Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Should Women Preach?

Moving from one state to another, you learn what makes people tick in comparison to those whom you have left.  For those who reside in Indiana, if you want to strike up a heated conversation, one just has to mention “time zone,” and you will receive an earful pro/con on being Eastern time and pro/con to daylight savings time.  It would seem that you would have walked into a minefield without knowing it.  Likewise, there are topics that are treaded lightly in Evangelicalism for fear of the storm that might arise.  Though there are many such topics, women’s roles seem to take top notch, especially in the culture we live in today.  It is a discussion that can be lively, we have churches that demand adherence to their viewpoint if you want to be members no questions can be raised on their beliefs, Christian publishing refusing to print from authors who may align on the “other side” of this issue. 

After so many years, one would think that this issue has been resolved.  Yet, it is still provoking angst amongst many a Christian.  In this article we will not be going over the old ground of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism.   To better understand my position, the egalitarians are busy trying to find new and improved ways to “interpret” the Scriptures towards their “view point” trying hard to find that silver bullet.  As one colleague commented, “the burden of proof was on the part of egalitarians to prove that the complementarian position was wrong, because the plain reading of the text is clearly complementarian.” 

Instead, I would like to work on the issue that is becoming a wedge between complementarians.  The disagreement comes from an idea that as long as the eldership/leadership is male, it is okay for a woman to preach the sermon on Sunday morning.  The argument goes like this:  The elders are in the position of authority and therefore they may permit a woman to preach.  By authorizing this, the elders can sanction a lady to step behind the pulpit, open the text, and preach and yet still maintain that since the elders are in charge, no harm no foul done in light of 1 Timothy 2:12-14.

Before going further, I need to define a few terms: preaching, teaching, and authority.  I was at a conference recently where one preacher preached on preaching (I know, a mouthful).  He stated that simplistically, preaching is none other than heralding or proclaiming and a preacher of Christ is one who heralds the good news or the gospel of Jesus Christ.  According to such a definition he challenged the audience that in this sense we are all to preach, both male and female.  Men and women are to proclaim or herald the gospel message to all.  I am not aware of a single person who would argue that a woman should not proclaim Jesus to an unrepentive soul no matter the gender.  I was also encouraged that he saw that proclaiming the gospel to others of the same gender was of great importance.  I am not aware of any complementarian who would state that a woman could not preach evangelistically to nonbelievers or to other women.  With regard to whether a woman’s proclamation to a mix gender group of believers, the speaker left it open and never address this issue in light of Paul’s admonition for restraint found in 1 Timothy 2:12-14. 

It is when we come to the church setting; the setting of public worship; the gathering of the saints that the problem arises.  Should, in this context, a woman be able to preach?  The preacher at the conference did not answer the question directly.  Indirectly, one may presume that he would have answered this question in the positive.  Yet by keeping silent, this may cause more harm to complementarian denominations than good if we do not wrestle and apply Paul’s teaching on this particular question in reference to the restriction that Paul placed on the female gender in public worship found in the above text.

In part two of this series, I will define, ‘teaching,’ and ‘authority,’ and answer the question, “Should a woman be able to preach?” 


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Visual, Audio, and the Word of God

A few weeks back, I came across a web resource called “Daily Audio Bible” (DAB) which does daily Bible readings.  This is a fascinating use of modern technology.  Personally, I think that this can be a very beneficial tool for the church, as we desire a deeper relationship with the Lord.  Having so many resources at our fingertips, we would be foolish not to take advantage of what the Lord has given us.

At the same time, there raises a deep concern within my soul for such ministries.  Listening to the introduction, there is Brian, the founder, a couple of testimonials sharing what the DAB is about and how it came into existence.  Brian adds on a devotional at the end of the reading clarifying what was being read.  Now, according to Brian, the Bible has a voice and if given a chance to speak it will.  Brian is just the vessel for that voice to speak.  Yet, he freely admits that he started a virtual community, becoming ordained and shepherding this “flock.” 

Is this a bad thing?  Not necessarily, I am glad to hear about someone taking on such a wonderful task.  The concern is based on a few items.  First, the usage of many translations should be a yellow flag to any person.  Not all translations are equal and some do an extremely poor job of translating the Hebrew and Greek text.  Second, by Brian stating that it is not his voice, he seems to misunderstand the value that reading the text aloud is inferring one’s own understanding of the text.  The way one emphasizes a word, to their breathing, to the speed at which it is read all inflect that person’s understanding of what God’s Word is saying.  Third, it is obvious that this is bigger than “just reading” the Bible, especially if he felt compelled to become ordained and attached daily devotions to explain what is being read.

With these in mind, one could see a possibility that people will stop reading the Word all together.  In fact, one testimonial states that she was unable to stay consistent in reading her Bible, when she fell behind it would become a checklist and not really absorbing what she is reading.  The devotion at the end clarifies what is being read and really helped her see the “picture” of what the Bible is saying.  There was no thought of reading along as Brian read the text of the day.  We Americans are prone to doing whatever comes the easiest.  We do not desire nor entertain thoughts of hard work.  If someone has already done it, why should we?  We want to multi-task of doing something and listening at the same time.  How well do we truly listen? 

