Bristol University’s Christian Union Bans Women Speakers, Then Reverses Decision

"UCCF should like to stress that the choice of any speaker is made by each individual; student run CU. UCCF does not have preferred speaker lists or undesirable speaker lists. Neither do we take a view on the complementarian/egalitarian debate. UCCF has staff and students in both camps and everywhere in between; we therefore cannot have a policy of ‘No women speakers’ nor a policy of ‘you must have women speakers’. UCCF continues to support students as they lead CUs in a manner that reflects the unity and purpose of our Basis of Faith."

Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowships (UCCF)

Update on 12/7/12

http://www.photos-public-domain.com/2011/03/27/blue-crayon-drawn-male-gender-sign-or-symbol/

Blue Crayon Male Gender Symbol

Dee and I are privileged to have several regular commenters in the United Kingdom, and we are grateful for their perspectives.  The focus of our blog tends to be on Christian trends here in the U.S.  However, we are discovering that the Brits are facing some of the same challenges we discuss.  Here's a case in point.  It has just come to our attention that there has been a ruckus at Bristol University over what women can and can't do with regard to ministry.  Before we explore those developments, here is some background information that may be helpful. 

Let's start with InterVarsity Fellowship (IVF).  According to the website:

"Our movement began with students at the University of Cambridge, England in 1877. There, a group of Christian students began to meet together, in spite of the disapproval of some University officials, to pray, to study the Bible and to witness to fellow students. Soon, similar groups sprang up on other campuses. Eventually, they formed the British Inter-Varsity. (Hence our name, inter – meaning between, varsity – the British term for college level students.) From the very beginning they had a strong concern to take the gospel to those all over the world who had never heard it – a concern that continues in InterVarsity today.

In response to a plea for help, British InterVarsity sent Howard Guinness, a medical school graduate and vice-chairman of the British movement, to Canada in 1928. Students helped raise the money to provide one-way passage to Canada. Between bouts of seasickness, Guinness led his cabin mate to Christ during the crossing, As God supplied the funds, he slowly worked his way across Canada, starting up and assisting evangelical student groups.

By 1937 the Canadians began to hear requests for help from students in the United States as independent evangelical student groups began springing up. In 1938 Stacey Woods, the Canadian InterVarsity director, met with students on the University of Michigan campus. As an immediate result of that visit, students formed the first InterVarsity chapter in the United States.

By May of 1941 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA was an organization with three staff on loan from Canada and Stacey Woods at the helm as Secretary General. The official incorporation was in November, 1941. In 1947 InterVarsity USA became a founding member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, a federation of national Christian student movements…

Today, there are more than 1000 InterVarsity staff serving more than 38,000 students and faculty nationwide. In addition we produce training materials, camps, books, and media tools which serve both the Church and campus. "

InterVarsity Fellowship develops both men and women.  The IV website states

"As a missionary movement, we can ill afford to squander the talents of any of our people. Women – both staff and students – have historically shared significant leadership roles with men throughout the Fellowship and will continue to do so."

Across the pond, various college ministries sprang up during the 1900s.  To make a long story very short, here's what happened to InterVarsity Fellowship (IVF) in the United Kingdom:  

"Work in these areas expanded rapidly in the late 1960s and early 1970s, such that by the mid 1970s it represented half the ministry, and resulted in ICCF and CECU merging with IVF to form the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship."

So IVF in the UK ceased to exist since it merged with ICCF and CECU to form the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF)

UCCF is made up of over 200 student Christian Unions, which I would imagine are similar to the college chapters of Cru or IVF here in the United States  A few days ago Bristol University became the focus of some news stories here and in the UK.  The Huffington Post published this report:

A British university's student-led Christian Union is under investigation after an internal email was leaked dictating that women would not be allowed to teach at its weekly meetings.

Bristol University Christian Union's president Matt Oliver's email comes just two weeks after the Church of England's General Synod decided not to allow women to become Anglican bishops, the Guardian reports.

According to the Bristol Tab, Oliver's decision was meant as a compromise after the group's international secretary resigned because of discomfort over the possibility of female teachers.

Women can still teach at meetings, as long as their husbands teach with them.

Well, I guess that policy discriminates against ALL single women…

The Guardian published a story entitled Bristol University Christian Union bars women from teaching. It begins as follows:

"A university's Christian Union is being investigated after ruling that women are not allowed to teach at its main weekly meetings.

Bristol University Christian Union also made it clear that women will only be able to teach as principal speakers at away weekends and during its mission weeks if they do so with a husband."

The very next day this headline appeared in The GuardianBristol University Christian Union performs U-turn on female speakers.  The article states:

"A university Christian union that came under attack for not allowing women to teach at its main meetings has now said it will allow both sexes to preach at all events.

Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) is being investigated after a memo emerged revealing women could not teach at its weekly meetings, and could only teach in some other settings with a husband.

On Tuesday night it put out a statement saying it would now allow women to teach at all its events.

It said: 'The executive committee now wish to make clear that we will extend speaker invitations to both women and men, to all BUCU events, without exception. BUCU is utterly committed to reflecting the core biblical truth of the fundamental equality of women and men.' "

The scrutiny became so intense that BUCU posted this statement on its website:

"Bristol University Christian Union (BUCU) deplores the recent exaggerations and misrepresentations in some parts of the media of its position on women's ministry in the church. It is well known that Christian churches differ on this question. BUCU is not a church, but a student society, so it has never had a formal policy on women's ministry. In recent months, the Executive Committee have been exploring ways in which BUCU can best accommodate members with divergent and strongly held convictions, while expressing our unity as Christian believers. In line with our basic position throughout that process, which has not been widely publicised, the Executive Committee now wish to make clear that we will extend speaker invitations to both women and men, to all BUCU events, without exception. BUCU is utterly committed to reflecting the core biblical truth of the fundamental equality of women and men."

BUCU Executive Committee

Finally, the umbrella organization for the Christian Unions (UCCF) was compelled to issue its position as stated below:

UCCF Statement on Women speaking in Christian Unions

Many hundreds of churches across the United Kingdom have a policy of not having women preachers. The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) – the umbrella group of the UK’s 200+ student Christian Unions (CUs) – has no such policy.

The UCCF employs women and men in leadership positions on an equal basis. They all receive training in public speaking (for all types of meetings) and many of the women on our staff have thrived and developed their speaking gifts in the context of CU work. UCCF employs women and men to lead the regional teams of staff workers and has women speaking at our regional and national conferences.

The CUs are not churches. They are student led and student run societies, whose aim is to make the authentic Christian message accessible to other students. CUs have a Basis of Faith – which is a ‘mere Christianity’ – around which Christians from all denominations and flavours can gather. The issues that comprise the Basis of Faith focus on the core truths about God and Jesus recorded in the Bible, not matters of local church order.

CU members belong to local churches which may have strong views (in various directions) on particular issues – such as women speakers – but students are urged to deal with such matters in a spirit of generosity and realism when coming into the CU.

CUs are at liberty to invite speakers (male or female) who will maintain the unity reflected in the Basis of Faith, but it would be wholly against the spirit and intention of the UCCF Basis of Faith and the advice of UCCF staff if an individual CU devised a policy not to have women speakers for some or all of their events.

The Bristol CU is utterly committed to reflecting the core biblical truth of the fundamental equality of women and men as they resolve this matter. This is a sensitive issue and the recent email exchange has revealed the internal processes of an undergraduate CU trying to think their way clear on a subject that Church denominations around the world have struggled with.

UPDATE – 07/12/12 [December 7, 2012 for us Americans]

UCCF should like to stress that the choice of any speaker is made by each individual; student run CU. UCCF does not have preferred speaker lists or undesirable speaker lists. Neither do we take a view on the complementarian/egalitarian debate. UCCF has staff and students in both camps and everywhere in between; we therefore cannot have a policy of ‘No women speakers’ nor a policy of ‘you must have women speakers’.

UCCF continues to support students as they lead CUs in a manner that reflects the unity and purpose of our Basis of Faith."

What an odd coincidence that this brouhaha in Great Britain happened on the heels of the Cru conundrum at the University of Louisville.

What could be causing so much dissension among Christians in Great Britain? 

Interestingly enough, a conference began in the UK just five years ago called New Word Alive.  At the initial gathering, the speakers were Don Carson, John Piper, and Terry Virgo.  In 2010, Wayne Grudem spoke and in 2011 Bob Kauflin performed at the event.  This is documented in the Wiki article. 

Guess who's speaking at the 2013 conference…  Mark Dever.

It seems the Brits are enamored with our American Calvinistas.  Need proof?  Take a look at this video shown in 2010 at the New Word Alive Conference.  I suspect that these performers are college students involved in Christian Unions.  Grudem, who spoke that year, was probably grinning from ear to ear as he watched.   Yep, Americans are fun to imitate, as this video demonstrates. 

As Dee has queried, could it be that they are looking to move parachurch organizations under the auspices of the local church (whatever that means). 

We would love to have your feedback!

Lydia's Corner:  Leviticus 22:17-23:44   Mark 9:30-10:12   Psalm 44:1-8   Proverbs 10:19

 

 

 

Comments

Bristol University’s Christian Union Bans Women Speakers, Then Reverses Decision — 240 Comments

  1. As a Brit, just a quick comment before I hit the sack. We have a long-running conference/festival called Spring Harvest, held in various locations around Easter time. There was originally a stream in this called Word Alive, representing the more conservative evangelicals. They eventually parted company with Spring Harvest for various reasons, particularly the row over a book called “The Lost Message of Jesus”. And yes, as might be expected, this lot are opposed to women teaching or holding leadership positions. They started their own event, the aforementioned New Word Alive.

    Their position is a minority one – the majority of British evangelicals take a more egalitarian approach. But a university CU will have people with a variety of different perspectives. Full credit to UCCF for acknowledging the diversity of views and not seeking to dictate to individuals CUs.

    Not sure what more I can add, but if anyone has any more questions, feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to respond.

  2. I can’t help wondering if this has been more or less going on in the background for a good while, among evangelicals/charismatics in the UK and Ireland who are into Third Wave/”new Apostolic Reformation”/etc. circles.

    One of the reasons I think that is because That Church (which booted me) is run by a man from the UK, whose late parents had connections with people all over the UK and in former colonies who came from a rather weird Pentecostal (and later, charismatic) background – they started coming to the fore in the 1950s. That Church’s “pastor’s” father was one of them.

    I’ve seen some fairly alarming websites run by a number of UK-based parachurch ministries over the past 8+ years, though right now, it would take me a while to find links and the like.

    Long story *very* short: women are not allowed to hold any kind of leadership position in many of these churches, and are told to submit. At That Church, there was a kind of “soft” comp stance, but I have no doubt that some women there are in bad, bad situations – and suspect that’s true for many women in the UK and Ireland as well.

  3. Maybe this is just an example of how I have my life compartmentalized, but I saw this play out across my Twitter and Facebook, thought “UK” and didn’t even consider that our creepy complementarians were having an impact across the pond. Now that I have this background, things are falling into place. Thank you!

  4. From Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian”:

    Brian: Are you the Judean Peoples’ Front?
    Reg: F*** off !!!
    Brian: What!?
    Reg: Judean Peoples’ Front!!! We’re the People’s Front of Judea!

    There’s a lot of that about over here.

    Are you Word Alive?
    F*** off! We’re New Word Alive!

    It happens in all walks of life. When the IRA declared a ceasefire and more or less formally joined the Northern Ireland peace process, a dissident faction formed called (predictably) the Real IRA. They probably meet in a phone box – Bono was right, I think, about the majority of people in the Emerald Isle not wanting the revolution – but still.

    BTW – Dee/Debs – you need a Pink Crayon Female Gender Symbol as well.

    More seriously, though I haven’t researched the events in Bristol in detail, the quotes in your report above suggest the only real U-turns going on were at the Guardian, and that BUCU never actually had a no-women-speakers policy (though one or more of its members felt strongly that it should have done). The Guardian cannot fairly be counted among the “gutter press”, but it’s still a paper trying to sell itself, and it certainly isn’t a natural supporter of a Christian organisation.

  5. Thank you Dee and Deb for posting this article.

    I agree with Nick Bulbeck that the Guardian are not natural supporters of evangelical Christianity, and do like stories like this. On the other hand as he also says they are a cut above the tabloids or what you would probably regard as “National Enquirer” (did I get that right? :-)).

    Seriously, this does raise concerns, particularly for those of us evangelical Brits who went through university CUs 30-40 years ago and for whom the idea of a woman teaching was never an issue. I remember being helped to lead a Bible Study by a fellow female student, and one of the UCCF reps who went through some material with me once was a woman.

    The video is both amusing and at the same time faintly sinister, in my view. Cleverly done, but Grudem is already under fire for teaching the eternal subordination of the Son, which raises alarming questions. Another evangelical lay reader in the Anglican Church has also raised concerns with me about the influence of this doctrine through his Systematic Theology. I hope the students are not going to put him on a pedestal.

    Checking the New Word Alive Wikipedia article, it’s interesting to note the main speakers. I say this without any prejudice towards these men, but Richard Coekin and William Taylor are both associated with, if not full members of, Reform, who are conservative evangelicals but also noted for their opposition to women in leadership (if I have understood their position correctly) and who were vociferously opposed to the ordination of women bishops. Reform have strong links with Sydney Diocese, about which I think our Australian brothers and sisters who post here could tell us more. Recently I have also noticed at least one Reform church becoming very taken with the US Reformed crowd, including Tim Keller and, more controversially I think, C J Mahaney, Mark Devers, John Piper and Mark Driscoll. The thing to remember is that Anglican evangelicals do tend to be Calvinist (and I think mainly have been) so there is probably a natural affinity to start with.

    It may not be SGM Bristol’s influence so much as Reform’s, although Reform churches in the UK seem to be mainly in the southeast of the UK (someone correct me if I’m wrong!) whereas Bristol is in the southwest.

    If the claim is true then it is also extremely unwise, given that CUs on campus in some universities have already come under pressure for not being “inclusive”. This would be just the sort of club that some young hothead zealot in the Student Union would love to beat them with.

  6. Nick and Kolya – I read The Guardian (well, parts of it) fairly often, and while I agree that there is often something of a bias against evangelicals, I’ve also seen some pretty level-headed coverage of religious issues. (or at least, to me, over here, it *looked* level-headed, especially their take on the so-called ex-gay movement and the way some people have been trying to both export it from here and import it into the UK.)

    As for not being gutter press, you know it! I don’t think it can get much worse than some of the UK rags, as well as ours. (The New York Post being one of the most egregious examples, with its cover photo of the mangled body of a man who was pushed off a subway platform into the path of an oncoming train – the photo ran either yesterday or the day before…)

  7. Kolya – yes, the Enquirer, but the thing is, it’s not a daily, and most people know that the “news” reported there is suspect at best.

    One of the most jarring images from my trip to London years ago was being on the Tube with a carful of middle-aged women in tweeds and sensible shoes. they were all perusing the most lurid tabs imaginable – I’d never seen anything like them, and I’d seen a fair few of the “Enquirer”-type rags that are published over here.

    At any rate, the tweeds and sensible shoes bunch were the last people I’d have imagined to be eager readers of such things (they all looked like English versions of Dana Carvey’s Church lady), but now that I’m older, well… I know that they’re part of the target audience, as is the case here. (I was only 21 at the time.)

  8. Correction: the Post’s cover of 2 days ago shows the man on the tracks as he was about to be run over.

    Which is even more horrifying, as if his death was some kind of reality TV show. [shivers]

  9. Numo, you’re right, of course. No publication can ever be without bias, but the Guardian is normally reasonable compared to the tabloids.

