John Piper and Women Who Teach

John Piper and Women Who Teach April 6, 2013

Please take 3 minutes to watch this video of an interview with John Piper:

There are a few concerns I have concerning this concerning video.

First, an observation: acknowledging this is all in the context of male bantering, still… does John Piper seem to think guys only think or talk about sex? When the interviewer asked him, “I’m a guy…” Piper admits, “I thought is was going to be about sex!” It then takes Piper some time to “retrain” his mind. He forgets what the question was and appears to struggle to get his mind on the track of the interviewer’s question. This is what happens to guys: we always think about sex. And when we don’t, we have to retrain our minds to think about something else.

I’m a guy. I don’t always think about sex. When I think about sex, which is more often than I have it, I really do think about it. However, I think about a lot more other things throughout the day that are very important to me like theology, philosophy, art, humor, freedom and equality. Especially equality for the marginalized. But when I hear or say the words, “I’m a guy…” that doesn’t necessarily mean what follows is about sex. But to Piper it seems to. So even though the interviewer, as far as we can tell, wasn’t thinking about sex, John Piper thought he was because that’s what Piper thinks guys think about and what they talk about when they’re hanging out with other guys.

But this interviewer, strangely enough, wasn’t thinking about sex. He was thinking about gender. He was thinking about women who speak. Should he listen to them? Should he listen to Beth Mooore? Now that’s something Piper has an answer to. His final answer, at the end of the video, is , “No, it’s not wrong. But it could become wrong.”

So let’s look at those two parts.

First, it’s not wrong to listen to a woman. What does Piper mean? From the rest of the interview we can gather that he means that a man can listen to a woman speak. He can listen to a woman share something or show something. He can even allow a woman to provoke him about being radically obedient. He gives that women can be competent and can think and therefore a man can learn from a woman. He wants to learn from his wife. He’s happy to learn from Beth Moore. In the seventies he loved listening to Elisabeth Elliot. She’s his kind of lady. He could learn heaps from her.

Now for the second part, that it could become wrong to listen to a woman. What does Piper mean? He has a lot more to say about this. He says that it is wrong to “become dependent upon her as your shepherd, your pastor”. That’s the crucial point for Piper. It’s okay to listen to a woman, but only “occasional women speaking in Sunday school” where she might want to “share” something or “show” something. Show and tell. Sunday morning church is wrong. It is wrong for a woman to have “teaching authority” over a man. It is wrong for a woman to “assume an authoritative, teaching role in your life”. It’s also wrong to get into a relationship of “listening or attending a church… where she’s now my pastor, my shepherd, my authority…”

Piper’s reasons that it is wrong to listen to a woman are biblical, experiential and psychological. That means that he believes the bible says that a woman should not have teaching authority over a man. It is “unhealthy”. His experience has proven this to be true. Perhaps he believes the church’s experience has proven this to be true. He also believes that a psychological dynamic occurs when this happens that compromises the womanhood of a woman and the manhood of a a man.

I find Piper’s phraseology curious: “when a woman begins over time to assume and authoritative role…” But I claim that you should allow no one to assume authority over your lives. That is not the spirit of Christ’s teachings. I would certainly resist a woman who assumes authority over me. And I just as certainly would resist a man who assumes authority over me as well. If we are to abide by the spirit of Christ’s words, authority should not be assumed in the church. Rather, it ought to be recognized and given, whether it’s to a man or a woman.

Is it okay for a woman to have teaching authority over a woman? If so, then there’s something odd about his position that I can’t understand. Piper says a man can learn from a woman but he never says a woman can teach a man. Is this his theological position? Woman can show and tell and only occasionally. But they can’t teach. It’s obvious he believes the only carriers of authoritative teaching are men and all authoritative teaching is only from men. The form of authoritative teaching is men and the only authoritative content is from men. So if a woman is sharing with women, is this inferior to being taught by a man?

Piper’s belief that woman teaching men is unhealthy betrays his own male paradigm and issues that stem from it. Piper is wrong. And just because Rick Warren understands it this way and Beth Moore would comply and millions of people agree doesn’t make it any more right.

What if we took Piper’s three reasons, put them in reverse, and applied them to his own theology? Could Piper have psychological issues with women that in turn create unhealthy emotional responses to women that in turn determine the way he uses scripture to prevent women from teaching men?

