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The city of Mansoul is visited by Diabolus (Satan) and Incredulous (Unbelief) in this classic.  With Innocence and Resistance destroyed by the enemies of Mansoul, the city soon is taken captive through the Eye Gate and Ear Gate.

Lord Will be Will takes charge as Reason and Understanding are deposed and imprisoned.

This is the stage in John Bunyan’s Holy War.  An allegory depicting the story of stories- the creation of man, his exile from Eden, and God’s ensuing, pursuing love to deliver him from the corruption of his rebellion even as evil is leavened throgh the flesh of man.  With sobering scences and comical characters- the diabolianians, once identified within the city, crucified atop the city gates in full view of Diabolus in the vein of Colossians 3 “mortify your members” (KJV) “put to death whatever is earthly inside of you” or of Mr. Godly Fear and Mr. Carnal Delight- it can be explained to children and doubles as a primer on spiritual warfare. 

The story being told in terms like this is one of the best ways to awaken a knowledge to the truth and a sense of urgency.  As Bunyan commented elsewhere, Praying in the Spirit, one of the best ways to teach children [or anyone] to pray isn’t giving them some creed or scripted prayer, but to tell them, “of damnation and of salvation… of how to avoid the one and enjoy the other…”  This manner of teaching, he says, will be the quickest way to elicit hearty groans flowing from their hearts and chests, to teach them to pray in the Spirit, and to deliver them from the hypocrisy of those who “honor God with their lips while their hearts are far from him.” 

Before picking up the latest “bestseller” think about what are some of the best sayers of the truth.  Will that book on the New York Time’s list persist as a wealth of wisdom and warning in 100 years, or will it crumble away within a generation awaiting the next fad?  Take a step back in time and see that as we hit the big themes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” 

When it comes time to read, Joel R. Beeke says in Feed My Sheep, ask yourself whether or not that book will increase your love for God, help you to conquer sin, or if your time could be better spent reading another book.  For me, this book has been instrumental in appreciating the spiritual war in the heavenlies all around-seeing the enemy of soul’s tempting and entreating entrance at each of the five sesnes-, in awakening an urgency to the battle, equipping with a practicality against it, and in sensing the love and joy of God for his people.

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Where we left off last… Do complementarians hate women?  Are they just modern mysogynysts?

Find out now! 

 

The Egalitarian view seeks the inclusion of women in all areas of ministry based on the following observations from Scripture:

1) Calling roles or distinctions into question based on gender is wrong and like doing so based on ethnicity (Jew or Greek) or social status (slave or free)

  • Galatians 3:28- No distinctions in Christ between men and women

2) A woman apostle is acknowledged by Paul

  • Rom 16:7- Junia, the latino disciple

3) Women play a prophetic role in the Old Testament (ex: Deborah, Miriam, etc.), and are foretold to prophesy after the Ascension (Acts 2:17-18).

4) Women are referred to as “fellow-workers” with Paul, the same way Timothy, Titus, and other male disciples.

5) Women serve in the office of deacon in the New Testament (Rom 16:1)

The complementaria argument views men and women as being designed to fit together not only biologically in marriage, but also emotionally and in various roles.:

Humans are created male and female as nature is night and day, sea and land. 

Both are:

  • Equally valuable
  • Equally fallen
  • Equally needing of a savior

Men are designed to initiate and lead

Women are designed to nurture, receive, and affirm

  Questions for Discussion:

  • Is the egalitarian interpretation of Galatians 3:28 the best one?
  • What else is suggested by the immediate context of Galatians 3:28?
  • How do these observations relate to Paul’s instruction for church governance?

On the other side:

  • Do complementarians realize we are in the 21st century?
  • Doesn’t the complementarian view just continue to exploit, demean, and repress women?

Brief Response to points 1-5 of Egalitarian position

1) Context in Gal 3 is not addressing / defining what it means to be a man or woman.  This does not, for example, mean that no distinction should be made between men and women, say in marriage (ie: “No longer male no female” does not apply to marriage covenant and does not throw out Paul’s advice to husbands and wives in Eph 5, it does not mean since there is no longer male nor female, that marriage can now apply to a man and a man or a woman and a woman).

Elsewhere (Titus 2, I Timothy 2, etc.) Paul lays out clear distinctions for structure of church. 

Gal 3:28 in context is referring to equal fallenness, need of savior, and value in God’s eyes of Jews, Gentiles, slaves, masters, men and women.

This does not support egalitarian position.

2) Woman apostle can have several different translations.  Jesus had no woman apostle.  Was his failure to due to cultural / traditional structure and pressure?  If so, why did he heal on a Sabbath, not have his disciples observe washing before eating, feed “crumbs” to a Gentile, etc.?  Was having a woman disciple too controversial for him? 
One phrase that is obscure, is not enough to base the egalitarian position on.

