Thursday, March 27, 2008

INCREDULOUS

Definition........."Incredulous"......[ expressing disbelief]

That's what I'm doing. Expressing my disbelief. I cannot believe the nonsense I've read in the comment sections of some blogs over the last several days.

For example..Jesus was subordinate [according to one pastor] to the Father because of the nature of that relationship and so should the wife be to her husband [as pictured in the Trinity] because that's the way relationships were intended from the beginning. The subordination within the Trinity was used to prove that authority in relationships has always been God's way.

I wonder what happened to the equality of the Godhead? What happened to the study of the Greek language where the word 'hupo-tasso' was used to speak of one who was of equal voice AND value choosing to stand under and serve and was the word used of the submission of Jesus to the Father? [Which was the word used of the husband/wife relationship also.] What happened to the word in the same Greek language 'hupo-akuo' which was used of an inferior submitted to a superior but was NEVER used of Jesus to the Father OR in the husband/wife relationship either?

Another example of what leaves me incredulous as I read comments on blogs is the idea that women are not to teach the scriptures to men because this shows authority over men which is wrong. A woman is NEVER to be in authority over a man. [Said the commenter.] So..I guess this would mean, one.. you have to declare Christian women off base [sinning] who hold authority over men in our society..OR.. two, you would have to declare whatever organization a Christian woman might be in.. a 'church'.. if you don't want said woman in authority over said men in your said organization.

If the first is true one would be establishing a biblical standard for a society made up of unredeemed people with the same standard one would have for the church. If the second is true you are totally identifying the church as an organization and would have to declare ANY organization where this principle is put into play..A CHURCH. [Which one Seminary has done.] You've got to be kidding me. I don't know which is worse. The institutional church idea or the universal standard for all lost people idea.

Another example of what makes me incredulous..is one where some one stated that if you don't believe 1Timothy 2:12 is saying that a woman is to never have authority over a man..[as stated by that commenter...others say it refers to times in the church] and were you to think otherwise you don't believe the bible and can't have fellowhip with him.

So, because of my view which is that 1Timothy is speaking about one situation in one church.. [the language is singular].. and Paul uses a word here for 'authority' that is found no where else in all of scripture, or classical Greek either for that matter, [There is evidence it WAS used as slang in the streets with a sexual conotation in that day..ie..a woman using sexuality to gain power over men.] and was probably refering to a woman in that church converted out of the worship of Diana, whose temple was outside the city, who may have still had some old habits that needed addressing by Paul, since the mystery religion of Diana held strongly to women being created before men and superior to men in every way... [Thus, in context, NOT a universal principle, and I see this BECAUSE of an historical, grammatical, and textual study.]... I'm unable to fellowship with this commenter BECAUSE I don't believe the bible. As I've said, you've got to be kidding me.

His idea loses sight of a thought well expressed by someone who said.."Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t give you enough evidence, one way or the other, to settle a question beyond the possibility of a continuing discussion and debate. If this is true, and if the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit does not remove this ambiguity, then there are points beyond which discussion and debate ought to proceed only with considerable and generous amounts of respectful humility."

One final example of comments that leave me incredulous. Some one said that the attitude I just refered to in a quote is REALLY the view that is narrowing the parameters of our convention life and is being divisive in suggesting that there is NOT a clear biblical statement on ALL issues. All Baptists will know the truth about these issues of authority, or women, or the make-up of the church or whatever if we just believe the bible. To suggest a thought on something other than what is stated in scripture, as they interpret it, or the BF@M, as they see it, is dividing us. As one commenter said to another SBC pastor, "Shame on you for being divisive in SBC life." [Because that SBC pastor believed there were lesser important truths that we could hold different interpretations on even in the BF@M and still fellowship as SBCers.]