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  • Doug Asbury

    Of course, Piper is basing his understanding on 1 Timothy 2, especially 2.12: “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.” One major problem with his doing that is that he fails to recognize that in Paul’s day, when that was written, few, if any, women were allowed to have a formal education, whereas to the extent formal education was available to anyone, the men got it; the women didn’t. Thus today, when there are many women with M.Divs. and Ph.Ds from major theological seminaries and universities, to carry that teaching over into the present is simply ludicrous and stupidly dogmatic. He really should know better than that; but he has let his bibliolatry/fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible trump his rational faculties. He needs to take counsel from another passage of scripture: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14.12, NRSV).

  • Yep, you got it! This whole thing is just nuts to me. When people like him are pressed for delineation, their underlying sexism and misunderstanding of the spirit of the Bible show through.

  • Doug Asbury

    There was a story, I believe in one of Anthony de Mello’s books, about a little girl who asked her grandmother about Jesus’ claim that sinners would be consigned to a place where there would be “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” She wondered what would happen if people had lost all their teeth in this life, to which her grandmother replied, “Teeth will be provided!” I.e., if the Word of God says “teeth will be gnashed,” then there have to be teeth to gnash, and God will provide them. This creativity to justify a particular interpretation of scripture is akin to what Piper is doing here, not realizing that there is really nothing about “maleness” and “femaleness” that justifies rejecting a woman who is called to serve in the role of a pastor and who does so with wisdom, skill and compassion. Just as there can be unqualified male pastors, there can also be unqualified female pastors; but the fact of the gender of the person is not what makes a difference in qualification – except in the minds of those who adhere to a human-created doctrine – as Piper (and, apparently, Rick Warren) does – that makes that rule. It’s just another echo of the Pharisees, for whom Jesus had many a corrective word in terms of their understanding of scripture.

  • “In Christ there is neither male nor female…”

    The Word of God is not hindered by anyone’s genitalia.

  • “Teeth will be provided!” HAHAHAHAHA 🙂

  • Kris

    That is also very insulting to men. I guess we should start wearing burqas b/c men might think of sex when we talk to them. It also does not acknowledge the fact that we as women think about sex or that an inappropriate relationship with between a woman and a man in power (i.e., her pastor) could develop.

  • Carol

    Self-interest always tends to blind us to justice and even common sense conclusions.

    Actually, the differences have more to do with alpha-dominant and beta-dominant temperaments. Alphas are warriors. Betas are nurturers. Although there have always been heterosexual “sissy” boys and “tomboy” girls, statistically, males are alpha-dominant and females are beta-dominant. Alpha and beta traits are complementary and necessary for a balanced social environment. It is egoistic narcissism, not maleness and femaleness that causes the dysfunction that Piper considers “proof” of his dogmatic beliefs.

  • Kathy Baldock

    Oh, I will listen to a man like this once in a while, but the REAL problem comes when I lat him become my shepherd. That is when you get biblical problems, psychological problem, you know, I could list them.
    Good thing I listen to THE SHEPHERD and not Piper on this issue. I battle this nonsense in the church as a woman leader and CERTAINLY suffer the clear sexism that is very much alive in Christianity. The Spirit in me tells me not to back down and THAT is what I choose to obey as my directive.
    The dominance is changing in many areas and those in power are not comfy having to share. The Spirit of God is indwelling people of color, women, gays and trans people and not asking the old guards’ permission.

  • Jill Lillis

    Interestingly, very few who preach on that verse seem to have examined the original word translated “authority” in this passage. In the Greek, it is “authentein”. It is such an obscure word even in the literature of the day, that linguists do not actually have a firm grasp on its actual meaning, but the closest they have come is a domineering, abusive type of control of another. Contrary to one poster’s opinion, many of the women of that day *were* educated, were businesswomen, or women of nobility and of some measure of authority.

  • Debra

    Kathy Baldock, as always true-to-form, you’ve given a very concise and revealing answer. Yes, the Spirit has no boundaries with regard to humans’ cultural/psychological/interpretive “lines in the sand”! I am glad to know I don’t have to worship a God who’s so exclusive!