3) Women did play role of prophet and will continue to prophesy.  However, they never were priests or elders in the Old Testament and are forbidden from teaching / usurping power from men in I Timothy 2:12.  It’s unlikely that Paul’s argument against women teaching over men in I Tim 2:12 is only cultural, because he follows it up by appealing to the order in Creation (I Timothy 2:13-14).

4) Women are fellow workers and should be treated as such.  This does not mean each worker has the same role.

5) Women may have been deacons, and were definitely instructed to teach each other and younger women in the faith (Titus 2)

Spiritual gifts: Spiritual gifts are given generously throughout the church (I Cor 12-14), but they are still regulated.  Women are still endowed with spiritual gift of teaching, but that should come in proper context, just as speaking in tongues has a certain context where, when it’s not obeyed, is not building up Christ’s body (I Cor 14:6-25).

Many of the above points were researched and clarified, much more exhaustively by Tom Schreiner in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.

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Two different schools of thought on how men and women should relate to each other and what their responsibilities are in the church. 

1) Egalitarian- There should be no gender distinction in roles of men and women in the function or leadership of the church, to include ordination of women, or in society in general; in marriage the wife and husband not only are created equal as female and male, but there is no biblically-prescribed hierarchy giving the husband any authority over the wife.

2) Complementarian- God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and in the Church.”  Men are expected to take spiritual responsibility, often called “headship,” for leadership in the home and in the church. Women are restricted from holding the teaching office of the church and from spiritual leadership in the home and in marriage.

 

I am a complementarian.  I believe that is what the Bible teaches.  I am ok with people disagreeing with me.  I don’t see its teaching as a salvation issue, but I do see it as an issue of healthy doctrine and I would divide from a church with a woman pastor.

 

Egalitarian Approach

Men and women are each created with authority over nature, Men and women are created inherently equal in their capacities to serve and lead, and negating an office of authority based on gender parallels the horrors of owning slaves and the horrors of racism.

Here are some points and Scriptures egalitarians frame their theology on:

 

1) Calling roles or distinctions into question based on gender is wrong and like doing so based on ethnicity (Jew or Greek) or social status (slave or free)

  • Galatians 3:28- No distinctions in Christ between men and women

 2) A woman is acknowledged by Paul as an apostle

  • Rom 16:27- Apostleship given to a woman

 3) Women play a prophetic role throughout the Bible

  • Exod 15:20-21- Miriam is a prophetess and led the assembly of women in song
  • II Kings 22:14-20- Huldah is a prophetess and is consulted by messengers of Josiah
  • Judges 4:4-5- Deborah was a prophetess and a judge over men
  • Luke 2:36-38- Anna served as a prophetess and spoke to the people of the savior who would redeem Jerusalem
  • Acts 2:17-18; Joel 2:28-32- God’s spirit would cause both men and women to prophesy, both men and women to dream dreams

 4) Women are referred to as “fellow-workers” with Paul

  • Romans 16:3- Priscilla referred to a fellow worker in Christ.  The same term is used for Timothy (Romans 16:21), Apollos (I Corinthians 2:9), Titus (II Corinthians 8:23), etc.

 5) Women serve in the office of deacon in the New Testament

  • I Timothy 3:11
  • Romans 16:1- Phoebe is referred to as a deacon

 Summary:

To summarize the egalitarian position, positions of authority are now obliterated based on gender as are racial and social positions (Galatians 3:28) in Christ.  Women serve throughout Scripture as prophetesses, are referred to as fellow-workers, serve as deacons in the church, and one was also noted as an apostle. 

 NEXT TIME:

  • Is the egalitarian interpretation Galatians 3:28 the best one?
  • What else is suggested by the immediate context of Galatians 3:28?
  • How do these observations relate to Paul’s instruction for church governance?

Complementarian Approach

Complementarian view starts by looking at created structures in the beginning of Genesis and how they fit together or complement each other:

  • Night and day (Gen 1:5)
  • Sea and sky (Gen 1:6)
  • Dry land and sea (Gen 1:10)
  • Sun and stars (Gen 1:16)
  • Day 6- Men and women (Gen 1:27)

 Other ideas of complements are:

  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Hot fudge brownie and ice cream
  • Bert and Ernie

 Gen 2- God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve

Gen 2:20- There was not a suitable helper fit for Adam.

Gen 2:18- God said he would make a helper fit for Adam

  • Woman comes from man. 
  • Woman fits man
  • Man is given responsibility in naming woman
  • Question: Is the way woman fits man only biological?
  • Question: What, if anything, does Adam’s naming of Eve represent?

 Though both sinned, Adam is called out by God and is identified later in Scripture as the one in whom all sinned (he bears a special responsibility)

  • Gen 3:9
  • Rom 5:12-15

 Gen 3- Complementary curses

Curses attack strengths of each character

  • Gen 3:16- curse on woman- pain in childbearing, desire for husband’s rule power (manipulation), he shall rule over her, woman will desire to rule over her husband
  • Gen 3:17- curse of man- Will work ground in pain, in sweat of face fighting weeds, thorns, etc.