    Having said that, the tabloids and popular press have had a pretty rough year with the Leveson report over here. Some press people have already been in the dock (court) after the phone-hacking and other scandals. I think they are going to have to be more responsible from now on.

    I hope I am not prejudiced, but it does still astonish me as to why people such as those you mentioned can read tabloid papers every day, unless it’s a distraction and entertainment.

    The New York Post does sound ghastly from what you say. That’s pretty shameful, printing a picture like that.

  10. Ian,

    Is complementarian on the rise in the UK, or was it always there? If it is on the rise, is it coming through the Neo Calvinist resurgence in the US (Driscoll, Piper, Gurdem, etc.)?

    How strong an influence is Calvinism in UK churches? I just keep seeing a connection between strong complementarianism and neo-Calvinism (as opposed to more traditional Calvinism, like the Anglican’s 39 articles).

  11. Val,

    Great questions for Ian! I’ve been wondering the same things. I look forward to his response and the.views of our friends across the pond.

  12. Kolya – both the Post and the man who took the photo are under intense fire right now, and (imo) justly so.

    As for the tabloid audience, well of course it’s entertainment, juicy gossip, a distraction from daily life – and probably a way of fantasizing about living like a celebrity. Same as the old movie mags, back in the day.

  13. I’m sure that for many people, tabloids are an escape from unhappiness of many kinds.

    But then, so is “reality” Tv. (Which I really, <i.really dislike.)

  14. I grew up in Bristol and actually applied there at one point, but attended a university nearby instead. I am glad the CU there has changed their decision, because I think this is a dangerous slide into the direction many American churches have gone, where you have to subscribe to a “complementarian” (not even a recognized word on my Mac) position AS WELL AS the gospel to become a paper member. I don’t see the early church holding up that view or getting all hot and bothered about the feminism which did indeed exist back then as well. This is such a distraction from what matters, it is such a shame people within the CU decided to push their views above the unity of the gospel: which is what CUs are meant to be about.

  15. It figures Terry Virgo would be involved in New Word Alive. I can’t tell you how deeply disappointed I am in his wife Wendy, who I used to have a lot of respect for. I cannot understand why she hasn’t come out in opposition to complementarianism. She could have been a dynamic change agent if she had.

  16. I was involved with my university’s CU (not Bristol) for a couple of years as part of the international team, until relatively recently. I left because I started a PhD and it was taking quite a bit of time… And I was considerably older than many of my fellow students :)

    I also know a few people who work for UCCF, and several students who took a year to volunteer as a Relay worker, helping CUs in different places in England… So I guess I’ve come to see a bit how all this worked.

    In one side, I guess the stand of each particular CU and how they work will depend a lot on who the secretaries are and their points of view, as they’re all students who are elected by the members each year. Sometimes students who attend particular churches may be predominant, so that may give it a particular “flavour”.

    I think it’s also important to consider that the CUs are not completely independent from their university’s Union of Student and, as such, they have to go by certain rules shared by all the societies, whether they’re religious or not. And this is kind of relevant when it comes to rules related with discrimination of any kind, as the Union won’t take it kindly if they’re broken. For example, some years ago there was a vote at my CU about having a kind of doctrinal basis (rather simple, nothing about comp/egal issues) that members should accept… But that would mean that non-Christian people might not be able to join the CU, which would then be discriminatory. You get the idea. That’s why the CU at Bristol was being investigated, as that issue may mean breaking a Student’s Union rule on discrimination against women.

    By the way, we had women as secretaries of certain departments… But can’t remember any external speaker who was a women.

    About this particular case I read that their position about not allowing women speakers was already put in place several years ago. It was now when they decided that they’d allow women if they were with their husbands, and then this particular student decided to abandon the ship because he disagreed with it.

    From my perspective, the neo-calvinist position is relatively influential within certain evangelical circles. At my church, Evangelical Anglican, books by people like Carson, Piper, Keller, Grudem and others are promoted, and I know that the leadership could probably be considered as complementarian… Now the situation with the laity may be different, as I know that there are several opinions about different issues. Some people wanted women bishops, while others disagreed. And I’m thankful that the leadership does not try to push their ideas on this issue down our throats as if they were the Gospel itself.

    I attended that particular New Word Alive in 2010 and saw both Virgo and Carson. No idea Piper was there as well. There were two weeks of sessions and I went on the second, I think… I was rather new in the evangelical waters by then, as well, and didn’t know many of those names. Virgo’s seminar was about grace and, well, coming from an extremely different background I thought it was very helpful.

    All in all, my impression is that the Neo-Calvinist camp is having a relatively strong influence in Evangelical churches which could traditionally be defined as Reformed in the UK, probably more than in churches which tend more towards the charismatic side of things… And there are a few of those. We also have in my city, as far as I know, one of the most liberal churches in the whole UK.

  17. Hi. First time commenting on this blog but have read it for a while. I think it is great and thanks for your hard work. Came to it as a result of frustration with my church in UK and not finding bloggers there speaking up about what was happening. Also there are very few British Christian blogs written by women. New Frontiers takes a definite complementarian position. They did publish some articles about their views but I think they have disappeared from theie website. They try and keep quite about it but if you get involved in any new frontiers church(I was for 12 years) they have quite strong views. Including some leaders very keen on listing roles and jobs that women can do. They are also very keen on Piper, CJ, Mahanney etc. They have moved to a more Calvanistic position over the years. Wendy Virgo is not opposed to complementarianism. I still feel I am damaged by my time in that church but God is sorting me out.

  18. This, from FIEC’s Statement of Women in Ministry: “The section in 1 Corinthians 14 also indicates that the women do not have the same freedom to speak in the gathering as the gifted men.” And there I was, thinking that the Holy Spirit gifted both men and women.

    The cherry-picking that these people have to do to maintain their position is scary. Where Paul says “I do not permit…” they take as from the mouth of Christ Himself, but where Paul says, “in Christ there is no male or female” they explain away.

  19. To our new commenters,

    Welcome to TWW! I appreciate your perspectives on what is happening in the UK. It sounds so similar to what we are experiencing in the US.

    Hopefully, public exposure will quickly bring this to a head. I fear that many Christians do not know about the Calvinista agenda. This group is wreaking havoc on both sides of the pond.

  20. I’ve done some more digging. I found a link to a Matt Oliver who runs a blog called “all that’s in my head is in his hands”. This person describes himself as working for UCCF. His blog is mentioned by another blog called Thebluefish.org working through them I found references to a Transformission conference in Exeter which is within easy driving distance of Bristol.
    So my question is this. Could it be that the chairman of UCCF Bristol university, Matt Oliver, is a follower of Mark Driscoll?
    Regards
    Gavin

  21. I am a reader of The Wartburg Watch and I live in the UK.

    I have just watched that video you posted where the young people are eulogising Wayne Grudem at a New Word Alive conference. I am very disturbed by it for a number of reasons. It strikes me as very non-British. Traditionally, Brits don’t go in for celebrity-pastor adoration (or theologian adoration) and if they did really admire someone they would never be so blatant to literally compose a routine, song and dance about it – modesty and reserve would prevent it. However, that is changing. The routine is so like the one that SGM made about CJ Mahaney that it actually gives me a chill. Like the Mahaney one, it’s the unquestioning hero-worship that really unnerves me.

    The lines are being drawn here in the UK – I suppose they have been drawn a while ago – if you don’t accept neo-Reformed theology with all its trappings you’re a hopeless liberal and a lost cause. There is division being created. I have seen the young people in my church wholeheartedly lap up the pronouncements of Piper, Driscoll et al, this very week I heard one guy (a Bible college student) quoting Russell Moore (the proponent of patriarchy if I’m not mistaken). It depresses me greatly.

  22. May

    There are many of us here in the United States in the same boat. I want to encourgae you. I do not think their form of depressing, gender based theology will sell in the long run. Young people always take up the trends. When they experience the trends in their own lives, complete with the “you are not regenrate if you disagree with me”, it will fade.There are a limited amount of people who will accept this trend.

    I do not know about the UK but I do know that in the US people are derserting the organized church in droves. It has doubled in the last decade. Guess who was in charge over the last decade? The Calvinistas. Many of these pastors attribute the bleed from the churches due to the increased atheist influence. But, some stats seem to indicate that many of these people still believe but will not go to church. I do not think they have the support that they believe. they do.

    In the meantime, we started EChurch which is a Calvinista free zone.. We will keep blogging and allinaces are being formed to weather through this depressing time in the church.

    And, on behalf of Americans, we extend our sincerest apologies for sending you Mrak Driscoll, et al. 

    And welcome to TWW.

  23. I have a couple of questions for our British friends or anyone else who knows…

    1. what can you tell us about Terry Virgo? I have seen his name mentioned on SGM survivors blog and I assumed he was a partner with SGM in England.

    2. a few years back, John Piper really went after NT Wright and tried to paint him as a liberal and heretic. then as I cruised around the young restless and reformed blogs…. I saw a lot of warnings about NT Wright and his teachings. this only caused me to check him out and I appreciate and agree with a lot of his teaching. but the question is why do they see him as such a threat? was it his view on women or his teaching on sanctification? I realize the debate was on his new perspective on Paul…. but I think it went much deeper than that.

  24. Gavin

    There has be a “resurgence” of interest in charismatic gifts in the Calvinista crowd, due primarily, in my opinion to CJ Mahaney who started the earlier permutation of his “ministry” as charismatic and then moved into Reformed theology much later. He is now “toning it down” to meet the high standards of his newest buddies like Mohler who do not take kindly to prophecy mikes in the worship srvices.

  25. Martos

    Welcome and thank you for your analysis. Could you help me to understand the trends in churches in the UK. You mention the Evangelcial Anglican church-are these the ones affiliated with the church in Africa? Or are they an independent  group? To whom are they accountable?  

    Then there are the charismatic churches. Are they affiliated with Assemblies of God or any other group? Also, is the prosperity gospel a component of the belief stricture of any of these charismatic groups?

    Fnally, you mention the liberal church. Is there any entity, either group of churches or singular, that might be considered evangelical but allow women to be pastor/teachers, etc. without denying any of the historical confessions of the faith?

    I am so glad you stopped by!

  26. UK Christian

    Welcome to the blog. I am so sorry for the pain caused by your previous church. At TWW, starting with you blog queens and then with the majority of our readers, you will find many who have been hurt and damaged by their churches. 

    I am surprised that there are not more female bloggers in the UK. Why do you think that is?

    Please know this. We are committed to blogging about the faith. We are also committed to posting any stories from our readers about their situations. If you would ever like to write you story, anonymously of course, let us know. We will vigorously protect your identity.

    Please know that we are praying for you.

     

  27. Melody Young

    Thank you for your comment!  Whay a great observation! My computer/IPhone is always trying to correct the word “complementarian” to compliment. It is a made up word, and, if recent comments by Kassian, et al, it also appears to be a word with an constantly evolving definition. It reminds me of Brave New World in which a word means whatever the state wants it to mean.

    I agree with you. The Gospel is what is to be preached. In America, unfortunately, the Gospel no longer stands alone as a means to salvation and holiness. It is Gospel+Republican; Gospel+Young Earth Creationism; Gospel+complementarianism/patriarchy; Gospel+pre mill pre trib exchatology; Gospel+John Piper; etc.

    I am so excited about hte number of people from your “neck of the woods” (as we say over here) that are visiting our blog. We are truly a community of world wide Christians!

  28. I believe that followers/disciples of Jesus around the world are having their eyes opened to the reality of the man-made system of religion called Christianity. Sometimes we need to be steeped in something to realize the bad fruits that are being produced. Blogs like this are the fresh air of the Spirit to many.
    Felicity Dale has written a couple of posts on women in ministry and is now working on a book. See her December 5th post:

    http://simplychurch.com/
    Sorry if the link does not work. I just copied and pasted. Her blog is Simple Church.

  29. “Have you seen this about NT Wright in an interview with TGC

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2009/01/13/interview-with-nt-wright-responding-to-piper-on-justification/

    Gavin”

    Yes, Gavin, thanks. I read that back in 2009. There is a cognitive dissonance within the REformed here when it comes to Wright, I think. I think some of the Wright bashing backfired and true to form they did some damage control. Some interviews I have seen on both sides are very interesting. Some I came on youtube accidently and I am still scratching my head over all of it. Me thinks Piper jumped the gun and came out with cannons early on. This only led people like me to Wright to check it all out.

  30. Thanks Gavin, I read the paper on women too. I have always appreciated the way Wright deals with language and how it changes/ carries baggage or is redefined for a specific view.

  31. I think I can answer some of the questions raised above:

    1. What we call the “evangelical Anglican church” is really the evangelical wing of the Church of England (aka the Episcopalian church in North America). For much of the history of the CofE it has been a significant minority within the church – it produced men like Shaftesbury and the so-called Clapham Sect, who were without doubt a channel of blessing to the world. Its historical predecessors are some of the Puritans, although not all – some Puritans left the church, after all (and some sailed to America! ;-)).

    However the evangelical wing is probably further divided into what one might call broad evangelicals, and those who subscribe to the views of Reform (established in the 1990s – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_(Anglican)). Reform has strong links with Sydney diocese (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglican_Diocese_of_Sydney), or at least appears to take much of its theology from there – the Jensen brothers (Peter and Philip, Wikipedia articles on both) have been quite influential.

    It is however notable that churches in the conservative evangelical mould, including at least some Reform churches, now seem very influenced by, or at least supportive of, the US neo-Calvinist camp, as witnessed by their sale of books by authors such as the Mahaneys, Devers, Keller and Driscoll. However I should also note in fairness that I have not seen the slightest trace of what would be considered more extreme elements such as VisionForum material or Doug Wilson.

    2. The influence of the charismatic movement in English churches has been quite considerable, both in influencing mainline denominations and setting up new groups. Charismatic churches tend to be quite strong in UK’s inner cities. Evangelical Anglicanism as a whole was affected by the charismatic movement in the 60s-90s, but the Reform group certainly less so – in fact they would probably be unhappy with some of the premises thereof. So in fact we have here a point of tension between some of the neo-Calvinists and some of the UK calvinistic evangelicals.

    3. Terry Virgo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Virgo) is an interesting character, as most of the charismatics I knew or heard of appear to be or have been quite non-Calvinist in outlook, whereas Virgo is Reformed. He also appears to believe in the ministry of apostle as an ongoing thing, which is where I think he would be most at odds with most Reformed Anglicans at least.

    I should stress that with most of these men I believe the same Christian core doctrines, as I suspect most of us do on this blog site. However I also have reservations about the elevation of some areas of disagreement to core beliefs, plus a few others. If anyone thinks I have been uncharitable in anything I have put in this post, please say!

  32. Elvera

    Much agreement when you write…
    “I believe that followers/disciples of Jesus around the world are having their eyes opened to the reality of the man-made system of religion called Christianity.”

    You touched on one of my “Pet Peeves” – and I do love to Pet my Peeves…

    Seems – “the man-made system of religion” gives believers lot’s of “Rules” NOT in the Bible…
    Go to church – Join a church – Tithe to a church…
    Any of that stuff – In the Bible. NOPE. :-(

    Don’t know if you ever checked or NOT – But –

    In the Bible – I found…

    NO one ever *Led* “A Church.”
    NO one ever *joined* “A Church.”
    NO one ever *went to* “A Church.”
    NO one ever *Tithed* to “A Church.”
    NO one ever brought their friends to “A Church.”
    NO one ever applied for membership in “A Church.”
    NO one ever gave silver, gold, or money, to “A Church.”
    NO buildings with steeples and crosses called “A Church.”
    NO – Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews. ;-)

    In my experience… that’s what happens in “the man-made system of religion”. Yes?

