The Woman’s Role: What’s Wrong With This Picture? [casual fri]


biblicalproof-womansroleinchurchandhome

In my research for this on-going series on Women and the Church, I ran across this picture above. And for this Friday, I wanted to throw it out there to get people’s reactions.

If you agree with the overall point, do you appreciate the representation? Do you think this is a helpful representation? How would you present your perspective differently, in visual form?

If you don’t agree with it, what would you say to the designers of this picture? How would you counter this use of this verse? What bothers you the most about the picture? Is there any core of truth to this picture?

Discuss.

(image source)

AMAZING Interview and Q&A about Women in the Church


haddad-mimi-rhe-egalitarian-womenWell, I think it’s time to restart our on-going series on Women in Ministry, don’t you?

While researching a particular argument for limiting Womens’ role in the Church, I stumbled on this interview and Q&A on Rachel Held Evans’ blog. It is a conversation with Mimi Haddad, President of Christians for Biblical Equality. And it is wonderful.

This whole disagreement about Women in the Church can produce a lot of noise that’s difficult to sift through. Too often, people on both sides end up retreating back to their respective sides and both fulfilling a lot of stereotypes while lobbing that accusation at the other side. This ends up entrenching the conversation even more deeply and intractably. The conservatives end up speaking sort of demeaningly about women (even unintentionally) and accusing egalitarians of not believing the Bible, all while egalitarians end up resorting to radical and simplistic feminist-sounding rants and calling all conservatives misogynists.

Haddad’s interview is wonderful because it moves against this. She is gracious, though firm in her convictions, and maintains the big picture of the discussion rather than getting lost in the rabbit-hole of interpreting individual proof-texts. She speaks in such a conversational, disarming, and winsome way. She brings up common-sense and clear-headed perspectives that are such a breath of fresh air for someone who sits for too long trying to pick apart individual texts. You can tell she loves the Church and the Bible and wants to honor them both well.

It also reinvigorated me to continue this discussion. There is still much more to be said, and as I have the privilege of being part of a church that will be ordaining its first female elder next month (the first church of this kind I’ve been a part of!), these issues are especially pertinent to those around me and the discussions we’re having.

And so, in the weeks to come, see this space fill back up with this discussion. Many of the things I want to write about will be building upon many of the ideas found in this interview and Q&A. So, if you want a big picture preview of what’s come, check it out. Really, I can’t recommend it enough.

On a Theology of “Non-Place” & Being the Suburb of God


suburbs-flickr

Yesterday’s post on how I’m wrestling through a Theology of the City really seemed to have struck a chord. Here on the blog, there was an interesting discussion about how to theologically view the suburbs. We asked many questions, but landed at few answers. And so, I thought I’d continue the discussion by posting the essence of these conversations on the blog and seeing if we can’t keep the conversation going.

To further offer context, I’ve also added a video I had to record as an introduction to my “Urban Christian” seminary class. In it, I offer a little background on where I’m coming from in this discussion and how I came to question my own subtle sense of urban elitism. The angle also makes my hands look massive, so you can enjoy that as well. Feel free to read these exchanges, and jump in, offering your own comments to move this discussion along!

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Jacob Haynes wrote:
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Are Cities too broken for Christians to fix them?


philly-city-hall-1As I go through these seminary discussions and readings concerning the relationship between Christians and cities, two things are pretty certain for me. First, God loves cities and had/has great intentions for them. Second, things went horribly, completely, and utterly awry.

I have the privilege of taking these courses along with incredibly thoughtful people. They haven’t just taken wholesale this newly “rediscovered” urban emphasis of Christian faith. They get the reality that God and the Bible have an urban-centric feel to them, but they really want to fight for a conception of God’s work in the world that comes to bear upon every person in every type of place in the world–not just city-dwellers.

And so I’ve been wondering: is this “urban call” to Christians a general one, or does it only go out to a very specific type of person? Are the difficulties in cities so big, so intractable, and so unique that only certain types of Christians with certain types of giftings could find a place for Kingdom work?
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Discipleship: Making Good Little Pharisees?


Caravaggio-The Calling of Saint Matthew{summary: the way we disciple others in the church is far too often a results-based process, and not a grace-driven one. Here, I explore Jesus’ example in Matthew as a guide for us. And, once again, we see Jesus’ radical application of grace to his Disciples’ lives.}

I’m taking a class on “The Practice of Discipleship”. Some discussions on our online message boards inspired these thoughts. Discipleship, as many people could tell you is all about “following Jesus”. After all, that’s how Jesus himself invited his disciples into it. But as I was thinking about this, I realized something: Pharisees had disciples too.

Now, with “Pharisee Discipleship” the point was to let that Pharisee get all up in your business so that you could become a good, well-behaved Pharisee someday. Christian Discipleship, as we are often told, is not about following Christians per se, but following Christians who are following Christ. The ultimate goal is to follow Christ and to help one another do that.

