Wrestling With the Word

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87 Responses

  1. papiaslogia says:

    “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

    I don’t get Jesus prayer for us to “be one” in John 17:11.

    Either His prayer was not answered(yet), or it means soemthing different than what I think being “one” is.

    “We’re one, but we’re not the same
    We get to
    Carry each other
    Carry each other

  2. Nonnie says:

    Mine sort of goes along with Pap’s question:
    1 Cor. 12:12
    “12 For just as ithe body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and mall were made to drink of one Spirit.”

    Is this referring to the local church (your church or my church) or the church universal?
    I’ve been taught it is the local church…but how then can the body be “one” and it just be that one particular body ( local church.) What about the Christian church down the road?

  3. PP Vet says:

    I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that one must qualify all the specific guidance in the New Testament with “when that is the loving and edifying approach”.

    That is the only hermeneutic that can handle the role-of-women issue, for example. All the others that I have seen are ultimately just simply absurd and stupid.

  4. from this corner says:

    in Paul’s day and place it was the males that received education and i believe that Paul’s advice is sound – that’s all it is, not a command from God, Himself – like the head covering thing

    can we be one? of course we can, if one accepts the principle of born again being a new life **in Christ** … Let this mind be in you …. yada yada and so on … we can be of one mind

    we’ll wrestle with the Word as long as we’re in this mortal flesh … after that? i don’t know, but i expect the match will then be a whole lot more even

    this Lenten fast thing isn’t easy

  5. Gotta say, though I was one of the strictest and strident fundamentalists you would ever meet, I have abandoned requiring myself and others to approach the bible in the manner which my brother Michael frames in the initial presentation, and I’m glad he shares my struggle with texts which sound like they suppress women, and other texts as well.

    I simply refuse placing the requirement on this portable library of the sacred books of the christian faith that “it’s the word of God and it’s all the word of God and you can’t remove any part of it without having to take out all of it.” For me, now, that is an impossible artificial construct, an overlay, a filter which requires me to suspend my critical thought, deny clear evidence of the scientific method, and requires me to remain in a Bronze Age world view that is inhumane, and creates impossible conundrums or makes Jesus Christ, for me, out to be a monster.

    Having said that I freely and honestly choose to place my entire focus on Jesus as I find Him in the 4 Gospels. It may be ridiculed by most here as an irrational and illogical way of doing my faith, but that’s my reality and I’m sticking to it because there is more than a lifetime of challenge, encounter and presence of God within those texts which point me to a vital and living relationship with Jesus.

  6. I wrestle with Scripture, but ultimately I trust the Bible to be God’s word, so its really my interpretation that I wrestle with.

    As far as the verses about women in ministry, etc., we have to decipher what these words meant to the original audience, and then decide if these were ever intended to be binding moral laws.

    I would say no, that they were specific words for the original audience, and while they have underlying principles that are applicable today, they were not intended as eternally binding laws.

    My denomination disagrees with me on that 🙂

  7. I have verses that i struggle with. If I can’t figure it out though, then I don’t spend too much time worrying about it. I just chalk it up to me just being a man with a finite mind trying to understand an infinite God.
    What I don’t do is dismiss it out of hand or think that I am judge over what should or should not be included as the word of God. I believe it is all His word and nothing, not science, not so-called rationality, nothing will ever convince me otherwise. I don’t spend time arguing with others about creation. I know what I believe and that is sufficient for me.

  8. Scott Barber says:

    In the neo-reformed world I was taught to turn off all emotions, traditions, conscience, experience, and outside observation, and come to the scriptures with pure and utter rationality. Besides the fact that this is impossible…

    Jesus calls for us to come to him as children…you know…those purely rational animals…
    Paul implores us to employ our conscience as we wrestle with the demands of scripture…
    The Church Fathers routinely bring all their humanity to the text…including their conscience, traditions, and even contemporary scientific understanding

    Yesterday I was mentioning to a friend that I didn’t belive the conquest of Canaan narratives to be historical because God would never comand that and because of the archeological evidence against it…my friend pointed out that even if God did not command Jericho, He still permits the holocaust. I had and have no answer to this. Is it more or less moral to permit than it is to command?

