not that kind of book, deliberately, but not deceptively so. I know that as I’ve dropped in on Rachel’s blog during her carrying out her year’s experiment & the writing of her book.

  42. Bridget,

    I hadn’t thought about the breath of God in regards to man’s creation. Excellent point! So…I guess we are all inerrant as well?

    Whew…it’s a relief to know I’m perfect. I’m infallible. Like God. What the heck to I need the Bible for then?

    Also, the word is “profitable”. Wouldn’t you would have thought Paul might have used the word “perfect” instead, if the Bible is indeed infallible.

    Honestly, the inerrant/infallible argument is a red herring. It is a lose/lose argument for both sides in a way. The question is really is how is man to use it. If it is indeed infallible, then it cannot be used at all. An infallible Bible is a moot one.

  43. Argo –

    “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” and clearly showed me that I was not infallible!

  44. “You obviously have been reading a lot of anti-Protestant propaganda. Are you a Roman Catholic by any chance?”

    Hee Hee. Nice try. Seems we are on different planets. The last I would do is allow a man made creed or any guru whether dead or alive to define Christ for me. But I do read a lot of history and there is a good reason to see the Reformation as more political since it was a transfer of power from one state church to another.

  45. “Argo- wrong. The Scriptures are breathed out by God the Holy Spirit, and are a part of Him. The Spirit in man would never contradict God’s Word. Thus, man is to be subordinate to the Scriptures, not the other way around.”

    Which translation? We do not have the originals.

  46. “But it is true that man’s will is enslaved to sin, and that the only way believers can do any good is thorugh the imputed righteousness of Christ.”

    Jesus obeys for you? I am finding many people define “imputed righteousness” differently.

  47. Anonymous, your comment only reinforces for me what I am reading around the blogosphere in certain circles: Her book is scaring grown men in power. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why they simply did not ignore it. Are they (and you) really convinced that your words will scare people away from reading it or taking any of it seriously enough to have a discussion?

  48. It doesn’t surprise me that Keller would completely miss the whole point of exploring the ancient Near Eastern and Jewish backgrounds of the OT. Most within the Reformed movement (and especially the Calvinistas) act as though Christianity arose out of 16th century Europe. They also get very uncomfortable about “Jewish stuff,” perhaps because their hyper-Calvinism makes it tough for them to address the role of the Jewish people in God’s plans (c.f. Romans 9-11).”

    BINGO! and that means we miss a lot of the meaning concerning “King” Jesus in that context.

  49. “Bridget:

    Anonymous –
    Are you the same Anonymous that declared you hadn’t read the book and probably wouldn’t?”

    Exactly my thoughts – I am over half-way through Evan’s book. Keller’s comments are weak, she misrepresents many reasons Rachel gives for doing what she did.

    Here is a pretty good rebuttal – I could attempt to explain on my own, but this link sums it up beautifully.

    http://emerginganabaptist.com/kathy-keller-vs-rachel-held-evans/

    Val

  50. Nick, Nicholas, Argo, and others,

    I wonder if the legacy of Protestantism would be different nowadays had the Reformation been birthed out of the Enlightenment rather than the Medieval period.

  51. It seems odd to me that many people of the Calvinista, Patriarchal, and Fundamental groups would love for church and state to be intertwined, yet they dislike the Enlightenment folks. It seems that they do not realise how/why our government was created the way it was and what the founding gentlemen were really about.

  52. It seems odd to me that many people of the Calvinista, Patriarchal, and Fundamental groups would love for church and state to be intertwined, yet they dislike the Enlightenment folks. — Muff Potter

    They love it because they see THEMSELVES as the ones on top, ruling over everyone else by Divine Right. “GOD WILLS IT!”

    Just like all the college Marxists with their Superior Intellects who Come the Revolution saw themselves as the Commissars giving all the orders.

  53. Anonymous,

    It would certainly help if you at least read Rachel’s posts once in a while. She is not Reformed, or Calvinist but Southern Baptist. She talks about her own upbringing, her friend’s upbringings, and how complementarianism was handed to them. Many others have experienced similar teachings.

    Her book writes to those who have grown up in a type of Christianity that is lead by barely-educated preachers who do everything Keller gets mad at her for: apply OT rules to church women, taking narrative texts out of context, they ignore the intended meaning of the text, and reading it with their own hermeneutic that they borrowed from some popular preacher and took out of context (usually hyper-literally) anyways.

    Does it talk about well educated NY Presbyterians of Redeemer Church? No. But, and this is where I get so annoyed with TGC, those hot-shot NY Preachers decided to align themselves with many less educated, less cognitively strong, less wise SBC types. Directly, John Piper, Mark Driscoll or indirectly via those in the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood panels connecting with TGC pastors to talk about complementarian relationships “not being complementary enough”, or the Doug-Wilson’s of the world calling all sexual relations an act of men “colonizing and conquering women”. By getting into the same boat as the likes of Keller, Wilson gets to look legitimate (he was also on the Danver’s committee in the early, early days with Piper). Meanwhile, a young female Christian author writes a book raising some legitimate questions, and gets wholly and utterly attack – called a non-christian, non-evangleical, bible-mocker (um, between Wilson’s books on how wonderful slavery was for the slaves and Rachel’s we are taking the Bible too selectively when it comes to women, who should they really be afraid of?).

    Anyways, didn’t have time to post earlier, but if you didn’t read the link I did manage to post, this is a quick summary of my issues with Kathy Keller’s critique, but, then, Anonymous you can’t really argue with this, since you won’t actually read RHE’s book (it would help if you did, it might make you wonder about Keller too).

  54. Anon1 said, “Which translation? We do not have the originals.”

    Are you a KJV Only? Probably not. You know that is a shabby argument and should feel embarrassed using it on someone else!

  55. TedS said:

    Nicholas, I think the word you may be looking for is “patriarchs” as in scripture = patriarchy.
    There.
    I’ve said it.

    That is like defending criminal business enterprises (rackets) with the verse: “Make a joyful noise (racket) unto the Lord.”

    In short, being a patriarch as the Bible us the word is nothing like patriarchy (father rule). http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/why-you-cannot-get-patriarchy-from-abraham-isaac-and-jacob/

  56. Everyone’s been busy while I’ve been away, and as it’s a nice day here (with rain forecast tomorrow) I have a narrow window in which to get my butt outside and do some bricklaying, so I’ll have to be quick; sorry.

    Nicholas: re 30k Protestant denominations (or, as one might say, 30 kilodenominations). As it happens I did pick that one up from a Roman Catholic blogging against protestantism, so I agree that (while I wasn’t being dishonest) I was using a very lazy and unresearched anecdote. My only defence there is that I am basically a Protestant and self-deprecating inaccuracy is less likely to be malicious. So I accept, with apologies, your correction on the number. Though – there are certainly a lot of us. And there are non-christian sects – like Jehovah’s Witnesses – who are not Protestant denominations but are certainly sola scriptura. We might not agree with their interpretation of said scripture, but therein lies the rub. Sola scriptura denominations don’t always get on very well and, indeed, often go to substantial lengths to vent their dislike or even hatred of one another. It doesn’t create love; if anything, it tends to create the opposite.

    On perspicuity again, I think Clay Crouch puts it pretty well. If scripture is only perspicuous to the right kind of people, or people with the right kind of training, or people who have the right attitude, etc, etc, then it presents a significant problem. Namely, it rather implies that anyone who disagrees with me on how to interpret scripture must be doing so either through deliberate and sinful distortion of the scriptures, or because they’re effectively unworthy to attempt to interpret them, or because I’m not worthy or appropriately trained to interpret them myself (in which case, it would be dangerous for me to read them as part of my personal prayer life).

    Muff Potter:

    I wonder if the legacy of Protestantism would be different nowadays had the Reformation been birthed out of the Enlightenment rather than the Medieval period.

    Interesting thought. Your guess is as good as mine, of course; my guess is that it depends on what facet of the Enlightenment. The embryonic “Enlightenment” birthed in the French revolution was itself a backlash against a corrupt monarchical system, and as such carried a lot of the seeds of hatred. It was extremely violent, bloody and repressive; plunged France into The Terror; and subsequently plunged Europe into the Napoleonic wars. But if it had absorbed an approach that required evidence, not proof-by-assertion or its variants, that would have been interesting. I love evidence, actually. Jesus had no problem presenting empirical evidence. I often wonder whether the main reason believers extoll the virtues of “blind faith” so much is that they can’t produce any evidence.

  57. Pingback: Biblical prejudice | Dishisboring NETHERLANDS

  58. Nick, the JWs don’t use the term Sola Scriptura, and their final authority is actually the Watchtower Gospel and Tract Society. The Watchtower Society decides what they believe. Their New World “Translation” greatly alters the Scripture at many points, such as John 1:1, in order to conform it to their theology. No scholars accept the NWT as a legitimate translation.

    I didn’t mean to accuse you of being dishonest. Sorry about that. It’s the apologists who knowingly use the 30k statistic against Protestantism who are being dishonest.

  59. Nicholas – no apology needed; I didn’t feel that you were accusing me, and on reflection my parenthesis (which I only included for completeness!) wasn’t necessary. Sorry for accusing you of accusing me… whoa, dobbin… :-)

    It’s true that the JW’s don’t use the term as such, and they’ve out-done even the most lunatic fringes of quasi-calvinism by producing their own private translation. (My personal favourite NWT-ism is the alteration of “believe in” to “take in knowledge about”.) It’s also true that the Bible can only mean what the Watchtower says it means, so that in practice the Watchtower is indeed their ultimate authority. They merely claim otherwise; as Britain’s most senior JW put it in a TV interview a few years ago, “everything we teach is based squarely on the Bible”. Hmmmm.

