December 20, 2012

On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Zondervan will release three ebooks about women and ministry from their series Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry. All for just $2.99.

If all your family brought you for Christmas was a pair of dish washing gloves, a left behind novel, and some cigarette flavored ice-cream, then make up for it by buying yourself one of these books:

Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Hair Cuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry
Michael F. Bird (Christmas Day)

Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts, an original digital short by author Michael Bird, offers an engaging, incisive perspective on biblical gender equality and the egalitarian view—a preference for allowing women to hold teaching and leadership positions in ministry.


Hearing Her Voice: A Case for Women Giving Sermons
John Dickson (Boxing Day)

This original digital short by scholar and cultural commentator John Dickson presents an entirely new and convincing biblical argument for allowing women to preach freely in churches.


Then finally, to round up the series, Katherine Keller (wife of Tim Keller) has her own book on a similar topic:

Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles: A Case for Gender Roles in Ministry
Katherine Keller (Boxing Day)

This original digital short by author Kathy Keller, co-founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, offers a personal and challenging perspective on biblical gender roles and the complementarian view—a preference for reserving certain leadership positions in ministry for men.

July 21, 2012

I say well done to Jared Wilson for having the humility to take down the controversial post about marital sexuality and male dominance. He gives some explanation and apologies here.

I don’t think this retraction is a matter of caving into feminist zeal, but it is a mark of recognizing that talking about male-female relationships requires biblical precision, cultural nuance, and pastoral sensitivity. The offending post did not have these. While no malicious intent was made in the original post, the language used to describe a man penetrating and colonizing his wife etc., was grossly unhelpful and needlessly offensive to many.

No doubt some would like to have seen Jared dig in his heels to defy the feminist and egalitarian reaction (i.e., don’t show signs of being soft on gender issues even if you have to sound somewhat abusive towards women, cause sounding abusive is better than looking like you’ve capitulated to the feminists), but the fact that his post even made many complementarians feel very uncomfortable is testament enough to the incendiary nature of the post.

So I appreciate that sanity, sensitivity, and humility has shone through at the end. Jared has done the right thing.

Reminds me of a story of a young pastor talking to an older pastor:

Young Pastor: “How do I be a good pastor?”
Older Pastor: “Make good decisions!”
Young Pastor: “How do I make good decisions?”
Older Pastor: “Experience!”
Young Pastor: “How do I get experience?”
Older Pastor: “By making bad decisions!”

July 18, 2012

What is gaining notoriety around the blogosphere is a TGC post by Jared Wilson which gives an extensive quote from Doug Wilson about rape and sexual pathology. The huge grievance many folks have, and I’m one of them, is that the sexual act between men and women is described in terms of domination and power. Read this:

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

Okay, this is gonna be one of those posts.

Let’s remember what is being advocated here, neither of the Wilsons here supporting sexual violence against women, they are decrying it. There is no malicious intent towards wives or women here. The issue is more about patriarchy in sexuality than anything else. They do make a genuine effort to explain themselves here, esp. with their ethos that a husband should “serve and protect” his wife. Let’s recognize their explanations! However, the problem is that what is being advocated is still really, really, really bad: bad theology, bad marriage advice, and a bad view of marital sexuality. So let’s get to the criticism.

(1) What is being advocated is not remotely biblical! 1 Cor 7 talks very, very, very clearly about mutual submission in matters of sex in marriage, not male domination,  not male conquest, not female subjection, but submission to one another in matters of sex. And for the record, Song of Songs does look a wonderful egalitarian party in the bedroom with man and wife enjoying each other mutually. In addition, our Lord himself spoke about the two becoming one flesh, not one penetrating or colonizing another. We should use Jesus’ language for sexual intercourse, not patriarchal power language.

(2) The biggest problem I have is that some guys just do not understand the link between sex, language, and power. They do not comprehend that there is a cross-section between the way you use language about sex and the way you think about the opposite gender and the way that you treat your sexual partner. The language of penetrate, conquer, and colonize imply aggression, control, and disempowerment. What is more, the men who talk this way do not think about, consider, or perhaps even care about how this description of sex sounds to women.