    It is easy for me to say: “Gilgamesh, ANE cosmology, and science…therefore the flood never occurred.” And this is what I say if anyone asks me about it. But the text still ascribes this behaviour to God, no matter whether the text is mythological or not.

    I want to read the text as a human being, bringing all the epistemelogical tools I have been given by God to the text…but I can’t figure out how to do this.

  9. PP Vet says:

    For the record, although my views may be seen as shockingly liberal by some, I am still, at least by comparison to my esteemed brother ( |o )====::: (the commenter formerly known as G) , very much a traditional conservative on these matters.


    ) (

  10. PP Vet says:

    FYI in case anyone is wondering, I backed over my guitar in the driveway 🙂

  11. Ixtlan says:

    “It doesn’t make much sense to me to take away the gifts and influence of half the church.”

    A little shocked by that statement, but I’ll recover. Sounds very familiar to “but he’s such a good teacher”.

    Some of the most gifted, godly men and women that I know will never be on the radio, asked to speak at a conference, don’t promote themselves on every social media avenue that is available. They understand the words of John the Baptist where He must increase and I must decrease….. but then again, that doesn’t get the “gospel” out , does it?

    I think God is more involved in what is happening in corners rather than what is being proclaimed on the rooftops. Absalom was a mover and a shaker who’s most impacting work was done on the rooftop………

  12. “I think God is more involved in what is happening in corners rather than what is being proclaimed on the rooftops.”


  13. Reuben says:

    The book of Jonah, which I have taught to 3 different congregations. I believe I taught it all wrong.

    Jeremiah 29:11 makes me mad. The way it is applied. It has nothing to do with me, or you, or anyone else but to whomever it was written, yet it is tattooed on peoples backs. I saw it in Greek once. Dumb.

  14. I’m teaching through Jonah right now. I’d love to know what you thought was wrong about your presentation.

  15. Nonnie says:

    Reuben, concerning your number 13…..

    2 Cor. 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

    Wouldn’t that imply that spirit of Jer. 29:11 is also for NT believers?…that God is for us, not against us, has plans for us, purpose for our lives, etc, etc?

    Not being argumentative….sincere question.

  16. Reuben says:

    Josh, I will FB mail you later. Just got sent to a roof.

  17. Nonnie says:

    I’m in moderation 🙁

  18. Sounds good! Thanks Reuben!

  19. PP Vet,
    Nice guitar when viewed in a center justified text format! 😉

  20. papiaslogia says:

    “I know way too many gifted women who could bring those gifts to bear for the edification of the church.
    It doesn’t make much sense to me to take away the gifts and influence of half the church.”

    I guess thats why there’s so many denominations. If you don’t like how your group interprets and lives out Scripture, you go somewhere else that you agree with their viewpoint.

    That way, we really don’t wrestle with the Word. We go where we feel comfortable or whatever else we want to call the “leading of the Spirit.”

    Its either that….or we begin to throw out Scripture that we disagree with, instead of it molding and shaping our lives, we become those with itching ears, only hearing what we want to hear.

    Its all God’s Word or its not. Its not meant to be easy. Its meant to be wrestled with, to be upset about, to submit ourselves as under.

  21. Nonnie says:

    It’s interesting that in some church groups a woman would never teach because of God’s word, but a divorced pastor can, or a pastor who does not have good relations with his family….etc, etc……… (in spite of God’s word)

    These are things I wonder about.

  22. Correct Nonnie, the SBC is one fo those groups you speak of. It does seem hypocritical to allow changes to almost all of the biblical qualifications, except for the one about being a man. Funny.

  23. Chile says:

    Always thought it was funny that in some Baptist churches as a man or woman, one could murder their spouse, and still teach Sunday School, but if I divorce … no teacha for mea.

    In Mission circles we see many women who start out saying they are complementarian because they that’s what they grew up with; but once on the field, things change. When the woman looks around and sees no one else to do the job, she does it. She becomes an Egalitarian in practice and finds it makes sense. I suppose they have dealt with the problem Scripture that says women ought not to teach over men, as I have, and relegated that to a cultural issue of that day. If that take on Scripture is wrong, then there will be some splain’in ta do.

