Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I'm going to address something that I've noticed is a problem with much of the writing that professed Christians are doing on many of the blogs I read today. I'm going to illustrate the problem AND a response to the problem that pictures what true grace looks like in my personal opinion. My source for the illustration is from a blog hosted by Scot McKnight. If you haven't kept up with Scot's blog, do yourself a favor, look it up and do so from this point on.

The exchange is between two men named Steve and Doug with a response from Scot. I'm using only first names as my point is not people but a problem we all tend to have as we write either blog posts or comments on blogs. It will help for me to set the stage a bit.

Steve and Doug are commenting about Scot's post on women in ministry. Doug agrees with the idea that women may serve even as Pastors biblically and Steve does not believe that. Each has been commenting on their position on the issue. Then it gets a bit rancorous in tone. Here is Steve's final comment to Doug...

"My position is not my own. I'm standing on the shoulders of historical, orthodox Christianity. (Sorry for confusing you on this as it doesn't appear to be a concern for many on this thread). Those for women in pastoral ministry & oversight are standing on the past 50 years of the woman's movement in America. It's amazing that the only history that applies to us is that which we are currently involved (again..appealing to historical illiteracy). If you want culture to dictate your hermeneutics, then you've got a big problem being tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine.'

'You've added nothing to the discussion. If you want to discuss scripture, that's great. I just don't see anyone discussing scripture as the final authority in this matter."

Do you see the problem? How about this statement?... "Those for women in pastoral ministry & oversight are standing on the past 50 years of the woman's movement in America." In other words, if you disagree with my position, Steve is saying, 'you do so because you have been influenced by the women's liberation movement of the past fifty years.'

That's a problem because it is stated as fact without any supporting documentation. It is reported as fact when it is simply his opinion. [He thinks it's valid, obviously, but he says it as if there is no question as to the incorrectness of any other view on it. But making matters worse is the dismissive, condescending, even judgmental words said to a brother.

Therein IS the problem. Stating an opinion with no appreciation of differing views and stating it with an implied "end of discussion" tone which smacks of an "I'm superior to you" view of one's self. This obvious arrogance and lack of civility with people who hold differing views of things is permeating our culture AND CHURCHES. I believe it is a major problem and one we Christians will address if and when the Spirit of God ever moves us to renewal or personal revival.

Now I want you to see Scot McKnight's respose to Steve. Read it carefully...

"Steve, I can't say I've seen you on this blog very often, so we are glad you have joined in. Blogs have cultures and approaches, and the one thing this blog fights for is civility and trusting that we are here for the glory of God and for the good of one another. Hence, we do what we can to avoid calling one another names and there's another element that comes into play here: there is a history of how this blog has addressed the women's issues in ministry. It can't be said this blog has failed to discuss the Bible, and you can dip into the Women category and find plenty of discussion. Furthermore, I have a book called The Blue Parakeet where one third of the book deals with the biblical passages. Those discussions are assumed on this blog.'"

Furthermore, it is a little testy of you to suggest these issues are based on the last 50 years of the feminist movement for not only can you not prove that we are each anchoring our ideas in a cultural feminist movement, but you have plenty of passages in the Bible that reveal women leading and at significant (your word, not mine) "roles." We have to deal with Junia, who is an apostle; with Phoebe and with Priscilla.'

"One more point: to suggest that the views of many here are culturally based and yours is not is a little gamesmanship that will be contested every time at this site. Why? We humbly admit here that each of us is shaped by culture and that every theologian in the Church was shaped by culture and that the biblical authors themselves were shaped by culture. Cultural illiteracy then is unwise and unfair, and puts you into a position of being pushed into a similar corner. I did a series on a book by a Catholic historian who had good arguments for showing that the decisive change that restricted women happened in the 12th Century, some of which was passed on among Protestants, and one would have to be conversant with some of the comments and beliefs by early theologians that are not only objectionable (Augustine) but flat out contrary to the approach of what the Bible describes in women leaders. Deborah, Miriam, Huldah come to mind.'

"In light of all the biblical discussions I -- and many of us here -- have come to a conclusion that the Bible endorses women leadership, including teaching and preaching and pastoring, and this letter is one suggestion of a way to get such a conversation started at a local church.'

