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Showing posts from 2010

GNOSTICISM and HERESY?

Every so often Christians like ourselves, who believe in Biblical equality, are accused of being gnostics or heretics, or both, by believers who are of a complementarian persuasion. These theologically loaded words are highly emotive and when used to describe us suggest that our attitude to the final authority of Scripture is unsound which, for them, means our egalitarian conclusions are Biblically untenable and therefore not worthy of examination. Even worse, it can mean that we are now open game to be rejected, ridiculed and maligned because we are thought to have departed from what is generally accepted as the orthodox tenets of the faith. Having encountered this accusation now myself on a number of occasions I thought to examine the charges in the light of 'Wikipedia' definitions of these two words.
Basically Gnostics, who were around at the time of the writing of the New Testament, viewed the Scriptures as allegorical, or mystical, containing hidden 'esoteric' mean…

Freedom in the Spirit

Reading this morning in 2 Corinthians 3 verses 7-18 about the Glory of the New Covenant. In this passage Paul compares and contrasts the receiving of the Old Covenant, written on Tablets of stone, with the reception of the New Covenant which is administered by the Holy Spirit. He speaks of the glory that was evident on Moses' face when he came down from the mountain, having been for so long in the very presence of God. It was a fading glory but it was still evident to the people of Israel. So much so that they could not bear to look at Moses' face, requiring him to wear a veil. Paul poses the question, "Shouldn't we expect a far greater glory when the Holy Spirit is giving life?" (verse 8) The chapter concludes with the thought that this Spirit given glory should not fade but to the contrary, "...reflect his glory even more." (verse 18)
For me there is a contrast here between the condemning letter of the law and the life giving power of the Holy Spirit,

Frustration!

We had a wonderful sermon in church this morning about the elder brother in the prodigal son story and how we can so easily slip into an 'older brother' attitude towards other people who are coming to faith or coming back to God after some time away. The preacher was pointing up the fact that we can get into the frame of mind that we almost deserve God's goodness (what a thought!)
BUT...before he preached he made an announcement about a couple who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversay (big applause) And then.....it was spoilt by the preachers saying "I probably shouldn't repeat this but...." and then launching in to repeating a joke which the 60 years' married guy had told him. I wouldn't repeat it but it suggested that women were so hard to understand that even God found it difficult.
Why, oh why......do so many Christians find this sort of stuff funny?? It is dishonouring to men and women and most importantly dishonouring to God who made us a…

The Unexpected

Recently my wife and I had to travel interstate to be present with family members to mourn the death and celebrate the life of my youngest step-sister who was a mere 53 years of age. This tragic event was unexpected for us all. It began with her having had a stroke and further medical examination revealing that Tricia had 2 aneurisms near her brain. The surgery was deemed successful and everyone heaved a sigh of relief. But on the third day after the operation she suffered a cardiac arrest from which she never recovered. The hospital staff kept her on life support for a time but all evidence suggested neural activity had ceased. Fortunately no family member had to be responsible to authorise the cessation of life support because she died naturally on the fifth day.
This was, and still is, an incredible shock to all members of our family, perhaps none more than her twin 22 year old boys (Ed and Tim) and her partner of 10 years (Bruce). Our family do not share the hope of our faith in Je…

Ordinary People

Have just finished reading an article in the CBE publication, Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy, by Robert K. McGregor Wright, titled, "God, Metaphor and Gender." The sub-title is, "Is the God of the Bible a Male Deity?"
The writer is of Reformed theological background and has written a number of other essays as well as having published a some well researched books. I loved the way that he tackled the issue by addressing questions that are often put in this debate by those who believe that God is essentially male because of the many male gender references attributed to God throughout Scripture. Obviously this may lead one to conclude that males therefore best represent the image of God and must, as a consequence, be the only ones qualified to lead both the church and the home.
I think that he (McGregor Wright) argues his case to the contrary really well and thoroughly dispels the notion that males should enjoy this position of leadershi…

CBE Conference in Australia

We were blessed to be able to attend the CBE conference in Melbourne, Australia in June. We chose to travel across Australia by car and caravan, catching up with relatives and friends in South Australia and Victoria along the way. All in all we were away from home for 3 months as we then travelled up the East Coast of Australia to visit one of our sons who resides with his family on the Gold Coast in Queensland. It's a week today since we actually set foot back in our house here in Warnbro, Western Australia because we visited 2 other sons and their families, one in Busselton and another in Lesmurdie WA. The Conference seems like eons ago already but it was so good to meet with likeminded people in our own country. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence here in Australia with most church people not really interested in persuing the topic. For many the issue appears to be done and dusted, perhaps because for them it was locked into Women's ordination and now that that is som…

Abusing Scripture

I have just got through reading Manfred T. Brauch's book titled, Abusing Scripture, and can thoroughly recommend it as a good read. So much so that I've passed it on to someone else already. His work is the result of 30 plus years of lecturing in a Theological Institution in the States. Each chapter deals with different aspects of how it is that we abuse Scripture and most often it comes down to misinterpretation because we have not used interpretive tools wisely or correctly. A great deal of effort is spent in considering the context and cultural relevance, to the persons to whom the original text is addressed, when carrying over the explanation or application to our situation. His point is that we are all bound to make assumptions of a text or read into that text preconceptions that are skewed by our own experiences of cultural, religious or denominational tradition. Every chapter concludes with a summary and a section on how we might improve our interpretive skills in that …