    The woman evangelizes, teaches, preaches, encourages, disciplines, etc… When she comes back to the States she’s shocked at how the women are a huge unused resource. Their giftings tend to be overlooked, underdeveloped, and often not used.

    I’ve found several of the women say we have to take Scripture as a whole and see how Jesus treated the women, how Debra in the OT was a judge, etc… The argument is that the Word is written with more of an Asian thought process than a Western one.

    I don’t know a lot about Asian thot, but I’m told it’s more of one story told at a time, that the hearer is supposed to stitch together as a whole. This is one reason for not proof-texting our arguments, as you already know.

  24. Reuben says:


    I honestly don’t know. I was just explaining to Josh that my hermeneutic has changed radically over the last couple of years. One of the things that has changed is my desire to draw a line between application (a work of Holy Spirit), and the literal meaning of the text. Literal meaning means taking into account things like who the letter was written to, and why. Same with Michael’s example verse. I am known to be very anti-complimentarian. People ask me why, in light of Paul’s instructions. My answer is simple, it was not written to me. It was written to a different time, culture, people, and things needed to be whipped into shape before the uneducated women ruined the church with their endless rants about stuff. That is not the case today. Most women I know are far more educated and responsible than I, my wife being one of them.

    I know I will catch a lot of flack for that, but I believe the historical/cultural contexts are things we refuse to see in the scripture, so we force applications on ourselves that are simply not there. I also believe that there is great error in pulling scripture from context and making them apply to someone else. That is God’s job.

    Like I was explaining to Josh on FB (should have just posted it here), the book of Jonah is not about Jonah. The application commonly served up from that book, I believe, is in error. Jonah is the bad guy of the story. God accomplished his will in spite of a class-a jackass. Nobody ever talks about the fact that Jonah is eaten for 3 days before he relents and cries out to God, but it preaches better to draw parallels between Jonah and Jesus? Nobody talks about the fact that Jonah waited outside the city to see God destroy it. Nobody talks about the fact that God stated he would relent from dropping a nuke because of the children and livestock. Explain these things? The book is about God, sovereign, accomplishing his will despite our will being every bit against it. God says to Jonah, “You whine about the tree which you did not make, and you did not cultivate, and you still want me to obliterate the city?” The book has more parallels with God’s explosive corrections to Job and his friends than us or our petty problems, or Jesus, or whatever else one can think up that preaches well.

  25. Reuben says:

    All IMHO. Not condemning or criticizing, the judgement is against myself. Like I said, I taught the book 3 times, and it was all about what the book means to, for, about me, and nothing to do with God. Poor Jonah, poor us… but God is good… blah blah blah…

    Nope. That is not the point.

  26. Steve Wright says:

    PP needs one of those ‘create a survey’ features. 🙂 Mine would be:

    A) Do you believe that women go through pain in child labor and delivery because of God’s curse upon Eve – per Genesis.

    B) Do you believe the author of that portion of Genesis was applying a “God” reason for what he had observed was in fact the common experience of women universally – that of pain in child labor and delivery.

    C) (Don’t think there is a viable 3rd option but if someone had one, it could go here)

    How one answers this question explains a lot about not only the passage Michael mentioned, but how one views God and how one views the Bible.

  27. Reuben says:

    There is a world of difference between Systematics and cultural/historical contexts. You can believe that every word of scripture is 100% infallible and still believe that it was not all written for Reuben Mills. It was written to show us God. We look to scriptures for ourselves, to see ourselves, to learn about us, to fix us, to get something. The Bible is not about us, it is about God.

    Much the same as the church. It is not our church, it is Christ’s Church.

    Let the flames begin…

  28. Ok, I’ll bite, Steve, since I’m curious as to where this line of questioning will end up…

    A) Do you believe that women go through pain in child labor and delivery because of God’s curse upon Eve – per Genesis.

    A answer: No. I believe that the act of pushing an infant through the birth canal is by God’s design, as is evidenced by all the other mammals on the planet, and none of them have a “fun” painless time. Genesis and other passages speak from a God-centric view that our brothers of the Jewish and early Christian faith, and these well meaning writers were answering the question of why based on how they viewed the world.