    I guess it’s unfair of me to suggest that extreme biblicism, of the sort practiced by Driscoll or the Watchtower, is the logical conclusion of Sola Scriptura. It’s the natural way in which Sola Scriptura will be abused, of course – the JW’s aren’t the first group to claim that only their interpretation of the Bible is valid, and they won’t be the last – but that’s not the same thing.

  60. Val,
    You are welcome! I learn a lot as well. I love this site and there are so many brilliant commenters here.

  61. “Anon1 said, “Which translation? We do not have the originals.”

    Are you a KJV Only? Probably not. You know that is a shabby argument and should feel embarrassed using it on someone else”

    Oh Dear Daisy, I fear you misunderstood me and I admit I was not clear. I was piggybacking on Argo’s comments about the bible being the 4th person of the Trinity to so many in how they use it. If people believe in using it in such a way then we have a problem because we are reading translations (many of them). So we are reading what man decided the Hebrew or Greek word meant from that day and time but in much later time.

    As to the KJ. It is a political translation. Meant to help King James be accepted as a bonafide Protestant king since his mum was a Catholic. NOt saying that makes it all wrong. But we have to be honest about translations. So am I a KJV onlyist? Just the thought makes me LOL. I actually use an interlinear for study. But I read a lot of different translations. I do like the TNIV which makes me a heretic in some quarters because we all know women are not “brothers”. :o)

  62. Here is a snippet from Carolyn Custis James’ review of RHE’s book. (James is the author of the EXCELLENT “Gospel of Ruth”,

    Some challenge her inclusion of Old Testament texts and Jewish traditions as passé in the New Testament era. But as recent as the 16th century, none other than John Calvin employed the Old Testament regulation that compelled a single woman who had been raped to marry her rapist, so long as her father approved. And shouldn’t we be alarmed by the dangerous trajectory of some interpretations of submission and male headship when it opens the door for tolerance of some levels of domestic abuse? Case in point: a founder and leading spokesman for the Complementarian movement counsels (here) that if a woman’s husband is “hurting her” to endure “verbal abuse for a season” and “being smacked one night” before going to the church for help. No mention of calling the police. Shouldn’t we be asking serious questions? Isn’t it the better part of wisdom to investigate concerns that Rachel is raising, rather than discrediting her for “feminist influences”?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carolyn-custis-james/raising-a-ruckus-over-biblical-womanhood_b_2078286.html

    Here is Carolyn’s website: Whitby Forum

    http://www.whitbyforum.com/

  63. Here is an great example of the issue we are discussing surrounding RHE’s book and “hermeneutics”. James points out the problems in this video of Piper and Carson discussing such.

    http://www.whitbyforum.com/2012/09/not-american-book.html

    I will admit watching these videos only makes me see the problem with these guys more clearly. There is NO ONE who makes more and BIGGER exegetical mistakes than Piper (Scream of the Damned, anyone?). But then Piper wants to interpret it for us. Now, notice these guys (and their followers) are the ones who are trying to make us believe RHE totally mocked the bible. Keller is in the vid but is not saying anything in this segment.

  64. Nick,
    You are very right about the bad which came out of the Enlightenment. And as one the eminent writers of the English speaking world put it:

    “…It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

  65. I withdraw the first comment I made about egalitarianism, as there are many “egalitarian” passages in the Bible. (Also recall that I wasn’t just talking about gender.) But regarding the whole “Egalitarianism vs. Complementarianism” debate, Dr. Craig Blomberg has said that the Scripture allows for both interpretations, so there is no room for heresy accusations over this issue.

  66. Anon1:

    I was piggybacking on Argo’s comments about the bible being the 4th person of the Trinity to so many in how they use it.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if it were only the 4th person of the Trinity (though that still wouldn’t be a good thing). The trouble is that the bible is, to all intents and purposes, the third person of the Trinity to some of these groups. It’s treated as the only manifestation of God that is still Emmanuel (i.e., God with us).

    So: There was a brief historical “blip” when, for a few short months, Jesus was God With Us. Then he ascended to the Father’s right hand and the Holy Spirit was sent in His place. He, too, was present for a few years as “scaffolding” to enable the apostles in their great work of building the Scriptures. But then – halleluyah – came the great day, the wonderful moment when all the work of God in revealing Himself to humanity was finally consummated: the Closure Of The Canon. Finally, all the fulness of deity in physical form: Holy Scripture. The ultimate, greatest, most perfect depiction of God that could ever exist.

    Of course, that last paragraph was vacuous nonsense (in parody, of course). Indeed, it’s totally incompatible with authentic faith in Jesus. But there really are websites out there dedicated to exposing “deception in the church” that state in their doctrinal bases: God’s ultimate revelation of himself to mankind is the Bible.

    What frustrates me about these groups is that you cannot deny the deity of scripture without being accused of rejecting scripture. It’s as though the Bible were either mad, bad or God.

  67. But there really are websites out there dedicated to exposing “deception in the church” that state in their doctrinal bases: God’s ultimate revelation of himself to mankind is the Bible. — Nick Bulbeck

    I thought it was the Koran…

  68. You are very right about the bad which came out of the Enlightenment. And as one the eminent writers of the English speaking world put it:

    “…It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” — Muff Potter

    And that passage ends with “In short, it was a time much like any other.”

  69. That is like defending criminal business enterprises (rackets) with the verse: “Make a joyful noise (racket) unto the Lord.” — Retha

    Retha, somebody has probably already done it. There’s a lot of proof-texting out there that’s just as crazy and dead serious.

  70. Sola scriptura denominations don’t always get on very well and, indeed, often go to substantial lengths to vent their dislike or even hatred of one another. It doesn’t create love; if anything, it tends to create the opposite. — Nick Bulbeck

    The Universe cannot have two centers, and there cannot be two One True Ways.

    On perspicuity again, I think Clay Crouch puts it pretty well. If scripture is only perspicuous to the right kind of people, or people with the right kind of training, or people who have the right attitude, etc, etc, then it presents a significant problem. — Nick Bulbeck

    And who is “the right kind of people” with “the right kind of training”?

    The same kind of people who are The Right Kind who Will Achieve True Communism — “MEEEE! NOT THEE!”

  71. Nicholas:

    Paige Patterson is one of two men who were architects of taking over the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a sweetheart of a guy–NOT!! He helped ruin a lot of people’s lives.

  72. Per Patterson’s views on abuse, he said this:

    “Obviously, if he’s doing that kind of thing he’s got some very deep spiritual problems in his life and you have to pray that God brings into the intersection of his life those people and those events that need to come into his life to arrest him and bring him to his knees.”

    I hope he means “arrest” literally. As in cops.

    Seriously, though, what would Patterson have done if he’d given this woman those instructions and, instead of coming to church the next week with a black eye, she’d turned up dead under a bridge? How would he have reacted? Would he have seen himself as responsible in any way for that (indirectly, of course)?

  73. Ack, I mean Argo and Nick (well, I’m learning from Nicholas too, but, well…). Nick, I wish you could come to the Vancouver area and pastor a church – I’d attend.

  74. Hester:

    You said:’Seriously, though, what would Patterson have done if he’d given this woman those instructions and, instead of coming to church the next week with a black eye, she’d turned up dead under a bridge? How would he have reacted? Would he have seen himself as responsible in any way for that (indirectly, of course)?”

    I personally do not think he would.

  75. For those that do not know Paige Patterson can do and say anything he wants to in Southern Baptist life–he is an untouchable.

  76. Nicholas –

    I have no problem with couples determining for themselves what their marriage will look like as far as comp or egal. The problem is that many churches, including SGM as stated below, are declaring that they believe one position. This leaves many people on the outside of fellowship in regards to the Church.

    “First, I found it interesting that the polity proposal outlines the shared values of Sovereign Grace Churches, which are: (page 17)
    a. Reformed soteriology
    b. Gospel-centered expository preaching
    c. Continuationist pneumatology
    d. Complementarian leadership in the home and church
    e. Elder-led churches
    f. National and international outreach and church planting
    g. Interdependent churches united in fellowship, mission, and governance”

    It is clear that they are making many things of first importance. The other probelm is that this group of churches didn’t start out with Reformed soteriology. They are now making it clear, but many people are upset that this view has changed without a public explanation.

    Actually, I don’t find any of the items above listed in Scripture as reasons to separate from other believers. But if you went to one of these churches because it was the local church in your area, you would be severely marginalized if you didn’t agree on any of these points. As Dee has pointed out, this is why the “nones” are growing.

  77. Seriously, though, what would Patterson have done if he’d given this woman those instructions and, instead of coming to church the next week with a black eye, she’d turned up dead under a bridge?– Hester

    “God Hath Willed It”?
    “God’s Will Works in Mysterious Ways”?
    “She must have had some Secret Sin which caused God to withdraw His protection”?

  78. —–“She did not pray hard enough”—–
    “And for a pretence make long prayers”
    “But thou, when thou mayest pray, go into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who is seeing in secret, shall reward thee manifestly.”
    “‘And all their works they do to be seen by men”
    It struck me that Patterson advised (if the story be true) the abused wife to pray by the bedside just as the mn was falling asleep. To be seen by him. For a pretence, for all the mn (or we) might know. Play-acting a role (hypocrite) for all the mn (or we) might know. Apparently with the purpose of further provoking.
    Maybe there’s a wider application to the whole “filling roles” approach to “biblical manhood and womanhood”.

  79. Dave AA,

    What struck me at the time I heard the Patterson story about his advice to an abused woman is him suggesting she kneel and pray by the bed. This either shows a man who does not understand the very basics of the thinking of an abuser or simply does not care about abused women. That showy piousness could render her badly banged up or even killed.

