Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jephthah's daughter

Still too much snow and the road is completely impassable. I am making turkey soup and watching Jane Austen movies.

This is an excellent and informative post on the interpretation of the passage on Jephthah's daughter. It is a typical example of how some people seek to soften the contents of the Bible in order to make them more acceptable. It is better to know what is really there are then decide what to make of it.

Some readers of the Bible accept the literal meaning without adjustment - but very few. Most people who deal on this level pick and choose what to follow. Others believe that the scriptures must be interpreted and applied with wisdom in ways that are consistent with the whole counsel of God. And then there are those who believe that certain things in the Bible must be rejected. We all practice a mix of these approaches.

Hebrew Corner 16: Jephthah’s Daughter

Complementarianism and plain sense

This blog post is worth reading. The author outlines many teachings that demonstrate plain sense readings of scripture that evangelicals do not practice. The basic premise is that Christians are not complementarians primarily because of the plain sense teaching of scripture. I would agree with this. There are other reasons.

This author suggests 1) personal comfort level 2) compatibility with scripture and 3) the church one goes to teaches it. Clearly none of these things differentiate complementarianism from slavery in the 1800's. I cannot think that any of these mitigate what is otherwise something we hold to be wrong.

Here are some of my observations, after attending a wide range of churches over the years. But first, let me define complementarianism for the purposed of this blog. It is simply that men and women have different roles in this unique sense, that women are to submit and men are to have authority. I reference this article.

I agree that complementarianism is not about following the plain sense of scripture. My earliest experience of male only authority was in the Brethren who adhered to this one rule pertaining to women, that they must be "silent in the assembly." Women could not lead the singing, sing solos, pray or make announcements. Their voices could not be heard except in the context of congregational singing. This was the practice of the "plain sense" of scripture. I do not see complementarians follow this practice. In my view complementarianism is not about the practice of some perceived plain sense of scripture.

I do not accept general comfort level as a proper measure of spiritual practice. There are many cults and groups which coerce and lead people into a strongly counter cultural lifestyle. We are battling a community which practices polygamy here in our province. That people practice something, does not make it right.

General compatibility with scripture is the second guideline. This is also difficult. I was raised to believe that a monarchy, suppression of unions in the workplace, racial segregation and the silence of women were all compatible with scripture. These were strongly held beliefs. The silence of women in the assembly is most certainly compatible with scripture. For some women, this has meant differential access to education and the workplace, also compatible with scripture. In fact, there is very little that one can say is not compatible with scripture, when it comes to keeping women in their place. Denial of the right to remarry after divorce is compatible with scripture. Even if the spouse abandoned the other partner.

No, I cannot accept compatibility with scripture. This leads back to slavery and silence, servitude and deprivation on the basis of class and gender. I have lived this life. I will not condone this kind of treatment for other people.

The third factor is that "the church one goes to teaches it." I think we can see that cults of every kind nurture people in a thousand ways. This is what this blog is about. It is about gaining some ability to think clearly about what is right and what is wrong regardless of how "nurturing" the community appears to be.

Holding women in permanent and pervasive submission to the supposed "God-assigned" authority of sinful men over women is simply wrong. Who will blot out the stain of male dominance? Only a God that demonstrates the derobing of power. May we all learn from this.

Male dominance is at odds with the core teaching of the gospel, that saving goodness is the putting off of privilege and the taking on a care.

Take time to comment on this post if you can and share your thoughts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More on Exiting

Cindy has responded with posts on finding an exit counsellor and other exit literature. There is also a site for Sovereign Grace Ministries Survivors with excellent posts like this.

Since some of my very early posts on this blog, the hope has been to draw attention to churches which control members through discipline or excommunication, to churches which teach the rule of men over women; and to promote leaving these attitudes behind, while at the same time, maintaining the traditions which nurture us. Controlling, authoritarian, patriarchal doctrines must be rejected. However, for our own integrity, our own wholeness, we need to nourish our deep respect for tradition and for the core beliefs which guide our life.

Some of those who have left church, have truly left church. Others, like myself, have left a particular church which teaches high boundaries, indoctrinates members into rigid beliefs, and promotes male rule. I understand the influence of habit and tradition which makes us feel more comfortable with a man in the pulpit. I appreciate it and I share it. That is why I have been eager to introduce readers to some of the traditional women who have stood in the pulpit. We need to honour our traditions and move beyond them at the same time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Still Snowing

It has been snowing here for about a week and half which is almost unheard of. I gave up trying to drive a few days ago. Here are a few oddities that have turned up on the web and I would really appreciate someone telling me if you think they are tongue in cheek spoofs or Christian rap bondage scenarios. Oops I meant servitude scenarios. They are truly bizarre. What do you think?

Complementarian Hip Hop HT Role Calling

All Things are Better in Koine

As a mood lifter you might want to watch this. Also via Role Calling.

And if you still want to laugh try this, thanks to Rachel and read Dave Walker's blog or We blog cartoons.

And I am going to settle in to read Saturnalia by Lindsey Davis. Great holiday reading about the wonderful couple Falco and Helena. Okay, this is from a series of novels and very funny but they are based on the real love of the author and her husband. Its a good time to celebrate love and friendship and I can think of no better way to do this than read about humourous adventures of Falco and Helena.


TC at New Leaven blogged an unusual Christmas post. Some readers here might like to follow the discussion there. I would also like to bring attention to comment #27 by Iris Godfrey of Mannaword.

When I was asked to do a radio program, my total orientation had been “women are silent and do not teach men”. However, I had been teaching a Bible class in a bank and some of the officers of the bank began attending and they were men. What to do? You really cannot ask an officer of the bank that is hosting you and your class to leave because he is male. So I was dealing with this, but not knowing what to do with it all, when I began a 8 year radio spot. Most of my listeners were men. Now what to do? My own church opened the door wide for me, yet it was several years before I was really comfortable with any Scriptural position. Needless to say, I have become an egalitarian. It is has been a very unusual journey.

