Saturday, November 22, 2008

SOMETHING OF MY STORY

Someone asked me elsewhere if I would share something of my story. So for them, here goes.
Do not suppose however, that knowing something of my experiences will enable anyone to then claim that my understanding of Scripture is experience driven. It is not. Though my experiences do give me an insight into some aspects of life, my life experiences did not reveal to me truth or healing. God’s Word and God’s actions in my life did and do.

I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school for my early grades. My family taught that the man was the leader and a woman had to follow, obey/yield to her man if she expected to find happiness. And a husband was the way to happiness for a woman. I was abused and sexually molested from a young age, and raped several times from my teen years to a young adult. I witnessed how the men in my extended family treated their women. My mother divorced my father when I was very young, married another when I was in “middle school” age, and though he was the love of her life, he was very promiscuous. There were a couple women in my extended family who ruled the roost and I was not impressed with them. My uncle was such a good man, yet his wife and his daughter were abusive. It never occurred to me that there was another way to do life and marriage. Because of these teachings when my first husband said he was not ready to raise a child and required that I give up our child to adoption at birth, I thought I had to do as he requested. Until that time I did love him. After that I had to leave him as I could not bear to be around him for the inner pain it caused me to have to give up what has now turned out to be my only child. And in my early 20’s I seriously contemplated suicide.

That is when the Lord found me, drew me to him, lifted the burden of sin off my shoulders, convinced me that He loved me, revealed to me who Christ was and His great sacrifice, and touched my life in an inexplicable healing manner. Slowly, God began to show me in Scripture that He loved women as much as He did men, that He was able to use a woman as well as He could use a man.

God revealed to me what true equality in spite of differences was about, and is still revealing this to me. At first I did not want to accept that this could be true, because the traditional view of a woman needing to be a certain kind of womanly before men would accept her was ingrained so deeply in my psyche. I fought with God that that could not be what Scripture was saying, that men would simply not accept a woman who was not what I learned from Catholicism and traditionalism. But slowly I began to believe as the Lord took me through the Scriptures.

I had bought some Greek and Hebrew books and researched words on my own. I read voraciously every study resource I could find. I thought I had discovered a secret that God hadn’t revealed to anyone else at first. And then I began to run across other Christians who had “discovered” the same about traditionalism and the Scriptures. Paul Jewett was a big help. Joy Dawson, an incredibly anointed woman who preached and taught in YWAM also helped. Even Kathryn Kuhlman was a help and a woman who had her own Christian university, Marianne Sitton. After them, I began to find Christians who believed in Biblical equality and mutuality all over the place. And I continued researching as I do yet today. Very early as a Christian I went to a Lutheran Bible Institute, took a couple years of courses, including how to correctly inductively study the Scriptures. I’ve been studying, researching, and teaching ever since for about 36-37 years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WOMEN PRIESTS AND BISHOPS

In certain eras of our Christian history women did the work of overseers but were not called such. However, it seems that earlier in our history, closer to the time of Paul and the apostles, some women were actually doing the work with the titles.

In the church of St. Praxedis in Rome there are some interesting mosaic portraits portraying pictures of women bishops/episcopa. One is of Bishop Theodora. Another of St. Praxidis, a woman bishop with her son pope Pascal I.

There is a floor moxaic covering the tomb of Guilia Runa (pronounced Julia). Giulia Runa presbiterissa was a presbyter, that is, a priest.
Some other women named as priests (found on their tombs in Rome) were “Veronica presbitera daughter of Jesetis”, and Faustina presbitera”.

In the catacombs of Priscilla, there is a fourth century fresco. The fresco shows a male bishop ordaining two women. This is seen by the garments worn by the bishop and the women. The same liturgical vestments the women were wearing are worn by Catholic priests today.

This information with pictures and more like it can be found in some of the calendars that CBE sells. The above is from the 2003 Calendar. I’ve also got the 2007 Calendar.

Friday, November 14, 2008

ROLES AND COMPLEMENTARITY

Complementarity is not ONLY about women being primarily nurturers and men being primarily providers, although most Christians agree those are accurate facts. To be complementary means forming a complement, completing each other. The concept and word was born in 1590-1600. Although I believe that when Paul said for husband to view wife as “body of” and for wife to view husband as “head of”, he was mirroring the two being complementary to each other and together forming a complete whole. The meaning of complementary is not directed at any specific particulars.

So, ”complementarity without hierarchy” is in fact staying within the correct realm of the actual meaning of complementary. As such there is no requirement for hierarchy in being complementary. If pressed I believe that egals are perhaps being more complementatry than those Christian who coined the term complementarian some 10 or so years ago. While Complementarian evolved in meaning to limit the women to roles in which they complemented men in certain ways and freed men to be everything else (thus complentarity is achieved by restricting one group to promote the freedoms of the other group), I don’t really see that as real complementarity.

