Rachel Held Evans: What Are Her Critics Afraid Of?

"As a Christian, my highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar"-RHE

http://www.amazon.com/Year-Biblical-Womanhood-Liberated-Covering/dp/1595553673/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353969551&sr=1-1&keywords=a+year+of+biblical+womanhood
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A number of years ago, Ben and Jerry, of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, decided to start selling their iconic ice cream in supermarkets. But, they bumped up against an obstacle. Haagen-Dazs  (owned by Pillsbury) threatened to pull their ice creams from the shelves of any supermarket which sold Ben and Jerry's brand. Not only did Ben & Jerry file suit against the parent company, Pillsbury, but the guys began their now famous “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?” Jerry even flew to Pillsbury’s headquarters in Minneapolis and picketed outside, handing out “What’s the Dough Boy Afraid Of?” pamphlets. You can read about their amusing and successful endeavor here.

My husband and I enjoyed following their antics. To this day, whenever we see similar conflicts, public or private, we often say to one another, “What’s the Dough Boy Afraid Of?” That singular question often strikes at the root of many conflicts within the church as well.

So, when the outcry arose about Rachel Held Evan’s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I asked, “What the heck are all of these complementarians afraid of? I wrote a post about this conflict prior to reading her book. It garnered the most comments we have ever received on a single post (542)!

What in the world is going on? I have a few ideas which we will discuss over the next week. In the meantime, unlike many of her critics who have not read her book, I decided to carefully study the book, ready to identify and pounce on anything that I thought might destroy the church in North America! When I finished, I wondered “What’s is all the fuss about?” In fact, I checked to see if my Kindle had left out any pages. It hadn't.

This was the book that caused so many in the Calvinista movement to imply Evans was an idiot; if not a heretic? This was the book that caused such a commotion that Evan’s had to spell out her Christian beliefs on her blog here?

The fact that I can affirm the Nicene and Apostle’s creeds, that I am an imperfect but devoted follower of Jesus Christ, that I am passionate about spreading the gospel, and I believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, and still my evangelical credentials are constantly being questioned and debated reveals just how narrow evangelicalism has become.

Now, do I disagree with Evan's on some things. Absolutely. My focus for this review is on her book, not her blog and I liked the book. It gave me much food for thought. So many of the Calvinista complementarians approach this book as though it was a theological treatise on the role of women. It is not. It is one woman's view on what SOME of the various passages in the Bible have to say about women.Oh yeah, she did talk about some of the Neo-Calvinist untouchable pastors like John Piper which probably further inflamed her critics. On Wednesday, I intend to deal with Mary Kassian's disturbing perspective on this book. At that time I will look at some parts of the book that I do not discuss today.

First, let me say that Evans is a kind, humorous woman who goes out of her way to be gracious to those who think differently than she does. There were many times, as I read her book, that I thought she was much nicer than I would be. She is also more courteous than those who are criticizing her. I do not know if her  pundits realize that she is outclassing them every step of the way. I would far rather have tea with her than with some self-righteous women who have been dusted off and put out there for some complementarian men to hide behind. 

At the start of her experiment, she identified 10 commandments that she would use throughout the entire year. How many of you have heard and seen some of these things taught in your church? I sure have.

  1. Submit to her husband's will in everything.
  2. Devote herself to the duties of the home
  3. She would mother 
  4. Nurture a gentle and quiet spirit
  5. Dress modestly
  6. Cover her head in prayer
  7. Not cut her hair
  8. Not teach in church
  9. Not gossip
  10. Not have authority over a man

Then, at the start of each month, she would emphasize a goal or virtue along with some specific steps she would take to achieve her mission. Here are three months, along with some observations.

October

This first month she emphasized gentleness. She began her effort to kick the gossip habit and fined herself when she behaved as a contentious woman.This might include such things as swearing, complaining, being snarky, etc. At the end of the month, she sat on her roof as penance for her fines. She did not say that this was a command (like some reviewers who did not read her book claim). She merely decided to  illustrate that the Bible said it would be better for a man to live on the roof than in the house with a contentious woman.

One of the sweetest things throughout the chapters of her book was the inclusion of some of  the entries from a diary that her husband Dan kept during this year.  She referred to Dan as her greatest supporter. He would often refer to the two of them as Team Dan and Rachel. There is much to consider about this loving relationship which is based on their egalitarian view of marriage.  In fact, I often wondered just how different a great complementarian marriage would look. I think one would find it difficult to critique their relationship.

Rachel struggled with the idea of a gentle and quiet spirit. She says that

"mastering a gentle and quiet spirit didn't mean changing her personality, just regaining control of it, growing strong enough to hold back and secure enough to soften."

She also pointed out that the word "gentle" is used for men in Scripture. Jesus was described as gentle (probably giving Mark Driscoll heartburn). One of the fruits of the spirit is gentleness. So, why is it usually brought up in church only in the context of females? 

November

Here she emphasized the trait of domesticity, both in cleaning and cooking. What puzzles me is the number of reviewers who claim she puts down those who work at home. She freely admits that domestic skills were not a strong suit of hers. She brings the reader along as she learns to cook, clean and organize better. She is complimentary of those who seem to know how to do all three tasks with ease.  However, she does question some of the mandates that have come out of the complementarian movement which might indicate that a woman who wishes to work outside of the home is shirking her responsibility.(More on this when I discuss Kassian's review.)

I was pleased when she brought up Brother Lawrence's book, The Practice of the Presence of God. He was a monk who worked in the kitchen of a  monastery and wrote of finding God amongst the pots and pans.The discussion of this book alone should have quieted the shrill protests that Evan's is demeaning homemaking. She ends by saying that elevating homemaking to a sacred act is good but that we should be wary of  elevating it

"above all others by insinuating that for women, God's presence is somehow restricted to that sphere."

December

In this month, she calls her husband Dan, Master, and interviews a polygamist. Now it really heats up and I love it while her critics have conniption fits. She outlines some of the gender specific mandates of the Old Testament which she calls "texts of terror." I really like that term and have taken to using it myself. 

  • If you were a slave or concubine, you had to be sexually available and ready to bear you master's wife's children if she could not.
  • Your master could beat you but not kill you.
  • If you were a wife, you were your husband's property.You could not pursue a divorce (he could) and you could not own property (he could).
  • If you were not engaged when raped, you had to marry your rapist.
  • If your husband accused you of premarital sex, to get out of the marriage, your parents were expected to produce evidence of your virginity in the form of bloody sheets saved fro the wedding night.
  • Polygamy was allowed. Men could have multiple wives and concubines. 2 Samuel 12:8 even says that God himself gave them these multiple wives.  "I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more." (NIV)

Evans says that she has heard all sorts of explanation about these passages from apologists. One was that the laws could be considered progressive compared to those of the surrounding culture,etc. She admits, in spite of these explanations, that she is still bothered by them and, if truth be told, so am I. 

The God who mandated these rules is still the same God that we follow today. However, it seems to me that most people in the church blow them off with a "Jesus changed all that so move along." Could it be that some of the anger directed towards Evans is due to the fact that she brings up very uncomfortable passages? By the way, in spite of some reviewers claims otherwise, she does bring up the fact that Jesus, Himself, often disregarded the "rules" of the Old Testament (gathering food on a Sabbath).

Evans makes a marvelous point that I have heard few make. She says we celebrate many women of the Bible such as Rachel and Rahab. But we often forget those who were hurt such as the daughter of Jephthah, sacrificed for a vow; Hagar,thrown into the wilderness by a jealous Sarah;Tamar who was raped in the king's house and an unnamed Levite concubine who was given over to a crowd to be raped and killed. She says we should remember their stories and honor them for their sacrifice as well.

Then she turns her attention to 1 Peter 2-1 Peter 3 and makes an interesting observation. Slaves are admonished to submit to their masters in I Peter 2:13. Then, 1 Peter 3 turns to married women using the words  "in the same way submit yourself to your husband." Could it be that this passage is telling women to submit like slaves did? But today, isn't slavery outlawed? Yet, women are to continue to submit like slaves? Slavery is now a heinous, outmoded institution but women must still submit in the same way? There is some food for thought here.

There were many more memorable moments in the book. Here are just a few.

She decided to keep the Passover and gets advice for an Orthodox woman in Israel.In preparation for the Passover, one must rid every tiny piece of any food that contains leaven in preparation for the feast. Meg Moesley, one of our commenters and author, pointed out how Evans said that this was difficult. It reminded her of how difficult (really impossible) it is to remove all sin from our lives.

One funny comment had to do with Paul's admonitions to not adorn oneself with pearls, gold or elaborate hairstyles, along with  Isaiah's comments that the Lord will snatch away the finery, necklaces, earrings, etc. She wondered if God hates "accessories." She learned about the orthodox view on dressing modestly. She said that the idea is to

"avoid dressing in a way that draws attention to your outer self, but to dress so that your inner self is allowed to shine through. You should try to look pretty but not alluring."

She  observed that

"most of the Bible's instructions regarding modesty find their context in warnings about materialism, not sexuality."

She decided to observe the Levitical Purity Laws by undergoing twelve days of ritual impurity during menstruation. Another text of terror  from Leviticus 12  stipulates

"when a woman gives birth to a boy, she is considered ceremonially impure for 41 days, but when she gives birth to a girl, she is considered ceremonially impure for 70 days."

Also, the many laws surrounding a woman's period are fascinating.

  • Anything a woman lies on during her period is unclean.
  • Anyone who touches her during her period is unclean.
  • Anyone who touches anything that she sits on will be unclean-they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean until evening.
  • Even after her period is over, she must count 7 days before she will be ceremonially clean.
  • Then she must bring a sacrifice for the priest to "atone for the uncleanness of her discharge."

She transparently admits her fear of having children. She rented a robotic doll that mimics a newborn infant, complete with feeding and diaper changes. She was impressed with the full time needs of babies and is grateful to the women who care for their children.  In one of the more poignant moments, she observes how churches subtly teaches that getting married and having children is a woman's highest calling.

She aptly notes that,  in many churches, women will celebrate and throw showers for women who have babies but overlook women who achieve in other venues such as medical school, etc. She points out the many single women are sidelined by the church. In the best line of the book, she states that a woman's highest calling

"is not motherhood; it is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married, or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar."

Finally, she discusses how we need to reach out to the poor and the disenfranchised  in this world. She discussed the plight of the women and children who are sold into slavery and made to work in substandard conditions on coffee plantations. By the time I finished reading this section, I was on tour in Costa Rica. In a store, I sought out bags of fair trade coffee, a first for this coffee lover. Rachel got to me!

There is so much more that I did not cover. But I think I know why the "dough boy is afraid." Evans is asking hard questions. Even more terrifying,  she is getting recognition for doing so. Could it be that she is asking the same questions that many people ask when they deal with the Bible and women? And, as you will see from Wednesday's post, the complementarian crowd thinks they have explained everything that needs to be explained. They cannot understand why Evans, and for that matter, women like myself are unable to grasp their supposed "biblically expert explanations."

They do not understand why many women are rejecting complementarianism as expressed by those like John Piper. Are they  clueless on how his pronouncements on women might not be well received? These include:

  • Endure abuse for an evening
  • Don't usurp a man's authority when giving him road directions
  • Christianity has a masculine feel
  • Women should not get muscular

These "experts" believe that the world should be paying attention to them, not some upstart young woman who doesn't go to the right church or adhere to the obvious superiority of  the complementarian argument. I think they are afraid and have taken the low road of insults Instead of addressing the obvious inadequacies of their confusing arguments.

Evans has something to say, and she says it well. She is the voice of a new generation of women. She needs to be treated with the same grace and respect that she shows in her writings.

I hope you enjoy this explanation of "how to handle your period," Old Testament/American  style.

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 11:24-13:33 Mark 14:22-52 Psalm 52:1-9 Proverbs 11:1-3

Comments

Rachel Held Evans: What Are Her Critics Afraid Of? — 417 Comments

  1. A woman did not have to marry her rapist. She could refuse. The law was about making the rapist take responsibility for what he had done. He could not refuse the marriage, but the victim could.

  2. Women were not considered the property of their husbands in the OT. Exodus 21:10-11 clearly allows a woman to divorce her husband.

  3. I have this sneaking feeling that one of the things that most unsettles some people is Evans’ sense of humor.

    she’s not afraid to laugh at herself, but are they secure enough to do the same, in their own lives?

    Most likely not, imo. ;)

  4. What is clear is that Rachel Evans wants people to believe that the OT treated wives as their husbands' property, so that people will think less of the OT because of it. But her portrayal is untrue.

  5. “Most of the Bible’s instructions regarding modesty find their context in warnings about materialism, not sexuality.”

    Which begs the question of, what exactly are we to do with modesty fashion magazines? They do exist…”modest is hottest,” after all. I know Christian teen girls who are self-consciously “modest” in their clothing choices (not the denim jumper kind of modest, sensibly modest) but have about 700+ tops and 1000+ pairs of shoes and are constantly at the mall. But it’s all good, y’all – their midriff isn’t showing.

    “She rented a robotic doll that mimics a newborn infant, complete with feeding and diaper changes.”

    Committed woman there – those dolls can be big $$$$$$$$! At least if you buy them. : )

    “The discussion of [Brother Lawrence's] book alone should have quieted the shrill protests that Evan’s is demeaning homemaking.”

    But Dee, Brother Lawrence is C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C. And therefore EVIL. ; )

  6. Just curious, though – where does it say that a husband is allowed to beat his wife? I don’t remember reading this, but then there’s a lot of things that get lost in that wash of 613+ rules. I haven’t read the book.

  7. Nicholas – as far as I’m concerned, anyone who hasn’t read the book isn’t able to make the kinds of pronouncements you’re making about RHE, because you don’t really know what she said.

    You’re getting all your ideas second- and third-hand, and that’s never a good way to evaluate a book, let alone its author!

    I rest my case.

  8. Hester, Dee didn’t write that. The article says that a master could beat a slave. I would like the Scriptural reference for it though.

  9. My fourth comment goes too far. I cannot read Rachel Evans’ mind, and I haven’t read the book. My previous comments were just responding to the points in the article.

  10. “The article says that a master could beat a slave. I would like the Scriptural reference for it though.”

    A little further down in Exodus 21.

  11. “A woman did not have to marry her rapist. She could refuse. The law was about making the rapist take responsibility for what he had done. He could not refuse the marriage, but the victim could.”

    The victim’s father could. Not the same thing.

  12. 20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

    Thanks Laura.

  13. I have read the book, and LOVED it. I have also, sinful egalitarian that I am, recommended it to my daughter! I don’t agree with everything Rachel explores on her blog (and I think ‘explores’ is the correct word, she is more about asking questions than making definitive pronouncements, but the book was cool with me, and actually far more moving than I expected. I had not expected a book that would move me to tears in places, but I think those tears are saying something important — they were a response to her gentle handling of places in me that had been deeply wounded by complementarians. The part about being an eshet chayil (woman of valour) was especially moving.

    RHE is not, I believe, trying to make a joke out of the Bible or disrespect the OT, she is quite specific in stating that, regardless of what some of her critics claim, every group that tries to define “biblical womanhood” does so with an inconsistent hermeneutic, picking and choosing which ‘commands’ are still binding. And, while some groups may take her to task for her literal reading of some OT texts, they are conveniently overlooking the fact that other groups are teaching some of those things.

  14. I should also add that RHE is already a marked woman in some circles because of her rallying people to take a stand against some of the bullyboy statements that have been aired online (like that offensive quote by Doug Wilson) So whatever she says or does is going to be automatically condemned and given the worst possible construction — because I think they really ARE afraid of her. The Calvinistas have tended to believe that dominance of the internet conversation is their right, and their fishing strip (if I can put it that way) for gaining more ‘disciples’ and the strongest pushback has come, not from the non-Calvinist theologians with doctorates, but from a young woman! This is incredibly offensive to them!

  15. Nicholas

    I think you need to look at things a bit more carefully. A man could have multiple wives. A woman could not have multiple husbands. Why is that? Also, did you read the book?

  16. Nicholas

    You said” The OT world was very different than what we know today.” But God is not. He could have changd those rules. For example, He could have stopped the multiple marriages by simply telling the Isarelites that the Law did not permit it. Here is the point. We must attempt to explain why God would allow such things. And why he would allow it for men as opposed to women. 

     

     

  17. Lynne

    I never ONCE thought RHE was making a joke out of the Bible. I think it was one of those things that a few reviewers that had not read the book said.

  18. * If you were a slave or concubine, you had to be sexually available and ready to bear you master’s wife’s children if she could not.
    * Your master could beat you but not kill you.
    * If you were a wife, you were your husband’s property.You could not pursue a divorce (he could) and you could not own property (he could).
    * If you were not engaged when raped, you had to marry your rapist.
    * If your husband accused you of premarital sex, to get out of the marriage, your parents were expected to produce evidence of your virginity in the form of bloody sheets saved fro the wedding night.
    * Polygamy was allowed. Men could have multiple wives and concubines. 2 Samuel 12:8 even says that God himself gave them these multiple wives. “I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.” (NIV)

    My standard response for those is “Welcome to the world of Iron Age Semitic Tribesmen.”

    “Those were dark times, Harry. Dark Times…” — Hagrith

  19. Totally agree, sorry if I wasn’t clear. I do think there’s a little bit of projection going on, actually, they want to mock and belittle her, so they assume that’s what she’s doing to them.

  20. Nicholas

    “What is clear is that Rachel Evans wants people to believe that the OT treated wives as their husbands’ property, so that people will think less of the OT because of it.” Can you tell me why you think this if you have not read the book. You say this is “clear”. I guess I am stupid. I did not see that and I read the book.

     

  21. I’m with Lynne! I gave the book to my daughter, too! And to my sister, two cousins, and my best friend! I would love to give it to my worship pastor’s wife, but he probably wouldn’t let her read it. Seriously.

  22. @Dee

    I believe God did change something regarding marriage between the Old and New Covenants. In the OT, God tolerated polygamy. But in Matthew 19, Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24 to reestablish God’s original intent for monogamous marriage. I believe that St. Paul intended this as well when he required an elder to be married to only one wife. There are Christian polygamists today (and there were among the radicals in Luther’s day), but I believe “Christian polygamy” is a false teaching.

    I do not defend complementarians who selectively quote OT passages on marriage but ignore others.

    Concerning modern polygamy, have you heard of this guy: http://hughmcbryde.blogspot.com/2008/07/on-being-polygyny-advocate.html

  23. Nicholas
    For me, the question is why God tolerated polygamy in the Old Testament. He could have said it was not to be allowed. It is this sort of question that must be wrestled with. I used to think it was an easy answer-hardness of heart, etc. Yet God decreed many things that were difficult. The older I get, the more I realize that the “easy answers” are not so easy.

    RHE interviewed a Christian polygamist in the book. I, too, believe it is a false teaching in the New Testament but it wasn’t in the Old. What changed to make it wrong?

  24. Laura

    You are correct. The victims’ father could make that decision. She had very little to say about any of it. Can you imagine being forced by your father to marry your rapist?

  25. Anon1

    I think numo was making the point that Nicholas could not say it was "clear" that Evans was trying to discredit the OT unless he read something in her book that would indicate that. It is perfectly fine to comment on what I wrote.

  26. “texts of terror”

    I like it. Honestly there are a lot of passages in the Bible that scare the crap out of me. I don’t understand them, I just don’t.

    I think most christians are not at a place where they can admit that. They want to go on believing that the Bible is all peachy good news. But it’s not. Stoning and burning of criminals in the OT (sometimes including the wives and children of criminals), at God’s command, is not good news to me. Those are gruesome methods of killing people. The fact that the Bible allows for polygamy and never once forbids it is not good news to me. The fact that if a new bride did not bleed on her wedding night enough to stain a sheet for evidence of virginity, her husband could accuse her of unfaithfulness and have her put to death, is not good news. The fact that a betrothed woman who was raped in a city was to be stoned along with her rapist is not good news. The fact that women on their periods would have to exist in such isolation for nearly half of every month to avoid contaminating everything is not good news.

    Honestly, when I was convinced of the correctness of “biblical patriarchy,” and saw how literally the theonomists around me took OT Law and how they wanted to see it reestablished, I was always wondering what on earth was stopping them from endorsing patriarchy again. Because I see nothing in the Bible that prohibits it.

    …and usually I’d be deleting everything I just wrote at this point, because I have completely forgotten the point I was trying to make… but I guess I’ll just post it anyway for once. :-)

  27. The change, I believe, is Jesus. He restored the original purpose of marriage. Also, Jesus intensifies the moral law. Jesus makes lust into adultery, for example. He does this so that we will see our inability to keep the law, and realize that our only hope for salvation is in His death and resurrection.

    While Jesus intesifies the moral law, the civil and ceremonial law is rendered nonbinding to Christians under the new covenant.

    It seems that God didn’t give a clear answer as to why He tolerated polygamy in the OT. We shouldn’t try to answer what God hasn’t answered.

  28. Nicholas

    We shouldn’t try to answer what God hasn’t answered? So, what do we say to those who ask why? Dunno?  Move along-nothing to see here?

    What about all those difficult verses regarding women and being unclean? And why was she unclean more for a female baby than a male baby? Then, there was the beating thing and the rape thing?

    Perhaps those verses are not interesting to you or important?  I think they are, especially since i am a woman. After all, they are in the Bible and we are meant to read them and ponder. They are the very words of God and I, for one, want to try to understand Him.

  29. “After all, they are in the Bible and we are meant to read them and ponder. They are the very words of God and I, for one, want to try to understand Him.”

    Amen to that.

  30. “For me, the question is why God tolerated polygamy in the Old Testament. He could have said it was not to be allowed. It is this sort of question that must be wrestled with. I used to think it was an easy answer-hardness of heart, etc. Yet God decreed many things that were difficult. The older I get, the more I realize that the “easy answers” are not so easy.

    I used to cringe reading the OT. And I do not think there are any easy answers so I hope no one will think I am presenting one. Just another way to look at it. If we go way bck to Gen and after the fall we see the creep Lamech doing his evil with women. I used to always wonder about this. At some point an elderly women pointed out to me how much Satan hates women even more because God said Messiah would come from a woman. And because Eve “turned” (teshuqa) to Adam instead of God, Adam rules over her and the whole patriarchy business is in full swing. Satan loved it.

    The question is why would God allow it after proclaiming a man and a woman ONE FLESH in union? Polygamy actually protected women because hearts were so hardened and patriarchy was in full swing. because of patriarchy women needed protection of a male even if the situation was not ideal. We are not talking about a decreetal determinist God here. He worked through and around His people.

    As to the soiled sheets, how many think Eve had a period before the fall, raise your hands. :o) There is a reason it is called a curse.

  31. I’m with HUG on this one.

    Living 2000 years after the Light of the world walked this earth, we completely miss how dark it really was. It was… dark. A darkness we cannot grasp because we have never had to grope around in it like the ancients.
    The OT law, as terrorizing as it is to our modern sensibilities, it was still a substantial step UP from the Iron Age Semitic patriarchy that ruled at the time all around them.

    It has been a long hard process moving people from darkness to light. It has been the work of a very patient, very charitable God.

  32. “And why was she unclean more for a female baby than a male baby?”

    I have often wondered if it was because the man would be disappointed with a girl and want to try too soon for another child who might be a boy. The longer time gave her time to bond with the baby girl who was basically seen as a disappointment all around. First born son and sons in general are very important. The irony is we see God NOT choose a first born son in the most pivotal stories.

  33. Also, as long as she was unclean, her husband couldn’t demand sex, of any sort. I look upon it as a protection because you are always going to have some horny teachers like Driscoll who commanded that women should offer up their backsides while menstruating in order to “keep the marriage bed strong*.”

    *(code for “keep the lustful husband from ever having to learn what self-control is”.)

  34. I asked a patriarchalist wife a while ago what a daughter should do if she believes she has been called by the Holy Spirit to do something that her father does not agree with. Who should she obey?

    She said it is the father’s decision, and pointed out the OT passage about how a daughter’s or wife’s vow can be annulled by her father/husband. (Something Doug Phillips loves to point out when emphasizing his point that women may not be independent).

    It kind of shook me up, I guess because I was just starting to quietly question my beliefs and reject a lot of things my husband still believed. I believed the Holy Spirit was guiding me, yet wasn’t sure how to reconcile his guidance with what seemed like the biblical command to let my husband be my spiritual leader. Still struggling with it.

  35. @ Looking for You:

    “Honestly, when I was convinced of the correctness of ‘biblical patriarchy,’ and saw how literally the theonomists around me took OT Law and how they wanted to see it reestablished, I was always wondering what on earth was stopping them from endorsing patriarchy again.”

    Yes – imagine a return, not only to the stoning (which gets a lot of press), but the bloody sheets, marrying your rapist, arranged marriage (which isn’t technically mandated in the Law, but is a logical consequence of lots of things in it)… It really does go much deeper than working outside the home and being able to vote in elections. And some of these people have the gall to claim that they’re defending the Constitution.

  36. Hester, on the flip side, some say Islam is a religion of peace and want us to be tolerant of it’s views toward women. I am having a hard time seeing the difference between Doug Wilson, the Bayly or Doug Phillips and a Imam.

  37. “Good thing then that the good news is not the law.”

    Nicholas,

    I agree, and this is kind of what was going through my head as I was writing that. However, understand that I am coming out of a theological environment which proclaims the OT Moral and Civil Law as the standard that must be upheld and reinstalled for all nations today. I was in a Reformed Baptist church for nearly ten years where theonomy, dominion theology, reconstructionism, patriarchy, etc were loudly proclaimed. Whether witches should be stoned as the law commands or put to death using our modern, more humane methods when (not if) the OT law is reinstalled, is a very real topic of discussion amongst this crowd. To hear them talk you’d think they have the OT all figured out, and that the law IS good news.

    So yeah, I’m pretty much confused about, like, everything. Some days I really want to just give up and walk away rather than keep trying to put this crazy puzzle together.

  38. @ILooking for You

    I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been a member of that cult. Theonomy/Reconstructionism is a different gospel than that given by Christ. I’d say I was surprised that there are Baptist theonomists, but given Doug Wilson and Doug Phillip’s popularity among the YRR crowd, there are bound to be more of those in the future.

  39. @ Anon 1:

    “I am having a hard time seeing the difference between Doug Wilson, the Bayly or Doug Phillips and a Imam.”

    I’m still waiting for some fringe patriarch to have discussions like the one I saw a clip of from Al-Jazeera – sitting on a couch comparing sticks, telling the men in the audience how to beat their wives appropriately. Or they could take this rather creative technical “out” from an English-American ballad:

    The man went out to his sheepfold,
    And caught the wether tough and old.
    He threw the skin round his wife’s back,
    And that old sheep’s hide he did whack.
    The wife cried out unto her kin,
    “He’s beating me on my bare skin.”
    The man he grinned and he replied,
    “I’m only tanning my old sheep’s hide.”

    Scarily, probably taken as humorous by the original audience…

  40. Example of darkness.

    When a woman was raped back during the time of the OT, in other cultures, she was blamed and stoned, alone, while her rapist went free or paid a sum of money to her father.

    Making the rapist accountable for what he had done AND deflecting the blame from the woman was a HUGE step in the right direction. Sure, it was only a step. But this is how God deals with us. We can’t take it all at once. We have to move in steps. If everything that was wrong with us was revealed to us the day we were born again, we would be overwhelmed and most likely despair. But God is very patient and charitable with us, just as He was as He began to work in Israel to move them from darkness to light.

  41. OK… I got to a certain point in RHE’s book and had to put it down for the night. Anyone who’s read it (anyone with an ounce of sensitivity and compassion in their hearts) knows the part I’m talking about. (That and the quote from the daughter in a patriarchal family who starts an article by stating that her father literally owns her.)

