It’s Not About John Calvin

Blue Twirl Flip BorderChristians outside the Reformed tradition frequently accuse those of us who embrace Reformed Theology of following John Calvin rather than worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.  Perhaps our willingness to accept the Calvinist label,  contrasted with their general unawareness that they follow the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, causes them to make this mistake.  And very few will call themselves Arminians.

Most often, Arminians simply don’t know how much of their theology derives from teachings that Arminius began. Yet accusing Arminians of following Jacobus Arminius instead of following their understanding of Scripture would be absolutely unfair, as well as showing an ignorance of church history. Just as Calvin’s approach to doctrine didn’t reach full development until the Synod of Dort, so the Five Articles of Remonstrance weren’t drafted until the year after Arminius died.

I disagree with the Five Articles of Remonstrance based on my understanding of the Bible, in much the same way that Christians in the Arminian camp disagree with the Five Points of Calvinism that the Synod of Dort developed in response to the Five Articles. Although I pretty much subscribed to Arminian thought (without knowing I was an Arminian) for over three decades, my Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Apples And Pulpits

In response to a recent tweet by Beth Moore, I’m reposting my January 20, 2017 essay.

betty-portrait-paintedHave you ever noticed the parallel between Eve’s temptation in the Garden and women who qualify (or flat-out reject) 1 Timothy 2:12? I don’t remember where I first read about this parallel, so I can’t properly give due credit, but I must acknowledge that this notion didn’t originate with me. That said, I believe we need to consider the possibility that women who seek to teach men or who aspire to pulpit ministry commit the same sin that Eve committed.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Eve and her husband had been given full access to every tree in the Garden, with only one exception (see Genesis 2:15-17). She should have been thankful for the Lord’s abundant provision, but Satan twisted God’s Word so that she questioned God’s goodness…or at least her understanding of His Word.As I’ve studied arguments for the ordination of women, I’ve  noticed the same type of Scripture twisting.

Let me show you just a couple examples of how professing Christians try to explain away 2 Timothy 2:11-12.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)

The website for Brethren In Christ Church (I find amusing irony in the sexist name of the denomination) offers this explanation:

Paul’s seemingly prohibitive statement about women in public ministry is likely a response or plan of action to deal with women who were new Christians, talented, and endowed with spiritual gifts of leadership, but not yet trained and seasoned for leadership in the congregation. These new Christian women likely were also mixing pagan practices and Christian doctrine. One must keep in mind that prior to this time, only the men had the privilege of learning through formal study. Paul’s assertion in verse 11 that “women should learn” was indeed a new day for the believing woman.
Responding to the women’s lack of training and maturity, Paul therefore declares, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she is to keep silent (2:12 NRSV). The literal translation from the Greek is, “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach or to have authority over men….” The verb used is present active indicative. It was never intended to be a prohibitive statement or a prescription for all times, places, and cultures. If it had been written for that purpose, there are Greek verbs and tenses which would have been used to clarify the intention. (Source)

The appeal to Greek verb tenses almost convinces me, except for the fact that the apostle Paul based his restriction, not on 1st Century custom, but on God’s original order of creation and Eve’s vulnerability to deception (see 1 Timothy 2:13-14). And as for  “mixing pagan practices with Christian doctrine,” might I suggest that “Christian” feminism pretty much does the same thing by adopting worldly standards?

A website called Circle Of Christian Women evaluates 1 Timothy 2 in the context of wives and husbands rather than women in general:

1 Timothy 2:12 is not a blanket rule for all women of all churches. If it were, then the women could not speak at all, for the same verse that tells them not to teach also tells them to be silent.

If all women had to keep silent in church, then that would be promoting disobedience to God, for they could not prophesy, pray, testify, sing, exhort, do personal work, or even get saved.

Whenever an interpretation to a verse contradicts the rest of the teaching of the Bible, we know this interpretation is incorrect, for the Holy Spirit will never contradict His own Word.

This is the chief verse that is used to oppose women preaching and yet it says nothing about preaching, nor does it say anything about a public worship or church service. But, on the contrary, this verse is giving instructions to wives as to how they were to conduct themselves in regard to their husband. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:35, “And if they will LEARN anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” Now he states in 1 Tim. 2:12 that the woman should learn in silence, and should not usurp authority over the man. Paul is dealing with more of a home problem than a church problem.

This verse still applies to us today. It is wrong for a woman to usurp authority over her husband (in church, home, or any place else) as was the case in Paul’s day. She should not try to teach him or speak words that would cause discord and confusion, but should rather be silent and in subjection to her husband.

It is also to be understood that if anyone, whether man or woman, is usurping authority over the God-given leadership of the church, she or he is to be silent, and not to teach, or act in such a way that would create discord in the assembly.

Um, no. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, if anything, places further restrictions on women in church, and certainly doesn’t soften the impact of 1 Timothy 2:12. This argument just makes no sense, and it completely ignores the context of the verse. Like Eve, such people fall for Satan’s question, “Did God actually say…?” Despite all the wonderful ministries the Lord opens to women (including the joys of teaching other women and children) they want to also teach and lead men, unwilling to accept the only restriction that Scripture places on them.

As a redeemed woman, I trust God’s wisdom in “denying” me the right to teach men. Maybe men could learn something from me. But that’s really beside the point. Unlike Eve, I choose to appreciate all the wonderful ways the Lord does permit me to serve Him, realizing that He has every right to withhold certain spheres of service. May I serve, not by coveting ministries that He assigns exclusively to men, but in gratitude for the wide variety of opportunities He gives me.