(3) I thought the whole deal with complementarianism was that men and women were different but complementary. What is being advocated by the Wilsons is not complementarianism, but it is an extreme patriarchy that defines gender roles by power and subjection, not by their God-given distinctions. Could the real complementarians please have the testicular fortitude to stand up and rally against this perspective. Otherwise you chaps are gonna drift to the right and end up looking like a cross between Dr. Phil and the Taliban.

(4) Someone at TGC really needs to give an serious explanation as to why this post remains up, because this is harming the witness of the gospel, the offending language advocates grossly unbiblical views on sex, and it is demeaning towards the sexual relationship that men have with women. There is no shame in saying, we made a mistake.

(5) Sex is not what I do to my wife, it is something we do together.

See some more posts about this from Rachel Evans, Scot McKnight, and Daniel Kirk.

Nuff said, let the comments begin!



June 16, 2012

David Congdon has a series on “Trinity, Gender, and Subordination” over at The Fire and the Rose. I loved his first post, especially these remarks:

In responding to the evangelical position on trinity and gender, I will first articulate what I think is the most persuasive version of the eternal subordination of the Son, viz. the position advanced by Barth. I will demonstrate that Barth’s account, despite its apparent similarities to the complementarian argument, absolutely precludes drawing any conclusions about male-female relations. In fact, Barth’s account of trinitarian subordination actually undermines the evangelical position, even though, paradoxically, it is an instance of ontological, and not merely functional, subordination. I will then address the two presuppositions upon which the evangelical position is based: (a) a “social” doctrine of the Trinity, and (b) a divine-human analogy of being (analogia entis). I will further demonstrate that these same presuppositions have been and continue to be used in support of egalitarianism, but I will conclude by arguing that neither presupposition is theologically valid. In short, my thesis is this: the doctrine of the Trinity tells us absolutely nothing regarding the question of gender roles and women in ministry. The Trinity has no relation to the debate between complementarianism and egalitarianism. Any use of the doctrine for these purposes is indicative of a mistaken understanding of the triune being of God.


June 8, 2012

Sadly I won’t be at ETS/IBR/SBL this year due to medical advice to take a year off international travel.

But over at Cheese-Wearing Theology, Amanda MacInnis is encouraging women to attend ETS much as I did last year. She relates her own experiences of ETS attendance. She writes:

It was awesome!

So many scholars!

So many ideas!

So many books!

Joining in on the fray as well is Leslie Keeney at the Ruthless Monk, and she says that she is committed to ETS because:

The FIRST reason I am still committed to ETS is that I want to be in an organization that holds me accountable for what I believe. I also know myself well-enough to know that I need an organization that keeps me grounded in the Bible. Yes, I’m an egalitarian, but I’m a follower of Jesus first. The complementarian sitting across the table may not agree with me, but he shares my respect for Scripture and love for Jesus. And he keeps me on my toes.

The SECOND reason I think it’s critical for women to remain committed to ETS is the oft-repeated accusation that egalitarians don’t take the Bible seriously, allow society’s values to inform their interpretation, and just plain pick and choose what they want to believe. I’ve heard this same accusation about issues like predestination as well. And frankly, it’s insulting. Most egalitarians have spent long hours in study and prayer working througheverything the Bible has to say about the issue. (As, I’m sure, have most complementarians)

If and when the topic comes up in an environment like ETS (and believe me, I don’t go around the conference looking to engage in these types of conversations), the goal is not to change a person’s mind about the issue, but to demonstrate that egalitarianism is a viable, orthodox interpretation of Scripture. If egalitarians walk away from ETS, no one will be left to defend it as a respectable theological option.