    We do not see the darkness that we ourselves perpetuate, do we? It’s so easy to identify when someone else is doing it (like all the average citizens in Hitler’s Germany who went along with the Nazi Party and it horrific, genocidal campaigns against Jewish people, gypsies, gay/lesbian people, etc. etc. …) But when it’s us, well, we want to look anywhere but at the things we;’ve done, or the things we’ve allowed to happen, or…

    So very easy to tell everyone what’s wrong with them, but so very, very hard to confront what’s wrong with us.

    (Just thinking aloud here… I also want to say that I’m grateful to RHE for taking on this project and living to write about it; it’s a monumental thing in more ways than one, and i feel her when she talks about all the nasty, harsh, cutting comments and emails that she received throughout the duration of it – and, of course, now. She and her husband are brave people!)

  42. …probably taken as humorous by the original audience.

    No “probably” about it.

    One of my favorite books is a collection of Russian folk tales that was published back in the 1940s… well, “favorite” has to be qualified.

    Because there’s a whole whopping big part of it devoted to stories about people beating their wives and children. And yes, they were intended to be “humorous.” Based on other things I’ve read, wife- and child-beating was so common as to be regarded as a literal pasttime – something to do on a Saturday evening (or whenever else) when you were drunk or bored and felt like amusing yourself.

    Literally.

    I am 100% certain that Russians weren’t the only ones who did/still do this *in Europe* – and I’m not talking about immigrants from South, East or Central Asia, or the Middle East, for that matter.

    (An aside: in the late 70s, i watched a French movie that had been well-reviewed in the New york Times and such. There was a scene where a husband raped his wife… I’m still not certain whether the director – a man – meant to show the horror of that, or whether it was meant to be both exploitative and “instructive.” Shortly after seeing this, I told a male acquaintance about it and he proceeded to brush off marital rape as “no big deal.”)

  43. A touch off-topic, but not really:

    The God who mandated these rules is still the same God that we follow today. However, it seems to me that most people in the church blow them off with a “Jesus changed all that so move along.”

    Unless, of course, you are talking about the tithe, something in the Law that most preachers decided Jesus didn’t change.

    I’m going to get this book so I can read it for myself. I’ve heard a lot about it from all sides. (RHE is on my Twitter feed, right up there with our glamorous blog queens.) If there’s one thing this book is doing, it’s provoking a lot of discussion in the blogosphere as well as outside of it. (I did see RHE’s interviews on Today and on The View. Very classy lady who is firmly supported by Dan. Would to God that more marriages were like theirs.)

  44. Dee: ” In a store, I sought out bags of fair trade coffee, a first for this coffee lover. Rachel got to me!”

    Me too. I just picked up some fair trade bulk on my way home from work tonight! Her book sticks.

  45. @ Numo:

    Ballads and folk tales are so illuminating. Frankly I’m surprised I’ve only found one ballad so far about wifebeating. Add in the ones about magic, murder, jealousy, rape, incest and assorted unsavory sexual intrigues and the “good old days” are pretty much a fantasy through and through.

  46. Nicholas on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:06 PM said:
    “What is clear is that Rachel Evans wants people to believe that the OT treated wives as their husbands’ property, so that people will think less of the OT because of it. But her portrayal is untrue.”

    Untrue Nicholas, Rachel connects with an Orthodox Jewish woman and attempts to put purity laws, passover feasts and other OT texts pertaining to women into practice. After living for a month under ritual purity laws – including her tent in her front yard as a nod to “the Red Tent” – avoiding any contact with anyone (or they would be rendered unclean too), and learning Ahavah wasn’t even able to hug her husband after the birth of their kids (same as monthly laws after birth), she sums up that month with the Gospel woman with the issue of blood who grabbed Jesus’ garment and how Jesus doesn’t worry that he is now unclean, rather, tells her to be healed. All her ventures with Ahava are powerful and insightful – if anything, they show just what a huge shift Jesus brought to the practicing Jews 2,000 years ago.

  47. I’ve put my foot in my mouth for about the second time regarding RHE. I won’t comment again on anything related to her book until I’ve read it.

  48. “I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been a member of that cult.”

    Well to be fair(and maybe this is surprising, or maybe I’m not yet far enough removed from the situation?) I can’t say that I would consider the particular church I attended a cult. They were good, decent people as far as I could tell. I was never personally hurt by anyone. I never heard of things going on at my church like in the link you posted about the church in Tyler TX (WOW). The elders were pretty hands-off as far as telling people what to do. But you had to have a very specific belief set to be a member.

    However the effects that the TEACHING there had on my faith was pretty devastating. I ended up with a ton of anxiety, fear, and self-hatred. And trying to live out “biblical womanhood” left me feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, lonely, isolated, and irrelevant. In my worst nightmares, this is what christianity really is all about and I want to run away screaming.

  49. “imagine a return, not only to the stoning (which gets a lot of press), but the bloody sheets, marrying your rapist, arranged marriage (which isn’t technically mandated in the Law, but is a logical consequence of lots of things in it)… ”

    Hester,

    The crazy thing is, the reconstructionist guys ACTUALLY think this stuff was just part of a well-ordered, godly society, and that this society WILL be reestablished on earth. They have no doubt (they are optimistic post-mils). I wonder if they’ve ever stopped to ponder how terrifying this sort of society would actually be to live in – especially for women. It boggles my mind to realize that their concept of moving forward is actually to move backward!

  50. Numo, Hester
    There’s one folktale that turns the tables on wifebeating. There’s a Celtic tale about a fisherman who finds a Selkie (seal that can take on human form) and wants to marry her. Her father agrees but on condition that he not hit her. They live happily for a time until he strikes her, accidentally, I think. That was his first chance. Unfortunately for him, he ends up hitting her twice more, never very hard or with malicious intent but, still, after the third time, she bids him farewell and disappears into the sea forever.

  51. Mara, I’m tracking with you on some side benefits to women that are invisible now. Although a lot of it disturbs me in the OT (genocides especially). Some quick thoughts/observations:
    I lived in South Asia (2 countries) for a year a while back. I went with a less then organized group and ended up doing my own thing there.

    First, I lived in a boarding school run by an Indian lady living in Nepal. She had converted out of high caste Hinduism. Although she was a Christian, caste played a pretty big role in her time in Nepal – landlords would rent space for a school to her, but ban any untouchable or low caste children they tried to admit to the compound. She was a tough lady and fought them on it, so they relented. In S. Asia, you can convert, but never loose your caste.

    If you are wondering what that has to do with OT. Purity, purity, purity. As a whitey, I was technically untouchable – all non-South Asians are. They have no clue what to do with African decent folks, and stare at them as if they exited a space ship. I knew a Canadian girl who was grilled about where she was from, ‘Canada’ was not an acceptable answer – her relations were from England, again, not acceptable, finally she would name one of the Caribbean Islands (I can’t recall which). They, clearly lacking geography, would go ahhhh (to save face). Then, since I understood enough Hindi, would consult each other about what part of Africa that place was- ha! Anyways, all this to say, we are all untouchables to devout Hindus. This means, we are unclean and can mess up their purity. To this day, women are banned from many Hindu temples since they have no way of knowing who is menstruating or not, they ban all women. Foreigners are banned from others – as are, often, low castes. Depending on the site.

    How do women live under these laws? There are many poor women in India who cannot afford to live in separate rooms (one-room homes), don’t live in areas it would be safe to sleep outside, etc. They do get a reprive from their husband’s advances, they also get a bit of time off. We were on a camel safari and ended up spending a night at our camel driver’s family home one evening – talk about surreal. We all slept on the roof, his family slept below, inside (it was Feb. and freezing either place). His wife was maybe 18 and had just had a new baby – three weeks old perhaps. His mother (probably mid thirties, with at least 9 living kids and had a four year old herself), was doing all the work. The next day they got us involved (well of the 4 of us, the two women were asked) in prepping the food. The mother-in-law was busy. The new mom was inside the main room of the house all day with the little baby (the mud house had two rooms, no connecting door between the main room (for sleeping) and the kitchen). I asked one of the numerous brothers why she was always inside, why she wasn’t in the kitchen – a first for me, daughter-in-laws were usually invisibly chained to the cooking area in my S. Asian experience – and finally through our broken Hindi/English managed to figure out that the Daughter-in-law was not able to handle food until the little baby (boy) was blessed by the priests (I assume at some temple, but not sure). They were lower caste, so, presumably, my “untouchable” status beat the daughter’s “uncleanliness” status in household labour purity laws vs. work to be done needs :)

    There are many other stories – as I lived in a girl’s home in India – very Hindu home, but very pro-women too. I learned a lot. Really, the anti-women purity laws were not nearly as awful as the second-class status in food, healthcare, and education. The higher a women climbs the success ladder in India, the less those taboos affect her life. Servants galore for the well-off render household tasks vs. purity a mute point. I did notice a lot of families employed male cooks – despite every lower-class household had women-only cooked food. It may have been about purity, but more likely because a women leaving the home to work is scandalous in many Indian households. Not Nepal – women work everywhere there, without losing their reputation. In India – well, patriarchs would approve (of the lower classes, anyways) – women don’t work out of the home unless it is dire. Not the upper class – equality there trumps equality in N. America – they even elect women presidents (India – two, Sri Lanka – one, Pakistan – one and Bangledash – one).

    Also, in the OT – Deborah was a Judge and military leader – I doubt purity laws affected her much – she was likely from a powerful family, with servants galore. I don’t know, but that is how I read it. Usually class trumps gender in the East.

    In India, there is a beautiful state called Rajasthan. It means “land of the Emperors”. The enemies never managed a genocide of the Rajasthani royal wives and kids – this area was heavily attacked by warring states and Mogul emperors – because the wives and kids would go throw themselves on the funeral pyres, while the men rode out to suicide warfare. Just as bad as killing losing tribes in the OT.

    Was pre-christian ancient near eastern fertility cult/ure dark? Well, different, yes. Dark, tough to say. The Hindus are today’s last remaining ancient fertility cult (temple prostitutes are still brought in from the untouchable castes in some temples annually). With the advent of Buddhism in 500 BC, it has changed a lot, but the ancient elements are still there – purity laws, temple priests who do goat sacrifices, phallic symbols, god and goddess consorts, etc. The Hindus never practiced Human sacrifice and that is why their religion survived past the rest of the ANE religions. Is Hinduism’s influence any darker on the population than non- Hindu poor countries, even Christian countries? – well, I’d prefer to visit Nepal over Afghanistan any day. Or Bali over Nicaragua. But, Hinduism binds people, as does complementarianism. In both cases, poverty heightens the difficulty of the oppressed, while the rich barely notice – Sonia Gandhi vs. the poor camel driver’s wife; Carolyn Mahaney vs. some young mom trying to escape an abusive church without her husband’s support.

    Can’t say I love the OT the way Piper does, but I get it. It makes weird sense after living in India and Nepal among the devout Hindus. It sounds brutal, and was. But the young women use their impurity to there advantage. Try to remember, sexuality and marriage are completely separate in S. Asia. You marry who you are told. Women have sex to have sons. They often sleep in the *same room* as their father and mother-in-laws, and have sex with their husbands in the same room as their father and mother-in-laws and, in the camel driver’s case her brother-in-laws were in the room too. It freaks me out, really, but it was common. A break from the demands of his family is a benefit for the young wife, not a punishment. I am not sure the women in the OT hated the purity laws as much as we think they would have.

    The rape laws are a whole other matter. Women are extreamly vulnerable in India today. We know nothing of Nepal, no woman reports it and the police are too corrupt, but in India, they were campaigning against the ill treatment of women. Women are treated as prostitutes as soon as it gets dark – 6 pm I learned. We (another lady and I) went into a local restaurant during the evening – still light out. We emerged to a different world at 6:30pm. Men were coming up to us, learning, gesturing and generally just pigs. The thing that threw us was, it was 40 min. later. When entering the restaurant, everything had been fine. Apparently, in Rajasthan, women don’t go out alone at night (night being dark). We, the other woman and I, ended up walking one of the girls who was a nurse to and from her job when she had night shift – since the men were attacking her. Our white skin stopped them from trying anything on the three of us, although their comments and gestures were annoying enough. We could walk that road an hour before one of the girls at the home had to be at work and, since it was still daylight, nothing at all happened. I can imagine the rules and restrictions OT women had to live under not to get a reputation. Life would have been terrifying for a widow and her children. A lady and her two daughters lived in our home because it became too dangerous for them to live alone, women always needed male protection in India. Westerners have to stay at western-only hotels, I imagine to protect female tourists from disrespecting men. It shows how vulnerable Ruth really was when she chose to follow Naomi back to Israel. Two women alone in the Mid East couldn’t have been safe for long.

  52. Looking For You,
    I understand the confusion, but the more you study, the less confusing it becomes. Try reading this article for instance. It’s the best logical explanation of what the term head in the Bible means. And once you start asking the simple questions like where in the Bible does it ever tell your husband to be your spiritual leader? And then to really realize that all these people, men or women, who claim to have superior knowledge of what the Bible says than you can find for yourself… anyway… the more I study on my own, and THEN find scholars/theologians who articulate what I discovered
    also like in this article the less confusing it all gets. http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/i-believe-male-headship

  53. One thing that keeps coming into my mind is the scene in My Fair Lady (film version) where Higgins lashes out at Eliza, nearly punching her in the face (hard). She ends up cowering on the floor in terror.

    I think that’s *still* very relevant today – and probably a far more shocking scene when the film was initially released.

    In other words… none of these things have conveniently disappeared; people are still doing them, here, now.

    And you don’t even have to be a Reconstructionist to find a convenient out. There are far too many people who are willing to give such actions a pass.

  54. A little off-topic (I’ve yet to get Rachel’s book, so haven’t read it), but I often wonder what made people like Doug Wilson so, well, nutty and anti-woman. Was he maybe beaten up by a pigtailed five year old girl and is spending his life trying to cover the humiliation with outdated masculine bravado?

  55. Val – I really appreciate your post.

    The thing is, India’s an awfully big place. Some practices are common among some people, in some places, while others are not. (Like the who devadasi – prostitute – thing.)

    There’s a spectrum in terms of hindus being strict about caste, ritual purity, etc. … and of course you’re right; economic status has so much to do with the way things work.

    Funny (not humorous), though, that Nepal is a Buddhist country…

  56. Bruce K Waltke in his OT Theology makes the following worthwhile points.

    He starts with this general observation.

    The varied contemporary versions of feminism have had the heuristic value of reasserting the equality of women with men. Unfortunately, as has been documented many times, both the synagogue and the church have not only failed to proclaim this glad truth but have shouted it down. Those are black marks in sacred history. The error, however,lies in the interpreters of Scripture, not in the Holy Bible itself. If a rusty can (ie the church) lacks pure water (ie the truth) we don’t blame the water but the can.

    He then notes the following.

    Equality in Creation
    In the first creation account, both men and women are created in God’s image. Together, as his image, they share his derivative authority to be culture makers. The second account reinforces this equality and clarifies t. When I AM says I will make a helper suitable for Adam’s, he means that he will form a woman who is equal to and adequate for the man. She stands opposite him in her sexual differentiation bit equal with him in her dignity as a human being. Adam’s words in response to her formation from his own body are the only human words preserved from before the Fall. Untouched by envy and/or a desire to dominate and control her, he celebrates with admiration their being family (ie of the closest woman relationships). this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh at the same time, he represents her sexual differentiation from him – she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man’. The rest of the OT reinforces women’s equality in being and in dignity with men. After Sarah overreacts to the arrogance of her maidservant Hagar and drives her out of Abraham’s house, the angel of I AM finds the runaway and speaks to her. Of the many thousands of Near Eastern texts, this is the only instance when a deity, or his messenger, calls a woman by her name and thereby invests her with dignity. Hagar is the OT counterpart to the Samaritan woman spoken to by Jesus in John 4.

    Equality in Parenting
    Mothers stand on equal footing with fathers in teaching their children.(Proverbs31:26) The father’s command to the son, do not forsake your mother’s teaching’ seems unexceptional until we realise that the mother is not mentioned as a teacher in ancient Near Eastern literature. For the mother to teach Israel’s inherited wisdom, she herself had first to be taught, suggesting that’son’ in the book of Proverbs is gender inclusive, not gender specific.

    Equality in Charisma
    In the OT, women are called to be’prophetesses,’ on an equal footing with prophets… Huldah is a most remarkable prophetess with regard to the question of women’s roles in worship and ministry. When Josiah’s workmen find the Book of the Low while they re repairing the temple, Josiah directs five leaders to enquire of I AM about the book. Instead of going to Jeremiah and Zephaniah, they go to their contemporary, Huldah, to verify the book.

    Equality in Prayer
    Covenant women pray directly to God without the priestly mediation of their husbands. (Contrast Jacob’s prayerlessness with Ramchel’s effectual prayer). Barren Hannah seeks dignity and worth through childbearing. She goes directly to God in prayer, independent from her husband and from the high priest, both of whom are insensitive to her need.

    Equality in Worship
    Women sing and dance in worship, expressions of the acme of life. Miriam and Deborah compose the two oldest pieces of literature preserved in the Bible, which are regarded by scholars as literary masterpieces. Women celebrate before IAM with singing, dancing, and tambourines, although they are not part of the temple choir. Women offer sacrifices and gifts along with men. The role of women in the NT is better known. Luke takes pains to stress the important role that women play on Paul’s second missionary journey when he establishes the church in Macedonia and Achaia. The apostle has a vision of a man of Macedonia begging him to come and help him, and when he arrives he finds women in prayer who become his first converts in Europe. Women engage in church authorised ministries: Phoebe, Priscilla, Euodia, and Syntache are celebrated as ‘ministers/courier’s (diakanos) or ‘co-workers’ (synergos).

    However in the church,as represented in the NT, no woman is appointed tonaposition of authority over men. Rather, a woman is to keep silent in the church if she has a question about her husband’s prophecy; she should ask him about it at home.

    The mutual submission of men and women to one another is unique to the NT. Their equality before God in their nature, spiritual gifts, and prayer is found in both testaments.

    Regards
    Gavin

  57. The guys attacking Rachel just can not deal with a woman so secure in what she believes biblically. They think by attacking her she will go away. As I said at Denny Burkes blog several times–”your criticisms are only helping to sell more of her books.” But I really do not think him and the others get “it.”

  58. Lynne at Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:50 PM :

    …every group that tries to define “biblical womanhood” does so with an inconsistent hermeneutic, picking and choosing which ‘commands’ are still binding.

    I not only agree, I’d say that every group that tries to define “biblical” anything does so in exactly the same way. It’s one thing to give an honest account for what I believe, drawn from scripture as I’ve come to understand it. It’s quite another for me, in pride and self-importance, to foist that on everyone else as though I alone had read the bible. That attitude is quite common in the young and over-zealous, because when you first discover something, you can get over-excited about it. Certainly, when I first became a christian and discovered that the bible is inspired by God, I went around lecturing a lot of christians who actually knew the bible a lot better than I did, and frankly were a lot more christ-like than I was. Fortunately I grew out of that phase. Unfortunately, some men who discover the bible at 18 years old do not, and go on to found megachurches named after planets.

    Mara at 11:43 – I believe you are on the right lines when you talk about husbands having to develop self-control. But, speaking as a husband, and one whose wife is gorgeous at that, I think you can go a lot further. It’s not about developing sexual self-control, but about sexual self-giving. So; regardless of my needs, wants, etc – what are hers? How do I, as the head of the household (and I don’t apologise for Ephesians 5) see to it that my wife’s needs are holistically met; that she ends the day/week/year fulfilled and happy; etc etc. As Christ loved the church and gave himself for her – it’s no small thing. But men who declare themselves “Gospel™” through quoting the letter of the law will always be straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

  59. @ Nick:

    “Unfortunately, some men who discover the bible at 18 years old do not, and go on to found megachurches named after planets.”

    If Driscoll’s going to stick to the planet thing, he should form a school where he can propagate his sex teachings… He could call it the Mars Hill Venusian Learning Center. Or if he doesn’t like Venusian, he could always go with the older adjective referring to Venus – “venereal.” : )

  60. “By the way, in spite of some reviewers claims otherwise, she does bring up the fact that Jesus, Himself, often disregarded the “rules” of the Old Testament (gathering food on a Sabbath).”

    Just have to take a little beef with this comment – If Jesus disregarded the “rules”, meaning the law of the OT, then he could not be sinless and can not be our passover lamb! If, and perhaps this is what was meant to be said, Jesus disregarded all those extra “rules” the pharisees had regarding what you could and could not do on a Sabbath, then yes, Jesus was a rebel – rebelling against the commandments of men!

  61. Anon1

    Thank you for the laugh about “the curse.” I liekd your answer because it shows that you are struggling with the Scripture.I get frustrated with those who will not think about these things and blow it off with ‘that was the Old Testament now let’s get back to the New Testament and NT stuff like tithing and women not beling allowed to do anything involved with the “presthood.”

  62. Anon1

    Another great possible answer! “I have often wondered if it was because the man would be disappointed with a girl and want to try too soon for another child who might be a boy. The longer time gave her time to bond with the baby girl who was basically seen as a disappointment all around. First born son and sons in general are very important. The irony is we see God NOT choose a first born son in the most pivotal stories.”

  63. Looking for You

    Let me encourage you. For the people with the deepest faith, the Bible is something with which to wrestle. That is the problem with the Calvinistas. They don’t struggle. They look at the OT, like John Piper, and say that God can do whatever he wills do accept it. If you have trouble with it,  (as one man admitted to Piper at Desiring God), then you are in sin(which Piper said to him). In my own life, i have found that God interacts with me as I struggle and confront the difficulties. My fiath is stronger today than it was so many years ago when I just swallowed what i was fed as “gospel” truth.

  64. Anon1

    You are on a roll today. “ I am having a hard time seeing the difference between Doug Wilson, the Bayly or Doug Phillips and a Imam.” Frankly, there is little to know difference except they eat pork.

  65. Numo

    You said “We do not see the darkness that we ourselves perpetuate, do we?” Truer words have never been spoken. All of The Gosepl Coalition, 9 Marks and Mary Kassian are speaking out against domestic violence, but coddle the like of Paige Patterson who told a woman to go back into a physically abusive home. Then, there are the reports that come out of SGM Survivors that are overlooked (Day 37). I plan to address this tomorrow.

  66. I really can’t wait to read this book. It addresses a subject that is so important and, despite the controversy, neglected. When I used to go to church the way the OT was addressed really troubled me sometimes. Something just didn’t feel right. People are used to feeling a sense of disconnect between Jesus ‘love your enemies and pray for those who perecute you’ Christ and the kinds of things that God oversaw in the OT. But it was never really addressed in any Bible studies or sermons. Maybe that’s just because of the kinds of churches I was going to, I don’t know.

    Most of the preaching I’ve heard on the troubling bits of the OT just flattens it out and boxes it in, and pulls out some ham-fisted metaphors, and processes it to fit a certain set of preconceptions, much as Driscoll processed Esther. Pastors would preach sermons on the whole Joshua killing everyone episode and frame it as a straightforward example of how if we’re faithful to God, we’ll make it to the Promised Land (the Promised Land being symbolic of success of some kind, whether that’s spiritual, relationship, financial etc). And yet this is a frankly harrowing story. Nobody ever framed it as, say, an example of how faithfulness to God led to indiscriminate slaughter.(“Just as the Chosen People butchered the Caananite babies, so God will butcher the ‘babies’ of discouragement in your life!”). But if all you’re going to do with such a disturbing tale is draw out a nice simple life lesson, then why not? I’m not saying that the OT has no valuable lessons to teach but unless the violence of some parts is dealt with beyond ‘yeah, things were nasty back then but hey, Jesus showed up and made it all better!’ then the teaching will always be dissatisfying. Don’t just avoid the violence altogether, especially not if you teach the literal truth of these incidents, which they did.

    And the women. It reached the point where it was really hard to open the gospels and read them when I knew that there was all this misogyny lurking back there just a few hundred pages earlier. Weirdly it seemed that no other female Christian I knew appeared bothered by this stuff, by the concubine raped to death and the daughters of Lot and so on. So I bought Phyllis Trible’s Texts of Terror, which helped a bit. But I wish churches would do more to help their congregations address this stuff. I just felt that I was supposed to act like it wasn’t there and it didn’t matter. And I couldn’t, because I’m a female and if I’d been born a bit earlier it could’ve been me getting chucked to a mob. There but for the grace of God go I. Shame he didn’t have the same grace for that raped concubine, but hey, that was the before Jesus! The moral of the story is that if we are ever confronted by the ‘raping mob’ of financial difficulty, God will provide us with a ‘concubine’ of distraction to throw to it so that we can get by with just a small house until we can afford a big one! (I’m kidding of course; a lot of leaders would never even touch that story to begin with, let alone give it enough attention to totally mess it up).

  67. I like Lynne’s and Nick’s comments about defining biblical womanhood or anything else. I think RHE wrote the book to point out that we’d better be sure we know what we’re talking about when we use the word “biblical” about anything. So she’s raising some difficult questions. Good for her! We should all dig deeper and think harder. If that worries the “Dough Boys,” so be it.

    Yes, I have read the book. I loved it.

  68. Anon4Now

    Thank you for your correction. I think that you might find this article by Justin Taylor interesting link. It deals with the issue of Jesus, the Sabbath and the law.

    “On the other hand, a careful reading of the Gospel accounts intimates that the Sabbath will not continue to play a significant role. Jesus proclaims as the Son of Man that he is the “lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). The Sabbath does not rule over him, but he rules over the Sabbath. He is the new David, the Messiah, to whom the Sabbath and all the Old Testament Scriptures point (Matt. 12:3–4). Indeed, Jesus even claimed in John 5:17 that he, like his Father, works on the Sabbath. Working on the Sabbath, of course, is what the Old Testament prohibits, but Jesus claimed that he must work on the Sabbath since he is equal with God (John 5:18).”

  69. “Pastors would preach sermons on the whole Joshua killing everyone episode and frame it as a straightforward example of how if we’re faithful to God, we’ll make it to the Promised Land (the Promised Land being symbolic of success of some kind, whether that’s spiritual, relationship, financial etc).”

    This is the kind of allegorization common to seeker-driven megachurches, who try to use each text to get some self-help life lesson out of it. This is not faithful preaching of the Scriptures.

  70. Nicholas, I guessed as much. It wasn’t a mega church but it wanted to be one. I don’t think the preaching deliberately took that sort of character; I think it’s just that that kind of thing was all anyone knew. A lot of Christians approach the Bible in a similar way, in a sort of verse-for-the-day-ahead way, no matter whether it’s OT or NT, and regardless of any other considerations, knowing no other way to read it. I always read it that way when I went to church and then I just stopped reading it altogether.

  71. Tikatu

    It is rather amusing (although sometimes it is not) to see preachers picking and choosing which rules from the OT still apply. Such antics merely fuel the fire of the dominionist movement that wants to reestablish the OT mandates. 

    I am glad that you are going to read the book. I will be interested in your thoughts on the matter. Some of the funniest comments at some of the sites of reviewers who reviewed the book without reading it are "I will never read such a book." "She is against homemakers." etc.  They show their profound ignorance when they spout that nonsense.

  72. (although I get that ‘you go girl’ is probably a more accurate interpretation of the sentiment)

  73. I haven’t read the the Year of Biblical Womanhood yet but I know that I have a pretty good idea of its contents because I read RHE’s blog and she has posted excerpts, interviews conducted as research, and defences of Christian egalitarianism. So I offered a HUGE long comment in response to this one star review:

    “I bought this book thinking that it would be helpful and really enlighten a Christian woman’s role in C21 but from a biblical perspective.
    However, despite the book being full of Scripture do not let that fool you. I have found it blasphemous and she is definitely not evangelical!
    An evangelical Christian loves Jesus, loves the Bible, obeys it and is not feminist or pro-evolution.
    I question her beliefs but pray that from her research she has benefitted spiritually from it.”

    Sad to see that it’s already being dismissed by my fellow Brits in the same month that the C of E voted against female bishops!

  74. Dee:

    No one who want to keep his or her job dares to publicly cross Paige Patterson about anything he does or does not do. This may sound like to strong of a statement, but their is a long list of people who lost their situations either directly or indirectly due to this one person.

