church nonsense, Light, war on women

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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church nonsense, Light, war on women

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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church nonsense, Jesus

Chasing Kings

 

Every time I walked past my parents’ vast library, the spine of a certain book would catch my eye:  Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm.  “Why would anyone want to escape from freedom?”, my inquisitive young mind would wonder.  I finally asked my mom about it.  She explained that the author – a psychologist – theorized that people don’t really want to be free.  It is too scary for them.  So they escape freedom by putting themselves under the authority of another.  That way they no longer have to take responsibility for their lives.  She said individuals do it and sometimes whole nations do it.  Apparently even trees do it.

Have you read the parable in Judges 9?  One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves.  They said to the olive tree, “Be our king.”  But the olive tree had a good thing going with its oil production.  It declined, saying, “Why would I give all this up to hold sway over you?”

Next they approached the fig tree, “Come be our king.”  But the fig tree replied, “I’m making some good fruit here.  Why would I give up such a sweet gig to hold sway over you?”

The trees approached a vine, “Come and be our king.”  But the vine answered, “Sorry, but my wine cheers people up.  I would rather be productive than hold sway over you.”

Desperate, all the trees pleaded with the thornbush, “Come and be our king.”  “Sure”, said the thornbush, “I’ve got nothing better to do.  If you really want me to be your king then come and take refuge in my prickly, gnarly shade.”

It seems we would rather have a bad king then no king at all.  Samuel knew this all too well (1 Samuel 8):

When Samuel was old and getting ready to retire, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.  But his sons were corrupt and they perverted justice.  So the elders met with Samuel and said, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

Samuel was no doubt heartbroken.  Are my sons really that lame?  Was my leadership that weak?  Prophets and judges have always lead Israel, will God go for this?  Am I a big, fat failure?

Samuel prayed.  The Lord answered:  “It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.  Listen to them, but warn them solemnly and let them know what will happen.

Samuel returned to the elders:  “God said you can have a king, if you really want one, but just so you know:  He will draft your sons into his military and they will have to run in front of his chariots.  He will force others to plow his ground and reap his harvest.  He will take your daughters to serve him as cooks and bakers and perfumers.  He will take your best fields, groves and vineyards and give them to his political cronies.  He’ll take all your best stuff for his personal use.  Eventually you will become his slaves and, when that day comes, you will cry out for relief.  But the Lord won’t be listening.”

The people did not care.  They wanted what they wanted.  So they ignored the warning.  “We want a king over us!  We want to be like everyone else!  We want someone to lead us and fight our battles for us!”

Samuel reported back to the Lord, who said, “Give them a king.”  And if you know anything about the history of Israel, then you know that everything the Lord warned would happen, did.

Now the question is, did a portion of the church make Paul our king?  Jesus came to bring freedom from the heavy burden imposed by the Pharisees.  Crowds of people followed Him.  They were amazed by the things He said, things they had never heard before.  But when He left us to return to heaven, did we seek to replace Him?  Do we prefer a king with skin on?  One who will provide concrete rules, guidelines and strict doctrinal truths by which we can measure our behavior and judge the behavior of others?

Following the letter of strict doctrinal law, difficult and tempting as it is, is much easier than following the Spirit of freedom and Love.  Jesus said He would build His church upon Peter’s understanding of who He is.  But my church seems to have built itself upon the manual provided by Paul.  How about yours?  Upon whom/what is your church built?

Fellow thinkers, what do you say?  Catholics?  Lutherans?  Presbyterians?  Baptists?Charismatics?  I’m hoping to hear from every denomination of believer.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

 

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church nonsense, Jesus, Light

Passionate About Paul?

 

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I love Jesus.  Not just because He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Not just because His is the Name above all names.  At least it’s supposed to be.  Unfortunately, sinfully, at my church, and perhaps at yours, it isn’t.  It’s Paul’s.  For a while I kept track.  Two columns.  A hash mark every time Paul was mentioned or quoted and a hash mark every time Jesus was mentioned or quoted.  It was pitiful.  Jesus, I began to realize, is almost completely left out of Sunday morning services, and I miss Him.

I commented the other day that elevating Paul above Jesus is a nuance of false teaching.