    And you are right….he was suggesting she make a “show” of it in violation of the spirit of Matt 6. (Another reason I do not pray when out to eat…I get so sick of the showy pretense of some christians….and then many of them do not tip well!!!)

    But then, we are talking about a man who got rid of Sheri Klouda because it is a sin for her to teach young men Hebrew.

  80. Val, More yoke to wear as advised by many pastors: Pray more and submit more to an abuser.

    Two things I often wonder about this advice from pastors to abused women:

    1. Why isn’t the pastor or “Great man of God” offering to take the abuse for her? Why not go to the abuser and tell him that?

    2. Why not help her to safety FIRST and then tell her to pray? Why would you send her back in with that heavy yoke attached? And nevermind the children watching all this take place and the cycle continues.

    Can anyone imagine Patterson or Piper showing up at the office everyday and getting beaten by a boss for whatever excuse he found that day to abuse? It is unthinkable/. But that is what they advise women to do in their teaching.

  81. Can anyone imagine Patterson or Piper showing up at the office everyday and getting beaten by a boss for whatever excuse he found that day to abuse? — Anon1

    I can’t imagine it because Patterson or Piper would be the boss doing the beating.

  82. Val:

    Ack, I mean Argo and Nick (well, I’m learning from Nicholas too, but, well…). Nick, I wish you could come to the Vancouver area and pastor a church – I’d attend.

    “Argo and Nick” – Arck? Nargo? (I’ll stop there…) That’s very generous of you to say so, Val.

    I have to say that I, too, am learning from Nicholas. He thanks God he’s a Lutheran – so do I, as that’s a perspective I have no experience of, so in order to appreciate where he’s coming from I’ve had to learn some new thinking. For myself, I note the way in which he’s held a course through this thread with several of us (myself included) critiquing him more than supporting him. And he has done so with increasing courtesy and graciousness rather than increasing defensiveness and anger.

  83. Nick, you might be able to teach me when it comes to Luther. Reading him on doctrine/cultural positions looks like a collection of cognative dissonance to me.

    I,too, appreciate Nicholas’ irenic demeanor.

  84. Re: Paige Patterson’s “testimony”

    I bet that that woman, if she is still in that marriage, is still being abused. And this is a bet I would LOVE to lose.

  85. Anonymous,

    Hm, well, if you don’t think that commentors or reviewers are engaging very well with Keller’s original points, that’s one thing.

    But if you, on the other hand, are ready to agree with those points without having read the book (which it seems is the case, since you say “IF RHE has written such things…”) then your opinion is not necessarily more valid.

    I have read RHE’s book, and if you’d like an opinion that directly addresses one of Keller’s points…no, RHE’s book isn’t the very best of the best when it comes to making egalitarian arguments, but Keller is wrong that Rachel is intentionally misrepresenting how scripture is handled. For example, Rachel literalistically applies some OT laws to herself not because she’s trying to imply that all comps believe in doing this, but because she’s trying to 1. Have some hyperbolic and entertaining elements to her book, and 2. Ask what the word “biblical” means. She’s trying to MAKE the very point that Keller accuses her of MISSING: the idea that you can’t just literalistically apply things from the Bible without some kind of interpretation. She is AGREEING with Keller, pointing out to readers in hyperbolic language “Hey guys, everyone understands that we don’t just apply OT laws without any kind of interpretation based on God’s continuing story…so why do we try to literalistically apply NT verses without any kind of interpretation based on that ongoing story?”

    Rachel is trying to point out that there is a connection between how we use OT (we view it through the lens of God’s continuing story) and how we use NT (we view it through the lens of God’s continuing story). Many readers know that we’re supposed to do this with OT, but they’ve missed the connection between that and how we treat the NT. Rachel is trying, in a hyperbolic and entertaining way, to make people look at that connection. She’s not claiming that complementarians believe in applying all parts of the Bible equally as rules.

    If you ask me, Keller is the one who’s guilty of deciding what she thinks ahead of time and then defending that stance. Her insistence on seeing Rachel’s hyperbolic aspects as a deceptive implication of what comps believe is, frankly, trying VERY HARD to miss Rachel’s real point.

  86. I think Peter Enns hit the nail on the head in very worthwhile blog post:

    The core issue is that Evans’s conclusions undermine theological systems for which biblical inerrancy–which carries with it a strong tendency toward literalism, albeit on a spectrum–is the non-negotiable theological foundation.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2012/10/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-some-hopefully-constructive-thoughts-on-evanss-critics/

    In addition, the ‘patriarchs’ never give a satisfactory answer to the question of why Paul’s prohibition on women teaching men isn’t restricted to it’s time and cultural context, when other statements, such as against braided hair and jewelry or insisting that widows under 60 remarry don’t apply today.Maybe it’s because the latter aren’t oppressive enough.

  87. Anon 1 – if you start with the Small and Large Cathechisms, I think you’ll be in the loop – far more so than by reading random quotes from Luther.

  88. This one sounds worth checking out:

    I have a love/hate relationship with this topic. I hate the idea of Biblical womanhood as I’ve often heard it presented by conservative Christians and as it is then caricatured among those reacting against those branches of conservative Christians. But I love the Bible. And I am a woman…
    Many Christian books written to women claim to present God’s good instructions for their lives. Some expound on the value of marriage and children. Many extol the virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman. A good number teach the value of love, submission, and respect in Christian marriages. Though this book deals with these topics, The Gospel-Centered Woman addresses women from an entirely different perspective…
    This topic is in the forefront of the minds of Christians and non-Christians alike right now. Yet, my book was not written as a reaction against A Year of Biblical Womanhood though, for some reason, the timing coincides. I’ve been burdened for this topic for years. And not because of things I have read on blogs. This is about and for my friends and sisters in Christ who have exposed me to the real issues in their hearts and the inadequate ways we historically have addressed them in the church.

    http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2012/11/the-gospel-centered-woman.html

  89. Anon1:

    Nick, you might be able to teach me when it comes to Luther.

    Well… not an expert on Luther, but here’s what I know without actually looking anything up.

    In modern-day German, at least, his name would be pronounced “Looter” rather than looth-er as we usually (and wrongly) say it here in the UK. Also, he nailed his thesis to a door, and he lived on a Diet of Wurms.

    Now you know as much as I do. If I were doing this more formally, I’d probably double-check some of those facts though.

  90. Sorry, I’ve done just that and apparently it is spelt “Worms”.

    As a well-known right-wing Fleet Street hack would put it: Yer couldn’t make it up.

  91. Deb,

    That thought never crossed my mind. But then, the conclusions are the same aren’t they; women are to endure physical abuse at the hands of their husbands, for the gospel’s sake.

  92. Deb, back when Patterson’s Audio of the story were all over the blogs, a lot of people were speculating whether or not this was true or just a hyperbolic teaching illustration. many were calling for the name of the couple to see if the husband really repented due to all of her praying and submitting to the abuser.

  93. @ Sallie:

    I liked your review, though I haven’t read the book yet (I’d like to but I’m unsure if I’ll have the time in the near future). I always find it amusing when Mary Kassian chastises people for being too extreme with their complementarianism, as she’s the one who “suggested” to women that they “consider” not speaking for an hour a week during church. (Is it really that much of a sacrifice, ladies? You have one hundred and sixty-seven other hours per week in which to talk!)

    You are right, though, in that Evans probably won’t change much with her book. Comps will dismiss it like they do all other egal writings, and it will be likely put on the “no-no” list in-house and most comp women will never read it (if they ever even heard of it).

  94. Also, when I first started researching this topic, I thought Paige Patterson was a woman… Imagine my surprise when I found out “she” had a wife. ; )

  95. @ Hester & Sallie

    You are right, though, in that Evans probably won’t change much with her book. Comps will dismiss it like they do all other egal writings, and it will be likely put on the “no-no” list in-house and most comp women will never read it (if they ever even heard of it).

    The comps are a lost cause since they’ve already drank the Kool-Aid. It’s the for the majority of people out there who have heard little, if anything, about this male supremacy nonsense who will benefit by seeing up front the Biblical pick and choosing that goes on and that the issue is as ‘simple’ as the male supremists want people to believe.

  96. Hester,

    That was one of the funniest comments ever!   As incredulous as it may sound, when I became a Southern Baptist in 1999, I (and my family) were members of the same church as Paige and Dorothy Patterson. 

  97. Challies posted a link to Kassian’s review of Evans with no commentary. I commented and my comment stands (surprise surprise) and Challies readers like it so far!

  98. You know, going through RHE’s book, she is not mixing up the OT and NT at all. She is taking the virtues that the church (ancient and modern) says are “women’s virtues” and looks around to see how people are applying these virtues. She interviews, consults and visits: an Orthodoxy Jewish Rabbi’s wife, a Mennonite, an Amish woman, a daughter raised Quiverfull, a weird underground evangelical group that practices “Biblical Marriage” by practising polygamy and others – I’m not done the book yet, but getting there. Then, she goes through the “rest” of Proverbs 31 commands – no picking and choosing from the Prov. 31 poem, plus other versus pertaining to women and works them into the “woman virtues”.

    It is a great book, because it looks at so many ways people try to apply a Biblical way for Woman to aspire to, through random sayings throughout the Bible. First, I have heard the Proverbs 31 ideal for women and I am so far from the the American south I am on the wrong side of America’s northern boarder. So why is anyone surprised when Rachel tries the Proverbs 31 application.

    Purity laws – OK, we don’t follow “niddah” anymore. So, what is our reason from banning women from the pulpit? the leadership inner circle? The ancients couldn’t have women in the temple about half the year (about 12 days each month of no birth and longer if a woman gave birth). Plus, I have heard more than once, that men think women are too “emotional” or “hormonal” to be church leaders. Clearly they have not seen Driscoll. So, that in a way is applying “niddah” to us, or, worse, saying spiritual giftings are trumped by worldly “capabilities”. It is up to God, not man who gets the gift of teaching, preaching, evangelizing – the church lost this point once it got taken over by the state (4th Century).

