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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Christian Feminism? (XVII)

The Bible “Messes” with Our Lives

Before I get back to what John Smed of Grace Vancouver has written about women in the PCA, I want to take an excerpt from a paper written by two former classmates from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary: Tim and Kathy Keller. They were cited by another PCA pastor, Mark Bates, previously of University Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida, who is now in route to Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Let me give you a lead in to what Rev. Bates said.

On the web site of UPC, Pastor Bates has written a piece entitled “The Role of Women in the Church” (http://www.upc-orlando.com). He begins by stating that “Few issues are as controversial in religious circles as the role of women.” (Role, 1). Really? I thought we just got through fighting about one the most historically controversial issues at the 35th General Assembly of the PCA: justification by faith. What about the doctrine of transubstantiation? Wasn’t that one a “biggy” too? We have argued about the nature of the Church from Roman Catholic and Reformed perspective, the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture (isn’t this one rather important as well?), creation vs. evolution, the doctrine of sin from Pelagian, Semi-Pelagian, and Augustinian perspectives, the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, and which comes first faith or regeneration, just to give you a sampling of the historical controversies. But Pastor Bates is correct that the issue of the “role of women” is becoming an increasingly controversial topic even though at the outset the PCA was pretty settled about what it believed and taught on the issue. Times have changed.

Pastor Bates and his Session at UPC state that their desire is to be biblical above all else and that they are committed to the Bible as the authoritative Word of God (Ibid.). That’s good news. As a Session they investigated the controversial issue and “saw errors in both the ‘traditional’ and the ‘progressive’ views of women.” (Ibid.) That’s interesting—sort of. Since we’re not really told what precisely constitutes “traditional” and “progressive” we’re once again left with little more than vagaries. Each one of those words is a “loaded” term and can run a rather wide gamut of connotations. The description given by the Session at UPC doesn’t help much: “In the traditional model, women have been oppressed and marginalized.” (Ibid. Italics mine.)

Let me explain why this isn’t helpful. The word “traditional” has become a wax nose in this definition. It can mean anything or everything “traditional” so it ends up meaning nothing. In the definition given by UPC, however, it most definitely carries a very negative connotation. My home church, Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda, CA, is a traditional church, but we hardly oppress and marginalize our women. Allow me to illustrate what I mean. We recently held a church car wash out on the lawn. The Session set up a collapsible awning to protect us from the sun while we watched our WIC Board and other women who volunteered wash the cars. One of my Elders noted that some of our women were slipping and falling down due to the slick nature of the grass. Within no time we had gone out and purchased football cleats for them so they wouldn’t fall down anymore. No one can accuse us of being traditionally insensitive. (I know I’m going to email and comments on my blog, so let me explain that I’m only kidding!)

On a more serious note, we are, at Grace, what would be termed “traditional” in many regards, but I cannot think of an instance where our women were either oppressed or marginalized. In fact, we value our women highly and support and encourage them in performing biblical works of service in the Kingdom of Christ. The negative language of what the Session of UPC decided is quite unfortunate because it paints all that might be considered or perceived to be “traditional” as those who oppress and marginalize women and this is simply fodder to encourage the “better” use of women and their gifts, but in what I’ve read recently this tends to mean going beyond Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and the Book of Church Order. It happens in my own Presbytery.

According to UPC, “the progressive model obliterates the God-given differences of women and men.” (Ibid.) Okay. Next, there is a qualification: “While the traditional model fails to give women the freedom to use their spiritual gifts fully within the church, the progressive model ignores the Bible’s teaching on the different ways in which men and women may serve in the church.” (Ibid.) What precisely does it mean to give women the freedom to use their spiritual gifts fully within the church? Does it mean that if a woman says to you that she has the gift of teaching, or if a number of women come supporting this one woman’s gift to teach that she must then be allowed to teach men based on the notion that she has the gift? If that is what is meant then the Session at UPC has just nullified its statement about adherence to the mandates and commands of Scripture.