"I'm sorry to be so direct, but your words are strong enough that they deserve a firmer response."

Scot McKnight

I've come to the firm conclusion I want my demeanor and words on my blog and any comments I ever make on another blog to reflect the spirit of Scot McKnight's response.

May God give us a baptism of just that spirit.

Paul Burleson


Bob Cleveland said...

It has always struck me that the Bible is full of instructions from the Lord as to how we are to get along with (particularly) fellow believers. Somehow I think He is up there, keeping an eye on us, to see just how much it takes to tip us over the edge, and disrespect, vilify, denigrate, condescend others. I just don't think He approves of us doing that, and I'm a sonofagun if I'm going to let anybody get away with pushing me there.

Paul Burleson said...


All I got to say about what you said is..Attaboy.

Aussie John said...


Sounds like you've been around for a while :)

Very wise words, and much needed, and appreciated.

Whilst I can admire someone who is passionate about what they believe, I will admire them even more if they can understand the very real possibility they, like me, could be out of whack here and there.

Sadly, as is often demonstrated on Wades blog, and others, there are quite a few in the blogging world who are real contenders for the head position in the Vatican, where infallibility rules.

Do you think these people are demonstrating that their security is in their belief/religious system, rather than in Christ and His finished work?

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

"Do you think these people are demonstrating that their security is in their belief/religious system, rather than in Christ and His finished work?"

Do I ever!! This is what is called "nailing it."

Lauri Fasullo said...

Dear Paul,
I really appreciate your blog and these posts in particular. I just happened on your blog lately when I googled my name and found some posts regarding the paper I had written 15 years ago on Kephale (the Greek word for head and why I don't believe Paul used it with the meaning "authority"). I must admit I got really glad when I saw a post that was critical of my paper that reacted to it. All I have gotten up to this point (that I'm aware of) is appreciation or dismissal, but no actual interaction with the points of the paper. Since my goal is to further the kingdom of our Savior, I wrote that because I believe it is true and have seen much harm that has been done from a wrong interpretation. If I am wrong, I don't want to continue to promote something that is not right. However, I began to go from gladness to sadness as I read the post. I was confronted again by someone who states his strong desire for correct Biblical exegesis, yet mischaracterized my arguments (he said "most of" my evidence rested on something which was only one part of one subpoint under two major points), misquoted me (he said I used the words "cap" and "crown,' when I said "top" and "crown"), and made other wrong statements concerning what what was in my paper. After seeing how Grudem did the same thing to other authors, including out right falsehoods, I stand amazed at the blatant lengths people will go through to back up what they believe, even when it goes against the particulars and general thrust of Scripture (will send you a copy of a paper I did at the same time which show these things I said about Grudem). It has brought me to a place of praying and fasting for those on the local and national level who are teaching and guiding those around them. It is a blessed thing to be able to trust in Christ and His Spirit to guide and direct, especially when it can seem like they will not be persuaded by words. This has shown me what a spiritual battle we are in! Even though sometimes my first reaction is to want to fight the flesh and blood who are promoting falsehood,especially when it is done through untruth. I have been continually reminded that I am to pray for them (as I would have them do for me). Our God is big enough to change hearts and minds (he has done that for me and I pray will continue to mold me by His Word). I invite all who read this to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything,by PRAYER and PETITION, with thanksgiving, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD."Phil. 4:6. When we do this, we can practice verse 5 (Let your gentleness by evident to all) and we can live in verse 7 (the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus)!

Held by his great and loving grace,
Lauri Fasullo

Paul Burleson said...


I'm genuinely honored that you stopped by and even commented. I'm not sure where I first read your work on Kephale. It may have been in some of the research and writings of my very good friend Jon Zens. But I am grateful for and have been wonderfully helped by your study.

I would be glad to receive the paper you mentioned. My E-mail is on my profile or snail-mail is...
Box 6147
Norman Okla 73070

Regardless, you have graced this blog and I thank you for doing so.

Becky Dietz said...

My daughter is teaching me to embrace differences. I love it!

Cheryl Schatz said...

Embracing people as brothers and sisters in Christ those who differ from us on the non-essentials such as women in ministry is not always easy to do, but it is necessary if we are to fulfill the command to love the brethren.