  • The “show and tell” comment for the win. That made me LOL. Oh and “Could Piper have psychological issues with women”–hm, ya think? 😉

    P.S. Rachel Held Evans also wrote about this Friday in a post called The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles: Exhibit C – “As long as I can’t see her…”:

  • Jeff Roach

    This is another reason why religion is wholesale bullshit. If I didn’t appreciate your effort, David, to free the captives I would call this TL:DR 🙂

  • Thanks Jeff! That’s why I do what I do. If I didn’t care it would be TL:DW (too long: didn’t write) 🙂

  • Jim

    Does the Bible mention anything about listening to the preachings of men with shit for brains?

  • PamBG

    The whole “guys can only think about sex” thing is revealing. He does not respect himself. No wonder he does not respect women.

  • Pam for the win.

  • While I don’t agree with John Piper on everything, I can’t help but notice that he as become the whipping post for many including the present writer. It seems to me that out of this small excerpt you have chosen to extrapolate many conclusions that I would not expect from someone of your experience. John Piper may or may not feel that “guys only think or talk about sex”. I highly doubt it as that is clearly an urban myth. However, it is unwarranted for anyone to make that conclusion based on his spontaneous reaction to the questioner. I find that your discussion misses the mark in understanding the thought of John Piper on many accounts. Some of the other comments come closer.

  • John Piper has stated that according to his reading of Scripture, he would restrict the eldership of a church to men only and therefore the “authoritative teaching” to men also. However, he states that is open to women teaching in different venues in the church. In expressing this opinion, he seems to exhibit a lot more grace than some of the above comments. For people to then conclude that he is promoting an evil sexism is to me unwarranted.

  • Carol

    Michael, Piper has had the courage to offer some much needed criticism of the Evangelical Church:

    “My bent is to say that, to the degree that a pastor, for the gospel’s sake, becomes political, he probably in the long run, blunts his gospel power to transform culture.”~John Piper

    However, that does not change the reality that his theology is patriarchal, not Biblical. God chose Mary to make a major contribution in the Mystery of the Redemption before Jesus chose the Disciples.

    Protestantism is the only Christian tradition that does not have a Marian tradition and in Roman Catholicism Mary commonly serves as a devotional, rather than a theological, source which leaves the Latin Church’s patriarchal culture unchallenged.

    John Henry Cardinal Newman’s book “Mary the Second Eve” is the best theological source I have read that totally avoids the temptation to Mariolatry:

    Also helpful, but combined with a devotional perspective:

  • I critique the ideas of John Piper, as he should expect and invite, because he represents a role model among Christians, including men, because I think his ideas about women are damaging.

  • Then you deserve the same critique as Piper for your sexist views Michael.

  • Gary

    “John Piper has stated that according to his reading of Scripture, he would restrict the eldership of a church to men only and therefore the “authoritative teaching” to men also.”

    Michael whether or not this form of sexism is “evil”, it most certainly is sexism. You sound like a typical defender of the church/pastoral leadership from my past. Those who disagree were always portrayed in very unkind ways and often with inflammatory rhetoric. To accuse those who disagree of lacking “grace” is itself completely absent grace.

  • Adam

    it is very interesting to watch this video, as it shows me where I have been and where I have cometo in my theological understanding. I first started regularly attending church 15 years ago. The teaching at the first church I attended was much the same as what Piper advocates which I thought strange and didn’t quite fit at the time. But as I was new to Christianity, I deferred to it seeing myself as being in a position where others would know better than me about it.

    A couple of years later and I started going to bible collge. What would I know but a colleague on my couse said she was called by God to be a church of Scotland minister. That led to some interesting moments! She now is a religious education teacher at secondary school so I don’t know what happened with that. I digress. So – came to the firstl lecture I had with a female lecturere – another interesting moment.

    And then in third year a core subject was “The role of Women in the World Chuirch”. In which I was to study and writ on such things. The question in my mind was to what extent are things complimentarian as posited by Piper and to what extent egalitarian as posited by feminist writers. All I can say is that in my conversations with women, I asked if you had a choice btween a man and a woman as a boss, who would you choose. On every occasion the answer came across as a man. When I asked women with leadership gifting about their leading, the answer came back that thet wanted to be a second in command, not to have the responsibility of being the main leader. This of course is not scientific, just my expereince.

    Also – I have had the prevelidge, of being on the receiving end of some excellent teaching from women and in leadership in street ministry. My choice for a new lecturer for the college in a recent interview procedure out of 4 candidates with one being a woman, was the woman. And I am glad to say it was her that got offered the position.