    He is virtually untouchable in the Southern Baptist Universe.

  75. Val, 2:54 AM

    Yes, you go girl. I commented on what HUG said about those being dark times and I love his quote from Harry Potter every time he uses it.
    So I focused on the darkness of that time.
    But even as I wrote it, my mind kept coming back up to our own times and the darkness that is present all around us, manifested differently in different cultures, including our own.
    For example, how rape is handled in some Muslim countries where the woman is punished and the men go free, or even the attitude that many have about rape here where the woman is still blamed for how she dressed or where she was, or whatever.

    Gavin White, 6:24 AM, I also loved your comment. God instructed the Children of Israel to honor their fathers AND their mothers. Sometimes I think the Neo-Patriarchs miss how glaringly counter culture this was back in the hey day of patriarchy rule and how much this command kicks the feet out from under their assertion that God wants to establish ‘biblical’ patriarchy in our world.

    And Nick Bulbeck at 7:09, I appreciate your comment. In my day job in social work, we work very hard with parents, who have lost their children to the state, to try to get them to the level of minimal parenting, up from the substandard parenting that caused them to lose their children. So, sometimes, when I see the substandard manhood and ‘husbandry’ displayed by the likes of Driscoll, I point it out for what it is, abuse and un-Christian. And I call upon them to repent from their substandard manhood and step up to at least a minimal level of husbandry, which would include leaving their wives the heck alone when they don’t feel good and stop demanding that these wives open themselves up for what some would consider to be the sin of sodomy.
    But in truth, I agree with you, minimal husbandry or wifery is just that. Minimal, just barely getting by. God didn’t call us to that, just getting by. He has called us to live more abundantly.

  76. Sophie, that story on the concubine in Judges: The Godswordtowomen website say that Judges is the story of people living further and further from God, and God speaking less and less to them as their atrocities get worse. Because they do not listen. But the silence shouts, according to http://godswordtowomen.org/walford.htm

    Part of that going backwards as a nation is how women are treated well early in the book, and terrible at the end.

  77. Sophie, that story on the concubine in Judges… — Retha

    An old RSV of mine has this notation on the top of the page in Judges:

    A Horrible Crime

    A crime so horrible it is still remembered OVER THREE THOUSAND YEARS LATER.

  78. He is virtually untouchable in the Southern Baptist Universe. — Mot

    1) A God Can Do No Wrong.
    2) “I Am a Vengeful Being!”

  79. The crazy thing is, the reconstructionist guys ACTUALLY think this stuff was just part of a well-ordered, godly society, and that this society WILL be reestablished on earth. — Looking for You

    With themselves on top as God’s Anointed, of course.

  80. Also, there was an equality in the adultery laws of the OT.

    If a man and a woman were caught in the act, they were both stoned.

    This is what makes the scene of the adulterous woman thrown at the feet of Jesus so ironic. For religious leaders, they sure were ignorant of the OT law. As men who loved their position as men yet hated the rule of Roman law, they sure were quick to reject their own law in favor of patriarchal Roman law that only commands that the women be put to death.

    And another funny thing nowadays, I’ve heard more than one fellow claim that the story of the adulterous woman doesn’t really belong in the Bible. It really irks them that Jesus just up and forgave the woman. They thought that such a thing could not have happened that way.

  81. Val,

    That was a fascinating and helpful description of life for women in India.

    You said, “I am not sure the women in the OT hated the purity laws as much as we think they would have.”

    I have wondered this as well. Certain commands that sound repressive to us may have actually had an element of mercy to them. I imagine it could have been a relief for women to be told that they could not participate in religious activities or really interact with others when they were bleeding (they certainly didn’t have the “feminine products” we have to day and it must have been very uncomfortable), or when they were recovering from childbirth.

    I have wondered something similar about the passages about Levites with defects not being allowed to do priestly duties, which Dee has mentioned several times. Perhaps those “blemishes” were disabilities that would have made the duties of priesthood (which were rigorous, I’m sure) extremely difficult for those men. I noted that they were still to be allowed to EAT the offerings and were to be cared for – maybe it was the OT equivalent of receiving disability benefits?

    Maybe disallowing women (who were often bleeding or recovering from childbirth) and disabled/defected men from various religious activities was not so much about THEM making GOD unclean by approaching him, but more to do with God wanting to protect his character as MERCIFUL in providing rest for the weary? However I am sure that men completely misunderstood God’s intentions, if that was the case…

  82. I know a lot of complementarian calvinistas like to harp on gender issues as the reason why RHE is a heretic, but it’s only the symptom of their disagreement. It goes one level deeper to their view of scripture. CC’s are committed to inerrancy and a view that says everything in the Bible is true and it never contradicts itself. It is historically and scientifically accurate in all its details. RHE, on the other hand, while she says she believes the Bible is true, she also seems to believe that it contains contradictions within itself and historical/scientific errs (or at least, that’s the way the CC’s perceive her looser readings of passages like Genesis or Jonah). Their respective views of patriarchy or (biblical) egalitarianism are the direct result of the mindset with which they approach scripture, and this is where the major conflict lies. RHE is a “heretic” because she doesn’t hold scripture as sacredly infallible as the CC’s do. I have a sneaky suspicion that this isn’t a remotely recent debate, but these sort of hermeneutical battles have been being fought for centuries (in house, to boot).

    But most importantly, the foundational level of dispute between RHE and the CC’s is one of epistemological foundations. IF both say the Bible is true, and one says it can contain contradictions, then we are working with two completely different understandings of the nature of truth. The rationalistic CC’s harp on the law of non-contradiction and the rules of logic uber alles, while RHE seems to come from a more postmodern-subjective-relativist mindset. Their conflict, IMO, is not about religion, theology, or hermeneutics. Its about philosophical presuppositions and, until those are addressed, they will continue to talk past one another exchanging blows on straw men… I mean, straw persons.

    I don’t mean this in any way as a judgement on either, I may be a bit off base on RHE because I haven’t read a whole lot of her writing and have read about equal parts second hand. But I think the points stands that their starting point determines their conclusion, and at the end of the day, RHE is as orthodox as any Episcopalian or mainliner who approaches the Bible much more loosely or openly than the fundagelical guardians of orthdoxy.

  83. Thanks, Retha, I’ll have a look at that. I think that one of the things that bothered me most when I read that story was the bit where they go to ask God if they should fight against the tribe of Benjamin and God says ‘yes’. But the woman’s husband/master was just as responsible for refusing to defend her and for pushing her out the door. I just wonder why God didn’t acknowledge the man’s guilt and say ‘hang on, that’s no way to treat a woman! This man must pay the price, too’ or something. Combined with the story of Lot and his daughters, it just seems as if God was happy to accept the formula that when a gang of vicious thugs gather round your house demanding sex, you should push the nearest women out the door and batten down the hatches til morning.

  84. I found the part where Rachel and her friends held a ceremony to honour Jephthah’s daughter, the concubine and Absalom’s sister, Tamar, a solemn and beautiful moment in the book.

    The most moving tribute to Tamar, for me, is when Absalom names his own daughter after his sister. The fact that such a seemingly insignificant piece of information has been recorded for posterity, speaks volumes to me.

  85. “An old RSV of mine has this notation on the top of the page in Judges:

    A Horrible Crime”

    HUG,

    The note I wrote in my bible was “everyone is the villain.” Every character in that horrible story was the villain. There were no heroes. I think there were a few other stories in Judges where I wrote this notation as well.

  86. Hug:

    Several things are for sure in Southern Baptist life. Whether you actually believe in inerrancy or not you have to always be willing to say publicly and privately you do and if you wish to serve in many leadership capacities you must sign a man made document that this is what you believe.

    I often wonder how many who do all of the above are being true to their consciences.

    Kind of joking, but not really. Paige Patterson says he believes in inerrancy and so that sets the standard. Please notice God’s word did not.

  87. I don’t pretend to know the reasons for everything in the OT. What I do know is that we read a lot of things through the eyes of a totally different culture and completely misunderstand it – plus accidently or purposefully miss parts that do not fit the picture people want to make.
    For example, the “raped in the city and stoned with rapist if she do not cry out” part: The city at the time when that law was given was a bunch of non-soundproof tents, rather close together. If you wanted to be alone with a partner for you-know-what, you would, more often than not, not be two people entering a previously unoccupied tent, but would have to tell some other people: “Would you mind getting out? The two of us want to be alone.”
    In a non-soundproof lots-of-people-close-together environment, people will hear it if a woman screams.
    And if it was out in the field – far enough that nobody will hear her, the law say her word should be taken on face value, and he is to be regarded as guilty. Yet nobody say the Bible is anti-man for taking woman’s words on face value, and killing an alleged rapist on a woman’s word.
    Nor could you ask: “what about a mute woman who did not shout?” The rabbi’s did not interpret the law in a wooden literal way, but tried to understand the principle behind the law. The mute woman – unless the rabbi is an idiot – would have been safe.

    As for polygamy, in a world so bad that women need male protection, polygamy is the best imperfect solution there is. Are there a few rich, rather even-tempered guys in your ancient village that could afford 4 wives and 11 children, and would treat women rather well? Is there a moody drunkard in town that nobody wants to marry, or were there three men of your tribe killed in the last battle? With polygamy, all women could shun the bad guy and marry the better one, and there are still men to go around when your husband is killed in a battle.

    Don’t ask me why God allowed everything He allowed in the OT. But I know that the mere cultural gap between me and them is so big that if I try to judge why, I will miss a lot of reasons that the people of the time would have partially understood.

    There is one problem I have with reports on Rachel’s book. Whether it is Rachel or the reports, a lot of it say “God commanded this in the OT,” when much of it was allowed and not commanded, and some points less than true. For example, the Bible does not teach, as far as I know, that women should not own property. I think of Judges 1:15, the daughters of Zelophehad http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/rumors-of-gods-patriarchalism-have-been-greatly-exaggerated-part-1-zelophehads-daughters/, the Proverbs 31 woman who bought a field. Nor does it teach she is property.

  88. I don’t want this construed as an easy answer – for me it was food for thought. As a woman, I wouldn’t want anything to do with a polygamous marriage however, I will never forget reading William Jordan Flake’s opinion on polygamy. He was jailed in Yuma AZ for polygamy and an exhibit there has portions of his diary on display. I can’t find the exact quote – but what he basically points out is that morman men have multiple sexual partners and they marry them and take responsibility for them and their children – “Christian” men who have multiple sexual partners can abondon them – but somehow, because they only have one wife, that is morally superior.

    Now, I am not denying that this is the mans point of view – but in the context of Yuma AZ in the 1800s – he has an interesting point especially about hypocrisy.

  89. “…the law say her word should be taken on face value, and he is to be regarded as guilty. Yet nobody say the Bible is anti-man for taking woman’s words on face value, and killing an alleged rapist on a woman’s word.”

    Excellent point, Retha.

  90. Eagle,

    #2. Never thought of that before. Light bulb moment for me.
    #3. Are you sure you want to say RHE is modeling a way to have a conservative faith? I thought the whole issue was that she was fairly liberal.
    #4. Dead on. The immaturity with which conflict is handled in Calvinist circles was the most off-putting thing which drove me away from their movement. Not that non-reformed always do a whole lot better, but the reformed talk a big game (altruistically) when it comes to church polity yet I’ve never seen them make an honorable concession.

    I don’t think that inerrancy necessarily means that everything in the Bible is prescriptive. I think we could agree that the CC’s need to do a whole lot better job making that distinction, though, especially in Leviticus. But let’s just say that they’d never be able to steer that plane into a target because Jesus had them cut off all their hands already.

    I get a real kick out of your list the heinous and kinky things people allegedly do while listening to John Piper sermons. I’ll be sure to use that excuse if I find myself on the wrong side of the law :D Think it will hold up in court? As a variation of the insanity plea? :P

  91. Again I am so grateful for Wesleyan theology.

    The idea that revelation was progressive handles so much of the angst over the old testament.

    I think Mara gets it right–we dare not try to read the OT in the light of today’s society, but must read it in the light of the society of the time.

    What may seem cruel and barbaric compared to how we handle things post Jesus would have been kind and affirming pre Jesus.

    Even “eye for and eye” can seem barbaric to us. However, back then it was literally a Godsend. No longer could I kill you because you made a snide comment about me.

    Barbarism was the law of the land, and these “barbaric” OT rules were such a huge step towards holiness and justice.

    I’m just glad God is patient with us and gives us time to change our cultures.

  92. 4. Many Neo-Cals are still stuck in puberty. While their hair is barely beginning to grow in their arm pits and their voices still screech, many don’t know how to handle confrontation or disagreement.

    Eagle…too funny!

  93. The point is often made that, while they seem barbaric to us, the OT laws were actually progressive in their time.

    So why can we, the body of Christ, not be progressive in our time?

    It’s a shame that biblically biblical bible teachers of the bible are always trying to drag us back to [their interpretation of] scripture, whereas the writers of scripture were pointing forward and/or upward to Jesus. Since most of what Jesus did was “unbiblical” (i.e. is not specifically described in scripture), what do they hope to achieve by pulling us Back To Scripture™?

  94. It seems that most of the time I hear somebody trying to drag us “back to scripture,” they’re usually trying to push a somewhat recent doctrinal innovation.

  95. I prefer the translation ‘you go girl!’, since I don’t have a mental image of what ‘woman of valour’ looks like. Instead I end up with a mental image of a ‘woman of velour’: a woman in a matching purple velour hooded top and sweatpants.

  96. Just a thought…….but I wonder if polygamy was a way for a man to have sex when wifey#1 was having her period, and wifey#2 just had a baby, so maybe he needs to visit #3? Gotta have it…………

  97. It seems that most of the time I hear somebody trying to drag us “back to scripture,” they’re usually trying to push a somewhat recent doctrinal innovation. — Miguel

    That’s the reason when somebody says “Scripture(TM)”, I hear “Ees Party Line, Comrade!”

  98. I have not yet read the book but I read RHE’s blog and excerpts and watched her interviews.
    I would like to comment on viewing the Old Testament from the perspective of the New. I agree with Linda, there is a progression. There are a few things I have come to understand. I realize that letting go of some traditional views goes along with seeing things in a fresh light.
    Jesus said that “No one knows the Father but the Son…”. This means that everyone, including Abraham, David, and the prophets, sees God the wrong way. Jesus alone reveals the Father’s heart toward us because He was with the Father before the foundation of the universe. It is a loving, compassionate, merciful heart, not the way religion has portrayed it.
    At the Fall, Adam and Eve painted the face of God with their own shame and fear, now seeing him as angry and vengeful. God did not change because of their sin but came to them as usual to find them cowering in terror in the bushes. He lovingly made clothes for them and made statements about the consequences of their actions. Their sin changed them not God. He could have given the ten commandments to Adam and Eve then but instead let them find out for themselves that the knowledge of good and evil does not produce peace with God. They were told to stay away from that tree. That is where religion started as humanity tried to find ways to please God and get back to him. Throughout the stories in the OT and the history of Israel, if we remember that humanity had a very distorted picture of God and were trying to live from their evil conscience (knowledge of good and evil) we can see the kinds of relationships they had and how the weak were treated by those who had power. Because they wanted their God at a distance, then we can see how He was gradually teaching them the vocabulary of sin, holiness, sacrifice, redemption and their need for a Savior in the context of a nation that was to be an example.
    God let humanity try to live independently for a long time. Many thought they had all the rules down pat and were pleasing to God and others felt themselves failures without hope. That is what religion does. When Jesus died at the hands of an angry mob of humanity, God was reconciling the world to himself in their darkest moment. Jesus said, “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.” From the perspective of my relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit based on Jesus finished work, I can look at the stories in the OT and say “They didn’t know what they were doing.” They didn’t know the Father.

  99. Did you know that the modern Christian church in America does in fact practices polygamy.It’s called continuous polygamy.You can have all the husbands or wives you want as long as it’s with one spouse at a time. This is only a pun…I can feel the heat from the flame thrower now!

  100. “For the people with the deepest faith, the Bible is something with which to wrestle. That is the problem with the Calvinistas. They don’t struggle.”

    Dee, you’re right. They don’t struggle, they don’t encourage others to struggle, it is only SUBMIT SUBMIT SUBMIT. Being a calvinista was intellectually very easy for me – it seemed so logical, all the puzzle pieces fell together so flawlessly, gaps filled in with “God is the potter, we are the clay, who are we to question?” Thing is, when tragedy struck and made me stagger back a few steps, the big picture looked so… ugly. It was like doing a sudoku puzzle (anyone else do those?), having almost all the blanks filled in, and then realizing that somewhere along the line you put a wrong number in and you’ve “solved” nearly the entire puzzle based on the wrong premise. Best to just erase it all and start over.

    So, yeah, struggling. It’s hard. But on the plus side, I’ve never felt so alive. Being alive is harder than being dead, and when I think back on my calvinista years, dead would be a good way to describe my faith.

  101. Gavin White-”However in the church,as represented in the NT, no woman is appointed tonaposition of authority over men. ”

    …as represented in the NT, no man is appointed to a position of authority over a woman either.

  102. About 5 years ago I made an uneasy peace with the OT after much study and research. Just a few things that helped me and I am NOT saying that any of it fits anyone elses paradigms of the OT. I simply offer it as part of my journey and if it helps anyone else, Praise God:

    -Coming to grips that even the seekers and other free will people, like Patterson in the SBC, trotted out certain OT views that fit their paradigm for comp doctrine and tithing.
    -Studying God’s Word to Women by Bushnell really helped me see some of the problems with OT interpretations. I often think of Isaiah 3:12 and what Bushnells research uncovered about the horrible translation that contradicts other parts of the OT. There are many like this but give this a read:
    http://godswordtowomen.org/lesson_77.htm
    -Realizing I had a totally wrong view of the Mosaic Law. This one deserves some explanation and I am sure I don’t get it all correct because it is a work in progress. I can remember reading through Leviticus several times before it hit me upside the head. I then connected some NT passage dots that made me realize something important: The Law was more about leading people to“God time” in a sense. Reading Leviticus makes you realize that from the moment they woke up to when they went to sleep, it was part of their life.
    Map that to what we are told about the law being a “tutor” in the NT. As I researched that concept in Roman society, the tutor was not a teacher like we would think of today. The tutor was someone who “kept children out of trouble” so to speak. They might follow the children and make sure they did not get lost or fall into a ditch or something. They were a sort of guide/protector. I started seeing the law that way in converse to how the pagans at the time lived. It also fits in with the idea of the “spirit” of the law not the “letter”.
    If Jesus kept the law perfectly and picked grain or “worked” on the Sabbath, then obviously the law was misapplied and even used for evil by mere men. So what else is new?
    I just started adding up all these dots that started mapping them to each other. Then I started thinking how we view God. If we are using the Calvin lens to view God, then everything is pre determined and decreed and that poor concubine’s gruesome treatment and violent death was decreed by God. If we do not view God as a determinist decreetal God, then we can see it another way. God working through and around a very stiff necked people who were acting like their pagan neighbors.
    Yet, I also accept ALL of God’s attributes including His wrath and justice. I tend to agree with Linda concerning progressive revelation. For one thing, only after the cross are we sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers. The indwelling God who first built earth as a dwelling place, then the temple……. and now WE are His dwelling place if saved.
    We tend to forget, or at least I do, that NO one in the OT was saved by the law but by faith. We also tend to forget that just how evil the results of the fall were. Satan roaming this earth. And he really hates women because Messiah will come forth from her and bruise him by carrying and delivering to us the Messiah who conquers death. Satan loves death.

  103. @Eagle

    That’s a bit hyberbolic. When Piper, Mohler, Burk, et al and their followers start rioting, burning things down, blowing things up, killing, and issuing death warrants, then come talk to me.

  104. “Remember a few years ago when that Danish cartoonist drew those cartoons of Muhammad. And many Muslims flipped? And leading Islamic clerics went ballastic. THAT’s how I see Danny Burk, John Piper, Al Mohler and crowd.”

    That’s a good comparison Eagle. Of course in our country (because it IS a free country, and not one based on their idea of how things should be run) they can’t physically hurt anyone. But they are trying hard to put RHE’s words and ideas and reputation to death. And making themselves look jaw-droppingly silly in the process…

    They are like boys playing baseball, refusing to actually play against the girls team for fear of losing. They just keep their distance and poke fun instead.

  105. Looking for you,

    The goal is to “marginalize” RHE. That is why you see comments suggesting she is not “educated” or “serious” or that one is becoming bored with her. (The goal is to make us embarrassed to discuss the book or give it any credibility at all for discussion)
    They set up a false dichotomy because it works. If you discuss her book then you automatically agree with her and are one of her followers. If you denounce her book, then you are one of them. They have been doing variations of this “either/or” theme for years. Because it has worked well.
    They cannot accept we can discuss the book in a productive manner without total agreement or disagreement. It has to be all evil or all good. (this is because they are scared of losing control over people’s thinking). Their views are always “either/or”. And marginalizing people has worked with their base followers for years. Note they go for blanket accusations in that she hates the Bible or misrepresents the Bible, etc. We must realize that many of their followers will actually believe this and condemn her without even bothering to read the book. Happens a lot. That movement does not produce independent thinkers.

  106. justabeliever

    You said” but I wonder if polygamy was a way for a man to have sex when wifey#1 was having her period, and wifey#2 just had a baby, so maybe he needs to visit #3?” Mark Driscoll would dream something like that up!

     

  107. Nicholas

    How about firing a female professor because she is female and leaving her to find medical covergae for her severely sick husband? Not  burning down buildings, mind you, but effectively hurting someone.

  108. RHE seems – to me, anyway – far better-educated than most of the people who are trying to shout her down.

    Touché, already. ;)

  109. @Dee

    Yeah, that was pretty bad. As mot says, Patterson is untouchable in the Baptist Mafia. He’s a made man. I wonder if Mohler would do the same thing?

  110. Elvera

    Good comment at 12:09. I wish that some of the loud mouths on the “silenceRHE side could have such a fruitful conversation.

  111. Dee, or a woman staying in an abusive marriage in order to be “submissive” and being killed? Teaching these things as consequences.

  112. Dee:

    You said to Nicholas:

    ” Nicholas

    How about firing a female professor because she is female and leaving her to find medical covergae for her severely sick husband? Not burning down buildings, mind you, but effectively hurting someone.”

    All in the name of gawd and I am being very sarcastic. He destroys her life and career and just walks away from it and dares anyone of the “brothers” to say a word and they do not for fear of something similar happening to them.

    It is all unbelievable.

  113. They set up a false dichotomy because it works. If you discuss her book then you automatically agree with her and are one of her followers. If you denounce her book, then you are one of them. They have been doing variations of this “either/or” theme for years. Because it has worked well. — Anon1

    “TRAITOR! THOUGHT-CRIMINAL! RACHELHELDEVANS-GOLDSTEINIST!!!”

    “If Mark Driscoll teaches that women are sluts and whores like he did in calling Esther a Jewish whore…does that mean your wife is a whore or a slut becuase she’s a woman?” — Eagle

    *********(ed)
    GOD HATH WILLED IT!

    If education is such a major issue with RHE then why does this crowd cuddle and hold CJ Mahaney? — Eagle

    “TOUCH NOT GAWD’S ANOINTED!!! DO GAWD’S PROPHET NO HARM!!!”
    Plus see below:

    All in the name of gawd and I am being very sarcastic. He destroys her life and career and just walks away from it and dares anyone of the “brothers” to say a word and they do not for fear of something similar happening to them. — Mot

    Ever heard of the phrase “Make an Example of one, cow a hundred”?

  114. “For the people with the deepest faith, the Bible is something with which to wrestle. That is the problem with the Calvinistas. They don’t struggle.”

    Dee, you’re right. They don’t struggle, they don’t encourage others to struggle, it is only SUBMIT SUBMIT SUBMIT. — Looking For You

    Isn’t the Arabic word for “SUBMIT” ISLAM?

    And with the “SLM” consonant root in Semitic languages meaning all nouns with the same root and different vowels have related meanings, remember the word for “Peace”, SALAAM? If the meanings are related, “Peace” (SaLaaM) comes when the Weak “Submit” (iSLaM) to the Strong, Alpha to Beta to Omega.

  115. SOooo many good thoughts here! I confess I only skimmed the more recent ones, since I have only a short break in a busy day of “domestic” duties. You Go, Man! to the early morning comments by Gavin and Nick, especially.
    One only partially whimsical thought, based on the Mars Hill Venusian Learning center and RHE’s October emphasis on the spiritual fruit of Gentleness. I could, I believe, write a full book, and have it believed by some, on the topic, “Gifts are from Mars, Fruit is from Venus!” I would point out in Eph 4 that Jesus gave gifts to MEN! Then I’ll look at the gifts of the Spirt–including apostles, prophets, teaching, leadership, healings, miracles, generosity, speaking, and interpreting—all–wait for it–MASCULINE gifts (pay no attention to that “helps” one). Then I’ll look at the fruit of the Spirit (like children are the fruit of the womb)– and *discover* that all that fruit stuff is biblically and gospelly FEMININE!

  116. Anon 1, thanks for the link to God’s Word to Women lesson 77. It was eye-opening. It’s getting dark at about 4pm here these days and I’m recovering from a winter bug so this is good time for me to read a bit of Katherine Bushnell (as I have so often intended to do but never got round to it; it seemed quite technical and intimidating). I was a bit shocked at the bias when it came to Isaiah 3:12. I went to check how my modern, funky, laser-targetted-to-appeal-to-teenage-evangelicals Bible translated that verse. Sure enough, it was rendered ‘Children oppress my people, and women rule over them’, without even a footnote for the alternative. Sigh.

  117. I found the portion of the book on Proverbs 31 interesting. It isn’t used as a guideline for how ‘biblical women are to be – as it is taught within some christian circles. Since it is OT she looked to how the Jewish tradition sees this scripture.

    In the Jewish tradition it is sung by the husband to the wife out of gratitude for being whom she is. Thank you for being my Proverbs 31 woman in other words.

    Funny how it is used to show you HOW you should be in some circles, and in others? Thank you for whom you are.

    Very telling I must say. Could be they got mad because they didn’t wish for that to be pointed out. The fact they have been ‘using’ that scripture in some circumstances to shame. How it is to be used to encourage. Their response shows how they don’t like being corrected it seems to me.

  118. The God who mandated these rules is still the same God that we follow today. However, it seems to me that most people in the church blow them off with a “Jesus changed all that so move along.” Could it be that some of the anger directed towards Evans is due to the fact that she brings up very uncomfortable passages?

    I completely agree with this. Calvinistas love to quote the OT when it suits their purpose, but they won’t confront the uncomfortable passages in the OT nor try to explain how this God can be the same one in the NT, since they believe that the words in the OT and NT are the words God wanted in there.

    There are many such passages in the OT in addition to the ones RHE deals with, a prime example being the genocide ordered by God against the Canaanites, including the slaughter of women and children. Another is this passage from Jeremiah 19:9 where God tells the Israelites they will suffer a number of punishments for worshiping other gods, including this one, one that bothers me to no end:

    And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and all shall eat the flesh of their neighbours in the siege, and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.

    Calvinistas love to proclaim the “perspicuity” (clarity) of Scripture, but it’s easy to do so when you refuse to engage the tough issues dismiss those like RHE who aren’t afraid to.

  119. I think the Calvinistas are afraid of RHE because she is modeling that it’s okay to have questions, to admit when you’re uncomfortable, and to admit that you are struggling. The Calivnista crowd (and I don’t mean all Calvinists…I mean the Calvinistas!) seem to want people to feel that their theology is neatly tied up, that they have the answer to every question. Someone “messy” like Rachel, whom post-modern young’uns respond to, must seem unsettling to them.

  120. Learned Christian theologians have been addressing these “tough issues” for centuries, long before RHE was on the scene.

    To suggest that the OT God could be different from the NT God is the heresy of Marcion, who taught that the OT God was evil.

