Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Joyce Meyer

I don't watch TV very often. A little sitcom now and then, that's about it, sometimes a history show. However, I left my husband at home last Sunday with a hockey injury and as I left I saw that he was already engrossed in his morning sermon from Joyce Meyer. I'm not sure that she exactly represents our beliefs but she is one more in a list of great female preachers that we have watched on TV.

I was browsing her website tonight and as I didn't know anything about her I just clicked on the first article I came to and read the following.

    Abuse and the Miracle of Recovery

    During my childhood, I was abused sexually, emotionally, verbally, and physically.
    Many of you reading this article have also been abused, or you deal with someone in your life who comes from an abusive, dysfunctional background.

    What is abuse? It means to misuse, to use improperly, to use up, or to injure by maltreatment. Let me give you a brief definition of the four types of abuse.

    Sexual abuse: considered to be the most degrading and offensive. It consists of molestation, rape, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, etc.

    Emotional abuse: withholding of love, attention, loving touches, or words of acceptance. Love is only given based on acceptable performance, etc.

    Abandonment: would fall under the category of emotional abuse and can occur when one or both parents leave the child physically or mentally. Adults can also experience the devastating effects of abandonment if important people in their lives leave suddenly or violently.

    Verbal abuse: People must hear loving words of acceptance to develop properly. Verbal abuse can be overt or covert. Overt: aggressive, angry words which tell you that you are flawed or unacceptable Covert: loving words withheld

    Physical abuse: beatings, unfair discipline, locked in closets or dark rooms, food withheld, etc.
    The effects of abuse can be devastating and long lasting. Many people never recover from abuse.

    Although I functioned as what appeared to be "normal" in society, I had multiple inward problems and complicated personality disorders. I will name a few of the things going on in me at that time that prevented me from righteousness, peace, and joy that Romans 14:17 declares is the kingdom. God the Father sent Jesus so we could have and enjoy "the kingdom."

    I was bitter about my past and had a chip on my shoulder, which caused me to have the attitude that everyone owed me preferential treatment. I was full of self-pity, especially if things did not go my way. I was controlling, manipulative, fearful, insecure, and harsh. I was just plain hard to get along with and often downright obnoxious. I was judgmental, suspicious, and very negative.

    I experienced a lot of guilt and condemnation. I had a shame-based nature; therefore, everything I attempted was poisoned. Since I did not like who I was, I spent many years trying to be like someone else—I am sure you are getting the picture that I was quite a mess.

    Now, what I am getting ready to say is important. I WAS BORN AGAIN AND ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN CHURCH LIFE. We attended church regularly and did church work. Our lives revolved around the church, but I was not getting victory over my problems. In fact, the really sad part was that I did not even understand that I had a problem. I thought everyone else had a problem; and if they would change, I would be happy.

    In 1976 1 received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 speaks of receiving the power to be witnesses. Notice it does not say to do witnessing, but to be witnesses. The Bible says we are to be living epistles read of all men, light in a dark world, and the salt of the earth. Doing is a different thing than being. I had my outside polished up, but my inner life was a wreck. Quite often the inner turmoil exploded, and then everybody could see I was not quite what I appeared to be.

    The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life gave me a real love for God's Word and an ability to understand the Word like never before. Second Corinthians 3:18 (paraphrased) says that as we look into the Word of God, it is like looking into a mirror; and we are transformed into His image from glory to glory.

    I have been changing ever since. I have changed, and changed, and changed; and I am still changing. Most of those problems are completely gone and the rest only flare up occasionally. I even look differently—I look younger, happier, and more peaceful.

    Second Corinthians 5:17 (paraphrased) says if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are made new. But that really does not mean everything from the past just vanishes. The Amplified Bible brings it out this way, "Behold, the fresh and new has come!" In other words, without Jesus there is no hope of newness of life; the past always affects the future without the power of God to overcome it. But even with Jesus, it is not automatic. When the fresh and new comes, there is opportunity; but we must give the Word of God an exalted place in our lives. We must face the truth as revealed to us in His Word, and then the truth will set us free if it is acted upon.

    I want to encourage you! Keep pressing on. You will keep changing if you stay in the Word. Philippians 1:6 (paraphrased) says He that has begun a good work in you is well able to bring it to completion. Hebrews 12:2 (paraphrased) says look to Jesus who is the author and the finisher of our faith.

    Now I am enjoying kingdom living: "Righteousness, peace, and joy." And no matter what your past has been or how many problems you have, God will do a miracle for you. He will change you into the image of Jesus Christ and give you a new life worth living.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Women's Speaking: 1666

Here are a few excerpts from a pamphlet written by Margaret Fell in 1666.

    And first, when God created Man in his own Image, in the Image of God created he them, Male and Female; and God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply: And God said, Behold, I have given you of every Herb, &c. Gen. 1. Here God joyns them together in his own Image, and makes no such Distinctions and Differences as Men do; for though they be weak, he is strong; and as he said to the Apostle, His Grace is sufficient, and his Strength is made manifest in Weakness, 2 Cor. 12. 9. And such hath the Lord chosen, even the weak things of the World, to confound the things which are mighty; and things which are despised, hath God chosen, to bring to nought things that are, 1 Cor. 1. And God hath put no such difference between the Male and Female, as Men would make.


    It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the Mother of James, and the other Women that were with them, which told these things to the Apostles, and their Words seemed unto them as Idle Tales, and they believed them not. Mark this, ye despisers of the Weakness of Women, and look upon your selves to be so wise: But Christ Jesus doth not so; for he makes use of the weak: For when he met the Women after he was risen, he said unto them, All Hail! And they came and held him by the Feet, and worshipped him; then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid, go tell my Brethren that they go into Galilee, and there they shall see me, Mat. 28. 10. Mark 16. 9. And John saith, when Mary was weeping at the Sepulchre, that Jesus said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? what seekest thou? And when she supposed him to be the Gardner, Jesus said unto her, Mary; she turned her self, and said unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master; Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my Brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God, John 20. 16, 17.

    Mark this, you that despise and oppose the Message of the Lord God that he sends by Women; What had become of the Redemption of the whole Body of Mankind, if they had not cause to believe the Message that the Lord Jesus sent by these Women, of and concerning his Resurrection? And if these Women had not thus, out of their Tenderness, and Bowels of Love, who had received Mercy, and Grace, and Forgiveness of Sins, and Vertue, and Healing from him; which many Men also had received the like, if their Hearts had not been so united and knit unto him in Love, that they could not depart as the Men did; but sat watching, and waiting, and weeping about the Sepulchre until the time of his Resurrection, and so were ready to carry his Message, as is manifested, else how should his Disciples have known, who were not there?


    More might be added to this purpose, both out of the Old Testament and New, where it is evident that God made no difference, but gave his good Spirit, as it pleased him, both to Man and Woman, as Deborah, Huldah, and Sarah. The Lord calls by his Prophet Isaiah, Hearken unto me, ye that follow after Righteousness, ye that seek the Lord; look unto the Rock from whence ye were hewn, and to the hole of the Pit from whence ye were digged; look unto Abraham your Father, and to Sarah that bare you; for the Lord will comfort Sion, &c. Isa. 5. And Anna the Prophetess, who was a Widow of Fourscore and Four Years of Age, which departed not from the Temple, but served God with Fastings and Prayers night and day; she coming in at that instant, (when old Simeon took the Child Jesus in his Arms) and she gave Thanks unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them who looked for Redemption in Jerusalem, Luke 2. 36, 37, 38. And Philip the Evangelist, into whose House the Apostle Paul entred, who was one of the Seven, Acts 6. 3. he had four Daughters which were Virgins, that did prophesie, Acts 21.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Discovery of Women Preachers: 1641

Antonia Fraser wrote The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in seventeenth century England, 1984. This is a favourite period of history for me. I once went to the National Portrait Gallery in London, and collected postcards of all my most loved characters from the English Civil War. As a teen I was indiscriminate and admired Puritan and Royalist alike. Here is Fraser on women preaching during the era of the English Civil War.

