Controversy


Here are some snippets that have helped me see the value and state of gender roles and created differences between men and women. 

Enjoy:

 

The state of men in many places:

In Seattle, the young men are, generally, pathetic. They are unlikely to go to church, get married, have children, or do much of anything else that smacks of being responsible. But they are known to be highly skilled at smoking pot, masturbating, playing video games, playing air guitar, free-loading, and having sex with their significant others… If there is any hope for a kingdom culture to be built in Seattle, getting the young men to undergo a complete cranial-rectal extraction is priority number one.[1]

 Leadership

P.T. Forsyth says that hierarchy- the placing of one above another-not was meant not for privilege, prerogative, favoritism, or dominion, but for leadership.  And leadership means service, sacrifice, help, uplifting, redemption, and a cross.  Leadership is not meant to exploit, but to lift; not to exterminate, but to rescue; not to rend, but redeem; not to devour, but to carry; not for primacy, but for priority.  It means, in the last analysis, obedience, service, even death, for the sake of others.[2]

           

 Can women still influence men for Christ in areas of deep passion and conviction?

It is obvious that we cannot and should not prohibit women from influencing men.  For example, prayer is certainly a God-appointed means women should use to get men to where God wants them to be.  Praying women exert far more power in this world than all political leaders put together.  This kind of powerful influence is compounded immensely when one considers the degree to which the world is shaped and guided by the effects of how men and women are formed by their mothers.  This influence is perhaps more effective than all the leadership of men put together[3]

 

Women, then, have engaged in significant ministries, even if those ministries were unofficial.  One thinks of Abigail in I Samuel 25.  Abigail was not a prophetess and had no other official ministry that we know of.  Nevertheless, her humble and gentle advice to David persuaded him not to kill Nabal.  How many unrecorded events there must be of women persuading men, humbly and gently, to pursue a more righteous course!  What a good model this story is for traditionalists who think being a leader means they must always know the truth and that their opinion is always right.  David was certainly the leader in this account, but his humility is evident in that he listened to Abigail and was persuaded.  For women, Abigail is a model of gentle and humble persuasion.  There was no stridency or imperiousness about her manner.  She was winsome, yet bold.

            The unofficial ministries of women, therefore, are of great importance, and some men, by desiring leadership for its status and power as the Gentiles do (Mark 10:42ff.), have contributed to the idea that these ministries are insignificant.  Such a secular concept of ministry has done great damage in Christ’s church.[4]

– pg 210

 

There are so many ministries today in which a woman can advance the cause of Christ and righteousness!  I will list a few here so that one can get some idea of the wide scope available: engaging in personal witnessing and joining campus organizations committed to spreading the gospel, ministering to the sick and elderly, fighting against abortion, fighting against pornography, helping with literacy, writing to government leaders to support the cause of righteousness, helping with disabled, aiding the poor, ministering in prisons, counseling and praying with the troubled and confused, supporting missionaries and the church financially, visiting newcomers to the church, extending hospitality to the lonely, using artistic gifts by ministering in music, the visual arts, drama, and theater, helping in youth ministry, etc.[5]


[1] Mark Driscoll, Radical Reformission

[2] Elisabeth Elliot.  The Mark of a Man.  pg 134.

[3] Pg 61, John Piper.  What is the Difference?  Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible

[4] Thomas Schreiner.  Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem.  Pg 210

[5] Thomas Schreiner.  Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem.  Pg 223

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” (James 1:19)  is not only good advice but essential in discerning and evaluating truth claims.

Last fall, I came across the following statements by N.T. Wright in The Australian:

“[N.T. Wright] An eminent theologian, an expert on the historical and biblical Jesus and a staunch believer in the resurrection, he baulks at denouncing those who are not.  