    God made His will clear to the Israelites time and again: Don’t worship false gods.

    Here again is evidence that conservative Christians can address straitforwardly the “difficult” passages such as the conquest of Canaan: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3262

  121. RE: Looking for You on Mon Nov 26,2012 at 11:56 PM,

    “…Some days I really want to just give up and walk away rather than keep trying to put this crazy puzzle together…”

    You don’t have to walk away from Jesus, he will never walk away from you. You can however, drain the bathwater and rid yourself of what others claim you must believe. Listen to your inner core and the divine spark you do have, and like Jiminy Cricket once said, let your conscience be your guide.

  122. Nicholas:

    I do not remember anyone in the Southern Baptist Circle condemning what Paige did to Dr. Klouda and her husband. These people really make me mad!!

  123. Anon1 @ 1:54 made a remark that resonated with me regarding dichotomous thinking, “If you discuss her book then you automatically agree with her and are one of her followers. If you denounce her book, then you are one of them. They have been doing variations of this “either/or” theme for years.” Case in point; I was at a church with a pastor who actually said – in a sermon in front of everybody – ‘Jesus stakes the message of His gospel upon our unity.’ I wrote it down as soon as I heard it to make sure I remembered it correctly. I shuttered to think what implications this statement would have in the future for that group of people – it made me sad.

    I enjoyed reading RHE’s book very much. I found the work to be respectful and honoring the dignity of individuals. It has much to discuss and work through and I remember the author mentioning that was her goal, to spark or continue the on-going conversation. It is a conversation, not a treatise, I believe.

  124. Anon 1,
    Good post about Bushnell, I cried when I first discovered her book was on the internet. I hadn’t known there were so many great educated scholars like her when I was searching all this out with my cumbersome lexicons,dictionaries, translations,etc. It’s horrible how the evangelical world has hid these writings from us. I immediately ordered and devoured her book. But I was glad to have already done so much research on my own so that I am able to have come to some even different conclusions on a few minor nuances of the gender “debate.”
    If anyone wants to read her book you can find it free on the internet. Katherine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women.

  125. Sophie, I am soooo glad you read the Bushnell lesson. Muff can affirm that she is one smart cookie who did tons of research including teaching herself Greek and Hebrew in a day and time it was not so easy to do so. Her book being republished is such a blessing to us.

    She sent her lessons to scholars all over to get feedback and in a day and time this could only be done by letter. And she put in footnotes both their agreement and disagreement. Not only was she a smart theological cookie, she was a medical doctor and missionary in China. If you continue to read her, you will find she loved our Savior intensely but did not suffer the foolishness of translations that put God in such a bad light when it came to women.

    One of the reasons the Isaiah 3 passage translation is so ridiculous is that it would mean Deborah as a Judge/Prophetess was a bad thing for Israel. And guess what? That is what some Patriarchs teach! Is it any wonder the male translators misread the jot and tittles in that Hebrew word? It makes more sense in context when you read the correct translation.

    You can get the Bushnells lessons online but if you can, get the book. And joyfully mark it up as you discover just how much our God loves us women and how much Satan hates us and unfortunately, he gets a lot of help from our brothers.

  126. “Case in point; I was at a church with a pastor who actually said – in a sermon in front of everybody – ‘Jesus stakes the message of His gospel upon our unity.’ I wrote it down as soon as I heard it to make sure I remembered it correctly. I shuttered to think what implications this statement would have in the future for that group of people – it made me sad.”

    This theme is being promoted all over in Christendom. “Unity” is the new newspeak of Orwellian proportions. It means, agree with me and each other because we need the money to keep coming in and attract new followers. It has nothing to do with spiritual unity as Jesus was praying for. It is word they use so that people will feel sinful for dissenting on serious issues like promoting celebrity guru’s who coddle perverts or agressive Calvinistas from the YRR tearing apart churches.

    Spiritual “unity” can exist within disagreement if we are all adults instead of lemmings. We can even be spiritually unified and separate as Paul and Barnabas did over a disagreement.

  127. Dee…I now see you peeking out of the leg hole of a gargantuan green velour leisure suit that you’ve taken to hiding out in… just how big is that thing? ;)

  128. I realize this is only tangentially related to the present post, but I think many TWW readers would get a kick out of reading Justin Taylor’s Facebook commenton N.T. Wright’s recent response to the Church of England’s recent vote on women serving as bishops.

  129. After being educated on how evil the Afgan women and girls are treated and the percentage of female suicides and horrific failed attempts at burning themselves to death, I suppose it’s all relative to one’s life on if God was wrong for wiping out evil nations. If I was one of those Muslim girls I might just tell God “bombs away!” If you don’t even have any concept of a better life anywhere…I mean God heard SOMEone crying out from Sodom and Ghomorra, and Ninevah. Maybe Canaan too?. But don’t mistake me for someone who says natural disasters are striking certain areas because of God punishing. I think Jesus makes it clear we are not to judge that. But we already have witnessed what the Islamic ALLAH and Satan will do for a thrill. Kill, steal and destroy.

  130. SMG – Well, reading Gerald Bray comparing the ordaining of women with the baptizing of animals made me choke a little.

  131. Anon 1, I’d heard a little bit about Dr Bushnell before and knew that she was a missionary. I heard somewhere that she started studying Greek and Hebrew because she was horrified that when the Chinese she was a missionary to converted to Christianity only for the women to find themselves in just as much bondage as before, if not more so. And that really struck a chord with me because for a long time I swept all my discomfort with the gender stuff in the Bible under the rug, until one day I began to think ‘what if you preached this stuff in a patriarchal culture? What if you preached it to people in a certain African village, for example, where a woman wanted to start her own home business but her husband or father wouldn’t let her? Would the teachings of the Bible – ‘wives, submit to your husbands’ and ‘I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man’ etc, help her? Would they bring freedom and equality to the women of that village?’ And I concluded that the teachings as I was taught them would leave the women in bondage, and that those teachings were only relatively benign in a modern, western democratic context.

    So hearing about Dr Bushnell was great because not only did that same thought occur to her way before me, but she already did all the hard work of turning that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’!

  132. Gerald Bray’s comment reminds me of the Victorian anti-suffrage opinion piece I read in which the writer compared giving women the vote with giving babies and cattle the vote.

  133. Dee wrote, “Then she turns her attention to 1 Peter 2-1 Peter 3 and makes an interesting observation. Slaves are admonished to submit to their masters in I Peter 2:13. Then, 1 Peter 3 turns to married women using the words  ”in the same way submit yourself to your husband.” Could it be that this passage is telling women to submit like slaves did? But today, isn’t slavery outlawed? Yet, women are to continue to submit like slaves? Slavery is now a heinous, outmoded institution but women must still submit in the same way? There is some food for thought here.”
    I’ve been thinkiing about this and would appreciate other’s thoughts- esp. Dee and RHE (have not read the book). It appears (and I stress appears) as if Dee or RHE is doing a Piperism with this passage. Let me explain. In Piper’s best-seller he quotes from Eph 5 “Wives, submit to your husbands…for the husband is head of the wife”. He leaves out the “AS UNTO THE LORD” motive/condition. Peter likewise has a motive/condition in between the slaves and wives passages, and in fact throughout the letter— Be subject FOR THE LORD’S SAKE to every human institutuon– I E because the Lord suffered unjustly, under wicked men for their sake, we ought to do the same. I haven’t studied commentaries yet, but it seems this is what Peter may mean by “Likewise” for both husbands and wives– like Christ. Slaves may be outlawed but Christ is not! So here’s the “rub” for me. I find myself *Appalled* over Piper and Patterson’s advice to domestic violence victims, but— should I be, based on I Peter? I think Peter’s description of Christ’s own suffering (some of the most beautiful/powerful words in scripture) and our imitation can’t be easily glossed over as cultural and certainly not as “Old Testament”! But I confess I pick and choose in this. I imagine I’d suffer persecution and martyrdom from ungodly rulers and kings, if necessary, but have sought my rights when bosses were unfair (failing to apply the “slaves” passage). I apply Peter’s advice to me as a husband to live considerately with my wife. I fall so short in this area I wouldn’t dream of *teaching* her on calling me “Lord” or being more modest (I joke about the “or of putting on of apparel” in the KJV). Still, for Christ-following women suffering under unbelieving and abusive husbands, it’s serious.

  134. Nicholas

    I guess I have been around this issue for a long time. I do not think there is a slam dunk answer unless one is like John Piper  or a first year seminary student at SBTS. If we do not struggle with these issues, then I think the enormity of what is being portrayed is being sidelined. I have been a Christian for decades. Just when I think I understand, I find more questions. However, it is in the struggle that I see God who is far bigger and greater than I can imagine.

  135. Dave,

    Slavery didn’t become a bad thing, it has always been a bad thing, so when Peter exhorts slaves to obey their masters and is presumably speaking for God…it presents a whole different problem.

  136. I looked at about a dozen commentaries, and they all seem to agree that Peter was saying Wives should be *likewise* as servants and subjects, so that sort of shoots down my theory that Peter may have meant like Christ (whom he’d just been describing at length). Not one of them addressed why Peter said “likewise” to husbands (in an understanding and honoring protectively context, not one of suffering under…)

  137. Hannah

    Thank you  so much for reminding me about the purpose of the proverbs 31 woman. It was sung to celebrte her by her husband. It was menat to be an encouragement, not a to do list.

  138. Oh, so many places to start….

    Re interpretation of the Scriptures, this is indeed an argument that has actually been going on for centuries:

    1. The church had to decide early on which writings to include in the Bible. However if you’ve read any of the apocryphal stuff, then I think the choice they made back in the early church was pretty good :-).
    2. The Gnostics simply took the bits of the Scripture they liked and wrote the rest off, including in some cases the whole of the OT.
    3. Quite a few of the early church fathers, including most notably Origen, got around the difficult or apparently unattractive parts of the OT by introducing the idea of allegory. This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but reading some of their allegorical interpretations now you may find them a bit fanciful to say the least.
    4. Others such as John Chrysostom decided that the text meant what it said, which is probably the position closest to the general understanding in mainstream churches, at least Protestant and Catholic.
    5. Position 4 had more or less been accepted (as far as I understand) by the end of the Reformation period, but in the 18th and more particularly 19th century the “Higher Criticism” began to question the accuracy of the original documents, etc, etc, leading to a lot of debate on presuppositions, textual criticism, etc, etc.
    6. Although it is popularly believed that Darwin shook the belief in a “literal” belief in Genesis, this is actually a misconception – geologists, including many Christian ministers, had decided decades before based on new research that the earth was older than, say, the popular suggestion by Ussher.
    7. Neverthless YEC beliefs were not part of early 20th century fundamentalism, and are normally a secondary issue in most evangelical circles. For example a well-known proponent of biblical inerrancy, Jim Packer, wrote in “Fundamentalism and the Word of God” that attempts to make Scripture teach science had generally not worked out (or words to that effect).
    8. To make your confusion complete, we could also throw in the distinction made by neo-Orthodox such as Karl Barth between the Bible and the “Word of God”, but I’m too tired to try to illuminate that one ;-).

    So there you have several positions, at least 1 of which (no. 2) and I suspect others would be unacceptable now to most of us.

    Re the story of the concubine and the Levite, I agree it is gross. It troubled me when I first read as I wondered if God was condoning it. However I have now come to believe that as the whole Book of Judges paints a very dark picture of that section of Israel’s history, the story is an indication of how far morally God’s people had gone astray. It does seem similar to the Sodom and Gomorrah episode in Gen 19, and I wonder if the parallel is deliberate.

    Re the slaughter of Jericho and other Canaanite cities, I would not want to gloss over it either. It is fearful, and no such action could be condoned today – any such exegesis allowing such an action would be totally wrong. In the early OT there was no intimation of individual life after death, so to be killed under God’s wrath in this life was supposed to be a sign of judgement. In the New Testament, judgement is rather seen as coming after death – so whether someone dies young, is killed or lives to a great age and fabulous riches is no indication of either God’s blessing or his judgement.

    But really we’re in deep waters here. Maybe I’m not qualified to discuss it, not being a Biblical scholar or having any knowledge of the Biblical languages. These are just my opinions.

  139. Don’t forget in 1 Peter, he is talking to believers living among pagans. Before he teaches that, he talks about all believers being in the Holy Priesthood. So how would a believing slave deal with a pagan owner? A believing wife with a pagan husband?

    Don’t forget in Philemon, Paul tells a believing slave owner to treat his runaway slave as a brother in Christ. Roman law said he could put him to death. Also Paul told believing slaves to win their freedom if they could.

  140. Nicholas,

    On what basis do I reject slavery?

    Morality, when applied to an action reflects only the success of that action in attaining a goal. In the absence of a particular goal, saying that something is moral or not, doesn’t make any sense.

    Assuming that I want to live in a society where people respect each other and where each individual is free to live and have control over their own life, the act of slavery would not be something which would promote or help people attain that kind of society, hence “immoral”, but it doesn’t imply some type of spiritual notion of good or evil.

    (Dee, I so wish you had a spare room so I wouldn’t feel guilty about answering questions and hijacking the thread) :)

  141. Anon1,

    Yes but isn’t that like claiming as virtuous, exhorting someone to kill his neighbor quickly rather than beating him on the head with tiny stones for an hour? In the end, it’s still murder.

  142. SMG, A friend in England scanned an NT Wright article where he mentions Phoebe in that context. Wright made it clear that there was more to delivering the letter than just dropping it off. For Taylor to use that insult with no backing is so typical. She is a woman, that is all the matters to make her being mentioned a problem.

    Is Justin that ignorant he can ignore the cultural implications and what is in the letter? in that day and time. She woudl be expected to read and explain as Pauls messenger. . Phoebe is described IN the letter as not only a deacon but a protasis (sp?) which is a patron/benefactor of Paul and the church. Paul is building her up in that letter as someone to listen to.

  143. “Yes but isn’t that like claiming as virtuous, exhorting someone to kill his neighbor quickly rather than beating him on the head with tiny stones for an hour? In the end, it’s still murder.”

    Then what can be done? Should God kill the slave owners to free the slaves? If you say God should force the slave owner not to want to own slaves then you are leaning toward Calvinism. :o)

    BTW: Just for grins….Stalin became an athiest after studying for the priesthood.

  144. Fendrel,

    So your particular goal is to “live in a society where people respect each other and where each individual is free to live and have control over their own life.” But someone else might have a goal to create an unequal society where every caste had its assigned place, and for them it would be immoral to obstruct this goal.

    You may personally reject slavery, but you have no basis, according to your own worldview, of saying that it has always been wrong. It can only be wrong to you. It might be right for someone else.

  145. Anon1,

    I’m not saying that he should have wiped out all the slave owners, but certainly along with the advice to be obedient (which I am not sure was good advice), should have been a clear condemnation of its practice.

    Think of the 10 commandments, is taking the lord’s name in vain or coveting really worse than keeping another human being as a slave? I think God has his priorities all screwed up.

  146. Critics of the Scripture seem to want St. Peter to have advocated a slave revolt, which would have been a good way of getting the slaves all killed.

  147. Fendrel is trying to appeal to our own notions of universal morality, arguing from a moral high ground which he simply does not possess. If there is no absolute right or wrong, but at the most human consensus, then slavery cannot always have been wrong, according to this view.

  148. Nicholas,

    Yes and no…

    Do you believe that there are people in the world, who if asked, would say that their idea of a perfect, idyllic, flourishing society, would be a place where most people went hungry every day, where terror and anarchy reigned, where people had no rights to anything, where murder and rape were encouraged.

    Unless that person was very very demented, I think you can count on them not wanting to live in that kind of a world. We may disagree on what actions will bring us into a perfect world, and there are probably multiple paths to take, but I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say that the vast majority of earths population would envision a very similar goal.

  149. Nicholas,

    You write faster than I do.

    What I am trying to say is that slavery or freedom or gay marriage, or abortion or anything else, can only be judged in the context of an ultimate goal.

    I am not arguing for a “right” or “wrong” goal, I actually think that is a red herring, I do not believe that humans of any age would have varied much on what they envision as a great society, and the more experience we have and the more knowledge we gain, the better we will be able to determine whether, for example, allowing gays to marry will adversely affect our ability to achieve that society or will help us (or be neutral).

    Let me ask you this…the Bible condemns lying. Yet I may tell someone a lie in order to spare them a great amount of emotional or even physical distress. Do you really believe I have committed a sin? Wouldn’t the sin have been to cause the person pain and sorrow, when I could have prevented it with a lie they would never even know about? (simple ex. “Yes honey you look lovely in that dress”…that one saves me pain actually)

  150. I’ve been reading Philip Jenkins’ Laying Down the Sword – Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses recently, and think it’s good. He does tend to use the historical-critical approach, but I think his discussion of many issues (including genocide in Joshua and other OT books) is very thought-provoking and definitely worthy of consideration. (am leaning more toward historical-critical with many OT texts these days myself, but that’s just me.)

    *

    Another thought I had: Jesus constantly put himself in a position where he was talking to – and caring for – people who were marginalized. So… today’s equivalent to the rich young ruler of Luke could very well be a neo-Nazi skinhead, or… [fill in the blank].

    What if we actually saw someone put aside their prejudices and hatred to follow Jesus? Could that change our hearts and minds?

    I think RHE’s experiments/explorations are meant to help people think and act outside the box… very much in the same way that she did, throughout the course of the year she documents in the book. Am thinking that I need to do something – however small – as a takeaway after finishing the book.

    Hmm…

  151. CB

    I plan to review Kassian’s review tomorrow. I’m afraid I had some real problems with it. 

  152. How anyone could fairly characterize Kassian’s piece as a “review” … I’m not quite certain. (This from someone who used to write reviews.)

  153. Dave AA,
    I view the Peter passage that you were referring to as spouses persecuting spouses over their faith in Jesus. Jesus Himself escaped martyrdom when it was not yet his called time to die. I do not believe that Peter ever meant for a wife to endure abuse from her husband. Peter’s ‘likewise’ when referring to the quiet behavior of a persecuted wife like Christ did in not retaliating when being brought as a quiet lamb to slaughter. Then at the end of the discourse, Peter says likewise the husband toward a wife. I believe he is talking to the believing husbands regarding their attitude toward unbelieving wives, calling them to realize and treat them as the equal heirs in this life that they are, even though they are socially weaker in their present culture.

  154. I enjoyed this book very much (even though really, Dan should have been the one on the roof! #minor pet peeve)

  155. Julie Anne,

    Thanks for the link to Jeff Crippen's post. Spousal abuse will be the topic of Thursday's post. I plan to comment on the multiple TGC related posts discussing it and I will highlight Jeff's excellent commentary.

  156. Deb – - I find it interesting that they must have all gotten the same memo on the women/abuse day = perhaps a PR attempt to clean up their image based on some of their own from TGC being involved in an abuse lawsuit? If they looked at the site site, they would have read this:

    “Millions of women and girls around the world are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated or even murdered in what constitutes appalling violations of their human rights.

    So, it makes me think they got a specifically worded memo to focus on the subject of spousal abuse. I wonder if it’s all about the complementarian debate floating around that made them focus solely on wives instead of the more broad issue of the abuse of women/girls, because we see all the references to CBMW. BTW, why is it CBMW instead of CBWM? Gentlemen usually say ladies first.

  157. So many comments, so much to catch up with (damn time zone differences!).
    Anyway, that link to Justin Taylor’s facebook comment, ugh. I wonder also if Gerald Bray’s wife would be happy knowing he seems to equate her (or any woman) with a dog.

  158. Caleb W – somehow, I don’t think that complaining about an author being selective in quoting counts as a “review.” (I’m sure RHE had a word limit, like any other writer, for one.)

  159. Julie Anne, Do you think they have gone to the trouble to delete as much of their teaching on the subject of ‘wives taking abuse’ as they can? I noticed Ware’s sermon at Denton Bible church where he said “unsubmissive wives trigger abuse”, is gone from the internet. I can remember that sermon garnered over 1000 comments on Denny Burks blog. (he deleted them eventually)

    Will they repent and tell people what many of them taught is wrong? Will Piper say he was wrong about ‘taking abuse for a season’? Will these comrades publicly tell Piper he was wrong? Will they publicly repent for promoting the creep Driscoll and funding Acts 29 who are really Driscoll trained pastors? Will Mohler finally publicly admit he protected and promoted an “Apostle” from the People of Destiny (SGM) who taught his pastors not to call the police over children being molested. Even to the point of telling a mom to put a lock on the inside of her daughters door so dad could not rape her anymore. Oh and if the mom would just give him more sex this would not be a problem. Sure, want to have sex with your daughter’s rapist? Are these pastors perverted or what?

    Oh and let us not forget Patterson and his proud story of telling an abused wife to go home and pray more by the bed while her abuser is sleeping.. Patterson and Piper both signed the Danvers statement.

    There are plenty of examples out there to show us that their words mean little unless they are willing to take it to the REAL and publicly repent for wrong teaching on this subject. Yes, I do think it is a PR move. I am thinking that the new focus on insitutional responsibility for these crimes is making them a bit nervous.

    I can remember back in the late 80′s when companies were begging me to develop a sexual harrassment training curriculum to deliver to employees. Why? Where they concerned? Nope. It was a legal CYA move. Each employee would have to sign a paper saying they attended and acknowledged the training. Courts were starting to hand out huge monetary awards for victims and they were afraid. Now, if they got sued, the company might not be liable but the individual employee who harassed, would be.

    I think we are seeing something similar here. I think they are rebranding their image and covering their backsides.

    Pastor Crippens is right, though, the mere mention of divorce is no where to be seen. You must remain married to your tormenter. So these victims of abuse spend the rest of their lives dealing with the abuser in some form or another.

    Their comp doctrine actually ATTRACTS abusers. They love the doctrine

  160. Anon 1:

    I think these guys think–just a little PR and all this will go away.

    Why are these men really in the ministry?

  161. Mot, Where else can you go in your mid to late 20′s to get a stage, some followers instantly who pay you to teach them simply because you have a Christian sounding title with your seminary degree?

    I think Dee had a term for something like it: Admirals in a row boat.

  162. I’ll never ever forget that expression: an admiral in a row boat. I think it was within a day or two after I received my subpoena (sued for $500K defamation by my former pastor), I was talking on the phone with Dee. I no attorney and was wondering what I had done to my family by speaking out publicly. When she said that, it cracked me up. My former pastor, a pastor of a podunk 100-member congregation was suing me. He was prior military and to think of him as an admiral in a row boat struck me so funny. Oh, I needed to laugh then. Thanks, Dee!!

  163. Dear Patti
    I’ll try and respond more fully re:men and authority over women soon but I’m a bit busy just now.
    Dear Fendrel
    You make the same mistake regarding slavery as you do on other subjects but it’s nice to see your honesty in admitting your intention of hijacking the blog.
    Dear Kolya
    Good points!
    Regards
    Gavin

  164. Anon 1:

    How did these 20 years old in the Southern Baptist Convention get the point of being a know it all and yes I am being sarcastic, but I believe this is what they have been taught? They are the rulers and not servants.

  165. Julie Anne, thanks for pointing out Jeff Crippen's post. I was able to send the link to a friend who found it very helpful.

  166. Anon1

    It is most amusing when the neo-atheists attempt to say that Stalin was a Christian.  He is no more a Christian than Richard Dawkins is a small group leader.

  167. Fendrel

    The utopian society does not, and will not, exist on this world except for a supernatural intervetion. Mankind is sinful, each does what is right in her/his own eye, and that is why we are in need of grace and forgiveness.There is no human solution. I believe that there will be wars, slavery, poverty and pedophilia to the end of time-no matter how “smart” we think we are. You ask why I believe the Bible. This scenario alone convinces me of the utter futility of a human solution and the absolute need for a miraculous, God intervention.

  168. Numo

    Great comment last evening. RHE exposes the weakness of trhe current crop of Calvinistas who have self talked that they have all the answers. Not only do they have all the answers, you are a sinner if you disagree with their answers, as Piper has said about the doctrine of election.. To make it worse, they are being outclasses by aa mere woman who is funny, thoughtful and kind. Kind-a new word for Calvinistas to study.

  169. Julie Anne

    I am looking at Kassian today and will address Grudem/Piper next week with their lovely lists of what women can, and cannot, do. Where would I be without those lists…. I do remember that conversation and calling your former pastor an "admiral in a rowboat." I always have this vision of some guy dressed up like Napoleon, acting powerful and forgetting he is standing on a rowboat at the local pond. I knew, from the start, that you would prevail just like I know that Alex Grenier will win. His father and the Calvary Chapel "admirals" show a singular lack of common sense. This will hurt them.

  170. Gavin/Fendrel

    Just so you know, Fendrel has a  long history with TWW. He partcipated in discussions (under another name) at TWW before many people were reading here. I consider him a friend, even though I get frustrated with him. He actually isn’t a bad sort.

    I think Fendrel serves a purpose. I believe that many Christians have not talked, at length, with many athiests. Kris, over at SGM Survivors, will not let them post on her blog. Many churches give a Sunday school class or two on “how to witness to an atheist’ giving a few talking points. ” These talking points are often easily dispatched for a well educated atheist.

    So, I look at Fendrel as our resident atheist. It is a safe environment with which to engage  him. See what works, what doesn’t. And , if people get frustrated with him, don’t engage him.

  171. I can understand why some Christian blogs might not want atheists to comment, because if you’re discussing something like, say, arminianism and calvinism, it isn’t constructive or helpful or relevant to have lots of atheists chime in with ‘They both sound ridiculous to us atheists! There is no sky fairy/ bronze age sky god/ spaghetti monster etc etc…’. But Fendrel doesn’t generally respond that way.

  172. Dear Dee
    Thanks for the background Dee but I’m not experimenting to find which arguments work with an atheist and which don’t. I think that would be presumptuous of me and a bit insulting to Fendrel. My view is that Fendrel has his own agenda. My views won’t convert him only God can and will. But I will highlight his inconsistencies and double standards subject to approval.
    I know who he is and how long he has been involved in various blogs.
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  173. Thanks folks! Dee, I am s glad to know now that I have a purpose :)

    Sophie, you are right, there are times when I read an article here and do not chime it, for the exact reason you mentioned. On the other hand please recall that I was a born-again Christian for 25 odd years, and I lived and breathed those same discussions on a daily basis…so sometimes it is hard to resist. :)

    Gavin,
    I always enjoy the sparring, but sometimes I get the sense that it is me and not my arguments you are debating with…I have no “agenda” other than to inject a third option into the fray of opinions. Having been a Christian I know how easy it is to make that first assumption of God’s existence without even realizing it.

    Feeling extra good this morning…yesterday a young woman on Twitter mentioned that was have a bad day and thoughts of suicide, All we knew about her is that her profile had the word “Scotland” and her blogspot address as a .uk domain. So last night around midnight, I decided it would be prudent to phone the police in Scotland (just try and find that phone # on google) (Not Scotland Yard mind you, that’s in England). Finally found them, a wonderful woman dispatcher took my call…anyway…long story everything turned out alright, woman was very apologetic this morning, was just having a rotten day. Better safe than sorry! Anyway…celebrating with an English muffin and cream cheese! Enjoy!

    See Dee, if you had an “atheist’s corner”, then we could move those discussions out of the main threads. :)

  174. One thing so many today forget is that JESUS IS LORD.

    We still have sex gods today, we just don’t call them Molech or Baal or Diana or Venus.

    And the disguises vary. Conservatives do see the sex gods for what they are and shun worshipping them through adultery, promiscuity, and homosexuallity.

    But then conservatives turn right around and trip over the sex gods by making the man the god of his wife, or of all women, or of the church gathered.

    Remember the OT plagues? Every last one of them addressed and vanquished what the Egyptians saw as a god. The OT laws that we find sometimes so strange, such as not wearing mixed fabric clothing, were laws that showed the separateness of the Israelites from the pagans around them.

    And today, like it or not, there are real commands regarding sexuallity that should show our separateness from those that make sex the ruler of their lives.