    Women probably first began to preach in Holland in the 1630s in the Baptist churches, whose congregations had always included a large number of their sex. ... In the New World - Massachusetts - women were known to have preached by 1636. In England in the 1640s women preached weekly at the General Baptist Church in Bell Alley, off Coleman Street, in the city of London. Anne Hempstall was described as preaching to 'bibbing gossips' in her house in Hoborn, and Mary Bilbrowe, wife of a bricklayer of St Giles-in-the-fields, preached in her parlour, although the pulpit, which was made of brick, was so high that only her tippet could be seen. A early as 1641, a tract, The Discovery of Women Preachers, referred to their existance in Kent, Cambridge and Salisbury.
Now consider this piece of writing from the TNIV and the GNBC,

    Egalitarianism historically originated from non-Biblical sources, especially the French Revolution. The French Revolution enthroned Reason as a goddess. But when people do not acknowledge God but only Reason, the differences that God ordains among people seem not to be “rational.” Hence, they must be denied or abolished. Since human sexual differences today do not seem to many people to be “rational,” they too must be overcome.
The French Revolution was some 150 years after the English Civil War. The emergence of women preaching dates back to the Puritan movement in Europe at the time of the English Revolution not the French Revolution.

I have to continue the dialogue with the contents of this book for a little longer. I cannot bear to allow such ahistoric writing to go unchallenged.

First, I was under the distinct impression that the American Revolution itself owed much to the Age of Reason, and that in America too there were ideas about equality. It went something like this.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." - Declaration of Independence
If in France it was liberté, égalité, fraternité, in America there were also these vague notions of equality that were slow in their realization but significant nonetheless. I can only assume that by associating egalitarianism with an event remembered for its brutality and disregard for human life, as well as its foreign quality, this book is hoping to portray egalitarianism in a negative light.

Next, the authors say that the differences that God ordains between humans seem not to be rational. I would simply like to comment that it is the authors of this book who feel the need to rationalize the differences between men and women.

In the older non-rational ethic, like the Brethren, women were to be silent in church. However, this was just the way it was. No one taught that women were not gifted as men were. No one said that women were different in their nature from men. A community whose beliefs are based on the Bible does not need to label women to keep them silent. They can simply say, sorry, we know you are equal, but the Bible says ... , and carry on.

However, an organization like the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood tries to rationalize the silence of women. They talk about the different natures of men and women and the different roles, the different giftedness and so on. One man said it was a matter of fulfillment. Women can only be fulfilled by remaining within the women's sphere. So the CBMW owes much of its teaching to the need to rationalize doctrines about women.

An American might respond, but the religious ethic in America owes more to the era of the Mayflower than to the Age of Reason. And that would be my point. It was during the Puritan movement in England that women began preaching. Modern egalitarianism dates back to the early 17th century in England and came to the United States at that time. It was in the polity of a Puritan Christian ethic that women challenged the old scholastic repressions.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Okay, sticky keys, or what? I guess I was posting in triplicate this morning.

David Warnock has a few recent posts of interest. Here is one from Maggie Dawn that seems to be going around. Also We blog cartoons and this one about Adrian Warnocks blog.

Scot McKnight on Jesus Creed has had a series on husbands and wives. Part I and Part II are here. I am still waiting for the punchline. He does discuss the different kinds of feminism, radical, liberal, evangelical, etc. There is a good question in the comment section, "If one disagrees with the subordination of women, must one wear the label of feminist?" Good question.

It depends on whether feminism is for the equality of women, or for the domination of women. Or woman as 'Goddess'. Or women as 'Domestic Goddess'. Or woman as the 'Knitting Goddess'. This is the slippery slope.

PS There are lots of blogs that I read by blog hopping. I infrequently update my blogroll. Sorry. Just laziness.

Christians for Biblical Equality

I would like to post something cheerful this morning like an image of the pansies I am suppposed to be planting. But if I am going to plant flowers I need to get on with it.

However, here is the CBE statement of faith, in full, thanks to Ruud of Equamusic. What a great title for a blog.

    We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, is reliable, and is the final authority for faith and practice.

    We believe in the unity and trinity of God, eternally existing as three equal persons.

    We believe in the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ.

    We believe in the sinfulness of all persons. One result of sin is shattered relationships with God, others, and self.

    We believe that eternal salvation and restored relationships are possible through faith in Jesus Christ who died for us, rose from the dead, and is coming again. This salvation is offered to all people.

    We believe in the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, and in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers.

    We believe in the equality and essential dignity of men and women of all ethnicities, ages, and classes. We recognize that all persons are made in the image of God and are to reflect that image in the community of believers, in the home, and in society.

    We believe that men and women are to diligently develop and use their God-given gifts for the good of the home, church and society.

    We believe in the family, celibate singleness, and faithful heterosexual marriage as God's design.

    We believe that, as mandated by the Bible, men and women are to oppose injustice.
Sorry. Got to run. Check out Patchouli Ponderings for something truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing that, Patchouli.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cowgirls and Cowboys

Well, I don't spend my day in serious study. I teach children who have difficulty with reading how to enjoy reading. This month the topic is cowgirls and cowboys.

The children always ask why they are called cowboys and cowgirls. If you ride a horse, why would you be called a cowboy? What do the cows have to do with it?

Fortunately my first teaching job was in a high school in a small town in central B.C., just outside the Douglas Lake Ranch, the biggest ranch in British Columbia. Cattle are allowed to run free in this part of B.C., which means that if they cross the road in front of you, it is up to you to stop, the cows have right of way. They don't have to stop, look both ways, and point, either. Twice a year the cows are rounded up by the cowboys.

On sports day, we all went off on our prearranged sporting activity. Mine was to go with a group of teenage girls on a trail ride to a remote lake where we built a fire and ate lunch and enjoyed a lazy afternoon, and then back to groom and feed the horses, before returning home. I was given a graphic description of branding calves and other realities of ranch life.

So now my younger students read about Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley every year. Sometimes I get bored with these two heroes but their stories are well-written at the grade 2 level and what more can you ask for.

Bill started working for the Pony Express when he was 14 years old to earn money to support his widowed mother. He carried the responsibility of the family on his shoulders. The letters he sent home to his mother minimized the dangers he experienced and the excitement of his daily encounters with risk and hardship - robbers, wolves, cougars, weather, illness - you name it. The children love it.

Annie Oakley took her deceased father's gun from the house when she was 9 years old and went out to hunt for food. She supplemented the family diet with fresh meat, squirrels I think, but later minks and foxes, whose skins she sold for income to buy clothes and books for herself and her siblings. She too learned her trade, that of being a crack shot, without her mother's full consent.

Both of these characters stepped into an adult role at an early age. Fortunately for Annie, a few years later an older sister gave her a chance to live in the city where she was discovered and became famous, eventually touring in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

I bring in a bunch of furs - beaver, mink and wolf - given to us by trappers, and a beautifully carved wooden rifle. Usually this is no problem, the fur trade is part of our curriculum and a beaver skin was a unit of currency in Canada at one time. Nontheless many teachers are astounded to learn that some people in the north continue to make a living from furs, although this has its ups and downs.

One year I had the whole Annie Oakley display up in my room, the hat, vest, bandana, skins, gun, boots, rope, etc. especially for our school accreditation week. At the end of the week the visiting dignitaries met with us in the library and we sat in a solemn circle waiting for the word that we had passed.

By chance I sat next to the chair of the accreditation team. She opened with the news that we had indeed passed but it was with 'reservations'. We had to get rid of the 'dead animals'! From her angle she could not see the flush of red that flooded my face but the rest of the room could. I had so lovingly and naively prepared that display just for them. After the team left this instruction was simply ignored.

The children still read these stories every year. They love to hear about children who have stepped up to the plate at an young age. Some of these children have experienced that already, getting up early to feed and dress younger siblings and get them to school. Some have come in as refugees and others are sent here to live with relatives and learn English, while their parents save up funds to move here as a family.

So what has this to do with cows? Lucky for us, nothing at all. I don't have to teach about cows -I have to make these children want to read.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poythress and Grudem: Prominence

I feel called tonight to blog on the book, The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy by Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem. I do not write for your edification but simply that the truth would be brought to light. Certain circumstances have brought me to this.

    "In sum, there are profound spiritual issues involved here – and ultimately, two very different ways of looking at the world. On one side stands feminism and egalitarianism, promoting its own way of salvation and distorting the truth, insisting that there should be no gender-based differences between status, prominence, or authority of one person and another. On the other side stands the teaching of the Bible that God affirms both the honor of all human beings and the God-ordained differences among them, including differences in men’s and women’s roles in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7) and in the church (1 Tim. 2:8-15; 3:2; Matt. 10:2-3).