In one of the bullet points, however, Pastor Bates and the Session at UPC tell us what they mean: “Women may serve in any capacity in the church and may use their spiritual gifts in every way that any non-elder man may serve, except that women may not shepherd men.” (Ibid. Italics mine.) This is a mantra that is being “ohmed” more and more in the PCA. Bruce Ware, professor of theology at Southern Baptist Seminary has warned, “Today…the primary areas in which Christianity is pressured to conform are on issues of gender and sexuality.”[1] Ware continues, “The women have used Bible studies that are not consistent with the doctrine of the church. Strong personalities have led the ministry, and there have been significant numbers of women who chose not to be involved rather than risk conflict with these leaders. As a result our older women are not equipped to disciple, and younger women are unaware of their need to be discipled by older women.”[2] Finally, “When the elders realized the consequences of our neglect and tried to slowly and gently bring the women’s ministry back into the mainstream of the church, we were met with resistance and criticism.”[3]

These comments by Ware touch on another aspect of the issue at hand. Lig Duncan and Susan Hunt write that “The crisis of womanhood is too critical for the church to be passive. Scores of evangelical women are functional feminists, because the world’s paradigm for womanhood is the only one they have heard.”[4] My point here is that neither John Smed nor Mark Bates (and his Session) have pondered the possibility that the problem might not lie with those stodgy old traditional churches, but rather with women tainted with strong doses of feminism. I raise this point because UPC hosted Carolyn Custis James two months ago to teach Scripture on the subject of sexuality. I’ll bypass the notion of whether this was the scriptural thing to do in order to get to the point. According to Pastor Bates’ comments on his blog (Certain Hope), Mrs. James’ comments created some misunderstanding of UPC’s position on women within his congregation. That’s very helpful. Thank you, Mrs. James and yet another thanks to the Session for inviting her in the first place. Apparently James’ message “left some people with a number of important questions about the role of women at UPC. In fact, some may even have left with the impression that there are no distinctions between the roles of men and women in home or in the church.”[5] That just had to be such a helpful talk from Mrs. James. Thankfully UPC is not one of those traditional churches that oppress and marginalize but allow confusion to take its course!

All of this explanation by Pastor Bates is merely an introduction to an article written by Tim and Kathy Keller entitled “Women and Ministry.” Under the heading “The Problem of ‘Objectivity’” Tim Keller writes, “I (Tim) recognize that it may seem easy for me to talk in an objective, studied way about what this or that verse means about this subject. I have had women say to me in the midst of such a discussion, ‘For you this is a discussion, but for me this is my life you’re messing with!’”

There’s truth in the saying that you have to start somewhere and where better to begin a discussion about what the Bible says on any given topic than the Bible itself? (cf. Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.9 & 10.) Moreover, if you’re going to discuss what Scripture says wouldn’t it be more helpful if we discussed it in a “studied” fashion rather than merely talking off of the tops of our heads or by pulling our opinions from the proverbial place? Let’s say for the sake of argument that Tim has done his homework and is presenting scriptural truth to his audience in a Bible study. Is it then correct and proper for a woman to say to him, “For you this is a discussion, but for me this is my life you’re messing with!”? No, it’s wrong for a number of reasons.

First, it’s incorrect because for Tim it isn’t merely a discussion. He is engaged in conveying biblical truth that he has derived from the Word of God. That being the case—and Tim as a Calvinist knows what Calvin taught about what occurred when a minister of the Word spoke truthfully about the content of Scripture—it really isn’t Tim who’s saying these things it’s the Holy Spirit speaking through Tim.

Second, when the Holy Spirit sanctifies God’s people he is doing a lot more that “messing” with their lives. He is conforming them to the image of Christ, putting the old man of sin to death, and causing the new man in Christ Jesus to come alive more and more. Is it difficult to hear what God says to me in Scripture? Sometimes, yes, it is; it is very difficult, but every time the Word of God cuts me (cf. Heb. 4:12), I must know that it is good (cf. Ps. 119:68). I believe that it is tawdry and cheap to assert that because another Christian speaks the truth to me that he or she is “messing” with my life. I suggest that such a statement comes not from a well informed Christian, but rather from one who doesn’t want to submit to God.

Look, I’m not saying that we never have to struggle with implementing God’s Word in our lives or that we always do it well or even willingly; but I am saying that submitting to the truth of Scripture is a matter of disposition, heart, and attitude. If I have a practical view of Scripture as infallible and inerrant, then I will comprehend that, like it or not, God is working in me to make me more like Jesus. That is my desire more than anything else and I must be willing to put myself aside and let him have his way.