Following the Lord is not so much a matter of mental position, as watching His leading. He sometimes leads us beyond ourselves — then we understand. I have been taken on such journeys a number of times following my Lord. He does not always wait until I get it and understand it. Sometimes He just leads me and then explains matters.

Before writing this post I sat and listened to her podcast He Came as Love. This kind of preaching which recontextualizes the letter to the seven churches is valuable for me as it brings back memories of my dispensationalist upbringing and demonstrates another reading of certain passages. I am guarantee that you will gain from this message by Iris.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Apple Tree

One of the uplifting experiences for me this Christmas has been the church family choral service. Late yesterday afternoon I took a long walk with my dog in the snowy woods marveling that I could wander safely through deserted forest over crisp snow in the dim light of a short December day.

On returning, I then walked with a friend to the church for the choral service enhanced by the participation of many professional musicians, some known to me a good friends. The church was packed and warm. As for the voices, it was almost as if the descants were flung like shards of crystal at the high timbered ceiling. The children sang "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" with one youngster, heading to England next month as a choir boy, performing a solo. It was as if he raised cupped hands and opened them up to let his voice flutter upward like a rather uncertain butterfly. The male voices were spread like a blanket beneath the melody and the audience joined in.

I had been afraid before that if I left the "evangelical," the "real" church, I would lose the sense of communion, of participation in and belongingness to the culture of my upbringing. Let me just note that this music is a million times better than the way hymns were sung in my childhood meeting, although we as a family did enjoy real music. I have attended many churches since then but this one, for now, offers what I need.

Here is an article on the fate of religious music in China that some of you might enjoy.

Exit Counselling

There are many topics that have been raised in the comments and most of them seem better addressed in posts. So I am asking for your patience. I will try to write about and link to resources on a variety of topics that have come up and are important to me.

I have recently been reading a few blogs on leaving church or leaving a relationship. Not long ago I had a conversation in which a pastor remarked rather disparagingly that it was no use helping a person leave an abusive relationship because that person, woman or man, would not appreciate the help and frankly would not take any advice. It was simply not worth the effort helping someone like that. This was my impression, I am not citing anyone exactly. But, actually we all know people who live in unhappy relationships or we are one of those people.

It is all the more difficult for those who attend a church which does not support the divorce process. Whether it is a woman held in a subordinate role, or a man tied to meeting unreasonable demands, there simply are people who need to leave. For some, this means leaving church or friends and family as well. Perhaps it has nothing to do with a relationship but one simply needs to leave a group which has gained disproportionate control over one's thinking.

Here are some blogs which are valuable reading if this is a concern. First, there is the excellent and researched blog by Cindy Kunsman, Under Much Grace, Danni Moss's blog, Because It Matters, and Jeff's blog, Church Discipline, especially this post. In church exiters, you can read about the future for people who leave church.

In addition to these blogs, I have been reading about exit counselling, or interventions, which has replaced "deprogramming." Here are some excerpts from an article on exit counselling.


[V]ictims of cults are not characteristically less intelligent than other people. If anything they are often the "cream of the crop," so to speak--the young, the intelligent, the idealistic, yet all too often naive ones. They are likely recruited during a transition time in their life, when they are more vulnerable to outside coercion and manipulation.

[The exit counsellor] may present Christianity as a historical religion, with doctrines that are to be understood in their original historical context, not according to some modern-day prophet. It is explained that interpretation is no mystery, nor is it exclusive to a chosen few. The exit-counselor also points out that there is life outside of the organization, and the ex-member present is proof of that; he or she is living a happy and fulfilled life.

It is necessary to follow up for several reasons:
  • The emotional ties in the organization (friends) are still very strong at this stage
  • Loneliness and disillusionment are strong factors causing a desire to go back to the cult
  • Lingering doubts about their new decision remain for awhile
  • Confusion and disorientation about the future haunts them
Healing of the ex-cultist is an ongoing process, and sometimes takes many years. But they are years well spent when it involves someone we truly love!

In summary, the person whom one is trying to convince to leave a relationship or community, needs to be told that they are not simply "weak" or "stupid." They need ongoing rational discussion about the issues involved. They need to see other people who have left as well, and see how they have fared. They need to accept that they may be dealing with loneliness, disorientation and confusion for several years.

This applies to someone leaving a marriage or a community in which the mind was unduly controlled by another person or other people. Anyone who attends a church with high boundaries is vulnerable. Some religious communities practice shunning, some excommunication, or disfellowshipping, as well as discipline or disparagement. These communities also need to convince the members to practice endogamy, marriage within the group, at least for the women. The men are expected to bring their wives into the group. In some communities this may work the other way around, I am not sure.

In mainline evangelical churches, many of these practices are not evident in the services or among the adults. However, young people may be deliberately recruited into certain commitments, either to gender roles, missions, rejection of normal youthful activities, or acceptance of certain doctrinal positions. I am not saying that a young woman should not get married and have children, or that one should not become a missionary, but I am saying that some youth groups and large conference organizations may use certain techniques to convince young people to make commitments that they would not otherwise make. One example of this would be the True Woman Conference and Manifesto.

Those who show concern about these things range from complementarians, on Under Much Grace, to agnotics on Church Discipline. I am not writing this to discourage proper belief. This is to help people understand that we, as humans, are vulnerable to joining cults, attending churches which control our behaviour, or marrying someone who is unsuitable.

Leaving any of these situations means experiencing nausea, vertigo, disorientation, meaninglessness, and loss of vision for the future. The only thing that helped me was ongoing support from people who said that they lived that way, they were not married, did not go to church, or whatever, but they were able to survive just fine, thank you very much. I was able to imagine and identify with a few key people in my life who lived alone or without a church and I just set myself to believe that I could do it too.