    Of course, many other ideologies and religions oppose the Bible in other ways, by serving false gods, or by endorsing human oppression. We focus on feminism here, not because it is worse than other false ways, but because it has generated the particular controversy in language that we are discussing."
Here we learn that feminism is not worse than serving false gods, or endorsing human oppression.

    “He” includes both men and women, but does so using a male example as a pictorial starting point. In a subtle way, this use brings along with it an unequal prominence to men and women. Thus feminism attacks it as “unfair.” But in doing so, feminism relies on an egalitarian standard antagonistic to the Bible, for the Bible maintains some gender-based differences between men and women, and, in particular, it uses many male examples and male sample cases to express general truths. Of course, it also uses female examples, though not with the same frequency.
    And we must emphasize again that the Bible does teach the dignity of all human beings. Men and women alike are created in the image of God, and all have fallen into sin. But the Bible also indicates that there are differences in the gifts that God gives them and the roles that he assigns to them in this life. Feminism and egalitarianism fight against those differences.
Here we learn that there are differences in the gifts that God gives men and women, as well as the roles that he assigns them in life. We also learn that 'he' is important because it brings along with it unequal prominence to men and women.

    Husbands are imitators of Christ, and wives of the church which is subject to Christ (Eph. 5:22-33). Yes, the Bible gives honor to all members of the body of Christ (note the importance given to all members of the body in 1 Cor. 12), but it also refutes the erroneous aspects of feminism. Feminism replaces biblical honor with a misguided attempt to wipe out the differences in people with respect to prominence, order, leadership, and representation.
Here we find that men are to be imitators of Christ but women are to be imitators of the church. We learn that biblical honour makes a difference between men and women with respect to prominence, order, leadership and representation.

The quotes above are from the online TNIV and the GNBC. In order to locate these quotes within the text, you can follow the link and using edit>find on page> and input two or three words from the quote.

The Bible teaches,

    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
    but made himself nothing,
    taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself and became obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!
    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5 - 11 NIV

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ben Witherington

Ben Witherington has posted a detailed description of The Eternal Subordination of Christ and of Women

    Evangelicals of Opposite Opinion

    Paradoxically, in this same thirty-year period in which the co-equality of the divine persons has been powerfully reaffirmed and the implications of this teaching for our human social life recognized, many conservative evangelicals have been moving in the opposite direction. They have argued that the Trinity is ordered hierarchically, with the Father ruling over the Son. The Father is eternally “head over” the Son just as men are permanently “head over” women.

    In this model of the Trinity, the doctrine of the Trinity, rather than being a charter for emancipation and human liberation, becomes a charter to oppose social change and female liberation.This novel teaching was first enunciated by G. Knight III in his highly influential 1977 book, New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women (Baker, 1977). He argued that the God-given permanent subordination of women in role and authority in the church and the home was supported and illustrated by the Trinity. For him, the Son is eternally subordinated in role and authority to the Father, despite the fact that the Father and the Son are both fully divine. He thus spoke of a “chain of subordination” (33) in the Father-Son and the man-woman relationship, and of an eternal subordination of the Son that has “certain ontological aspects” (56).

    This new teaching on the Trinity came to full fruition in 1994 with the publication of W. Grudem’s, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Zondervan, 1994). Two chapters in this book outline his doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son in function and authority. The impact of this book on evangelicals cannot be underestimated. Over 130,000 copies have been sold and the abridged version, Bible Doctrine (ed. J. Purswell; Zondervan, 1999), with exactly the same teaching on the Trinity and women, has sold over 35,000 copies.
      For Grudem the Son’s role subordination, like that of women, is not a matter of who does certain things as we might expect on seeing the word “role,” but rather a matter of who commands and who obeys. He writes, “the Father has the role of commanding, directing, and sending” and the Son has “the role of obeying, going as the Father sends, and revealing God to us” (Systematic Theology [Zondervan, 1995] 250) These words disclose the key issue; that is, the Son is eternally set under the authority of the Father. Grudem insists that this understanding of the Trinity is historic orthodoxy (cf. his latest book, Evangelicals, Feminism, and Biblical Truth [Multnomah, 2004] 405-43). It is, for him, what the creeds and the best of theologians have maintained throughout church history.

      This hierarchical understanding of the Trinity has now almost won over the conservative evangelical community. Most evangelicals seem to believe this is what the Bible and “the tradition”—that is, the interpretive tradition—teach. However, I am also an evangelical, but I am convinced the opposite is the truth. The Bible (Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:13; etc.) and the interpretative tradition summed up in the creeds and Reformation confessions speaks of a co-equal Trinity where there is no hierarchical ordering. Grudem and the many evangelicals who follow him say they are only advocating the eternal functional or role subordination of the Son, not the ontological subordination of the Son.

      Indeed, all Christians believe that the Son voluntarily and temporally choose to be subordinated for our salvation in the incarnation (Phil 2:4-11). The problem arises with the word “eternal.” If the Son is eternally subordinated to the Father, and cannot be otherwise, then he does not just function subordinately, he is the subordinated Son. His subordination defines his person or being. Eternal functional subordination implies by necessity ontological subordination. Blustering denials cannot avoid this fact.
    Witherington offers a good summary and analysis of this view here.

      What has to be noted in all this is the circular nature of this reasoning.

      1. A novel theology was first devised to theologically ground the permanent subordination of women based on the argument that men and women are equal yet differentiated by their God-given, unchanging roles; and then

      2. the wording and ideas used to develop this novel case for the permanent subordination of women were utilized to develop a novel doctrine of the Trinity that spoke of the Son as equal, yet eternally subordinated in role or function; and then

      3. this novel doctrine of the Trinity was quoted to theologically justify and explain the permanent role subordination of women.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006


    Yesterday the Afghan ambassador to Canada and the Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan addressed an audience at the Fraser Institute in Vancouver on Canada's role in Afghanistan. (The venue was slightly different from what was presented in the notice.)

    A woman in the audience was able to confront the Afghan ambassador and ask him why Canada should continue to support Afghanistan if it does not share the same values as Canada. This was asked in view of the fact that Rahman Abdul, a Christian convert, is being held in Kabul and the judge has stated that if he is convicted of converting to Christianity he faces execution.

    The Afghan ambassador answered that the government of Afghanistan fully respects the teachings of both Jesus and Moses. He said that he did not have a concrete answer but that he hopes that his governement will live up to its obligations under international law.

    In spite of this hopeful comment, it is important to remember that Afganistan is currently trying to create a judiciary system that encorporates both international law and Sharia law.

    In another situation in Ontario last year, Sharia law also became a concern. A group of Canadian women, both Christian and Communist, got involved in the protest against Sharia law when it was being considered as one possible basis for settling family and other disputes in the Arbitration Act. The BBC has a detailed report here on the mixed reaction to the consideration of using Sharia law in Ontario,
      In a peaceful Toronto park, as the rain began to fall, several of these women told me why they are so viscerally opposed to the idea of Muslim religious law being used in Canada.

      "I came here to escape Sharia," one woman told me. "Under it, a woman is worth half a man. He can divorce her and she has no rights."

      Another woman who was tortured in Iran told me the very word Sharia made her shiver. To her it is synonymous with a brutal form of authoritarianism, which discriminates against women.

    We need to continue to stand up against all forms of repression and human rights offenses.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Edmund Gosse

    I have been writing about the Plymouth Brethren and their attitudes toward literature and a university education. These can be much better understood by reading Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperments by Edmund Gosse. Gosse became a recognized literary critic in England and wrote this biography of his early years. It is one of the few Plymouth Brethren biographies that I am aware of.

    A well-written and touching story, this book is essential reading to those who would like to understand the deep dual commitment of the early Brethren to the Bible and to scholarship. It also represents the conflict which I have been writing about. This little anecdote is a good introduction to his book.

      It was in my fifteenth year that I became again, this time intelligently, acquainted with Shakespeare. I got hold of a single play, The Tempest, in a school edition, prepared, I suppose, for one of the university examinations which were then being instituted in the provinces. This I read through and through, not disdaining the help of the notes, and revelling in the glossary. I studied The Tempest as I had hitherto studied no classic work, and it filled my whole being with music and romance.

      This book was my own hoarded possession; the rest of Shakespeare's works were beyond my hopes. But gradually I contrived to borrow a volume here and a volume there. I completed The Merchant of Venice, read Cymbeline, Julius Caesar and Much Ado; most of the others, I think, remained closed to me for along time. But these were enough to steep my horizon with all the colours of sunrise.