The value of this ministry is to help supplement one’s own reading of God’s Word not replace it.  If a person replaces their responsibility to read, they can no longer be able to attest to what is being taught.  They would take the reader at his/her voice as to what is in the text.  It just becomes another avenue of just getting by in our walk instead of being a resource to deepen our faith, supplementing our own reading. 

Paul was encouraged when the Bereans search the Scriptures and John commands us to test the spirits.  How can we do either, if we surrender such responsibility to the need of convenience?   If our Bibles are collecting dust, doesn’t our souls as well?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hatushili's Home: Review: Family Driven Faith

Hatushili's Home: Review: Family Driven Faith

An excellent overview of a great book.

Public Schools: What should the Christian Do? – Part 2

The biggest concern is whether government school is solely a place for education or indoctrination.  If it is the former, then the Christian has no need for concern.  However, if the school is for indoctrination, then what is it indoctrinating our children with, especially when Christianity has successfully been taking out of government school.  It all boils down to the issue of world-view. 

Listen to what some prominent Christians are saying regarding the crises we have with government run education.  Dr. Tim LaHaye states, “One of the big problems we have today, I think is the Church…. The church is facing a serious problem of losing its young people to the world by the time they graduate from high school, and what is the reason?  Twelve thousand hours of secular humanist brainwashing….It is time we parents get our kids out of the public school.”[i]  Dr. LaHaye may not have known this but the most recent of research supports his main thesis in his statement.

Dr. Charles Stanley argues, “When you send that child off to school today, you’re sending them into a pagan society because…the school system is not going to teach them to believe God-not going to teach them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ-or to honor Him.  But they’re going to, by the way they teach, little by little, do what?… Attack their faith…teaching them ethics that are unethical according to Scripture, teaching them to  be willing to participate in immoral, ungodly, sensual practices that are acceptable to the world but condemned by Almighty God…”[ii]  He continues to comment that they may not acknowledge that it is what is happening but it is not what they say but what they do. 

The late Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote, “Of course, one of the most important concepts to remember is that God gave the job of rearing godly children to parents, not to the state or the National Education Association….The ones who will eventually pay the heaviest price are the children who are left to be trained solely by a false and empty humanistic education system which not only fails to educate, but fails to prepare them to become the moral leaders God intended them to be!”[iii]

If these men are not enough, consider Charlotte Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, US Department of Education.  She was also a local school board member and is the author of The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.  She described our governmental school system as follows:

You think the purpose of education is reading, writing and arithmetic?  The purpose of education is to change the thoughts, actions, and feelings of students.  Hitler wanted to control the educational system in Germany, Stalin did in Russia, Mao Zedong in China.  You have to get a hold of the minds of the young, where you break the person’s values; you break their understanding of their individuality.  You bring them to a consensus with the group; they become a member of the collective.  It’s Soviet education, basically-might as well say it- it’s Soviet education.  You cannot expect to have a smoothly running, world socialist system if you have people out there who are going to object to what you’re trying to do, so you have to brainwash them.[iv]

The sad truth is that all the information, the facts, leads to the conclusion that the US educational system is more interested in indoctrinating our children into secular, immoral, and godless ways of thinking and behaving than truly educating them.  Granted, there are Christian teachers in the government school system, and I would encourage them to continue teaching.  However, neither you nor I can be guaranteed that every teacher our child will be under will be of the same worldview. 

Unmistakably, we Christian parents are aghast when we see the problems, from the local bullying at the high school to diminished patriotism to a lack of moral standards.  Yet, we are as much the problem as the answer.  We just continue to give our government schools our kids, literally authorizing them, telling them that it is fine with us that you teach them secular humanism, that God is dead.  According to one study, more than 85% of Christian parents apparently believe their children are safe under the tutelage of public school.  We believe that since we turned out “okay” then they will too.  

It is time though for each Christian to examine the Scriptures.  Before we send our children to the school down the street, we need to step back and take the time to weigh the pro’s and con’s of this important decision.  There are other options available today for the Christian parent.  Government school no longer holds the monopoly in regard to equipping our children.  There is the private school, co-op’s, home schooling, and probably something in-between that no one has yet dreamt.  We are responsible for the training of our children.  It is time we take this responsibility seriously. 

[i] Interviewed on DVD Education in Today’s Culture: A Biblical Perspective 2004
[ii] Dr. Charles Stanley, “A Mother’s Greatest Gift,” Part 2 (DVD), In Touch Ministries 2007
[iii] Dr. D. James Kennedy, Truth in Education, Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc. 1996
[iv] Charlotte Iserbyt, as quoted in One Nation Under Siege, a William Lewis film, 2006