This leaves me free to attend a church from choice, to spend time with people because I want to, to develop a vision for my future. If you know someone in a bad situation do not give up on them. That's all I am asking.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Update: I want to be fair to the Eggerichs so I have linked to their blog, and these two posts. I am glad to read something of their own writing without reading the book. I can see how some people might like what they say, but I cannot agree technically on their opinion on the "weaker vessel."

Someone recommended that I read Eggerichs' book. It was mentioned on complegal. I did not look at it then and much to my regret I did read the table of contents today. You can too!

Here is my reaction to the table of contents second page,

I am a single parent so I need to

work and achieve
protect and provide
serve and lead
analyse and counsel

and I miss having a partner

But apparently I cannot be respected for this or recognized for this because I am a woman. A book like that makes a single woman feel like trash. It is so fundamentally disrespectful of women that women can do no better than shut themselves off from life denying bondage into the deception of weakness.

Should I want closeness and understanding at the expense of supporting and raising my children? Has someone lost their cotton pickin mind? How on earth do single women parent if they do not have all the attributes that Eggerichs (and who knows who he is) says men have?

Doesn't anyone see how utterly ridiculous and damaging Eggerichs ideas might be to a single woman. How much more damage would people like to do? Tear the self esteem of women one little piece from the next!

One little reason why I quit the complegal blog. (Maybe it is a good book with a downright terrible table of contents - who knows)

If some man wants to talk with me about finances and snow tires and computers, great, but this crap - OMG.

PS I am so happy today that I drive a 4wheel drive Suburu. Nothing can touch that for happiness today. I am the luckiest woman alive.

Waves of feminism

In response to a comment on my last post by Cindy, (it is well worth reading) here is a brief outline.

First wave feminism - 19th century and early 20th century
Second wave feminism - 1960's to 1980's
Third wave - 1990's to present
Fourth wave - some say we are entering that now

Brief notes. The dates are blurred since some writers moved ahead of their time. De Beauvoir wrote in the 1940's but was most influential in the 1960's so she is called a second wave feminist. However, those women who matured during the period of first wave feminism, the first half of the 20th century, and demonstrate a continuity of thought with them, can rightly be considered first wave feminists. I would count women such as Catherine Booth, Julia Smith, Helen Montgomery, and women preachers of the Salvation Army, Methodist church, Assemblies of God and so on, as in continuity with first wave feminism.

Grace Irwin, although a minister of a church, did not identify with feminism. I believe she was referring to second wave feminism. Her personal writings are deeply conflicted in my view, and I have learnt much about the dichotomies and inconsistencies of being human through her biography.

I have been deeply influenced by women writers of all kinds, and appreciate that I have been given a strong heritage of women's knowledge in a traditional way. I also deeply appreciate the many male professors, teachers, mentors and friends whom I have known. I feel no urgency now to learn from women rather than from men, as long as women have equal voice, or equal opportunity to have a voice. More later.

Yes, I write about sex and gender in that it is problematic. For me, the deepest happiness would be to feel a sense of siblinghood, of identity and commonality, of shared humanness with men.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Women preachers

These are five women preachers who have exerted an influence in my life, direct or indirect, through listening to them or reading them. My blog represents a traditional egalitarian approach, in touch with the first wave feminism of the 19th century.

Grace Irwin
Florence Li Tim Oi
Catherine Booth
Cathie Nicoll
Bernice Gerard

In response to some emails I have received, I wish to make a few comments.

First, I have no position for or against home schooling. Every family has to work out how best to raise their children and whether the mother wishes to home school or not. I am a public educator myself but I have had friends who have home schooled for a period of time for a variety of reasons.

Second, I am deeply distressed that my former church, which used to have women preach, no longer does so. However, I have never considered an active campaign on this issue. I believe women have the full responsibility to serve God in every way that men do, and I wish to support this as mch as possible by blogging about positive views on women preaching.

Third, I am strongly against the notion that women should be under their husbands' authority. I believe that it is biblically and morally wrong for a woman to vow to obey her husband. Women must have full moral rights at all times to make decisions according to their conscience. In matters that are not a moral issue, neither husband nor wife have the right to override the other. I am aware that there are many couples who live in successful, long term and fully committed marriages of mutual consent and equal regard. I believe that anything else is sinful.

I hope this helps a little to provide an idea of what this blog is about at the moment. The topics do tend to shift over the months and years, so likely next year I will be blogging about something else.

moderate conservative

I really didn't know how to classify my new church but according to the newspaper yesterday when it was mentioned in a column, it is rated as "moderate conservative." I know it is quite open to women priests, and I think it is just happenstance that it doesn't have one now. On the recent very bitter separation over same-sex blessing, this church did not split with the diocese.

My former church led the split from the diocese over same sex blessing. At first I was appalled that there was pressure from the bishop for all priests to accept same sex blessing. I was originally in full support of the resistance to same sex blessing and even wrote a letter which was highly supportive of the minister and I know he appreciated it.

I had studied the issue of alternate episcopal oversight for my MA thesis when I wrote about aboriginal churches in Canada and compared that with the church in New Zealand and India. Technically I was against the bishop promoting the acceptance of same sex blessing in this diocese.

However, now I attend a church which did not leave the diocese. Let me explain. This is a very technically complicated business, but what I now understand is that only about 6 parishes have said that they would be happy to have same sex unions blessed in their church. The rest of the churches have simply agreed that we have this policy, but they have not offered to have any same sex ceremonies. The topic largely goes unmentioned in my present church.

There were several reasons for my leaving the Anglican Network church and joining one of the churches which remained in the diocese. I will list them but cannot put them in order of importance.