Power and Decision-Making

In John Smed’s article that we began looking at in our last issue, one of his theses is “When authority and leadership are confused, power and decision making are concentrated in the hands of a few.” (The Genius and Joy of Lay Leadership, 2.) My first response as I read those words was that in real church leadership it isn’t about power. Perhaps to some it is, but that is not what Scripture, the Westminster Standards, or the BCO teach. By fiat Smed has placed us in the midst of a power struggle and whenever that occurs, someone is attempting to get the 51st percentile. But is this the image that Scripture gives us of biblical leadership? We are told of instances when members of Israel railed and groused against Moses and perhaps they perceived it to be a power issue, but they were wrong.

It surprises me that in these discussions I don’t hear much about how Session members, for example, are truly striving to do God’s will and to lead God’s people in a biblically humble fashion. I hear about oppression, marginalization, power, and decision-making in the hands of a few. Whether few or many, the Presbyterian form of church government clearly teaches that certain aspects of decision-making are in the hands of the Session and also the Deacons. What they do is not up for grabs unless it is believed that they are clearly violating biblical principles.

But if we allow Smed’s undefined and undefended thesis to stand, then it is possible that if it’s all about power then frustration is produced “for those who are gifted leaders, but not ordained.” (Ibid.) Is this a necessary result, consequence? Isn’t it true that there are a number of people with various gifts who are not ordained office bearers? In any congregation this will be the case. Are we to believe, then, that each of the members is frustrated to the point that it “either leads to disconnection or to opposition”? (Ibid.) Smed believes that a number of men and women struggle with precisely this. He writes, “There is not great challenge and opportunity for them to stay. Relegated to singing hymns and going to Bible study hardly resonates as exciting or worthwhile for anyone who is created and gifted to be a leader.” (Ibid.)

Let me see if I’ve gotten this right. Singing hymns to the Lord God Almighty is tantamount to being relegated to an unexciting and unworthy use of our gifts. I always thought that worshiping God was kind of a “big deal.” When I worship away from my home church I don’t think of that time as wasted simply because I’m sitting in the pew and not standing in the pulpit. I also take exception to the notion that leaders are created; I think, rather, that they are made and that their making is a long, sometimes arduous process of coming up through the ranks. Militarily, Second Lieutenants are not normally put in charge for a Brigade.

What does it mean to be “gifted” to be a leader? There are leaders and there are leaders. Surely, hopefully, Rev. Smed does not equate leadership in the world with the ability to lead Christ’s people in the Church. Book after book has been written about how disastrous this approach can be; about how having CEOs on the Session can be disastrous. But since Rev. Smed just leaves his statement hanging in the air, we are left to our own devices to decipher what he means. Once again, it can mean almost anything.

Is Rev. Smed suggesting that we allow people who are gifted leaders in the world come into the congregation and use their gifts in an unchecked manner? I was talking to a man not long ago who was attending Grace but eventually decided to leave. When I asked him why, he told me that he wanted his son-in-law to attend church more regularly and that he would not come to Grace. I thought the reason why was because we were a traditional congregation that oppressed and marginalized everyone not just the women. But that wasn’t the reason. His son-in-law, who had gifts of leadership, demanded that any church he would attend had to have at least 1,000 members on the rolls, be seeker-sensitive, and sing praise songs. This happens all the time with those who fancy themselves to be “leaders.” It also happens with both men and women.

In spite of this, Rev. Smed is convinced that “In spite of all the ‘sound and fury’ about women’s ordination, I would argue that this is not the most important leadership issue before the church.” I would add: not yet it isn’t. Lord willing, more next time.



[1] Bruce Ware, “Ethics in a New Millennium,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 4, No. 1 (Spring 2000): 91.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 92. Italics mine.

[4] J. Ligon Duncan & Susan Hunt, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), p. 42.

[5] You can follow this more fully at http://www.baylyblog.com and the article of July 2nd: “Feminist influences in the Presbyterian Church in America.”


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44 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

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4:33 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Steve,
Since you don't really know me and what I think about my sin and depravity and the sin and the depravity others, you would do well to find out first.
I find your comments silly and rather typical of an emergent. So why don't you tell us your position on this matter. Who said I was flying off the handle? Can't you take a man talking like a man or am I supposed to sound effeminate before I'm genuine?
So man up, Steve, or I'm going to delete everyone of your little comments.
And just for the record, what you say doesn't bother me or change me at all. It's like listening to a school girl who didn't get her turn at jump rope.
Rs6

5:31 PM  
Blogger Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

Dr. Gleason,

I am a deacon at University Presbyterian Church, and I was interested to find your post.