Some non-egals argue that egals say there are no differences in how men and women are to relate to each other. They claim the goal is to be symmetric. They then conclude that If there aren’t any differences in gender roles or in how men and women are to relate to each other, then egals are assuming no differences between genders.

Egals don’t say that there are no differences in how men and women relate to each other. There are no required differences in addition to natural differences. Because individuals are so different it is not displaying God’s unconditional love toward others to require them to fit your picture of acceptable roles for men and women in life. All men are not lovers of blue ‘things’. All women are not lovers of ‘pink’ things. This should give you some small clue that we do not in any way preach symmetry. To tell all women to be the same and all men to be the same as is preached by some hierarchalists is far more symmetric.

There are many activities associated with gender. But there are few inherent activities associated with gender. Childbirth is an activity that is inherently a woman’s activity, in the same way that inseminating a woman is inherently a man’s activity. An inherent activity is one that the opposite gender is not capable of performing at all.
Roles of many sorts are not an issue of inherent abilities but are man made organization of activities that groups of people decide that certain groups of people should do. The concept of ‘roles’ came in about 1600 in France and referred to an actors part in a play. It is not a Biblical concept that I have found.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

RECIPES FOR THIS, RECIPES FOR THAT, AND MORE RECIPES.....


Recipes are good to get a gist of how to balance things. Recipes are nice because one does not have to think. But if what you are using the recipe for is important, then it’s best to just allow the recipe to give you a general direction and to put brain in gear to hammer out the details for yourself. Any really good recipe is made to be adjustable. Any really good recipe is open to improvement.

Notice how God does not give us detailed recipes but more like some fixed details yet mostly general directions in which details can be filled in by us. The OT which was a schoolmaster while Israel was growing, was a bit more detailed. And that is because we were less mature as a species. They didn’t graduate until Christ came and offered an invitation into the next school, maturity, by His death and resurrection. Many have chosen to skip “maturity” and just hoof it in life where they were without Christ, without God, without the instruction and equipping of the Holy Spirit. We who are Christians are in the real school of life, to gain maturity (we are to all grow into the fullness of the man Christ Jesus) by drawing close to God and yielding to both His written Word and the living instruction of the Holy Spirit.

Regarding recipes (rigid roles) for marriage, In my view, a Christian couple should peruse the recipe’s that are floating around these days too numerous to mention. Then they can take what seems good and toss the rest as they adjust the recipe to fit their needs. Then with the help of God they can yield to the Holy Spirit to help them mature into one new entity, a mature union of two living harmoniously as if they were really one.

That’s my 2 cents
To all those who claim that egals spout sameness,

I don’t know where you heard this from but it appears to be a strawman (empty caricature) that gets presented for demolition every now and then. So go ahead demolish it. I’m right there with you. It’s not our strawman. I don’t know who he belongs to.

Christians who believe in Biblical equality do not believe men and women are without innate differences. We do not wish for men and women to look or act alike. We do not wish for Christians to all look or act alike. Thank God He made men and women different. But let’s not paint all men blue and all women pink trying to emphasize the differences or make new differences. God did a fine job that doesn’t need improving upon.

OK. End of rant! ((SMILES))

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thinking Again About 1 Tim. 3:1-7

I always find it interesting how we arrive at our conclusions. Do we take into account the differences of languages. When there is a question do we do some research on the original language. By research I do not mean checking Strong’s (the least accurate ‘dictionary’), but looking in as many Greek-English dictionaries we can and checking to see what various scholars think. Do we consider history and culture of the time? Do we check what the early churches were doing 300-600 years later? Are we on the alert for idioms? Do we consider the differences in Greek thinking and Hebrew thinking of the Biblical era? Or do we just believe our local leaders because they are leaders and should know. Are we open to the possibility that no one may know the answer to our questions for certain because it was 2000 years ago and some things have changed beyond comparison?

1 Tim. 3 starts off with pistos ho logos – faithful is the saying. And continues with ei tis – if anyone (anyone means ANYone, not just men) – episkopE oregO kalos ergon epithumeO - supervision is craving, of ideal work he is desiring.

OK, so the faithful saying (is that referring to a local well known saying, a slogan or colloquialism?) is that anyone who desires to minister in supervision is desiring a good thing. Its ideal work; it may even imply that it speaks well of the person who desires to serve thus. So, if someone wants to serve thus, we should be proud of him/her. They deserve a pat on the back for such servantmindedness. Yet, many today would say that if a woman desired to serve in her church in either supervision or ministry (diakonos = transliterated today as deacon), people assume and infer that she is seeking to grasp power. But Paul specifically said “anyone who desires”. So what do we make of that.