1. A prominent member of my former church had signed the statement of concern against the Today's New International Version of the Bible. I believe that this document is morally compromised and articles attached to this discussion contain inappropriate language. One example is that some early articles mentioned that the TNIV "neutered" Christ because he was called "human" instead of "man" in some cases where the Greek word was anthropos. It is my view, as someone trained in Greek, that the statement of concern against the TNIV is simply an inappropriate document for any Christian to be associated with.

2. When I first started attending my former church many years ago, women would occasionally speak from the pulpit. Over the years that stopped and there were no more female assistant clergy. Women disappeared from the large ministry team by attrition and no new women joined. Women remained in positions of women's ministry, of course. To my knowledge the ministry team did not follow the inclination of the congregation on this but unilaterally decided that women were not to lead. The Anglican church of Canada has been ordaining women since 1976 so this church had already made the split from the diocese doctrinally before the same sex issue made the split definitive. This is my view from the outside.

3. A few years ago I asked the minister's wife for some resources for an abused woman for "a friend." She answered that she had none because this problem did not exist in this congregation of over 1000 members. At this time the minister was increasingly preaching the submission of women and there was at least one woman in the congregation who suffered violence during this time, probably more. Last summer a sermon was preached on the total submission of the wife, and the preacher made a joke about how women who were married to unreasonable men could line up after the service for "therapy" if they wanted to. This comment was delivered by the preacher with a guffaw. Frankly I cannot imagine anything more crass.

I left that church.

These are my reasons for now attending a church where technically same sex unions are accepted. I personally do not consider sex or marriage a sacrament. I keep church and sex in two separate compartments of my brain and they don't mix. I am pretty much disgusted by what I have seen and I do not want to interact with any man in church in a sexually "complementary" way. Period. The less people talk about sex and gender in church the better, as far as I am concerned. Christians don't have a great track record, so let's just move on to discuss something more profitable. These are my thoughts. Some day I may have more to say on the topic, or maybe not.

The lessons and carols service this morning was exquisite. There was no sermon and this was a huge relief. I am tired of hearing the minister get up and preach an "altar call" sermon just in case someone who only goes to church once a year might be there for Christmas.

The choir was so beautiful that several people were in tears. The children sang like a professional choir and we all sat in soft silence and listened. No clapping, but a few toddlers roamed the aisles freely. A couple of people told me that they had attended the service on Saturday for those in grieving. Many people grieve at this time of year.

Reading through the blogs last night, I read of men who could not pay the bills, couples with young children who were divorcing, older couples going separate ways, each asking what on earth they had done to find themselves alone in life at this stage.

It is a muted time for many. It is a good time to stick to a few traditional routines, not to shop too much, to prepare food that really is food, that is warming and comforting. It is a good time for siblings and parents to keep in touch. It is a good time to phone a friend. It is a good time to sit alone by the window and watch the snow fall silently.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Things to worry about at Christmas

These are the things that the people I know are preoccupied with this season.

1. Taking care of their parents.

2. Making the right financial decisions for the sake of adult children, young or otherwise.

3. Creating an atmosphere of security and hope for younger children.

4. Wondering what to do about the fact that bright sunny and very cold weather means that some street people are dying in their sleep.

That's about it. That's why women as well as men, need to be decision-makers, because people need to be cared for. Christmas can be a very worrisome time, and I think it needs to be said that one should be able to provide traditions that do not cost an arm and a leg. Who gets an extra big paycheck at Christmas? No one I know. Who has to renew their drivers license, car insurance, phone contract, and pay the dentist, the lawyer, the plumber and the university fees office at Christmas? Lots of people. I just hope that no children read this post and find out what adults are really thinking at Christmas.

Now that the boughs are up and the lights hung and the atmosphere of demented green chaos is firmly established, I am going to procure some good escapist literature, a few novels and perhaps Guy de Maupassant. I am going to ban the Nutcracker Tschaikovskian effervescence and listen to something in a minor key.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

holding it all together

Update: The boughs are up and lit, and I am ever grateful for a tradition that does not require shopping or cooking. Instead it means pruning my backyard or going further afield and communing with nature.


The only thing to think about is getting things done that need to be done. Repairs, repairs, repairs, that's what I hear, toilet paper, light bulbs, milk, bread, etc. I am not buying presents, or looking for new recipes.

I will do Christmas dinner the same as last year and every other year. I have to put on parties at work to show appreciation for the teacher aids. Boursin cheese and crackers, pita and homous, carrot sticks, broccoli and artichoke dip. A little fudge or tiger butter. This is the hot new treat. The stuff I had was made of white choc. and smooth peanut butter with a little dark choc. striped through. It was incredibly smooth! Most people only like a little sweets so I don't bake much now.

When my kids were young they liked baguette with cheese melted on top with oregano, and deviled eggs with paprika on top. They called the paprika and oregano, red and green sprinkles for Christmas. Carrot sticks with brocoli and paprika and oregano. Its all about the colour. For Christmas dinner, same thing. Yams, green beans and beets, cranberry sauce and spinach salad. How many different ways can food be made into colour contrasts.

Besides tiger butter, the other new recipe going around here is Turkish delight. You will have to google that one. My daughter is making pans of it for her Narnia party.

For atmosphere, we bring in piles and piles of green boughs. We have far too much of the green stuff here. But it can also be picked up for free at Christmas tree lots, lying around on the ground. Use green twist tie line to wrap it in long garlands, twist strings of tiny white lights into it, a few red berries, either real or fake, and hang the garlands around the tops of doorways or archways, or anywhere you can stick in a row of tiny nails just south of the ceiling.

Light some candles, sprinkle fake, tiny gold plastic snowflakes or iridescent snow. It there are enough little lights then the usual lights don't have to be turned on, and the effect is magic for kids.