Add to all this the one hour conversation I just had with a trustee of one of our SBC Seminaries [which for the moment will remain unknown unless he reveals the information though I have his permission to reference this] who will not be renominated for the position because of his bad behavior and divisive [there it is again] attitude. His bad behavior? He asked for information on the use of some money designated for one thing and used for another by a Southern Baptist state entity. His divisive attitude? When he was refused the information he asked why? It became obvious to him that to disagree with a decision made and to ask 'why' about that decision was seen as divisive. His actions and attitude were reported to the powers that be and he will NOT be renominated as a trustee of one of our Seminaries. He was never contacted about any issue of action or attitude that resulted in his being dropped from the trustee nominations until after the fact and, then, not by those in charge.

I'm wondering if those in charge of that particular SBC state entity and several other SBC entities I know about have ever pastored churches. For a Pastor/Elder to be asked 'why' is par for the course and that Pastor/Elder had better have a good answer for the questioner. That is, unless of course, there is more than one Lord over the church. There does seem to be a danger of there being more than one Lord in Southern Baptist life in these days.

As I said, "incredulous" is the word that best describes my state of mind at the moment.

Paul B.


27 comments:

traveller said...

Sadly, I am no longer incredulous about these attitudes and actions. These are considered normal.

On the seminary trustee conversation it is interesting to me that people in positions of authority in the SBC believe they can withhold information and claim to have integrity. Even the non-believers understand the requirements of integrity in secular organizations. So, the most unfortunate result is the lost credibility of all who follow Jesus because of the lack of integrity of a few.

Paul Burleson said...

Traveller,

You would think that an old guy like I am would NOT be incredulous about all this. My wife says I'm a romantic, that serves us well in a marriage.

Others say I'm an idealist. Maybe so. But where Baptist life is concerned these days...there is no romantic idealism left. [Perhaps there should have never been any. :)]

I DO thoroughly enjoy life, family, and what I do by way of ministry. Maybe SBC life isn't as important anymore. [It never was really.]

Thanks for stopping by.

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

The longer I sit here the funnier it gets. It is just SOOOOOOOO human.

On just one point .. the equality of the Father and the Son: if that were NOT the case, then Jesus could NOT have made a decision NOT to consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. And He would not have had to take on the role of a human, a servant, as He would have been that already.

Those folks seem to want the hammer but they don't want the head or the handle. There AIN'T much else!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Paul: I know you will take this in the spirit intended when I say "Yay, Paul." I'm also glad you gave the definition of incredulous, I would have had to look that word up. :)

I agree, and I cannot tell you how hard it is as a Christian woman, who truly love Christ and longs to be a part of a ministry to hear these things. When I was a young woman, I longed to do things that I was told(by all except my father, who actually supported me) that I could not, it wasn't proper for a woman. At 52 I am doing the very things that I was told I couldn't, but I do wish I could have been doing it longer. However, God's timing is never wrong, this I do know. Thank you Paul, not only do I wish Enid were heard, but Norman OK as well. :)

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

What an excellent point about Jesus choosing to not grasp equality but choosing to take the form of a servant. He chose it. No record of the Father demanding it. It was restored to Him when He returned to the Father. Great point.


Debbie,

I've got to use big words once in a while to keep up with folks like you on my blogging. :)

Good for your Dad and good for your Pastor who is really making an impact for discussing this whole issue that is way overdue for discussion in Baptist life.

traveller said...

Paul, I am an idealist or romantic as well. I am encouraged because I believe God's Spirit is at work and there is a reformation among the church at large. Since my heritage is Southern Baptist it is sad that SB's seem to be far behind the curve on what God is doing. Even more sad is the fact that many, if not most, SB's actually believe they are at the forefront of what God is doing.

But I do revel in what the Spirit is doing today among those who are his followers and those at large in the world. And, I wish to be a part of that work. So, if I must chose between the SBC and the Spirit it is an easy choice.

Paul Burleson said...

Traveller,

You are my kind of Kingdom guy.

Bryan Riley said...

I suppose incredulous is good, Paul, but I have to say that I often see it as evidence of our own fallenness. And, then I find myself wanting to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and adjudicate such people as "wrong," "bad," "mean," "prejudiced," etc. Meanwhile, God gently reminds me to love them as He does. And He reminds me that I don't understand Him or love Him fully either. And that I often fall off the horse on one side and then the other.