    So in summary I think to make the 1 tim 2 passage universal is to misinterpret scripture. From that, I would advocate equall opportunities for both men and women for leadership. At the same time, I can’t help thinking from my experience of talking with women that there is an element that serves both men and women best where there is responsibility being taken by men in leadership in some form for women not to take that is beneficial for all. Of course this comes with it a responsibility to serve that is greater too.

    This is entirely subjective, and I respect other’s views that are in disagreement with it. We all have differen expereinces and worldiews which will result in different conclusions. This is often a strongly contested issue and a hot topic for a lot of people. I say where we can find agreement, lets work together. Where we have disagreement let’s agree to disagree, and go about things in our seperate ways.

  • Carol

    Adam, statistically men are alph-dominant and women are beta-dominant.

    Alphas are born leaders and betas are born nurturers; but there are alpha-dominanat females [we used to call them ‘tomboys’] and there are beta-dominant males [they were often called ‘sissies’ and suspected of being ‘gay’].

    Rigid, culturally defined gender stereotypes and roles not only prevent those who do not conform to the “norm” from exercising their natural gifts, the expose them to ridicule and/or bullying. The issue is a bit more complicated than simply being a matter of subjective experiences and world views. Of course, passing laws will not solve the conflicts. Law has the power to change behaviors, but not minds or hearts. That requires the transformational power of Grace.

  • Adam

    Carol – that is interesting with what you say about men being statistically more alpha and leaders and women more beta and nurturers. That would seem to marry with the subjective conclusions I have come to in my research from listening to women.

    Of course you are right about there being exceptions. And there are women that make good leaders, engineers etc as there are men that make good nurses, counsellors etc. Though given these are the exptions you rightly say that folks that ar so inclined are more likely to experience challenges and difficulties socially as anyone would with being different. And the need for transforming grace at such times. For anyone facing such difficulty, strength in Christ and the grace of God is sufficient.

  • Carol

    Adam, Grace can provide the strength to survive being misunderstood and persecuted without becoming cynical and bitter; but it is not yet “sufficient” until it has open up the minds and hearts of those who judge and persecute empowering them to see and appreciate the gifts of those who do not fit the common profile for normalcy.

  • Adam

    Carol – in an ideal world there would not be inapropriate judgement and persecution. There will be suffering, and when folks suffer through no fault of their own, they know suffering just as christ suffered. The grace of God and the strengh Christ had did result in him ending up on the cross, but also at the fathr;s right hand in glory having overcome death. It God’s grace and strength in Christ is sufficient for anyone to life life to the fullest it can be in the world as the way it is.

    For those that do judge and persecute, God’s judgement awaits them. As it does for everyone. And by faith it can be known that ther will be justice in God’s providence sooner or later. For those that have fiath in this, the actions of the judgemental and persecuting hold no ultimate fear.

  • Carol

    Adam, I don’t fear judgmental, abusive people; but they certainly do piss me off.

    Since the Pharisees were the only “sinners” who really seemed to piss Jesus off, I would speculate that reaction may be a normal human passion under such circumstances. Of course, there is just plain anger and there is a self-righteous anger that leads to vengeful acts. I know my own daemons too well to be self-righteous, so I am willing to leave the “vengeance” to God; but I am not a silent sufferer and refuse to give up my bitching rights.

  • Doug Asbury

    Adam, though your theology is reasonably accurate, where I believe it is lacking is that it says, basically, “don’t worry, Carol; everything will work out okay in the end. You and other women just have to suffer the cruelties of this imperfect world as Christ suffered, knowing that you will be rewarded in the end.” The prophets weren’t sent – and Jesus is numbered among the prophets, even as he is also the Savior – only to tell people, “just suffer now; glory is coming” – though they did say some of that – but also to tell them, “shape up and fly right, because you are to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Remember the Apostle Paul’s claim, “Now is the day of salvation” [2 Cor. 6.2] – not sometime in the future.) We need to be the voice of the prophet from time to time, not telling the sufferers to suffer with hope, but telling the abusers, “stop what you are doing and treat others with the respect due to those who are made in the image of God as you also are made. You do not reflect God’s righteousness, as you were meant to, when you perpetrate such abuse on others as you are doing.”
    As Carol mentioned above, the issue is not simply the differences between “men” and “women” as occupants of different categories of personhood but the cultural assumption that such differences exist and that they should be a reason to establish and maintain immutable categories for those differences – e.g., men=alphas, women=betas – the violation of which categories is somehow at least questionable, if not punishable by society. The Apostle Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 12 is that all God’s children have been given a variety of gifts according to the will of the Spirit. Thus, any human attempt to claim that the Spirit has chosen to give only men the “gift of leadership” and women the “gift of nurturing” is a human construct that seeks to bind the work of the Spirit in the world for the benefit of those who establish such strict categories and try to enforce them through claiming some biblical authority to do so – as men have for millennia now. We need to learn that, if “nurturing males,” for example, are considered an anomaly and against the norm, that it is we who have defined the norm or acquiesced to its existence, and not that the norm is divinely ordained. What is divinely ordained is that each person – male or female or otherwise – be given both the freedom and the encouragement of the Christian community to use whatever gifts the Spirit has bestowed on them to build up the body of Christ. Any agenda other than that is a human creation and is likely to have elements of the demonic underneath it with a goal to thwart God’s purposes and to create dissension in the body of Christ.