“‘I have friends who I am quite sure are Christians who do not believe in the bodily resurrection,’ he says carefully, citing another eminent scholar, American theologian Marcus Borg…

“‘Marcus Borg really does not believe Jesus Christ was bodily raised from the dead. But I know Marcus well: he loves Jesus and believes in him passionately. The philosophical and cultural world he has lived in has made it very, very difficult for him to believe in the bodily resurrection. ‘” (Article by Jill Rowbotham, Apr 13, 2006 Not all Christians believe in the resurrection)

I saw some bloggers immediately condemn Wright and I started to lean in that direction.  Then I started to ask questions.  What if Borg does believe in the resurrection in a spiritual sense and affirms most everything else about Jesus?  Would he be excluded as he tried passionately to follow the Jesus his philosophical and cultural worldview would not allow?  Be slow to speak…

Wright defends the historical Jesus and especially the resurrection voluminously, eloquently, and passionately.  He also reaches out to and engages his academic brothers of the liberal persuasion.  He challenges the liberal world to consider his Jesus.

But his statements are provocative.  They were the more so coming near Easter last year from a scholar who has spent decades on the first century period and historical Jesus.  And being provoked, I picked up one of Marcus Borg’s most recent books, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary.  It was an uncomfortable process leading me to evaluate the skeletal system of the faith.

Here are several observations about the Jesus that Borg knows:

  • Not the second person of the Trinity[1]
  • Fully man, Not God before Easter
  • Not the Son of God[2]
  • Not raised to life from the dead[3]
  • Not born of the Virgin Mary[4]
  • Not sinless[5]
  • A wisdom teacher on level with Buddha and Lao Tzu[6]
  • One among many ways to God[7]
  • Not necessary to be believed in
  • Jesus did not die FOR the sins of the world[8]
  • Jesus’ crucifixion was NOT necessary[9]
  • Jesus died for political reasons[10]
  • Didn’t perform miracles like changing water to wine, walking on water, etc.

In contrast to Borg’s Jesus, the testimony borne in the Scripture of Jesus is contradictory on almost every point:

  • Always was, begotten NOT created (Col 1:15-19, John 1:1-5)
  • Rose from the dead (I Cor 15, Mark 16, Matthew 28, Luke 24, and John 20-21)
  • Born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38, 2:6-7)
  • Died for the sins of the world (John 3:16) as a Substitutionary Atonement- God’s sacrifice to God for sin- Lamb of God (John 1:29, 3:14)
  • Lived sinless (Heb 4:15)
  • The One way to God (John 14:6)
  • Necessary to be believed in (Rom 10:9)

What is obvious is that these are two radically different pictures of Jesus and by Wright saying he has friends who don’t believe in the resurrection but he is quite sure are Christians, and then identifying Borg as one, is profoundly troubling.  There is no doubt, from his construction of Jesus and his denial of the testimony that led to the death of many of the apostles that Borg is preaching another gospel (the severity of which is highlighted in Gal 1:8). 

At best, this demonstrates fuzziness as far as Wright’s understanding of the gospel.  Borg’s own autobiographical sketch identifies growing up in a traditional Lutheran community and fails to liberate him from having a cultural or philosophical worldview from which he can deny the bodily resurrection.  Wright is quite wrong about the standing of his friend.

Practically, it is one thing to say Wright should not waffle on the eternal standing of his liberal friends.   It is quite another for us to do the same, being ready to have friends and family who drive us out and hate us for the name of Christ because we ourselves have a better hope (Matt 10:34-39, Luke 6:22, Heb 10:34-36). 


[1]Borg 136 “Was Jesus- the pre-Easter Jesus- God?  No.”  also Pg 321.

[2] Ibid 135-136

[3] Ibid 274-276

[4] Ibid 60-63.

[5] Ibid 120 tells us Jesus “decided to undergo, “John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” and on pg 173 Borg entertains as an interesting possibility the notion that Jesus was the prodigal spoken of in Luke 15.

[6] Ibid 166

[7] Ibid 328

[8] Ibid 274 “According to the gospels, Jesus did not die for the sins of the world.  The language of sacrificial substitution is absent from their stories.  But in an important sense he was killed because of the sins of the world.”

[9] Ibid 274 “Did Good Friday have to happen?  As divine necessity?  No.  As human inevitability?  Virtually.”