The good news is that all of this drives us back to Him. I am not; He is. They are not; He is. God please help me to seek You first in all things and to live in the reality that the fear of man is not a spirit you've given but that you've given me power, love and a sound mind. Let me walk in love, not in judgment - for myself and others.

Paul Burleson said...

Bryan,

I agree with what I hear you saying, especially your last paragraph. However....

While I do see the things I mentioned having read in the comments that have created this incredulous moment in me as evidence of our/their fallenness...I have to admit to desiring to see more evidence of the Grace that is real in us/them and that we/they are to life out daily with each other.

I'm not even pretending to place myself in the camp of Paul the Apostle, but I imagine what I feel is something akin to what Paul must have felt when he wrote of his astonishment that the Galations were so quickly removed from the Grace to which they had been called. I think he was saying he wished for something more for those folks. So do I.

Lin said...

"His bad behavior? He asked for information on the use of some money designated for one thing and used for another by a Southern Baptist state entity. His divisive attitude? When he was refused the information he asked why? It became obvious to him that to disagree with a decision made and to ask 'why' about that decision was seen as divisive."

I have witnessed this over and over at quite a few Christian institutions (I use tht word on purpose...including para church orgs and Christian schools)

It is 'divisive' to disagree with Leadership.Talk about a 'proof text'!

This is becoming more the norm and examples are made of those that do and others learn from the example. There is a price to pay for questioning and dissent. A dear friend of mine paid that price recently. As a long time elder of a mega, he was rotated off because he rooted out some very bad behavior with the sr. staff. Of course, other elders had brought in these wonderkinds and had to save face and no one wanted the bad publicity of dealing with the real problem. Better to save face and media scrutiny than deal with evil in the camp. So, we kill the messenger and ignore the evil and never once consider souls that are obviously not traveling on the narrow road.

This insidious teaching of eternal subordination of the Son has me totally perplexed. Are these brilliant theologians really that desperate to PROVE natural heirarchies that they would resort to this? Without a united will there is NO Trinity.

It really gets silly when you think of it. If Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father then Who does the Holy Spirit 'report' to?

Our friend, Cheryl Schatz is working on a DVD on this subject.

Paul Burleson said...

Lin,

It is unfortunately the norm now days. I'm convinced the idea of an heirarchial system as God's original plan is faulty theology completely. If Cheryl goes after it I'm getting my notebook ready because whatever she puts out will be worth having.

By the way Lin, my next two posts will be written primarily because of an EXCELLENT comment you wrote on another blog that set me to desiring to address the issue you commented on. So, I'll be writing about how culture may/may not be affecting interpretation of the text of scripture.

R. L. Vaughn said...

So, because of my view which is that 1Timothy is speaking about one situation in one church.. [the language is singular] Brother Burleson, when you write the above and also that Paul is "probably refering to a woman in that church converted out of the worship of Diana" are you saying that this statement is made about one specific woman in particular?

and Paul uses a word here for 'authority' that is found no where else in all of scripture, or classical Greek either for that matter, [There is evidence it WAS used as slang in the streets with a sexual conotation in that day..ie..a woman using sexuality to gain power over men.] I believe the Kroegers made the case of that meaning, while Grudem argues there is no evidence for 'authenteo' as sexual slang. What do believe is the evidence for 'authenteo' being a sexual connotation in Paul's day?

Thanks.

Paul Burleson said...

R L Vaughn,

Yes. I came to the idea Paul was speaking about a man and his wife from my own study of the text in the original.

I'm with the name Richard Kroeger and I believe his wife is Catherine. They wrote the book "Suffer not a woman" a few years back but I do not own nor have I read that particular book. I have read Grudens'.