    B) Do you believe the author of that portion of Genesis was applying a “God” reason for what he had observed was in fact the common experience of women universally – that of pain in child labor and delivery.

    B Answer: Yes, absolutely, the question is properly frames and contains its own answer.

    C) (Don’t think there is a viable 3rd option but if someone had one, it could go here)

    C Answer: There is no viable option that could have arisen from that male dominated culture and time.

    It’s pretty apparent that well designed humans can have their pain and suffering misdiagnosed by well meaning religious sages of all generations who can speak poetically and beautifully about some things of the human condition but can totally miss the truth and reality with sin-casting and ignorance.

    So, what’s your point, Steve?

    Are you saying that to be approved by Christian leaders and the flock that we must believe that pain in childbirth is a curse sanctioned by God? Are you then going to say that the nobility of work and toil are the curse for men, and that is the only way to look at it?

  29. I answer A. Steve.

  30. Steve Wright says:

    Reuben, an elderly seminary professor of mine, a true saint of the Lord, used to put it this way. All Scripture is instructive, but not all is prescriptive.

    I agree. And I believe that is what you are saying.

    My hermeneutic is “literal, historical, grammatical interpretation”

    (And it sounds like you and I have much in common in teaching through Jonah)

  31. Steve Wright says:

    G – Now it is my turn to advise you to ‘lighten up’ as you did me last night. I was just asking a question. Not establishing a litmus test for “approval by Christian leaders”

    And I pretty much knew your answer already.. 🙂

  32. I saw someone on twitter say something to the effect that a sermon without application was useless. My immediate thought was that I would perfectly well just like to hear a sermon that shows how magnificent God is and the only purpose was to bring worship. I don’t believe application is always necessary.

  33. Reuben says:

    Steve, I like that quote. Love it.

  34. catherine says:

    Well, I hesitate to say this here–don’t want to start anything, but Reuben, your take on Jonah is very…Jewish…It is customary to read the book of Jonah during Yom Kippur and discuss it in depth. Jonah is shown in a not very flattering light, to say the least, but it really is about God and his care for his creation, yes even the animals and those who do not know their right hand from their left. I like to hear what you say because you are thinking outside the box–we need more like you. Don’t want to get into the Jewish thingie–just an observation for Reuben..carry on!

  35. I like my survey much better. How one answers is very telling how one reads the scriptures.

    True or False.
    1.) A woman gave birth to God.
    2.) God died one afternoon on a cross
    3.) A man runs the universe.

  36. Steve Wright says:

    Jonah’s ‘theme’ for lack of a better word is repentance. Making the Yom Kippur connection mentioned by Catherine quite appropriate.

  37. Jim Jr. says:

    “What Scriptures do you have a hard time accepting and incorporating into your own life?”
    I just pick and choose. I ignore the parts against women teaching because it is hopelessly misogynistic and indefensible. I pay attention to the parts against homos because that’s just gross.
    I ignore the pastoral qualifications because they weren’t written by Paul, most likely.
    I ignore the Gospel of John because he hated Jews.
    Mt, Mk, Lk, undisputed Paul, fini

  38. Jim Jr. says:

    As you can tell, I don’t have a hard time incorporating Scripture into my life. But then again, I’m not having intercourse with my mother-in-law, so that makes incorporating pretty easy.

  39. Steve,
    Ok, thanks, I’ll own it, I need to lighten up today, sorry for the snark, it was uncalled for, I should’ve assumed best intent and will do so here on.

  40. A. Michael’s Scripture is true
    B. We ordain women
    C. Draw your own conclusion


    A. Is it lawful for women to do good on the Sabbath?
    B. Yes
    C. God ordains women

  41. But to be true to Michael’s question, yes the scriptures bother me A LOT. Like those men who are suppose to lift “holy hands and pray” in every place … not just their closet… and no quarreling… (except on blogs) and I am still bothered about that whole selling everything and giving to the poor…

  42. Jim Jr. says:

    Good points, BD.
    I suppose beating oneself up for those you reference is the response I go for…no snark.
    Selling what little I have, obviously I haven’t done that. Since I won’t likely do that any time soon, I guess I’ll just tell myself that that is why I’m a cruddy Christian.
    If we all sold what we had, we’d have no computers, and the blogging would stand still real quick.
    Don’t you think this is reason to believe that God doesn’t approve of blogging? If the professing Christians would take Jesus’ command seriously, professing Christians would have no computers to blog with.