    In the Bible… Believers *Become* – The Church – The Church of God.” :-)

    How many today know that “The Church” Is…

    The Body of Christ.
    Kings and Priests unto God.
    The Bride of Christ.
    The Servants of Christ.
    The Sons of God
    …….. Led by the Spirit – NOT “Led” by “Mere Fallible Humans.” ;-)
    Disciples of Jesus
    ………They shall ALL be taught of God – Learning directly from Jesus – NO middle man.
    Ambassadors of Christ

    And an Ambassador
    Is the highest diplomatic representitive that one soverign power sends to another.

    How many today know “What” the word church means – And “Who” the church is?

    Seems we have deceived the very folks we’are supposed to be reaching out to.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest…
    I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  33. Hi, I’m rather tired and can’t really write much now, but have noticed some good comments from others.

    Two useful links in the meantime:

    1. The Evangelical Alliance surveyed 17,000 UK evangelicals in 2010. The results can be found at:

    http://www.eauk.org/church/resources/snapshot/21st-century-evangelicals.cfm

    71% were egalitarian. My gut feeling is that this is about right, which suggests that this research sample was broadly representative. Obviously if you just asked members of churches affiliated to Reform or New Frontiers, you’d get a very different result, but I reckon that figure is reasonable if everyone is taken into consideration.

    2. Here is a study of the different groupings within the evangelical wing of the Church of England.

    http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2003/20030930watercourses.cfm?doc=2

    It will help you understand their different emphases.

    Let me also generalise a bit:

    Evangelical christianity in the UK is both similar to and different from the US.

    It’s similar as there are lots of different denominations and sub-groups, all with their own approaches. Generally they keep themselves to themselves, with their own leaders, publications, and conferences. It’s only when the different streams mingle that there is potential for significant conflict – eg the vote on women bishops in the Church of England, the Spring Harvest/Word Alive split, or the story here at a Christian Union.

    It’s different because evangelicals only make up a small minority of the population. We don’t have personalities. There is no parachurch organisation like TGC attempting to define evangelicalism.

    Denomination-wise there are hardly any Presbyterians in the UK, and we have one main Baptist group (the Baptist Union), which promotes egalitarianism but doesn’t impose it on member churches.

    I need to have a bath and go to bed now, I’ll try to chip in again on Sunday.

  34. Dear All
    There is no doubt that the Matt Oliver of Bristol UCCF is a complementarian. Another member of UCCF in South West England Is Dave Bush, who as far back as 2009 was pushing complementarianism. So UCCF are being disingenuous when they say they don’t have a policy on the subject. Indeed it was established yesterday that they have always forbidden women to speak.
    Regards
    Gavin

  35. Dear Ian
    About 9% of the Scottish population are officially Presbyterians, while 42% of the population express allegiance to it.

    Regards
    Gavin

  36. Ian- That 2nd article (haven’t read the 1st ye) is really good, and rings true to me in terms of the kinds of C of E people (charismatics) that I’ve had contact with here in the US.

    If I were to put my (mainly) Lutheran self into that picture, it would be as an “open” evangelical (though likely one who tends a bit toward the High side of things).

    I have a hunch that there are similar things going on in The Episcopal Church, with the AIM group (breakaway from TEC) being both conservative and – to varying degrees – charismatic.

  37. P.S.: I know that some folks who post here view me as “liberal,” but in reality, I’m fairly middle of the road and even conservative on some aspects of doctrine (like the importance of the Creeds and what they say), though probably not in the sense that “conservative” is defined in that article.

    Not so suprisingly, I’ve had some contact with a number of gay US xtians who are Anglican and *very* conservative on many, many aspects of doctrine and practice – but inclusive when it comes to LGBT people.

  38. As an aside, I used to know the current rector of St. Aldate’s, Oxford. He’s very close friends with the “pastor” of That Church; I think they were in seminary together (in England).

  39. A Amos Love: ‘How many today know “What” the word church means – And “Who” the church is?’
    But MANY seem to know just “What” “A Local Church” means and just “Who” is in it! :)

  40. Nicholas – link to their website.

    They tend to avoid posting their most controversial beliefs online; when I was there, there was a tendency to either shut off the recorder at certain points during a sermon, or else to throw a tie over the lapel mic so that the weird/touchy things didn’t make it to tape, CD or MP3.

    That Church *appears* to be fairly orthodox if you go by their site alone, but looks can be deceiving, and in this case…

  41. Nicholas – I think it’s about a whiskers’-breadth away from official cult status – like MANY churches that came from the discipleship movement. (See my most recent responses to elastigirl on the “Wayne Grudem’s 83 Rules…” thread for more.)

  42. Gavin – oh yes… The Cleverlys lived in D.C. for a while, prior to their assignment to St. Aldgate’s.

  43. I met C. Clverly and his wife through That Church. Charlie guested in the pulpit whenever they made a trip to the States, which was fairly often, iirc.

  44. See also St. Aldates’ page on John Mulinde, a Ugandan Third Wave “apostle” who has preached at That Church as well. *Very* much into “strategic-level spiritual warfare” and one of many Ugandans who’s been involved with US evangelical/charismatic infiltration into Ugandan politics and religion.

    I could go on…!

  45. Discipleship movement = shepherding movement.

    Do some Googling on the Fort Lauderdale Five, new Wine magazine, etc. etc. for much more info., with special emphasis on Derek Prince. Charles simpson, who was one of the Five, has had close ties to SGM (which started as a Catholic charismatic prayer group) for many years.

    in other words… it’s all connected, more than most of us (including me) realize.

  46. The Ft. Lauderdale crew promoted “Latter Rain” (heterodox Pentecostal movement) beliefs, and places like That Church and its associates are doing so still… they have ties to various “intercession” organizations that are fronts for Third Wave activity. (Google George Otis Jr. and Sentinel Group for more.)

    A number of people from That Church were included in one of Otis’ books, though not by name. I was stunned when I read that (post-being kicked out; I thought I’d better investigate some of his weirder books during the 2008 presidential campaign season and boy, there were a lot of connections with the NAR group that S. Palin has been part of for years).

  47. Hi Deb,

    I think Kolya and others have made a great work explaining some of the trends in churches in the UK. No surprise at all, as I’ve only been immersed in evangelicalism for 4 years or so, and I’m sure that they’re much more knowledgeable than me in these topics.

    As she said, with much better words, an “evangelical Anglican church” would be a church within the Church of England (CoE) with a much more strong affinity to evangelical values and ways of doing things than, let’s say, the Anglo-Catholic or Liberal wings. From my experience, though, I think that the distinctions between the different wings may be a bit blurred, except in particular cases. For example, I know CoE congregations that tend to be more charismatic, while others are a bit more of a mixture between Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic. Some are even CoE, Baptist and/or Methodist mixed congregations. I think that my church is one of those particular, clearly defined cases appearing as an evangelical, conservative, CoE church with a leadership holding strong opinions in some issues… However, as I said before, once you go to the laity level the points of view may not be that well defined.

    I know of several charismatic churches in my city. For example, you got at least one New Frontiers church, part of the network founded by Terry Virgo. Then many of different affiliation, including some within the CoE and others outside of it. Some were even church plants from charismatic CoE congregations, becoming even more charismatic than its mother church.

    Can’t really say much about the prosperity gospel within those congregations… From what I know they generally seem to be rather sound doctrinally speaking, some even pretty conservative. Many are rather popular with university students, which make the congregation adopt a rather particular “flavour”. But I do wonder about smaller, less known churches that may attract people from other countries, for example from Africa or Latin America, where the prosperity gospel is very popular. Once again, I’m talking from my experience and I can say that I haven’t come across the prosperity gospel, at least, in the main churches around.

    When I mentioned the Liberal church, well, I referred to a particular churches that hold to a very liberal theology. For example, not believing in many traditional Christian doctrines such as the resurrection, or accepting ideas like Christa, the female Christ… I’ll admit that I never visited that particular church in my city, something I thought about for a long time. I have always been told that they’re this or that, but whether it’s true or not I’d like to see it myself.

    About women pastors, I guess that the Methodist church would be the one, as far as I know, that would fit the best the definition you gave. It’s known that women were allowed to preach by John Wesley since the 18th century… And I would not generally define the Methodist church as liberal. Not sure about any other group right now.

  48. Hi guys,

    In response to Ian’s and Martos’s posts, I would like to add a few further characteristics of UK evangelical Christianity:

    1. YEC is not a big issue over here as it is in the USA. There are YEC adherents (some of whom I know, love and respect) within churches, but the local creationist movements are both fairly well-established and not as influential as, say, Answers In Genesis (which has also started to operate over here). Attempts by a few well-known YEC believers to influence science teaching in recent years did not fare well. It’s worth noting that neither Reform nor Sydney Diocese have taken a stance on the creation-evolution debate.

    2. The prosperity gospel has as far as I can see never been part of the teaching of any mainline denomination in the UK. Its appeal seems to be limited, perhaps to churches with a high proportion of immigrants from countries where such teaching is more readily accepted (not a criticism, just an observation).

    3. Elements of the shepherding movement did come over here in the 70s. If you search online for “Magnificent Seven” and “Fabulous Fourteen” you will find more on the history of this. However again it is worth noting that this was limited to the charismatic churches, most or all of whom were not part of the mainline denominations, and that it does not appear to have lasted, perhaps for the same reasons it died in the US (too many bad experiences and stories of abuse, leading to theological investigation and concern that the doctrine was neither justified nor true).

    This does not mean that a next generation of leaders cannot make the same mistakes, however! Cf “those that do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”.

  49. Regarding the video of “Go Wayne Grudem” –

    Just had a thought. My english husband says he came to America at 21 to find Sandy (Olivia Newton John in “Grease”). (even though she’s australian)

    So, maybe some in England see “Grease” as the quintessential commentary on American culture. And maybe those in the video clip were doing their best at having fun with hospitality in honoring the culture of their guest.

  50. There’s also a close connection between That Church and YWAM – also true of some groups in the UK.

    George Otis Jr. was part of YWAM for many years, and you can probably dig up some old web sites/pages on his “moral government theology,” which was/still is highly controversial both inside and outside the ranks.

    YWAM is very much involved in the promotion of spiritual warfare-type intercession, and likely other things. Not sure if this is true now, but That Church used to be YWAM central.

  51. A Amos Love
    Any “club” that collects dues and has regular meetings can certainly set its own membership requirements and lay out rules and roles for the members. Even though the vocabulary used by the leaders sounds “Christian” the “club” does not in anyway resemble the Bride and Body of Christ. Father lets us build our own little kingdoms.
    Having read “Pagan Christianity” and and other books by Frank Viola, Felicity Dale, Jon Zens and others, I can see that people are beginning to “see”.
    My pet peeve is the labels we so easily use to divide ourselves and others. I think it comes from insecurity and a desire to understand and control those around us. If only we knew how much He really loves every one of us. I pray that I can see others as Jesus sees them. He said “Love one another as I have loved you.” Surely this is the only requirement?

  52. @ Martos:

    “It’s known that women were allowed to preach by John Wesley since the 18th century… And I would not generally define the Methodist church as liberal.”

    That’s pretty funny, because here in the US the UMC (United Methodist Church) is basically considered one of the “big bad liberal churches” by evangelicals (the others being the UCC, PCUSA, Episcopal Church USA and the ELCA) – one of those churches they drive past, shake their head and start talking about “dead Christians.” Does “liberal” have a different definition in UK Christian parlance than in the US? I see above about denial of core doctrines – but over here “liberal” has almost come to mean “evolution, Democrats and gays.”

    I don’t know hardly anything at all about Wesley and Methodism so I’d be interested in knowing more about his stance on women preachers. Did he let them preach or did he actually ordain them? I read a comp yesterday who claimed that egalitarianism was basically a product of the last 50 years – I suspect something is wrong with that assessment but I don’t know enough history to see what.

    Also, what on earth is Christa??? Inquiring minds want to know.

  53. Nicolas, The book was awesome but hated by those who make a living off of controlling people using Jesus. Challies will not have a lot of credibility in some circles. I quit reading him a few years back because he was so “nondiscerning”. His blog(He was a reformed bloggingpioneer), regularly had commeters who said God was glorified as he cast babies into hell. And Challies is quick to delete and moderate but those commeters were welcome.

    Oh yeah, he along with Piper do not allow women to read scripture at church because that is teaching men.

    The reason I like Pagan Christianity is because I had researched quite a bit of what they wrote about concerning tradition so it was basically an affirmation of what I had already learned.

  54. Challies position against women reading Scripture in church is legalistic, imo. At an LCMS church I visited, a woman did one of the Scripture readings.

  55. Nicholas – thanks for posting that iMonk link – it’s brilliant!

    I wonder just how many times we humans have tried to reinvent the wheel – err, make that church. thing is, what’s recorded in Acts is not something we can reproduce today. the beginning was unique, but even so, Jesus read and preached in synagogues and at the then-current iteration of the temple. He didn’t try to abolish the institutions of his day – nor, so far as i can tell, did he need to.

    we have what we have and if we work with it, we might be surprised by what can be accomplished – so did the early church, after all. (even in Rome. :))

  56. elastigirl – apologies for the info. dump a big part of my “process” has been assembling the pieces of some doctrinal puzzles. once i understood where certain ideas came from, i was able to start putting them aside and moving forward.

  57. Nicholas – Sophia means wisdom in Greek; there are more than a few Orthodox churches named for it.

    just because someone misinterprets the point of some OT and later wisdom literature doesn’t mean that the whole idea is wrong (imo). I don’t personally know anyone who believes that Wisdom – as depicted in Proverbs – is anything other than a literary device… that, for many xtians, points to the risen Christ, who is our wisdom. (cf. Colossians 2.)

  58. N.B.: Viola’s book is (imo) very poorly researched and all too error-prone. I think he cherry-picked a lot of evangelical sources, didn’t really delve into early church history that deeply, and kind of blew it on ancient and early modern history as well.

    To me, the goal is admirable, but the FAIL factor is also present.

    (apologies to anyone who likes the book; it’s not my church background so much as my training in early-Renaissance church art, architecture and symbolism – which requires a fairly good background in church history – that makes me want to cry foul. It would take a long time to list the problems I see, as well as my objections, so I’ll say no more.)

  59. Dee,

    Thanks for your welcome and encouragement. Your blog certainly resonates with me, even though I’m in the UK, as we are up against similar trends. I know in my heart of hearts that this is a phase the church is undergoing – it’s just so galling that it’s so destructive to women.

    Why are there not more female bloggers in the UK? I don’t know and I wish we had more of a voice. However, in my church and wider circle, my voice is not welcome. I do live in a conservative corner of the UK (church-wise) and I can honestly say that none of my female friends are on my wave-length: they are content to embrace complementarianism in all its manifestations. One example is a residential weekend for 20s and 30s that I used to go to regularly, where girls are not even allowed to co-lead prayer groups (they were in the past but then this was stopped) or read at the front, or pray at the front. Girls are accepting this and it makes me cringe.

    RE the more domestic outworkings of complementarianism – the edicts that women should stay at home and serve their husband – that has not yet really become common here. Economic necessity means that most wives work. I was surprised to hear Alistair Begg tell an American conference that in his homeland of Scotland men only get married when they can fully support their wives to stay at home. I nearly fell off my chair. Rubbish. I used to admire Begg but can’t believe he is twisting his own background to suit his new American audience.

    With regard to women preachers in the UK, the Faith Mission has for over a hundred years allowed women to preach and lead as equals to men. It still exists and still has these same policies. Theologically, it is conservative.

