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A Nugget for Your Noggin.

I’ve excavated some old Biblical logic in hopes that you will bury it in your brain:

I was reading my Bible Study Fellowship notes while savoring a hot cup of my good friend joe (with cream). The topic was John’s vision of the throne room and everything was clipping along just fine.

“The Bible speaks of other believers who received visions of God’s transcendent nature and character,” a new paragraph began, and it mentioned Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

Good, good, good and good.

And then:

“The apostle Paul was ‘caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’”

Whoa! What?

When was Paul “caught up to paradise”? I checked the footnote to see what Scripture they based that statement upon.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How does Paul saying he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven translate to HIM being caught up to paradise?

I was too comfy and too lazy to get out from under the cozy afghan on my cozy sofa to brave the 22 chilly steps (44 round trip) to my library to grab The Bible Knowledge Commentary, so I stayed put and checked an online commentary.

Matthew Henry: “for doubtless [Paul] himself is the man in Christ of whom he speaks.”

Doubtless? I’m in doubt.

Mr. Henry proceeded to commend Paul for his humility in not referring to himself directly. Paul’s humility? Since when? In that very same chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote:

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!   2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Paul’s defensive and accusatory remarks don’t sound like the model of humility to me.

Even his self-deprecating remarks come off as humble brags. Take this one, for example:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 3:3-6

And then there are all the I, I, I’s of 1 Timothy 2: I urge, I was appointed, I am telling the truth, I am not lying, I want, I also want, I do not permit.

John often referred to himself indirectly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and it was well within his personality to do so, he did so consistently and there are verifiable incidents that tie that descriptor to him.

But indirectly and humbly referring to himself in the third person was NOT within Paul’s personality and no where else was it his m.o.

So let’s get logical: In the context of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 – where Paul is arguing that he is equal to the apostles who actually walked with Jesus – a humble, indirect statement just doesn’t make sense.  If ever there is a time to speak boldly and directly it is when arguing a case or asserting one’s credentials.

Perhaps it was due to Matthew Henry’s impressive and exhaustive work that this doubtful interpretation has been promulgated in commentaries ever since. Even by my beloved BSF – who taught me to read the Scriptures for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When I read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  I hear Paul saying that he knew someone who had been given a vision. And that person may have shared it with him. Or that person may have told him he couldn’t share it with him.

And I wonder whether that person was John, because John and Paul may have very likely crossed paths in Ephesus.

Or perhaps it was someone else altogether.

All I know for sure is that Paul DID NOT say that HE was “caught up to paradise.”

So why does the church twist Scripture and logic and temporarily change Paul’s personality in order to say he did?

Perhaps, when it comes to the church’s love affair with Paul, the lover is blind to its beloved’s blemishes.

#buryitinyourbrain

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Light, Revelation

Identity Theft

I was reading my Bible Study Fellowship notes while savoring a hot cup of black gold (with cream). The topic was John’s vision of the throne room. Everything was clipping along just fine.

“The Bible speaks of other believers who received visions of God’s transcendent nature and character,” a new paragraph began, and it mentioned Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Good, good, good and good.

And then:

“The apostle Paul was ‘caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’”

Whoa! What?

When was Paul “caught up to paradise”? I checked the footnote to see what Scripture they based that statement upon.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How does Paul saying he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven translate to HIM being caught up to paradise?

I was too comfy and too lazy to get out from under the cozy afghan on my cozy sofa to brave the 22 chilly steps (44 round trip) to my library to grab The Bible Knowledge Commentary, so I stayed put and checked an online commentary.

Matthew Henry: “for doubtless [Paul] himself is the man in Christ of whom he speaks.”

Doubtless? I’m in doubt.

Mr. Henry proceeded to commend Paul for his humility in not referring to himself directly. Paul’s humility? Since when? In that very same chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote:

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!   2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Those defensive and accusatory remarks don’t sound like the model of humility to me.

Even his self-deprecating remarks come off as humble brags. Take this one, for example:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 3:3-6

And then there are all the I, I, I’s of 1 Timothy 2: I urge, I was appointed, I am telling the truth, I am not lying, I want, I also want, I do not permit.

John often referred to himself indirectly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and it was well within his personality to do so, he did so consistently and there are verifiable incidents that tie that descriptor to him.