  43. But if I gave away all of my stuff, then I would be poor and then you would have to give me stuff. But hey, then I would have your stuff but I would have to give it away… but then I would be poor again and you would have to give me your stuff – but then I would have stuff again and I would have to give it away…

  44. Reuben at 27 – I don’t know why anyone would flame you for that view at all. I think you have perfectly explained the proper hermeneutic. That’s the main issue I have with the Elevation/Newspring kind of folks. (Well, other than the criminal harassment). They read the Bible as if they (the pastor) are the main character. The Hero of each story. Terribly dangerous and misleading way to use the Scriptures.

    My preliminary thoughts on Jonah:
    Seems clear to me that the main theme is God’s sovereignty. However, this book gives a rather nuanced view of sovereignty. Not the robotic, God’s in control – we’re all puppets, idea of sovereignty. It’s more like God has a will, and Jonah has a will. When the two differ, God’s will wins. I think there is some application to be made in that alone, though not in a broad, universally sweeping sense.
    Also, Reuben has pointed out that Jonah is the villain in this story, and he is correct. Jonah gets it wrong almost every time he can, unless God has a fish eat him. Contrast that with II Kings 14:25, where we see that Jonah was a true prophet. A real-deal servant of the Lord. Another application that can be made is: what made this true servant of the Lord get so far off course that he looks so bad in the book of Jonah? What does this say about the Nature of God and the people that Hes chooses to work through?
    Another point from the first chapter of Jonah, which I think has some application, is that there are three acts of God – 1. Calling Jonah to go preach against the Ninevites, 2. Sending a violent storm upon the waters, and 3. having Jonah swallowed by a fish. These are all acts that were taken very negatively by their recipients. Several thousand years later, we can see that these are all acts of God’s grace.

  45. pardon ze interrupcion. says:

    Hey guys. It seems to me Jesus never intended that statement of selling all your possessions to be applied to us. That was a specific conversation with a dude under the Law.

  46. I can’t tell who is being sarcastic in this thread.

  47. PP Vet says:

    Jonah was swallowed by a fish. After He arose, Jesus swallowed a fish.

    What a cool book.

  48. just saw a quote by Gordon Fee that said something like: If your application would not also be true for the original audience, then your application is wrong.

    I think I agree with that.

  49. Steve Wright says:

    Josh, another thing about Jonah BEFORE the fish. He professes the True Creator God, tells the men he is the one in sin causing the problems and then he willingly gives his life so others could be saved with the result that these pagan merchants end up worshiping and sacrificing to the True and Living LORD.

    (of course, they had to wake him up first 😉 )

  50. Steve Wright says:

    Having said that (above), my point was not to make a big deal in comparing to Jesus, but to simply show Jonah wasn’t a 100% screw-up.

  51. Good point Steve. Funny how Jonah’s ministry was crazy successful, pretty much in spite of Jonah.

  52. Nonnie says:

    I have really gotten a lot out of the Jonah discussion. Thank you!
    If you have the time, I would really appreciate any pastors or teachers commenting on my sincere questions (number 2 and 21).

  53. J.U. says:

    Nonnie asks a good question in her #2.

    I think some denominations think they are the “true body.” For example the Roman Cahtolic Church or Lutherans. Correct me if I’m wrong on that MLD. Yet even those denominations are split amongst themselves to some extent.

    Other groups say “all that believe in Christ are one” except maybe those and those.

    Then some are so inclusive of the body that they say all are believers whether they call god Jesus or Allah or the Great Spirit. It’s ll good.

    Isn’t that exactly one of the regular discussion themes of this blog? Who is in and who is out? Who is of the spirit and the body?

    Is it just the local church, or the denomination, or everyone who calls on Jesus’ name, or just everybody?

  54. Steve Wright says:

    Nonnie – half my Masters thesis was on your item #2. Shoot me an email and I will send it to you.