  • Doug Asbury

    Carol, just a note to you. When you wrote, “statistically men are alpha-dominant and women are beta-dominant,” you were, I believe, failing adequately to acknowledge what I wrote primarily to Adam above regarding the role of culture in encouraging the development of certain qualities and tendencies in male and female children. Though it is difficult to raise children in what might be called a “gender-neutral environment”, part of the antidote to the current gender-laden environments in which children tend now to be raised is this view of the work of the Spirit in giving gifts as the Spirit chooses, which encourages those who are the teachers and guides of the young to observe the emerging qualities of spirit in each child and to bring those qualities to full flower rather than trying to redirect any “alpha” qualities in women or “beta” qualities in men towards any “norm.” I don’t believe I’m not saying anything much different than what you wrote above, but I would encourage you to point out that shaping role of culture that underlies who we become as humans rather than simply accepting cultural assumptions as givens that cannot themselves be challenged.

  • Carol

    Thank you, Doug.

    Nietzsche had two valid criticisms of Christianity/Churchianity, that it encouraged:
    1. A herd mentality
    2. A slave mentality
    There will always be a struggle between priestly authority and prophetic challenge in institutionalized religion because institutions are intrinsically conservative and will always choose social stability over justice which works to the advantage of the socioeconomic/political power-elites whose interests are served by sustaining the status quo. That is why a theocracy is probably the most oppressive form of governance.

    “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.” –John Adams

  • Adam: But why do many people see men that way, as alpha, and women that way, as beta? Why do they fit the standard? That’s my question. The change needs to occur in our preconceived idea of what a woman is and what a man is. Once that is done, then roles won’t matter.

  • If I might use an analogy… you are looking at women and saying “Women are scrambled. With exceptions. Men are hardboiled. With exceptions.” But that’s what culture has made of us. That’s how culture has cooked us. Essentially we are all eggs.

  • Adam


    Yes – there are many problems encountered by suffering in silence. I know what it is like to remain silent with the mistaken belief I had bought into that I had been guarding my tongue appropriately. From what you say, I take it that you know what it is like to be like that too. I affirm your assertion for you to speak out as Jesus did against those who conduct themselves as the misconduct of the pharisees he spoke to.

    Doug thank you for confirming where my theology is accurate. I hear your concern about how I have interacted with Carol, and by inference with women generally. Given the way you have taken what I have written I would say that either you have misunderstood me or that I have not communicated well in what I have written. I would caution against reading things into something that is not there.

    I think what I wrote was realistic in terms of the suffering anyone can expect to encounter as a follower of Christ and a comfort and assurance for the glory to come from that. I assume you are aware of what the apostle Paul said about his desire to know Christ more and share in his sufferings. And that he had learnt to be content with hardships, insults etc. with the knowledge that what he did was for the sake of Christ and the awareness he would have had of Christ teaching of the greatness of the reward in heaven.

    You make a valid point about the prophetic. I am glad you raised that. Of course you are right about there being times to speak out as such. You will of course remember elsewhere in scripture about words of correction to be given gently and care to be taken lest the person giving correction falls into sin themselves. That said, Jesus did say that prophets would be without honour in their home towns and among their families and considering the plight of the Old Testaments prophets does somewhat lead one to imagine that being a prophet is at times not an enviable position. We also know the words of a prophet are to be tested.