    What else does she do that is OT? Well, she discusses motherhood. Yep. Michelle Dugger, sweetheart of Vision Forum is applying OT blessings as commands. And being lauded far and wide by Christians for her glaring misapplication of Bible.

    Now, here is my rant at Christian’s Biblical gender applications. Biblical Womanhood’s virtues aren’t Women’s Virtues, but Christian’s Virtues. Sometimes they are deliberately translated into different English words from the same Greek word. (Gentleness) for woman becomes (self-controlled) for men or people in general. Someone with an agenda translated our Bibles, so we should be cautious about applying different goals, values and virtues to Christian woman than men. That has been a huge sin throughout church history. The early (ancient) church equally applied martyrdom to men and women, later, men removed women from politics – not a virtuous thing for women to do (if that is so, then it is also not the place for men).

    She does an excellent job of raising the contradictions the church has forgotten to notice.

  99. Biblical Womanhood’s virtues aren’t Women’s Virtues, but Christian’s Virtues.

    Amen, Val, Amen!!

  100. Anon 1 – Because of the discussion here on “sin boldly.” A *lot* of people use that as a kind of random quote.

    When I posted some of the rest of the letter in which it appears, I think the ironic turns were missed, but ???

    Again, though, the Large Catechism might be very helpful…

  101. Oh I’m so glad I wasn’t alone in thinking Paige Patterson was a woman.

    And I HATE that story…what about all those who might try the exact same thing & their husbands lash out at them all the more for making them feel guitly & for trying to manipulate them in this way.

    I sometimes think that men (I don’t mean all men, but I think I do mean many men & most Calvinista men) should stop talking about DV, & leave it to women to describe how it actually is, & what should be done about it. Some of these men seem to have no idea of the reality of what they’re talking about, or how they’d react if they were threatened/beaten/raped/controlled by someone physically stronger (usually) than them, often daily. It’s ‘happy christian sparkle story gospel world’ inside their heads & not the real thing.

  102. Val – I agree re translator bias, and it’s a good reason to read more than one translation and, for that matter, to get one’s teaching from more than one source.

    Ironically, we have another issue here in the UK that’s arisen precisely from the laudable attempt to produce gender-inclusive translations. Specifically, instead of “sons of God”, we’re now “children of God” and, in the singular, instead of “a son of God” I am now “a child of God”. The trouble is that “child” is a diminutive term. I would not dream of addressing my 12-year-old son as “child”; to me, that would be grossly patronising and offensive. But bad vocabulary has led to bad theology, and we now have people openly aspiring no higher than to bask like a sleeping infant, passive and contented, in the unconditional love of “Daddy God”, with no desire to mature spiritually from that point. Taking up our cross, fighting the good fight, and similar descriptions (not individually sufficient, but each one biblical and necessary) of the Christian life have been jettisoned.

    I await the day when a conference of theologians assigns to the church the gender-neutral term “the Spouse of Christ”. Then the wedding of the Lamb can happen once the Spouse has made… er… itself ready, I suppose.

    Yer just can’t win…

  103. Per “sin boldly” I think the quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this blog entry sum it up best:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scriptorium/2009/08/sin-boldly/

    And yes, it really *is* easy to misunderstand – and misconstrue – that statement, without some context and knowing why Luther wrote it, as well as to whom it was addressed.

    (fwiw, he was living in Wartburg when he wrote that letter.)

    *

    As for Luther being difficult and incredibly self-contradictory and conflicted (as well as horribly anti-semitic), you’ll get no argument from me there, Anon 1! But I do think it’s necessary to spend some time reading not just what L. said, but the context(s) – the Reformation was literally a bloody time for all involved, no matter what their religious beliefs. (Equally true of the Lollards in England and Jan Hus and those who believed as he did.) I think it really is difficult to grasp a lot of things without some background in the history of the times. (And I will not give Luther the “man of his time” out on anti-semitism or his reaction to the peasant uprisings, any more than I will give that out to Sir Thomas More and Mary Tudor for burning people alive…)

  104. Argo said:
    Honestly, the inerrant/infallible argument is a red herring. It is a lose/lose argument for both sides in a way. The question is really is how is man to use it. If it is indeed infallible, then it cannot be used at all. An infallible Bible is a moot one.

    Argo,
    I was glad to see you in this discussion. My slow mind has come to grips with a lot of what you have previously said. But…can you explain the last two lines in this quote for me? My initial take is that man (us) could not make use of something that is perfect, but why would that be the case?
    Thanks

  105. “Anon 1 – Because of the discussion here on “sin boldly.” A *lot* of people use that as a kind of random quote.”

    I read the concept in context of his letter to Melanchthon long ago. I think ML taught a sort of progressive Justification which I totally disagree with.

    “Again, though, the Large Catechism might be very helpful…”

    I especially like the part where he said your servants must memorize parts of it and be able to recite it to you or be fired. :o)

  106. “I think it really is difficult to grasp a lot of things without some background in the history of the times.”

    I have spent the last 7 years reading almost exclusively about the about that era of history from as many angles and positions I can find. We simply will have to disagree on what things we should “grasp”. :o)

  107. Anon 1 –

    As if memorizing and reciting parts of it somehow make you righteous? Partly righteous? What is the point of memorizing and reciting if the person doesn’t know Christ? This is what boggles my mind with insisting that people (especially children) know catechisms. I felt that with children it is more like brainwashing than anything else. What life do they find in catechisms?

  108. Anon 1 – I’m sorry that you are offended by something that was written close to 500 years ago, by Luther and others.

    I find a *lot* of things written at that time – and done then as well – to be offensive. But it looks to me like you are nitpicking; also that we will never agree on this issue.

    Be well!
    n.

  109. Bridget, the purpose of the Catechism is simply to instruct children in basic Christian doctrine. It is for the same purpose that Baptists and evangelicals have Sunday school for kids.

    Lutherans believe that even infants can have faith in Christ.

  110. NB: I don’t think Luther taught or believe in “progressive justification,” and am not entirely certain what you mean by that.

    Either one is justified or one is not, imo.

    did you mean “progressive sanctification,” maybe? if so, that is accurate – and quite different from Wesley’s “entire sanctification,” which is something I heard (and believed in) during my earliest years as a charismatic (albeit with both Church of the Brethren – i.e., Anabaptist – and evangelical overtones).

  111. Nicholas – I am not sure about the “infants” bit, actually… is that an LCMS thing? (I’m ELCA, so yes, we differ on a number of points! :))

  112. One last thought: It might be best if people look at what is actually in the doctrinal statements of the Lutheran churches – pl. because there are many Lutheran bodies worldwide – rather than taking things from Luther’s “Table Talk” and/or personal correspondence.

    Those things – table Talk and letters – are personal opinion. The Small and Large Catechisms + the Crreds (Apostles, Nicene and Chalcedonian statement) were agreed upon by many before they were adopted as core doctrine, ditto for the original Augusburg Confession (which was later revised – I’m not sure I can go with the revised version, personally, and many Lutheran bodies stick to the original).

  113. Nicholas —

    I had never heard that Lutherans believe that infants can have faith in Christ. How would anyone know that an infant does since they are not capable of verbally communicating? That is intriguing.

    I am not trying to be contentious about the catechisms. I guess I would rather spend the time reading actual scripture and interacting with children then teaching them one particular denominations belief system (doctrines).

  114. From The Augsburg Confession (see link above):

    Article IV: Of Justification.

    1] Also they [our churches] teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for 2] Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. 3] This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.

  115. Bridget – Actually – afaik, having been raised Lutheran – Sunday school is Sunday school there. When people are in their early teens, they take catechism classes, and *that’s* when the Small and large Catechisms are discussed.

    Maybe it’s different in Nicholas’s church? I really don’t know, and, as I said above, i have never heard/read anything about infants having faith… will have to look in the Book of Concord to be sure.

    What I mostly remember from Sunday School is learning about Jesus and his life. Honestly, I can’t imagine that Lutheran SS classes are significantly different to other churches’ SS classes and curricula, with the exception of denoms like the IFB and, well… SGM and its cohorts.

  116. On baptism, from the Augsburg Confession (again – bolding of 2nd ‘graph is mine):

    Article IX: Of Baptism.

    1] Of Baptism

    they [our churches] teach that it is necessary 2] to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God’s grace.

    3] They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.

    Note: this was written in 1530… and there’s no animosity between Anabaptists and Lutherans now, even though there clearly was in the 1500s.

    I have never heard an Anabaptist say that children are saved without baptism and think the document distorts Anabaptist beliefs.

  117. Sorry, all, for the long digression on Luther and Lutheran doctrine and documents.

    I think it best that I bow out of things now…

  118. We believe in the promises of God to the children of believers (Acts 2:39), and since faith is a supernatural gift from God, we believe he can give it to infants and children as well. We also believe in the saving efficacy of baptism (1 Peter 3:21) which is water combined with God’s Word.

  119. Nicholas, where are you quoting from? (I mean that sincerely; if you can provide a link, that would be very helpful.)

    And I am not certain if what you just posted is the same thing as what is believed and taught in the ELCA – it’s similar, but not, I’m thinking, quite the same, though I need to check…

    The LCMS is much more intent on The Book of Concord than the Lutheran body in which I grew up, which was part of the merger that formed the ELCA.