But indirectly and humbly referring to himself in the third person was NOT within Paul’s personality and no where else was it his m.o.

So let’s get logical: In the context of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 – where Paul is arguing that he is equal to the apostles who actually walked with Jesus – a humble, indirect statement just doesn’t make sense.  If ever there is a time to speak boldly and directly it is when arguing a case or asserting one’s credentials.

Perhaps it was due to Matthew Henry’s impressive and exhaustive work that this doubtful interpretation has been promulgated in commentaries ever since. Even by my beloved BSF – who taught me to read the Scriptures for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When I read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  I hear Paul saying that he knew someone who had been given a vision. And that person may have shared it with him. Or that person may have told him he couldn’t share it with him.

And I wonder whether that person was John, because John and Paul may have very likely crossed paths in Ephesus.

Or perhaps it was someone else altogether.

All I know for sure is that Paul DID NOT say that HE was “caught up to paradise.”

So why does the church twist Scripture and logic and temporarily change Paul’s personality in order to say he did?

Perhaps, when it comes to the church’s love affair with Paul, the lover is blind to its beloved’s blemishes.

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Light

The Inerrancy of God

My blogging friend, Wally (I love Wally), reposted something today and all I could think was, Wally, Wally, Wally, I hate to be a thorn in your side, but I must. Even though I am weak with the flu, I must.

So I started to beat my familiar drum in the comment space of the original post, but it was getting rather long so I moved it here. I tirelessly (well, not entirely tirelessly) continue to beat this drum because the church hinges way too much on this one-half of a sentence that Paul wrote to Timothy.

So here we go. The text of the original post is in black, my comments are in crimson:

“Time and time again the question of inerrancy comes up. This is surprising given the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 is clear that all Scripture is God-Breathed.”

First of all, I don’t think God-breathed means what you, the author, thinks it means, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Second, when Paul wrote the words, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”  he was referring to the Law and the Prophets; to the Old Testament.  The books that make up the New Testament had not all been written and none of them had yet been canonized as Scripture.

“God is the author of Scripture.”

According to the verse upon which you built your argument, God is not the author of Scripture, He is the inspirer of Scripture. There’s a difference. If I say that your post inspired my post, then I would be correct. If I say that you authored my post, then I would be incorrect. By definition, the inspirer is not the author.

“So to question inerrancy is to question God.”

Your logic is flawed. I can easily believe that Scripture might be flawed AND that God is absolutely perfect.

I believe that God’s inspiration of Scripture is perfect; man’s recording, recopying, translation, interpretation and teaching of it, not so much. 

If you believe that EVERYTHING on earth has been corrupted by sin, and that NOTHING is perfect this side of heaven, then why would Scripture be exempt? Scripture is an earthly book. I doubt there is a single copy of it in heaven. Why would anyone there need it when they have the Living Word right in front of them? The Living Word is perfect, but our copy has man’s imperfect fingerprints all over it.

“Do we believe in a God that errs? Or do we believe in a God that is perfect in every way? This is a huge question with massive implications.”

Those are huge questions with massive implications, but they have nothing to do with the inerrancy of Scripture because Scripture is not equal to God.

God is three in One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not four in One – Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Scripture.

“If we have a God that [should be who] errs, we cannot rely on Him for anything. If that be the case, what is our hope of salvation?”

Our hope of salvation is in the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf. It is the victory His blood, sweat and tears won for us. 

Scripture merely tells His story.

News reports get details of true events wrong all the time, but that doesn’t mean the event didn’t happen and it doesn’t change the truth of what happened.

“There are some who say that parts of the Bible are inerrant while others are not. The problem with this theory is, how do you decide which is which?”

Here’s how I decide: If Jesus said it (as recorded in the gospels) or dictated it (as in Revelation), then I have 100% confidence in it.  If Jesus quoted it our referenced it or directed questions back to it (the Law and the Prophets) then I have 100% confidence in it.  The rest I ask God to explain to me.

“The answer is simple, the Bible is all or nothing. We do not get to pick and choose which parts are true or correct. They all are. That is not to say that people do not abuse that fact, they do. People on both sides of the aisle abuse this by taking certain laws and saying we must still follow them today or be a hypocrite, or worse, in danger of eternal damnation. However, these stances are horrible examples of good interpretive work.”

