Friday, August 30, 2019

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Kim:

I really enjoyed (and identified with) this video clip by Shona Murray, who is the wife of David Murray. David is a professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary as well as a pastor and author. He writes a lot about mental health issues. Shona went through a very difficult time with mental illness. Her honesty and wisdom are wonderful. A very helpful video clip.

I Never Understood Burnout and Depression -- Until It Happened to Me.


Persis:

This is an encouraging reflection from Scott Schultz on the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism: Rest Well, Christian.
You, Christian, are not your own. You belong to Jesus. If you have called out to Jesus for mercy and trust in him alone to save you, then you belong to him. You are his. He loves you perfectly and will always love you perfectly... Rest well, Christian, knowing that Jesus loves you and always will. 

Rebecca:

The legacy of Susannah Spurgeon:
Yes, Susie was the wife of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, but she was more than just his wife; she was his earthly support, and she is the reason that we have Charles Spurgeon as we have him today. Charles was prophetic when he said during their engagement that Susie was necessary to him.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Two Views on Women in Ministry - Book Reflection

Writing about the issue of women in ministry is something I have been reluctant to do. And my reluctance is because of something said by the editor of the book Two Views on Women in Ministry. James R. Beck says at the conclusion of this book:
Deciding this one issue responsibly requires vast knowledge of a great many subjects. As we have seen in this volume, one needs to know a great deal about both Testaments and about sound principles of interpreting the Scriptures. It is helpful to know about the cultures surrounding ancient Israel and the church. Since so many of the questions that emerge while deciding this issue revolve around grammar and the meaning of words, we need linguistic experts to help us make good, balanced decisions. And the list of helpful skills goes on and on.
This is a complicated issue. Despite notions to the contrary, this isn't a "what verse tells me the answer?" question. I recognize my lack of expertise in these areas, and I realize that to understand it fully, I need to invest some time reading and thinking. The only reason I'm doing this now is because I  have chosen this topic for term paper I am writing for a class this semester.  This is the first volume I have read as I begin my research.

In this Counterpoints Series volume, four scholars present their views: two from the egalitarian view and two from the complementarian side. After each essay, each scholar submits his/her evaluation of that argument. The contributors are all well-educated in their fields, and have proven their scholarship. They aren't the only voices to hear, but they are a good place to start.

Linda Belleville and Craig Keener write from the egalitarian perspective. I appreciated both of their contributions. They both take a great interest in the cultural background of the Scripture passages involved. In the past, when I have read complementarian articles this has not always been the case. Keener, especially is great with this; it is his area of specialty.

Craig Blomberg and Tom Schreiner bring the complementarian views. I was especially appreciative of Craig Blomberg's essay because he was very good about acknowledging areas where he agreed with the other scholars. He was willing to acknowledge when 100% certainty was not possible. Schreiner is a great New Testament scholar, and I have benefitted from his writing in other venues, but I did not find his essay as convincing as Blomberg's, and there were times when came across as simply dismissing something without explanation or serious thought.

This book was a learning experience, and I took away some very helpful things:
  1. There is more agreement between the two sides than you may think.
  2. Egalitarians do take Scripture seriously. And they do take the Gospel seriously. It simply isn't true that every egalitarian lacks respect for Scripture.
  3. Complementarian men are not all harsh and overbearing. Craig Blomberg wrote very sensitively, and while I didn't always agree with Schreiner, he did express a concern to support the equality of gifting between men and women.
  4. Sometimes complementarians downplay the cultural setting of Pauline letters. 
  5. Sometimes, egalitarians make too much of the cultural setting.
  6. Sometimes, both sides extrapolate too much on what the text doesn't say.
  7. We must resist the temptation to hinge our views on one specific verse. In our contemporary culture, we look for easy, explicit answers, and that simply may not be possible.
  8. This is a complex issue. Because it is complex, those with influence who would speak publicly on the matter should do their homework.
A number of months ago, a friend on Facebook had a graphic posted on her timeline. It showed a piece of paper with a phrase across the top: "Verses in the Bible That Say a Woman Can be  Pastor." The joke was of course that the paper was blank. At the time, when I saw it, I thought, "I think it's more complicated than that." And it is. But it's a serious issue, and one worth pondering.