      It was while I was thus under the full spell of the Shakespearean necromancy that a significant event occurred. My Father took me up to London for the first time since my infancy. Our visit was one of a few days only, and its purpose was that we might take part in some enormous Evangelical conference. We stayed in a dark hotel off the Strand, where I found the noise by day and night very afflicting.

      When we were not at the conference, I spent long hours, among crumbs and blue bottle flies, in the coffee room of this hotel, my Father being busy at the British Museum and the Royal Society. The conference was held in an immense hall, somewhere in the north of London. I remember my short-sighted sense of the terrible vastness of the crowd, with rings on rings of dim white faces fading in the fog.

      My Father, as a privileged visitor, was obliged with seats on the platform, and we were inthe heart of the first really large assemblage of persons that I had ever seen.T he interminable ritual of prayers, hymns and addresses left no impression on my memory, but my attention was suddenly stung into life by a remark.

      An elderly man, fat and greasy, with a voice like a bassoon, and an imperturbable assurance, was denouncing the spread of infidelity, and the lukewarmness of professing Christians, who refrained from battling with the wickedness at their doors. They were like the Laodiceans, whom the angel of the Apocalypse spewed out of his mouth.

      For instance, who, the orator asked, is now rising to check the outburst of idolatry in our midst? 'At this very moment,' he went on, 'there is proceeding, unreproved, a blasphemous celebration of the birth of Shakespeare, a lost soul now suffering for his sins in hell!' My sensation was that of one who has suddenly been struck on the head; stars and sparks beat around me. If some person I loved had been grossly insulted in my presence, I could not have felt more powerless in anguish.

      No one in that vast audience raised a word of protest, and my spirits fell to their nadir. This, be it remarked, was the earliest intimation that had reached me of the tercentenary of the Birth at Stratford, and I had not the least idea what could have provoked the outburst of outraged godliness. But Shakespeare was certainly in the air. When we returned to the hotel that noon, my Father of his own accord reverted to the subject. I held my breath, prepared to endure fresh torment.

      What he said, however, surprised and relieved me. 'Brother So and So,' he remarked, 'was not, in my judgement, justified in saying what he did. The uncovenanted mercies of God are not revealed to us. Before so rashly speaking of Shakespeare as "a lost soul inhell", he should have remembered how little we know of the poet's history. The light of salvation was widely disseminated in the land during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and we cannot know that Shakespeare did not accept the atonement of Christ in simple faith before he came to die.'

      The concession will today seem meagre to gay and worldly spirits, but words cannot express how comfortable it was to me. I gazed at my Father with loving eyes across the cheese and celery, and if the waiter had not been present I believe I might have hugged him in my arms.
    I will write more about Edmund Gosse and his parents later. This book presents one view of the culture and social context of the early Plymouth Brethren. It is also an excellent literary text, a worthwhile read for anyone interested in Christianity in England in the 1800's.

    Plymouth Brethren and a Faith-Based Scholarship

    I wrote a few days ago about the different approaches to a university education that are found within the Plymouth Brethren. I was trying to recall whether I had any sense of a faith-based scholarship when I was young.

    The degree to which the Brethren engaged in tertiary education was determined by certain principles. The first of these was separation from the world. This was a corrolary of the premillenialist position. The world was not going to get better, the true church would be taken out of the world at the rapture and it was the duty of the church to long for this event.

    A consequence of a strict adherence to this teaching would be withdrawal from the human enterprise. Faithful Brethren would rather study the time of Christ's return than discover a new medicine, or plan an improved sanitary system. They did not see themselves called to improve social conditions. This distinguished them from men like Wilbourforce and Shaftesbury, and women like Nightingale and Booth. Many Brethren did, however, engage in charitable missions and helped the poor. Compassion was an honourable motivation for action.

    However, the Brethren did not, in fact, live completely separate from the world. The Brethren believed that they were 'in the world but not of the world.' Unlike the Amish and Hutterites, we lived in the city, among the general population. We blended in and were not visible in our difference. But at school, we stood silent during the Lord's Prayer, because it was taught to the disciples before God sent the indwelling Spirit. The Lord's Prayer was for those times, not for the church.

    Some Brethren were pacifists and did not vote. Engagement in the state was on a pragmatic level. Those who did attend university studied business or a profession. If we were not going to cure the world of some dread disease at least we could acknowledge the need for dentists and lawyers.

    Among a certain class of Brethren there was an intense drive to study and participate in scholarship. They were not anti-intellectual. They believed in studying God's two books, the Bible and Nature.

    Historically Brethren scholars were not only interested in the study of languages, above all the Biblical languages, but they were also deeply involved in the study of botany and geology. They committed themselves to learning about God from nature. For some this extended into the study of physics. Many Christian traditions today support and encourage this kind of intellectual commitment. The American Scientific Affiliation is a product of this.

    What is more difficult is to engage in the study of philosophy and literature. Some girls did study these subjects. However, I remember hearing teaching that steered us away from this engagement in the university, in studying human knowledge and literature. One of our friends was not even allowed to read novels. It may have been a small minority who held such narrow beliefs but it seemed to me to represent a strict adherence to a certain ideological position which many Brethren gave lip service to.

    There was no place at a university level for Exclusive Brethren to engage in Christian scholarship. A variety of accomodations were made and knowledge was integrated by the individual.

    Our own family had a deep commitment to education for several generations and there were many families with this same attitude. However, there was a strain of anti-academic teaching that recurred at different times, and it presented a real conflict for some. On the whole I would say that there was little concept of a contemporary faith-based scholarship on the original texts of the Bible for Exclusive Brethren young people.

    This post is intended to present a more reflective analysis of the Brethren position on education than my last post on this topic. Many exclusive Brethren did not live in a manner that was significantly different from their neighbours, but there was nontheless a core set of teaching that kept the Brethren from more extensive engagement in Christian scholarship.

    This post refers to a particular group of Exclusive Brethren. There are some well-known Brethren scholars in Biblical Studies today. I would like to learn more about them.

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Somebody's Son

    We kissed our son goodbye.
    We embraced and prayed
    For God's care and blessing
    As he set off for the Arctic.
    Back from the oilfields,
    And off again - to experience life.

    The sun was brilliant and the air cold
    Daffodils and periwinkle trimmed the walk
    So we drove down to the beach
    Where lycra clad runners celebrate health
    And fathers bring pails and shovels
    Following their sons barefoot.

    Families were playing baseball
    Lasers raced across the surf
    In the way of parasailers
    Under multicoloured banners.
    Dogs galloped through the puddles
    And tankers sat at anchor.

    We rounded the point
    And sat on a log
    Taking in the dark mountains
    Powdered with snow.
    Ski trails reflected the sun
    Banks stretched half a mile before us.

    Washed up by last night's surf
    In a tidepool six inches deep
    He lay face down.
    Water lapped on denim
    And the breeze ruffled
    Short brown hair.

    Somebody's son.

    Patchouli's Plaint

    Patchouli has posted It Got an "A" in honour of Women's History Month. Patchouli, I am with you 200%.

    First, as you say, I do not hate men. I am daugther, sister, wife, mother and friend of men. I also love being a women, having children, sewing, knitting, making jam, oh yeah, making jam. Come round my place some time. I am the quintessential traditional housewife and proud of it.

    But some days the misogyny is unbearable. So thanks for what you have written here, every word.

    My problem is that I don't believe that the people who promote the teachings of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which I find to be the most heretical set of doctrines created in the Christian community in our time, are open to argument, and this is why.

    Many men and women have communicated with members of the Council and they do not respond. I have spoken out on the Better Bibles Blog, and Justin Taylor, formerly of Desiring God, writer for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and now with Crossway, wrote to me to ask me to not say the things I was saying.

    Taylor accused me of falsehood. I asked him to tell me what I had said that was false. He did not respond. I wrote him again, pointing out that he had even accused me publicly, and he promised to respond. He has not responded. He told me he was momentarily too busy. But he has posted about 20 times since he wrote that email. These people are not honourable. They do not keep their word.

    One thing I wonder is why these men want to subjugate women. What is their need? I have no thoughts on this that can be expressed in public. Maybe when I cool off.

    Here is a statement from Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,



    This is John Piper's understanding of Biblical complementarity. Block caps are his own, not mine.