  120. Really nothing crazy or inflammatory in the article– just a big emphasis on restoring masculinity to “the pulpit”. “The individual man in the pulpit must be masculine because the bride of Christ must be feminine. The appropriate feminine response of the Church is to be submissive, and you cannot be submissive while disobeying.”
    OK Doug– I know Christ and the Apostles said LOADS about “the Pulpit and the manly man in it — er– um –must be there somewhere…..And pay no attention to that body of Christ, which must be masculine, and the body’s appropriate masculine response, which is to be submissive…..TO CHRIST! Wish Doug had specified to whom the church should be submissive and who she should not disobey.
    Kinda goes along with Kassian’s third little head/heart person with the masculine head of “Church Elders” and the feminine heart of “Believers”.

  121. “Anon 1 – I’m sorry that you are offended by something that was written close to 500 years ago, by Luther and others.”

    I am sad that you chose to use the tactic of so many of the YRR by saying I was “offended”. I think perhaps you were the one offended. You also accused me of “random” quoting because I did not choose to cut and past the entire context. Perhaps I am wrong to think something called Lutheran has anything to do with Luther’s doctrinal beliefs. Denominations do evolve. I am not “offended” just trying to understand if Lutherans today believe in progressive Justiification. If they do, then I am curious why they would have a problem with any of the folks discussed here like Mahaney, etc.

  122. I told you no to so-called “progressive justification.” You can go and read about it for yourself; there’s no need to try and make up phony arguments and bug me – or other commenters here – for answers.

    I do think you are being extremely disingenuous, and I will not engage with you any longer on these topics.

  123. To everyone: apologies for letting this turn into a mini-Shootout at the OK Corral.

    Special apologies to both Deb and Dee. I knew better than to let myself get drawn into the preceding discussion.

  124. Nicholas @ 9:01 –

    Thanks for sharing what some Lutherans believe about infant salvation. Personally, I don’t think I would interpret those scriptures in the same way.

  125. Numo, I won’t be offended if you ignore my comments. I had no idea you thought I was “randomly” quoting anything. Was surprised to see that assumption made.

  126. Dave A A –

    “That said, in these egalitarian times, we must insist on a masculine presence in the pulpit because the church is the bride of Christ, and needs to obey her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24). The Lord required this of us (1 Timothy 2:12), and so that is what we must do. The individual man in the pulpit must be masculine because the bride of Christ must be feminine. The appropriate feminine response of the Church is to be submissive, and you cannot be submissive while disobeying.”

    This is so wharped I just don’t know where to start. Seriously, he makes believers be subject to the pastor instead of to Christ — just sick. Believers (the bride) are now being told to be submissive to the pastor (who is Christ?) as the say women are to be subject in marriage to their husbands.

    Masculinity and femininity are now central to the Church. Is it my imagination or are these folks adding to what Scripture actually says?

    It is really disturbing that John Piper is aligned with this teaching.

  127. Doug Wilson on the Desiring God website said, “[W]e must insist on a masculine presence in the pulpit.”

    It is almost hilarious how these guys have created caricatures of themselves.
    Sad, really.

  128. Holy smokes. I have no idea who this Paige Patterson is. You say he is influential?

    “And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

    !!!!!!!!!!!

    This is evil.

    If this story is real, there is a 99.9% chance that this woman is still being abused.

  129. Brothers – is it now, finally, clear that you are not sisters? I’m so glad Doug Wilson has cleared that up for all of you. However, I thought you were all quite capable of figuring that out for yourselves ;)

  130. Nicholas – thanks for those links. Re. the PDF, I guess the ELCA and the LCMS are in agreement – in general – on many things, but the particulars of how and why are where the differences lie, for the most part. I was very surprised to see that the LCMS is uncertain as to the fate of unbaptized infants.

    But that’s a discussion for another day.

    all the best,
    n.

  131. Jeff S, Nicholas and all – there’s actually quite a bit of info. on both Paige Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, on TWW. Try the search box on the home page… :)

  132. Yeah, I’ve been searching since reading that. I’d actually read that story before, but I had no idea it was said by anyone of significance.

  133. Nicholas, again, there is a lot on this site on sexual predation in the SBC… I don’t mean to be annoying; it’s just hat this site and the links Dee and deb have posted are such great resources in themselves.

    (And they are both terrific about posting links within articles that they write.)

  134. Nicholas, I’ve been following a lot of this stuff. It’s just that particular account by Patterson may be the worst example of preaching on the topic of abuse I’ve ever heard. He just blasted right by Piper, and that’s saying something. I am sick to my stomach. He actually said he looked at a batterd woman and said she was happy she was abused. And he bases his happiness on an abuser’s profession of repentance. I hope for his sake and the woman’s sake the story is a lie.

    It is evil and outrageous.

  135. At the risk of offending just about everyone on here:

    So re: Doug Wilson’s pulpit ranting (and other points often coming up here)
    1st. historical church mistake – trading the revelation of the Holy Spirit for “the revelation of the Church” late 300 AD
    2nd. historical church mistake – replacing “the revelation of the Church” for “the revelation of the Bible” done via right Doctrine late 1500 AD
    3rd. historical church mistake – replacing “the revelation of the Church” for ” the revelation of right community/way of living” (Anabaptist) or “revelation of right Monarch” (Anglican) circa 1600 AD
    4th. church mistake – replacing “the revelation of the Bible” with “the revelation of who is in the Pulpit” – new disaster looming circa late 1900s.

    So from Holy Spirit to Papacy and Tradition to Doctrines or Ways to Pulpit Heros. Can’t see any problems with this new form of revelation, right?

    The Catholics ask their parishioners to overlook their mistakes for the perseverance of the Church.

    The Reformers ask their parishioners to overlook their mistakes for the perseverance of the Doctrines.

    The Anabaptists ask their parishioners to overlook their mistakes for the perseverance of the Community.

    Now, TGC, SBC and others ask their parishioners to overlook their mistakes for he perseverance of the Pulpit “Hero”.

    Predators just love these false gods. If they can gain access to the parishioners via their false channels the parishioners cling to, they have a green light. Priests are protected from parishioners in the Catholic church (grew up in the Canadian North, nothing will change my mind about stuff happening there), Luther, Calvin and anyone spouting Reform doctrine is immune to criticism, because their doctrine was just so “right”. Jew-hating, Woman-bashing, murdering, all OK, if they had right-doctrine (and many followed their murderous, misogynistic ways, due to their knowledge of the men). Many dark stories emerge from the Mennonite colonies around the world – child abuse, wife abuse. Now, we see what happens when a Mega Pastor is culpable (denial, point out the horrors of gossip, slander and divisiveness, while ignoring the Elephant in the room (pedophilia). I am sure much has happened in Eastern Orthodox traditions also that was due to the parishioners failing to stand up to that institution.

    It is easy for anyone outside a tradition to point out the mess, but no one way is immune. God really doesn’t care if you are Lutheran, Anabaptist or Catholic, as long as you don’t put the idol of Church, Doctrine or Community above Following Jesus – calling out predators, walking rather than compromising when an institution won’t allow you to speak the truth.

    Doug Wilson is just giving us another idol to replace Holy Spirit revelation.

    If you are wondering how one would know what Holy Spirit Revelation is, if something seems wrong, look to Jesus. If he wouldn’t accept it, it isn’t from him. Would he accept replacing the priesthood of believers with a hierarchal church that only gives power top-down? Would he accept replacing his teachings with Reform Doctrines? Especially if they neglect his teachings on the Holy Spirit? or Loving one another, even if the “other” kills them? Turning the other cheek? Would he accept replacing the Holy Spirit for a closed community that cannot abide the “other”? Cannot abide people from the “worldly” outside?

    People, leaders or lay people, who are lead by Holy Spirit revelation produce fruit even non-believers can see. They don’t tell you they produce fruit, or you must follow them to be saved, or improved, or safe. They reveal the True Jesus.

    Now, here is a sad thing I have noticed. Some great leaders start out following Jesus well. Their lives are fruitful and full of Love. Later, whether due to fame, failures or a false sense of having arrived (there are many ways to fall), they cease to produce fruit, or exhibit love. But, those who idolize Church, Doctrine or Community will fail to acknowledge this, since the leader still promotes the parishioner’s idol. Those on the outside or fringes see this first. Holy Spirit revelation comes from the least in those things. A gracious leader may learn from this, one who is hardened will try to stop the criticism. Parishioners will be told to ignore the outside – it is worldly, unregenerate, heretical, etc. Then, those on the inside are taught not to question.

    This happens locally – Mahaney’ church, or Driscoll’s. It happens broadly. Reformers don’t consider non-reformers capable of teaching their kids, leading their churches, etc. Church discipline is important (good way to shut people up). Catholics confess to a priest, get direction from a priest, bishop or Pope. Spiritual discernment of a revelation can’t come from beyond them, or the church traditions. What an outsider says must be handed to a church leader to test it for them. I am sure Anabaptists have similar mechanisms for accepting/rejecting outside information. It tends to have to go through a hierarchy. That hierarchy rarely acknowledges the least as having much value/wisdom.

    However, Holy Spirit revelation burns inside someone. That conviction that something is wrong and shouldn’t be swept under is from the Holy Spirit. That stirring will make enemies with the hierarchy. I am becoming suspicious that most church hierarchies are just Satan’s strongholds into our minds and hearts. How does a hierarchy protect someone? If it won’t kick out the predators, if it’s definition of “love” and “forgiveness” involve a cover for evil to operate, then just who’s power do the leaders operate under.

    The funny thing about Calvinist doctrines, is it is evil’s paradise. Since evil is somehow allowed by God. That means the idea of evil getting an insidious foothold and messing up the leaders is impossible in their minds. I wonder about Lutheran or Anglicanism too. The more authority that is handed to a leader, the less the followers can comprehend God not protecting them. But then what about evil?