    The problem is not in rejecting the sex gods. It is that we reject some of them (rightly!) but turn around and espouse others of them of our own making. (Big sin!)

    But my anabaptist friends who actually hold to a more wesleyan theology are slowly but surely helping me see that Jesus really is Lord.

    It really is Jesus I need to follow. Not a church, not a pastor, not a mate, not my own physical desires, not my culture, not my government, not my friends, or any other created being or power.

    Just Jesus.

    Yeah, right, like that isn’t challenge enough for a lifetime.

    RHE’s critics ARE afraid because she is throwing the spotlight on their idolatry.

  175. I haven’t had time to read any of the comments on this article yet. But I did want to say thanks to Dee for writing it. Eshet chayil! You’re a woman of valor! :) And I also wanted to say that I have read the book and I absolutely love it. It made me think and it made me laugh. Maybe that’s what her critics are afraid of.

  176. Fendrel, thanks for looking out for my fellow country women! Really glad you were looking out for her even if it was a false alarm. You’re right, it’s better safe than sorry. People should be careful with phrases like ‘I’m going to kill myself’, since often people are very good at masking feelings of depression and despair.

  177. Many churches give a Sunday school class or two on “how to witness to an atheist’ giving a few talking points. ” These talking points are often easily dispatched for a well educated atheist. — Dee

    You’ve never seen a Campus Crusade “Witnessing Class”, have you? Looking back on them, they are literally PAINFUL to recall. It was memorized canned spiels — one for Atheists, one for Muslims, one for Mormons, one for Catholics, follow the script, close the sale, Always Be Closing.

    And the “practice exercises” always followed the script, too. Just like a Jack Chick tract with an Altar Call Ending. No resistance, no actual pushback, the “heathen” in the exercise would give a couple canned responses then break down (convinced by the Witnessing and Convicted by the Holy Spirit(TM)) and Say the Magic Words at the end. I knew several skeptics & gamers, and I KNEW how the canned spiel would go over on them. (Hint: very different from the “heathen” in the “Witnessing Practice exercises”.)

    Like I said, it was PAINFUL to watch when you had some real experience outside of Crusade. You can’t tell how an engine is performing until you put it under actual load, and these “Witnessing Classes” NEVER put you under any actual load or actual resistance.

  178. Dee,

    You believe man is incapable of building a great society? How depressing! Stuck in a world where every effort to improve it, is doomed by man’s very nature to fail. So with no hope of success, all efforts to improve the world around you are abandoned and instead you focus on a future world where all is perfect, spending your time and energy in prayer and preparation for Jesus’ return. The only effort put into this world is by way of obedience to God’s commands, not with any true hope or passion to effect real change here on this world.

  179. It is most amusing when the neo-atheists attempt to say that Stalin was a Christian. He is no more a Christian than Richard Dawkins is a small group leader. — Dee

    “He’s an Obvious Big Name Bad Guy, so he HAS to be a Christian! Not one of Us! Not one of Us! Gooble! Gobble! Not one of Us!”

    Sort of the flip side of the “All Great Men Were One of Us” myth. And tunnel vision about a traditional enemy. Maybe a little Conspiracy Theory, seeing the traditional enemy lurking everywhere.

    And you don’t have to be Christian or Muslim to be a Fundamentalist/Calvinista about your belief system.

  180. Mot, Where else can you go in your mid to late 20′s to get a stage, some followers instantly who pay you to teach them simply because you have a Christian sounding title with your seminary degree? — Anon1

    Helps if Daddy is a Celebrity Megachurch Pastor and you have the same name with “Junior” appended.

  181. Think of the 10 commandments, is taking the lord’s name in vain or coveting really worse than keeping another human being as a slave? I think God has his priorities all screwed up. — Fendrel

    Again, welcome to the world of Iron Age Semitic Tribesmen. And pre-industrial civilization, where slavery was pretty much universal. Slavery was NORMAL. A fish doesn’t know it’s wet.

    And if you spoke against Slavery, you would be branded a nutcase. “You are not like Us! You must be Mad!”

    A couple years ago, a Jewish friend told me about the sneaky way Torah undermined slavery. If Torah had rubber-stamped The Way Things Were (like a lot of Islam does on the subject), nothing would have changed. If Torah had come out against slavery (like a commandment), everybody would have blown it off as too crazy and kept doing what they were doing anyway. But Torah regulated slavery to the point that owning slaves under Torah was such a hassle (including Jubilee every so often), that it was less trouble to just hire free workers. (Of course, slaveowners tried to pull a fast one around this, and a lot of the Prophets called them on it century after century. People are full of Tricks and Twistiness, especially if they’re personally benefiting from it.) He described this as “subversive Wisdom”.

  182. Taking God’s name in vain is a very serious sin. The frequency that people committ it dulls them to the magnitude of it. Many people somehow think that sins committed solely against God are not as bad as sins committed against other people. This is not true.

  183. @Fendrel

    What is your idea of a “great society.” Most liberals and “progressives” today view “progress” as increasing the power and size of the government so that it may regulate every area of people’s lives and equalize everyone economically, socially, etc. The end result will only be tyranny. Already in countries like Sweden and Germany they are taking children away from homeschooling families solely for the reason that these governments do not want homeschooling. Richard Dawkins probably thinks this is a good idea, as he doesn’t even want Christians to be able to pass on their faith to their children. What say you on these things, Fendrel?

  184. Fendrel @ 10:18am -

    I’m well aware that Dee can speak for herself, but really?!? You added quite a bit of nonesense to what she actually said. I found your comment quite twisted, actually. Look at what she does. She and Deb actually “do good” with their efforts to provide a platform here at TWW. Many people have been helped and/or gone on to healthier places. Actions often speak louder than words.

  185. Nicholas,
    One form of taking God’s name in vain is to declare that God has commanded something where God has not commanded any such thing.

    This is why it curled my hair and made me fear for a certain preacher who told women in Scotland that Jesus commanded them to do certain sex acts for their husband.

    This, to me, is far worse that someone using titles that God goes by as curse words. At least they are not misrepresenting God’s will, words, character, or commands.

  186. Mara, indeed. Mark Driscoll will answer to God for his heresy and perversion. Is Driscoll even saved? I have no idea. But I am starting to consider him a “false brethren.”

  187. @Eagle, re 11/27, 10:27 a.m. list of reasons for the anti-RHE animus among complementarian Calvinistas:

    I agree with every single item on your list, but would add one more, which I believe is the capstone that drives the level of their vehemence: It’s an uppity woman who dares to do these things.

    I also think there’s something else going on too, perhaps on a more subconcious level. The single most useful thing to me about the book, which may also be the single most threatening aspect of it to a doctrinaire complementarian, is really a subtext that permeates it: how the Evanses, without making a big fuss about it or even giving it a name, model a successful egalitarian Christain marriage. Even more to the point, we’re shown a husband who is secure enough in himself to not only not be threatened or feel emasculated by, but to celebrate an intelligent, outspoken, strong-willed wife. I love his journal entry where he essentially says, “Why would I mind deferring to her on this project? Here’s a list of all the things I’ve worked on where she’s deferred to me.” Mutual deference based on mutual love and respect. As the husband of just such a wife, it seems so obvious to me, yet I can see how, in the circles from whence the RHE pushback is emanating, it could be so threatening.

  188. Nicholas, as a studier of the Song of Solomon, no one has been more enraged at Driscoll than myself. A book that I look upon as being able to help heal and restore people, women in particular, Driscoll twisted it into marriage porn and used it to manipulate women into becoming their husbands’ personal whores, complete with strip teases and commanded BJs. It was like a slap in the face, and even pigs blood in the Holy of Holies when I was made aware of his teachings.

    I went through a very angry phase which can be seen on my blog in 2009.

    Even so, I cannot go as far as questioning his salvation. He’s delusional and on a slippery slope. I might call him a false brother because he does not behave as a brother to his Christian sisters in the sex and marriage department. But I still have to leave whether or not he is saved in the hand of his Maker.
    I guess my own salvation has been questioned by those who didn’t agree with me and I knew that those judging me didn’t know my heart so I am very careful with that concerning others.

  189. Even more to the point, we’re shown a husband who is secure enough in himself to not only not be threatened or feel emasculated by, but to celebrate an intelligent, outspoken, strong-willed wife. — Chris C

    As RHE’s sign said in those pictures, “Dan Is Awesome”.

  190. Driscoll twisted it into marriage porn and used it to manipulate women into becoming their husbands’ personal whores, complete with strip teases and commanded BJs. — Mora

    Make that “Fifty Shades of BeeJay Driscoll”?

  191. One form of taking God’s name in vain is to declare that God has commanded something where God has not commanded any such thing.

    This is why it curled my hair and made me fear for a certain preacher who told women in Scotland that Jesus commanded them to do certain sex acts for their husband.

    This, to me, is far worse that someone using titles that God goes by as curse words. At least they are not misrepresenting God’s will, words, character, or commands. — Mara

    According to my Jewish sources, that is not just “one form”, IT IS THE PRIMARY DEFINITION OF “TAKING GOD’S NAME IN VAIN” — especially when using “God Told Me To” or “God Willed It” or “God Saith” to justify doing evil. Like God is saying “You do your own dirty work! Leave Me out of it!”

    Very convenient how the commandment has been narrowed down to cussing and cussing alone…

  192. Bridget,

    I am not denying all the good things Dee and Deb do in their personal lives, I was simply extrapolating from her position that man can never build a good society. If you believe that it will fail then, other than obeying what you believe to be your God’s commandments or helping people simply because you want to, where is the logic in investing time and effort into a cause that you know from the outset is doomed to failure?

  193. HUG: “Very convenient how the commandment has been narrowed down to cussing and cussing alone…’

    I agree.

  194. Dear Fendrel
    The same can be said of your heroics last night. What was the point if there is no God no reason to live no hope for the future? You’ve helped someone to continue living a pointless life. And as for motives? To feel good? To boast about it? To demonstrate your ability to do something just because you can or want to? It’s not the world of Deb and Dee that’s futile. Look nearer home.
    And to be honest yes it is as much about you as your specious arguments because you do have an agenda and you are playing a game.
    Regards
    Gavin

  195. Fendrel, great video. To complicate matters further there are a squillion different accents jostling for space here, in fact even though my brother and I grew up under the same roof in the same village we both have different accents. Of course despite that, we all still get offended if you think we’re from the wrong place!

  196. Fendrel

    God commands us to care for the poor, to show mercy, to reach out to the sick, to love, to use our talents to discover things, to love justice, etc. However, man’s basic sin nature guarantees that pain and suffering will be a permanent part of this life. I see nothing that has been invented that allows me to believe that man will come up with the final solution.

  197. Gavin White said “The same can be said of your heroics last night. What was the point if there is no God no reason to live no hope for the future? You’ve helped someone to continue living a pointless life.”

    Fendrel can certainly speak for himself, but this is a bizarre argument that Christians use. If there is no God, then the current life we have is the only life we are ever going to get. In that case, shouldn’t we cherish it and treat it as precious? Why is there no reason to continue living simply because there is no God? The purpose of your life is what you make of it, not some musings in a book written over two thousand years ago that has little relevance to modern life.

  198. Moniker

    Well, you know that the Calvinistas want us “oh so serious” while we contemplate our sinful selves.No room for levity unless it involves cage fighting. I have a great picture of Jesus laughing in my home which gets more comments. I bought it through a group called The Fellowship of Merry Christians. I like that!

  199. Gavin

    Great! Fendrel wants to see if he can convince us otherwise as well. I also don’t think that Fendrel is insulted by me. We have been friendly for a long time.

  200. @ HUG:

    Another definition floating around in some circles is that not paying attention in church is “taking God’s name in vain”…though I think I’ve said this here before. I may have read it in G. I. Williamson’s commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. (I wonder if falling asleep in church qualifies as blasphemy – maybe that’s why the Puritans had those whacking sticks.)

  201. @ Dee:

    I actually heard someone (can’t remember who) say once that since Jesus is never shown laughing in Scripture, Christians shouldn’t joke around. God don’t think stuff’s funny.

    Of course, Jesus is never shown using the bathroom in Scripture either, soooo…..

  202. “I actually heard someone (can’t remember who) say once that since Jesus is never shown laughing in Scripture, Christians shouldn’t joke around. God don’t think stuff’s funny.”

    Hester, I don’t know if Vision Forum teaches this but it sounds familiar. I saw a man get involved with them who did pretty much stop laughing – or even smiling in any way other than a stiff, formal smile. He stopped joking, laughing at jokes, etc. Children’s cute antics that usually make people smile or laugh would cause him to frown. Sadly, you could see such strain and tension on his face, brows permanently furrowed and mouth drawn into a tight line. He looked so very tired. Very, very sad to see.

    When one of my sons was a baby, he learned that a fake cough earned him attention. Everyone thought it was adorable, but this man’s reaction was a frown as he said sternly “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…” (thankfully for him he did not finish that verse, my baby was not even half-year old).

  203. “In that case, shouldn’t we cherish it and treat it as precious?”

    If there is no God, there is no such thing as “should”.

    Ultimately whether we are happy or not is of no consequence, but the optimal maximizing of happiness belongs those who can be sociopaths and not get caught.

  204. Dear AJG
    No
    Welcome to the bleak landscape of Nietsche, scientific realism and logical positivism. No God, no purpose, just random atoms who may or may not think they exist.
    Regards
    Gavin

  205. Chris C.,

    RE: the anti-RHE animus among complementarian Calvinistas and what drives their vehemence:

    Seems to me Dan is doing a better job of loving and supporting his wife than any complementarian could ever aspire to. Being the husbandly ideal without joining their party and abiding by their party line.

    Ooooh, that’s gotta smart.

    CBMW & Co. can’t fault the Evanses according to the comp. ocrine they preach (the reason for their existence). So they have to use other outlets to channel their frustration (“she’s a witch!”).

    Denny Burk especially is looking sillier than John Cleese, and not on purpose.

  206. Last night I was reading and responding to comments on Justin Taylor’s blog post about women and abuse at the Gospel Coalition site. A commenter named Sue shared her very sad story and also mentioned she is egalitarian now. Another man piped up who was egalitarian. After all these new positive comments on egalitarianism, the comments were closed. No surprises there, huh? They are so predictable.

    Cynicism warning: I wonder if their collective efforts to spam us with the abused women posts (completely disregarding that the day was to highlight abused women AND girls, not just domestic violence) was an attempt at damage control because of their buddy, CJ, and to promote their complementarian position.

  207. Here is a question I’ve had for a while but haven’t known where to ask – kind of off topic but similar in that it has to do with reformed men criticizing a woman’s book. Why the dislike of Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts? Does anyone know anything of this? Has it been discussed here before?

    I had read the first two chapters of it awhile ago, loved it, and then read some reviews online that scared me off from finishing it because they said she was a Panentheist. I don’t even know what that is, really, but they wielded the term like “heretic” and “atheist” (ha sorry Fendrel – actually that term really doesn’t conjure up fear in me like it used to and I do like pondering your questions).

    I’m kind of angry that I let a label which may not even be true keep me from finishing a book that was really helping me to process my grief and return to viewing God as good (or even real). I’d like to finish the book, but those fear tactics… dang. They’re powerful. They could be very successful in undermining the good RHE is trying to do too.

    Anything anyone can tell me about Ann Voskamp, her book, and her critics would be really helpful.

  208. Dear Looking for You

    Pane theism is part of process theology and states that God does not exist prior to or apart from the universe but is in the process of developing with it. And you can find out all about the lady here

    http://onethousandgifts.com/about

    Regards

    Gavin

  209. Let me ask a general question for those who would say that in the absence of God any choice I make has no value.

    How do you, personally, make moral decisions, when required, on topics where the bible is silent?

    Secondly, are those morals or values still valid, since you had to make them without any direct guidance from above?

  210. Dear LfY
    And the following is an apology from Tim Challies to Ann Voskamp which should I hope give you confidence to read the book when you’re ready.

    In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp’s Forgiveness…

    Tim Challies
    05/28/12
    0
    Ann Voskamp sent me an email the other day. She invited me to bring my family to the Voskamp farm for a meal—they live just a couple of hours from us—to put people to the pixels, so to speak. It was a kind invitation and well-received. I am hoping that my family and hers can coordinate our calendars and make it happen.

    Voskamp’s invitation came just a day after I reviewed her book One Thousand Gifts. I have a long history of reviewing books at this site. I didn’t set out to be a book reviewer—it just kind of happened. I love to read and I love to analyze what I’ve read. From there it is just a short step to put those thoughts into pixels and to post them for the world to see. I’ve done this five or six hundred times over the years, reviewing the good, the bad and the ugly of Christian publishing.

    While I wouldn’t classify One Thousand Gifts as one of those books that inhabits the full-out ugly side of Christian publishing, neither did I find that I was able to recommend it. In fact, in my review I went so far as to say that it could well prove to be dangerous to some readers. The thread of mysticism influenced by the likes of Nouwen and Manning and Willard, the language of sexuality and ecstasy—these are genuinely troubling and I stand by the concerns I raised. If Ann and I manage to get together, I hope we can discuss these things as I will gladly share my concerns in far more words than I could use in my review. From the little I know of her, I believe she will be eager to hear and engage.

    It bears saying as well that I feel no moral quandary about reviewing her book or any other and even warning of potential weaknesses. Any author who releases a book acknowledges that it is entering into the public sphere and may receive both praise and criticism. This is an inevitable component of making writing available to the public and it is one that authors welcome; it is an honor that other people consider your ideas worth discussing.

    Having said all of that, something happened inside me when I saw Ann’s name in my inbox, and that’s what has compelled me to write this little article. Seeing her name brought a sudden and surprising realization and with it a twinge of guilt and remorse. It has happened to me before, this strange feeling that comes when I suddenly realize that the name on the front of the book—“Ann Voskamp” in this case—is not some cleverly programmed, unfeeling robot that spits out blog posts and magazine articles and books, but a person. A real person. That should have been no great revelation, yet there have been too many times over the years that I have had to remind myself of this simple fact. I try to remind myself before posting a review; sometimes it only comes later.

    As I read back over my review of One Thousand Gifts I could see that I had neglected to remind myself while writing it that Voskamp is a real person and, not only that, but a sister in Christ. As a writer myself, I ought to remember that words are meaningful and revealing and in some way a part of the person who writes them. Every word comes from somewhere deep inside. Every word of One Thousand Gifts is a part of Voskamp just like every word I write is a part of me. There are no idle words in her book, no words that aren’t felt and meant. Yet in my review I had treated her as if her words mean less than mine, as if I was free to criticize her in a way I would not want to be criticized.

    Looking back at my review, and perhaps even more, the process of writing it, there are at least two things that concern me. The first is that I would have said certain things differently had I known that she and I might soon be sharing a meal together. Let me give an example. Of Voskamp’s literary style I wrote, “There is clearly a kind of appeal to it so that those who don’t hate it, love it.” I ask myself, Would I have said that to a friend, that her words are hate-able, as if that could not be hurtful? Would I have said that to someone I had planned to share a meal with a few weeks later? Probably not. Why, then, would I say it at all?

    The second concern is that I fear that I might have said certain things differently had I considered her an “insider,” a fellow member of whatever little circle of the Christian world I inhabit. That one may concern me even more. When writing about Voskamp’s experience in Notre Dame I asked, “What does she not understand about the gospel that her ecstasies have to happen in a place dedicated to a false gospel of salvation by grace plus works rather than a gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone?” Would I have asked it that way if Ann was someone I might be on a panel with at the next conference I attend? Probably not. I may even have assumed different things about the way she understands the gospel. And maybe I would have put more effort into discussing some of the book’s strengths and showing how they balance the weaknesses. I hope not, but I can’t deny that somewhere in my mind lurks this insider and outsider kind of thinking which somehow encourages me to extend greater courtesy to one group than another.

    I did poorly here and I can see that I need to grow in my ability to critique the ideas in a book even while being kind and loving to its author. There was reason for the shame I felt when I saw that name in my inbox. I had put effort into reading the book and understanding and critiquing it, but no real effort into showing love and respect for the author. I had assumed poor motives and in arrogance and thoughtlessness had squelched useful discussion of the book’s strengths and weaknesses.

    There is value in engaging the ideas in any book, and especially a book about this Christian life, but the desire to uphold truth has no business coming into conflict with love for another person. Truth and love are to be held together as friends, not separated as if they are enemies. In my desire to say what was true, I failed to love. I ask Ann’s forgiveness for this

    Regards
    Gavin

  211. RE: Gavin White on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:13 AM,

    In the interest of precision, the comment you’ve referenced was exactly 4 mins. later than the time you quoted. So far as I can tell, Fendrel’s comment to Dee was strictly in the form of friendly banter and devoid of bad intent. I’m surprised that man of your acumen would have trouble telling the difference.

  212. “a”lso think there’s something else going on too, perhaps on a more subconcious level. The single most useful thing to me about the book, which may also be the single most threatening aspect of it to a doctrinaire complementarian, is really a subtext that permeates it: how the Evanses, without making a big fuss about it or even giving it a name, model a successful egalitarian Christain marriage”

    Bingo. This is very scary for them. I have come across it quite a bit. They do their whole comp gig thing and then wonder why no one notices their wives or listen to them. Well….you taught us that. Then they are offended when you don’t take their wives seriously or think they know anything of value. They want both worlds. It does not work that way. Smart women use their intellectual gifts no matter what they decide to do in life. What comp doctrine teaches as roles does not require intellect so they only have themselves to blame.. Comp requires mindless sumbission to someone who by dent of a penis is your spiritual superior..

    Basically, all they do is admit to us they are not confident enough to marry women who are their intellectual equal. (Actually I think the women ARE smart but bury it so he can be the “leader”. The worst thing she can be is i some way superior to him in any way)

  213. Anon1 – I think many comp leaders are pleased to mention how their wives are superior to them in childbearing, nursing babies, and maintaining a home.

  214. “Denny Burk especially is looking sillier than John Cleese, and not on purpose.”

    LOL! Exactly! Denny is their point guy. He used to edit the CBMW Journal when he was at Criswell.

  215. Fendrel

    All choices that you make are of value. It is better to punch a hole in the wall than to beat your wife.

  216. “you want to run that last one past me again, I missed your point (maybe I need a nap)”

    My point is there is no such thing as right and wrong if there is no ultimate consequence to our actions. If there is no eternal being then we are a closed set. There is no such things as ultimate morality or justice. Going back to the analogy of my software programs, if I write a program that ends without being observed or leaving any data behind, ultimately its running is irrelevant: the end is exactly the same. What happened internally while it was running is meaningless. Suppose the objects and entities within my programs had feelings- they might for a time prefer certain events to occur, but after the program is done running and they are wiped out, whether they experienced joy or pain doesn’t matter, not even to them (because there is no “them” any more).

    Given all of this, we CAN do whatever we want and seek the greatest happiness while we exist, but we can just as easily maximize our own pain. Most of us will choose to maximize happiness, but will also do so adhering to a code which demands we sacrifice for the greater good. This last point is actually nonsensical because there’s no value to “the greater good” except that it gives us a sense of having done the good which is pleasurable. The humanist would explain this need to sacrifice for the greater good by evolution (the theist would assert it was put there by God).

    The happiest man would be the one who had no sense of a need to sacrifice for others and do whatever he wants, regardless of what others would prefer. This would be a sociopath: the only type of rational person in a godless world. His happiness would be maximized by everyone else’s irrational adherence to the social codes that make community work and not descend into anarchy. The short of it is, we NEED religion to function, even if it isn’t true, but if it isn’t, happy is the man who can convince everyone else to believe it while he lives outside the law.

  217. “I actually heard someone (can’t remember who) say once that since Jesus is never shown laughing in Scripture, Christians shouldn’t joke around. God don’t think stuff’s funny.” — Hester

    “There can be no laughter in Islam.” — Ayatollah Khomeini

    Hester, I don’t know if Vision Forum teaches this but it sounds familiar. I saw a man get involved with them who did pretty much stop laughing – or even smiling in any way other than a stiff, formal smile. He stopped joking, laughing at jokes, etc. Children’s cute antics that usually make people smile or laugh would cause him to frown. Sadly, you could see such strain and tension on his face, brows permanently furrowed and mouth drawn into a tight line. He looked so very tired. Very, very sad to see. — Looking for You

    Ever heard of the phrase “Baptized in Vinegar”?

    Or James Michener’s description of his main New England Calvinist missionary character in Hawaii?

    “Predestined to walk the cold, hard, drab, grey, joyless path of Salvation.”

  218. Well, you know that the Calvinistas want us “oh so serious” while we contemplate our sinful selves.No room for levity unless it involves cage fighting. — Dee

    Cage fighting? Why not go all the way with Gladiators in the Arena and blood on the sand?

    Another definition floating around in some circles is that not paying attention in church is “taking God’s name in vain”… — Hester

    That’s even more convenient a defining-down than cussing — at least if you’re an admiral in a rowboat/control freak in a pulpit where EVERYONE *HAS* TO PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEE!!!

    Pane theism is part of process theology… — Gavin White

    PANE Theism? Worshipping a window?

  219. Dear Muff
    And I am equally surprised that you can read minds lol

    As for the time lapse I must be running slow.
    Regards
    Gavin

  220. Sorry Headless
    I was looking through the glass darkly.(as all good puritans do)

    Regards
    Gavin

  221. Dee,

    Yes I agree. So why is it that Christians are so quick to dismiss the value of the manner in which atheists derive their values or try to set them for society.

  222. “Let me ask a general question for those who would say that in the absence of God any choice I make has no value.

    How do you, personally, make moral decisions, when required, on topics where the bible is silent?

    Secondly, are those morals or values still valid, since you had to make them without any direct guidance from above?”

    I don’t know if I’ve understood the question properly. I need to have a good old think about this. But for now I’d say that if Christian beliefs are true then all moral decisions are valid (whatever that means – I’m understanding it ‘important’) because they are made in a universe where morality has eternal consequences, even if God didn’t give direct guidance, and everybody’s moral choices will be judged by Him and are therefore valid (important). So I wouldn’ say that any moral choices made by an atheist have no validity. They are as valid as choices made by theists.

  223. “How do you, personally, make moral decisions, when required, on topics where the bible is silent?”

    The bible isn’t silent on any moral topic. Just about everything is covered in “Love God, Love tour neighbor”. Obviously the application can be tricky, but if there is a true moral consequence, I think it’s covered under that statement. And Atheists can absolutely make moral decisions. I think the scripture is pretty clear about this when Paul writes about the law being written on people’s hearts.

    My point is that if the atheists are right then there ARE no moral decisions, whether atheist, agnostic, or theist.

  224. Jeff,

    How do you figure that. If I can decide as an ateist that some act is moral or not, and you agree that it has validity, then what difference does it make if God is there or not?

    Either my decision that some action was moral is valid or it isn’t

  225. Welcome to the bleak landscape of Nietsche, scientific realism and logical positivism. No God, no purpose, just random atoms who may or may not think they exist.

    That’s far better than the idea that the vast majority of humans who ever lived will be spending an eternity it torment because they didn’t believe in the correct god or died without having the chance to believe in the correct god.

  226. “How do you figure that. If I can decide as an ateist that some act is moral or not, and you agree that it has validity, then what difference does it make if God is there or not?”

    I already explained why I think there is no morality if there is no God.

    If we both agree that a decision is moral, yet there is no ultimate consequence for said decision, then regardless of our agreement that decision is not moral (or immoral). It’s just an inconsequential act by an inconsequential entity.

  227. My point is that if the atheists are right then there ARE no moral decisions, whether atheist, agnostic, or theist.

    The Golden Rule is necessary for civilization to exist and flourish. Even if you question whether an action can be moral without a God – which belies the idea that morality arose from naturalistic causes just like consciousness – acts that one would normally classify as moral are still beneficial from a practical standpoint for society as a whole. Also, people do good because it makes them feel good. You’re overcomplicating things by introducing God.

  228. “That’s far better than the idea that the vast majority of humans who ever lived will be spending an eternity it torment because they didn’t believe in the correct god or died without having the chance to believe in the correct god.”