    The truth is that if a man actually thinks that this applies in some general way to the relationship between men and women in the Christian community, and if I figure this out about them, which isn't too hard, I won't shake hands with that man again. It simply makes me feel sexually harassed.

    If a person truly believes, along with the CBMW, that every encounter between a man and a woman is sexual, then women should not only be sequestered in the domestic sphere, they should not have contact, any contact, with any men other than their husbands.

    The Christian community which upholds these kinds of beliefs must either take on the practices of Islam, or they must accept the potentially sexual nature of every encounter between men and women and, I suppose, take some preverse pleasure in this.

    In my opinion, a woman should not ever, in a way defined by their sexual nature, ever, ever, ever, affirm, receive, or nurture strength and leadership from a man other than her husband.

    These doctrines are not in the Bible; the marriage relationship is sacred, and within marriage one may see a metaphor, if one wishes, to the relationship between God and Christ. Otherwise, women are to be treated as sisters, of the same womb, of the same essence, as men, and older women as mothers, sources of strength, I would assume, not receivers thereof.

    Patchouli, the translators of the King James Bible may have been men with a wrong view of women, but a certain group within the present generation has added their own perverse twist. They have debased women to a condition where they can only respond to men, although only 'worthy' men. What irony, how puffed up are these silly creatures.

    I do have to thank Piper and Grudem on one account. I read some of their book out loud to my husband many years ago, and that was the last either of us ever had to do with this brand of Christianity. We wrapped the book in brown paper, and handled it with tongs and disposed of it. Okay, call me old fashioned, but I 'averted' my eyes.

    Friday, March 17, 2006


    I have gone back to my writing systems blog, Abecedaria. I stopped posting on Abecedaria around Christmas time because I had acquired a worm of some kind that prevented access to secure sites, email, downloads, connecting with the scanner and so on. Eventually the worm shut down our internet connection for the entire house.

    I was finally able to reinstall the OS and reset everything else. In the meantime I began posting on the BBB, where I didn't need downloads, and here. Blah, blah, blah.

    I will continue blogging here and simply write down whatever comes to mind. This is not really a focused blog, but a whimsical blog. I don't feel to constrained by it, even though I have seen it in a feed somewhere as writing about books relating to Biblical studies. I think I can come up with a few more of those. Forgive me for the rest or dump me out.

    On Abecedaria I have recently written about Hebrew Searches, where I also mention the Hebrew online keyboard with vowels, no software, free, etc. and the Left-to-Right Marker and a few other things. In looking back one of my favourite finds is this little item. I am sure that someone will want to recommend it to their first year Hebrew students. Other languages are here. Klasse, nicht wahr? If you do not know the answer, then click on 'Keine Ahnung' which means 'no idea' and the answer will display. 'Hilfsubersicht' will call up help.

    Darby on Post-Millenialism

    I have been following DyspraxicFundamentalist for a while reading his Darby quotes. We grew up on Darby but I don't remember reading much of his Collected Writings myself. So here is a question put to me that I cannot answer. Is there an online archive of his Collected Writings. I have seen the Synopsis of the Bible online, but not the rest. Help appreciated.

      Let me ask you a question: you seem to know John Nelson Darby's works very well. I remember reading somewhere an essay by him in which he attacked the idea of Christian moral suasion being used to reform a whole community. I think his point was to show the absurdity of the post-millennial idea of a truly Christian world. I remember it was very well argued. Do you have a web-source for it?

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Shelby Steele

    I have been following Justin Taylor's blog because he quotes a lot of interesting authors, possibly from a different perspective, but that's okay. Today he posted a quote from Shelby Steele. I am not familiar with this book but I have had to deal with similar issues many times. Both the quote and the accompanying comments on Justin's blog give food for thought. Here is a snippet.

      I’ll give you my bottom line: We’ve done worse in freedom than we did in segregation. It’s abominable that we made more advances between 1945 and 1965 than we have since, but it’s the truth.
    The problem I see is that segregation, if voluntary, can be a way of sequestering a group and giving individuals within the group a chance to excel. This is sometimes experienced by women and First Nations' groups. They often want separate insitutions, Native schools and Women's hospitals. These things should not be made illegal or disallowed. At the same time, if they are coercive either from the inside or the outside then it is injustice.

    The sequestered group becomes a ghetto and a dead end experience. This is very tricky issue. Should there be separate programs and schools for certain groups, if one can prove that they thrive under segregation, or should we all be treated in an identical fashion?

    It seem to me that there is a role for a variety of different approaches. In some cases segregated institutions do offer more, but ultimately, if the minority group does not, cannot, interact as an equal with appropriate power, relative to its needs, then injustice ensues.

    I have no doubt that institutional injustice exists in our society. However, I would hesitate to say that there is one clear way to deal with it. I think we need to look at how we can contribute to overturning power differences and unequal opportunity on every hand.

    It is also as precarious to hold up the writing of one person of a particular nationality or race as an example of their group, as it is to hold up the writing of one woman who talks about her own experience, and extrapolate from that to the experience of women in general.

    Poet and Peasant

    I have posted about understanding Greek on its own terms and I have an interest in Hebrew although it is mostly restricted to reading what others have to say and being able to handle the lexicon and basic grammar.

    However, the role of Syriac in Biblical studies was not always evident to me. It was intriguing but not obvious. It has IMO one of the most beautiful writing systems and it is being revived today. I have linked here to a blogsearch of Abecedaria since I have 11 posts there about Syriac in Unicode. They are probably of trivial interest, I don't really know.

    In any case, I have been rereading Poet and Peasant, 1983, by Kenneth Bailey. He emphasizes the need to use the Oriental, Syriac and Arabic, versions of the NT to understand the gospels.

      Briefly the method we have evolved is to make use of four tools. The first is to discuss the cultural aspects of the parable with a wide circle of Middle Eastern friends whose roots are in isolated [essentially illiterate] conservative village communities and try to find how the changeless Middle Eastern peasant sees things. The second is to examine carefully twenty-four translations of the NT in Syriac and Arabic to see how Christians in this part of the world have understood the text from the second to twentieth centuries. The point here is that translation is always interpretation. The translator must decide what the text means before he can translate it. A parable passes through the translator's mind on its way to the new language. Through a careful reading of a series of such translations one is able to learn a great deal about how Middle Easterners themselves have understood a given text. The third is to look for parallels in literature as close to the NT as posssibe. Finally, the literary structure of the parable or parable passage must be examined with care. Through Peasant Eyes. p. xiv.
    Here is a summary of his method in Poet and Peasant,

      Knowledge of the culture that informs the text of the Gospel parables is crucial to a full understanding of them. The impact of such cultural elements has, in the past, been discerned only partially. Significant elements of the cultural setting of the synoptic parables can be delineated more precisely through discussion with contemporary peasants, through minute examination of Oriental versions of the Gospels, and by a careful study of pertinent ancient literature. These three tools must be used in addition to the standard critical tools of scholarship. The present study seeks to combine the use of these four tools, conjoining them with an analysis of various literary structures used in parables. To this matter of literary structure we now turn. p. 43
    Bailey's book is possibly the most timeless book that I own on Bible translation. The others seem full of ideas that come and go, good but ephemeral.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Poirot on Gardening

    I badly needed to relax tonight so I picked up an Agatha Christie novel that my son gave me for Christmas. Just yesterday I had read a post about how women should stay at home and make clothes and garden while men went off to be professors or clergymen or whatever they wished. Well, that was how I understood it. The man can commune with his colleagues and impress his students and the woman can commune with the vegetables.

    So please only read this if you consider yourself a vegetable ... or if you consider a woman a person.

    I have decided to follow Poirot's advice tonight.

      'And how is my good friend, your father?' said Poirot.

      'The old man's fine,' I said. 'Very busy with his hollyhocks - or is it chrysanthemums? The seasons go by so fast I can never remember what it is at the moment.'

      'He busies himself then, with the horticulture?'

      'Everyone seems to come to that in the end.' I said.

      'Not me,' said Hercule Poirot. 'Once the vegetable marrows, yes - but never again. If you want the best flowers, why not go to the florist's shop? I thought the good Superintendant was going to write his memoirs?' Agatha Christie. The Clocks.
    There is a lot of wisdom in Agatha Christie's novels. There are many times when I wanted to quote her, but I have never sat down and taken the time before. Like Poirot, I can say that once I did garden (and sew), and sometimes I still do. But the novelty has worn off and now, more often than not, I go to the shop.