    I agree with you (and Josh) as to the double standard in your other question.

  55. Nonnie says:

    Thanks, Steve. I’ll give you my email on FB.

  56. Reuben says:

    Steve, Jonah knew he would be thrown overboard. He was committing suicide by owning up. It meant he would not have to go to Nineveh.

  57. Steve Wright says:

    Yes Reuben. Agreed. He’d rather die than preach to them because he feared what did happen might happen, namely they would repent and God would forgive. (Thus also his funk at the end)

    My earlier point though was that He COULD have stayed silent and taken the whole crew with him in that storm. He chose the other route, and those pagans did in fact praise the true God as a result.

  58. Reuben says:

    He cared more for his fellow man than God, and even in going suicidal, God was glorified. Explain that…?

    The book takes on a whole different meaning when we look at the hard stuff.

  59. Steve Wright says:

    Well, he cared for his fellow man that HE was responsible for putting in harm’s way (the sailors). He sure didn’t care for his fellowman over there in Assyria 😉

    It is a great ‘sovereignty of God’ book – no wonder you like it. 😉

    God hurled the storm, then the men hurled their stuff overboard to no avail, finally Jonah said ‘hurl me’ and so they hurled Jonah. Same Hebrew word (and a fairly rare one in Scripture)

    Fun stuff.

  60. Lutheran says:

    ‘I think some denominations think they are the “true body.” For example the Roman Cahtolic Church or Lutherans.’

    No, JU, Lutherans don’t believe they’re the true body. As far as I can tell, that award goes to Rome and the EO. And probably about 100 sects.

  61. Fly on a Wall says:

    Everyone’s favorite commentor is baaaaack! Just kidding.

    I wasn’t going to say anything about this post as I’m unpopular enough on here as is, but I came across this and I knew I had to share it. I don’t believe in coincidence. I didn’t write it, so you can’t blame me, but I agree 100% with what he says and he says it much more eloquently (and grammatically more correct) than I ever could.


  62. Lutheran says:


    How do you interpret Gal. 3:28?

    28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  63. Fly on a Wall says:

    Just some words of wisdom: I’ve struggled with this passage along with “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Of course being an opinionated, overly-educated female hasn’t helped any.

    The greatest wisdom came to me when my dear Brian was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, then got fired because of it. We were living off his retirement (which was very small) and struggling as we were both unemployed. But I noticed the unemployment had horrific effects on his psych, but on me, it was more the constant worry of having to pay the bills. While he mindlessly flipped between channels all day, I stayed busy doing household errand, cooking, shopping and doing other stuff that was deemed appropriate for a woman.

    I realized then that it was so important to have the man be the provider because it provided a role to his family. Without this role, they don’t have a purpose, while the women still have child-rearing, taking care of the home, etc…

    The whole problem we, as women, have problem with that scripture, it’s because of sin. It’s because men have abused the rules outlined in Corinthians and Peter to suit themselves. If the obeyed the flip side to the command, “love your wives as Christ loved the church” this commandment is no longer difficult for women to obey and it starts to make complete sense! (imagine that, God having a plan) I have someone who loves me very much and doesn’t lord over me, so it’s very easy to submit to him, and it should be this way in every marriage. And when he doesn’t have the responsibility to provide me, the relationship starts to break down, It’s not as strong, he doesn’t feel as needed and wanted. Not because I don’t love him, but because he feels he has NO PURPOSE. (haha, my ode to Warren, even though I despise him).

    Just my thoughts from the cheap seats.

  64. Fly on a Wall says:

    Lutheran: I’m not ignoring you, I just haven’t given it much thought. I don’t have an answer. I might by tomorrow morning. 🙂

  65. JU – Lutherans do not believe they are the true church.

    But to be fair, is there anyone here who thinks that the church down the street has more truth than their own church? You know “I know that my church is wrong on many biblical issues, but we stay here because we have friends here.”

    Everyone thinks their church is in 1st place (or at least tied for 1st) in the truest form of church.

  66. Although I am against women pastors and elders, I ask which is worse – women in the pulpit or – evangelicals (and CC has done this a couple of times) allowing Jews, who believe in a different God,to preach in the Sunday pulpit?