This is how it works in theory. I can’t speak for everyone, but at least in my experience, a lot of Christian Discipleship subtly looks more like the type that creates well-behaved Pharisees than the one that truly follows Christ.
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How Liturgy Shapes & Makes Us


schrott-cross-church-office-apartment

UPDATE: I posted a brief history of liturgy and its movements.

A couple of nights ago, those that help lead and facilitate the worship service at my church met to discuss how we should continue to grow and remain faithful to our mission in the city of Philadelphia through our liturgy and music. It reminded me once more of how much I love being a part of this church and its tradition, and how excited I am to live life with these people.

Meditating on these discussions about our liturgy, I was reminded of the myriad of ways that the structure of one’s worship service forms the people that sit there each Sunday. I thought of how liturgy functions. If you go to a church, it has a liturgy: some structure that proclaims a certain story and shape of existence, and it changes people to fit into that shape and story.

And this got me thinking of a document I wrote up a couple of years ago to help train and encourage those leading liturgy at our church. In it, I wrote about six “facets” of the diamond that is liturgy. And that’s what I wanted to post here today.

These are some ways that liturgy acts to shape us. After each thing, I’ve given a sample topic and tried to show how liturgy functioning in that way can speak to and shape someone in that area. This was originally meant as a guide for people that introduce the service and try to acclimate people to the liturgy.

I hope this reminds us that liturgy matters, and being intentional about your liturgy is such an important part of leading and ministering within your church context. If you don’t serve as a leader in this aspect of your church’s life, and don’t really speak to liturgy formation, I hope this helps you recognize the formative nature of your church’s liturgy, and that it helps you connect to and engage with your church in a deeper, more intentional way. For more on this, I could not suggest more highly James K.A. Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom.

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Charismatic Confessions, pt. 3: Praying in Tongues for Everyone!


flickr-sculpture-worship-kiss

{abstract: “Praying in tongues” is not really a “gift”, but rather a way in which God makes Himself known, and we commune with Him. Therefore, I believe it’s open to all of us, not just those with a “gift”. It is a sacramental, physical participation in the “real presence” of God praying within you. It may very well be random and not a “real heavenly language”, but nevertheless, God is sacramentally mediated to us in it. I conclude by offering some brief practical encouragements.}

Last week, I started writing some posts in response to a New York Times piece about research concerning the practice of talking in tongues. I wrote about how this piece reminded me of my own charismatic side and how I’ve been neglecting it. I then talked about my views concerning the use of tongues in a corporate Sunday church context. Today, I want to give people a realistic and (hopefully) sensible framework for understanding the private use of praying in tongues.

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Charismatic Confessions, pt. 2: Tongues Don’t Have to be Weird


peter-preaching-statue{abstract: The Bible talks about two types of tongues that take place among the Church: speaking in human languages that get translated, and speaking a “heavenly language” that sounds like non-sense and an interpretation is given. The apostle Paul encouraged people to prefer speaking in regular human words rather than tongues, and this practice turned into the later historical practice of rooting authoritative Church speaking in Bible-based sermon preaching. Paul then encourages, and I have embraced, that we move speaking in tongues away from a corporate church usage and a private, prayer one. The next post will talk about praying in tongues.}

UPDATE: Part 3 is up, where I talk about the what, why, and how of individual praying in tongues.

Yesterday, I got thinking about my charismatic past. I mentioned an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times about recent research on the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. This got me thinking about my own charismatic past and experience of these sort of things, and reflecting on how little a part of my life those things are now. Except, that is, for personal praying in tongues.

A couple of nights ago, I raided my bookshelf and pulled down every theologian that may have said anything about this phenomenon and looked through all of them. Every person said something different. There are so many different opinions about tongues. I don’t write this post to sort out this issue or give a definitive account or defense of where I land. I just want to introduce some people to this idea who might otherwise be weirded out, strongly against it, or don’t really know what to think about it.

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Confessions of a Lapsed Charismatic, pt. 1


Grace-words-mouth-poetry-psalms

{summary: Though rooted in a Reformed tradition that usually spurns this, I am very much a theological charismatic. I believe in the full, contemporary exercise of the Holy Spirit through his Church, including all of the manifestations this has had throughout Church History. And yet, though I “believe” these things, over the past few years, they’ve played a smaller and smaller part in my life. In this piece, I reflect on that.}

UPDATES: Part 2 is up, where I go through a brief history of tongues in a corporate church context. I’ve also posted Part 3, where I focus in on the why and how of individual praying in tongues.

Several days ago, the New York Times had a wonderful Op-Ed piece called “Why We Talk in Tongues“, by a researcher who is exploring this phenomenon. (It was also appropriate, as it is still sort-of, but not really, still Pentecost.) The piece seems to have been pretty popular. Playing around with Google Trends a bit, it seems that this article made the topic of talking in tongues more popular than it has been since “Speaking in Tongues” by Justin Bieber popped up on YouTube a few years ago. This article made the topic more popular than even Megan Fox’s revelation that she speaks in tongues (and is still a practicing Pentecostal).