The post garnered quite a bit of debate.  Some of it involved my comment:

One fellow commenter wrote:

“Paul and his gospel were “In Christ,” as long as that is acknowledged it should not be a problem. The ascended Christ hand picked Paul for the revelation of the secret which God kept hidden from the beginning. Through that revelation we are here in Christ’s place just as Paul was. Paul’s words were Jesus’s.”

This is a common church teaching, but are we sure it is actually true?  When did Jesus say that He hand-picked Paul to reveal these mysteries? I know Paul said it, but when did Jesus say it? Nowhere in Scripture does a voice from heaven say, “This is my servant, Paul, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him”. Paul certainly earned the right to speak by all he suffered, but I don’t think we should elevate his words to the status of a prophet. He never claimed to be a prophet. He was a church planter. We Protestants criticize Catholics for ascribing inerrancy to their Popes and yet we do the same with Paul. As you know, Paul was well-steeped in the teachings and traditions of the Pharisees, and ingrained teachings die hard. Perhaps that is why Jesus told His disciples to beware the yeast of the Pharisees. Perhaps that is why, high atop the Mt. of Transfiguration, God said to Peter, James and John, “This is my Son, whom I love, listen to Him!” [italics added].

Another commenter quoted 2 Timothy 3 :16-17:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be Perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.(K.J.V)”

Except that when Paul wrote those words to Timothy, he wasn’t referring to his own letters.  He was referring to the Law and the Prophets.  Extrapolating that verse to include all that man has canonized may be a mistake on the church’s part.  No where does God include New Testament writings as part of His Holy Scriptures.

You, like this commenter, might be thinking:

“During the lifetime of Peter and Paul there was an understanding that what the Christian prophets were writing was “Scripture” (2 Peter 3: 14-16). 2 Peter 3:14-16 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter tells his audience that Paul’s letters are equivalent to “the rest of the Scriptures”. Of course the “rest” means that remaining of what was considered Scripture at that time; basically this means what Jesus considered Scripture. For those who do not regard Paul’s letters as Scripture as much as anything else, please read the above verses many times before making that determination.”

My response:  You may not be reading this correctly. You are linking Paul’s letters with “the rest of the Scriptures”. But, if you read it carefully, the link is actually between “these things” (the difficult to understand Scriptures that were being distorted) and “the rest of the Scriptures”.

Peter was linking the distorted Scriptures that Paul was writing about with the other Scriptures that were being distorted. In other words, Peter was saying that Paul was writing to them about these things that the unstable distort – just as they distort the other Scriptures.

If you diagram the sentence, you may see that I am correct.

Finally, a third commenter warned:

“Beware of those who try to remove the inspiration of the books of the New Testament away from the time period when they were written to the time when they were “officially recognized”. Those who do so have an evil agenda to try and subvert and overthrow our confidence in the New Testament books handed down to us as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.”

A few years ago I wrote a Bible study which included two chapters on the subject of Paul.  I was on my knees as I wrote asking the Holy Spirit to be my Editor, to guide me into all Truth and to prevent me from writing a single thing that was incorrect or untrue.

Now I am turning that Bible study into a book and my prayers are the same.  I ask God whether my thinking has gone astray.  Our conversation often goes like this:

Me:  “Am I unwittingly promoting an evil agenda?  Stop me if I am!”

Holy Spirit:  “Judge a tree by its fruit.”

Me:  “You and I have produced lots of good fruit together over the years, but what if it has become worm-infested?

Holy Spirit:  “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit.  What is your aim, friend?”

Me:  “My aim is to know You rightly and to make You known. To lift high the name of Jesus and give Him His due.”

Holy Spirit: “Fear not, loved one, because there is certainly nothing evil about that.”

Turn on your television, your radio or your computer and you will be smacked in the face with the harsh reality that today’s church has been woefully ineffective at stemming the tide of darkness.  Why?  Because there is no power in the name of Paul.

The only name that has any power is Jesus, and if we Christians are going to be effective, we are going to have to bring Him back to church.  How is your church doing?  How much of Christ is in your Christianity?

I would love to hear your thoughts, but I will not approve comments that merely throw knee-jerk Scripture at me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Scripture.  But what I want to know is how your church is doing.  I want to know how this post strikes you emotionally, spiritually, logically?  Does it elicit any fear?  Fear not, if your faith is built on Christ, it will not crumble just because you question a few man-made things.  Jesus did it all the time.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

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