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Saturday Sampler: February 17 — February 23

Artistic Swirl SamplerStephen McAlpine invites us to Imagine Waking Up Tomorrow and Only You Had Ever Heard of Jesus. He presents an interesting challenge. Perhaps we ought to take him up on it.

Writing in Possessing the Treasure, Mike Ratliff reminds us that It is the ungodly whom God justifies. Well, of course, you say — that’s basic Christian doctrine! But don’t be so quick. Might some lingering vestiges of self-righteousness linger in your heart?

Sadly, more and more evangelicals insist that God speaks to them directly.  In response, Clint Archer of The Cripplegate writes God’s Book & God’s Voice to provide a Biblical perspective on this matter.

Now that Tabletalk Magazine is online, you’ll want to read Is Boasting on Social Media a Sin? by Nathan W. Bingham. Okay, it convicted me. But if I need to be convicted, praise the Lord for His faithfulness to convict me.

On her blog, Morning By Morning, Melissa N. Williams shares How My View of Scripture Changed. A Tribute to my local pastor. She offers wonderful encouragement about studying the Bible appropriately.

Haven’t we all complained about the growing viciousness in society lately? SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God asserts that such ugliness results from years of encouragement toward self-love. Narcissistic Meanies explains how she’s arrived at her conclusion.

What is The Writer’s Responsibility? Elizabeth Prata answers that question from a Christian perspective in The End Time. If you only post on Facebook and Twitter, her counsel still applies to you.

Hopefully, most of us see though the nonsense of “Gay Christians,” but now there’s a push for equally nonsensical “Christian Witchcraft.” In an article for Abounding Grace Radio, R. Scott Clark reminds us that Not Everything Called “Christian” Is. Charismatics, his closing paragraph might interest you.

Ask your church leadership to consider Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse by Michelle Lesley. Her common sense and dependence on God’s Word always astound me, but this time she’s outdone herself!

Let’s close with Colin Smothers’ insights on the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood blog: CBMW Mailbag: Should I pursue marriage at a young age? Although this article ostensibly addresses young men, we women can learn valuable priorities as we either contemplate marriage ourselves or counsel our younger sisters in Christ.

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What I Don’t Mean, But What I Certainly Mean

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A few days ago, I enjoyed the opportunity to listen to Equipping Eve, Erin Benziger’s podcast for women. For quite a while, being on bedrest for my fractures minimized my access to my computer, and when I was able to use it, John was in the same room. Erin quite rightly requests that men not listen to her podcast because she teaches on it, so I won’t have it playing when John’s in the room.

I listened to the episode entitled Biblical Womanhood, knowing Erin’s aversion to typical women’s ministry. I wasn’t exactly sure how she would broach the topic, but I knew it would be interesting.

I wasn’t expecting it to challenge my current series on discerning God’s will!

Erin’s main thesis in the episode was that people typically present Biblical womanhood in terms of attitudes and behaviors we must adopt. We clutch our Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 checklists, resolved to make ourselves into model Biblical women. In so doing, however, we subtly bring ourselves back under law, presuming that our careful adherence to the apparent rules will make God love us.

As I listened to Erin, I wondered if my readers misunderstand my current series as saying that discernment Continue reading

It’s Okay To Argue From Scripture

Powerful WordConventional wisdom tells us that successful evangelism requires building a case for the Gospel apart from the Bible. Arguing from history, archaeology and science can substantiate Scripture’s claims, thereby convincing people of its veracity. And certainly history, archaeology and science does support God’s Word.

The problem with relying on disciplines outside of the Bible to defend Christianity, however, lies in the implicit (even if unintended) assumption that something outside the Bible has greater authority than the Bible itself. Even though non-Christians do regard these disciplines as more authoritative, when we Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: November 25 — December 1

Pointilized Heart Sampler

Maybe Mike Ratliff doesn’t say anything remarkably novel in his blog post, Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? for Possessing the Treasure, but his point really can’t be overstated. Current trends in evangelicalism must never eclipse the authority of the Bible.

Be honest: reading the Bible every day can get tiring. Thankfully, Ryan Higginbottom of  Knowable Word thinks of several ways that Reading the Bible for the Ten Thousandth Time can regain its freshness.

In response to the latest ridiculous Twitter pronouncement by Rachel Held Evans, Nick Batzig posts Jesus and Racial Bias in Reformation 21. I like the way Nick appeals to normative hermeneutics in order to demonstrate proper understanding of a Scriptural text.

A friend whom I highly respect has raised legitimate questions about the methods John Chau used in his evangelistic efforts to minister to an unreached tribe off the coast of India. Although I don’t wish to dismiss her concerns, Jordan Standridge’s 10 Lessons From The Death of John Chau makes extremely important points that all Christians absolutely must consider. You’ll find his article in The Cripplegate.

Check out Parking Space 23 for John Chester’s Reprise: So You Think You Are a Red Letter Christian? Even those of us who claim to believe the entire Bible has uniform authority might find his article to be a little convicting.

I appreciate the thoughtfully written John Allen Chau’s death stuns, angers, and perplexes the world, which Elizabeth Prata posts on The End Time. She evaluates the situation honestly, doing her best to cover all angles of the story. I especially love the hope she expresses as she closes this essay.

Leslie A insists that There’s More to Christianity Than Doing Good Works in an article for Growing 4 Life. Beginning with her brother’s interesting observation on the inoffensive nature of social justice, she discusses the mission we have as Christians — including the ramifications of carrying out that mission.

Think Catholicism has more in common with Protestant denominations than differences? Pope Francis would have you think so! Leonardo De Chirico of The Vatican Files chronicles the pope’s life-long devotion to Mary in 156. She is My Mamá — Pope Francis and Mary to show that the pontiff refuses to separate Christ from Mary.

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