As I mentioned the treats are pans of turkish delight - I will tell you later how that tastes - toasted cheese on bread, carrot sticks and so on, chips and dips. Yam fries! I almost forgot - that is the other hot new food.

I remember well the stress of trying to make Christmas wonderful for young children when time and money are both in short supply. So now I really simplify and am happy to just hold things together.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Egalitarian Church

Some people may wonder what an egalitarian church looks like. The one I am attending is no different in appearance to any other church around. There is a wonderful choir leader and fantastic choir. There is quite a bit of classical music training evident in this group. Very talented. The choir leader is a man and his wife is a soloist, also a classically trained opera singer and voice teacher.

The priest and deacon are both men. The deacon teaches law and political science at the local university. The honorary assistant teaches at Regent College. So the staff are all men. I know some of the couples well since we have lived in the same neighbourhood for a long time. They are very committed people, both husband and wife having a job or career of some kind, often more at home when the children are young. However, we are mostly beyond that stage now. I know I am.

There are many single women of all ages. Many older couples and young adults, students perhaps. I don't know them.

There are Bible studies and craft fairs and all the usual activities and a neighbourhood outreach plan. So far I have not noticed any difference with from the church I left except that certain topics are not mentioned in the sermon, thankfully. I am very thankful for that. Actually, I feel that there is more sense of being connected to the concerns of the neighbourhood than in the last church. In fact, that church had no connection to its neighbourhood, which was not its fault, but there it is.

I wish I could do a more insightful comparison of an egalitarian and complementarian church than this, but in this case members of these churches have been going back and forth for a few generations. They are simply not that different. Except for those topics that I could live without ever hearing about again, the submission of women and the plight of homosexuals. I don't need to hear about these things.


Brief Christmas notes. There is no better snack than cheese on crackers in the microwave or under the broiler. Perhaps egg salad sandwiches. Keep it simple. Potato leek soup with paprika on top.

mother of all living

Google books has just made Julia Smith's Bible available again, to fully search and even to download. The company removed it for some time just after I'd posted it was available.

Here is Smith's translation of Genesis 3:20,

And Adam will call his wife's name Life, for she was the mother of all living.

Smith calls her translating "literal." Would you agree that "Life" is a good and a literal translation for what usually is rendered "Eve"?


This is a post from Kurk who has also written recently on True Women and feminism. Scroll back and read through his recent blogging. Lots of food for thought.

I am in a bit of a slowdown here. As Mollie describes, sometimes life just gets a little hectic. Among the million other things that went wrong this week, my computer crashed so posting will be short.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

request re authentein

This is a request post. I too find authentein to be of limited interest. But someone asked me about this. In my opinion the lengthy discussion of the syntax of 1 Tim. 2:12 is of limited interest because it cannot be proven that authentein could have a positive connotation. No one has shown that it could refer to using godly authority as a leader.

I think it is important to point out the careful nuancing on this issue by Kostenberger. First he writes,
That conclusion, in short, is that the expression “or” (oude) in 1 Tim 2:12 joins two expressions that are positive, “teaching” and “having or exercising authority.” This means that Paul, when saying, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (TNIV), did not merely speak out against women teaching false doctrine or women lording it over men (while saying it was OK for men to do so?!?). No, Paul did not want women even to engage in the kind of teaching or exercise of authority that was appropriate if exercised by qualified men in the church (see, e.g., 1 Tim 3:2; 5:17).
Wayne then comments,
It is true that context determines whether some verbs have a positive or negative connotation. But there are many examples in the lexicon of English, as well as other languages, where some verbs are intrinsically positive or negative. Lexicography is one of my areas of focus as a linguist, and semantic compositional analysis and other lexical tools show that Payne and you are both right.

Here are some English verbs (or predicate adjectives, which function as verbs in English and as full verbs in many languages) which are intrinsically negative:

smells (it has become pejorative)
kicked the bucket (negative idiom)

Cognitive experiments have been conducted in a number of cognitive science departments and subjects consistently have negative connotations for some words and positive connotations for others, in context-free environments.

Kostenberger responds,
Thank you, Wayne, for your comment. While what you say is generally true, in the case of the use of didaskein and authentein in 1 Tim 2:12, in conjunction with oude, it does not appear that these verbs are of such a nature that they transparently and unequivocally convey a positive or negative connotation apart from consultation of the context and syntax of the passage. Also, one ought not to underestimate the possibility that an otherwise positive word is given a negative contextual connotation or vice versa.
It is clear that using an appeal to context one can build a case that women were being asked not to do something that men should not do either. After all, women aren't supposed to argue either but only the men were asked not to argue. Ben Witherington makes that case here. My one disagreement with his post is that we now know that there is no evidence that authentein means to have authority in a good way. There is no evidence for that.

If authentein has a negative connotation then no amount of writing about the syntax and context can undo that.

For me 1 Timothy 2 is a passage which appears to apply to a situation for which we do not have the background. We do not know what the men were doing or what the women were doing. There is no injunction against women being involved in godly leadership.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's flush that out a little

This is too funny. Here are bits and pieces of a forum thread.


A - I think we would all agree that women are the weaker vessels wouldn't we?

B - (choke)

C - scripture doesn’t say so.
says we are to treat women as the weaker vessel.
i think.

A - you may be right, C

A - actually "treat them with respect as the weaker partner"...1 Peter 3:7

B - weaker as in our muscles aren't as strong?

C - as being heirs together of the grace of life

- Husbands are to dwell with their wives according to knowledge (gnosis) giving honor unto the wife AS the weaker (more unfirm) vessel. etc. ....

E - Weaker as in lessor authority.

B - that's weak.

D - It's not about authority. Its about the vessel/instrument. Skeuos = instrument, IOW, the physical body.

