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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…

Theology and Culture in Dialogue

I've been involved in yet another Facebook dialogue - a respectful one - on women in ministry and eldership. The person expressed concern that having women in ministry was caving in to cultural pressure, and noted that "many churches have changed their position in such a brief period of time (relatively speaking, in the span of church history)"

He also commended Grudem and Piper's theological (Complementarian) position.

My response is below:

I would like to reflect on your comment “it is vital that we stand on God’s word” (yes!) “not bowing to cultural pressures” (yes, but…)
May I say – somewhat provocatively – that theology is always developed in the context of, in dialogue with, and in contrast to culture.
The theology of God’s people (revealed in the Old Testament) was developed in the context of and in contrast to other cultures – in Egypt, Palestine, and Babylon. Jesus’ teaching was in the context of first century Roman-occupied Palestine; and he confronted the cu…

"Defending" Women in Ministry

Steven Holmes claims he can no longer defend women in ministry.

I'm inclined to agree with him!

What do you think?

Updates on the Trinity and Complementarian Theology

Kevin Giles has been writing for the past 20 years about how some Complementarians have been rewriting the doctrine of the Trinity.

It seems finally the gravity of this problem is sinking in.

Scot McKnight has discussed Kevin's latest book here.

An excerpt for your interest:

"Kevin Giles, who all along has been calling out Grudem and Ware and others, both was the first to call them out and now has written a small engaging account called The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrineof the Trinity. He has issued statement after statement but the authorities in the complementarian movement denounced him, ignored him, and therefore silenced him. But when the Reformed lights... came to his side, defended him, and denounced the inadequate and wrong-headedness of Grudem and Ware, the jig was up and suddenly Giles was no longer the bad guy. They will still largely ignore him, but the truth is out."
Last year Christianity Today did a fairly cutting expose of the motivations an…

Trinitarian Love

Some scientifically-minded atheists believe matter and energy just happened, that forming complex molecules just happened, and that these molecules just happened to form human life eventually. We are nothing but matter and energy and accident.

Some Deists believe that there was a Mind behind the universe. That there was some kind of Intelligence behind the physical constants that make matter possible, and the properties of atoms that make life possible. They believe that Something kick-started the universe.

Christians believe the ultimate reality is not only powerful but personal.

John once wrote the startling words:

"God is love".*

Not just that God is loving. Not just that God feels love.

But that God's very nature is love.

As early Christian theologians pondered Jesus' command to baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they developed a startling idea... that God is three persons living in an eternal relationship of love.

Human beings - those…

Ambiguous Words

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Margaret Mowczko has written an excellent article on the possible range of meanings of "authentein" in I Timothy 2:12. Indeed, there are multiple reasons why this is a complex and ambiguous passage.

Likewise kephale (or head) has a range of possible meanings.

A helpful principle in interpreting the bible is to avoid creating some kind of law out of ambiguous words (or metaphors, idioms, etc.)

There are some things in the bible about which we can be quite clear.

The idea of "male headship" is not one of those things.

The idea that women cannot teach men is not one of those things.

Are my thoughts unambiguous enough?