That’s Nadia Bolz-Weber’s message in the new adult faith formation resource, Animate, that I’ve been working on at sparkhouse. Below, you can see a snippet of her video. You can also watch previews of the videos by Brian McLaren, Lillian Daniel, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Mark Scandrette, Shane Hipps, and Lauren Winner.
Kudos for RHE running a week-long series on mutuality.
And to Scot McKnight for his repeated posts on this topic.
As I sat over my coffee this morning, reading the morning paper and smelling the garlic parmesan sourdough bread that I had in the oven, I thought about RHE’s series and wondered how I could write something that would help her convince “complementarians” to become “egalitarians.” And I’m completely stumped.
It is simply unfathomable to me that entire versions of Christianity today — be they Roman Catholic or Southern Baptist or Amish — restrict ministry to men. I grew up in a tradition that long had women preachers — beginning in 1853, with the first modern ordination of a woman, Antoinette Brown (I preached about that here, in my first (and likely my last) ordination sermon).
The fact is, as I preached in that sermon, God ordains, not man. The process of ordination is simply a human recognition of a divinely given charism. If God has ordained a woman to ministry and you deny or reject that ordination, woe betide you! For Jesus taught unequivocally that to blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit is the unpardonable sin.
Let me interpret that verse for you: If the Holy Spirit has given the charism of preaching or teaching or pastoral care to a woman, and you deny the authority of that charism because of some head-in-your-ass biblical hermeneutic, you are committing an unforgivable sin.
Let me interpret it more pithily: The work of the Holy Spirit trumps your biblical interpretation.
Chew on that, Complementarians.
I took a lot of heat from my Methodist friends last week for suggesting that young clergy forsake the denomination and go do something new. Let me be clear: I don’t expect one single Methodist clergyperson or seminarian to jump ship because I blogged about it. Puhleeze, people.
I will reiterate something: It is virtually impossible to see the dysfunction of a system when you’re inside it. Ask anyone who’s married to an alcoholic; ask a prison guard; ask Michel Foucault.
Sometimes Often it takes an outsider to speak truth into a system. Also, dear Methodists, to appease your anger, here’s a picture of me washing Methodist feet:
That being said the Presbyterians are facing challenges of their own. The closest church to my house is Christ Presbyterian, a large PC(USA) congregation, the pastor of which has been at the forefront of the Fellowship of Presbyterians, a group of primarily large, conservative, white, suburban churches. The Fellowship is launching a new denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Order.
Our weekly suburban paper, the Edina Sun, covered the first meeting about the potential switch at Christ Presbyterian:
I’m sitting in the Buckhead Theater in Atlanta, about the take the stage with Doug Pagitt to talk about the future of preaching. We’re at the Festival of Homiletics, the premier conference about traditional preaching. The program is basically sermon-lecture-sermon-lecture. A person preaches, then later they give a lecture about what they were trying to do in their sermon. There’s also some singing peppered in between.
As you might guess, Doug and I will be delivering a different message.
We live in the most highly educated society and the most highly participatory culture in the history of humankind. Everything around us has changed: the clothes we wear, the way we transport ourselves, how we communicate.
And yet, 99% of preachers stand up on Sunday morning and deliver a monologue. A soliloquy.
And their churches decline. And they wring their hands.
There is another way. There is a way of participation and inclusion and dialogue and conversation.
That’s what Doug and I will propose this morning.
I wonder if anyone will listen.