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Understanding Greek on its own terms

    Here is an article by Dr. Conrad via Idle Musings of a Bookseller.

      "When I came to teach Greek in a classroom on my own, I quickly became aware of the problematic nature of grammatical knowledge both as something necessary and as something having curiously little connection with ability to read Greek successfully. I’ve seen too many students who knew the paradigms and the rules but couldn’t read sequential Greek textual material, and I’ve also seen some who could read Greek texts pretty well but weren’t very good at grammatical analysis.

      "Why is that? I think that two not-unrelated factors are at work:"

      (1) Students who have learned by the traditional textbooks and pedagogy know the paradigms and the rules of grammar and have learned the vocabulary, but they attack the Greek text as a problem to be analyzed, as a step-by-step hunt for the subject and the verb and the modifiers and then a synthesis of the pieces rather than as an integrated whole: they readily discern the Greek trees by genus and species, but they are lost in the forest of Greek discourse."

      (2) Another metaphor I’ve met with frequently of late is that these students view a Greek text as a sequence of cryptograms to be deciphered: for them, reading Greek is a process of DECODING an alien script — and that involves transcribing an alien script into an intelligible script. Generally that means TRANSLATING the Greek text into the student’s native language, more or less item-by-item. The false assumption here is that UNDERSTANDING a Greek text is fundamentally a matter of producing a corresponding text in one’s native language such that each item in the Greek text has its corresponding term in one’s native language. But in fact, nothing could be much farther from the truth; TRANSLATING is by no means the same as UNDERSTANDING the Greek original text. Accurate translation does presuppose the understanding of the original text, but that text must first be understood on its own terms: unless one can grasp the thought of the writer/speaker in its own format, think that thought as the writer/speaker thought it and as the original reader/listener read/heard it in the original Greek, one will not be able to re-express the sense in the intelligible idiom of one’s own native language. Reading Greek is not a matter of decoding a script and it is not a matter of converting the elements of a formula into another script; rather, it is a matter of THINKING in Greek.

      "In the course of my own teaching of Greek I tried several different textbooks. I came to feel more and more that traditional instruction focused on learning rules and vocabulary lists and paradigms and then TRANSLATING sentences from Greek to English and English to Greek (sentences all too often composed by textbook-authors in quite unidiomatic Greek and English) would work only with the exceptional students who actually went beyond those procedures and internalized the language in a manner not altogether different from the way children learn their native tongue. I knew that I myself had acquired as much fluency as I had in Greek and Latin through reading long sequential texts of good (and some less good) ancient authors. I felt that what was needed was a textbook that moved as soon as possible into sequential discourse in the Greek or Latin. Of the traditional type of textbooks the best I ever found for classical Attic was Hansen and Quinn (the sentences were written with authentic understanding of both Greek and English idiom). But I was really looking for something that focused on getting the student to THINK IN GREEK..."

      I later discovered and for the rest of my teaching career I used the JACT “Reading Greek” course, delighted to have a textbook that begins from the outset with sequential readings: dialogue and simple narrative all in good, solid idiomatic Attic and moving quickly into barely altered original texts from Aristophanes and then from Demosthenes and Plato and Herodotus and the Odyssey, all in the train of a single course. Like the Ruck text, Reading Greek had exercises in manipulating phrases and understanding words in contexts, and the testing was in terms of sharply re-paraphrased narratives based upon the readings of the preceding lesson. The entire focus of the course was upon reading skills. Grammar was introduced as necessary in order to explain the constructions introduced in the reading passages of the new lesson, but it was rather minimal and was in fact a sort of metalanguage used when necessary to TALK about the language and how it works AFTER experiencing through confrontation with the text the language in pragmatic application."

      I confess that in the course of my teaching from the JACT Reading Greek I found it necessary to construct my own supplementary grammatical materials to distribute to my classes to assist them to use traditional grammars to answer their questions and to be able to talk about how the language works in courses with other instructors to which they would move on from my Beginning Greek course. I always had mixed feelings about this grammar: that it is a necessary evil: both necessary and an evil. What one needs the grammar for is analysis of HOW a Greek text works; one doesn’t really need it in order to learn to read or speak the language. The grammar is a metalanguage to be used to discuss how the language works. Frankly, I have come to think that Randall Buth is right in thinking that, insofar as this metalanguage of grammar is necessary, it really would be better to use Greek for the grammatical metalanguage if the language one is trying to learn is Greek."

      Why? One reason for it is that the grammar that we use most to talk about Biblical Greek is a metalanguage that aims at facilitating translation into English or some other target language. The categories in BDF or Smyth, all the more those of Wallace’s GGBB, are phrased in terms of how to convert the Greek construction into an idiomatic English equivalent construction RATHER than how to understand the Greek construction in its own terms. How can that be improved upon? Probably the grammar to be used for studying Biblical Greek should be written in a Greek that is as close to Biblical Greek as possible even if vocabulary must be added to accommodate concepts about the language not adequately dealt with in the grammar of the Hellenistic schools."
    I particularly appreciate the idea of simply understanding Greek in its own terms. Like Idle Musings it seems to me the best method is to read as much as possible of all kinds of things.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Thanks Dr. Cathey

    וַאֲנִי בַּיהוָה אֲצַפֶּה אוֹחִילָה לֵאלֹהֵי יִשְׁעִי יִשְׁמָעֵנִי אֱלֹהָי׃

    Posting in Greek has been something of a minefield. I have been writing about it on the Better Bibles Blog. However, Hebrew is another matter. I do believe there are some issues with Hebrew but they are completely different from Greek. In any case, Hebrew is one of the complex and right-to-left scripts and is governed by an application which in Windows is called Uniscribe. It seems to display without too much difficulty.

    Eventually I would like to link to some good language resources but I do know these are available on other blogs. The BBB has some and Talmida has some wonderful Hebrew resources.

    I guess one does have to install the language support for complex and right-to-left languages in Windows to make sure everything is working.

    So, go to the Control Panel, choose date, time, language and regional options, click on 'add other languages' and then put a check in the box for install files for complex scripts and right-to-left languages, click on okay and that should be it. The Hebrew keyboard is under add other languages. If you want to input fully marked Hebrew, I will find online software for that soon. It seems to be around.

    If you need a CD to install all this language support I hope you can find it. I had to reinstall my entire OS over Christmas, all of which comes from being in some dubious yahoo groups and receiving some odious virus last fall. (This is where my husband is glad that we are a "two heads are better than one" kind of couple. He fervently does not want me to look helpless when it comes to technology. )

    בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃

    The text above is Genesis 1:1 from this site here. That was a good cut and paste experiment.

    Collect for the Second Sunday in Lent

      Almighty God who sees that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    When I was 13 and still attending the Plymouth Brethren, my great-aunt came and lived with us for a few years before she died at 98 years of age. Born in the 1870's she and her younger sisters had all attended university. When she was in her 30's her parents were away on an extended trip and she took this opportunity to marry a friend of her father's who was a widower. Her parents would not have agreed with this marriage.

    In the 1920's her husband lost a lot of money, some of it belonging to investors from their local Brethren assembly. He was never able to return to that assembly and he lived a few more years in poor health until he died. My great-aunt took up the only profession she knew and became a lecturer of Greek at the University of McGill. She was a faithful wife practising a profession to support her husband.

    After her husband died, she continued teaching and ran a boarding house. She then married a man who had been the ambassador of Yugoslavia to Canada. He lost his position and means of support during World War II. He too, was to a certain extent dependent on his wife.

    As a widow in her 80's she traveled extensively and was a lively and humourous character, full of stories and worldly wisdom. When she died she left an extensive library of lexicons, grammar books, travel books, humour books, she was a friend of Stephen Leacock, Victorian novels, and her Anglican Prayer Book. After she and her husband left the Brethren they attended an Anglican Church.

    I inherited her Anglican Prayer Book. At the time no one else wanted it.

    J. N. Darby on the Evil of Clericalism

    Dyspraxic Fundamentalist has quoted J.N. Darby on the Evil of Clericalism. Here is an excerpt from his post. It is better to read the whole thing in context.