First, as far as time frame, that position paper was adopted a number of years ago. Hence, your bringing up the NPP/FV controversy from the 35th GA is anachronistic and unfair. Even so, it seems strange to say that the role of women is only "becoming" controversial. Duncan and Hunt, whom you quote, describe it as a “crisis” as of last year, and it has been a hot topic for quite some time (cf. the litany of books and articles on the subject from a variety of perspectives). Moreover, the paper (which is attributed to the entire session, not to Rev. Bates in particular as you have written in several places) only says that "few" issues are as controversial. They're not ranking the importance of all the controversies out there or seeking to elevate this one to the top. They're just stating the status quo: there is considerable disagreement on this within and without the PCA.

The vagueness in terminology that you identify seems to be shared by the session of UPC – they included the scare quotes because there are not easy definitions – and you apply “traditional” to your own church without giving any better definition of what you mean. If the UPC session is guilty of "vagaries," your post seems not to improve upon it significantly. For instance, "[I]n what I’ve read recently this tends to mean going beyond Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and the Book of Church Order." What recent reading are you talking about -- the UPC and Redeemer position papers? If so, in what ways does it go beyond our foundational documents? (And of course, I think UPC and Redeemer would say they are being more faithful to all of the PCA's foundational documents, especially Scripture.) If not, how is this not guilt by association?

You ask, "What precisely does it mean to give women the freedom to use their spiritual gifts fully within the church? Does it mean that if a woman says to you that she has the gift of teaching, or if a number of women come supporting this one woman’s gift to teach that she must then be allowed to teach men based on the notion that she has the gift?" I would respond that Susan Hunt, Elizabeth Elliot, Dorothy Kelley Patterson, and other contributors to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (a well-done and very trusty volume, even though I disagree with some of its lesser points), who obviously have a gift for teaching, have taught me much. I will dare to conjecture that you have also profited from the writings and lectures of these or other women on Biblical topics. I don’t see this as significantly different than Priscilla and Aquila both teaching Apollos (as you know, the verb is plural in Acts 18:26). The distinction I think UPC would draw is that the session is responsible for authoritative teaching. So, for example, an unordained man could teach Sunday school or a Bible study, but the session might declare that the content of the study is not the church’s official teaching on the matter (e.g., the age of the earth) or, more strongly, that it is out of accord with the church's beliefs (e.g., a different view of justification). Only the session can finally determine what is a matter worthy of discipline, and that means that theirs is the final, authoritative teaching.

Regarding Ms. James' talk, I feel you have misrepresented the nature of the talk and Rev. Bates' comments on the matter. He says, "Carolyn intentionally did not deal with some of the controversial issues surrounding the role of women in ministry. That was not the purpose of her talk. However, because these issues were not discussed, that left some people with a number of important questions about the role of women at UPC." Indeed, the talk itself was rather benign with respect to the issues you are concerned with. The omitted issues arose in the discussion groups that we broke into afterwards, and that is what Rev. Bates is referring to.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

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8:39 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Matthaeus,
Let me attempt to respond to some of your comments.
If you have followed the other articles that I have written you will see that I am aware that the whole issue goes back quite a while. Tim Keller (a classmate from GCTS) & I were very closely involved in the women's ordination debacle in the then UPUSA church. What I meant that in terms of people being very outspoken about having women deaconesses is of relatively recent vintage. People like Rev. Bates, Fred Harrell (before he left, of course), Tim Keller, John Smed, and others are making it a more public matter. Give the FV movement, that is a more controversial issue.
If my statements suffer from imprecision you certainly found enough to write about. I believe that what I said was pretty clear. Having said that, however, if I were vague please forgive me. What precisely would you like for me to clarify about my position that was unclear to you?
Going beyond Scripture would include Smed, Bates, Keller, and some in my Presbytery. It seems quite clear from the BCO that deaconesses are not an option in the PCA. You can do that elsewhere and, if I were convinced that deaconesses were allowable I would do one of two things: overture my Presbytery and eventually GA to change the BCO or I'd just leave quietly and find another denomination.
The difference of Elliot, Hunt, etc. in their writings are not operating in a local church setting where they are being given authority over men. No one is saying that men cannot and should not learn things from women. Can you point me to one Reformed church in the Reformation that had deaconesses? How about among the Puritans? I'm referring to women exercising authority over men in a church setting. I've learned many things from many women, but that's not the point is it?
I have read Mrs. James' books and have heard her lecture. If her talk were so innocuous, then why the response from some of your own people as well as Rev. Bates? I didn't hear the talk, but I have trouble knowing Mrs. James as I do saying that the talk was benign.
Thanks for the interaction.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

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8:58 AM  
Blogger Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

Dr. Gleason,

I do not have the time at the moment to respond more fully to your reply (I'm the sole caretaker for my little one while my wife is out of town), so I must be content to allow your readers judge for themselves most of the issues we have raised above.