It got some play all over my Facebook feed, and a couple of friends asked for some of my thoughts. That they asked for my opinion was both flattering and dismaying; it reminded me of how little I talk about this part of my spirituality among my church community.

I remember years ago, when I first found my church in Richmond, Virginia, right at the end of my first semester in college. I walked into this special evening service and I immediately knew this was where God wanted me. I joined the church and was exposed to a beautiful display of charismatic theology.

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Just a friendly reminder that “Americanism” is a heresy. Even today. (Happy 4th!)


paul-young-america-flagI’m really not trying to ruin anyone’s party. I promise. But I just wanted to remind everyone that in 1899 Pope Leo XIII declared “Americanism” a heresy in the Catholic Church.

(I have provided this picture of this post’s author in order to help soothe any anger over this reminder.)

Basically, in the middle of the 19th-century, there was a huge influx of Catholics into America from Europe. Being so far away from the “home base” of European Catholicism, these Catholic leaders started “softening” Catholicism in order to make it more palatable to the new context they found themselves in.

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a brief Prodigal Paul doctrinal statement


paul-phoenix-1

As I am currently registering for my seminary classes, I thought I’d post this “theological statement” I had to write as part of my application materials. Some friends of mine had thought it would be interesting to read what I wrote, so here it is.

Seeing as I was writing to a seminary staff audience, there might be some references that aren’t commonly understood. I’ll link to times I’ve written about some items, but otherwise, any terminology or ideas that aren’t explained are a simple Wikipedia (or Theopedia–yes, it’s a real thing) search away. Continue reading

Pentecost: spirituality vs. Spirituality


crazy-clouds

I don’t know about you, but too often I divorce spirituality from the Holy Spirit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that “spirituality” is a matter between my spirit and the Holy Spirit. But I too often define spirituality as fundamentally being about my spirit–stirring it up and syncing it up to God. Too often, when contemplating my own spirituality, my thoughts first turn to how I can ” feel the Spirit more”.

If I’m honest, I too often think that a healthy and vibrant spirituality is ultimately defined by intense spiritual experience (emotions, gifts, fruits, and such). And yes, these are definitely products of a vibrant Spirituality, but don’t we too often pursue the product, and ultimately miss the point? Most of the time, I think that if I simply achieve those “experiences”, I have been “successful.”

True “Spirit-uality” is not first and foremost about the state of my spirit. Instead, it is about developing a dynamic vitality with the Holy Spirit. It’s about being swept up in a force greater than myself–a person greater than myself.
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So, how was Guatemala? I finally have an answer for you.


la-limonada-hands-guatemalaHow was your trip?”

This has been the question I’ve been receiving more than any other this past week and a half, since returning from my trip to Guamtemala with Lemonade International to see their work in the community of La Limonada.

And yet, I have had no answer.

Nearly every person who’s asked the question has been someone I love, who loves me, and gets me. They know that I can’t even articulate a simple answer to a casual “How ya doin’?” thrown my way. And so I’ve felt grace and understanding as I haven’t been able to answer.

At a wedding this weekend, in an attempt at capturing in one word the seemingly contradictory dimensions of my experience in Guatemala, I blurted out the word “paradoxitous”. Yes, I was trying to be funny.

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Death & Dignity: what’s the point?


philly-life-wall

Next week I head to Guatemala for the Lemonade International Blogger’s Trip. Having been introduced to this organization, I’ve been following their blog closely, trying to get to know them more and more.

A couple of days ago, they posted about a tragic loss. A member of their school, Herber Giovanni Sandoval, died a couple of days ago at the age of 17. In the conclusion of their post, they said this:

“We are especially grateful to the youth group at Lifepointe Church in Raleigh, NC for sponsoring him while he was still attending the Limón Academy.”

I immediately had the image of the youth group kids or sunday school class at that church who probably spent years following the story of Herber. I wondered how they would feel and respond to this news. How would the leaders help them process this? Would it impact the kids at all or would they be too removed from it?
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The Cross vs. The Resurrection


art-museum-crucifix-death-pmaIn Christian theology, there is a seemingly small thing that really influences so much of one’s theological outlook and even how they think they should live as a Christian.

Are you “Team Cross” or “Team Resurrection”?

Yeah, yeah, I know that the right answer is “both”, but really, most people tend to emphasize one more than the other.

What got me thinking about this was a Facebook post I saw on Easter evening. The poster said that the Resurrection was not when Jesus conquered sin and death. Instead, Jesus did that on the Cross, and the Resurrection was “simply” the “validation” of what Jesus did.

In other words, all that Jesus came to accomplish was done on Good Friday. God the Father saw it, thought it was awesome, so he went ahead and raised Jesus on Sunday.

In other other words, if the Resurrection never happened, nothing “essential” to salvation would be lost, merely the “proof” that it had been accomplished.

It really stuck with me, and no matter how much I tried to re-articulate it in my mind, give him the benefit of the doubt, or pick apart my own presuppositions, I really couldn’t shake how strongly I disagreed with this statement.

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