  60. May,

    Dee and I are so grateful for our UK commenters! Together, we can expose the dangerous trends that are impacting Christendom on both sides of the pond. I look forward to a continuing dialogue because we are learning so much from you and others who are chiming in from your neck of the woods. :-)

    I hope you will take the time to listen to Wade Burleson’s sermons which you can access through our EChurch posts. Pastor Wade is doing a five-part series on a most interesting topic. The first sermon in the series was posted yesterday.

    Blessings to you!

  61. @ Hester:

    if evolution was a test of what would be defined as “liberal” over here, then I guess that a considerable part of my church would be pretty liberal. There are many undergraduate and PhD students in the congregation, and let’s say that “strictly literal 6 days creationism” is not the most popular position. Many of my friends from church (and myself) accept evolution, at least in a general way, and we’ve had discussions about it. We certainly appreciate the theological problems this brings and try not to be dogmatic about it.

    Of course, there are different points of view and some people will take it very literally and will be confrontational about it. Not very nice to be doubted of the sincerity of your belief, as well as if you’re actually a Christian, because you don’t necessarily agree on that point. And realise that there are churches around, not necessarily within the CoE, that are ultra- fundamentalist.

    On the issue about the role of women within Methodism, this page from the University of Manchester is quite an interesting reading. Basically, it seems that initially women were encouraged to share testimonies and then some began preaching, but were not ordained: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/searchresources/guidetospecialcollections/methodist/using/womeninmethodism/roleofwomen/

    Was talking with a friend of mine about Methodism as I was walking back from church, and she either wouldn’t define them as liberals. There may be theologically liberal Methodist congregations, but not the denomination itself.

    “Christa” refers to a series of images and pictures created since the 1970′s, in which Jesus is portrayed as a crucified woman. Some see it as an idea that has stimulated discussion on contemporary interpretations and contextualisations of the passion story, especially around gender issues (For example, “Christa” being a symbol of God’s identification with the suffering of women today). Others see it as a misinterpretation of the historical event, or even as something blasphemous.

  62. Dear Hester

    Methodism consists primarily of two parts. The first is the Wesleyan side, who followed the teachings of John & Charles Wesley and are essentially perfectionist and Arminian. The other group followed George Whitefield and are Calvinist.

    This Wikipedia article on Wesley is quite good.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley

    Gavin

  63. Believing in evolution does not make one liberal. The late Presbyterian scholar B.B. Warfield believed in evolution, and he was an ardent defender of Biblical inerrancy (I think he coined the term) as well as the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith.

  64. Sorry if this is off topic but some are offended by a god who punishes forever. An immensely helpful book is: “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut -Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem” by Bradley Jersak. He looks at views of hell throughout history and suggests judgement is unto salvation rather than damnation.
    Often books affirm what we already know in our heart and sometimes we need to let go of traditional views that put God in a box or make Him in our image.

  65. necholas

    I really liked Pagan Christianity. We reviewed it here. Instead of one review, why don’t you tell me why you do not think it was a ‘good” book.

  66. Nicholas

    Went to the link you mentioned for the review of “Pagan Christianity”
    http://www.discerningreader.com/book-reviews/pagan-christianity

    You might want to find a different reviewer – This was reviewed by Tim Challies.
    Who is firmly in the Neo-Calvinist movement that is so destructive today.
    And try commenting on his blog when you dis-agree with him. :-( My… My… Tsk… Tsk…

    NO wonder Tim Challies doesn’t like it – It goes against everything the Calvinista stand for.

    Here’s the first couple of para….
    ———-

    Discerning Reader Editorial Review
    Reviewed 07/22/2008 by Tim Challies.

    *Not Recommended.*

    The authors aim their guns at nearly every aspect of **the institutional church.**

    Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna (Barna Books, 2008) is sure to ruffle some feathers. In the authors’ attempt to “explore the roots of our church practices,” they aim their guns at nearly every aspect of the institutional church.

    Books that critique the current worship practices of the Church come and go. But rarely does one come across a book that so vehemently opposes everything about the institutional Church. Viola and Barna are convinced that the housechurch/organic church movement is the way of the future because it is the only authentic reproduction of the past.

    Viola and Barna believe that for almost 2000 years, the Church has been seriously misguided. Layers of tradition have stifled the true Christian experience. In order to recover the early church of the apostles, we must see the church as an “organic entity.”

    (Tim Challies includes this from the book)
    “An organic church is simply a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic churches are characterized by Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership. This is in stark contrast to a clergy-led institution-driven church.”

    ————

    I for one vote for – “Spirit-led, open-participatory meetings and nonhierarchical leadership.” ;-)

    And vote against – “a clergy-led institution-driven church.”

    The “clergy-led” has been around for 1700 years now and how has that been workin for ya?
    Seems Multitudes of believers are leaving “The Corrupt Religious System” today.
    To find Jesus. Why isn’t Jesus good enough?

    I mean, if folks actually begin to believe that the “Spirit of God” could actually “Lead” them.
    If they actually believe Jesus – MY Sheep – Hear – My Voice – and – Follow Me.

    These “High and Mighty” ones, this “Special Clergy Class” (That’s NOT found in the Bible)
    won’t have anyone “Folowing them” and buying their books. ;-)

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest…
    I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  67. Retha

    Stunning!So stunning I plan to post on it withiin the next 2 weeks. Need I say that the author was “full of it.”

  68. Dave A A @ Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:36 PM

    “But MANY seem to know just “What” “A Local Church” means and just “Who” is in it!”

    Hmmm? “A Local Church?”

    Can’t seem to find “Local Church” in my antiquated KJV. ;-)

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

  69. Anon 1 @ Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    Me too. ;-)

    “The reason I like Pagan Christianity is because I had researched quite a bit of what they wrote about concerning tradition so it was basically an affirmation of what I had already learned.”

    Seems Jesus warned us about “Tradition” – It’s very powerful to deceive.
    “Tradition” can actually make “Void” “Cancel” “Nullify” the Word of God – Jesus. :-(

    Mark 7:13
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…
    NLT – so you “cancel” the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition.

    I mean – Why ask Jesus what the scripture means? Why try to learn directly from Jesus?
    When you can go to these “High and Mighty” “Special Clergy Class” who have “Tradition” on their side and they can give you their Denominations list of “I believes” that we’re required to adhere to.

    No thanks – Tried that already – Ouch!!! :-(

    Think I’ll stick with Jesus as my Shepherd…

  70. @ Haitch – - You’re welcome, and hope those posts and links will be of help. I think this spiritual warfare approach ends up an insidious side-path that sidelines a lot of people into what some has critiqued as “Christian animism.”

    And what I find really ironic is that some of the top leaders in that movement who supposedly have a lot of “discernment” about spiritual warfare showed no practical discernment in the antics of the Lakeland Outpouring debacle. They gave initial, glowing endorsements of the leader at these revivals, Todd Bentley. They had a huge commissioning for him, laying on of hands, praising the anointing he’d been given, praying for him … and something like six weeks later, it was revealed he was in an inappropriate relationship with a female member of his team.

    How can you a large council of supposedly spiritually mature and discerning leaders, and yet end up with one huge corporate blind spot? Surely something is wrong with their system of beliefs and practices, or with the people themselves as leaders, or both …

    Anyway, this series I did on Lakeland demonstrates some of the gaps that can occur when there is an overfocus on the abstractions of “the invisible war” and an underfocus on everyday common sense. Here’s the link for the first part in that series:

    http://futuristguy.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/kingdom-leadership-after-lakeland-part-1-discernment-and-the-costly-descent-into-darkness/

  71. ‘it’s not my church background so much as my training in early-Renaissance church art, architecture and symbolism – which requires a fairly good background in church history – that makes me want to cry foul. It would take a long time to list the problems I see, as well as my objections, so I’ll say no more.)”

    I think that is perfectly understandable and I believe you have mentioned coming from a tradition REformation high church sort of background so that would make sense to see it totally differently.

    One of the things the book does that I think is helpful is to deal with the clergy/laity lie that comes purely from tradition and is not found in the NT at all. Another example is the pure silliness of sacred furniture like the pulpit. So much of “tradition” is what is used against women functioning in the church.

    I am not a big Viola fan these days but I do think he and Barna have given us much food for thought. And I do take into consideration there are many views of history and I respect that. I did a lot of the research on many of their issues myself before I had read the book. Admittedly, I did not have any PhD professors overseeing my research so it might be flawed but I was cheered to find a book that paralelled much of what I had come to see myself.

    I do not think all tradition is bad. I am just a ‘why do we do it like this’ sort of person. And…I come from a low church background that was more into the priesthood of believer and soul competency so it appealed to those beliefs I hold, too. House churches can be every bit as legalistic and hierarchical as the institutions!

    I think what started me on the journey was the rise of the celebrity Christian gurus and the resurgence of Calvinism with its inherent hierarchies.

  72. Anon1 – I’m a “Why do we do it like that?” type myself, as you’ve no doubt guessed from many of my comments.

    But I’m having all kinds of problems on the “research” in that book, and think that many conclusions they draw are faulty, because they started out from faulty premises.

  73. I agree, it’s ironic that so-called new churches can be as legalistic (or worse) than churches that have been around for nearly 2,000 years.

    To answer an earlier post, in the UK, voting for either main political party (left or right) would not be considered liberal, nor would accepting evolution. However some views of Scripture, such as viewing the Bible as a purely human document, or denying the possibility of the supernatural or miraculour, the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection, would be considered liberal in the pejorative sense of the word, by probably most if not all mainstream Christians.

    I don’t want to make a big thing out of it, but both main political parties in the UK have had both a religious component or founding constituency in the past (whether Christian Socialists or High Tory Churchmen) as well as a purely secular contingent (Marxist-influenced socialists or pure free marketeers). Then again, because of the early history of the UK, church and state are not separated by law, which means some bishops sit in the upper chamber of Parliament, for example. And yet in practice despite the occasional ludicrous claim to the contrary, Britain is not a theocracy and all religions and none are in theory treated equally (not that it was always so, even as late as the 19th century).

  74. As for people with doctorates overseeing most of my church history (etc.) reading, nope – have been doing it on my own.

    but I would *love* to see someone like N.T. Wright produce a response to Viola’s book. Again, I think Viola’s motives are admirable, but am not sure I can say the same about his research and arguments.

  75. Gavin – Whitefield came to the US; I bet our southern Baptist commenters might be able to shed some light on what he did while here.

  76. To be fair, I haven’t read Viola & Barna’s book, so can’t comment on specific arguments. I am always suspicious though when someone comes along and says that for 2,000 years the whole Christian church has been in the dark. That after all is one of the favourite tenets of the JWs.

    I didn’t think Challies’ review was that acerbic, really, in this particular case. He makes a good point about “which early church?” My own reading of church history (in which I am quite interested) suggests that the pattern was actually settled fairly early on. It’s worth reading some of the early Christian writings (including Eusebius’ History of the Church) to get a feel for the period. The live issues then (rightly) were not whether there were worship leaders or women should be ordained but rather the Person of Christ and how to deal with the world, particularly in the form of the Roman authorities in times of persecution.

    There is a better case for arguing that some pagan practices, or at least sentiments, crept in after Christianity became the official, and then officially sole, religion of the Empire, which of course inadvertently led to an emphasis on outward conformity and at the same time resulted in an influx into the church who perhaps did not understand the nature of the Christian faith. Interestingly though Julian’s attempted pagan revival in the middle of the fourth century was fairly unsuccessful.

  77. Sorry, should read “an influx into the Christian church of those who perhaps did not understand…” :-)

  78. “Anon1 – I’m a “Why do we do it like that?” type myself, as you’ve no doubt guessed from many of my comments.”

    I would not have guessed that at all.

    “Whitefield came to the US; I bet our southern Baptist commenters might be able to shed some light on what he did while here.”

    I have been a bit surprised he has been adopted by the SBC as one of ours. :o) Here is something that is rarely mentioned about him from our Cavlinist friends:

    Campaigned to bring slavery back to Georgia after it had been outlawed. Was concerned about the profitability of his plantation without slave labor. Also bought slaves to work at his Orphanage.

    He has been adopted by the Calvinist wing of the SBC. IN recent years, a private school associated with Mohler’s church changed its name to Whitefield Academy. Most of the parents I have met at ballgames have no idea Whitefield was a Calvinist. :o) That is not part of the bio they are given.

    http://whitefield.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=22

    It is no big deal really, I just find it interesting as Highview used to be very NON Calvinist.

  79. Pingback: Bristol University's Christian Union Bans Women Speakers, Then … | Church Ministry

  80. ‘There is a better case for arguing that some pagan practices, or at least sentiments, crept in after Christianity became the official, and then officially sole, religion of the Empire, which of course inadvertently led to an emphasis on outward conformity and at the same time resulted in an influx into the church who perhaps did not understand the nature of the Christian faitha’

    That is pretty much their case. What happened when Christianity was not only legalized but became the “official” religion.

  81. Well now, I got the “pastor” of That Church all alarmed by asking why we didn’t mention the Nicene Creed in That Church’s statement of faith – which I thought was legit, and scarcely anything that would rock the boat, since he was ordained by the C of E.

    I could not possibly have been more wrong about the ramifications of that question!

  82. Also, yes – I’m from a liturgical church background, but that doesn’t mean that I believe that is the best, let alone only, way of doing things.

    There are many things that I can take or leave. One thing that I won’t leave: the beautiful post-Reformation hymns and chorales that are one of the mainstays of the music in Lutheran churches. The melodies are gorgeous, and the words are terrific. (In most cases; depends on the skill of the person who did the translations and adaptations, though.)

    I think liturgy can be very valuable, but it can also be stifling. so much depends on how and why it’s done at all, as well as who’s doing it.

    the thing is, responsorial readings of the Psalms – a typical thing in Lutheran churches – ends up involving the entire congregation in speaking the Word of God aloud. There’s something really beautiful about that.

    Every Sunday there are fairly lengthy passages from the OT, Epistles and Gospel read aloud – in other words, there’s more “word” in these services than is the case in any of the other kinds of churches I was involved in. Ever.

    Kinda makes one think…

  83. Oh, and – when you hear the Bible read aloud in the way I’ve just described, nobody’s telling you what to think about it.

    You can listen, digest and think as you choose.

    And that’s incredibly freeing, believe me!

  84. Dear Numo and Anon

    I have the two volume biography of Whitefield written by Arnold Dallimore, published by Banner of Truth. Whitefield wrote a letter to the States of Maryland, Virginia and the two Carolina’s, denouncing the treatment of slaves. This made him fairly unpopular because he did in fact promote their welfare. The only reason he employed slaves at his estate was to ensure they were given a better life, education and opportunities to advance. That was the reason why he set it up. It failed, however, through lack of financial support. So I’m surprised to hear that he tried to reintroduce slavery to Georgia.

    Regards
    Gavin

  85. Back to Viola: I think it’s a big mistake to assume that the post-Pentecost church was somehow perfect.

    People met where they could – sometimes in private homes, sometimes going to the Temple to pray, and sometimes in synagogues.

    They were kind of making it up as they went along… in contrast to Viola’s contention that there was no this, that and the other and *that* being the mark of a somehow perfect church meeting.

    We get to listen in on some of the developmental processes in Acts – the creation of the office (or job) of deacon, for example. But there’s a whole lot that we *don’t* know, and can only infer from the more personal statements in Paul’s pastoral letters.

    If Viola’s contention that there were no divisions in the very early church were true, then why would Paul have had to admonish the Corinithians against factionalism? (Y’know, arguing over whose baptism was better/more valid, “I follow Paul / I follow Apollos / I follow Christ / I follow [fill in the blank],” etc. etc.