I dare say the church’s extrapolation and fast-and-loose teaching of 2 Timothy 3:16 is also a poor example of good interpretive work.

“In the final analysis, we must affirm inerrancy as believers. If we do not, we have no basis for our faith and no reason to believe the message within the pages of the Bible.”

I disagree. Man can be wrong and God can still be right. My faith is in God.

Feel free to weigh in, even if your comments grow long.

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church nonsense, Light

Hated, Hounded & Human

“The Jewish leaders hated Paul.  They followed him from town to town and made trouble for him wherever he went.  He would spend weeks, months, or even years in a place teaching about Jesus and then his enemies would show up, get him run out of town, and then stay and attempt to undo what he had taught.

The Christians in the “circumcision group” continued to actively oppose him, too, insisting on adherence to their traditions.  Paul warned Titus about them when he wrote, “For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain… Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.”  (Titus 1:10-11, 13-14)  I like the way the KJV words verse 14: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”

Paul would go into a city and teach, the unbelieving Jewish leaders would soon follow to discredit him and the believing “circumcision group” would further confuse things by insisting on putting new wine into old wineskins.  (Matthew 9:17)

He was opposed from within and without.

Have you ever been opposed from within and without?

When I first started speaking about abstinence I expected to face some opposition from without, but I wasn’t prepared for the vicious opposition I would soon face from within.  I was asked to speak to a certain youth group one evening.  God had given me a message for them that was different from any I had given before or since.  As I was taking it down I asked, “Are you sure, Lord?”  Even though the message was intense, I had never had such a clear sense that I was taking His dictation.  As I gave the message one of the youth leaders (an adult male) began raising objections.  It would have been appropriate for him to pull me aside afterward to share his views but instead he repeatedly interrupted the presentation.  In spite of the interruptions a few of the students seemed to be taking the message to heart.  A few quickly aligned themselves with their leader.    The rest just looked confused.  I handled the objections cordially and then stayed for punch and cookies before hauling my equipment from the basement of the church.

As I wrestled to get my load through the heavy outer doors, none of the youth standing nearby offered to help.  They just stood in a huddle glaring at me.  I drove home grieved that those youth would exude such hate toward a guest in their church – a guest who had come to minister to them.  What grieved me the most was the realization that their attitudes reflected their leadership.  It had been a long day of presentations and I was exhausted when I arrived home but, since I had been away from my computer all day, I decided to quickly check my e-mail before going to bed.  Waiting in my inbox, just itching to pounce, was the worst vitriol – actually the only vitriol – that had ever been leveled against me.  In the time it had taken me to drive home that youth leader’s objections turned from rude to punch-me-in-the-gut ugly.  It sent me reeling for days.  A Christian is capable of writing that?  Or was he one of those guys about whom Jude warned?

For the first and only time I was tempted to quit.  I wondered whether I had been mistaken about my calling.  A few days later I received a beautiful note in the mail.  It was from a seasoned saint who encouraged me with Jesus’ words:  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”  (Matthew 10:14-15 )

Her timely note reminded me what God had told me the moment of my call to this ministry, “It is not going to be easy.”  Instead of quitting, I resolved to speak all the more.  Shamefully, the man launched a whisper campaign against me, the ripples of which I still occasionally feel today.  The campaign against Paul was on a much larger scale.   The aversion some women have toward him even today are ages old ripples.  You’ll see what I mean.  For now, just keep in mind that those who hated and hounded him were not going to let his words go untwisted.

We’ll start some untwisting tomorrow.”

The above is an excerpt from a Bible study I wrote five years ago.  I am currently converting it to a book for publication.  Thought I’d share a bit of it with you, see if you have anything to say…

Update:  Years later I heard disturbing news about that youth leader, and about the pastor who backed his ugly words.  No wonder the hounds of hell were barking and snarling so viciously.  No wonder God gave me that particular message.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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faith, Jesus, Light

Quote Me Some Jesus

Patrick Feller, Creative Commons

Patrick Feller, Creative Commons

There is a guy on a forum who wrote:

“Revelations was written to confuse believers… it appears to be written by a demonic possessed man – definitely not John the beloved.  It should have been left out of the Bible.”