However, I think you will find that neither Rev. Bates nor the UPC session has taken a position on deaconesses other than the BCO's (unlike Redeemer PCA, which "installs" but does not ordain deaconesses). Indeed, in Rev. Bates' blog post that you reference, he explicitly says, "UPC has taken no position on the ordination of women as deacons. However, the PCA has. Out of submission to the PCA, we do not ordain deacons. I have not studie[d] that issue fully, but hope to in the near future."

Blessings --M

9:00 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

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10:25 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Steve,
If you expect me to interact with you as a pastor in your denomination, then start talking like a responsible PCA member and stop acting like a spoiled brat.
BTW, Steve, there is a wide difference between arrogant and principled. A number of us here people whine constantly because we will not abandon our principles. I do know that if you were a member of my home church you would have had a conversation with the Session because of your attitude.
Your snide, stupid comments about me convincing you that Rev. Smed was wrong once again sounded like a catty girl rather than a man. If you want to discuss, try presenting some facts and substantiate your position from Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and the BCO. Otherwise, you'd do much better to remain silent.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

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10:37 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Goodness, Ron...is it something in the water? Or has Randy sowed tares on your blog? (grin)

Seriously, after reading through Matthaeus' replies, I am still not quite sure what he's trying to say.

This whole situation with the role of women in the church is not new, of course. What I find supremely irritating is that there are plenty of denominations out there who will give women whatever role they want. Certain fellowships were organized precisely because those who formed them objected to the liberalization going on in their former fellowships. But those who want to liberalize are never content to leave us alone. They follow us into our new fellowships and try to sow doubt and discord there too.

I am afraid only a firm hand will do in situations like this. If you allow them, they'll debate, argue, obfuscate, whine, object and catarwaul until kingdom come. Instead, we ought to allow them one opportunity to repent, and if they refuse, kindly show them the door. Maybe even with a little boot in the rump to speed them along.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Joel,
You should have seen the replies (rantings) of Steve. He's your typical thin-skinned Emergent.
Rs6

1:35 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

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8:48 PM  
Blogger Pastor St. John said...

Hi Ron,

I appreciate VERY much your allusion to the Hebrews passage about how the Sword of the Spirit cuts and pierces.

It is good for us all to be reminded that living by the Word of God may be very difficult and even painful. After all, it HURTS to be cut.

But it is a great thing to decide to live by the Word, no matter what pain it brings into our lives. Considering the sort of pagan world we live in, and even how secularism has invaded our churches big time, pain is what we ought to expect.

Thanks for the reminder.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

Hi, SolaMeanie. I was trying to say is that I think Dr. Gleason was unfair in his representation of Rev. Bates and UPC. For the specifics see above.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
No John wasn't thin-skinned. You are, but John wasn't. Moreover, John would also not have tolerated the nonsense that's going on in the ECM. Wasn't he the same man who wrote Rev. 3:14-22? Was he being unloving when he wrote that?
Rs 6

12:37 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Flexible One,
I wasn't being unfair to Rev. Bates, I was using his words.
Rs6

12:37 PM  
Blogger Matthaeus Flexibilis said...

Dr. Gleason,

I suppose we're at an impasse then.

Blessings. --M

2:04 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

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8:29 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:42 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Randy,

Didn't the Son of God also say we are to judge with righteous judgment? Doesn't Scripture also say we ARE to judge those within the church? Unbelievers are God's to judge.

Steve,

My, aren't the grapes sour today? I understand you being upset that Ron spanked you rather soundly, but that should give you time to reflect. Now go to your room and sit there until you're ready to behave.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy & Steve,
It's because I have a rather extended history with you Randy as have others. Given that history and your responses, yes, I believe that you're liberal and thin-skinned, but the two often go together.
Yes, Steve, my life is based on being stupid and deliberately lying. Thanks for being so astute.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

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7:19 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:24 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Randy,

Let me ask an honest question of you, all kidding and ribbing aside. I am glad that you have a strong Reformed tradition going back so far. That's quite a legacy. Now, what do you think your Reformed forefathers would think of the Emergent Church if they were alive today?