    They were every bit as human – and flawed – as we are.

    And yes, things changed after Constantine legitimized xtianity, but not always for the reasons Viola states.

    The thing is, he even goes off the rails in the early pages of his book in saying things like “Basilicas were like high school auditoriums [ intended for a passive audience.” Well, no. For the most part, they were places where merchants did business and people met one another, did business deals, etc. Courts were held in them, yes, but these buildings were integral parts of day-to-day trading in the forum (in larger towns, there were forums) and *not* devoted to people sitting around and listening to someone lecture.

    If courts were anything then like they were in other parts of the world in later centuries, they were also sources of participatory entertainment. (Not unlike public executions.)

    he also refers to the “Roman Catholic church” as if it existed in the early centuries of *the* church’s existence… again, no. There was the church in the eastern part of the Roman Empire (Constantinople/byzantium), and the church in the western part of the Empire. it took many centuries before an entity known as the Roman Catholic church came into being.

    and so on… I am confounded by the wildly un-factual pronouncements, and that’s long before you get into the actual meat of his arguments!

  86. Gavin – By becoming a slaveowner, he was supporting the system, not standing against it.

    I don’t think there’s any room for equivocation on that point. Lots of slaveowners claimed that they were kind and humane, but they continued to keep a tight grip on their human “property.”

    So I have to call b.s. on Whitefield.

  87. To be fair, I haven’t read Viola & Barna’s book, so can’t comment on specific arguments. I am always suspicious though when someone comes along and says that for 2,000 years the whole Christian church has been in the dark. That after all is one of the favourite tenets of the JWs. — Kolya

    And the Mormons. And the Millerites (predecessors of the SDAs.) And the Landmark Baptists. And every Head Apostle Reverend Joe Soap who re-founds the One True New Testament Church (an entire DOZEN strong!)

  88. Chattel slavery isn’t, imo, defensible, no matter how paternalistic and supposedly “kind” the intention.

    Just curious, Gavin, have you read much on slavery and abolitionism here in the US? Also, I kinda doubt William Wilberforce would have been down with Whitefield’s decisions re. slave-owning…

  89. If Whitefield Had freed those people and *employed* them for a decent wage, *then* it would be different.

    But he didn’t.

    ONe of the main justifications trotted out by Southern slaveholders was that they were giving the people they “owned” a chance to be xtian – and to be “owned” by xtian people!

    As if that makes the basic inequity and degradation of slavery any nicer, “kinder” or “gentler.”

    Not.

  90. Numo, I agree re the “Roman Catholic Church” thing – ie no church called itself that until some centuries later (after the official schism with Constantinople in 1054, maybe?). However some early bishops of Rome such as Leo did try to push the primacy of Rome because of its traditional association with Peter. Understandably the bishops of Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch were not too impressed as far as I can tell ;-).

    And yes, HUG is right – most “new” groups have a tendency to claim to be the ones who have rediscovered the truth after nigh on two millenia of darkness!

    It’s interesting that though Whitefield and Wesley had theological differences, they remained in a state of charity towards each other, unlike some later entrants into the debate.

  91. I have read Viola’s book. It was a breath of fresh air in comparison to the legalistic atmosphere I have come to know over 30 years in the evangelical world. Many of the people who comment about Pagan Christianity have not read it, and many who have read it have made it out to be something that it was not intended to be. For me, it summd up what I had come to realize myself after spending four years reading and teaching church history to my kids. I believe that the books that were meant to encourage me to appreciate church history actually helped me see how “off” much of church history was. I have nothing against the traditional views of worship or those who want to worship in that manner. I also have no problem with those who want to gather and worship in homes much like NT times. It’s when we want to tell others “how” they have to worship, or break bread, or be baptized, or listen to a sermon in a certain setting, etc., etc., that I have a problem. To me, Viola was just showing people how church, as we have come to know it today, has evolved. He didn’t put people down nor was he disparaging about it. It is interesting that so much offense seems to have been taken over the book.

  92. Dear Numo

    Yes I think I’ve read a reasonable amount about it. Whitefield, Wesley and Wilberforce were all abolitionists in their own way.

    Didn’t God speak through Jeremiah to tell them to go into exile (slavery), build houses and settle there because it was better than dying and they would return some day? It’s not given to us to pronounce judgment.

    Regards
    Gavin

    Regards
    Gavin

  93. Dee,

    I didn’t mean any offense by my earlier comments on the book. Sorry if I sounded too harsh.

    One of the problems with the book is the attack on the liturgy. The liturgy has been practiced by the Church since the first and second centuries, and it wasn’t until the radical Anabaptist and Calvinist movements that anyone attempted to abolish it: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2011/04/to-be-steeped-in-history-is-to-cease.html

    It is also dangerous to minimize the importance of a theological education for ministers. “Untaught and unstable men” can tout themselves as “Bible teachers” and interpret the Scriptures in any way that suits their fancy. Then you will have a real-life version of the common charicature of “sola scriptura” used by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apologists. The problem with primitive restorationism (the idea that the church went apostate after the Apostles and we need to restore it) is that it has produced no end of heresies and cults, as other commenters have pointed out.

    Another problem with the book is that it attacks Biblical instruction (the sermon). Teaching is one of the jobs of the pastor/elder/bishop.

  94. Regarding tradition, there is a place for it in Christian faith and practice (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6). Sola Scriptura is about always checking your traditions with Scripture, and never allowing tradition to become equal to Scripture. Sola Scriptura is not about abandoning all tradition.

  95. Nicholas -

    “Another problem with the book is that it attacks Biblical instruction (the sermon). Teaching is one of the jobs of the pastor/elder/bishop.” Nicholas

    Can you please quote the pages where the book “attacks Biblical instruction.” Can you also quote scripture that speaks of “the sermon,” and where teaching is one of the “jobs” of the pastor/elder/bishop.

    ““Untaught and unstable men” can tout themselves as “Bible teachers” and interpret the Scriptures in any way that suits their fancy.” Nicholas

    . . . so can well trained and schooled pastors/elders/bishops and even popes :)

    Which is why we should all be well versed in what Jesus taught and how he lived . . . so we may all be disciples of Christ.

  96. There are plenty of Apostolic sermons in the Book of Acts, and Jesus Christ’s own sermons in the Gospels.

  97. I’m just going to drop this here…George Otis Jr! As George Takei would say, Oh Myyyyyy…. Anyway, Otis put out this video called Transformations around 2000 or so, and one of the claims he made was that the town of Hemet, California had been transformed by all sorts of weird activity like prayer walking and strategic claiming the area for God and so on. And then it goes on to talk about how all these criminals were arrested, crime rate down, meth labs shut down, and most cults had left town.

    Well, I heard about this and to me, it was a whole truckload of cow patties! That’s because, at the time, the cult of Scientology was housing pretty much all of its staff for its secretive “Gold Base” (which is located just north of town) in a couple of apartment complexes in Hemet itself. (Since then, housing has been built on the Gold Base site and there are fewer people out there anyway, as the cult has shrunk.) I was incensed to hear this claim, because, how on earth can you claim to have this transformed city when you have the western headquarters of a notorious cult right on the city’s doorstep?

    In other words, what Otis claimed about Hemet was a mountain of steaming cow patties, and I imagine it was similar for the other towns mentioned in the video.

  98. I agree with Nicholas on the points about liturgy and tradition, and the importance of theological education for ministers. After all isn’t one of the main queries on this blog over C J Mahaney’s leadership that he hasn’t had any formal theological education?

    It’s true that Amos was a shepherd by vocation and not a priest, but his role was part of God’s unfolding revelation at the time. Likewise the early Apostles were fishermen rather than scholars, but they did have the advantage of being trained by Jesus (even then they didn’t fully understand until Pentecost!). Paul of course had had considerable training, though he obviously had to relearn a lot of it.

    Personally I feel unhappy if a person claims to be a Bible teacher (as opposed to, say, an exhorter or popular preacher) but has had no training and no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, especially when it comes to dealing with very weighty doctrinal issues. I believe someone caught a theologian out on here a few weeks ago by pointing out in a post that the “he” to which he referred in one of Paul’s letters was actually a neuter pronoun in the original Greek.

  99. Per the Pagan Christianity thing – I haven’t read it so I can’t comment on what Viola did or did not say. However:

    “Personally I feel unhappy if a person claims to be a Bible teacher (as opposed to, say, an exhorter or popular preacher) but has had no training and no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, especially when it comes to dealing with very weighty doctrinal issues.”

    Child abuse-supporting “Christian” Michael Pearl is a prime example of this. He’s a KJV-only type and though he apparently went to some kind of Bible college, he rejected Greek and Hebrew studies because the Greek/Hebrews scholars were “telling him what to think” about the Bible by defining the Greek and Hebrew words (he also claims they couldn’t agree on the meanings). He thinks all you need is a King James Bible and a dictionary and you’re good to go – which is of course, how he came to his conclusions about childrearing (the oft-referenced 1/4″ plumbing supply line) soooo… (Apparently the linguists who write the English dictionaries are NOT “telling you what to think.” See if you can figure that one out.)

    I’m also well aware that there have been numerous abuses throughout church history…but the idea that they are necessarily encouraged in liturgical/”traditional”/”institutional” churches is incorrect. Even if the church had NOT been strongly centralized/hierarchical through most of the last two millennia – which would have completely altered the course of Western civilization, very possibly not for the better – the abuses would still have been there, they just would have been of a different type. The problem isn’t ordination, confessions, education (or a lack thereof), etc. The problem is fallen people.

  100. @ Southwestern Discomfort on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:08 PM.

    On the subject of George Otis, Jr., spiritual mapping, strategic prayer/warfare, and the claims of the “Transformations” video, here’s a link to an analysis done several years back that goes city by city to do some investigative checking on the claims of dramatic change. It includes details on Cali, Columbia; Alomolonga, Guatemala; Kiambu, Kenya; and Hemet, California.

    http://www.cephas-library.com/joels_army_transformation.html

    Also, I had another friend who tried several times to contact The Sentinel Group regarding claims and counter-claims about said transformations, and got no response.

    So, there’s that.

  101. Southwestern Discomfort, Everybody:

    Scientology Gold Base is on Google Maps. It’s actually several miles north of Hemet, across the dry riverbed from San Jacinto.

    Search for “Golden Era Golf Course, San Jacinto, CA”. Takes you right to it; the golf course is on Gold Base grounds.

    Zoom in, and “Scientology Sea Org Headquarters” and “Scientology Sea Org Technology Center” appears. It’s definitely Flag.

  102. I’ve gotta go with both Nicholas and Kolya on education and whatnot.

    Besides, the church started making a separation between those who were baptized and catechumens (those who were being instructed but had not yet been baptized) *very* early on. (I need to check some sources to confirm approximate dates.) The thing is, a lot of practices began *long* before Constantine was born or even thought of, so for Viola to be indiscriminate in ascribing a lot of practices to Constantine legitimizing xtianity – well, there certainly <i.are things that started then, no question. But I think it’s best to actually write about those things in a *historical* way, rather than creating a kind of dumbed-down gloss on a ton of church history, which is what Viola and Barna did.

    Again, I think many of their goals are admirable, but that the writing, research and presentation are extremely problematic and often misleading.

    [/end rant]

  103. Southwestern Disc.: George Otis Jr. is a fraud, and (imo) kinda nuts – certainly there’s no question in my mind that the beliefs he espouses are pretty well nuts.

    As for those videos (there were 2 Transformations vids), there have been web pages debunking the 1st one for years now. (I think I 1st got some of the scoop back in 2005 – it was definitely circulating!)

    but I’m not sure I knew all the details of the Hemet, CA thing. What a frickin’ joke!!!

    fwiw, G. Otis Jr. sometimes came to That Church to speak, but fortunately, I somehow missed out on that. ;)

  104. Hester wrote:

    I’m also well aware that there have been numerous abuses throughout church history…but the idea that they are necessarily encouraged in liturgical/”traditional”/”institutional” churches is incorrect. Even if the church had NOT been strongly centralized/hierarchical through most of the last two millennia – which would have completely altered the course of Western civilization, very possibly not for the better – the abuses would still have been there, they just would have been of a different type. The problem isn’t ordination, confessions, education (or a lack thereof), etc. The problem is fallen people.

    Well said, Hester!

  105. Re. rituals/liturgy: Even the German-derived anabaptist churches practice “love feasts” (a meal together, foot-washing for Easter communion, then communion in the Church of the Brethren; the Amish and Mennonites have their own versions of this).

    I was once a guest/participant in a Church of the Brethren Easter love feast. We had very simple food – a bowl of noodles with broth and small pieces of beef; then the men went to one room and the women another for foot-washing; then everyone came back to the area where we ate to share communion.

    The foot-washing was uncomfortable for me, but deeply moving as well. The communion part of the service was … hard to put into words, except to say that I think it was profound and beautiful. (I went back in the early 70s, when a lot of C of the B women still wore “plain” dresses and Mennonite-like caps, and those ladies were very intent on showing kindness and love during the foot-washing portion. I think they knew I was shy and new to it all, and they did their best to put me at ease.)

    P.S.: I don’t know why the meal was beef broth with noodles, other than speculation that this is the way it had been done for a long time, plus the desire to keep things “plain.” Not sure anyone would have been able to tell me the specific reasons for the food if I had asked.

  106. @ Nicholas:

    Pearl would be into Finney…and I did know that Finney was a perfectionist (only one of his numerous theological problems, from what I’ve read).

    Some of Pearl’s mistakes are so bad they have to make you wonder if he is completely “there,” if you know what I mean… He claimed in one article I read that the last king of Israel died when Jesus was a child. Now if that doesn’t equal a glaring failure in Biblical literacy (or maybe a failure in basic reading comprehension), I don’t know what does. Here’s hoping he misspoke, because you’d have to end the Old Testament at 2 Chronicles to even pretend that that works. (It’s definitely a disqualification from public teaching IMO.)

    But hey, who knows? Maybe historians who study the ancient world are “telling him what to think” about history when they tell him that the Romans had control of Palestine when Jesus was born…and it’s all a grand conspiracy to cover up the fact that Zedekiah and/or Hoshea really died around 3 B.C.

  107. @ Numo:

    Thanks. I just felt that needed to be said – there is a strong “anti-institutional” streak in the comments here which sometimes get carried a little too far. I totally understand where it comes from, since many of the people here have been terribly abused by the institutional/traditional church. But just because some of us choose to stick with those denominations does not mean we are automatically letting the guys with the clerical collars and M.Div.’s “tell us what to think” – after all, we comment at TWW, don’t we? ; )

  108. If there really is a pulpit lecturer who rejected Greek and Hebrew scholars for telling him what to believe, whilst putting faith in the translators of the KJV and the compilers of some English dictionary (which particular dictionary does he consider infallible, inerrant and perspicuous?)… That just exemplifies the bizarre selective idolatry of those who pick a tradition and then worship it. The fellow as described simply does not understand human language.

    As one of the speaker team for Christians Against Poverty, I get to visit numerous different local congregations and join in with their services / worship gatherings (etc – not fussed about the label, really!). I’ve come to realise that whether I come away built up and ready for action, or glad to get away, has nothing to do with the kind of tradition or musical style employed, and everthing to do with whether the Holy Spirit is welcome there. Charismatics, Anglo-Catholics and everyone in between may love God, or be in love with their own traditions.