    Doug Wilson’s attempt to add a new hierarchy to the church idols out there makes me think Satan already controls him. He has admirers. What do they admire – not his Christlikeness, not his humility, they admire his defence of hierarchy. Hmmmmm. Now, Mr. hierarchy-lover wants a new church idol. Pulpit hero – must be masculine, not middle-sex like many priests are (Driscoll much?), must be Christ-like. Just like the Church, the Bible and everything else before it, it is VERY IMPORTANT it is just so.

    OK, I need to go. But this is my thoughts on all this. If we would just give up justifying institutions, doctrines and ways of living and ponder Jesus’ call – no where to lay our weary heads, turn the other cheek, love our enemies (meaning Romans, in Jesus’ day, The World in our day), take time for the weak and broken, only hire priests/pastors who have demonstrated exceptional love for others, and can take correction from someone they don’t think is as “good” as them, the church would heal.

  136. Val – all I can tell you re. my time as a Lutheran (I spent years away) is that pastoral ministry in that church – or, at least, in my experience of it (and I’m only one person) – is actually both pastoral. and ministry.

    it is not mainly about preaching, it’s about being there for people. You can see that in the seminary curricula, at least in the synod I belong to (and grew up in, though it had a different name at that time).

    After leaving – more or less – in the early 70s, I spent 30+ years in the evangelical/charismatic world, where legalism was rife and the “pastors” were dictators; almost like little gods. Finally, I was booted from a church … and that was that.

    I have spent 10 years finding my way to recovery, and I can certainly tell you one thing: the Lutheran churches that i’ve been around since slowly starting to make my way back to church – well, they’ve been there for me. I think that the denoms with good grounding in history (Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Lutheran – of course, there are others) at their best are refuges. The best of them – both pastors and members – understand that we all go through many difficult and painful things in this life, and that some of us are going to screw up very, very badly.

    They don’t reject their own (for the most part – how I wish I could say this was true across the boards, but that would be a lie).

    What I am certain of is that I have found mercy, grace and compassion – and that for the 1st time in my life, I can and do believe that God truly loves me as I am.

    The hard-hearted legalism and micromanaging “discipleship” orientation of all of the other churches I was part of would never in a million years allow for that. At best, I felt like God allowed me in the back door on sufferance, and that if I did one more thing wrong, I’d be kicked out for good.

    I even had a so-called “pastor” pronounce curses on me on two different occasions.

    That was graceless and heartless.

    Now I am “back home,” and though I find it very hard to participate in church, at least I can be sure that it is there for me. And that some of the local pastors are as well. (fwiw, “pastor” is a title in my denom, given to those who are in active pastoral ministry.)

    I would not swap the mercy that’s been shown to me for all the so-called “right doctrine” in the world – though, in saying that, i am thankful that my background was such that I had some decent grounding in other approaches and knew that there was a place I where could go.

    Most people who get burned as badly as I did are not half so fortunate.

  137. So… to sum up, the people I’ve been in contact with (pastors and laity) since I started back down the road to the Lutheran church have one thing in common:

    they have acted like Jesus toward me.

    In the end, that’s all that really matters.

  138. Bridget – I second your comment above. The idea that a feminine church submitting to Christ by submitting only to a male “pastor” (not, in this context, a biblical role, as you all know) reinforces the Strange Doctrine that “the pastor” is somehow separate from, and above, the congregation.

    To pick up the theme of Ephesians 5, allow me to indulge myself before brunch with a few statements of the obvious… “husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her”. Having defeated death, what did Jesus then do with the church [he asked rhetorically]? Commissioned her to go throughout the earth, making disciples of all the nations, etc. He handed her the keys of the kingdom, and poured out his own Spirit on her to give her the power to back up the authority he had given her.

    These men who want to occupy the pulpit, then; have they never read that they’re forbidden from lording it over the flock, but as a part of the flock themselves, are to set an example? Who – meaning what human – are they submitting to and obeying in everything? To whom are they making themselves sexually available? When they talk about submission and obedience, what exactly do they mean? Are we all to submit and obey just like they do? That’s not an attractive picture.

  139. Numo –

    I even had a so-called “pastor” pronounce curses on me on two different occasions.

    That was graceless and heartless.

    I humbly beg to describe it more completely. That action, as you have described it, was witchcraft.

  140. @ Anon 1 & Numo:

    I haven’t read as much Luther as the two of you – but in the things I have read, he is very quick to remind his readers that their salvation is a done deal and finished. Hardly “progressive.” I can see why some make that argument, but I’m not yet convinced. All that being said – I DO think it’s possible that the current crop of Neo-Calvinists is teaching progressive justification, whether or not the Reformers themselves did.

    As for the present-day Lutheran church – as Numo said, “progressive justification” is most definitely NOT taught. Catechism memorization – at least in the ELCA/LCMS congregations I have been in, I can’t speak for WELS – is pretty perfunctory and usually only happens in the year surrounding confirmation and as a fill-in-the-blank exercise. Nowhere NEAR the Calvinist/Reformed method of catechism memorization, which starts very young and continues (in many cases) throughout life. Also, it’s widely taught among Lutherans that every believer holds the keys to the kingdom (as opposed to only the pastor/elders as in the Reformed tradition), which can be a HUGE safeguard against pastoral power trips (as the pastor can’t dangle “his” keys over the congregants’ heads). This is why my LCMS congregation’s by-laws require excommunication happen by congregational vote.

    Also, general note even though this has been said before – Luther is not “Reformed.” That term refers only to Calvinist branches of Christianity, not any church that came out of the Reformation. If that was true, Baptists would be “Reformed.” (The Baptist Successionists can now come out of the woodwork and shoot me.)

  141. @ Numo:

    “So… to sum up, the people I’ve been in contact with (pastors and laity) since I started back down the road to the Lutheran church have one thing in common: they have acted like Jesus toward me.”

    My exact experience as well. And I’m in an LCMS church. ; )

    Our pastor let my mom literally flick him in the forehead as part of a joke…which I know sounds silly and meaningless. But that’s something the folks at the PCA church we left would NEVER have done to their pastor. Far too deferent toward him. Thus part of why we returned to the Lutheran church.

  142. Regarding Patterson’s idiotic remarks about the wife with two black eyes, I believe he said that in an address to the members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood quite a few years ago. We wrote a post about it several years and had a very difficult time tracking down the audio. However, we did find it…

    Speaking of CBMW, is their website still partially down? Wasn’t it last April when they began their ‘reconstruction’? Where are the archives?

  143. That said, in these egalitarian times, we must insist on a masculine presence in the pulpit because the church is the bride of Christ, and needs to obey her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24).

    This is heresy. This raises the man in the pulpit, who, if saved, is part of the bride of Christ, to the position that belongs ONLY to Christ. The pastor is NOT the congregation’s husband! The believing pastor and the believing congregation are all the bride of Christ. Good grief.

  144. Deb, yes. The website is still under reconstruction. I’m beginning to wonder if, given Kassian’s recent disingenous claim that complementarianism has nothing to do with homemaking as an ideal, the CBMW isn’t in the process of rebranding itself and re-writing its history?

  145. Pingback: On women leading & teaching stuff in churches {1}: a story | the long way home

  146. Thanks for linking my comment, Sallie. Kassian’s rebuttal is so full of backpedaling and evasive language and ‘what, me?’ innocence. But I think that people see right through that.

  147. Nick,

    I understand why you are saying “witchcraft,” but I don’t think that’s applicable in this case, as his statements have absolutely no value, because God doesn’t work like that.

    He was trying to scare me, and all he succeeded in doing was alerting me to the fact that he was *really* screwed up! anyone who would believe that God gave them the “power” to “curse” someone (whether by pronouncing curses from the Torah or otherwise) is not living in the real world.

    I was very startled that this person would actually make such statements, but thankfully, I could not see how what they said could ever possibly come to be – after all, not only was it all very ungodly, but Jesus put paid to every curse of the law (etc.).

  148. Hester – Thanks so much for your input!

    One reason that I encourage people to read the original documents of the Lutheran churches is that the calvinista/YRR folks take many of Luther’s statements out of context and misinterpret them to make them fit their own preconceptions.

    it’s pretty much the same “reasoning” that they use regarding the Nicene Creed and ESS.

    In other words, they are not only proof-texting, they’re wrong. And because they don’t bother to read primary sources (historian-speak for original documents), they go off in all directions except the right ones.

  149. Val, I so appreciated your comment @2:01. Your description/timeline reads like so many OT narratives where those who claim to love God continue to settle for less than what He offers, namely His very presence. I have just recently been moving through leaving a church where a young pastor has newly come in and began the process of “reforming”. I’ve been heart-sick watching trusted friends rally around their idols of correct doctrine or community (as you reference) to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit. And mourning the loss of a church that once offered health and growth for the people who went there. I do look around the landscape and wonder, where will I be able to go next?

  150. Caleb W asked:

    Deb, yes. The website is still under reconstruction. I’m beginning to wonder if, given Kassian’s recent disingenous claim that complementarianism has nothing to do with homemaking as an ideal, the CBMW isn’t in the process of rebranding itself and re-writing its history?

    “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

  151. Val, Your comment at 2:01 hit the nail on the head. Bravo!

    “If we would just give up justifying institutions, doctrines and ways of living and ponder Jesus’ call – no where to lay our weary heads, turn the other cheek, love our enemies (meaning Romans, in Jesus’ day, The World in our day), take time for the weak and broken, only hire priests/pastors who have demonstrated exceptional love for others, and can take correction from someone they don’t think is as “good” as them, the church would heal.”

    I can so relate to the first part of this. I had to give all that up and it was hard going. We all want to defend what we have supported. But a time came I could no longer, yeah but…..or…..there are very good people there….