    Well, the truth is the truth regardless of what we prefer (so if there is no God, my preference that there is one matters not, as does your preference the other way if there is one). However, while some Christians would agree with view of the Christian world view, not all would.

    I think the Bible is pretty clear that all have been presented with the truth of God and have had the opportunity to respond to it. I do not know what repentance and salvation through Christ means to someone who has not heard what I have, but I believe God has provided it. I know that I’m not alone in that belief.

  229. @Fendrel Yes I agree. So why is it that Christians are so quick to dismiss the value of the manner in which atheists derive their values or try to set them for society.
    Because they are people, And people in groups almost always dismiss the ideas of those not in the group. Think politics, religion, nationalities, sports fans, whatever. It's wired into our brains in my opinion.
    Now we can go down the path as to why it's there. Original sin? Evolutionary advantage. Evolutionary disadvantage what wasn't big enough to matter. Whatever. It seems to be wired in fairly hard with most everyone on the planet.

  230. There is a massive one star review of The Year of Biblical Womanhood on Amazon.com, written by none other than the head honcho of the Center for Women of Faith in Culture, Sarah Flashing. I recognised the name and remembered there’s been something posted about her here before, and that she’d written about this very same book for The Gospel Coalition.

  231. “The Golden Rule is necessary for civilization to exist and flourish.”

    Correct, but it doesn’t make it optimal for the individual.

    “Even if you question whether an action can be moral without a God – which belies the idea that morality arose from naturalistic causes just like consciousness – acts that one would normally classify as moral are still beneficial from a practical standpoint for society as a whole. Also, people do good because it makes them feel good.”

    The “people do good because it makes them feel good” is not adequate to explain when people who make the ultimate sacrifice: the decision to give their his or her to save others. That person feels nothing for making this sacrifice because he or she is dead. It is an irrational act if there is no God. It is far better to prolong life and let others suffer unless you’d rather be dead than wracked with guilt for allowing others to suffer. I do not think that last statement is true of all people who make the ultimate sacrifice.

    Philosophers have reasoned that the Golden rule was necessary for civilization so that’s why we had to have religion, but now that we are wiser we can (and should) reject religion. With this also comes any kind of rational adherence to the Golden rule, though all would prefer others adhere to the Golden rule so society continues.

    “You’re overcomplicating things by introducing God.”

    To be really specific (though I haven’t stated it), what is required for morality is some kind of permanence. Either God who can judge our acts (though if we are not permanent you can argue why we’d care if we acted morally or immorally), ourselves, or our descendents.

    I would agree, for example, that if we could achieve immortality without God then there could still be morality.

    If in the end all vanishes, it doesn’t matter what happened while we were here.

  232. @ Sophie:

    “I recognised the name and remembered there’s been something posted about [Flashing] here before, and that she’d written about this very same book for The Gospel Coalition.”

    Yes, and there was a big gigantic row in the comments wherein someone who agrees with Flashing accused Dee of lying.

  233. If we both agree that a decision is moral, yet there is no ultimate consequence for said decision, then regardless of our agreement that decision is not moral (or immoral).

    This makes zero sense. Something is not moral because you will eventually be rewarded for it or immoral because you may eventually be punished for it. That’s a primitive Pavlovian response. Something is moral because it is right and something is immoral because it is wrong. We can argue and disagree on what the standards are for determining right and wrong, but that is not what you are saying here.

  234. @ HUG & LFY:

    Best quote ever about killjoy Calvinists:

    “She had a dour Presbyterian mind and a code of morals that pinned down and beat the brains out of nearly everything that was pleasant to do.” -John Steinbeck, East of Eden

    I laughed out loud when I first read that in the book.

  235. Sarah Flashing – not again!!!

    She seems to be a one-woman “organization” that TGC and others cite whenever they get particularly irritated by a woman and/or when they view something as a “womens’ issue.”

    Gah.

  236. Well, the truth is the truth regardless of what we prefer (so if there is no God, my preference that there is one matters not, as does your preference the other way if there is one). However, while some Christians would agree with view of the Christian world view, not all would.

    I am simply stating that the idea that God would damn someone to eternal torture is far bleaker than the idea that we arose from random processes, will live for a short while and then fade away. The latter may foster fear of death but at least it provides closure. The former fosters fear, shame and guilt with no end.

  237. @ LFY:

    “Everyone thought it was adorable, but this man’s reaction was a frown as he said sternly ‘foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child…’”

    I once got a mini-lecture from a woman (SDA) when I said that babies couldn’t lie (since they don’t have the intellectual maturity to even understand the concept of truth vs. deception). She said that babies could tease and that teasing was a form of jesting and that that was bad because of Proverbs 26:18-19. Because a guy throwing firebrands = a baby trying to make mommy laugh? Only in the SDA cult universe.

  238. The Center for Reading and Commenting Upo Sarah Flashong’s Amazon Review of The Year of Biblical Womanhood (CEO: me) issued the following statement: Ms Flashing’s review started as a bit of an irrelevant screed against RHE, then just basically quoted the book extensively with a few comments peppered here and there and then closed ungraciously by describing it as ‘divisive’, and very prematurely (and probably incorrectly) describing Rachel’s success as ‘fleeting’.

  239. The “people do good because it makes them feel good” is not adequate to explain when people who make the ultimate sacrifice: the decision to give their his or her to save others. That person feels nothing for making this sacrifice because he or she is dead. It is an irrational act if there is no God. It is far better to prolong life and let others suffer unless you’d rather be dead than wracked with guilt for allowing others to suffer. I do not think that last statement is true of all people who make the ultimate sacrifice.

    In your opinion, of course. People sacrifice themselves for others for any number of reasons. You don’t get to dictate whether or not everyone’s actions are rational or irrational. Plenty of skeptics and atheists have died in battle to protect the lives or liberties of others. This is far more noble, in my opinion, than doing so with the hope of gaining a reward in heaven for the acts. Heck, even animals sacrifice themselves for their young. That’s an instinctual response. Perhaps it’s the same in humans or perhaps animals have more advanced emotional reponses than we realize. Self-sacrifice is not evidence for a God.

  240. … or perhaps animals have more advanced emotional reponses than we realize.

    AJG – my thought is that this is likely much more accurate than any of us could ever guess, but then… we’ll never be certain unless/until we learn to communicate with animals on their terms. I think a lot of people already are pretty skilled at “reading” animals (and I don’t mean in any kind of telepathic way; they just “get” animals), but far too few people in the scientific community are willing to invest their time and research grants in actual studies of how animals communicate with each other as it is… (And far too many “animal behavior” specialists are skeptical of the whole concept of intelligencee in animals and birds… sad, really.)

    [/end digression]

  241. RE: Dee on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:37 AM,

    “…I believe that there will be wars, slavery, poverty and pedophilia to the end of time-no matter how “smart” we think we are…”

    True to a certain extent Dee (in my opinion). I have argued before that unlike tsunamis, earthquakes, decrepitude, and old age, these evils are fully within our power as humans to rectify and put an end to. Utopian and perfect? No, but it is fully reasonable to expect that we can restrain and minimize the worst abuses of human nature by collective will.

    It begins with me on an individual level when I see what is truly right in my own eyes through the spark of divine I am born with. Toward the end of his life, John Adams a lapsed Calvinist, had this to say and I agree with him:

    “…I am weary of contemplating nations from the lowest and most beastly degradations of human life, to the highest refinements of Civilization. I am weary of Philosophers, Theologians, Politicians, and Historians. They are immense masses of absurdities, vices and lies. Montesquieu had sense enough to say in jest that all of our knowledge might be comprehended in twelve pages in duodecimo, and I believe him in earnest. I could express my faith in shorter terms: He who loves the Workman and his Work, and who does what he can to improve it, shall be accepted of him…”

  242. “Something is not moral because you will eventually be rewarded for it or immoral because you may eventually be punished for it.”

    This is not what I am saying. I am saying if it is ultimately incosequential then it has no meaning. If it has no meaning, it has no moral value.

    “In your opinion, of course. People sacrifice themselves for others for any number of reasons. You don’t get to dictate whether or not everyone’s actions are rational or irrational. Plenty of skeptics and atheists have died in battle to protect the lives or liberties of others. This is far more noble, in my opinion, than doing so with the hope of gaining a reward in heaven for the acts. Heck, even animals sacrifice themselves for their young. That’s an instinctual response. Perhaps it’s the same in humans or perhaps animals have more advanced emotional reponses than we realize. Self-sacrifice is not evidence for a God.”

    I was not making the argument that self-sacrifice is evidence for God. I was countering the argument that the reason people self sacrifice is because it feels good. I made no assessment about the nobility of self sacrifice. I agree that skeptics and atheists who die to protect others are noble in their acts.

    I am not arguing in anyway that “the hope of gaining a reward in heaven” is related to whether morality exists. My argument is one of consequence- for an act to be consequential, it must have a lasting effect. For something to have a lasting effect, something must be eternal. If nothing is eternal (not us, not God), then our acts are inconsequential. If our acts are inconsequential, there is no moral value to anything we do.

  243. “It begins with me on an individual level when I see what is truly right in my own eyes through the spark of divine I am born with. ”

    Amen. Even a 5 year old on the playground understands injustice in their little worlds.

  244. My argument is one of consequence- for an act to be consequential, it must have a lasting effect.

    If you save a person’s life or give them food to eat when they have none, I assure you the act is not inconsequential to them.

    For something to have a lasting effect, something must be eternal.

    Hogwash. Lasting can mean whatever timeframe you want it to mean. The effects of the U.S. Civil War are lasting. They will not extend into eternity, however. Assume there is no God for a moment. Is it inconsequential that millions of people were freed from slavery? Maybe to you, but certainly not to them.

    If nothing is eternal (not us, not God), then our acts are inconsequential. If our acts are inconsequential, there is no moral value to anything we do.

    Perhaps the universe is eternal. You have no idea. Even so, an act of goodness or kindness is not inconsequential because it won’t be felt a million years from now no matter how hard you want to argue that it is.

  245. @ Anon1 & others,

    A word about Dr. Bushnell. Her writings are from an age before the world had moved on (as Stephen King would put it). It was an era long before our time increments and consequently our attention spans got chopped up into smaller and smaller pieces. Her stuff can be rough going at times, but it’s well worth the effort.

    Her intellect was formidable, but more importantly, her heart was one of flesh and not stone. She heard the cries of the beaten down and fought ferociously for them. Her Christianity was action, not just theological navel gazing and a complacent form of blood covering.

  246. “Assume there is no God for a moment. Is it inconsequential that millions of people were freed from slavery?”

    If there is no God, then for those people it is indeed inconsequential at this point. There are temporary consequences for others felt now, but ulitmately those ripples will fade away.

    I am talking about ultimate consequence. We feel the effects now, certainly, but no, in the final analysis if we all fade away then our lives have no ultimate consequence and are meaningless. I am not stating a new philosophy here: the beliefs of Kant, Neitzche, and many other non-Christians would all agree with what I’m saying here. I’m not saying that makes me right, I’m just pointing out my views are not limited to Christians.

    I think we are at an impass on this point, and that’s fine. We can agree to disagree, I think. I personally do believe that morality matters, that every decision is consequential, and that believers can act immorally just as athiests can act morally. If we free on those points, I think we’re in pretty good shape and we have little to quarrel over between us.

  247. Just before the meaning/God/atheism debate wraps up, and at the risk of giving at lots more meat, I think one of the problems in the discussion here has been the philosophical assumptions being made about the atheist side. Jeff S, correct me if I’m wrong, but your arguments all seem to come from a point where all atheism is seen as inherently nihilistic. But there are other philosophies that address the concepts of meaning and morality and reject the nihilistic ‘everything is meaningless’ approach. Have you read any Camus, by chance? He was an absurdist, so argued that meaning and absolute purpose cannot be grasped by humans (but aren’t necessarily non-existent), but at the same time argued that the pursuit of meaning, the desire to act in a meaningful way, is possible and desirable. Now, that isn’t the same as having an objective meaning and morality defined by God, but it’s also a far cry from nihilism, which outright rejects meaning and morality.

  248. Pam, I have read Camus. I guess in the end I just don’t believe his view makes sense. I think the conclusion of nihilism is far more rational; but in the end, what good does rational do you? Perhaps that is the merit of being an absurdist. I think of myself accepting nihilism if I weren’t a Christian, but I can’t know for sure because I do believe what I believe.

    I will point out that I think the Bible teaches nihilism in a God-absent scenerio in Ecclesiasties, but that is only useful for believers :)

  249. I think we are at an impass on this point, and that’s fine. We can agree to disagree, I think. I personally do believe that morality matters, that every decision is consequential, and that believers can act immorally just as athiests can act morally. If we free on those points, I think we’re in pretty good shape and we have little to quarrel over between us.

    No problem, Jeff. Thanks for discussing this civilly even if I do disagree with you. I was a hardcore evangelical like yourself for 35 years, so I understand how faith is important to people like yourself. In the end, I got tired of forcing myself to believe in something that I founs implausible so I left Christianity for good.

  250. Fair enough, Jeff. Whereas you see nihilism as where you’d sit without faith, I think I’d sit with Camus’ ideas. I enjoy his insight into not just the human condition but also his comfort with (what he sees as) answerless questions about meaning and purpose.
    Anyway, this was an interesting discussion to follow.

  251. Jeff

    My point is that if the atheists are right then there ARE no moral decisions, whether atheist, agnostic, or theist

    And if that is true, that there is no God, in what practical way will it have impacted your moral choices?

    I would argue, that nothing would have changed…if that’s so, then the “need” for God, in terms of morals, goes away, regardless of His existence.

  252. AJG, to be fair, I doubt many would consider me a hardcore evangelical, but by contrast I suppose I am. I enjoyed the discussion and could go all night with it, to be honest, but what is fun is not always wise :D

    I have recently undergone a major purging of a lot of my notions of faith, but the core still remains.

    Pam, I can only conjecture what I’d really he like without faith. I happen to believe the good in me comes by way of the Holy Spirit and if I were to not be a believer I would move toward nihilism, but it’s easy to conjecture extreme positions when we don’t have to hold them :)

  253. Fendrel, if I didn’t believe in God or eternity, there are many choices I would make differently. I do not think the world would be a better place with a faithless Jeff.

  254. Also, about the story that women could not divorce, only men: That is not in the Bible. The OT law make specific mention of a woman who was paid for by her groom, and now want to divorce because he don’t provide for her. A woman like that can divorce without paying him back, she is not property that has to stay even though she was paid for.
    Once again, from rabbi’s interpreting the spirit of the law – if even a woman that was paid for may leave, then surely a woman not paid for may leave too.
    Many other things about “the Bible’s treatment of women” are myths. People from Bible times treated woman very badly, and the Bible as historic document report it. But to blame it on the Bible is like blaming a history book on WWII for treating Jews badly.

  255. And about the myth that women could not divorce, only men: That is not in the Bible. The OT law make specific mention of a woman who was paid for by her groom, and now want to divorce because he don’t provide for her. A woman like that can divorce without paying him back, she is not property that has to stay even though she was paid for.
    Once again, from rabbi’s interpreting the spirit of the law – if even a woman that was paid for may leave, then surely a woman not paid for may leave too.
    Many other things about “the Bible’s treatment of women” are myths. People from Bible times treated woman very badly, and the Bible as historic document report it. But to blame it on the Bible is like blaming a history book on WWII for treating Jews badly.

  256. Sorry for the duplicate comment. My page did not reload correctly after posting the first time, so I thought it did not post.

  257. Fendrel on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 04:30 PM said:
    “Dee,
    Yes I agree. So why is it that Christians are so quick to dismiss the value of the manner in which atheists derive their values or try to set them for society(?)”

    Calvinists (pure Calvinism, not SBC lite Calvinism) wouldn’t at all. They say every action is determined (or allowed) by God. So, if you do something, it can’t actually be outside God’s will/permission/control. It is why Southern Baptists end up making such a hack job of Calvinism, they pull in the Baptist roots (Anabaptist) and mix it with Calvinism and make half-baked statements like “if you do something outside the will of God then….” but back up a second. Can a Calvinist concede that anyone can do anything outside the will of God? If not, as Calvinists insist, then what you did happened for a reason, since everything God does (as Calvinists assign all our own lives as God’s doing from birth -likely conception in current parlance- to death) is part of his perfect will.

    Now, see why I don’t think Calvinism is Christian? Southern Baptists and Calvinistas massage it into inside and outside the will of God, but in true Calvinism, that doesn’t exist. Every choice you or I make to a true blue Calvinist, was caused, and executed by God, not us. Now, many may jump on this comment and say that isn’t correct, but, it is. It is just not how popular current Calvinism/ista see things.

    Most Calvinista are what some call Calminian (Calvinist and Arminian combined). This is where you get these weird disconnects between believer’s and non-believer’s choices. Jesus pleaded with people, got upset when they couldn’t understand, and was at times amazed by non-Jew’s faith. The people he encountered were, as they would classify, outside the zone (non-Jew, pre-Christian). Like Atheists today are (outside the zone). Jesus responded as if they could figure it out, or was pleasantly surprised at their faith. By contrast, by Calvinist’s teachings, they couldn’t have amazed Jesus.

    I am not Arminian either, sort of in a “we don’t actually know, so quit acting like you have it all figured out” stage right now. Judas, Pharo and Paul on the Damascus road others seemed to

  258. oops…continued,

    I am just saying sometimes God seemed/s to make people do things, but mostly, people are free to make their own decisions. So, it can’t be 100% free will, nor can it be 100% predestined. As people encounter God, all sorts of causes occur.

    How can God say people can look at Creation and know about God and good, etc. Yet say we are also lead astray, like sheep without a shepherd. The truth is, the Bible doesn’t tell us how involved God is when sinful people can have faith, it just says some do. Then there’s the Holy Spirit, and not necessarily exclusive to Christians, but I digress.

  259. Miguel on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:20 AM said:
    … IF both say the Bible is true, and one says it can contain contradictions, then we are working with two completely different understandings of the nature of truth. The rationalistic CC’s harp on the law of non-contradiction and the rules of logic uber alles, while RHE seems to come from a more postmodern-subjective-relativist mindset. Their conflict, IMO, is not about religion, theology, or hermeneutics. Its about philosophical presuppositions and, until those are addressed, they will continue to talk past one another exchanging blows on straw men… I mean, straw persons.

    A lot of Keller’s comment thread was taken up talking about RHE being ironic/post-modern, etc. Then people read her book. She isn’t as relativistic-subjective as they made her out to be. Morgan Guyton pointed out he mistook her for being ironic too (in a post about Al Mohler and RHE). Really, Rachel isn’t. She really is searching and trying to undo years of fundamental teachings but not let go of her faith. She is more sincere and honest then aloof and hipster/emergent. She is too old to be in the “youth” branch of regular derision from Calvinistas. She is too young to be in the Secularized liberal branches of Christianity they love to mock – or know of them. To me, she speaks to the 30-somethings, who were old enough not to get sucked in to Mark Driscoll’s wave of popularity*, but too young to believe that a literal reading of Genesis is essential to one’s faith.

    I realize he is older than her, but not until the internet was he a household name in Christian circles.

  260. Dear AJ G 5.52
    According to that understanding there can be no morality, only doing what you want.
    Regards
    Gavin

  261. Dear Pam

    Camus is just repackaged Nietzsche for the Swinging Sixties. The two main points made by him and Sartre were
    - that it is absurd for the humanist to believe in any trans personal truth, and
    - that communication was a problem about which one could only despair, because one person’s existence was totally other to another person.

    So having concluded this disconnection, “culture” tried to concentrate on the altogether futile idea that some form of communication had to be achieved. I say futile because there was nothing that could be communicated – no truth about man, relationships or morality. Hence the desperation in the arts – Ionescu’ Bacon’ Pinter and the monotonous whine of the great Bob Dylan.

    Hence Marshall McLuhan ‘s “The medium is the message”.

    And guess what? This has become the central plank on which MD and his pals have built their ministries, as well as every other huckster and dollar-gospeller since.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  262. Camus and Sartre were friends but disagreed on their philosophy. Sartre was considerably more cynical. Camus and Neitzsche had quite different ideas.

  263. “Now, see why I don’t think Calvinism is Christian?”

    Ouch– I’ve gone from hardcore evangelical to not Christian in the space of a few posts.

    “Now, many may jump on this comment and say that isn’t correct, but, it is.”

    Can you cite sources that your definition of Calvinism is “true Calvinism”? I’ve believed in Calvinism long before the new cool kids were doing it (and I am no fan of Driscoll or Piper) but I’ve never understood Calvinism to be predeterminism. I’m going to believe what believe because I think it’s what the Bible teaches regardless of what Calvin or his followers taught, but I’ve never heard anyone teach the kind of predeterminism that you (and others who comment here) accuse us of believing. In fact, Calvin himself said people act “voluntarily”, which does not sound like predeterminism to me. He did say that sinners lacked the ability to do anything but sin (which I would question, personally, but I think this may get into a question of definitions– as I’ve stated, I certainly believe unbelievers are capable of doing good things), but having a lack of ability is far different from being God’s puppet with no freewill.

  264. I’ll admit, I’ve always seen Camus and Neitzche as largely being on the same page with Camus being more irrational, but also more “human” (for lack of a better word). But I have not read either widely, so my view may be really skewed on how close their beliefs really were.

    Even Neitzche had a component of “well what we do really is of no consequence, but since we’re here I think we ought to . . .” and went on to talk about the nobility of bravery. And then he went insane.

    But “The Madman” has always struck a chord with me: while I believe that God is alive and well, it seems that though today most people profess some kind of belief in God, they do not realize that their actions live out a “God is dead” philosophy. Neitzche would have them wake up and see it, but they are not ready to listen. Many people who functionally do not believe in God are not ready to deal with the implications on a philosophical level. At least, that’s what I think Neitzche was trying to say (except, of course, he believed that ALL who professed faith needed to wake up to reality, not, as I would maintain, just those who profess a belief in God but do not actually act on it). My hope is that when people do wake up and consider what a “God is dead” philosophy means, they will either be driven to faith by seeing what is lacking, or driven to own their unbelief. In case I’m not being totally clear, I think the Athiests posting in this thread absolutely “own” their “God is dead” views and are not the ones I’m talking about.

  265. Dear Pam and Jeff S

    Here’s an interesting article from the Camus Society.

    French writer Albert Camus and German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche are not normally two people mentioned in one breath. However, their body of work has a lot in common when it comes to morality. One of the most striking books in Nietzsche’s career as a philosophical writer on this theme is On the Genealogy of Morals. In an essayistic style he portrays how society changed over decades of time from being content with joy to utter discontent with feelings of revenge. Moral judgements changed enormously and Nietzsche is ought to examine the origin of morals questions by going back to the basic idea of good and evil. What is good, and if it is, why is that so?

    Albert Camus’ concern directs itself into a similar direction. His major concern is the not origin of basic moral questions but rather the development that come with them, most notably freedom and the right to revolt. Camus continued to develop his idea of man’s rebellion against the absurd in nearly all his work. An undertaking he had begun in his essay collection The Myth of Sisyphus (1942). Several years later, in 1951, the book length essay The Rebel would refresh the idea of rebellion. It is actually implied in the title itself of the French original with L’Homme révolté, whose English translation The Rebel seems to give it a more political note.

    Throughout, Camus examines several writers from Epicurus to Hegel, from Dostoevsky to Breton and analyses their portrait of man. Here, his work refers several times to Friedrich Nietzsche and most notably his sense of nihilism, a concept about the ultimate negation of all values. Camus mirrors Nietzsche’s own morality when he interrogates God as a moral instance. Both authors seem to start from a fairly humanistic viewpoint: God is the constructed being, a named abstraction and an uplifted instance to distribute what is morally right and morally wrong.

    When man submits to God to moral judgement, he kills Him in his own heart. And then what is the basis of morality? God is denied in the name of justice but can the idea of justice be understood without the idea of God? Have we not arrived at absurdity? … man, in order to exist, must decide to act. 1

    Even though the word itself is never mentioned in The Rebel, Nietzsche’s concept of ressentiment seems to linger between the lines. Ressentiment, which is the feeling the many or few in society are highly frustrated with an aspect in their lives. The cause can be simple (such as jealousy) or complex (such as a feud), but the reaction is the same: in order to satisfy their hurt ego, these many or few need to direct their resentment/ ressentiment towards the cause of their feelings. In Nietzsche’s case, it results in a revolt between the master and the slave. A problem he tried to solve with the invention of the superman (‘Übermensch’), a person superior enough to overcome his own nature of guilt, desire and jealousy. He has no feelings of resentment, because he simply does not care about anything below his vision.

    The ressentiment of natures that are denied the true reaction, that of deeds, and compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge. While every noble morality develops from a triumphant affirmation of itself, slave morality from the outset says No to what is “outside,” what is “different,” what is “not itself”; and this No is its creative deed. 2

    At first sight, both authors seem to strongly contrast in the idea of ressentiment. Then the reader should remember the purpose of Camus’ revolt: it is to overcome the absurd. If we put this equation into Nietzschean logic, then Camus’ chosen protagonists like Sisyphus direct their resentment towards the cause of their feelings, which is the absurd. However, instead of simply revolting against this abstract, Camus adds a valuable step to it: acceptance. Sisyphus, like the man in revolt, overcomes and rebels against the absurd by accepting it. In doing so, he internalises the focus of rebellion – it becomes a struggle between the self and the absurd alone.

    The sequence of events is interesting because it asks if people are able to understand the abstract all by self (here justice) without another authority (here God). By stripping off God from this thinking, man is left with absurdity as the first obstacle to overcome. According to Camus, Nietzsche is confronted with this attitude, which is a possible reference to the latter’s famous claim that God is dead.

    In The Rebel there are several claims to nihilism. Nihilism is often affectionately said to be a preceded version of existentialism. In philosophy as well as literature, an open discussion with ‘-isms’ is always very dangerous because of its lack of fixed definitions and examples. Further, Camus excluded himself from the existentialist writers, so the only direction left is to step directly from Nihilism to the absurd. A step that is per se not wrong because both concepts deal with the freedom of the mind.

    Freedom of the mind, freedom of decision and freedom as a general theme are therefore connective points between Nietzsche and Camus. Nietzsche’s idea of freedom is to overcome ressentiment and also to live out the Dionysian life force as shown in his work The Birth of Tragedy. Camus’ idea of freedom starts in the very moment one experiences bitterness. In a way, Camus’ figures like Meursault, Jean-Baptiste Clamence or Sisyphus are the written outlook of ressentiment , which in French terms is nothing more than re-sentir – to re-feel.

    Camus now pursues a different way and saves his figures from becoming slaves in Nietzschean terms. The negative part of ressentiment is turned around into a positive one: these figures try to re-feel themselves but they can only do so when they accept their fate as their own and not made by society.

    In the end, both authors have more in common than their love for the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is not massively important for this comparison what Nietzschean text Camus had read. Nietzsche’s novels are throughout his life, luckily, in a state where one can say that each of his works combines his whole philosophical outlook. However, the concept of ressentiment is visible in Camus’ works. Vice versa, Camus detects a level of absurdity in Nietzsche. The reader can see how the French writer took the question of morality to the next level by adding self-fulfilment and offered a way of leading Nietzschean slaves out of their misery.

    1 Albert Camus, The Rebel; translated by Anthony Bower (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), p. 57.

    2 Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals; Ecce homo; translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale; edited, with commentary by Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books 1967), First Essay, Section 10, p. 36.

    Regards
    Gavin

  266. Dee wrote “What was the final straw in causing you to leave the faith?”

    The final straw was in deciding to stop living in cognitive dissonance. I was weary of forcing myself to believe in something that I found preposterous and unnecessary simply because I had been raised to believe it. Plus I could never answer the question “Who made God?” to my satisfaction. If the universe is so complicated that it neede a designer, then it needs a more complicated designer ad naseum. Instead of stopping at a God there was no evidence for, I stopped at the universe that is self-evident.