Another point. Regardless of what our traditions and heritage are, that really holds little water to what is happening today. If I am not holding to biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxis today, I cannot point to those who have gone on before me (and what they believed) to defend myself and what I believe today.

I have a strong hunch John Knox, John Calvin and Martin Luther would not have much use for the antics of some in the Emergent Church.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

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7:12 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Apart from the fact that you haven't yet answered by quote from Rev. 3 vis-a-vis whether what John recorded and Jesus said was "LOVING," so I'm still waiting for a response.
You wrote:
~ Let's talk about this... how does 'thin' or 'thick' skinned get defined by the biblical text?
Paul, Jesus, Isaiah, Jeremiah were thick-skinned; Ahab, Judas, and Rehoboam weren't.

~ How does conservative and liberal get defined by the biblical text?
The Sadducees were theological liberals. Many of the kings were liberals as were the false prophets.

My reason for asking: We love to define people, but it seems that the biblical text doesn't address many of the things that we love to throw around...
Maybe for you but not for me. Answer what I wrote above. You're quick with the questions, but don't seem to want to answer other people's questions. Oh, I left off two other liberals: you and Steve.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
One more thing. As far as caring for the poor is concerned our little congregation was just told that we collected more money for the street child ministry than any other PCA congregation. We sent them over $11,000.
My point here is simply this: You liberals don't have a lock on caring for the poor and needy; it's just a stereotype that people who care about doctrine don't care about people. That's about as silly as most of your arguments.
BTW, you owe Solameanie a thoughtful and honest answer. I'll be interested to see what you write.

7:33 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Randy,

Thanks for the reply. However, I have to say that I really don't know what conservative circles you are speaking of. What you say is often said i.e. conservatives care more about abortion than they do the poor, but that simply isn't true. Most churches with which I have been involved have a significant humanitarian component to them, all the while standing up for the unborn. This is really a canard, with all due respect.

I also can't agree that conservative churches gloss over or ignore hard questions. We deal with them routinely in my own ministry. However, we try to look for answers to those questions from within the pages of Scripture, illuminated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Look closely at what that Scripture says. How do we obtain true knowledge of Him? Through His Word. We have EVERYTHING we need pertaining to life and godliness through KNOWLEDGE of Him. The Word of God contains the answers to all life's questions. However, people often don't want to bother to look for them or dig deeply enough, or they don't like the answer they are given.

8:52 AM  
Blogger JohnnyBoy said...

What was the end result of your discussions about justification by faith / creation/evolution ???

1:12 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

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9:38 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
You are abysmally ignorant of the facts. Besides, if what you last wrote was supposed to be an answer to Solameanie, then you failed miserably, but this is what we've come to expect from you.
Jesus a liberal; phunny. Yep, Randy, Jesus had a slip-shod view of Scripture (John 10:35), the Church, and his impending atoning sacrifice. I think it's somewhere in 2 Hesitations 8:3 that Jesus says the atonement was going to be cosmic child abuse. Right after that he said something to the effect that Mary Magdelene had the gifts so she should be an elder.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

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10:04 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

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10:23 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ron,
Greetings from Holland, Michigan. Apart from the concept of Christian Feminism (about which I agree with you), I got a chuckle out of your article:

When I asked him why, he told me that he wanted his son-in-law to attend church more regularly and that he would not come to Grace. I thought the reason why was because we were a traditional congregation that oppressed and marginalized everyone not just the women. But that wasn’t the reason. His son-in-law, who had gifts of leadership, demanded that any church he would attend had to have at least 1,000 members on the rolls, be seeker-sensitive, and sing praise songs. This happens all the time with those who fancy themselves to be “leaders.”

Sadly, my little dying church had such people who left because leadership wasn't bequested upon them as they wished. I have learned, the hard way, the wisdom of the Belgic Confession:

So everyone must be careful not to push himself forward improperly,
but he must wait for God's call,
so that he may be assured of his calling and be certain that he is chosen by the Lord.


One such "bull in the china shop" did a great amount of emotional damage here at our little church. And I should have done more leading and less watching as the damage went on.

Back to the idea of Christian Feminism: Since the CRC has allowed the figurative cows out the barn, the women elders & pastors of the CRCNA will have their opportunity to continue to do damage to the denomination, sending it into greater neo-orthodoxy and liberalism as delegates to Synod.