    As far as I can understand, the same goes for theological education and training. As Paul wrote to Corinth: knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. A trained monkey could probably convert scriptures into lectures. The role of the elders in a congregation isn’t limited to instructing; that assumes they embody and exemplify the truths they are instructing people in. So when learning and training is pursued out of love for God’s people, as one part of setting a better example, that’s good. But when learning and training results in a person becoming self-righteous and proud, and it sometimes does, then it has actually diminished their spiritual stature and disqualified them from eldership. The Sanhedrin observed that Peter and John were uneducated, but that they had been with Jesus. Surely, neither “education” nor “uneducation” (c.f. circumcision or uncircumcision) are the real deal here; it’s the “been with Jesus” bit that really matters.

    Kolya -

    Personally I feel unhappy if a person claims to be a Bible teacher (as opposed to, say, an exhorter or popular preacher) but has had no training and no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, especially when it comes to dealing with very weighty doctrinal issues. I believe someone caught a theologian out on here a few weeks ago by pointing out in a post that the “he” to which he referred in one of Paul’s letters was actually a neuter pronoun in the original Greek.

    I believe that may have been me, the passage in question being “If anyone does not provide for his own etc“. What that shows us, I think, is how humble and thoughtful we have to be when applying the letter of scripture – especially when we want to apply it to others. A single word of a single verse in a single translation is a very flimsy peg on which to hang a ton weight of doctrine.

  109. There has been an underlying debate about ‘education’ surrounding seminary degrees for a while. It is not an official debate but one that crops up in blogs and at church.

    I am not convinced seminaries are turning out ‘educated’ candidates for ministry positions. Many here are turning out indoctrinated little popes.

    The debate I mentioned is one of what is a theological education? Is it the learning of ancient languages? Different views of hermeneutics? Does it include administration of the institutions? Church growth programs?

    A few years ago, a friend of mine in a PhD program at SBTS was appalled to find that SBTS was trying to merge the FIC (Family Integrated Church) methodology into many of it’s degree programs. In other words, make it a de facto part of the curriculum. I am not sure if it worked or not. Perhaps they are doing it but not calling it that. Not sure. But my point is that is NOT education but indoctrination. And that is one example out of many. Another example is that nothing but a comp/pat position is allowed in SBC seminaries and in many Reformed seminaries.

    So, I am not sure just how “educational” theological education is anymore here in the US. :o)

  110. A single word of a single verse in a single translation is a very flimsy peg on which to hang a ton weight of doctrine.

    Nick, so true…and yet sadly it’s done quite frequently and created all manner of erroneous doctrine.

  111. Anon 1
    It appears to me as well that seminaries are teaching a * system* of theology. Gimmicky study on how to get the church to conform to the system.

  112. Here is an example of a professor who wrote a book about infants and salvation who mentions the problems with Grudem’s ST on this subject:

    I noticed an inconsistency in the theological system of a respected theologian, Wayne Grudem. He assumes in his Systematic Theology (see esp. pgs. 499-501):

    1. all guilty people must repent of sin and place faith in Christ in order to be saved;
    2. infants are guilty and under God’s condemnation and wrath due to Adam’s sin;
    3. the Bible seems to provide a case for the salvation of infants with Christian parents.

    Therefore, Grudem concludes: Christian parents, not unbelieving parents, can have some assurance from the Scripture that they will one day see their infant in heaven.

    link to larger discussion:

    http://sbctoday.com/2012/12/09/inherited-sinful-naturea-view-permissible-as-both-biblical-and-baptist/#comments

    Grudem’s ST was the standard for many seminaries for years. I am so glad there are some willing to question in areas of contradictions. The prof questing Grudem’s conclusions is from Truett McConnell

    We do not have enough peer review going on in many seminaries. They have an agenda and it is not “education”. When you have long time professors like Bruce Ware at SBTS going around teaching that “women are not made in the direct image of God but are a derivitive”, we have a serious problem. Some of the stuff coming out of seminaries is downright pathetic.

  113. It’s interesting to note that Calvin corrects Erasmus in 1 Timothy 5:8 for using the feminine pronoun and emphasizes that it should refer to both men and women. Not only do the teachers not know Greek, they don’t know Calvin either lol.

    Regards
    Gavin

  114. Grudem repeats only one had of the standard reformed view of the salvation of children. The whole counsel is this.
    “By this means sin is come upon all to condemnation, and yet we do not peremptorily censure to hell all infants departing this world without the laver of regeneration (ie baptism), the ordinary means of waving the punishment due to this pollution….Two ways there are whereby God saves such infants, snatching them like brands from the fire.

    First, by interesting them into the covenant, if their immediate or remote parents have been believers; he is a God of them and of their seed, extending his mercy unto a thousand generations of them that fear Him.

    Second, by His grace of election which is most free and not tied to any conditions; by which I make no doubt that God takes many infants unto Himself in Christ, Whose parents never knew, or had been despisers of the Gospel. And this is the doctrine of our (English) church”

    Regards
    Gavin

  115. And to be fair to Wayne Grudem, he does not say anything that disagrees with that view. He simply says that Scripture is silent on the subject of the children of unbelievers, and that, of they are to be saved, it is not on their own merits but through the work of Christ applied by God to them.

    Gavin

  116. “And to be fair to Wayne Grudem, he does not say anything that disagrees with that view. He simply says that Scripture is silent on the subject of the children of unbelievers, and that, of they are to be saved, it is not on their own merits but through the work of Christ applied by God to them”

    Gavin, you have missed the larger problem. He teaches imputed guilt so you have a guilty baby who is guilty for Adams sin who does not have the ability to repent. Why do you think infant baptism was invented? Because of the Augustine filter of redefining original sin to also include not only total depravity so God has to force you to believe but also imputed guilt. You are born guilty for Adam’s sin.

    Basically Grudem is teaching that having Christian parents takes care of it. A sort of covenant explanation. No luck for unbelieving parents which would be the natural converse but Grudem can conveniently say the Bible is silent. It is also silent on the whole concept of “Daddy was saved so the infant is, too”

    But this also means the: “imputed guilt” as part of the “original sin you are a depraved worm guilty of Adam’s sin” still does not work. Those who do not have infant baptism to make this uncomfortable contradiction go away explain it away with some sort of magic pixie mercy dust sprinkled somewhere to make their guilt go away since they cannot repent themselves. This is where the SBC Calvinists are since they have no padeobaptism.

    Infant death, the mentally disabled are the achilles heel of Calvinsim and his Augustinian filter. That is why the church practiced infant baptism for 1000+ years after Auggie declared us all worms and took away the image of God.

  117. Sorry Bridget
    The quote was from John Owen so I suppose he would be speaking for the Independents or Congregationalists. Presbyterians I think are of the same view, as are Baptists (depending on their degree of closeness to the southern states of the USA).

    Regards
    Gavin

  118. “It’s interesting to note that Calvin corrects Erasmus in 1 Timothy 5:8 for using the feminine pronoun and emphasizes that it should refer to both men and women. Not only do the teachers not know Greek, they don’t know Calvin either lol.”

    Not sure why it matters. Did this piece of trivia mean any freedom to function in the Genevan state church for woman? Did it change their standing in the Geneva of the 16th century? Did it stop “third baptisms” for those drowned for refusing to baptize their infants?

  119. Dear Anon 1

    But we have imputed righteousness as well administered freely through Christ. I trust God “to do right”.

    Regards
    Gavin

  120. Dear Anon 1

    You really do seem to have a problem with Calvin. You can’t blame him for all the woes of women, surely?

    Regards
    Gavin

  121. Oh and it matters because it shows the importance of being faithful to the text and of trying to keep personal views out of your translation.

    Gavin

  122. “Infant death, the mentally disabled are the achilles heel of Calvinsim and his Augustinian filter. That is why the church practiced infant baptism for 1000+ years after Auggie declared us all worms and took away the image of God.”

    Yes!

  123. No it was sin that took away or at least damaged the image of God.

    Not Augustine. I think it was the Psalmist who said “I am a worm and no man”

    Havin

  124. Augustine didn’t “take away the image of God.”

    Infants die because they inherit the sin guilt of Adam. Otherwise, no one would ever die in infancy. This is why infant baptism is necessary.

    Yes, the mentally disable are sinners too.

    Gavin, there is a lot of anger at the YRR being misdirected at the Reformers and Augustine.

  125. There are plenty of Apostolic sermons in the Book of Acts, and Jesus Christ’s own sermons in the Gospels.

    There is much teaching and instruction, as well as discussion and dialogue that can be found in Scripture. But how often today is teaching an interactive function in gatherings of believers? In the NT we see questions and communication back and forth between teachers and others. Many of what one might call “sermons” were directed toward the non-believers, as men were led by the Holy Spirit (Acts of the Apostles). In NT times there seemed to be two different types of gatherings going on that have now been combined into one. We have believers being addressed from pulpits as if they are still unbelievers. We have leaders saying that the unbelievers need get to the service to hear the preached Word, so they can be saved. (Read this over at the Pyromaniacs blog last week.) How exactly do you make disciples from a pulpit without interaction and dialogue?

  126. Bridget, I think Sunday School and Bible studies throughout the week are good times for that. We Lutherans believe that even believers need to hear Law and Gospel preached throughout their lives, and that is a big point of the sermon.

  127. Sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond to comments yet.

    In the meantime, here is a very recent survey of members of the Church of England:

    http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/wp-content/uploads/Mind%20of%20Anglicans%20Survey%20and%20Commentary%20Article(3).pdf

    Whilst the sample size was only 1000 people, the results seem reasonably representative of the overall picture. The only surprise was that 44.8% described themselves as “evangelical/charismatic”, which I would have thought is a bit on the high side – I’d have thought it would be around 35%.

  128. OK… just because some seminaries in a particular denomination are pushing Grudem et. al. does not mean that all seminaries in the US are messed up

    Anon 1, am sure you know that already… but the thing is, to equate problems in the SBC with the entirety of the church (of all denoms) in the US seems a bit extreme. (Unless someone is saying that only one denom has a corner on the truth, but I *don’t* think that’s what anyone intended to do.)

  129. The link has been mangled and isn’t clickable, but if you paste it into your address bar (including the .pdf at the end), it will work.

    Dee/Deb – if it is possible to edit my comment to fix the link, it would obviously make things easier. Thanks!

  130. Dear Numo

    I was meaning only in the USA:-) – Brevet, Phillips, Ross, Mather, Fiske, Thornwell, Dabney, & Herschel on the civil rights movement.

    Regards
    Gavin

  131. OK… just because some seminaries in a particular denomination are pushing Grudem et. al. does not mean that all seminaries in the US are messed up

    Anon 1, am sure you know that already… but the thing is, to equate problems in the SBC with the entirety of the church (of all denoms) in the US seems a bit extreme. (Unless someone is saying that only one denom has a corner on the truth, but I *don’t* think that’s what anyone intended to do.)”

    I never know how to respond to something like this. Did you really think I was communicating equating the problems in ALL seminaries and churches with the same as the SBC churches and seminaries?

    I would be curious if others thought that automatically about my comment? I thought saying “SBC” seminaries made it clear that is who I was speaking of? I cannot figure out why folks would think it meant other seminaries. Even though there is a lot of influence coming from other Reformed seminaries on SOME SBC seminaries. A look at conferences, speakers, prof bios, papers written and who they quote, etc would affirm that in no time.

    I really do think the readers here are pretty sharp and can discern that when one is communicating a trend or trajectory with a group that person does not mean every church or seminary in the US.

    If there is a way I can phrase things to communicate such better, please let me know. I am always open to learning how to communicate better.

  132. “You really do seem to have a problem with Calvin.”

    I suppose I am astonished at this infatutuation so many seem to have with a dead despot who systemized a religion using the Augustinian filter in a state church with magistrates. His tyranny seems to either be blown off or history rewritten so he can be a sort of guru for today. It is quite astonishing to me.

    The Psalmist is MAN talking to God. Be careful, there is stuff in there about dashing babies heads against rocks, too.

  133. Dear Anon 1

    I quite like Calvin in much the same way as I like chocolate. Too much of it could be bad for you depending on your constitution.

    So we can agree to disagree.

    Regards
    Gavin

  134. Dear Anon 1

    On the subject of seminaries, you didn’t specify SB seminaries, you said “many” seminaries.

    Your fellow grammarian
    Gavin

  135. you are right Gavin. I was thinking of the other comment and the fact my link was SBCToday. sorry about that I will be more precise in the future.

  136. I kept seeing the word “investigating” in this story.

    Who was investigating the subject?

    The Guardian?

    The Archbishop?

    The government of the U.K.?

    One of the various boards of these organizations?

    I scanned this story quickly, but kept seeing that reference.

    Maybe I read too quickly.

    Thanks for any help you can give.

  137. “Infants die because they inherit the sin guilt of Adam. Otherwise, no one would ever die in infancy. This is why infant baptism is necessary”.

    Nicholas, This is the basic disagreement. Scripture says: The wages of sin is death. The REformed teach that we inherit Adam’s guilt for his specific sin. I reject that. That is what the “Federal Head” stuff is all about. I do not accept Augustine’s definition of original sin, either, which is what most of Reformed doctrine is based upon: We are totally depraved worms who are unable to respond to the conviction of sin so God has to force some to respond. Where is the image of God? What IS the image of God, then?

    I think much of the confusion comes from the Reformed translating passages referring to sanctification as really being about Justification.

    This all gets very sticky when we start talking about infants/mentally challenged. The question is if we take REformed doctrine to it’s logical conclusions then we simply must baptize babies or they won’t be saved if they die because they are held accountable for their inherited guilt of
    Adam’s specific sin.

    I think it is much simpler than that. We are born into corrupted bodies that die into a corrupted earth. It is all tied back to the tree of Life, the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    I cannot tell you how many Reformed have told me that babies are inherently selfish and sinning the minute they are born. What I would describe as an instinct to preserve life they count as sin and the baby is guilty. (If you have ever been around an infant who could not cry to be fed because of some defect, you might see how glorious that God given instinct really is)

    This brings us to Jesus Christ. Are you willing to declare that as a fully human baby he did not cry, ever, to be fed or changed?

    I believe we are held accountable for sins we commit and KNOW we commit. And there is no one size fits all for that, either. Paul even talks about the mercy shown those who are ignorant in 1 Tim 1 and those who sin on purpose concerning false teachers. God is a great God of Mercy.


    Gavin, there is a lot of anger at the YRR being misdirected at the Reformers and Augustine.

    Why is disagreement considered “anger”? I don’t get it.

  138. I cannot tell you how many Reformed have told me that babies are inherently selfish and sinning the minute they are born. What I would describe as an instinct to preserve life they count as sin and the baby is guilty. (If you have ever been around an infant who could not cry to be fed because of some defect, you might see how glorious that God given instinct really is)

    I agree that this is very warped – wondering if these people are following what Ezzo and the Pearls say, though?

    Because I cannot imagine that this would fly in more “normal” Reformed circles… sounds like YRR garnished with Ezzo et. al. to me.

  139. John MacArthur used to endorse Gary Ezzo but doesn’t anymore. This disassociation may have more to do with Ezzo being associated with “psychology” rather than the cruelty to infants of Ezzo’s teachings.

  140. Seminaries? Hmmm? Or is it – Cemeterys??? ;-)

    Does anyone really have any confidence in seminaries training people today to be
    “Pastor/Leader/Reverends” for the “Institutional Church” of any denomination?

    If anyone was to check the record of seminaries today training these young wanna-be’s
    they would find their record is abysmal, shocking, a failure rate of the greatest magnitude.

    Seminaries should be required to post these statistics about their failures, and post the headlines about this dangerous profession, “Pastor/Leader/Reverned” in ALL literature sent to prospective students.

    BUT – They will NOT.

    They have made “Leadership”“Education” and “Having a degree” into Idols we are to worship.

    And “Pay For” – Dearly – To keep the “Good Ole Boys” club rolling along.

