He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is. AW Tozer
Next week we are planning to discuss Rachel Held Evans' book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. We will also dissect Mary Kassian's rather startling review of Evans' work. We will also present Wayne Grudem's infamous in-depth list of what women can, and cannot, do in the church along with some other strict complementarian views by Al Mohler and others.
In preparation for next week, I read A New Path to Theological Liberalism? Wayne Grudem on Evangelical Feminism, written in 2006, at Al Mohler's site here. I read something that caused me to pause. It is highlighted in the following statement.
Nevertheless, his surgical approach to their theological arguments and hermeneutical proposals reveals the clear and present danger to evangelical orthodoxy posed by egalitarian theory and practice. Evangelical Feminism is truly a tract for the times–a manifesto that should serve to awaken complacent evangelicals to the true nature of the egalitarian challenge. Furthermore, the book serves as an arsenal of arguments to use in revealing the crucial weaknesses of the egalitarian proposal.
Nothing less than the future of the Christian church in North America is at stake in this controversy. Evangelicals no longer have the luxury of believing that this controversy is nothing more than a dispute among scholars. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? has arrived just in time. Get this book quickly–and read it with care.
What is he saying? Certainly anything that would destroy the Christian church in the United States (except for a bomb) would be a heresy of untold magnitude, wouldn't it? Grudem is discussing the gender divide. So, it undoubtedly appears to me that Mohler, and Grudem, are implying that an increase in the role of women in the church will lead to Christianity's demise in America. Amazing! Nero couldn't do it. Communism couldn't do it. But those dadblasted women who want to be pastors will do it!
As I have read the reviews of Evan's book, there seem to be subtle (or not so subtle) accusation that Evan's is not a "real" Christian. This has caused Evan's to define what she believes. Her explanations certainly seem to embrace orthodox Christianity. This has not made one iota of difference in the vitriol being spewed about her "faith" or lack thereof. One time, on the Bayly Blog, I, too, was accused of not being a real Christian. However, not willing to take that one on the chin, I went to that blog and spelled out what I believed which caused them to back off a bit. I don't think God takes kindly to those who make hard and fast judgments on the salvation of others.
So, I thought it might be of value, anticipating the explosions to come, to discuss what we mean when we say someone is a "Christian." Let me be clear, I am not in business of declaring who is, and is not saved. That is waaaaaaaaay beyond my pay grade. I leave that in the Almighty's capable hands. With that caveat in mind, here are a few thoughts to get us started. I am really interested in what you all have to say.
Deb and I have defined our basic set of beliefs as those outlined in the Nicene Creed. Here is the version from the Book of Common Prayer. Link
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
However, some might object, saying that the devil himself knows these truths. So, I found an interesting article in the Leadership Journal of Christianity Today. Gordon MacDonald, chancellor of Denver Seminary, wrote How to Spot a Transformed Christian here. I thought it would be interesting to review the points that he makes since, in the past, I have not found MacDonald to be excessively rigid. Once again, this list in meant merely for discussion, not as an end unto itself.
How about churches and their goal of making of devoted followers of Jesus? What does the difference look like there?
We exist to see people transformed from a state of brokenness and selfishness to a state of wholeness and usefulness sometimes called Christlikeness. Paul used the word maturity when he talked about life-change. We want, he wrote, "to produce every person mature in Christ." And that "Christ be formed in you." Same idea. If the church exists to see people transformed, shouldn't we be clear about what a transformed Christian looks like?
McDonald then goes on to define 12 characteristics.
1. Has an undiluted devotion to Jesus.
He defines this as the "intention to be faithful to Jesus' influence on a regular basis, not because he is unsure but because he doesn't want to lose that "edge" of proactive commitment."
2. Pursues a biblically informed view of the world.
This means "aiming to know the Bible well: its content and its imperatives."
3. Is intentional and disciplined in seeking God's direction.
"It means living by intention and commitment, developing life-habits in alignment with Jesus and replacing those that are not"
4. Worships, and with a spirit of continuous repentance.
"There is an appropriate rhythm in routines in order to refresh one's relationship to God. Worship is an appropriate description for this."
5. Builds healthy human relationships.
This person is "faithful to friends, and (if married) affectionate, attentive, and servant-like to a spouse, and (if a parent) patient and nurturing to his children."
6. Knows how to engage the larger world.
"He will pursue friendships with people who walk in other spiritual pathways. He will make contributions to the greater community, especially those that bring equity and relief to struggling people.In short he will not be absorbed into religious institutionalism."
7. Senses a personal "call" and unique competencies.
"It's not about me, but about what has been entrusted to me and what can be offered to others"
8. Is merciful and generous to those who are weaker.
This is based on the model of Barnabas who welcomed Saul and stood up for John Mark.
9. Appreciates that suffering is part of faithfulness to Jesus.
"The transforming believer does not complain, does not seek pity, does not become embittered"
10. Is eager and ready to express the content of his faith.
They "express their faith in the serendipitous events and encounters of everyday life."
11. Overflows with thankfulness.
They "walk through the day looking for things to be thankful for."
12. Has a passion for reconciliation.
"They hate war, violence, contentiousness, division caused by race, economics, gender, and ideology. They believe that being peaceable."
So, what say you? What did he forget or what should he not have included?
I leave you with a music video featuring Rich Mullins singing "I Believe" which is based on the Apostles Creed.
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 10:1-11:23 Mark 14:1-21 Psalm 51:1-19 Proverbs 10:31-32