    And the reason is that I came to a long hard conclusion the “institutionalization” and thinking of functions in the Body as “offices” was the real underlying problem. And the body is to be a living breathing organism. Not an organization. You don’t have to tell me how hard that is to fathom and practice. I know.

    There have been some very good movements of history (many gave their lives for it) away from the tyranny of the institutionalized church (which was political in nature for most of history) but then THEY would institutionalize their movement and the same problems surfaced.

  152. “I’m beginning to wonder if, given Kassian’s recent disingenous claim that complementarianism has nothing to do with homemaking as an ideal, the CBMW isn’t in the process of rebranding itself and re-writing its history?”

    Caleb, that seems to be the scuttlebut around these parts. You can see snippets of historical revision here and there. I agree they are rebranding but many are literally trying to pretend they never were about women being homemakers, homeschoolers, etc, etc. I do wonder if Russ Moore has removed his Henry Institute article from a few years back where he declared that comps are wimps and we need more patriarchy.

    Yes, the comp doctrine has many followers but it is getting harder and harder for folks to buy into it. Especially in a bad economy. Funny how that works.

  153. I’m beginning to wonder if, given Kassian’s recent disingenous claim that complementarianism has nothing to do with homemaking as an ideal, the CBMW isn’t in the process of rebranding itself and re-writing its history?,/i>

    My hope is that CBMW is languishing for lack of interest in that oppressive doctrine.

  154. Re. the LCMS and other Lutheran bodies in the US:

    the ELCA (my synod) is the largest); the LCMS comes next, and the WELS (Wisconsin synod) comes in 3d, as far as numbers. There are also many small Lutheran bodies that are unaffiliated with any of these.

    one big difference between the ELCA and the other synods that I mentioned: the ELCA allows for the use of historical-critical study of Scripture, though there’s nothing that dictates its use, and people are free to accept or reject it, or outright ignore it if they wish.

    otoh, both the LCMS and the WELS are very committed to biblical inerrancy, and there was a huge split (the Seminex, aka Seminary in Exile) in the LCMS, starting in 1974. It had everything to do with the LCMS’s refusal to allow the use of the historical-critical method in its flagship seminary, Concordia (St. Louis) for any reason at all.

    So… while I have known LCMS people who see nothing wrong with the use of the historical-critical method in study, there are many others who are vehemently opposed to it. I think that’s where the difference between how I was taught to regard infant baptism vs. how Nicholas (and other LCMS members and ministers) view it is coming from, at least in part.

    As for the WELS, I can’t speak to – or for – them, other than to say that from what I know (which is admittedly limited), it’s pretty much a fundamentalist version of Lutheranism. they have some odd ideas which surface in the media every now and then; the commonest is the long-held belief that there’s something intrinsically wrong with the Boy Scouts. (They used to excommunicate people for being involved in scouting; not certain if this is still true.) If you look up their official statements on the BSA, you’ll see that they still view it as opposed to God and the gospel, though their reasons don’t make much sense. (To me, anyway.) Apparently the LCMS used to hold to this position and when they altered their approach, there was some fairly acrimonious fallout between them and the WELS.

    Some of the worst church controversies are about the stupidest things…

  155. Numo – re the witchcraft thing. Fair point; I was using the word “witchcraft” in what is probably a relatively uncommon and rather loose sense, meaning any attempt to use spiritual authority or power in order to intimidate, manipulate or otherwise impose one’s own will on another person. I know of one missionary organisational leader who refers to “witchcraft prayers”, for instance, meaning prayers along the lines of “Lord, change that person so they agree with me”. I doubt whether God is fooled by that kind of stuff.

  156. @numo

    The Terms of Reference for The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse announced two days ago are still to be drawn up, but Scouts will be one of the organisations they’ll be looking at. WELS might have been onto something…

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/satisfied-whistleblower-weighs-future-in-the-force-20121113-2994l.html#ixzz2C8S632Em

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-13/irish-judge-warns-abuse-inquiry-may-take-longer-than-expected/4370208

  157. Haitch – that’s not why the WELS objects to the Scouts, though. It’s some odd ting about Scouting being an alternative system of belief that is against God.

    I think the pedophile stuff is incidental; they have been against Scouting for many, many decades on religious grounds.

  158. Caleb, I try to stay away from Burks blog after the whole Bruce Ware fiasco with “wives who do not sumbit trigger abuse” blog post. But I had to read comments on your link. (No wonder they are worried. I was astounded. Back in the day, the pat/comps would come out in force to defend. Not anymore. Hmmm)

    I don’t comment over there for personal reasons and they love to track your ISP and give you grief.

    but this comment stuck out at me for a reason:

    J.M. LaRueNovember 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm#

    And the ridiculousness continues…

    “She seems to be oblivious that Denny Burk, Owen Strachan, and CBMW all folks in “her backyard” equate complementarianism with patriarchy.”

    No…. no…. seriously, no, they don’t.

    This is a tired old line that is completely false. And as long as this line is believed (and it is believed by pretty much the ENTIRE camp of RHE supporters), this debate will never move anywhere.

    Complementarianism is NOT equated with Patriarchy. Kassian rightfully represents this distinction.”

    Now this is interesting from LaRue. Is he not familiar with Russell Moore, a dean at SBTS? Is he not familiar with Moores article in JETS:

    http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/49/49-3/JETS_49-3_569-576_Moore.pdf

    See, these folks do not even know their own movement. They believe whatever the current guru tells them to believe.

  159. I wasn’t aware of that Ware fiasco. I read the original post just now. Wow.

    Do they really track your isp and bother you? I actually don’t mind if they know who I am for a certain reason :) But I understand that being a huge problem!

    Like I said earlier…the backtracking and general ignorance about complementarianism from those claiming to believe it is astounding! I wonder if the average person in the pew who thinks they are complementarian would continue to be one if they read what people in their own tent are writing about it.

  160. Nick – I have seen the term “imprecatory prayer” used of xtians who pronounce curses, especially in regard to a group of people who have been “praying” for Pres. Obama – in the sense of pronouncing curses (from the Psalms, I forget the exact texts) against him and his family.

    If you Google “imprecatory prayer obama,” you should come up with plenty of hits. (Too many, really.)

  161. I am amazed at how people ignore the words of both Jesus and Paul and yet call themselves Christians.

    Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.”

    Romans 12:13 contributing to the needs of the saints,practicing hospitality.
    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

  162. Mara – well, a lot of people want to instill fear in the members of their churches, and they certainly do take advantage of biblical-sounding ways to do it!

  163. @ Anon 1:

    “Complementarianism is NOT equated with Patriarchy.”

    But didn’t Russ Moore actually say that that word was a good representation of his beliefs?

  164. Read pretty much any good bio. of Luther and you’ll run right into the story of his ongoing penances (some quite extreme) while he was a monk – and the moment that what Paul says in Romans 1-8 hit home for him.

    So no, there is no way on earth that Luther would ever have advocated “progressive justification,” as the revelation he experienced re. Romans chs. 1-8 freed him completely from not only the intense penances, but made clear to him that justification by faith (a very central thing for him) simply is – as Paul says, when one believes and confesses, then he/she is justified.

    That simple. Freedom from centuries of superstitious accretions, terror (Luther experienced that quite a lot prior to his Romans “Aha!” moment), fear of death and purgatory and hell.

    Which gave him a lot of initiative to protest not only the sale of indulgences, but to go head-on in a doctrinal dispute with the Powers that Be in both Germany and Rome. (Of course, being able to read the Bible for oneself is part of this, and it was translated into German in short order – just as Wycliffe had done in England during the late 1300s.

  165. “@ Anon 1:

    “Complementarianism is NOT equated with Patriarchy.”

    But didn’t Russ Moore actually say that that word was a good representation of his beliefs?”

    Yeah, the comps are not on the same page at all. The gravitas they built up in the 90’s is crumbling in all directions. When you have Denny Burk readers saying that comp is not pat, they are not paying attention to what is going on even at SBTS! Piper a big one for CBMW has been moving toward hard patriarchy for years now. And his kiss kiss with Doug Wilson only seals it even more. Most of them have been moving toward hard patriarchy but many of the regular troops are not paying attention. Now you have another view being presented by Kassian.

    I personally think Kassian sounded like she was more put out with RHE because she feels like she is one of the founders of comp doctrine and was not mentioned? As if she gets to define it totally. But as we all know, that has been impossible. And now that folks can engage and ask questions and make comments, it is getting even harder to market the concept in general!

    Just for grins, go check out the signers of the Danvers statement and where they are today on the subject. It is all over the board. If I can find a link to the signatories, I will provide it.

    BTW: Signing the Danvers statement is one of the requirements in hiring at SWBTS

  166. To me, Mary Kassian seems unduly agitated, annoyed. I think Rachel Held Evans was simply an easy target to ventilate on.

    What she seems to say in her blog posts and articles seems to be contradicted by the rest of the CBMW folks. She seems like a lone wolf, in a way.

    (I say “seems” because, as has been noted before, regardless of what is said there always “seems” to be room to embroider their viewpoint in any number of directions, depending on how they want to “seem” to the audience du jour.) seem seem seem

    I wonder if perhaps Mary Kassian is coming to terms with the fact that because of her gender she is necesarily more of an ornament to the CBMW than a legitimate player. Her influence is relegated to second-tier status where the rest of second-tier humanity is. She is trotted out by the top tier male majority only when needed, when they appear more patriarchal than the marketplace of ideas will bear. A cheerleader on the sidelines. Go team! My heroes!

    This is all conjecture, based on observations.

    There has been speculation that CBMW is reinventing themselves. The male majority seems to be becoming more polarized in a patriarchal direction. Mary Kassian seems to be towing a different party line, decidedly non-patriarchal (at least in what she “seems” to be saying). Perhaps she’s being left out of the reinventing process, and it chafes against the ego boost of celebrity status she’s had, having been permitted a seat at the table during the 1st inventing process.