  67. Chile says:

    Fly @ 62,

    I was in a meeting where people were completing candidate school in order to be vetted for a mission agency. One of the young single ladies was ready to leave for the field and had vetted well. However, her church pastor told her she could not go, in-spite of a fair amount of people (including her family,) attesting to her maturity and excellence in leadership roles she had had previously within the church as well as in her ministry group at her college. The pastor felt strongly the young lady needed to live under a male authority, which he defined as her father and her pastor, with the pastor having the primary role.

    The mission told her that they had more and more problems over the years like this from pastors who were trained in the MacArthur style. The headship of man seems to have ostensibly been replaced by male domination in that circle. Such shifts usually come for the head of the movement/denom.

    Regardless of how one parses the Scripture on this subject, there is room for disagreement and still be within the pale. Mission agencies, by nature of the job, have to be very aware of tension in Scripture and try as best they can to stay within that tension. But when a young woman has the qualifications and everything is in place, yet the pastor decrees she needs to stay home to remain under male authority (disregarding the mission’s authority, accountability, and the authority structure and accountability of the team on the field,) something is wrong.

  68. from this corner says:

    Fly and Chile, what you are discussing will be a hard thing to resolve in these times … the whole dynamic of home and family that yesterday built our strong America is almost irrelevant in today’s economy … it isn’t so much that it’s a hard principle to defend as it is a difficult one to maintain – our present, prosperous, if tenuous, social dynamic is in flux – and it’s unbalancing today’s Church also … IMHO

  69. from this corner says:

    for instance in today’s news:

    “Parents across Massachusetts are upset over new rules that would not only allow transgender students to use their restrooms of their choice – but would also punish students who refuse to affirm or support their transgender classmates …..”
    Todd Starnes on FoxNews site

  70. Fly on a Wall says:

    Lutheran: that’s great scripture. I just got through reading it and to be honest, I don’t have a rebuttal.

    I believe the bible to be the inerrant word of God, therefore there’s no inconsistencies. Honestly, because it’s easier to believe this, because if we don’t then there’s a lot of things that can unravel.

    So coming from that viewpoint, I’m going to try to explain Gal 3:28. Could it be taken as pertaining to salvation and worth, but not pertaining to specific roles? As in no one is excluded, Jews or Gentiles, males or females, but they have separate roles?

    So far that’s my only answer, but I may write more if I run across something to un/support it. So far this interpretation of Gal 3:28 doesn’t jar with what I think it a consistent theme throughout scripture, especially New Testament; that leadership is not a position that is exalted or lorded, it’s more a position that has been entrusted.

  71. Fly on a Wall says:

    Lutheran: I replied to you but I’m being moderated. Please will someone unmoderate my #71?

  72. Fly on a Wall says:

    I heard this quote today, supposedly from our founding fathers. It rang so true to what we’re discussing here and to churches today in general.

    When the government fears the people, it’s a republic. When the people fear the government, it’s a tyranny.

    Supposedly this was the reason the founding fathers allowed the possession of fire arms and made this country a republic (not a democracy, details details).

  73. Fly on a Wall says:

    Chile: I agree something is wrong with that organization’s leadership if they won’t allow her to go on mission because she has to stay at home under male authority. Without knowing all the details, that’s all I can say.

    To play devil’s advocate: is she going to a place where she may be harmed? Maybe they want to avoid a lawsuit and a fallout if she got raped/murdered? That’s all I can think of because the excuse they give is absurd.

    But as for men in leadership, I as a women, am going to stick to literal interpretation of Scripture. One, because if we don’t, it opens a whole can of worms, people can start interpretating whatever they want into scripture and use this as precedence. Secondly, what Paul instructs in Timothy is not out of line with the rest of Scripture. Sure, it made more sense back then, and I’m sure it’s been abused throughout the ages, but if it promotes peace and order within the church, I’m all for it.

  74. Chile says:

    She was going to an international Christian boarding school in Germany. Not to much to fear there.