    It is an area of church life where there can be difficulties including prophets not being listened to and rejected with the difficult task of what to do for the prophet when that happens. Also what to do with false prophecies and for that matter false teachings which abound.

    David and Doug – These are great questions and affirmations about gifting in the body of Christ for all. I am not privy to the research Carol mentions about the alpha male and the beta female. Perhaps you have a reference for that research Carol?

    All I can say, is that form interviewing women in my non-scientific approach, what has come across with colleagues who do critically engage and are aware of the theological augments that every time I have asked if they would prefer a man or a woman as a boss the answer has been a man, and with women that I have considered to have leadership gifting that they want to be a second in command. Again, this is my experience, it is not scientific, it is subjective and I respect others views.

    That is a very important point you raise David about anything that is a preconceived standard that needs to change. This is a hot topic for many people and more complex that a comment here can fully do justice to. Needless to say, there needs to be sensitivity in how it is handled and change happens so that we come to the fullness in humanity that Christ came for and that any differences are negotiated carefully to enable that fruition.

    Differences if mishandled can easily lead to the “my horse is bigger than your horse” as you rightly and humourously dealt with as can happen where reasoned discussion and debate is subverted by high school playground conduct with no babies being produced.

  • But Adam again I’m not sure what you are trying to say. It’s like in the days of slavery: if you went to a cotton plantation and asked the slaves and slaveowners who they thought made better slaveowners and better slaves, you would EXPECT them to say, “White people are better slave owners and Africans make better slaves.”

  • Adam

    David, I hear your concern about what I have shared with having listened to women and what Carol has said about research indicating pointing to the alpha male and beta female. I hear your comparison with white slave owners and black slaves with your expectation that those in power would say that white people make better slave owners and black people make better slaves. I hear your concern, but there is no need. And I would suggest considering what presuppositions and assumptions you are coming coming with that would draw you to such conclusions.

    The women I have spoken with aren’t available to comment. And like I say, was subjective so I couldn’t draw any universal conclusions form that. The research that Carol mentions may be worthwhile testing and seeing how that comes up with respect to the agreement we have about any preconceived standard that needs to change. Listening to articulate women such as Carol and my colleagues will, I am sure contribute to humanities fullness of life that Jesus came for.

    I’ve recently shared how much I enjoyed your how to know your pastor is a zombie cartoon with some of my colleagues. I still find it hilarious and clever when read it. That he wants to eat your brains out, resembles the living but not quite, says things that yeah though I am dead I am alive and this applies to female pastors too. And that to “watch out” if he doesn’t find it funny.

    Great way to deal with the kind of thing we have been talking about here with oppression and I’m sure would be the kind of thing Jesus would do in terms of using humour as a weapon and God’s word to defeat dark forces! I love that! :).

  • Gun Nordström

    David wrote: “If we are to abide by the spirit of Christ´s word, authority should not be assumed in the church.” I wholly agree. By his teachings Jesus wanted to awaken the authority of the source that dwells inside every human being. He therefore often teached by telling stories that went stright to the hearts of the listeners.
    One other teacher that touches the hearts in the same way is J.Krishnamurti (1895- 1986). I feel he was teaching just in the same spirit as Jesus by saying: You must be your own light! His teachings are full of love for humanity. By asking important questions about the issues of life he softly guides us to see that freedom from fear is absolutely necessary. “If there is no freedom there is no peace, there is no order, and therefore there is no love. This disorder is understood when you understand the structure and the nature of thought, not according to the spesker, nor according to some psychologist. When you understand according to them, you do not understand yourself, you understand according to some authority. To understand yourself there must be a complete throwing away of all authority.”
    His teachings can be found on Youtube and in his books publiched by Krishnamurti Foundation of America.

  • Thanks Gun. My favorite book of K’s, and probably my #1 book I read every year, is “The Urgency of Change”.