Then we have a list of qualifications for those who are desiring the good work of supervision.

Bruce C.E. Fleming in “Familiar Leadership Heresies Uncovered”, lists the furst 12 qualifications as such:

1. Above reproach – the overarching requirement
2. Faithful spouse – as applicable, some were single
3. Temperate – self-controlled (cf. Titus 2:2,5)
4. Sensible or sober – found here and in 2:9a, 15b.
5. Orderly – also used in 2:9a, 15b
6. Hospitable – a wordless ministry (1 Peter 4:9-11)
7. Apt at teaching – ministry of the word (2 Tim. 2:24)
8. Not excessive drinker – or not quarrelsome over wine
9. Not a striker or not pugnacious or a bully
10. Forbearing or gentle – (Phil. 4:5)
11. Uncontentious or not a brawler – (Titus 3:2)
12. Not-avaricious or no lover of money (Heb. 134:5)

Verses 4-7 are qualities showing spiritual maturity:

1. one who leads, manages, guides own household (proistemi – before standing, leading, presiding)
2. having own children in subjection with gravity
3. not a novice (lest he become puffed up with pride and fall into condemnation)
4. having a good testimony (reputation) among unbelievers (outsiders) so as not to fall into disgrace and a snare of the devil.

If we look at the qualities as a list we see they are a list of inner, spiritual characteristics that every believer should aim for. Even being an apt teacher is something every believer can achieve as they mature in their relationship with the Lord. Let the older brethren minister to the younger, let us look out for one another, etc. is a common theme in Scripture. It is not terribly difficult to look up the meanings of words, do the cross references and see this is a reasonable list we can likely all agree upon with the exception of one phrase in vs. 2.

Interpretively translated as ‘husband of one wife’ in most bibles, the Greek is simply “of one woman, man” – heis gunE anEr. Different church denominations and different nations have interpreted this differently. Some have said it meant one had to be a husband, but it seems to me to be a really circuitous route to say that, plus there is nothing anywhere in the Scriptures that requires one to be married in order to serve the Lord. Another meaning has been that a man must have only one wife versus two or more wives, yet while this is a reasonable requirement for ANY married man, it is not one addressed as such in Scripture elsewhere. Another interpretation is that a husband must have married only once, not divorced and then remarried. This I find very far fetched as there were specific requirements for divorce both before and after Christ and divorce was not considered a stigma against the divorcee. And then we have the interpretation that because it is mentioning a husband, then it must mean that one who wishes to be an overseer must be a man. However, taking that interpretation would also mean tagging all the other ideas of being married, and not twice, and having only one wife versus two or more, along with it. But the direct problem with that interpretation is that it would make Paul first words of “anyone who desires” of non effect. It is my opinion that we should read the Scriptures in such a way as to not “strike out” things in other parts of Scripture. If we understand Scripture correctly, it should not be a matter of striking out or nullifying other parts but of all fitting together in a reasonable manner.


”According to Lucien Deiss (notes to the French
Bible, the TOB, Edition Int├ęgrale, p. 646, note a), this
Greek phrase was used in Asia Minor, on both Jewish
and pagan gravestone inscriptions, to designate a woman
or a man, who was faithful to his or her spouse in a way
characterized by “a particularly fervent conjugal love.”

When I read Deiss’ comment about how this phrase
was used on ancient grave inscriptions in Turkey, where
Paul and Timothy ministered, I confirmed it with him
myself, reaching him by telephone in Vaucresson, France.
Some might find this insight into 1 Timothy 3:2
surprising because modern versions of the Bible
translate this Greek phrase as – “husband of one wife” –
making this qualification appear to be restricted to men
only! Instead, rightly understood, this qualification is
about faithfulness in marriage by a Christian spouse. It is
not saying that oversight is “for men only.”

Pages 87-88
Think Again about Church Leaders by Bruce C. E. Fleming (Think Again Series)
or pg 128 in ‘Leadership Heresies” http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3FYPTYWIELEZD”


So, I’m only addressing one question of why some think women cannot be elders or deacons. I’ve shared a few of my reasons why I say that Biblically women can serve in any ministry. My question to you is how do you arrive at your conclusions for this section. How do you take into consideration chapter One and Two. How about chapter Four where Paul is admonishing Timothy not to neglect his gift (11-14). How about chapter Five where Paul speaks of elders (neither male or female) presiding well (proistEmi).

Perhaps, someone can look up proistEmi, episkopE, and presbuteros and tell us what they find.

Please share what you think.