A Place at the Table – Pt. 3 January 27, 2009Posted by Matt in A Place at the Table.
Tags: Bible, Biblical Interpretation, church of christ, idolatry
I know it has been a few weeks since I last posted on the issues surrounding the role of women (or lack thereof) in the Church of Christ. In that time, there have been several comments both on my first “A Place at the Table” post (the comments were inadvertantly turned off on part 2) and the “Case Against Lads to Leaders” post from before then. In these, several people took the time and space to write out verse-by-verse how they felt about my prior statements – why they were either right or wrong.
Originally, I had it in my mind that I would do something similar and use the Bible to try and make my argument, but, after reading the arguments from both sides another question came to mind, arising like a phoenix from the leftover ash heap in this fight over Biblical interpretation. So, the more I thought about it, the more it plagued my thoughts and the more it affected my writing of this next installment.
So, I have decided that, instead of rambling on and on with my own opinions, I would pose the question to you.
Have we (meaning in my context the “Church of Christ,” but anyone is welcome to comment from their own situation) turned the Bible into our idol? In our zeal for having things exactly right have we elevated the scriptures to an unhealthy level? In our desire to parse each syllable of each word have we turned this volume from antiquity into a golden calf?
A Place at the Table – pt.2 January 14, 2009Posted by Matt in A Place at the Table.
Tags: Bible, church, Divine Inspiration, Paul, Plato, role of women, theology
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When looking at the role of women (or lack thereof) as discussed in the New Testament it only makes sense to begin with the author of the majority of the books, Paul. Over the years his writings have been held in high esteem and with great reverence, for it is through his words (many times as seen through the lens of those coming later) that the church came to be and then evolved through time. There are several avenues for criticism of these revered writings, though, both generally speaking and within the context of women’s issues.
To begin with, it is important that we have a healthy view of Biblical inspiration. Are these scriptures truly infalliable and inerrant? Are they truly the perfectly exact words of God as whispered to the writer in a sort of divine dictation?
Paul was certainly a brilliant and learned man, and he was one who used a variety of resources in his writings. For example, just a bit of rudimentary research will show his reliance on the ancient Greek philosophers, in particular Plato. I have written about this in greater detail in the past and do not care to retread the ground I have already covered, so if you care to read about the connection between Plato and Paul, you can do so here. If this is truly the case, then it must be asked what this means in regard to divine inspiration. Was Plato merely copying God’s dictation as many believe Paul and other Biblical writers to have done? It is important that one take these things into account before making blanket statements regarding the entirety of the Bible as the product of perfect divine revelation.
Secondly, it is important that we see that a distinct line (and perhaps more than one of them) can be drawn through Paul’s contribution to the Biblical canon. On one side you find Paul’s theological ideas involving justification, the relationship of Judaism and the newly formed Christian faith, and a myriad of others. The other side consists of Paul’s practical instructions to individual churches, giving them advice on subjects befitting their individual contexts within the community. Our conversation will continue on this second side.
Keeping the right perspective on Paul and his works will be essential as we move into his actual writings regarding women.
A Place at the Table January 13, 2009Posted by Matt in A Place at the Table.
Tags: change, church of christ, patriarchy, role of women
Following the small firestorm over last week’s Lads to Leaders critique, I’ve been thinking a good deal about the roles of women in the Church of Christ and I wanted to lay out a few of those thoughts to you. Today I’d like to take a look at the idea of a patriarchy and why, in our post-modern society, it no longer will suffice. A later entry (I’m not ready to commit to tomorrow yet) will offer criticism of the New Testament teachings regarding women. I ask that your comments please remain civil.
I imagine that times were harsh for the people of the ancient world. As hunter-gatherers and later cultivators of the many times unforgiving soil, physical strength and endurance became tantamount for survival. It was in this atmosphere that men, with their greater muscle mass and inability to experience the perceived weakness of pregnancy, took the reins, first of families and later of entire nations. Leadership positions then went to the mightiest, strongest individuals, who were more often than not men and the patriarchy was born.
It was against this backdrop that the collection of books that we know of as the Bible came to be written. So, it is of little wonder that the books contained within the Scriptures, which were all written by men, regarded the male gender as superior to the female. This may have been appropriate given the time and culture in which these writings were authored, but today things have changed.
Our ideas have evolved quite a bit over the thousands of years, though. Women have ascended the proverbial ladder on a playing field that is becoming increasingly flat due to our society’s reliance of technology over brute strength. Women control major corporations and lead nations and now, for the most part, are seen as equals with their male counterparts.
Yet the path to equality remains blocked in some places. These bastions of backward thinking hold fast to the old ways as their absolutes, denying those of the female gender an equal part. In my world, this is no more apparent than in the Church of Christ. Like a two year old refusing to relinquish something of value they scream and throw a tantrum when a sensible adult tries to gently coax them.
It has arrived. The revolution has begun. It is time to revisit those once bedrock theological assumptions and realize, whether we like it or not, that change is upon us.
To be continued…