    BUT – Maybe I’m exaggerating.

    Let’s look at just a few statistics, and dangers, for the “Pastor/Leader/Reverends” and family who are earning a living from these denominations – “The Institutional Church.”

    This is from – The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute – And they say…
    “…pastors are in a dangerous occupation! We are perhaps the single most stressful and frustrating working profession, more than medical doctors, lawyers, politicians…”

    http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=36562&columnid=

    • 77% say they do “not” have a good marriage.
    • 71% have felt burned out or depressed.
    • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
    • 38% are divorced or seriously considering divorce.
    • Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
    • Fifteen hundred (1,500) pastors leave the ministry each month
    ….due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.

    This is serious business – Yes?
    These folks are supposed to be running the show. And their life is a mess.

    And their treasured “Title/Position” that they paid $ for, “Pastor/Leader/Reverned”
    is quite hard to find in the Bible. But I cudda missed it. ;-)

  141. This really is serious business for the “Pastor/Leader/Reverends” and their families.
    A “Title” and “Position” – NOT found in the Bible.
    (Hmmm? Could that be a clue? Why so many “Pastor/Leader/Reverends” do NOT last?)

    This is more info from a ministry working with “Hurting Pastors.”

    http://www.pastoralcareinc.com/statistics/

    # 80% of pastors’ spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
    # 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
    …………..Many pastor’s children do not attend church now
    ……………because of what the church has done to their parents.
    # 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
    # 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.

    #1 reason pastors leave the ministry…
    Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor.

    WOW!!! –
    #50% will NOT last five years. – NOT a good record for these world class seminaries.
    #33% say – ministry is an outright hazard to their family. – NOT a good record.

    And here is a Video interview about the book “Leaders Who Last.”
    The author says “Only 30% of Leaders Last.” That’s 70% FAIL. Oy Vey! :-(
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/02/28/leaders-who-last/

    Come-on-man – That’s a 70% Fail rate…
    Am I exaggerating the dangers of “Pastor/Leader/Reverends?” And seminaries?
    “their record is abysmal, shocking, a failure rate of the greatest magnitude.”

    IMO – these denominations and seminaries, who are training “Pastor/Leader/Reverends,”
    “Must” tell these young wanna-bes, **before** they spend all that money for a degree,
    that they are entering a most dangerous profession “Pastor/Leader/Reverends.”
    Dangerous for both the “Pastor/Leader/Reverends.” and their families. Yes?

    And, there’s NOT one of His Disciples with the “Title” Pastor or Reverend in the Bible.

    BUT – they will NOT. IMHO – There are too many “Idols” to $ feed.

    So – Does anyone really have any confidence in seminaries training people today to be
    “Pastor/Leader/Reverends” for the “Institutional Church” of any denomination?

    Are they – Seminaries? Or – Are they Cemetarys?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

  142. Nicholas: If memory serves, I am pretty sure the reason why MacArthur stopped endorsing Ezzo was because of a history of not submitting to church authority. It had nothing to do with the program.

  143. Over at SBCPlodder, William Thornton has tossed down a provocative gauntlet for the Calvinistas.

  144. Julie Anne, that sounds just like MacArthur to not have a problem with Ezzo’s unorthodox child rearing methods, as long as they aren’t associated with secular psychology.

  145. Hester wrote

    I totally understand where it comes from, since many of the people here have been terribly abused by the institutional/traditional church. But just because some of us choose to stick with those denominations does not mean we are automatically letting the guys with the clerical collars and M.Div.’s “tell us what to think” – after all, we comment at TWW, don’t we? ; )

    Ironically (or maybe not), all of the church abuse I experienced was in *non*-denom and/or independent churches. Reverting to ELCA-style Lutheranism was one of the solutions for me. (Though I have to admit that I’m kinda Anglican-leaning on a number of key points.)

  146. @ Anon 1:

    “I cannot tell you how many Reformed have told me that babies are inherently selfish and sinning the minute they are born.”

    That’s not a Reformed thing. That’s a conservative Christian thing. I’ve heard that from Presbyterians, Baptists, SDAs – basically anybody and everybody. That and the scare tactics that go with it – you better thwack that kid and make them cry it out at 1 month old, or you’ll still be nursing them at age 15 and they’ll be a homeless codependent trash collector.

    And yes, that last bit was an exaggeration for comic effect…but you know exactly what I’m talking about.

  147. @ Numo:

    Exactly my point. Abuse comes in different flavors depending on the denomination.

    For the record, I think mentally handicapped people and babies go to heaven…no exceptions. The standing of the parent has nothing to do with it (see Ezekiel 18). Anyone claiming that God sends an infant, who cannot even understand the concepts of obedience and sin, to hell cannot complain when others think their God sounds like a moral monster.

    Also, I suspect most of the problems being pointed out here are more dependent on the attitude of the students and teachers than inherent to the idea of a seminary. As for “agenda-free” seminaries that teach “just the Bible,” that’s a lot more difficult to achieve than it sounds. Should we really expect a Baptist seminary to favor the paedobaptist objections to exclusive credobaptism? Or a Catholic seminary to be sympathetic to Protestants? It’s logical to think that if one goes to a Baptist seminary, one wants to learn Baptist doctrine. And that’s okay as long as you don’t walk out of there thinking that the Baptist way is the ONLY WAY – which once again, is dependent on the attitude of the teachers and the students.

    I have the same take on denominations, incidentally…truth in advertising. Don’t expect to walk into a Methodist church and get Lutheranism.

  148. Also, I suspect most of the problems being pointed out here are more dependent on the attitude of the students and teachers than inherent to the idea of a seminary.

    Exactly! To say that seminaries per se are the problem – rather than the policies of those who run them, the curricula taught (and who teaches it) is (imo) more to the point.

    I think that “exchange student” programs between seminaries – with a number of denoms participating – might be a good thing, too…

  149. That’s not a Reformed thing. That’s a conservative Christian thing…

    I sure wouldn’t expect to hear it from members of the PCUSA (which attracts a lot of folks who are politically conservative, in my area, at least).

    The “children are sinners and need physical punishment” thing was HUGE in many segments of the charismatic movement back in the 70s. I saw it in New Wine (which was the house propaganda organ of the Ft. Lauderdale Five), and Larry Tomczack (of TAG/PDI/SGM [dubious] fame) published a book back in the 70s titled “God, the Rod and Your child’s Bod” that was a blanket endorsement of corporal punishment.

    It’s not something that Ezzo and the Pearls made up out of whole cloth by any means.

  150. Nicholas: It very well could be about psychology or it could be about questioning authority. Questioning authority doesn’t go over really well with these guys. Well, let’s just say it didn’t work very well for me when I was speaking about my spiritually abusive pastor.

  151. I’m sure it had to do with church authority. Shows you where MacArthur’s priorities are.

  152. I also don’t believe there’s a true balance between the idea of imputed sinfulness (imputed to all, without their agreement, without exception) & imputed righteousness (imputed to some, without being able to resist, with plentiful exceptions)…doesn’t seem very balanced to me & that idea that the sting of imputed sinfulness is taken away by the imputed righteousness of Christ seems to leave out a huge & distressingly awful part of the calvinist picture. I find it almost insulting when thisis said as if it makes everything okay. If this turned up in another faith it would be cited as immoral & substandard.

  153. “That’s not a Reformed thing. That’s a conservative Christian thing. I’ve heard that from Presbyterians, Baptists, SDAs – basically anybody and everybody. That and the scare tactics that go with it – you better thwack that kid and make them cry it out at 1 month old, or you’ll still be nursing them at age 15 and they’ll be a homeless codependent trash collector.”

    It originally comes from the doctrine of imputed imputed guilt and also Augustines teaching on original sin. Imputed guilt is very much traditional Reformed teaching which is why they baptized babies.

    Others picked it up and ran with the original sin definition of Augustine which has permeated a wide swath of Christendom in the West.

    Luther believed in the imputation of Adams guilt to us:

    Martin Luther (1483-1546) asserted that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. The second article in Lutheranism’s Augsburg Confession presents its doctrine of original sin in summary form:

    It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Rejected in this connection are the Pelagians and others who deny that original sin is sin, for they hold that natural man is made righteous by his own powers, thus disparaging the sufferings and merit of Christ.[41]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_sin

    If that is wrong, please correct me.

    What I wrote about Calvinists constantly telling me babies are selfish, etc, is a natural outgrowth of the doctrine of imputed guilt of Adams sin. When a denomination does not baptize babies, imputed guilt belief becomes a problem. Beat it out of them, perhaps?

  154. “Exactly! To say that seminaries per se are the problem – rather than the policies of those who run them, the curricula taught (and who teaches it) is (imo) more to the point.”

    Seminaries are as susceptible to groupthink as any other institution can become. Many universities prefer leftist type profs, churches want people to be unified in thought, etc. All institutions are susceptible to group think. It is huge problem anymore. Independent thinkers are not always encouraged and accepted. There is a great training film on what happend at Morton Thycol concerning the Challenger. Groupthink was a main cause that tragedy.

  155. “It’s logical to think that if one goes to a Baptist seminary, one wants to learn Baptist doctrine.”

    And there we have the problem. What IS Baptist doctrine? :o)

  156. Anon 1:

    Is it not amazing that 2 out of 3 journeypersons is a woman and Justin chimes in at the SBC Plodder that it was easier for the woman to go because the men needed to be preparing for taking care of their future wives.

    As a Southern Baptist I am shocked that the powers to be allow these women to participate in the journeyman program. I’m sure they are not happy about this. IMO–they are just a bunch of hypocrites.

  157. OK… we were trying to talk about people who insist on corporal punishment for babies, etc., and I do not see a very direct line from Augustine’s views on original sin to Ezzo, the Pearls or L. Tomczack.

    There are a heck of a lot of blanks to be filled in.

    As for seminaries and groupthink, *any* institution can be infiltrated by it. but that doesn’t mean that the institution is wrong or bad per se, it’s how people are or are not running things.

    (But then, I feel like we’re covering the same territory over and over – anytime one of us says that a teaching institution *can* be good, we get pushback; same for institutional churches.)

  158. Err, make that Tomczak.

    There have been some good books written on the history of child-rearing, views of children (etc.) in Western society and that’s where I’m going to look for what people did back in 1590 or 1909, not at Augustine.

    Forgive me if I sound overly blunt, but the argument being made for “Belief in original sin means that we end up starving and hitting babies” doesn’t make much sense to me.

  159. Does anyone know if either the Ezzos or the Pearls are Calvinists/calvinistas/somewhere in the “Reformed” camp?

    I have ton confess ignorance, as I find it very hard to read detailed posts about their ideas. All I can think of are people ignoring hungry, sick, frightened babies whenever I see discussions of them and it’s awfully hard to contemplate…

  160. @ Anon 1 & Numo:

    Funny that you quote the Augsburg Confession…because the only denomination of Christian I’ve never heard (in person) advocate the harsh treatment of babies/children you describe, are Lutherans. Though I’m sure the WELS and Lutheran Brethren do advocate it – just like every other kind of fundamentalist Christian. Like I said, this is a problem with fundies of all stripes.

    Also, child abuse promoter Michael Pearl is quite proud of his lack of belief in original sin (he also thinks that after you’re saved, you never sin again), yet his discipline methods are so horrible that they have already killed three children. I also know many Christians who believe in original sin but are perfectly sensible with their children. So, like Numo, I’m not sure the link between original sin and child abuse is as solid as you suppose.

    What is Baptist doctrine? Well, given that there are about as many kinds of Baptist as stars in the sky, I’m sure you’d get a different answer depending on who you ask. : )

    Are you advocating for the abolition of denominational seminaries (or, like I said in my other comment, seminaries that teach “just the Bible”)? Because every denomination thinks it can derive its doctrine solely from the Bible. For instance, I think infant baptism can be supported from Scripture (and my reasoning has absolutely zero to do with original sin, BTW). So using “just the Bible,” I came to the exact opposite conclusion than the one you came to. We used the same book, so who’s right? Whose version of “just the Bible” shall this hypothetical “non-denominational” seminary teach?

    Welcome to the origin of denominations. Full disclosure is a much better option – just put your beliefs on a sign out front so people know what they’re signing up for.

  161. Numo, Pearl is the opposite of a Calvinist. He denies that we have a sinful nature: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pHqAG_jWm9E

    This may be why he is so big on corporal punishment, because he believes that through it children can be made to not sin at all.

    In fact, many of the groups that have had the most problems with physical child abuse are decidedly non-Calvinist or anti-Calvinist, such as the Independent Fundamental Baptists (among whom Pearl and Ezzo are popular) and the Bruderhof Hutterites: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b16.html

  162. @ Numo:

    Funny story about Christian parenting: we knew a family who adopted several Russian orphans and had some behavioral trouble (understandable since they grew up in an orphanage). The mother once said in an exasperated tone, “They just keep sinning!”

    This is my shocked face: : O

  163. Hester – My experience (growing up in a Lutheran church and Sunday School) was that there was no corporal punishment and children were treated with kindness. Did I get spanked every now and then, when I was old enough to know that I was being defiant?

    yes, I did. I would not spank a child… but my parents were by no means child abusers.

    The thing about infant baptism is that it’s not about somehow erasing original sin from the baby being baptized. I could go after some of the literature on that, but I think I’ll hang it up for tonight. I’m too tired for more go-rounds.

  164. Nicholas and hester – thanks for the info.!

    though I still don’t see how someone who does not believe in original sin would think that beating children would make them good, but those folks are seriously messed up themselves, and I’m baffled as to how they ever attracted any followers.

    As for the Ezzos teaching that infants are willfully sinning, manipulating, etc. I wonder how *they* (the adult Ezzos) would handle things if they were put into a setting where they had to get food, water, etc. from another adult by totally non-verbal means – knowing that said adults had been told that such requests were expressions of the Ezzos’ sinful natures and inherently manipulative.

    I think someone would likely die of hunger and thirst, but that’s just me.

  165. @ Numo:

    “I wonder how *they* (the adult Ezzos) would handle things if they were put into a setting where they had to get food, water, etc. from another adult by totally non-verbal means – knowing that said adults had been told that such requests were expressions of the Ezzos’ sinful natures and inherently manipulative.”

    Ever notice how none of these people ever apply their sin and manipulation teachings to nonverbal adults (even though some of said adults are in the exact situation you described above)? Ever wonder why that is? Because nonverbal adults are big enough to hit back.

  166. Hester – yes, they are.

    I hate reality TV and think that the kind of thing I just suggested as a “What if…?” scenario would be appalling and horribly wrong if put into practice, but…

  167. Dave Warnock is a Methodist Minister in the UK, who has taken on the Calvinistas better than anyone I have ever read (present company excluded of course:^)

    His blog ’42′ is a treasure, one I am grateful for – he has been awesome at countering and responding to Adrian Warnock (no relation) who is a New Frontiers poster boy, as well as being a psychiatrist. Adrian is now blogging at Patheos. He worships the ground Virgo walks on and the ground the US Calvinistas walk on.

    Dave is approachable and connected – any questions you have which go unanswered – he’d be a go to guy. He’s covered the Bristol dustup.

    http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/

  168. “That’s not a Reformed thing. That’s a conservative Christian thing…

    I sure wouldn’t expect to hear it from members of the PCUSA (which attracts a lot of folks who are politically conservative, in my area, at least).”

    Numo, conservative Christian does not mean politically conservative. It means theologically conservative. PC(USA) is the liberal side of the Preabyterian coin (with PCA being the conservative side). Of course, individual congregations can be exceptions and there are smaller Presbyterian denominations in the middle.