And it won't be long until Gender Feminism rears its ugly head in Gender-Bending Feminism. True, a slippery slope argument is not logically consistent, the example of the PC(USA) and it's previous constituent denominations are examples worth considering.

Continued blessings, Ron!

7:32 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Your assessment that orthodoxy has not morphed over into orthopraxis in the 21st cent. is just dead wrong. you might be able to point to isolated examples, but on balance your assessment is, at very best, a straw man. It's typical though.
Did you read Jeff's post? What's his problem? Is he not emergent enough?
BTW, I have preached a series recently of 14 sermons on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I think we understand who he is and what he does.
No, I don't think the Pentecostals have it right vis-a-vis the Holy Spirit. Bad theology and bad praxis.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Jeff,
Hey, thanks for stopping by! It's good to hear from you. Also thanks for your very pertinent comments. It's great to know that there are still guys like you in the CRC!

10:41 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

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8:11 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Let me see if I got this right: You can't handle truth, right? Why is it that you liberals think that you can make all kinds of outlandish statements and anytime anyone disagrees with you, your feelings get hurt. Grow up and man up! You emergents get more and more effeminate every day. I'm not interested in dialogue for dialogue's sake. That's the mantra I heard from the liberals in Holland and Canada. I'm interested in biblical truth and not nonsense like Jesus was a liberal or anything from the "Ethics of Jesus" crowd.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

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8:23 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

As an honest follower of Jesus, when are you going to answer my question about John and Rev. 3? I would add to that 1 Cor. 5:12 & 6:2-3. They are just as infallible as what you quoted. Have a great week end.

4:48 PM  
Blogger SolaMeanie said...

Randy,

I'll comment between your italicized points in plain text:

I agree with you on this; one thing that has struck me over the past decade is how we often downplay the role of the Spirit inn our true 'KNOWLEDGE' as you put it.

It is true that some might downplay the role of the Spirit, but my position is that the Holy Spirit guides us into the knowledge of His truth through the Word of God, and He illuminates the Word to our understanding. The knowledge He leads us into will confirm and not deny His Word.

We need to continually be reminded that understanding and love for God isn't simply head knowledge. I may have much of Scripture memorized, but my understanding of Scripture and life is not illuminated by the Spirit? We need to recognize that 'KNOWLDGE' is does not automatically lead to such things as wisdom and discernment.

I have no real quarrel here, but I will say this. We can't divorce our minds from the Word of God and the Spirit working through His Word. God is the one who created our minds, and our minds are being renewed as the Word is implanted. Memorization and knowledge of Scripture is important, and the Spirit's illumination will not be separate from His Word. Both work hand in glove together. If we're not careful here, we end up floating off into some spiritualized mysticism where the written Word is divorced from our minds and experience.

We need to be reminded that the our world puts prime value on those who have much knowledge, and yet it's not the focus of Jesus. Nor is knowlege the untimate prize for followers of Jesus.

I have to disagree somewhat here. Eternal life itself is KNOWING God, and the Lord Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The practical things you are probably looking for in the Christian life i.e. compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, justice etc. are all FRUITS of the knowledge of God and His Word.



Solameanie, having grown up in the reformed tradition we put a ton of emphasis on gaining biblical knowlege. And I want to add, the reformed tradition righfully holds such a position. Much of the churhc in America has put little or no emphasis on biblical knowlege. Yet, the tradition also places little focus on the daily working of the Spirit of God in our midst. Sure, the reformers (Calvin included) have plenty of good theology written about the Spirit. But, that orthodoxy hasn't translated into 21st century orthopraxis.

I think that is painting with way too broad a brush. If you are perhaps alluding here to the practice of the sign gifts in the church, sure there are churches that do not practice those gifts. That does not make them devoid of the Holy Spirit working in their midst, and conforming them into the image of the Son.

I'll suggest that part of the draw of the Assembly of God kind of church is that they place much emphasis on the working of the Spirit. They are often misdirected in much of their theolgoy, but the emphasis on the Spirit is perhaps good, fair, and biblically accurate. The apostle Paul did tell us to keep in step with the Spirit. :)

I think we tend to compartmentalize God too much. Yes, we believe in a Triune God, but that Triune God is still one God. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have different roles within the Godhead, but each are complimentary to the other. The problem with the charismatic/Pentecostal churches is that they OVER-emphasize the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, with even more emphasis on the experiential rather than the authority of Scripture.

11:32 AM  

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