[10] Ibid 274

As I’ve formulated areas of contention I have with the New Paul Perspective (NPP), I terminated one.  As St. Augustine showed me in a slightly different address, the argument was bad. My line of thought went like this, “The NPP sprung out of liberal theology; it’s original theology runs so bad as to be unorhodox; therefore a distilling of the material and subsequent refined NPP objective is bad because of where it came from.”

Augustine had a great image (Chapter 40). He developed the scene- God moved on the hearts of the Egyptian people and the Israelites plundered them of their gold.  Where heathen philosophy, moralism, etc. lines up with what we know to be true, we shouldn’t just ignore it or defame it.  We should take that which we find to be true and liberate it.  In this way, the Israelites plundered the Egyptians for their gold as they left Egypt.  The gold articles and “gold philosophies” erected to serve idols and demons had no idea they would eventually go to serve the one true and living God.  And in this way, Augustine quotes Acts, “Moses was learned in ALL the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). In the same way we can take the gold studies from biology, built on an evolutionary principle, and use them to understand the world and help cure diseases, etc.  We don’t just throw out the whole field because it serves a Darwinian model.

If the historical research done by E.P. Sanders is really that great, then it should be liberated and refined to honor the God of the Bible.  There’s an old Latin proverb that says, “There’s no book so bad that it has no value.”  Now I’d not side 100% with this quote, but see it as a challenging principle.  Therefore, I find it a bad argument to fault Wright for reading / engaging Sanders and adopting principles from his studies.  My perception is that he has done enough to separate them / liberate them from the agenda Sanders was serving.

In case you aren’t aware of it, check out the Christian Research Institute Journal webpage. The journal is producing some good stuff that we should be reading. Consider for instance Daniel B. Wallace’s review of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman. With all the media hype and parroting of liberal arguements against the Scriptures today, reviews like this one are a necessary read as we share with friends, family, and neighbors.

Maybe a few of you are entrenched in the NPP battle, using those Holy Ghost Machine Guns for good. Maybe, like me, you hear a bit about it but read and understand only a little. I have been spending some time thinking about Luke 18:9-14 in preparation for a talk. This passage is one of those scary and amazing parables, depending which character you relate with. I also recently listened to a Piper sermon on it (“This man went down to his house justified“) . I find his thoughts on this passage intriguing and directly relevant to NPP.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)

Piper argues that the Pharisee was NOT a Legalist (my previous understanding), because he is thanking God for his own “righteousness” and not seeking to earn favor with God on his own merit. Excerpt:

He is not presented as a legalist—one who tries to earn his salvation. That is not the issue. One thing is the issue: This man was morally upright. He was religiously devout. He believed God had made him so. He gave thanks for it. And that is what he looked to and trusted in for his righteousness before God—for his justification. And he was dead wrong. (emphasis added)

The idea that this man rightfully thanked God for working in his life, looking to God as the means to his right living and yet went home UNJUSTIFIED (verse 14) is fascinating, perplexing, and terrifying. The problem is not that his morality or religion are wrong, but that these works of righteousness are insufficient for salvation and leave him condemned in the Judgement.

This is of coarse the problem with removing the imputation. A problem that Piper clearly explains in the rest of the sermon. No matter how “righteous” you are, how much “good” is in your life even by God’s provision, Justification is on the BASIS OF CHRIST ALONE!

The summary: make sure you bring the right currency to the judgement. I can’t hear this message enough. Just thought you might enjoy reading or listening to it if you have time. I would be interested in any discussion on the implications this Pharisee’s view would have on Christian Living – What does it look like to trust in yourself?

Peace

I saw this on FoxNews this morning but I wonder if they are going a little overboard with this. It is one thing to be a cessationist but quite another to “despise prophetic utterances” to the point where you will no longer “tolerate” it. I think that Southwest Baptist is in serious error which will promote disunity. It also makes me question the SBC in general as it seems that they are taking some extreme stances which clearly are NOT Biblical (see Mark’s prayer for the SBC from several months ago).

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,222363,00.html

Check out this entry at MarkDriscoll’s blog. More reasons to cheer these guys on. 🙂

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