I have before me a goal that somewhere in the discussion with a person who strongly disagrees with me, I must make sure that they feel loved and accepted just the way they are. For if we can love them as they are while arguing our points with passion and respect, then I think we are in the ball park of of fulfilling God's requirement for us to love.

Sometimes it helps to remember that even the irritating Christian brother will be side by side with us in the kingdom and anything that we say to him here on earth should not be a cause for us to feel shame in the presence of our common Lord as we stand before Him in the kingdom. It doesn't matter if the person has respected us or treated us as a brother. It is our responsibility for our own attitude and not that of another.

Are we truly here to love and please the Lord? Then love our brothers in Christ with a passion because when we do, we love the Lord Jesus with a passion!

Aussie John said...


I asked the question rather than make a statement, to illustrate a point.

One of the ways I try to keep control of the passion of some with whom I have had opportunity to have a strong discussion, is to state what I want to say in a question, rather than a statement of fact.

Your answer was what I expected because I'm becoming familiar with the heart of the man. I'm confident that I could have been direct and not received any flack.
Thanks mate! Glad you didn't prove me wrong:)

Cheryl's response was really great.

I was once told by a former pastor of certain New South Wales rural Baptist church, not to accept a call to the pastorate because the deacons were "always right",on one occasion thumping him with a very hard right for disagreeing.

Paul Burleson said...


It is obvious you are a learner from the kids/family God's blessed you with as am I. In fact, much, if not most, of what I've REALLY learned has come from my marriage and family relations.

I've said to pastors for some time now that no one will be in/to the church any different really than how they are in the family.

Appearances may be easier to create in the church but, when crunch time comes, what one has demonstrated at home is what they really are and it will come out.

If they abandon the fmily, so too the church. Angry at the family members, so too the church. Etc.

Then, of course, if they love through hard times in the fmily, so too the church. And on and on.

My how your simple statements mean so much to me. :)


I agree with Aussie J about what you've said. Outstanding.

My feelings about your work and research are the same as I've expressed to Lauri. I'm a student under your teachings more than you'll ever know. Thanks.

Aussie J,

Was that a deacon I served with.. or one you served with.. or both? [I seem to remember him.] ;)

Rex Ray said...

You asked, “Was that a deacon I served with or one you served with or both? [I seem to remember him.] ;)”

On the other side of the coin, I believe it was the pastor…just ask my brother-in-law or the secret blogger that got voted out of church after he had already left.

In some churches, if you express to the pastor the church would do better without him, you get the boot.

Paul Burleson said...


I have to say that you are correct with..."On the other side of the coin." There is always the other side to any coin isn't there!!. Jokes about deacons can rightly be followed by jokes about pastors, that's for sure.

Each can create problems or wind up being the problem. It's unfortunate, but it's true. Good reminder and thanks for it.

Now back to the issue of civility... ;)

Christiane said...

Sometimes I think 'civility' is just a starting point with Christian people.

'No race nor creed can love exclude
if honored be God's Name,
our brotherhood embraces all
whose Father is the Same. '

(from a hymn by Christians, written over a millenia ago in Ireland.)

Rex Ray said...

“..back to the issue of civility... ;)”

Bob said, “Somehow I think He is up there, keeping an eye on us, to see just how much it takes to tip us over the edge, and disrespect, vilify, denigrate, condescend others. I just don't think He approves of us doing that, and I'm a sonofagun if I'm going to let anybody get away with pushing me there.”

I believe Bob is saying, ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’.

Once, a farmer yelled, “Is that you, Rex?”
“Yes sir.”
“You kids shouldn’t do things that make others do what they shouldn’t do!”

I was in the beam of his flashlight thinking I was dead because he had just shot my brother with birdshot.

A few minutes before, in the black of night, he was about to pull the trigger on me a few feet away when he saw thee others starting to run.
Later he said, he was so angry he wanted to shoot three more than one.

Our mother pried the shot from my brother’s leg without any blood. She didn’t scold us but poured it on our dad.

“This is what happens because you filled their heads with stories of your pranks!” (I was still throwing dirt clods on the farmer’s roof when his shotgun turned our backbones to jelly.)