I highly recommend anyone who is interested in this issue pick up a copy of this book. If all you get out of it is the ability to see scholars debate with grace and civility, it's worth the price.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Quotes of Note


Each Monday, we share quotes we found encouraging, convicting, thought-provoking, or all of the above.

Kim:

From Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, talking about the Trinity, and specifically, God's fatherhood:
The scriptural name "Father" is a much better description of the personal property of the first person. Implied in the word "fatherhood" is a positive relation to the second person. The name "Father" is even more appropriate than the word "God," for the latter is a general name signifying transcendent dignity, but the name "Father," like that of YHWH in the Old Testament, is a proper name, an attribute describing a personal property of God. Those who deny to God the name "Father" dishonor him even more than those who deny his creation. This name of "Father," accordingly, is not a metaphor derived from the earth and attributed to God. Exactly the opposite is true: fatherhood on earth is but a distant and vague reflection of the fatherhood of God (Eph. 3:14-15).

Persis:

Some thoughts on conflict from Forbearance: A Theological Ethic for a Disagreeable Church by James Calvin Davis:
Forbearance is not built on a fear of conflict, but on a desire to work through conflict in a healthy way. Surely it is impossible to completely avoid conflict in any human community, even a church. Conflict is a natural by-produce of an association of persons who are not carbon copies of each other...
In a society whose citizens care deeply about truth and justice, conflict is the inevitable consequence of incompatible but equally passionate perspectives. Similarly, a church that does not care enough about anything to be conflicted is one that does not take seriously its commitment to belief, character, mission, or duty... The cultivation of forbearance assumes a community of Christians who care deeply about matters of belief and practice, and it does not require ambivalence to principle in order to extend forbearance to others. If anything, to talk of "bearing with" another implies that we often remain unconvinced by their opposition to us. But the physical connotation embedded in "bearing with" another lends us the image of carrying one another through difficult times, and this mutual accord speaks to the distinctive Christian character of the approach to conflict I am commending. Forbearance is more than modus vivendi, an ideological cease-fire. It is instead a positive commitment to living with the productive discomfort of difference as a reflection of the grace of God.

Rebecca:

Here's a poem by Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691):
Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care 
Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give. 
If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day? 
Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than He went through before;
He that unto God’s kingdom comes
Must enter by this door. 
Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
Thy bless├Ęd face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet
What will Thy glory be! 
Then I shall end my sad complaints
And weary sinful days,
And join with the triumphant saints
That sing my Savior’s praise. 
My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Persis:

Can We Identify Our Lack? by Joshua Torrey
How am I participating in the fellowship of the body by letting people serve me? Not just in a superficial way (beer and mangos are delicious and good for my soul) but in a deeply dependent way. For that is precisely what it means to reject a theology of perfectionism—announcing a lack that can only, for now, be fulfilled by the church community. We can hear the echoing warning from Paul, “If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Kim:

Yes, another good video from Bill Mounce! In all honesty, in the past couple of weeks, I have read almost no blogs. I've started working on my research project for one of my classes, and I just haven't been online a lot.

I have listened to this video, and I think Mounce is absolutely right: our bodies were made to move. Because we live in a very technological world, our bodies have no need to do what our ancestors before us had to do. That means our bodies are not being used as they could be. In the past four months, I have exercised more than I have since I was 15 years old. It has made a huge difference to my energy level, my attitude and my concentration.



Rebecca:

When Jesus was facing his death, in his farewell discourse to his disciples, he began to reveal "the inner nature of God to them. " He began to show them that God is Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
Many Christians tend to think of the Trinity as an impractical, speculative doctrine. But not so the Lord Jesus. For Him, it is neither speculative nor impractical—but the very reverse. It is the foundation of the gospel. Without the love of the Father, the coming of the Son, and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, there simply could be no salvation.
Read the rest of Deep Theology by Sinclair Ferguson.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Five Star Links



Each Friday, we share links we found especially interesting or inspiring during the previous week. 


Kim:

I'm really enjoying Bill Mounce's reflections on writing. In this episode, he talks about the importance of clarity.

"Every Word Counts."

Rebecca

August’s issue of Tabletalk magazine is all about commonly misunderstood passages of the Bible, like 1 Corinthians 13:13 (“… faith, hope, and love abide, … but the greatest of these is love.”) and 1 John 4:8 (“God is love …”). Check it out: What Does That Verse Really Mean?