A - I think you need to flush that out a little more so it makes sense


Anyway, some people who comment here are in that thread. And I have discovered a truly wonderful blog in the process.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reactions to True Woman etc.

Dave often posts on gender issues in ways that are highly supportive of women. In this recent post he tracks some of the action on this topic. Follow the links to Henry's web and Aristotle's Feminist Subject.

And yes, I am taking a sabbatical, possibly permanent, from the compegal blog. I see no reason to argue for the equality of women. It must be assumed. I simply wish to point out the obvious, there are many who do not believe in the equality of women. I want their position recognized for what it is.

take care of ...

The books that I use to teach beginner readers include carefully selected words and phrases for the first year. These are common expressions like "come here," "where is .." and "is asleep." But one of the very first more complex expressions is "take care of." This is a concept that is fundamental to human life. We must take care of our children, our parents and each other. We take care of pets, and cars, and houses. It is the basic building block of life.

Taking care of is not a sexually defined activity. It belongs to all of us, to take care of and to be cared for. There is no male way to care for others, and no female way to care for others, at least according to the Bible. It is true that we all have our culturally bound and individually shaped ways of caring for others. We all care for others in ways that we can, according to our strengths. But there is no one specific way to do this depending on gender. Here are two stories from Luke 10.

Thanks to Scott for giving me the idea for this post.

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

will drive people away

Larry wrote,
Conversely, in my culture here in BC people typically would be repulsed by anyone who would link patriarchal teachings with the message of Jesus. It will drive people away from Jesus rather than towards him.
Does he know that Bruce Ware spoke to the pastors of Vancouver last year on authority and submission within marriage? Granted, Bernice Gerard beats out Packer by a long shot in the media.

Spark and tinder

I often wonder what keeps me blogging. Sometimes I think it is sheer hypographia hypergraphia and other times "survivor's guilt." I have survived patriarchy - in a manner of speaking - and I agonize over others. The fact is that the influence still touches me closely in some ways, and not at all in others. But, for the sake of this blog, yes, I still have connections and concerns that I cannot leave behind.

So, it is vital for me to understand the roots of the Ware hypothesis regarding power and authority, or the Wallace hypothesis on Junia. I really like to wrap my brain around it so I can be intellectually responsible in rejecting patriarchy.

I will cite a few blogs and comments made about me in the last few days, just so you can see how up and down it has been.

John said,
Any religious formation that genders particular functions incurs your implacable wrath. Thus you cannot but hate what traditional Judaism does to women, traditional Catholics and Orthodox idem, not to mention traditional and neo-traditional evangelicals (your own background).
I protested that I had never blogged about Catholics, Orthodox or Judaism, at least not in any negative context, and John deleted me and blocked me from posting on his blog forever. Period. He also took the time to say that I should not preach the myth of gender equality.

Jim asked why women aren't attending the biblioblogger dinners, and I suggest that there might be a good reason and he responded,
the onus is completely on them [women]. they aren’t being slighted- they are slighting others with what can only rightly be called childishness.
But he takes up my case here and states,
Women are equal to men in all respects notwithstanding witless and chauvinistic misreadings of the biblical text.
So I hope that Jim tells John that women are equal in all respects!

In the meantime, I have been labeled one of the most fascinating bloggers and one of the most dangerous bloggers. To round it off, I received another comnent of the kind that just blows me away,
what has impressed me the most is that you have done all these things in a non-polemical manner
Ah ha! Little does he know. I am both spark and tinder. Hold your breath.

Okay, I posted this because someone emailed me a while ago to keep him posted about my romps. Infotainment. (PS I don't mean to be disrespectful of anyone. I am just keeping my spirits up.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Payne and Kostenberger

Peter has sent me the link for the article by Philip Payne, to which Andreas Kostenberger has responded in this post. If you want to keep up with authentein you will want to read the article and Dr. K's post. In the comments Wayne asks him about authentein and he responds,
in the case of the use of didaskein and authentein in 1 Tim 2:12, in conjunction with oude, it does not appear that these verbs are of such a nature that they transparently and unequivocally convey a positive or negative connotation apart from consultation of the context and syntax of the passage.
Let me suggest that the secret is out. These words do not "transparently and unequivocally convey" much of anything. It is all in the context. However, if one can demonstrate that didaskein can be negative, and authentein was only negative, then that does rather tilt the data away from it being used to restrict women from doing something that men can do.

Dr. Kostenberger likes to quote feminist scholars, saying,
My findings regarding the syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12 in the first edition of Women in the Church were widely accepted even among feminist scholars (though, of course, they still don’t agree with the book’s overall thrust on other grounds).
Allow me to let you in on a secret. Some feminist scholars, not all, but some, are happy to find fault with the author of 1 Timothy. I do too. Why was he not more clear about what he wanted to say? Dunno. But that doesn't change the facts. One cannot dispose of the facts.

Who is the head here?

Molly is attempting to describe why the submission of a wife to the authority of her husband can be such an intrinsically bad thing. I think this picture says it all. This is how one man sees it. He actually chose this image to demonstrate the following point,
"God created us to complement one another (hence the name of this view). The hammer and nail, mentioned earlier, are both made of metal, but they are designed to do different jobs. Each of these tools are important, essential, and valuable, but distinct; and it’s their complementary differences that make them work best."
This is simply his way of illustrating the relationship between husband and wife. I have to say that this seems pretty realistic to me. Does this image look like a "level playing field" to you?

I know this clouds the issue that anyone can treat someone else like this. Any man, Christian or not, and any woman, Christian or not, can treat another like this.

But, and this is crucial, the church only teaches men to treat women like this, not vice versa. This is what has to stop.

If I admit that this man was just looking for two metal objects that interact, then could I overlook the image he chose? I don't think so. He chose a tool and a passive object. The message is clear. Men have agency and women do not.

