Showing posts from 2016

Mentoring Women in Leadership

I had an interesting conversation recently with a couple of staff members of a theological college. They said they often had to work hard at convincing women studying "just for interest" or to "help me care for others better", that they could see a gifted vocational minister developing. This was outside of the imagination of many of their female students.

Conversely, some of their male students needed help to see that they were not, in fact, the Messiah. Or that at the very least, before they saved the world, God would need to do a deep work in the areas of character, servanthood, and humility.+

I also coached a woman recently who was applying for a senior ministry position. I asked her to role-play speaking to the leadership team about the role she wanted, and what she had to offer.

That was interesting. This was my feedback to her:

"Don't tell them you're a woman and this could be a problem... they already know that. Don't tell them what you'…

The Parable of the Christmas Dinner

Have you ever had a moment where things go horribly wrong? Where words produce strong emotions and cause a fight, which then spirals out of control?

Kate Smith had one of those moments in 1996, when she rang her sister Jess about Christmas dinner.

A number of years before, Kate and her husband Geoff moved into the old family home to care for her mother, who suffered a protracted battle with cancer. Kate inherited the family home after her mother died. For several years she maintained the tradition of having Christmas lunch with the extended family in the old family home. Kate and her two sisters cooked and cleaned and gossiped; the brothers in law played backyard cricket with all the youngsters after lunch. A fairly standard Australian Christmas.

But in 1996, Kate Smith had a bad year. Very bad. She had been bullied at work, leading to severe anxiety. Geoff suggested this year the family should have Christmas lunch as a picnic at a park, as the thought of getting everything ready for …

More on Creation Science

Earlier this month, a 100 million dollar Noah’s ark replica opened in Kentucky sponsored by the Creation Science group “Answers in Genesis”. That’s a lot of money in anyone’s language. And it reflects a lot of interest in Young Earth Creation Science.

For many years I attempted to hold a relaxed attitude around Creation Science. Though I had long believed a six thousand year old earth is both poor theology and poor science, I had decided it was impolite to pick a fight about it.

However, 2011 research coming out from the Barna Institute about why young people leave the church caused me to rethink my “live and let live” approach . This reported that: “Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that ‘churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in’ (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that ‘Christianity is anti-science’ (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have ‘been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.’ Fu…

Wrestling with Ideas, and Maybe with God

My recent online encounters with Complementarians (God bless them) have brought into sharp relief for me a number of inter-related issues:

1) On what kind of matters in a public space can we unambiguously claim: "this is what Christians believe"?

2) On "disputable matters" among Christians, how do we nuance our language in a public space?

3) What's the difference between a public space and a private space in the new online world? Can I ever give my own opinion on my (Friends only) Facebook page, despite holding a position within Churches of Christ?

4) How can we convey Christian charity and respect to those with whom we disagree, while still engaging in robust dialogue?

And perhaps the most difficult question of all...

5) How do we do theology well? What does that look like?

Perhaps for today question 5 will suffice.

Anyone who believes in God is a working theologian of sorts, trying to make sense of who God is, how God works, and how God and I and other human …

Four Really Lame Reasons to be Complementarian

I have been in a recent online battle with Complementarians, and as such, I'm consoling myself with some blogging therapy. I hope you'll indulge me.

I've discovered some lame reasons to be Complementarian, and am reproducing these for your reading pleasure.


The majority of the "in favour" arguments for Complementarian theology involved quoting single proof texts; eg (I CORINTHIANS 14:37!). That proves it!!!

Sometimes the proof texts were quoted in CAPS LOCK! BECAUSE THAT SHOWS HOW IMPORTANT THIS ONE VERSE IS!!!

And because the art of hermeneutics, and analysing 1st Century Koine Greek, and taking in the grand sweep of Scripture... indeed, the art of Christian theological reflection... is hard work. It's so much easier solidify an existing prejudice around a single verse. END OF DISCUSSION!!!

But this not the only lame reason to be Complementarian. Oh no... there are other reasons:


Yes, there is NO need to engage with the thoughtful ref…

An Encounter with the Tone Police

I usually inhabit a world where men and women are equal: I never feel like I have to fight to be heard.

However, I participated in a a strange online discussion recently about "male headship". There were many online (mostly male) participants who believed men are called to be leaders in marriage, and that the role of wives is to submit. Many did not believe that women can lead churches (or in some cases, say anything in churches) because of "male headship".

I noticed something interesting. It seemed whenever a man voiced strong opinions, even in CAPS LOCK, other men would engage with his line of argument.

However when a woman expressed a strong opinion, her arguments were often ignored, but veiled comments appeared about her "tone".

It's as if the passive-aggressive crowd decided it was time to declare women "bitter", "negative", "defensive" and "hostile" if they disagreed with dominant male opinion. And would a…

Headship Hoo Ha

I've gotten embroiled in discussions with Complementarians again. They are nice people. Most of them, anyway.

But I have a problem with the whole idea of of "male headship". Actually, I think it's a theological house of cards that comes tumbling down under a bit of scrutiny.

So let's look at the most-quoted passage about this in the context of marriage:

Ephesians 5:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemi…

Global Warming 101

In a past life, somewhere back in the depths of the last millennium, I studied a science degree, and later did a Dip Ed. That makes me an expert on nothing, although years of teaching did help me refine the knack of explaining the complex as simply as possible.

After my millionth encounter (or so) with someone of the opinion that global warming is a conspiracy / not real / a matter of scientific dispute, I have decided to use my special power for good. Here, for your edification, entertainment, and as reference point in future encounters with climate skeptics, is Janet's basic guide to the science of global warming:

Carbon dioxide is produced during burning.

You may have learned a simple equation in school: organic material + oxygen -> carbon dioxide + water. This happens all the time in a slow "burning" called respiration, where we break down sugars to release energy for our bodies. (That's why we breathe out carbon dioxide). It also happens whenever an organic pr…