    Perhaps she secretly viewed herself as a true equal (not merely in name), a comp anomoly. And perhaps she’s realizing the reality of her sideline position and is miffed. But can’t say anything because it goes against everything she’s stood for and promoted since she signed her name on the dotted Danvers line.

    And so Rachel Held Evans is the recipient of a carefully measured bit of the agitated pressure that has been building up. After all, it’s always open season to rail against the enemy and overturn their tables.

  167. Um Sallie? The You Tube comments say it all. (I was scared for a little while that you were promoting it – had to re-read your post)

  168. @ Anon 1 & Elastigirl:

    I don’t know what the deal is with Kassian… First she “suggests” women not talk in church (in one of her online books on CBMW), then she posts that article a few months back implying believers have some kind of ultimate sex-like(ish) consummation with Jesus in heaven. She seems to be all over the map. Frankly she always struck me as one of the most conservative people at CBMW when I read her there before.

  169. @ Nicholas:

    It was this one specifically.

    http://www.girlsgonewise.com/sex-in-the-shadowlands/

    “Some of you may wonder why I published three posts establishing the relationship between complementarity and mutuality before answering the sex questions. It’s because sex is the place where complementarity and mutuality kiss. Holy, covenant sex is the symbolic act where their essential meanings climax. I wanted to establish the relationship between complementarity and mutuality before I discuss how they reach their zenith in covenant sex.”

    The chart in the middle of the article is what really creeps me out.

  170. “Holy, covenant sex is the symbolic act where their essential meanings climax. I wanted to establish the relationship between complementarity and mutuality before I discuss how they reach their zenith in covenant sex.”

    Huh?

  171. Another strange thing about that diagram, seldom commented on, is the only place where she has no hierarchy
    Lord God on top, Jesus below (I disagree)
    Jesus Christ on top, Church bride below (Yes, but from one angle a surprising no)
    Church elders on top, believers below (I disagree)
    Husband on top, wife below (I disagree)
    At the end, there is a perfect one-ness without hierarchy picture, and a one-ness verse that mentions no hierarchy? Does she suggest we people are on one level with God in our unity?

  172. Numo – I totally agree with your comment- the pastors and laity have acted like Jesus to me, and that’s all that really matters.

    I said it earlier and it is true across the denominational board, God doesn’t care if you are an Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic or Pentecostal, as long as you follow Christ and don’t let that church’s/institution’s replacements/distractions or idols be used in place of the Holy Spirit or interfere with your following of the Holy Spirit, all is well. If you have found true Christlikeness in the churches of your denomination, that is a treasure – the Holy Spirit helped you discern where to go.

    I agree with many church traditions, but don’t see them as equivalent to the Holy Spirit. I like they Mystics, the saints and many writers in many church traditions. I just don’t see a need to follow only one denomination’s saints or heroes. The Eastern Orthodox has many rich traditions too, I’d love to learn more about them. The thing is, I still don’t ascribe to one above the other, all have good and bad points.

  173. Hester – yeah, me too.

    Covenant fulfilment in sex? What is she talking about? Christians didn’t even practice marriage ceremonies in their church gatherings in the early days.

    The Pagans did though. Right in their temples – not with their wives, but with the temple priestesses.

    Making sex more than it was intended harks back to the Pagan fertility cults of OT times. The early church revered celibacy, not marital covenant sex.

  174. Re Bridget’s comment above

    I think we need some new seminaries!

    I’m conflicted on this one! A big part of me strongly agrees, because something that draws together like-minded, or like-spirited, believers and helps us pool ideas would be really encouraging. You know, like some of those conferences – they do exist – where you actually get to confer with people rather than just listen to a Big Cheese.

    Another part of me cringes at the idea… though I don’t want to overstate the disagreement thing, Bridget, as I know what you meant! You can think of the rest of the paragraph as a bit of a tangent if you like. But maybe we actually need fewer seminaries and more settings where believers have to learn on the job, like the Twelve did with Jesus. For one thing, seminaries are institutions where courses and curricula must, to a great extent, be written down and codified and therefore have limited flexibility and life. For another, I suspect that seminaries run the risk of becoming havens of denominational group-think, where a particular line establishes and then reinforces itself. I think it was Val who commented the other day that we should appoint as elders people who have shown exceptional love for others, rather than considering a person out of seminary to be qualified to pastor.

    The beauty of a blog like this (and there are others) where dissenting comments aren’t automatically deleterated is that you get to hear many different kinds of people speak – at least in writing – which means you can be open to God showing you new stuff. I love the true story I heard years ago of a young man here in the UK who was an active member of the National Front (a far-right group) and wanted to send any non-whites “home”. Then he found himself paired with a word colleague who was black. Realising this man was just like him, he ditched the NF and became a committed campaigner against racism.

  175. Nick –

    I completely agree with your resonse to my statement. Unfortunately, I don’t think seminaries see going away, but I also think they limit what you learn to THEIR particular doctrines. I would envision seminaries where you can learn Hebrew and Greek, while interacting with other men and women as scripture is studied with context applied. As it is now, men and some women, go to seminary and come out after being overdosed on certain denominational doctrines (whatever the flavor happens to be).

    I completely agree that we can gather in a living room and study scripture and learn all that is necessary — even to be a minister. Afterall, God is after our hearts, not our doctrines, and we are all called to minister to others. Gifting does not come from learning, but from God :)

  176. From what RHE wrote in that piece, MK sounds like a functional egalitarian whether she sees it that way or not. And it makes elastigirl’s musings up above about how MK really fits into the CBMW structure that much more interesting.

    I wish the real MK would stand up because frankly I’m baffled.

    And I loved the irony of a room full of professionals not understanding the gift they have been given by the feminists who came before them.

  177. “Feminism predicated an increase in promiscuity, cohabitation, abortion, juvenile delinquency, and homosexuality, she said.”

    The irony is always thick when evangelicals find ways to make our sins the responsibility of movements or ideas. It means WE aren’t responsible- it’s the feminists/liberals/homosexuals/etc.

    Amazingly God doesn’t let us off the hook like that.

  178. Jeff S –

    “Feminism predicated an increase in promiscuity, cohabitation, abortion, juvenile delinquency, and homosexuality, she said.”

    Here is the sad thing about this quote. Mary doesn’t seem to realize that these issues have been around since the dawn of time. Mankind has just gone through periods of time where they hid it better. Now people feel free to act as they desire. At least we aren’t trying to fool ourselves anymore and we know where people really stand. Feminism didn’t change the heart of men and women to be somehow “more” sinful than in the past. Feminism simply gave women the legal rights to be treated as equal human beings to men.

    Maybe women actually feel that it is more acceptable now to keep the baby born out of wedlock rather than have an abortion. Maybe women and girls aren’t put to death or banished to the ends of the earth for premarital sex or for being raped and now pregnant. It was usually the woman who received the punishment for such things . . . even though there was always a man involved. Hmmm . . . men were also the main rulers and authorities . . .

  179. Bridget, I agree with what you say. Personally, I’m a real conservative guy. Heck, I’m a Calvinist and even admit it here. :)

    But I got into a political discussion with a coworker and he was talking about how everything is moving “left” into being more permissive morally. I asked him this question, “as our nation becomes more permissive, do you think people are becoming more sinful?” and then “Conversely, if we prohibit them from doing acts we think are morally repugnant, are they becoming less sinful?”

    I won’t tread to deep into political waters here, I realize there are all different views, but the thing that really bothers me about conservative evangelicals (and I think I am one) is that we behave like our power is in authority, control, political strength, and all things of this world. My hope is not in any of that, and if a person’s sinful behavior changes because I restrict it, I have not changed that person’s heart- what good have I done him or her at all?

    My personal “thing” in this regard is divorce. People cite rising divorce statistics as if this is the proof that things are going down the tubes. The very real question that needs to be answered is, when there were less divorces, where men and women living together in a more God honoring way than they are now, or where they still divorcing in their hearts? If it’s the latter, the antidote isn’t stricter divorce law, but major repentance and learning how to “do marriage” in a God honoring way.

    Don’t cite my divorce as a statistic of moral degradation until you take the time to understand what caused it. You might find out that stricter divorce laws would do nothing to have alleviated the sin that took place between my ex wife and I.

  180. You all know the story from John 8 about the lassie caught in the act of adultery. The man who was caught in the same act of adultery doesn’t seem to have bothered them.

    Is it not instructive that Jesus dealt with the lynch mob before he dealt with her? It’s true that he told her to sin no more, but only after he had (in a very literal and down-to-earth sense) saved her. Not the place for an expository sermon, but I’ve learned a lot from that passage about holiness, sin and how you replace the latter with the former.

  181. FWIW, btw, I think that’s one of Jesus’ greatest miracles (and he pulled off some corkers, as you know). It may well have happened on other occasions, but nowhere else in the gospels do we read about a massed wave of repentance going through a crowd like that.

  182. back to something I wrote above re. John Wycliffe – I was wrong in saying he was burned at the stake.

    His bones were dug up and burned, and the ashes were thrown into a river, in 1428. However, many “Lollards” who did not recant their beliefs were burned alive.

  183. numo – I’d always thought Wycliffe had been burnt at the stake, but I must have confused him with Tyndale. Apols to Wycliffe and Tyndale. The ‘originality’ of doing that to someone’s remains just astounds me. If you really want to lose your breakfast try reading the first chapter of Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish” first thing in the morning.

  184. Haitch – I spent a lot of time working in bookstores in the 80s and 90s, and I once picked up that title by Foucault and skimmed a little bit. “Yikes!” doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. (Thankfully, I wasn’t taking a lunch break at the time.)