But in the secular world the male is a certain shape and the female has her shape, and they go together on more equal terms. I think that is how it goes with plumbing, for example.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bruce Ware and Augustine

I have to admit that I am cannot put down the permutations of complementarian theology just yet. I have to protect my children, most of all, from thinking that this is historic Christianity. So I write once again on this topic.

Bruce Ware supports his thesis that the Father and Son are in an eternal authority and submission relationship in Father, Son and Holy Spirit (page 80), by citing Augustine,
Augustine affirmed, the distinction of Persons is constituted precisely by the differing relations among them, in part manifested by the inherent authority of the Father and inherent submission of the Son.
And this is the citation from Augustine,
“In the light of this we can now perceive that the Son is not just said to have been sent because the Word became flesh, but that he was sent in order for the Word to become flesh, and by his bodily presence to do all that was written. That is, we should understand that it was not just the man who the Word became that was sent, but that the Word was sent to become man. For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”*
Ware then comments on this quote,
If the "Son" is sent by the "Father," and if the "Son" comes to do the will of the "Father," does it not stand to reason that God wishes by this language to indicate something of the authority and submission that exists within the relationships of the members of the immanent trinity?
And this is how Ware claims that Christ is equal to the Father in "power" but less than the Father in "authority." I am sure that anyone who knows Latin will be aware that "power" and "authority" were, in fact, the same word in Latin - potestas.

Therefore, what Augustine said was,
For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power (authority) or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”
Bruce Ware, as president of ETS, must believe that Christ is equal in power to God, but denies that Christ is equal in authority to God. From Jerome until the RSV, "power" and "authority," or their Latin equivalent, were considered either the same word or synonyms. It is, then, impossible for Ware to claim continuity with traditional theology. It appears that Augustine believed that the Son was from the Father, but equal in authority to God.

This citation from Augustine is also found here as,
He was not sent in respect to any inequality of power, or substance, or anything that in Him was not equal to the Father; but in respect to this, that the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son; for the Son is the Word of the Father, which is also called His wisdom.
Clearly, Augustine is saying that the Son has no inequality with the Father, not in power nor in authority, nor in substance, nor in anything in him. And so it should be between the sexes, that women are not unequal to men in substance or in authority.

Here is the citation in Latin,
Secundum hoc iam potest intellegi non tantum ideo dici missus filius quia uerbum caro factum est, sed ideo missus ut uerbum caro fieret et per praesentiam corporalem illa quae scripta sunt operaretur, id est ut non tantum homo missus intellegatur quod uerbum factum est, sed et uerbum missum ut homo fieret quia non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri non sit aequale missus est, sed secundum id quod filius a patre est, non pater a filio. Verbum enim patris est filius, quod est sapientia eius dicitur.
I can't link to Lewis and Short directly, but this is the meaning of potestas.
  • Political power, dominion, rule, empire, sovereignty
  • Magisterial power, authority, office, magistracy
  • have lawful authority and jurisdiction
The fact is that Ware's teaching that God is supreme in authority, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit page 131) over Christ cannot be reconciled with traditional theology. There is more to this - tomorrow.

*St. Augustine, The Trinity, trans. Edmund Hill, vol. 5 of The Works of St. Augustine (Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 1991) IV. 27 (italics added).

Bruce Ware vs. Kevin Giles

Could Our Savior Have Been a Woman?

Tampering with the Trinity: Does the Son submit to His Father

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Son - equal in power but not in authority?

I have for quite some time, been following an argument in recent complementarian circles regarding the authority of the Son. Bruce Ware, in his book, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (page 152) wrote,

The Father, then, as supreme authority over even his own Son and the Spirit, is the one to whom we gladly, but humbly, address our prayers.

However, the Evangelical Theological Society, of which Ware is president, has a doctrinal basis statement which declares,

God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

Denny Burk blogged about this recently, and I asked a series of questions, which went unanswered there. However, I am grateful that John Starke has taken the issue up under Suzanne McCarthy and the Son’s Submission to the Father.

John writes,

So, to express that there is a difference in authority but not in power between the Son and the Father is not unthinkable. McCarthy argues the opposite. She wonders how the Son can be “equal in power and glory, but unequal in authority, and how is this derived from the Scripture?”

It is true, I did ask that question. But the focus of my interest is on the English translations that were prevalent at the time that the doctrinal basis of ETS was formulated, I am guessing in 1949. If we take John 17:2 as one example, previous translations of the Bible do not differentiate between the "power" of the Son, and the "authority" of the Son.

What if those who formulated the doctrinal statement of the ETS actually intended to say that Christ was equal to God in exousia, since exousia, the Greek word most often translated as "authority" is also often translated as "power" in the KJV and RSV.

καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (KJV)

since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. (RSV)

We can see the same thing in Latin, German or French translations of the Bible. One must face the reality that theologians like Augustine, Luther and Calvin did not argue for a clear difference between "power" and "authority."

selon que tu lui as donné pouvoir sur toute chair, afin qu'il accorde la vie éternelle à tous ceux que tu lui as donnés. (Louis Segond)

Gleichwie du ihm Macht hast gegeben über alles Fleisch, auf daß er das ewige Leben gebe allen, die du ihm gegeben hast. (Luther)

sicut dedisti ei potestatem omnis carnis ut omne quod dedisti ei det eis vitam aeternam" (Vulgate)
However, we can see that since the NIV, 1973, - a translation supposedly of dynamic equivalence - "power" and "authority" have diverged in English in accordance with the underlying Greek.
For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (NIV)

since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (ESV)

It seems clear to me that any statement that Christ is less than God in authority, while equal to him in power, can only have taken on common acceptance subsequent to 1973. But the Evangelical Theological Society has been around since 1949. I would be very interested in knowing if their doctrinal basis has shifted since 1949, and if most members realize that Christ is now not equal in authority to God, but only in power.