I came to the 'possible' sexual connotation of the word historically from reading the research work done by the Elders of the Church of the Open Door in Minneapolis several years back when they were investigating the role of women as Elders scripturally. David Johnson is Senior teaching Elder. His Dad is a Southern Baptist Evangelist whom I've had the pleasure of meeting in Florida. That research is now in my office which is yet to be unpacked and at present is uninhabital since building a new office in my back yard. This may break my lazy spell and get me on it.

Aussie John said...

Paul,

As I read your blog I am reminded how virulent the SBC "disease" is because it is all over this Great South Land.

As brethren such as yourself and Bob comment I am encouraged because I know there are others whose hearts grieve about the present state of what was once a brilliant beacon for Christ, but is now so worldly it resembles the self-centered pig swill of the political scene.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks. The first idea seems strange to me. I'm going to take a look at it in the original, though the nuances of the Greek language are definitely not my forte. Did you encounter any textual variants?

I vaguely remember the names David Johnson and the Church of the Open Door. Seems I remember reading a position paper by them on baptism several years ago. Any idea if their research on 'authenteo' predated the Kroegers, or if it came later?

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie John,

You know, when you love someone or something and degeneration takes place in the relationship or the character of the one loved...there is grief and concern. What is NOT needed is an unwillingness to see the problems.

Unfortunately, what you are seeing is something some of the older ones like myself and Bob are seeing. Let's keep praying, if God chooses, a turn-around will happen.


RL,

The singleness of 'woman' in verse 11 of 1 Tim. 2 and in verse 12 also got me started looking. [By the way..as others have pointed out gune and aner used together are generally translated husband and wife in other places.]

What started me in this direction was when someone [The President of Western Conservative Seminary..his name slips me.] several years ago got me to thinking when he pointed out that the 'silence' of verse 11 could be, in context, translated 'peaceableness' as it is in verse 2 of this chapter. The 'But' of verse 12 would be in contrast to verse 11.

So... you would have Paul stating it is alright for a woman [that woman] to learn but she is not to try to control her relationship with the skills [sexual] used in the mystery religion out of which she was redeemed. [This because of the lanuage, history of that church, and my acceptance of St John Chrysostem's translation of 'authenteo' [which appears no other place in scripture] in his 1 Tim. Commentary as 'sexual license.' Combined with the Historiographer Michael Glycas's translation as "making sexual advances to control" it all gave me pause and a need to challenge my long held position of whether it is an eternal principle or a situational thing.]

It was finally because of my understanding of the New Covenant NOT being based on or guided by race, age or gender as Acts proclaims and the ministries of Jesus AND Paul point out, I had to be honest with my own understanding. I CAN assure you it has NOTHING to do with whether our culture thinks something is right or wrong. I'm too old to go there. :)

Bob Cleveland said...

God can do anything He wants, any time He wants, anywhere He wants, to anybody He wants, and do it any way He wants. But, I have to ask, why would He clean up the mess folks have made of the SBC?

I think it's all evidence of the end times. In my own little world, I see more of the blessings and movement of God outside denominations than I ever did inside, and I think it's evidence that God's current mode focuses on those who bear fruit.

Well, that thought takes me 30 minutes to develop and I'll sit down with you sometime, Paul (Indy?) and go over it. After toasting our favorite Benefactor, perhaps.

Lin said...

Wow Paul, I am honored! And looking forward to reading it!


You wrote: It was finally because of my understanding of the New Covenant NOT being based on or guided by race, age or gender as Acts proclaims and the ministries of Jesus AND Paul point out, I had to be honest with my own understanding."

Me too. Everytime I read this....

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

....I get chills and can almost hear the gasps from around the table. I can imagine the Apostles were overwhelmed because they knew the prophecy of Jeremiah:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

I know the feelings you are expressing and also often ask.."Lord why would you even bother to do anything when I, they, we....[whichever the case may be.]

But then I think of Ninevah....and Jonah...and realize that sometimes God brings life out of the deadest places. If that is true..there may BE hope for the SBC.


Lin,

You and I both know there are others who could/should do any writing on the subject of the influence of culture on how we view/interpret scripture because of their ability that outshines my own. Cheryl Schatz comes to mind. In fact, I think YOU would say it better than I...but...I'm going to tackle it anyway and hope for the best. :)

Lee said...