    I’m not a militant atheist; I’m a passive one. I believe that people should do or believe whatever they need ti believe to make their life as enjoyable as possible provided they do not infringe on the rights of others.

    And before someone tries to convince me that rights cannot exist without a God, please don’t. I’m far happier and content with my atheism than I ever was as a Christian. Rejecting heaven makes me appreciate the life I am currently living more and more rather than pining for an afterlife that will never come.

  267. Val,

    Since you bring up “free will”, my other favorite topic, aside from believing in the supernatural, whether that is God, spirits or souls, on what basis do you think humans have the ability to make self-controlled decisions?

  268. Val

    What a great comment! It bears repeating.

     

    “Most Calvinista are what some call Calminian (Calvinist and Arminian combined). This is where you get these weird disconnects between believer’s and non-believer’s choices. Jesus pleaded with people, got upset when they couldn’t understand, and was at times amazed by non-Jew’s faith. The people he encountered were, as they would classify, outside the zone (non-Jew, pre-Christian). Like Atheists today are (outside the zone). Jesus responded as if they could figure it out, or was pleasantly surprised at their faith. By contrast, by Calvinist’s teachings, they couldn’t have amazed Jesus.

    I am not Arminian either, sort of in a “we don’t actually know, so quit acting like you have it all figured out” stage right now.”

    I am neither myself. I think it is very complex, something difficult to see this side of eternity-maybe even after.

  269. Fendrel

    I never diminsh anyone who seeks after the values that I hold dear. I believe that all that is good comes from God and rejoice when I see justice, mercy, love and kindness in this dark world. 

    I think that there are many times Christians and athiests would intersect on many values. But, perhapas that is the problem.We don’t understand a basic prinicple. The core of the faith has nothing to do with values and being “good” people. It has to do with the fact that we are sinners and no matter how hard we try we cannot shake our innate sinfulness. Before you go for the jugular, I know this to be true in my own life. Perhaps you are different and can be good-I can’t judge you. But I do know that I cannot. The faith is about grace, given from a God who understands our problem and seeks to redeem us because He loves us. Christianity is about the Cross and the Resurrection and the hope of a life to come.

    So, in the end, I will disappoint you and others when I fail to live up to the values and behavior that I know to be good. But, that is why Jesus came and in Him I find an answer to my problem.

  270. Gavin

    I wanted to let you know that Fendrel and I talked 2 years ago and he has no problem with people trying out their apologetics on him. He and I have talked on the phone as well as by email.We are quite friendly even though we totally disagree on spiritual matters.

  271. Fendrel wrote “Since you bring up “free will”, my other favorite topic, aside from believing in the supernatural, whether that is God, spirits or souls, on what basis do you think humans have the ability to make self-controlled decisions?”

    I tried for years to rescue God from Himself by convincing myself to believe in free will. You can tie yourself into intellectual knots by trying to jusitfy the existence of free will with an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent God. You can resolve this conundrum by removing one of these characteristics from God. Calvinists jettison omnibenevolence. Arminians jettison omnipotence. Open Theists jettison omniscience. Atheists jettison God.

  272. AJG

    Sorry but Calvinists embrace the whole counsel of God. They don’t jettison anything.

  273. Dee
    Thanks. I was aware of it from looking at the archive blogs and an introduction you have him after he changed his name.

  274. Gavin, I have to admit that it is an act of faith that I believe God is all loving and all powerful while evil and suffering exist. I think it is the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith. I believe that it is true, but I apprehend it rather than comprehend it, the same as believing God is sovereign and man has freewill.

    One thing I do know is that when it comes to suffering, God did not remain above our suffering, but in the person of Jesus Christ experienced suffering along side us. That counts for a lot in my book.

  275. Gavin, I have to admit that it is an act of faith that I believe God is all loving and all powerful while evil and suffering exist. I think it is the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith. — Jeff S

    It’s the Paradox of Evil:
    1) God is all-good.
    2) God is all-powerful.
    3) Evil exists.

    Any two of these axioms, no problem. All three together and you get a paradox. Especially when (3) includes “Surd Evil”, evil that seems to have no source or personal origin, it’s just THERE. (Ungoliant instead of Morgoth.) And it’s been argued about for centuries with no three-axiom resolution in sight.

    Two-axiom resolutions everywhere. For instance, both Calvin and Mohammed resolved it by eliminating Axiom 1, putting God’s Will beyond Good and Evil. Several Gnostic cults eliminated Axiom 2 with their “Demiurge” theory. And Dr Pangloss’s heirs (the most obvious fail) eliminated Axiom 3 with The Best of All Possible Worlds.

  276. Gavin wrote “Sorry but Calvinists embrace the whole counsel of God. They don’t jettison anything.”

    Keep telling yourself that. A God that preordained and created a subset of humanity to eternal torment never opening their eyes when He could have is not good in any sense of the word. Unless you want to redefine good to mean “anything that God does” but then the word has lost all meaning to finite beings.

  277. AJG

    Thank you for sharing with us your loss of faith. You are not the first one who has used the term “cognitive dissonance.” You know, it is often interesting how our roads can intersect and then diverge. I had a crisi of faith about 15 years ago when I learned that the story of the woman caught in adultery was probably not in the original Scriptures. Bart Ehrman also credits learning about that as a chief factor in his loss of faith. For me it caused me to search and find many of the answers I was seeking.

    Please know that I wish you joy and peace in this life.

  278. HUG

    Naughty, naughty. Jonn Piper will say you are a sinner if you don’t love everything he loves about God.

  279. AJG

    This is an interesting comment and one with which many Christians struggle.

    “A God that preordained and created a subset of humanity to eternal torment never opening their eyes when He could have is not good in any sense of the word. Unless you want to redefine good to mean “anything that God does” but then the word has lost all meaning to finite beings.”

    I am a NOT a Neo-Calvinist but they would answer youy by saying that everyone should go to hell but God was kind to save some.  I do not think it solves the conundrum as you have proposed.

     

  280. dee wrote “Please know that I wish you joy and peace in this life.”

    Thank you, Dee. I sincerely appreciate it. I have finally found it although it was in a place I never expected to find it. :) Love your blog, BTW. I’m a long-time lurker but seldom post. Keep up the good work!

  281. dee wrote “I am a NOT a Neo-Calvinist but they would answer youy by saying that everyone should go to hell but God was kind to save some. I do not think it solves the conundrum as you have proposed.”

    Yes, I know how they would answer it. It’s not an intellectually satisfying answer in any way. A God that must punish a poor, loathesome sinner for eternity for His Glory is not worthy of worship.

  282. Dear Jeff S, AJG, Dee
    Here is a little three step programme that may or may not help understand theodicy.

    1 Mankind sinned at the fall and consequently was condemned.
    2 God provided a Saviour so that forgiven sinners could, among other things,relate to sin in a better way and mitigate its effect on is
    3 In Heaven, to misquote the Beatles, all our troubles will seem so far away and promote praise and worship.

    It won’t satisfy everyone but it keeps it simple and confessional.

    Regards
    Gavin

    PS Headless, it’s not John Piper with whom we have to deal.

  283. Fendrel –

    The Hebrews had a concept of heart and mind as separate sources. Now, we know it is more in line with left and right hemispheres in our brain, rather than heart and head.

    We believe – according to the Ancient Near East and Bible – with our hearts (think right brain) and learn with our minds – think left brain. So what is faith? Interestingly, a person who has had their Corpus Callosum (the connecting bride between the two hemispheres) severed (usually for medical reasons) shows a complete inability to reach a decision. So, any sort of “free will” has to have both “heart and mind” or right and left brain hemispheres intact. We need information processing/learning as well as emotion to arrive at any sort of choice. Detached, purely rational, unemotional choice is an illusion. All of us arrive at a decision with our “heart” (right brain – emotions), no matter how rational we consider ourselves to be.

    Is our heart deceitful? Well, our human nature depends on favouring ourselves – it is a survival method, or we would render ourselves incapable of being satisfied with a decision and never able to live with it. So, from a very early age young children have high self-perference ( a young kid’s favourite letter the one that is at the beginning of their name for example Anna’s fav. letter is ‘A’, Bob’s is ‘B’, etc.). This form of mental self preservation is a blessing and curse. It helps us be satisfied with our decisions (live with them in hard times, as we feel they were the best we choice we could have made), and can stunt us too – unable to see how someone with different preferences and choices could be right, or just as good. When someone realizes what they believed isn’t really what they thought it was, a crisis can develop. Self-preservation jumps in to convince them it was the only or best choice.

    I have friends who are going through infertility – male infertility -and his wife is adamant that they were meant to be – no other option in life was available to her in life. I think it is partial self-preservation she feels like this now – years ago, when they first got married her “we were meant to be” was far more subdued, but now, realizing they may never have kids (faith reasons for not perusing IVF methods), she needs to see her choice to marry as “meant to be”. It well could have been, I am not debating that, it is that her tone and view on that has changed a lot in the years they have been married. We used to note another friend couple was so certain they were “meant to be” as if one could never be certain, now, she is firmly certain – but wasn’t years ago. Self-preservation of her mind trying to come to terms with her unexpected life path. It is fine, we are all on a journey and sometimes need assurances to get us through the tough spots. But it isn’t really all that certain. Deceitful may be better understood as the brian always trying to maintain an equilibrium – fall too far to “i’m (my choice was) despicable” or “i (my choice) ruined my life” and the brain will be unable to reach future decisions (rendered dysfunctional by fear). Of course, the flip side – the brain thinking it is always right won’t serve someone in the long run either – lives ruined by losing jobs, spouse walking out after years of marriage, losing friends is an example of a brain that can’t see it’s choices or decisions as being wrong ever.

    Jesus’ way is not worrying about “Did I do it right?” to the point of indecision, but putting the brain brain back to equilibrium by saying “you are now free of those past poor or ignorant (often both) decisions, i.e. forgiven, you can now be free to peruse my way – fresh every morning – even though it won’t always go well or be easy – I (Jesus) am the equilibrium, if I would do it, it is good, if I wouldn’t, drop it and turn towards me. I imagine it as a hike through the west coast mountains. The dense forests and steep elevations make two parallel paths invisible to the hikers on either one for long stretches, then the paths converge and it is like “oh, we could have just gone on that one!”. At each of these junctions we have to assess whether to continue on our path or switch to the parallel one. Often one of the two paths will become impassable – not sure who makes these trails sometimes, but there is usually a way to get back on the parallel path when one ends. Often, it is like, “why did we go on that one?” other times it is more along the lines of both got us to our destination and one or both was an adventure.

    Stopping making decisions for ourselves causes the damage and faith losses for many. If anything, the Bible teaches me to keep wrestling (like Jacob) with God for a blessing. Many bad things happened to Jacob and he made many dumb decisions. who caused all those bad things to happen to him? One could argue it all “happened for a reason” directly by God. But that would be their emotional preference for determinism making that decision. One could argue he was a product of his time/place and shaped by those forces into his decisions, if that is one’s view. One could argue the point of the narrative is that he refused to let go of God to get his blessing and all the rest was inconsequential, he had God’s chosen nation named after him because he chose God that night at the river bank and it was credited to him. Again, we all read a Bible narrative and tend to make it fit our preferences/views. Do I think Calvinists Arminians or Eastern Orthodox (for example) have a monopoly on which view is correct? No. I just think each group has to be honest they have a bias when they read a Bible narrative. Awareness gives us more freedom, as the more knowledge we have (and accept) the more we can be free to do our own will.

    God seems to really appreciate those who freely chase after him, wrestle with him, refuse to give up. Abraham, Jacob, David, etc. These guys weren’t great followers of the status quo. Abraham keeps getting frustrated with God for promising him offspring and not getting around to it, yet gives his wife to two different kings (only mentions she is his sister, neglects to mention wife), Jacob tricks his bro out of his birth right, then gets tricked himself by Laban, David eats the covenant bread in the temple, David lies to the host Philistine King about who he is raiding and attacking (not Jews, some other victim tribe), dances naked, etc. But none of them would give up on God – bargaining with Him, arguing with Him, demanding from Him. And God favours them for it. I contrast this with the typical women’s groups at church who teach us everything happens “for a reason” and we need to just be all happy Pollyannaish and not question it or get too upset by it. Throw that in with Wives should just let husbands, pastors, etc. lead and make all the decisions and the woman is no longer on her journey towards God. She is sitting under a tree on the side of her path and trying to pretend this is what faith is all about. Someone like me, who points out she shouldn’t be there, but further along by now, is cracks up her perfectly constructed belief that what she is doing is “right”, so I’m the last person a complementarian leaning church going woman wants in her life. I don’t want to make her sad, but I don’t want her to sit there, night is coming and the woods in the Pacific NW grows cold and damp. Not everyone makes it through a few nights alone out here. Her husband was on the parallel path (as she was told he should be) and he kept going. If she doesn’t get down to the trail he was on or keep moving to see if her trail is the right one, the consequences could be fatal.

    Free Will vs. Determinism isn’t the point, the point is Jesus revels, the Holy Spirit revels so now we can decide (in the heart/mind left/right brain way) if He is worth following or not.

  284. Free will advocates believe God gives all the CHANCE, and what we do with it is what we will get in the hereafter.

    Molinists will say that God knew who would, given the chance, respond positively to the gospel and then made sure all those got the chance. Those without the chance were those that would reject Christ anyway.

    As to eternal punishment for crimes against God committed by finite humans: not all Christians, not even all Calvinists, believe that. Some are hopeful universalists and some are annihilationists.

    But the key is not the size of the crime from our perspective, but the fact we have disobeyed and insulted an infinitely holy God.

    As for me, I’m a mishmash of Wesleyan theology with an emphasis on free will, prevenient grace, and Christus Victor atonement.

    So many of these “I could never believe in a god that would……” can at times, (probably wrongly), seem as cop outs to me since I don’t believe in a God that would do those things either and am still a devout Christian.

    But that is just me.

  285. AJG–oops, sorry, but Arminians do NOT jettison the omnipotence of God.

    We believe He can very omnipotently and sovereignly decide to let us muck up the world if we so choose, and reap the consequences here and hereafter.

    That doesn’t make Him any less loving, either.

    I hate to use such a rough scenario, but God is not a cosmic rapist forcing His will on us.

    And so, if we choose evil it is evil we get. And since the Garden mankind has been reaping the choosing of evil.

    Even the death of innocent small children by cancer is a direct consequence of sin. Not theirs, not their parents, but mankind’s in general. And the more we know scientifically the more we know that cancer may have been generated by some pollutant someone knowingly and therefore sinfully released into the environment.

    God is indeed all good. Evil exists because we, not He, chooses it.

    As to an afterlife, well, if I am right and there is one and you’ve rejected it, you lose the bet. If you prove right and there isn’t one, I win the bet because my life was infinitely better experiencing the love of God here and now.

    I bid you peace as I do believe in free will and your right to reject the concept of God.

  286. Jeff S on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 06:02 AM said:
    “Now, see why I don’t think Calvinism is Christian?”
    Ouch– I’ve gone from hardcore evangelical to not Christian in the space of a few posts.
    “Now, many may jump on this comment and say that isn’t correct, but, it is.”
    Can you cite sources that your definition of Calvinism is “true Calvinism”?

    Sorry Jeff S. I wanted to say “I don’t think Calvinism lines up well with basic Christ teachings/actions”, but of course a Calvinist can be Christian, as can anyone who calls Jesus “Lord” and follows him as Lord – something I think all branches are pretty poor at doing, frankly. I would say any “ism” or denomination is NOT Christian, but a tool for Christians, so one could use Calvinism to read the Bible or explain why some reject Jesus – and other’s could completely disagree – and still have Christ as King of one’s life, while a fellow church attender could call themselves a Calvinist and not really put Jesus first and therefore not be a Christian at all. Just a Calvinist. My extended family was/is Anglican. I would say over half of my family were/are Anglican, but not Christian. I’m not judging their faith since some didn’t/don’t really know if God exist(ed)/(s), therefore didn’t have a faith in Christ to begin with, yet call/ed themselves Anglican!!! I don’t consider someone like that a Christian as a Christian believes Christ is God/King/Lord, not a pile of traditions. If one can’t even believe he was God – since they aren’t sure there is a God – can one really be a Christian? In my view, no. Different than judging someone who claims to follow Christ but in my view does it all wrong. That would be judgmental of me, and beyond my knowledge, but if one doesn’t (and never has) think Jesus was God, one can’t claim they are a Christian, just a traditionalist.

    So, to sum up, Calvinism is not Christian, but neither is Baptist, Anglican, Anabaptist, or Pentecostal – these are denominations or theologies. A person, on the other hand, can be a Calvinist, Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, etc. and either be or not be a Christian. People are Christians, theology and denominations are tools.

    You asked for sources – here is the main idea (you can google your own links or follow mine, at the bottom)

    Universal causation is the umbrella term for determinism/pre-destination. It is larger than Calvinism, a broader branch of philosophy, that Calvinism, fatalism and other beliefs fits under.

    JEAN CALVIN
    Greatly influenced by St. Paul and St. Augustine, Calvin argued that Paul was preaching pre-destination; that the destination of each human being is determined by God on the basis of his foreknowledge of everyone’s character and life. He said that there was nothing anybody could do to change their destiny and went further to say that only 5% of the human race were destined for salvation, the other 95% were damned from the start. Everyone deserves to be punished, but the measure of God’s goodness is that he saves some. God’s justice is beyond human comprehension and should not be questioned. According to Calvin, there is no free will. Calvin therefore takes a hard determinist approach.

    You could argue you never heard this, but that is because Calvinism now is usually taught as Soft Determinism – due to so many later doctrines and confessions to take the hard-determinist edge off.

    SOFT DETERMINISM

    Soft Determinism is the view that human freedom and moral responsibility are far from being incompatible with determinism; rather determinism is incomprehensible without it. The misconception that the two are incompatible comes from a considerable confusion over what we mean when we say we are free. Freedom is incompatible with fatalism, but not with determinism.

    All actions are wholly governed by causes but there are two types of causes:

    There are two types of causes;
    1) Internal Causes
    Lead to voluntary actions of free will, the results of one’s own wishes or desires, for example when you leave your country freely because it is your desire to go abroad.
    2) External Causes
    Lead to involuntary actions of compulsion, contrary to one’s wishes or desires, for example when you leave the country because you are forced out by the Government.

    It is this distinction which explains why soft determinism requires free-will. According to soft determinists, when we say a person acted freely we mean they did not act under compulsion or external pressure – they acted as free agents, even though their actions were just as much caused as those that are not free. Soft determinists therefore define freedom as the liberty of spontaneity, the freedom to act according to one’s nature which is determined by external factors such as heredity, education and background.

    The problem I have is with this view of External Causes. Jesus shows us how to react to persecution, authority and enemies in a way no one felt was useful or right, we actually have two choices – leave or stay. If we stay it would be stay and fight (probably die) or stay and voluntarily die. So, Jesus could have dashed off to the Saudia Arabian peninsula and not been put to death, Paul could have run off to Persia, Peter to the wilds of Lebanon – always a renegade hide out in the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Yet, they didn’t, they chose to stay and “fight the good fight” to the bitter end. Without Christ, the choice is made, with Christ, new (often very difficult) doors open. However, no one is called out for running away – all of Acts early church scattered – that proved beneficial too. Stephen stayed and died, he chose this too. Sure, life in Jerusalem wasn’t on offer, but choices were on offer, and always are. Determining God’s will is our job – Paul fails when he desperately wants to go back to Jerusalem – he ends up in chains, then jail, then death. The prophetesses don’t actaully correctly prophesy what will happen, that is very interesting, they get a few details mixed up, but they warn him, he chooses not to listen, and pays the price.

  287. linda wrote AJG–oops, sorry, but Arminians do NOT jettison the omnipotence of God.

    By allowing free will, God limits Himself; hence, He is no longer all-powerful. He can do almost anything, but he cannot force you to accept Him.

    Regardless, free will almost certainly does not exist. There is no difference between a God that knows everything that will happen and a God that causes everything to happen. Either way, the future is predetermined.

  288. Val,

    Free will vs determinism IS the point. If free will does not in fact exist, then that poses an interesting problem for God, namely the concept of sin and need for salvation.

    Left and Right hemispheres don’t change anything, you still cannot have a thought without it being caused by an electrical/chemical reaction in the brain (people without thoughts, hence without electrical impulses are called dead).

    If there is no free will, then there can be no responsibility, therefore holding us accountable for our decisions and relegating those who make the wrong choices to an eternity in hell, is well beyond cruel and unjust.

    Try this simply experiment, go ahead and “decide” to pick something up on your desk…now how could you make that decision, in other words have those thoughts, without electrical impulses to create them? The impulses are the cause of a thought, not the result as there is no mechanism to “think” in the absence of electricity across neural synapses.

  289. linda wrote “As to eternal punishment for crimes against God committed by finite humans: not all Christians, not even all Calvinists, believe that. Some are hopeful universalists and some are annihilationists.”

    I have never heard of a Calvinist who was a universalist. What does that Calvinist do with the doctrine of Limited Atonement? Anyway, what’s the point of Christianity if universalism is true? Nothing we do or believe matters in the end. It’s simpler to remove God from the discussion in that scenario.

    Perhaps I did paint with too broad a brush in my labelings, but it’s clear that a all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God is a logical fallacy given the world in which we live. God could have created a Panglossian (to steal from HUG) universe as that is the very definition of heaven. Instead, we live in one where entropy coldly destroys usable energy and conscious beings comtemplate the meaning of it all, and in the process, create a Deity who can restore order to their existence.

  290. Gavin wrote the following:

    1 Mankind sinned at the fall and consequently was condemned.

    Why was mankind condemned? God foreordained man’s actions or at least knew what man would do. Why isn’t God responsible for man’s sin? If you give your toddler a loaded gun and he blows away his sibling, who is resposible? Does Christianity just boil down to might makes right? Did God create sin? It would seem so since sin is a thing (albeit an abstract thing) and John 1:2 states that “Through him all things were made….”

    There’s nothing simple about theodicy. The only solution is to throw up one’s hands and admit ignorance. Either that or reject the idea of God.

  291. Can we generate a thought in the absence of an electrical impulse across a neural synapse? Please explain how? If we cannot, and one is required, then free will, is no more than an illusion.

  292. Linda,Fendrel & AJG: your posts look like a day inside my brain…these concepts/realities are at the heart of the current struggle I have with God, & I wish I’d never heard of this debate. Doesn’t stop me believing, just makes me question the eact meaning of ‘goodness’ & ‘love’.

    Gavin – I found your 3 point explanation patronising to be honest, that’s pretty much the theological equivalent of saying ‘duh’…Your first point is undermined by the undoubted sleight of hand many calvinists play with this point, believing as I do that it doesn’t lay a secure foundation at all on which to say that humanity is genuinely responsible in any moral sense we’d recognise in any other area of morality. Then the other 2 points don’t look that compelling.

  293. Fendrel – agreed – I think our brain (synaptic neural firings and all) gives us the ability to respond – and God, being God, decides whether our response is our own or stuffed into us by others and given in fear or heartfelt. This way, a young child can have a genuine response to God while the adult that taught her to respond isn’t really genuine (just fearful or a traditionalist).

    So, what happens after death, when no neural impulses occur? Well, either it is just annihilation – all the more reason to live out the faith you feel is right, and not someone else’s version, or there is more. Here is a better question. Animals are often guided by instinct. For example, horses not raised around pigs have a strong reaction to them – have thrown many an unsuspecting rider from their jolting response, birds and flies mate due to the male being able to “know” a, sometimes, elaborate mating dance – without being taught (my husband raises millions of fruit flies in his lab, he can take an egg and hatch it in a vile where it is isolated from any adult contact, yet, when that little guy grows his wings, he know the steps for mating. The little guy never saw another adult male fly in his life, he was hatched at the same time as all his brothers, none practiced it or learned it in any way, they all just know it, and it is the same as all the other male fly’s mating dances – instinct – just knowing via inheritance.

    Humans have little instinct – sucking and moro reflex are the only two instincts left in humans – and the moro is no longer effective (it is the way newborns throw out there arms in a curve grasping motion – it was from our riding on our ape-mom’s backs – when we fall newborns grasp to grab onto a tree and not hit the ground. Problem is, we no longer ride on our mom’s backs or live in trees. The reflex is too weak now to actually grab while falling. In primates who still reside in trees, it is much more effective). The moro reflex disappears when very young, leaving sucking as the only untaught human instinct.

    Ok, so we are different in our knowledge from other species, and knowledge is our survival adaptation. But why do humans work to make things better for future generations (well, some do)? Altruism has been found in other species, but forward thinking has not been. We began to bury our dead *with items* some 150,000 years ago. Sure, burying dead could prevent disease, so it could be something humans did as self-preservation, but *with stuff* laid nicely beside them? Then, things were found drawn on rocks near those graves? No one was digging a mass grave, throwing bodies in and chucking all their belongings in to protect from a plague or something. These are beautifully arranged, sometimes with elaborate stone placements around them. Weapons in hand, etc. Animals don’t do this. It is beyond basic self-preservation.

    The OT is fascinating to me, because one of the promises that keeps coming up is how long a person’s name will continue – ie. how long their family line will last. These guys sought their god’s because they wanted to persevere, past their own life spans. For Abraham, a promise of ancestors lasting and multiplying as the stars of the sky was enough to uproot his small family, leave his home and wander around in a strange and often dangerous foreign land (think of all the times he had to hand Sarah over to local kings, he was vulnerable on his own). It is why he knew God wouldn’t take Isaac, once God showed him he was going to give him a family line, he felt blessed. Today, would anyone feel blessed by “oh your off-spring will live to about 2,000 future generations”? No, we would want a big house, good job, success, health, wealth – we are so shallow. But we make more sense today.

    Humans show a unique capacity to nurture and sustain aid to future generation who will far outlive their own life spans. Not all humans, and not always, but it shows something that passes self-preservation. If it was just biology that drove us, we would likely want kids with sex, likely want the most/best food, shelter and medicine, we would reject looking out for others at the expense of our lives – especially the future generations who don’t exist yet.

    God chose the Abrahams of this world because he liked their concern for the unseen. The easy way out would have been, take what I can now and the future generations can figure out their own stuff. Some people are more tribal, our group should get the best (land, food, jobs, benefits, etc.) at the expense of other groups. Often those groups use their future generations for immediate gain, or use the lower status group-memeber’s off spring for their own gain (when Sarah kicks out Hagar and Ishmael she is acting in the usual manner, removing a threat to her own off-spring). But those who get the highest praise are the people who consider the least, the unborn – future offspring -, the widow, etc. Altruism. God says he’ll bless that.

    Now, what about our neurones? Well, they are misfiring over altruism and future thinking. That sort of behaviour is beyond simple evolution. It mystifies scientists – not every human gets to that level of thinking. Some humans get to that level as children. It is uncharacteristic of any biological development, and is sort of anti-evolutionary. Does this prove something beyond our physical selves? Not sure. But it confuses scientists as it is a strong trait in humans (some more than others) that shows no characteristic inheritance pattern, yet never dies out and often compels rather than repels other humans. Think of Mother Theresa, Ghandi or Schindler for example – they become our global heroes, not warriors who eliminate threatening hordes – yet biologically, those warriors should be our timeless heroes – survival of the fittest.

    Now, I follow evolution – I hate the phrase “believe in evolution, as if it is a religion” and am fine with it, but I am just bringing up the parts that don’t fit evolution to show there is more to us than evolved synaptic neural impulses, and that may get discovered and no longer be a mystery, or it may not. I am not saying it proves something, just noting there seems to be more to our “aliveness” or “will to live” than electric impulses.

  294. Val, that link points out that Calvin believed in predestination in the salvation sense (which we all know), but every action of ours being predetermined by God? I don’t see that.

    From Calvin:
    “This liberty is compatible with our being depraved, the servants of sin, able to do nothing but sin. In this way, then, man is said to have free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion.”