  • Carol

    K also said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

    Successful social adaptation, to either mainstream secular culture or the ecclesiastical sub-culture is no longer the measure of psychological health that it once was in kinder, gentler times.
    How Fit is Your Faith?
    12 Signs of a Healthy Faith-Life
    By Mary Fairchild, Guide

    How fit is your faith? Do you need a spiritual check-up?
    If you sense something might be wrong in your spiritual life, perhaps it’s time to examine your Christian walk. Here are 12 signs of a healthy faith-life.
    12 Signs of a Healthy Faith-Life
    1. Your faith is based on a relationship with God, not religious obligations and rituals. You follow Christ because you want to, not because you have to. Your relationship with Jesus flows naturally out of love. It is not forced or driven by guilt. (1 John 4:7-18; Hebrews 10:19-22.)
    2. Your sense of security and significance is centered on God and who you are in Christ, not on others or your accomplishments. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-6; Ephesians 6:6-7.)
    3. Your faith in God is strengthened as you walk through life’s troubles, trials and painful experiences, not weakened or destroyed. (1 Peter 4:12-13; James 1:2-4.)
    4. Your service to others flows out of genuine love and concern for them, not from compulsion or a need to be recognized. You offer your service as a joy and a pleasure and not an obligation or a heavy burden. (Ephesians 6:6-7; Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 12:10.)
    5. You value and respect the unique differences and individual gifts of your brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than expecting conformity to one Christian standard. You appreciate and celebrate others’ gifts. (Romans 14; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31.)
    6. You are able to give and receive trust and allow others to see you—and themselves—in a state of vulnerability and imperfection. You allow yourself and others the freedom to make mistakes. (1 Peter 3:8; Ephesians 4:2; Romans 14.)
    7. You can relate to real, everyday people with a non-judgmental, non-legalistic attitude. (Romans 14; Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37.)
    8. You thrive in an atmosphere of learning, where free thinking is encouraged. Questions and doubts are normal. (1 Peter 2:1-3; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Luke 2:41-47.)
    9. You prefer balance over black and white extremes in your approach to the Bible, its teachings and the Christian life. (Ecclesiastes 7:18; Romans 14.)
    10. You do not feel threatened or defensive when others hold to a different opinion or perspective. You can agree to disagree, even with other Christians. (Titus 3:9; 1 Corinthians 12:12-25; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.)
    11. You are not afraid of emotional expressions from yourself and others. Emotions are not bad, they just are. (Joel 2:12-13; Psalm 47:1; Psalm 98:4; 2 Corinthians 9:12-15.)
    12. You have the ability to relax and have fun. You can laugh at yourself and at life. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; 8:15; Proverbs 17:22; Nehemiah 8:10)

  • Adam Julians

    Carol – I agree with what you have written about successful social adaption to either mainstream secular culture or the ecclesiastical sub culture is not a measure of psychological health where such cultures are not healthy in and of themselves. The points you quote that are consistent with a healthy faith life are helpful.

    And kindness gentleness, being an important part in healing both for self and in community. Did you know that the in the Greek the word gentle or meek means “power under control”? Gives a different understanding to “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”.

    Loving – kindness or Meta is practiced in the Buddhist tradition:

    “Loving-kindness is a meditation practice, which brings about positive attitudinal changes as it systematically develops the quality of ‘loving-acceptance’. It acts, as it were, as a form of self-psychotherapy, a way of healing the troubled mind to free it from its pain and confusion. Of all Buddhist meditations, loving-kindness has the immediate benefit of sweetening and changing old habituated negative patterns of mind.

    To put it into its context, Loving-kindness is the first of a series of meditations that produce four qualities of love: Friendliness (metta), Compassion (karuna), Appreciative Joy (mudita) and Equanimity (upekkha). The quality of ‘friendliness’ is expressed as warmth that reaches out and embraces others. When loving-kindness practice matures it naturally overflows into compassion, as one empathises with other people’s difficulties; on the other hand one needs to be wary of pity, as its near enemy, as it merely mimics the quality of concern without empathy. The positive expression of empathy is an appreciation of other people’s good qualities or good fortune, or appreciative joy, rather than feelings of jealousy towards them. This series of meditations comes to maturity as ‘on-looking equanimity’. This ‘engaged equanimity’ must be cultivated within the context of this series of meditations, or there is a risk of it manifesting as its near enemy, indifference or aloofness. So, ultimately you remain kindly disposed and caring toward everybody with an equal spread of loving feelings and acceptance in all situations and relationships.”

  • randallt

    This article is the example of why we do not examine scripture through the lenses of our culture, but instead we should be looking at society through the lenses of scripture.
    If you understood that what scripture says is laid out to you for you maximum pleasure and joy, then you would obey with obedience in faith that God is working through you for him. If you just look at these and you think you know what will bring ultimate joy then your faith is no faith at all.