      The statement which I make is this, that I believe the notion of a Clergyman to be the sin against the Holy Ghost in this dispensation. I am not talking of individuals wilfully committing it, but that the thing itself is such as regards this dispensation, and must result in its destruction: the substitution of something for the power and presence of that holy, blessed and blessing Spirit, by which this dispensation is characterised, and by which the unrenewedness of man, and the authority of man, holds the place which alone that blessed Spirit has power and title to fill, as that other Comforter which should abide for ever.
      If the notion of a Clergyman has had the effect of the substitution of anything which is of man, and therefore subject to Satan, in the place and prerogative of that blessed Spirit exercising the vicarship of Christ in the world, it is clear, that however the providence of God may have overruled it, in the ignorance which He could wink at, it does, when stood upon and restedin against the presence and work of the Spirit, become direct sin against Him- pure, dreadful, and destructive evil- the very cause of destruction to the church. I must be observed to say nothing whatever against offices in the church of Christ, and the exercise of authority in them, whether episcopal or evangelical in character. It were a vain and unnecessary work here to prove the recognition of that on which the Scripture is so plain. But they are spoken of in Scripture as gifts from on high: 'He gave some apostles' Eph.4:5, 7, 11; so in 1 Corinthians 12, they are known only as gifts. My objection to the notion of a Clergyman is, that it substitutes something in the place of all these, which cannot be said to be of God at all, and is not found in Scripture. Now, I believe the whole priciple of this to be contained in this dispensation in the word clergyman, and that this is the necessary root of that denial of the Holy Ghost which must, from the nature of the dispensation, end in its dissolution.
    I was brought up with this teaching and I am still very sympathetic to it. However, I last attended an Exclusive Brethren assembly where this belief was strictly held, at the age of 16. I assume that we were excommunicated but since we no longer attended that meeting, I am ignorant of the details. After that my family attended Open Brethren assemblies, where there is a trend towards having trained clergy.

    Darby's teaching here strikes a chord, and is consonant with the priesthood of all believers. But in practise it leads to not only an anti-clerical stance, but for most an anti-academic stance. It is one thing to say that we can understand the teaching of Bible on salvation without any academic study. My own father did not attend school past the age of 16, but he is widely read in church history, the early church fathers and Bible interpretation.

    However, the Exclusive Brethren that I left did not have anyone trained in Greek and Hebrew when I left. University attendance was frowned on for both girls and boys. Our family was one of the exceptions. In fact, my family was told that a university education would spoil us all. My older sisters bore the brunt of that attack. Whether they were 'spoilt' or not, I never knew. The circumstances under which we left are recorded here and here.

    No earthly organization is perfect. There is much that I respect in the Brethren tradition. I follow Dyspraxic Fundamentalist because he is blogging the heart of Brethren teachings, and he is going outside his comfortable self.

    Every church and every relationship is made up of human members. There is no one right way here on earth. We have to act with integrity and accept that no one person or human organization has a corner on God's truth.

    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    The Seventh Earl

    I mentioned Lord Shaftesbury, an evangelical Anglican of the last century, the other day. Here is the blurb to The Seventh Earl by Grace Irwin.

      The figure of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, cuts a remarkable swathe across the history of 19th century Britain. Far ahead of his own time, he laboured unceasingly for social reform, not out of a sense of commitment to a cause, but out of a profound Christian concern for the poor and friendless. His story is especially poignant because his solicitude for others often made him an object of ridicule, and his determination to act in accordance with his convictions accounted at least in part for the lifelong financial difficulties with which he struggled.

      He is most widely remembered as a philanthropist and factory reformer, who was famous for his Ten Hour Law, who took an interest in missionary work, and who came to the aid of Florence Nightingale in her schemes for army welfare.
    Shaftesbury worked his entire life to improve the life of children. He was involved in the Ragged School Movement, acts for children working in factories, chimney sweeps and climbing boys. He wrote articles on Elizabeth Fry, helped Florence Nightingale. He worked for the cause of slaves, prisoners, soldiers and the insane. He worked for better sanitary conditions.

    One specific event of his life he shares with Augustine. That is the loss of his son at the age of 16. Augustine lost his only son, at the very age where he was feeling closest, at the peak of devoting time to his education.

    Shaftesbury lost his second son Francis at the age of 16. Although he had 10 children this was the only one who shared his vision and passion for social reform. What was their last conversation about? His mother had been distracting him by talking to him about prophecy, how many years to the end of this age. Francis responded,

      "Think of the poor people, the children, who suffer every year - in spite of all you do, Papa. And multiply it by one hundred and sixty years and cancel those years out, 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus.' I remember when you first taught us to pray that. I didn't realize then what it meant. I suppose I don't now, but a little more, Mamma, I feel hungry. Do you think they would let me have something to eat?"
    His father left the room and half an hour later he died. Now we are somewhat insulated from this kind of pain. It is only the unusual circumstance that brings about the death of a child. The susceptibility to illness, the misery of the poor, these things caused Christians of previous centuries to long for the end of this age.

    Do we wonder that every generation since New Testament times has seen in their own era the last days? No, they yearned for those last days, the hope of Christ's return, a reunion with precious children lost and peace for the poor and war ravaged.

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Slaves obey your earthly masters

    There is probably no more disturbing verse in the entire Bible than Ephesians 6:5. I read the biography of John Newton, Servant of Slaves, and the biography of William Wilberforce, and Lord Shaftsbury. Understanding how these lives intertwined helped me to understand the role of Christianity in the abolition of slavery.

    However, the book that guided my reading in graduate studies was the history of Samuel (Ajayi) Crowther written by Ade Ajayi. I quote here from an earlier post.

      Here is the recently published biography of Ajayi Crowther. A Patriot to the Core: Bishop Ajayi Crowther by J.F. Ade-Ajayi, 2002, Spectrum Books, Nigeria.

      Many short versions of his life can be found on the internet. From Great Christians in History;

      "Samuel Crowther (about 1806-91) was the outstanding African Christian leader of his time. Adjai (properly Ajayi) was born in the Egba group of the Yoruba people in what is now Nigeria. When he was about 15, he was captured by slave raiders. But the slave ship was intercepted by a British warship, and Adjai was taken to Sierra Leone where he was converted and baptized, taking the name Samuel Crowther. Outstanding at school (and a foundation pupil of Fourah Bay College) Crowther became a teacher for the Church Missionary Society, ...

      He "became convinced that the evangelization of inland Africa must be carried out by Africans. Ordained in London in 1843, he was appointed to the new mission in his own Yorubaland. ... Crowther achieved much as evangelist, translator and negotiator. He impressed many, including Queen Victoria, when he visited England. He led the new Niger Mission in 1857 and in 1864 became the first African anglican bishop."

      There are several accounts of Samuel Crowther on the internet and most of them end here. This, unfortunately, is a great disservice to history. The truth is that during Crowther's years as bishop, policy and personnel in England changed, and from the time of Crowther's death in 1891 until 1952 there was no other African bishop in the Anglican Church.

      This article from Christianity Today represents the story as I remember it. From the last few paragraphs;

      "Venn's replacement further undercut Crowther's authority by handing control of the Niger Mission's "temporalities" to a committee in 1879, following it the next year by appointing a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of misconduct by Crowther's subordinates...

      All but three of the Niger Mission's 15 Africans were fired. When Crowther protested, he was charged with violating his code of office. He died shortly thereafter, and a white bishop was put in his place. The continent would not see another African Anglican bishop until 1952, sixty years after Crowther's death."

      I read Ade Ajayi's book Christian Missions in Nigeria many years ago and it left a powerful and lasting impression.

      Ade-Ajayi J.F. Christian Missions in Nigeria: the Making of a New Elite. 1965. Longmans. London.

      Ade-Ajayi J.F. A Patriot to the Core: Bishop Ajayi Crowther. 2002. Spectrum Books. Nigeria.
    I recommend this author. It pays sometimes to step outside our comfortable, or uncomfortable, selves. People can fuss about how a woman should submit to her husband but some of us have other things to worry about. My husband and I are equally committed to justice for the First Nations of America.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Women's Ordination in the Anglican Church of Canada

    In 1975 women priests were first ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada. There was a lot of talk about this when we were at University. In fact, I took my first Hebrew class in 1975. I never made the connection before tonight. Maybe some of the professors thought that my friend, who had taken Hebrew the year before but was in my Hellenistic Greek class, and I were the first two girls to plan to become ordained. On second thought I doubt it. It was unlikely that someone who was both a Brethren and a woman would seek ordination.

    The following year a few more girls did enter the program and they are now professors of theology. We are not.