A discussion ensued.  In the end he wrote, “I am sorry you all seem too weak to question your own faith.  Religion, the bible and Christianity are not perfect.  Only Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father are perfect.”

His last bit made me chuckle because I have written similar words, something along the lines of “If your faith is too fragile to stand up to questioning, then it is just a house of cards, not anchored in anything solid.”

So what’s the difference between me questioning whether Paul’s letters should be given the weight of Scripture and Forum Guy questioning the inclusion of Revelation?

Jesus.  Jesus is the difference.

Jesus is my litmus test:

Question/dismiss/delete any red letters?  Nope.  They are the words of Jesus.  Nothing to do with those except salute and yield.

Question writings that are corroborated by Jesus, the Law, the Prophets?  Nope.  Jesus referred those with questions to the Law and the Prophets.  So I yield to them, too.

Question writings and teachings that are not corroborated by Jesus, the Law or the Prophets?  You betcha’.

Forum guy doesn’t like Revelation because it is scary to him.  So he has devised a nice, manageable Jesus of his liking, one that is all rainbows, bunnies and peace.

The problem is, Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  Matthew 10.

And Whoa Nellie!, look what He said in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

How can Forum guy say that Jesus is perfect if he wants to delete some of His words?  If he believes the future is nothing but sunshine and love, then he is calling Jesus a liar when He said things like this:

 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

And this:

“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.  At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you ahead of time.”

1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

Perhaps that is why Jesus told us to look at the signs of the times.  Perhaps He revealed to John what must soon take place in order to give us confidence.  Confidence in Him, not in a pleasant fiction.

So, Forum Guy, quote me some Jesus if you want to persuade me.  And do it with love and respect.  Otherwise you are just noise.  Obnoxious, accusing noise.  That, and/or a false prophet.

There, I feel better.

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church nonsense, life, war on women

Going There Again

Just a quick observation, because it’s time:

Have you noticed that whenever a Mark Driscoll wannabe promulgates misogynistic nonsense he quotes only Paul?

And when a (presumably) well-intentioned pastor preaches on the leadership of men, he too exclusively quotes Paul.

Blogging pastors who warn Christian men against marrying 10 types of women also quote Paul.

And none of them quote Jesus.

Because Jesus didn’t say the stuff Paul said.

Some hard core Pharisees will say that Paul saying it is as good as Jesus saying it.  I know because hard core Pharisees have argued that to me.  But as of yet none of them have told me in a clear, non-convoluted way when Jesus gave Paul that kind of infallible authority.  When He put Paul on par with the Holy Spirit, the Counselor whom He sent to guide us into all truth.

I can show them exactly when He warned us to beware the yeast of the Pharisees.

Paul was well-steeped in the teachings of the Pharisees.  Well-steeped stains are tough to remove, in fact they never come entirely clean.  Old habits die hard.  And so it was with Paul.

Alas, some of the teachings of the Talmud – even the Babylonian Talmud – seeped, steeped and brewed into Paul’s teachings to the church.  And the Talmud, as I hope you know, is not Scripture.

Yep, there I went again.

Someone had to say it.

If you’re new to this blog and you want the full gripefest, you can read Picking Your Paul, Chasing Kings, Passionate About Paul?, Winning the War on Women, Trickle Down JesusGo Anne, Uh oh!You Have Got to Be Kidding Me.

Those ought to hold you for awhile…

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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You Have Got to Be Kidding Me

And now for the conclusion of Anne on women in ministry:

And from that day to this I have been very confident of my call.  And I’ve seen that He has made me like a strong pillar on that platform.  Because I know that He’s called me, in humility, to share His word.

You know I met a pastor one time who had a problem with the fact that I was speaking at his convention but he was brave enough to come sit on the back row and he came up to me afterward and he said, “Anne, I didn’t think you should be here today but you know what?  He said, “I was sitting back there listening to you and you know what you’ve done?  You’re just like a waitress and you’ve gone into the kitchen and you’ve prepared the food and you’ve served it to us and I want to thank you for not messing it up.”

All I can say is, “You have got to be kidding me.”

Anne recounted this with a smile and a laugh and her audience laughed, too.  But I wonder how many hearts sank.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to sit and listen to a man “mess it up”.  This whole misogynistic bent on the Scriptures is a massive mess up.