The FINAL reason why it’s essential that women remain engaged with the ETS is that what happens within the ETS influences not only evangelical academics, but churches as well. The consequence of not maintaining a female presence in one of the most influential Christian organizations in the country may be having to watch as complementarianism becomes the default position for evangelicals everywhere. And while this is happening to some extent already, getting up and leaving the table altogether will make it inevitable.

I know things are tight for colleges and folks financially, but hey, that is why God gave us credit cards right. What is more, the Milwaukee economy is pretty depressed due to decreased beer sales, so all you female biblical studies professors and postgrad students have an economic and moral obligation to go to ETS this year in Milwaukee, to buy at least three beers (if you won’t drink them Dr. Preston Sprinkle will drink them for you), and save the Milwaukee economy, oh, and present a few good papers while you’re at it.

Note: Several years ago, in a cab in Philadelphia, the cab driver heard my accent, looked at me and asked if I was from Milwaukee. I asked, “What makes you think I’m from Milwaukee?” She said, “Well, you sound kinda funny and you look square and goofy!”

Square and goofy indeed!

April 16, 2012

I’m contributing to a forthcoming book on Scripture and Homosexuality (a response to this one). There is a whole host of complex biblical, theological, and pastoral issues here for consideration.

Specifically, I’m wrestling with Paul’s argument in Rom 1:26-27, a key text, and thinking especially about Paul and “nature.” (more…)
December 18, 2011

I’ve been reading John Howard Yoder’s book Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World. It was unintentional, however providential, that the book, which focuses on the mission and politics of the church, was chosen in close proximity to the engagement with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert’s book What’s the Mission of the Church?

The two books are a contrast in visions of the nature, purpose and focus of the church. Both perspectives, however distant, are rooted in the work of Jesus on the cross and its implications for the world.

The fundamental assumption of Yoder’s book is sacrament is not a mystical or an esoteric reality that is purely ritualistic and incapable of being observed by the naked eye. Rather a sacrament is when the church acts decisively and tangibly in the world on the basis of the work of Jesus. In these public acts of humans God is act work.

This is a sacramentalizing of the public activity of the church in response to Jesus’ work; it is the original understanding of the practices of the church in the New Testament. In earlier posts, we’ve look at Jesus’ command to bind and loose and the Eucharist. The third practice is baptism.

Being a good Baptist, I always thought of baptism as strictly identification: I’m identifying myself with Jesus and his church. Further, baptism is the physical sign of an inward spiritual reality. While I don’t think Yoder’s reflections have changed my perspective on either of these points, it certainly reframes and deepens it.

According to Yoder, baptism’s sacramental element forms “a new people whose newness and togetherness explicitly relativizes prior stratifications and classifications” (33); baptism introduces persons into a new humanity in a new creation.


November 7, 2011

I have just noticed that there are about 700 hundred papers being delivered at ETS this year and only eight of them will be delivered by women. What is more, I think I actually know half of the women presenters. Now maybe there are more, I looked up the index in the ETS book and some names like “Leslie” can be unisex, and I don’t know the gender of most Asian names. But even give or take a few, this would mean that women presenters make up only 1% of the papers at ETS. This is not satisfactory.

Now I know that ETS is theologically and culturally conservative in ethos, but ETS has no official position on the gender inclusion issue concerning women in ministry and the academy. In fact, full and frank discussion between complementarians and egalitarians takes place very year, it’s one of the highlights. So there is no reason why female scholars and female grad students in theology/biblical studies cannot come. So where the heck are they and why aren’t they there?

As long as ETS is representative of the evangelical church, then we should expect a strong cohort of female scholars to attend, but they are absent. There are probably several reasons for this. Demographically, many evangelicals are complementarians and don’t permit female scholars (you don’t have to like it or agree, but it is a contributing factor). What is more, I think it is safe to say that some women do not think ETS is a “safe” place to go. Some tell me, anecdotally, that they get sick of being asked “Where does yourhusband teach?”. Or else, they fear being ignored or looked down upon by male peers just for being there.

But let me give five reasons why women should go to ETS! (more…)

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