    That being siad, I’ve gone to theologically conservative churches all of my adult life and I’ve never heard of spanking a 1 month old (I have heard lots of support for spanking in general, though). Maybe because in most of those churches I did not have a child, but even when I did no one said anything to me about it, the closest I ever heard was the assertion that demand feeding was “unblinical”, though no one ever told me that; they just used materials that taught it (Growing Kids God’s Way).

  169. Jeff S – Hey, I live in an area that’s both politically and theologically conservative. (Very, in fact.)

    But… you’d more than likely see weirdness about children and “discipline” at the local non-denoms/Bible churches, not in old-line Reformed/Calvinist churches. (Or Methodist, Lutheran, etc.)

    I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which is often labeled as “liberal” by many people. The thing is, there’s quite a range of belief and practice under the ELCA roof – not unlike the Church of England, in miniature.

  170. @ Jeff:

    It goes like this: all baby-spankers are conservative Christians, but not all conservative Christians are baby-spankers.

    I once told a baby-spanker that I was only spanked twice my whole life. Her face was absolutely priceless, since I am neither a prostitute nor an atheist nor a drug addict (which it seems all unspanked children run a great risk of becoming, according to baby-spankers).

    (Oh, and I forgot – as if his intellectual credibility wasn’t already in shambles, Michael Pearl is also a New World Order conspiracy theorist. It baffles me that anyone listens to a word that comes out of his mouth.)

  171. Oh dear…I was never spanked, being born to a Mother who faced domestic violence as a child….well, that explains EVERYTHING :)

  172. ‘(But then, I feel like we’re covering the same territory over and over – anytime one of us says that a teaching institution *can* be good, we get pushback; same for institutional churches.)

    Oh dear. I am a member of an “institution”. There is both good and bad. It never occured to me we could not discuss inherent problems without it causing so much offense or black and white thinking. The problems come from sinful man but humans have a way of “institutionalizing” the bad and the good. I think it is perfectly healthy to discuss that and where it might have originated as in beliefs, thinking processes,etc.

    “K… we were trying to talk about people who insist on corporal punishment for babies, etc., and I do not see a very direct line from Augustine’s views on original sin to Ezzo, the Pearls or L. Tomczack.”

    Neither do I. I was referring to the doctrine of imputed guilt and how that doctrine leads to the concept of infant baptism. I mentioned how many Calvinists (mainly SBC but some Presbyterians and a Lutheran or two) have tried to make their case for imputed guilt of ADam’s specific sin to all by saying babies are selfish, greedy, etc. I then made a joke about thsoe who do not baptize infants perhaps beat it out of them. I do not think everyone who believes in imputed guilt and and does not baptize infants beats them.

    I think the whole child punishment Christian industry is exactly that, an industry. Just like comps come in all denominations, it is a secondary issue they try to make salvic whatever their doctrine is on original sin. I am not convinced that their beliefs on original sin are the main catalyst for their punishment teaching. I think it comes from from patriarchy and a caste system type of Christian thinking. I do know a few liberal who spank their children quite a bit.

    “s for seminaries and groupthink, *any* institution can be infiltrated by it. but that doesn’t mean that the institution is wrong or bad per se, it’s how people are or are not running things.”

    Group think is seriously dangerous. And it is promoted in several ways. One favorite is to marginalize and try to make a person bringing in a different perspective as mean, cruel, ignorant, narrowminded, etc. etc. It is used in many veneues including blogging. People want to fit in and be liked so they learn what they can bring up and what they can’t. It kills independent thinking and the ability to disagree without anyone being threatened or offended. People use offense as a weapon to silence others.

  173. BeneD

    Thanks for the link! I can remember reading his blog a few years ago and enjoying it. Anyone who takes on Adrian Warnock is worth reading.

    “Are you advocating for the abolition of denominational seminaries (or, like I said in my other comment, seminaries that teach “just the Bible”)?”

    Hester, I am asking questions. What should be the curricula for training those who want to go into ministry? I would think learning Greek, Hebrew, different types of hermeneutics, etc would be first and foremost. What about an apprenticeship after that? Some denominations do just that and some don’t. I do think it is dangerous to indoctrinate in things like shepherding, patriarchy, FIC, ESS, etc, and then hand over money for the new graduate to plant a church or even take over one.

    In SOME seminaries (not just SBC) they are learning things like Barth is bad. Owen is good. etc, etc.

  174. Bene D said:

    "Dave Warnock is a Methodist Minister in the UK, who has taken on the Calvinistas better than anyone I have ever read (present company excluded of course:^)"

    Bene D,

    I was worried there for a minute, but then I read the end of the sentence. :-) I'm glad others are going after the Calvinistas.

    I was wondering whether Dave was related to Adrian Warnock and quickly found the answer.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2007/04/dave-warnock-shares-an-alternative-view-of-the-atonement/

  175. @ Anon 1:

    “What should be the curricula for training those who want to go into ministry? I would think learning Greek, Hebrew, different types of hermeneutics, etc would be first and foremost. What about an apprenticeship after that? Some denominations do just that and some don’t. I do think it is dangerous to indoctrinate in things like shepherding, patriarchy, FIC, ESS, etc, and then hand over money for the new graduate to plant a church or even take over one.”

    Thanks for your feedback. I know the LCMS has a “vicarage” system much like your idea of apprenticeship, in which a student in his last year or two of seminary has essentially a “practicum” serving in a congregation under an older pastor. He isn’t ordained until after his vicarage. Makes sense to me.

    I definitely agree that graduates fresh out of seminary should NOT be allowed to plant churches – isn’t there a verse in one of the Timothies about not making an inexperienced believer an elder? I don’t have a problem with, say, an associate pastor position, but you don’t put someone with no experience at the top of the heap right out of the gate. That’s just recipe for abuse and arrogance.

    I don’t have a problem with seminaries teaching denominationally-specific doctrine as long as they don’t teach it as THE ONLY WAY. They should promote understanding of others’ beliefs even if they think they are incorrect – which yes, you are right, many seminaries don’t do at all. (Personally I’ve never met an LCMS pastor who wasn’t able to have a calm, reasoned, gracious discussion about non-Lutheran doctrine, but there are nuts in every bag of trail mix.) And of course I would raise holy hell if I found out my denomination’s seminaries were teaching patriarchy and FIC. Those aren’t denominationally-specific doctrines – they’re (semi-)heretical and abusive ones.

    And you are TOTALLY right about Christian corporal punishment being an industry, BTW. Just like the purity/courtship/heart-guarding industry.

  176. FWIW on topics of seminary training and church planting: I worked as administrative assistant for the Theological Field Education (TFE) at Golden Gate Seminary for about 3 years, and the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program there for about 2 years.

    From what I recall, some sort of TFE or “field practicum/internship” is required of students in master’s programs at U.S. seminaries that are accredited by ATS (the Association of Theological Schools). ATS includes a range of institutions, in terms of theological and denominational backgrounds. Of course, training programs and unaccredited academic degree programs can do whatever they want, but accredited ones have to meet at least the minimum requirements/guidelines for the internship program. I think most seminary master’s programs had a two-semester practicum.

    And a practical in-the-field project is a major distinctive of the DMin program as opposed to the PhD degree, which is typically more bookish and theory oriented. So the DMin is for practitioners of ministry – they do a field-based project and create a report about what happened. The PhD is for professionals in theology, languages, hermeneutics, church history, etc., and they do a dissertation. It’s quite a different mindset, from my experiences of the students and professors in these different degree programs.

    On the subject of church planting, I was trained as a Level 2 assessor in the Ridley system (his research is the basis for most church planter evaluation processes). Level 2 means I could be part of the team to conduct the 3- to 4-hour interview on 11 to 13 different behavior skill areas in the assessment. But usually I was assigned the communication skills analysis part of the process, to listen to a 20-minute presentation and evaluate it for specific elements.

    I also worked on something like 8 church planting teams, a few great ones, many mediocre, a few disastrous ones … learned something important from each. But my basic conclusion at this point is that strategizing and structuring required in church planting can easily overtake what I understand to be the real task , which is relationally discipling men and women and girls and boys to follow Jesus, serve one another, and become more Christlike. And at this point I don’t think I would recommend individual planters, or even teams of all 20-/30-somethings doing a church plant. I would take an entire different approach that used integrative teams of men and women, singles and couples and families, and make it intergenerational and intercultural. I have witnessed too much crud happening in the name of church planting that epic fails when it comes to really equipping people to follow Jesus …

    I’m still in the process of thinking this through, but that’s my current conclusion based on all the uneasiness I feel with the conventional approach that is now so dominant.

  177. So refreshed to see an organization standing up for biblical equality…. my mood changed a little when you guys pointed out that those are Brits in the "Go Wayne Grudem" video. I just read today in another egalitarian blog that Time magazine named "New Calivinism" as #3 on their list of "10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now" in 2009. Apparently, Neo Calvinism is having a profound effect on youngins. Sickening! But I have hope because of blogs like this one where intelligent, compassionate, well researched people are standing against an evil movement (sanctified sexism- wouldn't call Calvinism itself evil). May intimate knowledge and revelation of God's heart for the lost and for His daughters be imparted to the church!

  178. Nikilee,

    Thanks for your comment! We have addressed some of the issues you mention about the Calvinistas (as we call the Neo-Cals). I believe we are making a difference in educating others about New Calvinism and its devastating effects.

    If you haven't had a chance to check out our EChurch posts, I highly recommend them!

  179. Nicholas – Are you familiar with some of the other (non-*penal-substitution) views of the atonement?

  180. Then you are aware that there have been varying views throughout the history of the church.

    Bene D has been commenting her for about (iirc) 2 years, but hasn’t been around much lately.

  181. @ Patti:

    That statement is hardly patriarchal. Patriarchy is a specific set of beliefs that includes men being “priests” and “intercessors” over women (= Vision Forum). The LCMS statement never said anything about that. In fact, patriarchalists denounce complementarianism as essentially the sissypants take on gender roles.

    Complementarianism and patriarchy are not the same thing. I know most here disagree with complementarianism (and I do too in many respects), but that doesn’t mean every denomination that has it in their official statements is a patriarchal oppressionfest.

    Though for the record, I will say that I really didn’t appreciate the tone of the LCMS statement, its portrayal of egalitarians was laughably unfair and it made no attempt to actually answer the questions it posed…but that doesn’t mean it was an attempt to emulate Doug Phillips.

  182. Patti / Hester – I, too, appreciated neither the tone nor a significant part of the content of the LCMS statement. As Hester suggested, it showed a dishonour towards egalitarians rooted in deep ignorance and flawed – though bold – assumption. I suppose the author, or authors, may have been reacting against a bad experience with some liberal hard-liners who opposed their views by genuinely rejecting the bible.

    But here, as so often elsewhere, we see the same old same old – the bible agrees with us, and if you don’t, it must be either willful or ignorant rejection of the bible (or, indeed, of its Author). Even Park Fiscal could have written this statement, on an occasion where he wished his audience to admire his humility and graciousness. Incidentally, it’s also an example of how a policy of being “loving and gentle” may be christlike, or it may be prideful and patronising – the deceitful kisses of an enemy, as Proverbs 27 puts it.

    All that said, I think Hester’s right insofar as this document only covers who can and cannot be an ordained pastor (if that’s what LCMS means by “the spiritual leaders of the church”). I don’t get the impression from it that the authors want women to submit to domestic violence and abuse, for instance. But I’m not sure that many women would want to take up one of the proffered full-time ecclesiastical roles, instead of the fulfilling, Holy Spirit anointed ministry that most believers have out there in the wide world. I’m glad people like Gladys Aylward and Jackie Pullinger submitted faithfully to their callings, and weren’t seduced by the glitter and glamour of various boards and committees.

  183. I just read today in another egalitarian blog that Time magazine named “New Calivinism” as #3 on their list of “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now” in 2009. Apparently, Neo Calvinism is having a profound effect on youngins. — Niklee

    As in “Calvinjugend”?

    But here, as so often elsewhere, we see the same old same old – the bible agrees with us, and if you don’t, it must be either willful or ignorant rejection of the bible (or, indeed, of its Author). — Nick Bulbeck

    As in “God Agrees Completely with MEEEEEEE!”?

  184. Exactly, Hester and Nick.

    We really need to separate “complemetarianism” from the position that only men can hold the office of pastor/elder. The latter is a 2,000 year old position.

  185. @ Nick:

    “All that said, I think Hester’s right insofar as this document only covers who can and cannot be an ordained pastor (if that’s what LCMS means by ‘the spiritual leaders of the church’).”

    Yes, that document was only about pastoral ordination. The LCMS does have a deaconess program, though according to the last “head count” I read the number of women in it was pretty small. It may be newer, however, I don’t know.

    My church is getting ready to call an associate pastor right now and they want to get a young guy from one of the seminaries…so we’ll see what arrives on my ecclesiastical doorstep. Like I said, if I hear patriarchy, Neo-Calvinism or FIC, my current (soon-to-be senior) pastor – and everyone else, for that matter – will hear about it in no uncertain terms. Recall my phrase “holy hell”? : )

  186. Addendum @ Nick:

    “I suppose the author, or authors, may have been reacting against a bad experience with some liberal hard-liners who opposed their views by genuinely rejecting the bible.”

    It’s possible, given that many ELCA churches have done this. ELCA also has women pastors, so it might be a little “close to home” for the LCMS? They were working on a hymnal together, I think, about a decade or so ago, but the project fell apart.

    And I must admit, those egalitarians who take the tack of slamming Paul make me pretty uncomfortable, too (though none or very few of them reside on this blog). I think I’ve said on here before that I don’t think the best route to egalitarianism is to write off the troublesome passages as “cultural” or “outdated,” and then wonder why so many Christians are leery of your position. This is what I thought all egalitarians did until I found TWW and some other sites I discovered through TWW.

  187. @ Nicholas:

    You bring up a good point – what exactly are we referring to when we say “complementarianism”? Just marriage? Just ordination? Both? Given that comp’s proponents tend to define it so broadly (“men and women complement each other”), they probably included male-only ordination from the beginning.

  188. Women can still teach at meetings, as long as their husbands teach with them.

    As I’ve said before on this blog (as a refresher for you), I am in my early 40s, a woman, and I have never married. I am single.

    So, if you are an unmarried female in this British organization what are you to do?

    It looks to me as if not only is much of (Western) Christianity fairly sexist against women in general, but against unmarried / childless women in particular.

    I don’t recall Jesus preaching that a woman’s value or authority is based only upon, or foremost upon, motherhood or marital status, but the church bodies in America and Britain seem to think so.

  189. A Amos Love, regarding the page you linked to with this information:

    “The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”.”

    I’ll see if I can find the source, but I read somewhere just about 2 or 3 months ago that figure is bogus or misquoted (not accurate).

    Unless I’m confusing it with a similar thing… maybe I’m mixing it up with a similar stat that claims that most of the American public considers prostitutes to be a more noble or trustworthy profession than pastor??

    I can’t remember where I saw a web page that discussed it.

    It might have been on a page that reviewed this book (which is sold on Amazon):

    “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media” by Bradley R.E. Wright

    Or, I might be thinking of this page
    (the author of this did not like the book “Pagan Christianity” which I saw some mention on this blog):

    Open Letter to George Barna

  190. @Daisy, just in case you missed it, dee will be doing a post in the future that includes guest posts from TWW commenters on ‘singleness’. I think you’d be great collaborating on it.

  191. You get that the video is a joke – in a karaoke competition, right? It’s just light hearted British humour.

    Gavin: I think you’ve confused a pastor called Matt Oliver in Doncaster with a student called Matt Oliver in Bristol. It’s a fairly common name but these are two different people.