And I thought, “You know what, when we go out to a restaurant we don’t have a problem that we’re served by a female waitress.  And so when I give out God’s word, I want to give it out faithful to the text.  I want to prepare it so that it is tasty and attractive and meaningful and relevant and then I want to serve it – to whoever God puts at my table – without messing it up.

My daughter and I interpreted the pastor’s comment differently.  I took his comment as him trying to frame her speaking in a way that was doctrinally acceptable.  As long as he could see her as a waitress serving the men a plateful of words, he was okay with it.

My daughter took it as him saying, “You, a mere waitress, went into the kitchen – where only (male) chefs belong – and prepared the meal.  I’m just glad you didn’t mess it up.

Either way the guy’s a jerk.

So, beware, if I had listened to the body language of those dear men – who I know meant well – and actually, I thank God for them because it drove me to my knees so I could settle that issue – but if I had listened to them, for over twenty years I would be stripped of probably 75% of the ministry God has given me.  And I can’t tell you the changed lives and the fruit….fade out.

Dear men who meant well?  That’s generous.  And enabling.  The men might be dear to someone, sometimes.  And they might have been sincere in their objection.  But rude behavior is rude behavior.  And there is nothing well-meaning in knocking someone down as they step up to the podium.  I wonder if they would dare behave so badly if a man with whom they disagreed was stepping up to the podium.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.  Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”  Acts 3:19-21 NIV

God is going to restore everything back to the way He intended it to be.  Restoration is hard on the thing being restored.  For a piece of furniture to be restored, it must first be stripped down.  For a relationship to be restored, it too must be stripped down.  Restoration is also hard on the restorer.  For us to be restored, Jesus had to be stripped down and nailed to a cross.  I believe God is beginning to strip down and restore some of the erroneous teachings of the church with regard to women.

“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”  1 Peter 4:17

Restoration will be hard on the church, but we have to get it right before there is any hope for anyone else.  Let’s be part of the solution dear reader.

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Uh oh

Yesterday’s post ended with Anne saying:

So I said, “Father, I hear you, I know what you are saying, but I have to ask you one more question and then we’ll just put this issue to bed, but what did Paul mean when he told Timothy, ‘I permit not a woman to teach or have authority over men’?”

And this is what God brought to my mind alright, and there is disagreement on this and I just agree to disagree.

Hold up a minute.  God is capable of making Himself perfectly clear.  Agreeing to disagree might be an indication that neither party has the whole story.  When things don’t add up, there is more to the equation.

But I checked it out with scholars after that, people who know Greek – which I don’t – and they said that my emphasis was correct.  [That the emphasis is on authority.]

This is where we often go wrong.  A “scholar” gives us a scholarly explanation and we say, “Oh, okay” and continue on our way.  But I can’t be satisfied with a scholarly pat on the head if I am going to get to the bottom of anything.  So I took a look at the passage for myself.  1 Timothy 2:12-15:

“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet”. v. 12

I looked up all the Greek words.  I found no emphasis on the authority part.  What I did find was a more literal translation:

But a woman is not allowed to teach nor (first occurrence: take her own life or the life of another) act under her own authority, hence she does not meddle in the affairs of others.

There is no “I”.  Was it added to give the words the weight of Paul’s authority?  Perhaps Paul was just stating the current state of affairs under Jewish law, rather than instructing the church on how things should be.

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. v. 13

Sorry, but Paul is incorrect.  It’s a common misconception, but man was not created first. God created men and women at the same time.  On the sixth day.  Surely he read Genesis.  God created man and woman in His image, at the same time and with the same purpose, then He formed man and then He fashioned woman.

It’s like this: I just hosted Thanksgiving dinner.  I spent many happy hours poring over recipes in order to create the perfect menu.  The menu was created weeks before the meal was actually prepared.  Long before the first potato was mashed and the first rolls were baked, I knew exactly what would be on that table.  The point is, God created everything in those 6 days but some of what He created didn’t appear until later.  As soon as He speaks something into existence, it exists, even if it cannot yet be seen.