Conversation Ends

It all looked very interesting but at some point I must have crossed the line because it has been some time now since I have heard from my friend John. I knew as we were corresponding that the concepts of equality and mutual submission were very challenging to him personally and his sense of masculine self worth so we'll leave him to ponder for a while longer on those thoughts.
In the meantime our daughter-in-law Julie mentioned that she was doing a teen girls study group and had suggested that the girls choose a book from a catalogue that they could discuss together. The girls chose 'Datable Rules' so Julie asked Liz and I if we had come across this book and if so, what it was like.
We had to tell her that there is currently a conversation going on on the CBE blog, the Scroll, on the issue of Christian books that are available for the dating scene and that this one came in for a good deal of criticism. She was quite taken back so we explained why it is that we felt that the…

More Conversation with a Friend

John: Trev if it truly is this way and my wife wants to agree I think you might have won me over.Trev:Rachel may be perfectly comfortable with you taking responsibility John. Her own Christian background may include that expectation, ie. that you should lovingly lead her and take a "headship" responsibility within the home. That's why I don't want to rock your boat too much if that's the way things are expected to be done and you are both happy with that. All that I'm pointing out is that is not the only way that things can or should be done in running the home. I'm suggesting that there is a more inclusive way but some women may feel insecure in that in the same way that you feel that your manhood is threatened if that were taken away from you. Other women feel totally demeaned by the thought that when they were courting their mental competence was acknowledged and celebrated but now that they are married she is expected to become a "kept" woma…

Ongoing conversation

John:If after a lot of disagreement and putting it before God etc. etc. a decision cannot be made but one must be or the consequences, let say it is financial, who should make it? Lets say the guy says, "Hey I am easy, you make it." Then let’s say it is a wrong decision. Who takes responsibility for the wrong decision. Let’s say the woman. What then?Trevor: All that I'm suggesting here John is that both marriage partners discuss and pray about the issues before God and both come to consensus about what is the right path and both take responsibility (and blame) if it turns out to have been an unwise decision. Where an issue arises that affects one marriage partner more than the other, the one who is most affected should have the larger portion of input. If there appears to be a stalemate the couple continue to wait on God until they can agree about a direction to take. In Liz and my case we don't consider buying anything or spending any money on ourselves without cons…
There has now been some ongoing conversation on this topic. I will post excerpts of it here in stages as my reply got a bit long for one post.Trevor: Thanks for keeping on coming back on this one. I know that it's very difficult for you to take on board the way of looking at things that I'm suggesting and in some respects I'm reluctant to continue rocking your boat, knowing that you are doing good in your marriage with what you have learned about how marriage should work with the whole headship thing. I'll answer what you've written, in a different colour, between the lines of your own comments.John:There is something that my soul as a man is finding the approach you are suggesting really robbing me of my man hood. I am continuing to hold it up to the Lord.Trevor: John you are not the first man to have felt or said that in respect to what I am proposing. Many men have expressed that to go this way seems to rob them of their significance. For me personally it's …

Paul Washer Sermon

Managed to track down a 'U tube' audio of the "What it takes to be a man" message. Pleased to hear that it had such an impact for you personally John. The message was in 6x10 minute segments and took a bit of getting through but I got the gist of it. While I can appreciate the guy's sincerity, passion and belief that this is what the Bible teaches I did find it very American, with constant references to manliness and his love for hunting etc. He is right on the money about the Western mindset of dating and of how unbiblical and harmful it can be in the development of responsible relationships. Where I strongly disagree with him though is on the issue of men being designed to lead women, to be the sole provider and protector. His premise that until a man is willing to lead and provide for a woman he should not be considering dating a women leaves men with the notion that they are destined to lead and women are simply to follow their lead.Granted, for some men, pos…

Without Blemish

The Pastor of the Church that Liz and I attend thought to tackle the book of Leviticus for his next ministry series and encouraged the congregation to read it along with him. It was an offer that I was very happy to take up. While reading in chapter 21 of the holiness required of the priests I was struck by the words, (verse 16, GNB) The Lord commanded Moses to say to Aaron, "None of your descendants who has any physical defect may present the food offering to me. This applies for all time to come." The verses that follow spell out the extent of the physical defects that apply.
So often I was reminded, when in ministry myself, of the need for the Lord's servants to be pure. Usually it was related to marital purity and fidelity, particularly in respect to divorce and remarriage. My ministry colleagues were very committed to the notion that divorce, for any reason, automatically disqualified one from ministry. It's interesting to note that it was citing passages like th…

What River?

Yesterday I wrote a little about our time at the CBE conference in St Louis, Missouri and I left a question mark for the second of the two famous rivers there. Forgot to edit that and put in the name of the river before posting. Silly me! Even more silly is the fact that the second river was the Missouri River. But I thought that it would be nice too to include a picture, from our gallery of that fabulous arch. When we arrived at the hotel various people said, "Are you going to go and see the arch?" Nothing could have prepared us for actually seeing it. It is 'ginormous'. Yes, I know, I invented that word just for the occasion. Didn't think to carefully about placement did I? The arch pics are obvious the other two are the outside of the Frontenac Hotel and Foyer. The stately building with the dome roof is the old Judiciary Building in St Louis, now a museum.

We never learn

Once again it has been so long since we last posted that we forgot the password, or perhaps it drops off after a time for security reasons? Anyway, the important thing is that we are back on board now. Since the last post we have been able to attend another CBE conference in the US, at St Louis, Missouri. It was everything that we anticipated and more. We also caught up with some CBE friends in San Diego which was a real bonus because our other American friends were now living in SD too. It was interesting to travel on the train down from Los Angeles and return. It gave us a bit more of an insight into seeing ordinary Americans because most of our previous experience in the US was in airports or hotels. Our hosts in SD took us to their Vineyard church and showed us around their city and beaches. It was interesting to learn that the State of California has a higher population than all of Australia and that their operating budget exceeds the Whole of Australia by far.

When in St Louis w…