One of the great things about the Christian "faith," and I'll put that word in quotes to return to it in a moment, is that it has its complete foundation in grace through faith in Christ, and as Paul says, even that is not of yourselves.

I believe a lot of the chase for doctrinal purity, with the attempts at the finite, exacting translation of the original languages, and the various nuances and directions that can be taken in interpreting what ultimately never turns out to be as clear as we would like to think, is nothing more than an attempt at defending presupposition. The scriptures are sufficient for providing us with all we need to know for our salvation, and to bring us into the kind of relationship that God desires to have with us. I believe the scriptures themselves teach us that in the places where we fall and fail, and where the clarity of the scriptures doesn't present itself to us in perfection, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, carry us through, inspire us, indwell us and justify us before God, because we have accepted the sacrifice of Christ, and for no other reason. The differences in interpretation regarding the qualification or ability of a woman to preach the gospel or teach the scripture are nothing more than that, differences in interpretation. A differencein interpretation over a woman's role in the church is not a test of fellowship between believers, at least, I see no place in scripture that indicates it would be.

I am amazed at the twists, turns, pushes, pulls, distortions, rule changes, exceptions, perceptions, and exhaustive detailing that some people go through to arrive at the conclusion that their interpretation of some obscure passage of scripture is not only correct, but is the newly discovered secret keystone that unlocks the rest of the Bible's mysteries, so that we can all see it the way they see it.

It is some kind of "immaculate perception," I think.

Paul Burleson said...

Lee,

Your comment is one of the best on the subjet I've red. I think it deserves a wider readership as a post. I'm serious. Especially these two classic comments....

"I believe a lot of the chase for doctrinal purity, with the attempts at the finite, exacting translation of the original languages, and the various nuances and directions that can be taken in interpreting what ultimately never turns out to be as clear as we would like to think, is nothing more than an attempt at defending presupposition."

And.....

"It is some kind of 'immaculate perception,' I think.

Good stuff. Thanks for commenting.

Paul Burleson said...

Make that 'subject I've read' PLEASE...thanks. [%;30 am is too early for me to be writing obviously.

bryan riley said...

I totally agree with your assessment of Lee's comment (with typo correction, of course, including the fact that I think you meant 5:30 a.m., not %:30). :)

Paul Burleson said...

Bryan,

At that time of the morning, I can't even type typos correctly. That's pitiful. Oh well.... :)

traveller said...

Bob, I am not sure if what is going on is a sign of the end times but it is certainly a sign that the "times they are a-changing". Generally, I see a movement away from traditional institutions at all levels: local institutional churches all the way to national/international denominations. The move it appears to me is toward more organic, smaller, de-institutionalized, de-programmed, de-centralized and networked. While what is going on in the SBC has some unique characteristics to our history and circumstances, it is much broader generally, even among Catholics and Anglicans.

I have found a couple of recent books by Roger Olson, a professor at Baylor, to be good reading. It is balanced but gives perspective on what is going on among evangelicals. The books are: "Reformed and Always Reforming: The Postconservative Approach to Evangelical Theology" and "How to Be Evangelical Without Being Conservative". Don't let the references to Postconservative and the idea of not being conservative put you off from reading the books. He has very specific definitions of the meaning of conservative. These are balanced and thoughtful presentation of ideas.

I also saw a quote on Scot McKnight's blog in one of the comments today that is thought provoking on this topic:

“It’s difficult to get the same fruit as the early church when we value a book they didn’t have more than the Holy Spirit they did have.” Bill Johnson from "Dreaming with God"

Bob Cleveland said...

Traveller,

When God's blessing seem to be flowing out through "non-denominational" entities, I have to wonder where God's going to go, next. It seems to me this is part of assembling and preparing the bride for that wedding thing I've read about...

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

Don't feel bad. I occasionally read and comment as early as #:00.

Sometimes even @:45.