 Isaiah 3 Woman

Women in positions of authority over men is spoken of as being chaotic and an inversion of order

  • Isaiah 3:12- Women ruling paralleled to infants in charge of the people

 Authority and vows

Men bear responsibility for their vows before God while women’s vows can be negated by their husbands or fathers

  • Numbers 30

 Other issues to look at: Instructions for church governance (qualifications for elders / overseers, headship in marriage- Eph 5) FOR NEXT POST:

  • Do complementarians hate women? (No, next question)
  • What are the implications of this view / How does this play out in everyday life?
  • Is complementarianism really just modern misogyny?

How are the roles, outlined in the egalitarian view for women of prophetess, apostle, deacon assimilated into the complementarian view?

Much of the analysis of this is taken from Tom Schriener in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem.  Thanks for the great work and analysis by the men and women in that book.

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God,” (I Cor 10:31).

At a recent meeting, I saw a mock sketch of the church budget:

  • 30% building fund
  • 20% facilities maintenance
  • 25% missions and community outreach
  • 25% staff salaries

20% of every offering dollar going to repalce light bulbs and clean toilets and take out garbage?  Could we just run this off of volunteers? 

“Well no,” the pastor said, “in my experience that hasn’t worked.”

For the gospel to be preached and taught on a regular basis, order and structure is a really valuable thing.  To have gas, electric, phones puts the church in touch with the community and a place for the community to come in and fellowship.

Then it hit me.  Not all of my life is prayer or small groups or Sunday sermons or teaching Bible lessons.  Those are good things, but there are bills to be paid, a house to be maintained, etc.  In everything of life, do it to the glory of God.  It cleared my conscience of the guilt of not spending more time in the Bible when I need to fix a broken appliance or do laundry or do some little things, but those are part of the ~20% of my budget to maintain my life.  Aside from that, there’s the physical body to be a steward of as “You are not your own, you were bought for a price,” and “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” 

So though I’m a little slow, I’m learning and having my conscience cleared to be ok doing some of the more mundane things in life.

A couple years ago, in the book Feed My Sheep, I came across the statement, “You don’t get a better Christ in Communion, but sometimes you get Christ better.”

Tonight at Communion as I was thinking about Jesus and his disciples, I thought soberly about God’s forgiveness.   Jesus knew what Peter would do, he knew of his coming denial, he knew of the abandonment of the rest, the betrayal by Judas, but he still ate with them. 

A couple weeks ago, my pastor asked a question for reflection, “Would God love me if he really knew me?”

Jesus really knew Peter.  Peter was about to curse and deny him.  But Jesus really loved Peter.  Jesus really loved his disciples.  Jesus really loves his disciples. 

Looking at this, can anything, as Paul asked, separate us from the love of God, the past or present, angels or demons, rulers, authorities or anything else in creation?

Run to God with your denial and fear and shame.

He already knows. 

“Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:31-32a). 

Perhaps in this act, by Peter being sifted like wheat, Jesus agreed to the terms of Satan, that the hypocrisy might be filtered from Peter’s life.  So, by the pulverizing and filtering of this man did Jesus purify and use him, ground to a powdery consistency, to spread his kingdom.  So does he rid Paul of grounds for boasting by allowing a demon to torment him and tell the apostle, “my power is sufficient for you… my power is perfected in weakness.” 

And so does He take us, with this, that, or another pride or boast, leavened through the life, and purify the heart.  Praying for our faith and holding us sure as the enemy assaults, in some hour of darkness, does he then pull out the leaven from the broken pile of dust that would not be extracted from the whole life.  So does brother James admonish and encourage disciples to “be joyful when facing trials of many kinds” and Paul encourage us that, “suffering ends in hope, filled with the love of God.”  And it says, “no discipline at the time seems pleasant, but later it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness,” because the purifying is humiliating and painful.  But later, when we have a more fair estimation of ourselves, do we thank God and enter into trials with, or at least learn to come from them in hindsight, with joy. 

“Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered,” Isaiah tells us.  Make it look like God is in a vice and can’t get escape, as Peter watching his master betrayed, and we are robbed of hope and curse and deny.  But God’s always was and always is the power and he knows what he is doing.  And his power, even in it’s foolishness, is wiser than the wisdom of men.  Follow him and let him do the sifting and disciplining, and trust him with what he is doing.  Amen

Over a hundred years ago I heard that Spurgeon said regarding the defense of Scripture, “You don’t defend a lion, you turn it loose!”

You don’t defend the doctrines of Scripture, passed down from God through angels and miracles and his Son, to men, you turn them loose.

The virgin birth is one of the clearest teachings in Scripture.  Listen to the words of God:
 

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

…In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:1-4,26-35

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-24

A few observations:

  • The angel of the Lord visited a virgin
  • Mary was assured she would conceive by the power of God
  • Joseph was not yet married to Mary
  • Joseph was ready to leave Mary because it appeared she was pregnant in the natural way.
  • Jesus, son of God, son of man, came to take away our sins!