    I do remember R. K. Harrison, a crusty older professor, who was all around conservative. He was near retirement. However, he knew that he was training young women for ordination, and did not mind discussing his feelings about it. He would say things like "I never thought I would see the day..." and "Harrumph," and "Given their standing in this course I personally see no reason why not ... " and "It was not my decision but ... " and so on. Eventually he just accepted the women and that was that.

    So it was men like R. K. Harrison and F.F. Bruce who convinced me that it was all right for women to be ordained. And it was women like Hilda of Whitby, Catherine Booth, Elizabeth Fry and Grace Irwin who demonstrate that this is not just a modern feminist movement.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Adding New Sites

    I have added a few sites recently. If you think that there is some gender connection for these links you will be able to imagine that there is. However, it is not that simple. The sites I have added simply haven't turned up on other blogrolls that I read so I need to have them here, near at hand.

    I read Dyspraxic Fundamentalist to remind me of the culture I was brought up in. He posts some Darby and that is interesting. The recipes are great also. Unlike him, I leave my shoes on inside. However, this derives from the same fastidiousness. We are pet owners. I can't bear the thought of walking around in my bare feet in the house.

    Three Hierachies has been a favourite of mine for some time. He has posted some fun stuff here. But to truly appreciate this blog you must go to 'search blog' and put in 'Mongolia'. Be prepared for some great articles.

    The Plymouth Brethren News is pretty close to home for me. I remember the Easter Conference when I was little. My sister and I had matching grey coats with white collars, white gloves and white straw hats. I guess children don't dress like that any more.

    Equamusic represents a future project of mine, learning to read Dutch. Okay, for now, if I read the post outloud and ignore the spelling, and put my head to one side, and if the post has some predictable content, then I understand a fair bit.

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Byzantine Greek Fonts

    The text is from Proclus Diadochus' Platonic Theology published by Portus in Frankfurt in 1618 and reprinted by Minerva in 1960.

    The font is from Vernon Kooy. After looking at the charts of all 650 characters in this beautiful font many Byzantine manuscripts have become less opaque. This is simply the best resource for Byzantine ligatures that I have ever seen. Here is a description from its creator.

      The name of this font is Rgreekl, which stands for Renaissance Greek with Ligatures. It is a large font with approximately 650 characters and uses Unicode WGL4 numbering to accommodate the number of characters. However, It is not a Unicode font. It is beta encoded similar to other Greek fonts which use beta encoding.

      This font is freeware and may be used and distributed freely. I retain the copyright, however, in order to make improvements, expand it, or otherwise come out with an improved version. It is not an imitation of any particular font such as those of Robert Estienne, Holbein or Aldus Manutius. It is rather a composite font which incorporates many glyphs (sorts) from each of the many early printers.
      It is hoped that this font gains a modest distribution and not be a mere curiosity. The font is meant to imitate early printed Greek from the age of incunabula to the end of the 18th century. It is not the intention of this font to make Greek any more difficult or obscure than it already is for beginning students. The font is essentially a font for scholars.

      This font is organized in such a way that it can be used either as a standard Greek font or a font with Ligatures. The basic Latin section contains control codes and keyboard characters for standard Greek with ligatures for kai\, ou and ou=. The Latin supplement section contains Unicode control codes, prepositional prefixes, alternate letter forms and essential diacriticals. These two sections are all that is necessary to write Greek in a Renaissance style. The Latin extended A section is used for two or three letter combinations which more adequately imitate the style of Renaissance typesetters. The Latin extended B section contains characters which are variants of those given in the previous section as well as some characters from earlier minuscule forms (used in some Renaissance fonts), entire words found in most Renaissance printed books and a number of combining characters used to make up other ligatures not previously included.

      The main source I used for this font was initially the Portus edition of Proclus Diadochus' Platonic Theology published in Frankfurt in 1618. In addition I have used and consulted various internet sources and the articles by Coleman, Ingram and Wallace as well as a number of books printed by Stephanus, Holbein, Manutius and Sheldon Theater.

      I cannot say that this font is complete in the sense that every Renaissance Ligature is represented; many early printers had at least 500 sorts in their boxes and some had more than a thousand. The Renaissance printers imitated the minuscule current at their time, and the glyphs they used were determined by the minuscule. Thus this font can also be used as a late minuscule font.
      If there is any sort (Glyph) conspicuously missing which the user finds essential, I would appreciate hearing from him/her in that regard, since I think a font of this type is never fully finished and is of necessity a work in progress.

    I use Babelmap to input this font. In my opinion Babelmap is an essential Unicode Input Utility tool which handles any font easily. It is easy to view and manipulate fonts visually with Babelmap. Download Babelmap here.

    Please email me, my email is in my profile, and I will give you Vernon Kooy's email address.

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Hebrew Class

    This is the truth. I knit my way through Hebrew class. And here is why.

    I did not knit in any other class that I can remember. I studied Linguistics, French, German and Hellenistic Greek that year but I did not knit in those classes. In Hellenistic Greek there were 5 students, my best friend and myself, a nun, and two young men, one interested in archeology and the other heading for Cambridge. I do not remember another thing about them. It was an advanced level course, and we studied some curious texts, where people were boiled in pots and or trampled by elephants.

    However, in Hebrew class we read books of the Old Testament, starting with chapters from Genesis. It was an introductory class with at least 20 students. There was, I believe, one other girl somewhere in the class, but most of the students were male seminarians.

    After the first test on Genesis 22, I confessed to the teacher that I had known the chapter and had not really translated it so I did not deserve the mark I received. He looked perplexed and then he simply said, "Suzanne, the rest of the class are seminary students, they are supposed to know the Bible too. However, I will try to chose a text you will not know next time." I believe he did and I never found another test easy.

    I brought my knitting from then on, to establish that I had not left the domestic sphere. To demonstrate that I was not quite fully listening, that I was not really eating the forbidden fruit. It worked in once sense - I never actually carried on a conversation with a seminary student. But I did listen.

    I do remember that one day I put down my knitting. That was the day that the prof explained that the son of man meant the human one, a human being. I simply sat and listened. Parts of the Bible fell into place, and the Son of Man came down off the cloud.

    However, I knit through the rest of the year. Idle hands do the Devil's work. Saved by knitting. That is my motto. And that is why there is a knitting blog in my sidebar. I don't update it but I do knit. Nothing fancy. Fortunately the devil is satisfied with very simple patterns. Fortunately Prof. Lutz didn't kick me out of class.

    I heard the voice of Jesus say

    I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    Come unto Me and rest;
    Lay down, thou weary one, lay down,
    Thy head upon My breast.
    I came to Jesus as I was,
    Weary and worn and sad;
    I found in Him a resting-place,
    And He has made me glad.

    I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    Behold, I freely give
    The living water; thirsty one,
    Stoop down and drink and live.
    I came to Jesus, and I drank
    Of that life-giving stream.
    My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
    And now I live in Him.

    I heard the voice of Jesus say,
    I am this dark world's Light.
    Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise
    And all thy day be bright.
    I looked to Jesus, and I found
    In Him my Star, my Sun;
    And in that Light of Life I'll walk
    Till traveling days are done.

    This is sung to the traditional Irish melody Kingsfold.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Faithful Women II

    Grace Irwin retired before I started high school. Elizabeth Wilson, a British woman who had been brought up in the Plymouth Brethren, took over the Latin classes after Miss Irwin retired. Elizabeth Wilson had taken care of her father for many years and then come to Canada. I understood from her that he had been excommunicated and they lived together in social isolation until he died.

    Miss Wilson taught Latin to a good sized class. This was mainly due to the fact that our French teacher was not particularly well liked since she practised a certain sort of psychological humiliation, as only French teachers can. The Latin class was made up of escapees.

    In Latin we read a lot of poetry, sometimes making silly translations into English, and considered it not too bad at all. We pronounced Latin as if it were Italian behind our teacher's back and she was relieved that we remembered anything at all.

    Miss Wilson also taught me Greek several mornings a week for 3 years. I remember more from those classes than any other. Only in looking back do I see that she chose stories and selections that she thought would interest me. Nausicaa, and Andromache, etc. Also Socrates, and the last few chapters of Acts, especially the shipwreck. She had a dry humour and endless devotion to what was more or less a thankless task.

    I have often seen or talked to Elizabeth Wilson over the years but we were never really close. My sister and I would get together with her and Miss Irwin in the summer or at Easter. However, the last time I saw Miss Wilson it seemed that something was not right. It turned out that she was in the early stages of Alzheimers.