All of mankind – male and female – was spoken into existence at the same time.  Woman wasn’t created as an afterthought for lonely man, man and woman were created together for God.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. v. 14

As I explained in Winning the War on Women, Eve was deceived and she sinned.  She admitted it.  Adam was there and he ate, too.  Therefore, if Adam was not deceived, then that means he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.  That is rebellion, which carries a more severe consequence.  (Luke 12:48)  Hmmm, did Paul miss that?

But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. v.15

Okay wait.  Paul told the Ephesians that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works so that no one can boast.  Remember?  So which is it?  Saved by grace, not by works or saved by childbearing?

Let’s recap this passage as translated:  Women cannot teach or have authority over men, and must keep quiet, because Adam was created first (wrong), because Eve was deceived (and Adam flat out rebelled) and because a woman’s only hope of salvation is to bear children.

None of that squares with Paul’s actions (he co-labored for the gospel with women) and it doesn’t square with things he wrote elsewhere.

So was Paul mistaken, misquoted or mistranslated?  Was he trying to be please/appease everyone?  Was he merely reporting on the way things were, rather than teaching how they ought to be?  I have theories.

But for now let’s get back to Anne:

But this is what God seemed to say to me:   That the emphasis is on the authority.  And that He did not want me to teach or have authority over men – to teach from a position of authority over man.

Two things:

Seemed to say?  If it wasn’t crystal clear then it might not have been God speaking.  Because God knows how to make Himself clear.  Dig deeper, Anne.

Furthermore, we were created in His image, male and female.  Why would God put a portion of His image in authority over another portion of His image?  There is no hierarchy to the trinity – not in heaven anyway.  So why would He instill a hierarchy in us?

But that I was not only free, I was commissioned and commanded to go into all of the world to share my personal testimony of who Jesus is in my life and to give out His word.  And that he would determine the audience.  But that I was to be faithful to the message He put on my heart.

We are free.  But we will never be as free as God created us to be as long as we listen to God through the filter of Paul.

What if the church regrouped and put Paul into proper perspective?  What if we entertained the notion that he is not infallible, that his words do not carry the same weight as the teachings of Jesus?  We twist and convolute our understanding of Scripture to satisfy our insistence that Paul’s words are “God-breathed”, but what if they aren’t?  Jesus never said they were.  Paul didn’t even say they were.  Paul was referring to the Law and the Prophets when he said all Scripture is God-breathed, not to his own writings.  What if we turn things around and force Paul’s writings to conform to Jesus?  Or would that wreck everything?

My daughter saw this statement on a forum of pastors discussing how they handle the issue of women in leadership:  “I allow women to lead worship, as long as there is a man on stage with her.”  In case she does what?  Mis-sing a song?  Assert authority over the men singing the songs?

When we use Paul’s miswhatever writings as a church manual, things can get pretty ridiculous.

Which brings me to tomorrow’s (much shorter) post, the “You’ve got to be kidding me” conclusion.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Feel free to chime in.  Respectfully.

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

Go Anne!

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Chris Devers, Creative Commons

I just watched a video clip of Anne Graham Lotz speaking on “women in ministry.” I don’t have permission to show you the clip, so I’ll transcribe bits of it for you.  As I watched my thoughts went from “Go Anne!” to “Uh oh” to “You have got to be kidding me.”  The clip is rather long so I will break it into two – maybe three – parts.  Today I’ll share the first part,  “Go Anne!”

Here’s Anne [anything in the block quote that is in brackets is my commentary]:

I was invited by a group of men to come and address a pastors’ convention.  And these men were wonderful.  They had sensed something of God’s gift in me and they felt like I had a message to give and so when I prayed about it I felt like God put a message on my heart.  I remember it was from Jeremiah and so I went to the convention and went to give the message and when I got up on the platform there were about 800 guys there and they were seated around round tables and it was a convention setting so it looked like there were thousands of people and it went out to infinity and I was scared to death.  Very few times had I spoken to a group like that outside of my Bible study.  So I stood up at the lectern and I went to give the message and maybe it was just one or two – it looked like everybody – of these men picked up their chairs and turned them around and put their backs to me.  They were saying through their body language, “Anne, God has told me to tell you you don’t belong on the platform when there are men in the audience.”  So I finished the message but I want to tell you I crawled home in my Spirit.  And this is how naive I was at that point, I didn’t know that was an issue.  I had never bumped into that before.  [She must not be Baptist.]  So I got down on my knees – that’s the only thing I knew to do – because I wanted to know if that was my Shepherd’s voice.  Were they speaking into my life with an authentic voice?