    I give no argument that he believed man could only sin without God, but he calls a person’s actions “voluntary”. It seems to me even Calvin did not believe we are mere puppets moving without any will of our own.

    But regardless of Calvin himself, many Calvinists do not believe that (in fact, I’ve not met one). I think if a large number of people who identify as Calvinists believe we have Freewill and can act on our own desires, it is not fair to label them as believing something different.

  295. Jeff S – I think there are several different definitions of freewill that are mooted, & we may think we’re hearing one, whilst it may be the other. It’s late but I’m dredging my brain for these – power to contrary, compared with non-compulsion- the second not seeming very free if you only have the ‘choice’ to act out a limited subset of choices because of the fallen nature you’ve been given by someone else, but yet get blamed for it. I also think many evangelical Arminians would speak of ‘freed will’, not free will per se, see Roger Olsen’s works for discussion.

  296. DearBeaker J

    I did say that it wouldn’t please everyone but it was written by a theologian who sought to express simply what is in effect a profound mystery or paradox, call it what you will.

    I always feel uncomfortable when people try to second-guess God or think they know better.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  297. Dear AJG
    It is playing with words to say or imply that God willed Adam to sin.

    Then again, there is a view that it resulted in a closer relationship with God.

    There is also the view that man wants to blame God for their own “sinful” actions, thereby absolving them of personal responsibility.

    There is also the Buddhist view that “S… happens. Get over it”

    Regards
    Gavin

    PS Your disaffection almost matches my intolerance of liberals :-)

  298. Fendrel

    Then life is meaningless, random and we don’t actually have any soul or personality. And so on and so on….what’s the point.
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  299. gavin,

    The point is that’s probably reality. Reality is under no obligation to exist the way we’d like it to be. It also would make the likelihood of God or gods even more remote or at least very cruel and unjust, certainly not worthy enough to emulate or worship.

    The level to which we want to abstract that notion, so as to enjoy our lives is up to each of us, it doesn’t make anything meaningless.

  300. Val

    decides whether our response is our own or stuffed into us by others and given in fear or heartfelt.

    In either case, we have no control over the response, it simply comes out of us, for no other reason than a synapse fired. No matter how far back you go, there is no such thing as a thought without an electrical charge that caused it.

  301. Gavin – your characterization of Buddhist though and belief is not only reductive but just plain off.

    And patronizing.

  302. Gavin,

    Imagine what I am now writing. Now if we could roll time back let’s say 5 minutes and have everthing be in exactly the same state that it was the first time, I would write exactly the same thing.

    Now it is actually possible, given quantum fluctuations, that the electrical impulses might play out differently the second time around, and I might actually write something different, but that only adds a level of randomness, it does not imply any level of control. In the end, it is all plays out as deterministic.

  303. Gavin,

    I am also not convinced that, should I turn out to be nothing more than a coffee loving, tennis playing, stubborn player piano, that I should consider my life to be meaningless. In fact I do not think I am meaningless despite holding to a deterministic philosophy. Of course, I also realize that I had no choice in feeling that way….but I’m glad that I do :)

  304. “thought,” not “though.” [sigh - my typing!]

    At any rate… maybe I’m coming across as too harsh, but between another commenter’s “definition” of feminism and your misleading comment about Buddhism, I’m finding myself annoyed.

    Maybe I need to take a break from reading comments for a day or so…

  305. Fendrel
    I would happily sit and listen to you playing. I might even take up smoking Gauloises and discuss Camus in a French accent.
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  306. Dear Numo

    I’m sorry. It was written on my coffee cup and I thought it was true! I could see it, touch it, feel it so I thought it was real.

    Regards
    Gavin

  307. Goodnight everyone
    It’s almost midnight here and I’m about to turn into a pumpkin.

    Gavin

  308. “Val
    decides whether our response is our own or stuffed into us by others and given in fear or heartfelt.
    In either case, we have no control over the response, it simply comes out of us, for no other reason than a synapse fired. No matter how far back you go, there is no such thing as a thought without an electrical charge that caused it.” – Fendrel

    Well, yes, thoughts by nature are synapses firing. My point is, how do we know that is all forms our feelings (emotional responses)? We can only know what we can measure, we can’t know if a soul exists within us if we can’t find physical evidence of it.

    Yes, we have control over our thoughts, lots of research has showing re-directive thinking can create different responses in our brian, they are trying this, with some success with Depressed patients. Like muscles, nerves get trained to respond by what has happened in the past, and can be untrained. For example, a child who grows up in an abusive environment may learn to shrink down, hide or leave when an argument occurs – because that signalled danger to him. When he grows up, he can’t manage conflict. He can relearn the “hide” response to hearing loud voices, etc. And learn coping mechanisms. Then, over time, his brain responds differently. Yes, there are points of no return – orphanages in Russia have shown this but often damaging or self-destructive responses can be unlearned and retaught. It takes work for an abuse survivor, but it can get results.

    “In either case, we have no control over the response, it simply comes out of us, for no other reason than a synapse fired.”

    We have control over our fitness level and we have control over our neural responses, I know new books are out saying we are just products of our circumstances, etc. but that is not conclusive. I have been in Education for years and years, long enough to know that practices considered “ground breaking” about 15 year ago are now considered detrimental in the long term. Popular ideas are just that, ideas, it is not yet a scientific theory, and I won’t base too much on it till I see more evidence and more research – i.e. longer than 20 years – backing it up. What we pump into our brain will likely affect what it pumps back out. If I watch 5 Disney movies in a row (my kids would if I let them), I would dream of talking birds and magical bad guys. The next day I may think of the world as “good guys” and “bad guys”. If I continued to watch Disney, it would form synaptic triggers that would push my thinking in that way. Smells do this too – actually more effectively than visuals. Expose a child to a place with a certain smell and whenever they encounter this smell for the rest of their lives, it will trigger feelings they held about that place. This is showing us we are training our brain responses – they are in our control, but it is a slow climb, with lots of repetition, not a quick redoing. Thinking about good things (non-judgemental, positive thoughts) is a useful piece of advice (for a healthy brian, if someone suffers from a mental illness, it may not be possible). If one is typically judgmental, perhaps it is a signal to start managing those responses, taking them captive so to speak. I catch myself doing it. I could work harder, but I have a weird love/hate relationship with devotions right now, so I don’t meditate on much. I should – as mediation is another way to redirect thoughts in our brains. Sorry, but saying we have no control is similar to saying we can’t help it if we are out of shape – for some people with disabilities or medical conditions, it is true, but for everyone else, it is lack of prioritizing.

  309. RE: AJG on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 03:53 PM,

    Gavin: 1 Mankind sinned at the fall and consequently was condemned.

    AJG: There’s nothing simple about theodicy. The only solution is to throw up one’s hands and admit ignorance. Either that or reject the idea of God.

    I agree that there’s nothing simple about theodicy, and that sooner or later, all of them wind up being highly speculative. Indeed I have my own speculation. In my own world view it all depends on what starting point one brings to the fall. Some see the Almighty as a wrathful deity who must somehow be placated. Prior to a decade ago, I too believed this model without question, and of course, classical theology followed like irrefutable clockwork from there.

    I began to see the Almighty not as a vengeful deity who must exact a penalty [as if the human suffering in all of history is not "penalty" enough], but rather as a horrified and heartsick parent who watched his beautiful kids throw a monkey wrench into the works, and decides to mount a rescue expedition.

    It’s what I choose to believe.

  310. Hi Gavin, you did say it wouldn’t satisfy everyone, which is true for me. Because the universality of sin plus guilt for sin plus future deserved punishment is the baseline from which everything else about the picture of salvation comes I do find it very very difficult when people (here you ;)) start talking about profound mysteries etc becasue this point is SO important…it’s not about thinking we know better rather than a conscience led deep enquiry into whether what is presented, esp by the calvinist wing of the church, really is what the Bible teaches. If this was in another worldview I would critique it HEAVILY at just this point…I’m sure a drowning man is grateful for any rescue, but if he is saved by the person who threw him in (or could have prevented other throwing him in…), & is then expected to love, serve & trust that person forever, & to tell others to do the same, well surely you can see the cognitive dissonance there, even if I’m using a fairly crude picture?
    I’m glad you have no issues with this, it must be a lovely place to be.

  311. Muff

    Wonderful, wonderful statement. and I concur with you.

    I began to see the Almighty not as a vengeful deity who must exact a penalty [as if the human suffering in all of history is not "penalty" enough], but rather as a horrified and heartsick parent who watched his beautiful kids throw a monkey wrench into the works, and decides to mount a rescue expedition.

  312. Muff,

    Whatever helps the cognitive dissonance :)

    He gave them the monkey wrench, knowing precisely what they would do with it. Talk about letting God off the hook.

  313. Gavin wrote “It is playing with words to say or imply that God willed Adam to sin.

    Let’s go over this carefully…

    1) God foreknew everything man would do.

    2) God knew man would sin.

    3) God created man with the ability to sin despite the fact that He knew man would sin.

    4) If you believe in the Garden of Eden story, God put man in an impossible situation, giving him a wife that He knew would disobey Him and cause man to sin.

    5) Man sinned just as God knew he would sin. Honestly, what else could man have done but do that which God knew man would do before God decided to create him?

    6) God punishes man with eternal torment for committing the sin that man HAD to commit because God foresaw it and chose to create man in spite of it.

    7) A few humans are lucky enough to be born into a culture where they hear about God’s plan to rescue them from their sin by putting their faith in Jesus. The majority of the people who ever lived get to burn for eternity (ETERNITY!) because they were unlucky or didn’t believe hard enough. All so God can glorify Himself.

    Tell me again how God gets off the hook here? Or is it just a mystery (i.e. you punt on the question)?

  314. Dear AJG
    Sorry but you’re still playing with words. I can recommend a number of systematic theologies or articles that will explain things as simply or as complicated as you desire. (Although it would be better just reading the Bible and asking for understanding).
    Regards
    Gavin

  315. Dear Beakerj

    I appreciated your comments , analogy and kind remarks. I didn’t come to this happy place very easily but I have resigned myself to trust what God says in His word and leave what I don’t understand (the mystery as AJG calls it!) with Him. It sounds naive, I know, and it does mean that I don’t like it when people seem to “diss” God. Hence my sometimes intemperate remarks in this blog. I feel obliged to defend my God by delivering the occasional metaphorical punch on the nose! although He is quite capable of looking after Himself.

    My analogy would be more of father rescuing his child from danger and the child suddenly realising that his dad wasn’t being a spoilsport or killjoy when he had previously warned of danger.

    For what it’s worth I have thought long and hard over some of the stories being discussed here like the invasion of Canaan, Tamar because they are awful but I have to trust that God is righteous and acts righteously in accordance with his holy and loving character.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  316. Gavin,

    I don’t see that AJG has missed anything with a possible exception being point 5 & 6 (foreknowledge does not force a particular action).

    However, his overall point is still valid. Even though man was not “compelled” to sin.

    1. I “know” my dog will bite me if I spray him with water
    2. I choose to spray him anyway
    3. My dog bites me (of his own free will)
    4. You must admit that I share responsibility for my dog’s bad behavior.

    How is that different from

    1. God “knows” mankind will misuse “free will” by sinning
    2. God gives “free will” to mankind anyway
    3. Humans misuse “free will”, and chose to disobey God (sin)
    4. God must share responsibility for mankind’s disobedience.

    Please, where is the logic faulty? If it is not faulty why is it not sufficient to reject God, if for no other reason than he is neither holy nor just.

  317. Just a (not-so) quick word on “mystery”- I absolutely agree that there are seemingly at-odds ideas that are difficult to accept. I find this true in every view I’ve looked at, including atheism. Believe me when I say I came to a crucial place in the last year where I questioned everything pretty hard core. I basically had nothing left invested in Christianity as far as the trappings go (my circle of friends, support system, etc.) and I was at a blank slate. I could have walked away.

    But in the end, for the way my brain works there was far less cognitive dissonance in faith then there was in atheism and so that’s where I’ve hung my hat, and I’ve been happy that I have. The church and a lot of its people burned me, but God has not. My experience tells me he is real and he is the God of the Bible, even if I cannot make it all fit for every question I have. I am OK with some mysteries being out there as long as what I can understands makes sense to me, and the most powerful understanding I have is that I’ve blown it, I need grace, and God has provided that for me. I really just don’t have the ability to look at the world any other way than that. I’ll call that the Holy Spirit and the atheist can call it indoctrination.

    I am quite sympathetic to others who have not answered all of the questions I’ve asked the same way or with the same level of importance. We are all individuals and have to be true of our view of the world. I do wish that all could find the faith and hope in Christ I have, because I DO believe that’s where the best and truest hope is, but I know not all will see it as I do.

  318. Fendrel & AJG,
    Both of you take a highly deterministic view of the Almighty (not the same thing as believing in such a thing as God mind you) and oddly enough it comports with the view of the medieval reformers too.

    What if the Almighty decided to spin the roulette wheel or throw the dice just to see what would happen, without rigging the game from the get go? In my opinion, leaving the future open negates the need for a “hook” either way, for God or his humans.

  319. Muff – I hear you.

    It’s kind of like the infamous question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” (which was – apparently – one of many criticisms of Western medieval theology).

  320. Muff,

    Yes but that is not the God of Christian theology, one of who’s attributes is omniscience, in addition it raises other questions about God, like the old chestnut about whether God is so powerful can he create a rock…etc.

    In other words, can God not be in control and still be God and if God cannot be defeated or have His plan thwarted is anything truly random?

  321. Hi Gavin, I absolutely appreciate where you’re coming from…I was hoping to get to that point & prayed for years that I would, but this was the exact point where my faith buckled under the pressure of my Mother’s dying & death…it stood up to over 20 years of serious illness, but fractured in the face of death, unexpectedly. The mystery that this particular mystery left hanging over the character of God meant that I had no confidence in knowing what God’s goodness meant, in the most agonising days of my life. I’m trying to recover from that, still.

  322. Fendrel, I submit to you that God DOES share in responsibility in the fact that man sins. Imagine, if you have kids, and they choose to dislike or ignore you, or do something really bad like murder, but you still love them because they are your kids. God even laments in Genesis, the same as I’ve done about my own daughter, why oh why did I have kids?

    As to God and the problem of evil. In the OT God spoke directly to people, and/or their designated kings or prophets. In the NT, Jesus came to point out the errors of the OT people and performed some miracles (if you believe the gospels, i mean), and the Holy Spirit is imbued into each believer. With technology and the industrial revolution, mankind should be able to “perform miracles”, but we don’t. I blame mankind for the evil, and I especially blame the church. We sit around and nitpick theology, and we forget to put faith into action. I can’t think about it often, because of the despair that sets in.

  323. Some of the things

    a) There must be a cause for every effect- our existence necessitates an uncaused cause. God must exist (though this is a very broad definition of “God”)

    b) As I’ve argued (even though you disagree, it’s how I see it) morality depends on God. I can’t even conceive of a world without morality. This isn’t so much irrational as it is disturbing to the point I am unable to cope with the idea of no such things as morality.

    c) Atheism means denying experiences and moments of my life where I experienced the divine. Either through a felt presence or the miraculous workings of events to a wondrous end. Yes, these could all be explained as chance and confirmation bias, but it feels like an awful lot of work to dismiss the most obvious answer in my life- that God is at work in it.

    Overall, I would rather accept the mystery that God is soverign and we have free will than the universe is without a cause, that my sense of right and wrong should be dismissed, and that God is not at work in my life.

  324. Muff wrote What if the Almighty decided to spin the roulette wheel or throw the dice just to see what would happen, without rigging the game from the get go? In my opinion, leaving the future open negates the need for a “hook” either way, for God or his humans.

    That’s not the orthodox view of God although I know of many open theists who would argue that way. A God who would create man with the ability to sin and then be surprised that man actually did sin would be incredibly naive. A God who would then punish man for being what He created him to be would be incredibly vindictive.

  325. Jeff wrote There must be a cause for every effect- our existence necessitates an uncaused cause. God must exist (though this is a very broad definition of “God”)

    So what caused God?

  326. AJG – well, not everyone posting here believes that God throws people into some sort of hell and punishes them forever and ever.

    I just cannot believe that the passages that are interpreted as meaning that there is such a thing as eternal conscious torment are actually saying that.

    Interestingly… in Judaism, there is no belief in “original sin,” though of course there is belief in people sinning.
    I’m less and less inclined to accept the Western model of “original sin” as time goes on.

    While I’m not a universalist, I can’t rule that out at this point, either. My beliefs and perspectives have changed a lot over the past 10+ years, so who knows?

  327. Jeff wrote Overall, I would rather accept the mystery that God is soverign and we have free will than the universe is without a cause, that my sense of right and wrong should be dismissed, and that God is not at work in my life.

    I certainly don’t begrudge you for feeling that way, Jeff. As I stated, we all need to do what we can to make this life as pleasant as possible. Lord knows there is a lot of pain and strife that we need to wade through during the course of our lives.

  328. “So what caused God?”

    Nothing. Only effects (by definition) need a cause, but God is not an effect. However, everything we can observe and see as part of this universe IS an effect, so it requires a cause.

    I know you believe the universe is not an effect, which by this (very broad) definition makes the universe “God” in your belief system, albeit an impersonal one.

    Or to say it a different way:
    1. Effects, by definition, must have a cause
    2. For effects to exist, there must have been at one point a cause that was not an effect.
    3. This non-effect is “God”.
    4. This definition of “God” does not require the God of Christianity to exist
    4. The God of Christianity fit this definition, albeit with many more attributes.

  329. Jeff,

    I can appreciate moments like the ones you spoke of…a feeling of the divine, inspiration, whatever you want to call them, there is still no reason to attribute them to anything other then the brain chemistry in your body, in fact there has been much work in the fields of neuroscience, reproducing those exact feelings in people via stimulation of neural pathways…No God required, and His absence doesn’t diminish the experience.

    Cause/Effect is certainly true, at scales larger than the sub-atomic, but at smaller scales quantum effects take over, which is not driven by cause/effect…there is no reason to suppose that a prime cause is needed for the universe’s creation.

  330. “I can appreciate moments like the ones you spoke of…a feeling of the divine, inspiration, whatever you want to call them, there is still no reason to attribute them to anything other then the brain chemistry in your body, in fact there has been much work in the fields of neuroscience, reproducing those exact feelings in people via stimulation of neural pathways…No God required, and His absence doesn’t diminish the experience.”

    OK, so my options are to trust that people can duplicate my feelings (which they haven’t felt to know they are duplicating) are controlled solely by stimulation of neural pathways, or by God working in my life. It takes less faith for me to believe the latter.

    “Cause/Effect is certainly true, at scales larger than the sub-atomic, but at smaller scales quantum effects take over, which is not driven by cause/effect…there is no reason to suppose that a prime cause is needed for the universe’s creation.”

    Well, I can take your word for it, or I can take the Bible. Both avenues would require me to trust in mysteries that don’t fully make sense at my level of comprehension. I experience less cognitive dissonance trusting in scripture than Fendrel.

  331. AJG,
    As time goes on, I become less and less orthodox in my view of the Almighty anyway. Who says that naivety and vindictiveness are required? As numo has pointed out, not all believers believe in lockstep.

  332. Muff

    There are two songs on EChurch this weekend that I am dedicating to you. Awhile back, you left a touching comment on Mary caring for Jesus that struck me deeply. Both of these songs emphasize the parenting of Jesus as He grew up. Thank you for that comment which will last me the rest of my life.

  333. Fendrel

    You asked” if God cannot be defeated or have His plan thwarted is anything truly random?” We humans can be too binary. In fact, there could be an infinte number of choices that fit within a paradigm created by an infinite God.

  334. Dee,

    Not if you going to say that only perfection can proceed from God. By definition “perfection” implies one to the exclusion of all others.

  335. Fendrel

    I believe that there must be Uncaused First Cause.

    Also, “in fact there has been much work in the fields of neuroscience, reproducing those exact feelings in people via stimulation of neural pathways…” So, just because something is natural, it means that God is not doing it? Could it be that he created these pathways speicifically for this experience? I think it is possible.

  336. Fendrel

    “By definition “perfection” implies one to the exclusion of all others.” I did not know that perfection could only be applied on a small scale. 

  337. I think perhaps the best way to sum up my faith is to say that trying not to believe just requires my brain to function in ways it was not designed. You can attribute this to the Holy Spirit or evolution as your worldview permits, but as much as the atheists claim they cannot handle the cognitive dissonance in theism, the same effect is produced in me for atheism, whether my examples prove it or not.

    But if there is no God, you can be grateful that evolution did this to me, for I am a far easier person to be around for my faith, and that only profits everyone else!

  338. Dear Beakerj
    I’m so sorry to hear of how you feel. My father-in-law died suddenly three weeks ago and we had to make a mad dash to the west coast of Ireland. We got there in time, thank goodness to say our last goodbyes but I can tell you that it shakes you to your very foundations. My wife and her sisters are devastated. The husbands can’t believe it. Everything from the moment of death to the removal to the two night wake to the funeral just seems so unreal. I’m angry about it but take comfort from the fact that w were there when we were needed most. My son spoke to me in the car tonight saying that sometimes he was okay with the thought of dying because it happens to us all but sometimes he was scared and asked me what I thought. What can you say? Only that Christ offers hope of forgiveness, guaranteeing a safe and secure end.
    God bless you.
    Gavin

  339. Fensrel
    Sorry I just read your post. I suppose the classical response is that we were brought into an even better, closer,relationship With our Father. ( yes I know that raises other questions but my son’s chat left me thinking of other things( see my post to Beakerj).
    I don’t profess to have all or any of the answers but I rely on God o support me.
    Best wishes
    Gavin

  340. @Fendrel
    Dee
    How do make the white background text?

    She cheats. :)

    As an admin for the site she has access to a special editor for use when replying from the admin dashboard. It has toolbars built int ito do the HTML for her.

  341. Guy – i think a fair number of commenters here are familiar with WYSWYG editors.

    so maybe you can pass on the big secret to us?

  342. Dear Beakerj
    A quote from the Works of William Bridge, volume 2

    Therefore God leads his people into the field, that they may fight; but in all this fight, God stands by, Christ stands by, love stands by; and God hath no design but of love upon his children in their temptations.

    Best wishes
    Gavin

  343. No real secret. Only admins see the nifty editors.

    And after some of the royal foul ups they have caused at times due to programming bugs or breakage due to WordPress updates I have absolutely no plans to enable them for everyone. I’d love for Dee and Deb to become HTML writers but that’s not going to happen.

    This is a major ongoing hassle with WordPress.

  344. Guy – I have a WordPress blog and *hate* their WSWYG editor, so I hand-code. (Which I learned to do via my longtime Blogger blog, which was a hand-coding only setup until recently – and even now, I still prefer to type in most HTML tags.)

    Guess I’ll just have to go check a page on HTML coding… ah well.

  345. numo – You just made my point. I do not want to be in the business of being the help desk for people using the WP editor.

  346. Guy – I hear you, but at the same time, I think it might be helpful to be able to point people to an article or FAQ (or whatever) on some basic HTML tagging.

    This topic does come up fairly often, and I’m sure people can figure out how to do open/close tags and all that.

  347. Guy – Blogger’s latest interface actually makes it necessary for me to be hand-doing “break” tags, which is beyond ridiculous – worse than WP.

    The number of things that get broken when online services install “upgrades” never ceases to amaze me!

  348. Thanks Dee! I look forward to hearing the songs [right now I'm listening to Chopin's Prelude in D flat major also known as the Raindrops Prelude]. Actually it was elastigirl who brought up the subject of Jesus’ humanity. In my opinion, and for too many centuries now, Jesus’ humanity has only been glossingly acknowledged by the Church, sanitized, and never too up close and personal.

  349. ” In my opinion, and for too many centuries now, Jesus’ humanity has only been glossingly acknowledged by the Church, sanitized, and never too up close and personal.”

    A big amen to that.

  350. I think it might be helpful to be able to point people to an article or FAQ (or whatever) on some basic HTML tagging.

    As I said the other day. There are 1000s of site you can find via Google or Bing that show people hw to do HTML tags.

    But we have had issues where entire posts and comments on them are not viewable due to people making mistakes when “getting cute”. Then I get to go into the database and try and find the mistake and fix it by hand via MySQL record edits. So I’m making this somewhat self selecting. If you have to ask how, please don’t do it.

    And I did show folks how to blood, italic, and blockquote.

  351. A simply “preview” of our posting would go a long way to make things easier in that regard. If not a preview, then the ability to edit a post where we could correct mistakes.

  352. GBTC -

    You showed us how to “blood”?!?!

    That sounds a bit messy! Dee and Deb might need to send you for a mental check-up :)

  353. <b?How About Using Joomla Instead of Word Press, Guy Behind the Curtain

    Have you thought about switching to the Joomla content management system since WordPress is always a nightmare and TWW has grown into a large website as opposed to still being the simple type of blog it started out as and for which Word Press is designed for.

    I haven’t tried them, having used Jooomla after one bad WP experience, but there are several tools that reputedly make changing from WP to Joomla pretty seamless.

    Just a thought…

  354. but there are several tools that reputedly make changing from WP to Joomla pretty seamless.

    All it takes is time. Which equates to $$. We run this place on a fairly lean budget for a site that gets 1000s of unique visitors per day. And there’s the “if I get hit by a bus” factor. Way more WordPress wizards in the wild than Joomla. :)

    You should have seen the switch from iWeb w/ mobile me to WordPress / Godaddy. :)

    As to blood vs. bold, maybe a Freudian slip?

  355. How to bold and such.
    And if you want to do more but don’t know how then PLEASE just don’t do it!

    other text <b>text to be bolded</b> other text
    other text <i>text to be italicised</i> other text

    <blockquote>this is how to quote a bunch of text a special way</blockquote>

    And here’s what you get if you actually type in the above.
    other text text to be bolded other text
    other text text to be italicised other text

    this is how to quote a bunch of text a special way

    My point being if you really don’t understand what’s going on here, just type.

  356. Evans is a package. She is a liberal who promotes the fatally false notion of God blessed homosexuality and she has to decide whether she embraces the gospel or universalism which she says she believes also. That is good old time heresy plain and simple. Or used to be. From what I’ve seen on her blog she is a grotesque bible butcher of the first order and in a healthy church would be put out for her own redemption. We’re far tolerant for that nowadays though. This should be the part where everybody assumes abuncha stuff about me which I’m more than used to.

  357. Greg

    I like Evans. She challenges us to ask questions and to examine our paradigms. She is a young woman who is going through a period of questioning like many of us have done. She is being honest about it unlike some of us who clam up and deep six all doubts.

    If you examine our blog, you will find Deb and I a bit more conservative. But, we think her questions and observations have validity and we need to see if we can answer her from our point of view. As you will see, I did a series on homosexuality and also interviewed Justin Lee. I came to a different conclusion than Evans (although I am not sure she has reached any final conclusions) and am still friendly with Lee.

    Before I started this blog, I spent years reading ExChristians and other blogs written by people who have left the faith. They taught me a whole bunch and I will always be grateful to that venue, even though I got my head bit off on a couple of occasions. 

    Here is where i will disagree with you. Evans did a post in which she outlines what she believed about the faith. There is little doubt in my mind that, if what she says she believes in is true and I have no reason to doubt her, she is a Christian. To judge otherwise would be taking on the purview of the Almighty and i am not that bold. She has successfully challenged the stronghold of Young Earth Creationsim and the basis for the role of women in the church. Her series on Esther directly challenged Mark Driscoll’s “Queen Esther is a Slut” comments. 

    I do not believe that she is a universalist. She honestly shares her struggles of eternal torture for eveyone who does not believe. Any Christian who claims she/he has not grappeled with that in the course of their faith is either shallow or lying

    As for you, Greg, I have no idea who or what you are and make no assumptions. However, I disagree with some of your conclusions which is not the same as making assumptions.

  358. Greg

    Quick question. You use the name Tribulus. Can you explain the significance of that in your life?