I always like to know what Bible translation a theological statement is based on. Curiously, many people cite theologians without referencing the Bible version or translation on which they are basing their theology.

I hope John Starke will take on this puzzle and perhaps find a clear article delineating when exactly Christ became less than God in authority, while retaining equality in power.

The Mini Saga

I often don't respond to memes but this one was a challenge I could not resist. Tell a complete saga in 50 words, no more and no less. I composed it while drifting off to sleep. What better to count than words.
Don't drink! Don't smoke! Don't dance! He went to the hospital and kissed his sister and cried. He took a taxi to the airport. Two years later he phoned for his mother's visa card and bought a ticket home. His sister bought a dress. Now they take dance lessons together.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A sombre trio

Here are two articles I read today and another one from October that suggests the same premise. The first is Nujood Ali, 10 years old, and Yemen's most famous divorcée.

Women of the Year Fund Honorees

Nujood Ali & Shada Nasser
The second is Facial acid attacks in Pakistan. And the third is from Wade Burleson's blog in which Wade writes a special post for Miss Tartar of the CBMW gender blog.


Our Southern Baptist women need to understand that nowhere in Scripture does God order a woman to be subordinate to a man because of gender. Let me repeat: There is not one scrap of evidence - not one jot or tittle of the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures - that should ever cause a woman to feel she is subordinate to a man because of her gender. To militate against a woman's subordination to a man is not feminism. It is respecting the equality of the man and the woman.

For my part, I wish Miss Tarter was more like Elizabeth Keckley. Elizabeth, an African-American seamstress for the Lincoln White House, was born into slavery in 1830. Her story is an incredible journey from slavery to the White House. Without comment, I will simply encourage you to read Keckley's own words as she describes her spirit while being beaten by a very poor North Carolina Presybyterian minister in 1850. At the time of this beating, Miss Keckly was the same age as Miss Tarter. She had been given to the minister as a slave gift, the minister and his wife being unable themselves to afford any slaves. Miss Keckley was unsure as to the reason for the beating described below, but believes it was because she fell asleep while rocking the Presbyterian minister's small child.

"My master was a good-hearted man, but was influenced by his wife. It was Saturday evening, and while I was bending over the bed, watching the baby that I had just hushed into slumber, Mr. Bingham came to the door and asked me to go with him to his study. Wondering what he meant by his strange request, I followed him, and when we had entered the study he closed the door, and in his blunt way remarked, "Lizzie, I am going to flog you." I was thunderstruck, and tried to think if I had been remiss in anything. I could not recollect of doing anything to deserve punishment, and with surprise exclaimed: "Whip me, Mr. Bingham! what for?"

"No matter," he replied, "I am going to whip you, so take down your dress this instant."

Recollect, I was eighteen years of age, was a woman fully developed, and yet this man coolly bade me take down my dress. I drew myself up proudly, firmly, and said, "No, Mr. Bingham, I shall not take down my dress before you. Moreover, you shall not whip me unless you prove the stronger."

My words seemed to exasperate him. He seized a rope, caught me roughly, and tried to tie me. I resisted with all my strength, but he was the stronger of the two, and after a hard struggle succeeded in binding my hands and tearing my dress from my back. Then he picked up a rawhide, and began to ply it freely over my shoulders. With steady hand and practised eye, he would raise the instrument of torture, nerve himself for a blow, and with a fearful force the rawhide descended upon the quivering flesh. It cut the skin, raised great welts, and the warm blood trickled down my back. Oh God! I can feel the torture now - the terrible, excruciating agony of those moments. I did not scream; I was too proud to let my tormentor know what I was suffering. I closed my lips firmly, that not even a groan might escape from them, and I stood like a statue while the keen lash cut deep into my flesh. As soon as I was released, stunned with pain, bruised and bleeding . . . I exclaimed "Master, what I done that I should be punished so severely?"

I would not put off thus. "What have I done? I will know why I have been flogged."

I saw his cheeks flush with anger, but I did not move. Without an explanation, he seized a chair, struck me, and felled me to the floor. I rose, bewildered, almost dead with pain, crept to my room, dressed my bruised arms and back as best I could and then lay down, but not to sleep. No, I could not sleep, for I was suffering mental as well as bodily torture. My spirit rebelled against the unjustness that had been inflicted upon me, and though I tried to smother my anger and to forgive those who had been so cruel to me, it was impossible.

The next morning I was more calm, and I believe that I could then have forgiven everything for the sake of one kind word. But the kind word was never proffered, and it may be possible, that I grew somewhat wayward and sullen. Though I had faults, I know now, as I felt then, harshness was the poorest inducement for the correction of them. It seems that (the pastor) had pledged himself to the Mrs. to subdue what he called "my stubborn pride."

On Friday following the Saturday on which I was so savagely beaten, I was again directed to come to the study. On entering the room I found him prepared with a new rope and a new cowhide. I told him that I was ready to die, but that he could not conquer me. In struggling with him I bit his finger severely, when he seized a heavy stick and beat me with it in a shameful manner.

The following Thursday, again he tried to conquer me, but in vain. We struggled, and he struck me many savage blows. As I stood bleeding before him, nearly exhausted with his efforts, he burst into tears, and declared that it would be a sin to beat me any more. My suffering at last subdued his hard heart; he asked my forgiveness, and afterwards was an altered man. He who preached the love of Heaven, who glorified the precepts and examples of Christ, who expounded the Holy Scriptures Sabbath after Sabbath from the pulpit refused to whip me any more."
The question is whether it is better to defy or to submit. Only the one who suffers the consequences can make that decision. Not the pastor or the theologian. Sometimes there is a place for rebellion. But the one who suffers must decide.