I love Anne, and I am not criticizing her in any way, but she did not have to get on her knees for this one.  Was that her Shepherd’s voice?  No, it was not.  Because her Shepherd is not rude.  If those men were speaking with an authentic voice, they would have done so with kindness and respect.  Their rudeness indicates that they were speaking for the un-Shepherd.  For the anti-Shepherd.

So I asked God please to speak to me and I had been in Jeremiah.  And He spoke to me from Jeremiah chapter 1.  God told Jeremiah – when He called him to be a prophet – to give out His word and Jeremiah said, “I can’t do that, I’m just a child”.  And God said, “Jeremiah, don’t be afraid of their faces.”  That verse just leaped up off the page and I felt like God said, “Anne, don’t be afraid of their backs.  I’m going to put my words in your mouth.”  And then at the end of that chapter He said, “I want you to speak to whoever I put in front of you.”  He said, “You give out the words that I give you to say or I’m going to terrify you in front of them.”  And I felt like He was saying, “Anne, your responsibility is not to determine who sits in your audience, that’s my responsibility.  Your responsibility is to be faithful to the message I put on your heart.  You give it out to the best of your ability and I’ll determine who is in the audience.”  And then in that same verse He said, “I’m going to fortify you, make you like a bronze wall, a strong pillar” and I felt like He was going to make me strong on the platform.  And that I would be accountable to Him and not to my audience.

Go Anne!  This January I am going to be faithful to the message God put on my heart and it is going to turn all this “man up”-ing upside down.

And then He brought to my mind – I stayed on my knees – and then He brought to my mind the encounters He had after the resurrection and in particular John chapter 20 when he encountered Mary Magdalene, do you remember?…..  “Mary, I want you to tell eleven men…” She was the first [post-resurrection] evangelist.

And I said, “Father, I hear you.  I know what you are saying but I just have to ask you one more question and then we’ll just lay this issue to bed.  But, what did Paul mean when he told Timothy, ‘I permit not a woman to teach or have authority over men’?”

Uh oh.

We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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Picking Your Paul

photoWe were both sipping mochas in a trendy downtown cafe.  Mine was warm and creamy, hers was iced.

Daughter:  It’s amazing how your pastor can preach a beautiful message about Martha and Mary and point out Jesus’ invitation to women to sit at His feet as disciples, yet your church expects women to merely fill seats and give money without any real participation.

Me:   That’s because Paul trumps Jesus.

Or, as Fake Mark Driscoll (@NotDriscoll) tweeted, “I’m tired of people saying Jesus gave women a voice.  If I’m not mistaken, about 30 years later Paul suggested they zip it.”

It doesn’t matter that the first person to whom Jesus whispered His Messianic identity was a woman.  And that many of the Samaritans from her town believed in Him because of her testimony.

It doesn’t matter that there are Old Testament precedents for women in leadership.  Deborah, after all, ruled over men as both a prophet and a judge.

It doesn’t even matter that Paul considered Priscilla his co-worker in Christ.

Paul wrote that women should remain silent in the church and by golly we are sticking to it.  Here’s what he said, “Women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”  (1 Corinthians 14:34 NIV).  And what law would that be?  There is nothing in the capital l Law of the Old Testament that says women must remain silent.  And since he used the lower case l for law, I’m guessing he was referring to the Talmud, which is merely a collection of rabbinical teachings.

In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul wrote, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”  I being the operative word.   Therefore, Fake Mark Driscoll, it does not matter that Paul suggested that women zip it, because we are Jesus’s church, not Paul’s.

And let me just point out that Paul also wrote:  “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith… There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26, 28 NIV)

A friend posted this on Facebook: “The Bible is not trail mix, you cannot pick out what you like and leave the rest.”  For what unholy reasons does my church hold the teachings of the Talmud and Paul’s personal preference with an iron grip, while ignoring his co-ministry with Lydia and Priscilla?  Why do they ignore the Old Testament and the dignity and voice Jesus gave to women?

Satan’s strategy is to divide and conquer, and some of us are playing right into his crafty old hands.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

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