    I hear your desire to interpret the Scriptures literally. I believe the motive is one of a desire to be obedient. But when deciding which hermeneutic to use when interpreting the Scriptures, you run into real issues that require “wrestling with the Word.” One passage tells women to cover their heads, to not speak in church, etc… There is the one about hair being a woman’s glory, which some interpret to never cut their hair, and then there is the don’t wear jewelry or braided hair, as well.

    I still totally believe your desire is a great one … but there are associated problems with always interpreting every passage in an absolute “literal” way.

  75. Chile says:

    I’d love to hear someone who understands Asian thought, or has read a book about it, explain how the Scriptures can be looked at from a different perspective than we do with our Western thought.

  76. Anne Kohut says:

    Though maybe not exactly what you are looking for Chile – An Eastern Orthodox monk evangelizing in the East wrote a very interesting book called “Christ the Eternal Tao” by Hiermomonk Damascene. He dedicated it to the 1000’s of Chinese christians who died during the Boxer Revolution. He was an evangelist who taught the gospel from the perspective of the Chinese language and philosophy. Wonderful writing, art and caligraphy. It is very rich in Chinese philosophy in comparison and contrast to the Christian faith. A wonderful book that either Xenia or one of her friends turned me onto.

  77. Lutheran says:


    I don’t know anything about this book — but looks like it might be relevant to your #76.. On Amazon I searched it for “Asian,” and that term came up 10 times.

    “Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible”


  78. Lutheran says:

    Also, these books:

    The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…And Why
    by Richard Nisbett (2003, Free Press)

    Also, anything by Philip Jenkins on world Christianity I’m sure would be quite helpful.

  79. Lutheran says:

    ‘I still totally believe your desire is a great one … but there are associated problems with always interpreting every passage in an absolute “literal” way.’

    I agree with Chile that understanding Scripture, especially when it comes to interpretation, is quite complicated and multilayered, IMHO. I think we should be wary of easy answers that don’t require study and often struggle. It’s too easy to read into it what we want to find — that’s called eisegesis and we all do it. No one comes to the Scriptures without certain presuppositions and assumptions.

  80. Chile says:

    Thanks! These books look interesting.

    My friends who have been working in Asian Cultures for the last 25 to 30 years look at Scripture very differently. Whenever I bring up some of these discussions that are common for Westerners to struggle with in Scripture, they tend to roll their eyes. They respond that they are not going to put time into such a discussion with a Western thinking person, and an Eastern thinking person won’t think to discuss it. I really need to better understand how it is that they look at Scripture as a whole?

  81. Chile says:

    @70 From this Corner,

    That’s nuts!

  82. Patrick Kyle says:

    I realize that my views will not be popular. I speak from a place of frustration and also fear. I don’t read the Gospels much anymore because I see how much that I rationalize away and it makes me uneasy. The Church is complicit in this too, with sermons and Sunday school lessons that gloss over or ignore the plain meaning of the texts. (As a Lutheran I often get the Law/Gospel pass on hard texts) I am talking about ‘conservative’ churches, not liberal mainline denoms. The scripture Michael references is just one example. We are so culturally saturated and poisoned with the idea that our culture is the cure to the old ‘evil’patriarchal cultures, that we are outraged at such Scriptures. Paul clearly says that women are disqualified from the office for their part in the fall (Eve sinned first) We are disqualified from stuff all the time. Because of education and personal choices there are jobs that I am disqualified for. End of story. However, we will not hear such a thing.
    How dare God hold us accountable for our sin and let us live with the consequences of it, especially when it is forgiven. We engage in hermeneutical acrobatics ripping verses in Galatians referring to salvation and bending them to contradict what the same Apostle said elsewhere. We/I do this with other scriptures too. No wonder the church is so messed up. God have mercy on us.

  83. Lutheran says:


  84. covered says:


  85. from this corner says:

    Patrick, FWIW, i think you’re thinking this actions and consequences issue through pretty well … but there is another data point in the Adam and Eve story to ponder … Adam listened to Eve tell him about her ‘experience’ with the fruit and her counsel overrode his “talks” with God 🙂

  86. Anne Kohut says:

    @ Chile – I found this story of a young missionary’s experience serving in Cambodia to be a riveting, thought-provoking read: http://wideopenground.com/2013/01/26/missions-from-an-unfundamentalist-christian/

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