Toward Emotional Freedom

A six-year-old boy called Nathan asks his father why his mum is crying.
“Because you boys have been naughty” the father responds, referring to the boy and his younger brother.
Nathan immediately feels terrible that his behaviour has caused his mother such distress. Somehow the message goes deep into his soul that he is responsible for the feelings of others. He must NEVER behave in a way that will upset others like that!
Decades later, Nathan is a pastor. He feels significant anxiety when others disapprove of his words or actions, especially if they are older, respected figures. Nathan still carries an inner six-year-old who feels distressed if parental archetypes are displeased with him.
Pastor Nathan is self-aware enough to realise his anxiety about pleasing others is holding him back as a leader.
How might you address these kinds of deep-seated emotional responses?
As Nathan’s coach I asked: “when did you first feel like you were responsible for other’s feelings?” I heard the stor…

Study at Manchild!

I have noticed (and heard about) some bad behaviour lately: to be more specific, bad online male behaviour involving misrepresentation of feminism and gaslighting of women. My curiosity was aroused by noticing similar patterns of behaviour from different people in different places. How are they learning these techniques?
I’ve hypothesised an educational institution exists where such behaviour can be honed to perfection. What do you think of my proposed curriculum? What subjects should be added?
Manchild Christian University
Subject Choices
Here at Manchild we teach you:
Selective Biblical Literalism 101
We'll show you how the 59 references to slaves in the New Testament need to be read on their cultural context, while explaining how taking l Timothy 2:12 literally is a test of biblical orthodoxy, and that anyone who doesn't ban all women from leadership is a HERETIC!
Women's Issues 102
We will help you develop a pat answer to every complex women's issue (consent, abortion…

Political Correctness or Plain Politeness?

A number of years ago my sister and I took our parents to a rather elegant restaurant for lunch. It was a converted old manor house with beautiful old rooms and quiet carpeted floors; utterly unlike the hard-floored echo chamber of a typical Melbourne café. The gentle clink of cutlery and quiet conversations were the only sounds.
I note this because at a strategic moment when everyone in the restaurant went silent, my father dropped the n-word.
It was like all the oxygen was sucked out of the room.
“Dad!!!! You can’t say that!!!” my sister said in horror.
“What did I say? What’s wrong with that?” he replied.
My father was born in 1916 in country Victoria, and in his mind describing someone of African origin as a “nigger” was descriptive. In this embarrassing context, my sister and I tried to explain that the n-word is considered a highly offensive racial slur.
Political correctness means “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginaliz…

Faith and Order and Blurring the Two

There are things all Christian traditions agree on (faith questions), and areas where there are significant differences around how churches organise and describe themselves (order questions). This is reflected in the name of the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission, where theological dialogue occurs. 
Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christedelphians and others cannot join the World Council of Churches as they do not “confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures… to the glory of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
There are however a huge variety of churches that belong to the World Council of Churches. They have diverse views on women in ministry, modes of baptism, communion, the priesthood, the weight of scripture vs tradition, etc. These are "order" questions, not "faith" questions.
How should Christians manage their relationships with one another around differences over these secondary questions?

Some of …

Rebranding Hierarchy

Once upon a time, I was involved in the Monash University branch of AFES/Intervarsity called “The Evangelical Union”.
This was the early 1980s, and young men and women alike were leading everything. The term Complementarian wasn't yet a twinkle in Wayne Grudem's eye.*
In this period, egalitarian theologians were arguing that men and women were designed to complement one another; that we neededboth women and men in leadership.
In society more broadly, the ideal of a gender hierarchy was being profoundly challenged. The idea was normalised that women should have equal legal and workplace rights to men - in theory if not in practice.

By the late 1980s, Christian conservatives who believed in a gender hierarchy found themselves with an image problem. They were becoming theologically marginalised, as well as out of step with society at large.
It was time for a rebranding exercise.
To quote Scot McKnight:
'Grudem tells us that he and John Piper, in editing the 1991 sympos…

Christmas Reflection

Raymond Carver’s pithy poem ‘Late Fragment’ captures something of the yearning of every human heart:

And did you get what
You wanted from this life, even so?
I did
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
Beloved on the earth

At Christmas time, most of us gather with friends and family. Our time, our gifts and our eating together are symbols of love and belonging.

For Christians, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ connects us with a transforming message: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16).
We are not alone in the universe, or insignificant. Our lives are not meaningless. Rather, we are beloved: Christ was born and lived and died and rose to express God’s profound love for us.
Did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
My prayer for this Christmas is that you will experience what all of us really want: that you will feel yourself beloved on the earth.
For you are... more than you could ever imagine.

Proof Text Inconsistency

I’m over it!
As an egalitarian, periodically on social media I am accused of not being faithful to God’s word, but compromising to culture.
Here is the latest example:
“Men and women are equal before God but have different roles. 1 Timothy 2:12 is clear. ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.’ It is vital that we stand on God's Word, not bowing to cultural pressures.” (1)

The first thing to note is that this text is anything but clear, using the rare and ambiguous word authentein.
But secondly… I am yet to meet ANYONE online who doesn’t “compromise to culture” around the following passages. (2) Note these are passages that do not involve ANY ambiguous Greek words:

Romans 16:16 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”1 Corinthians 16:20 Greet one another with a holy kiss.2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.1 Peter 5:14 Greet one ano…