She is Called

I'd like to follow the many CoC bloggers who have posted this podcast about the experience of women in the Churches of Christ (my faith tradition and the host denomination of my university).

For context to "outsiders," in the Churches of Christ women are prohibited from formal teaching (e.g., preaching) and leadership roles (e.g., elders). While any given Church of Christ varies in how restrictive they are in regards to gender inclusivity, the norm is patriarchal and male-dominated.

The podcast, entitled She is Called, is hosted by ACU Bible professor Dr. Stephen Johnson who poignantly guides us through the stories and heartache of four young women, each raised in the Churches of Christ, who have been called to the ministry.

She Is Called by Half the Church

The podcast is hosted at the Half the Church blog.

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40 thoughts on “She is Called”

  1. Odd thoughts as qb listens to it:

    1. Not surprised by any of the girls' experiences. qb lived [the other side of] that life from birth, too, and recognizes the phenomena as pervasively true - all the way from junior high through Aggies for Christ. (qb just doesn't remember further back than that.) Tacit messages everywhere...but they didn't remain tacit. Every once in a while, we'd have Bible classes or sermons where those messages would be reaffirmed, usually obliquely but always unmistakably.

    2. How does this idea of "calling" emerge? Whatever its origin, it FUNCTIONS as a trump card that shuts down any sober-minded conversation about the difference between what the scriptures present as a "prophetic call" and what - candidly - humans *want*. In another context, invoking a "divine call" caused one of our elders at the time to stand and say, "well, that pretty well settles it. Who can argue with a divine call?"

    We have to speak of "feeling" and "sensing" a "divine call." But that is something very different from actually hearing the phone ring, which can be verified by anyone who happens by at the time. On what basis do we sort through "discontent," "regret," "what I wanted to be doing," "what would have me feeling as though I was doing what God wanted me to be doing," "receiving a divine call," etc.?

    3. "The church was the center of their lives." Perhaps that's one of the underlying problems for us. These public functions (preaching, teaching, leading singing, etc.) in the institutional church become the center of our churches' self-understanding, so they naturally become the primary measures of inclusiveness. Is it possible that is just an institutional phenomenon? When our little home churches meet, these sex roles simply don't seem to arise, except perhaps as an indirect effect of prior exclusion, and certainly they are not imposed either tacitly or verbally. What if the church understood itself less as a "group that meets weekly for various public performances," which is to say, less like a club? Would this complaint be as likely to arise? More importantly, would public leadership functions be such a prominent feature of life together?

    4. To ask "what I'm supposed to do with this" rests on the assumption that "I'm supposed to do something, and I just have to find out what it is." That is one of the unfortunate ways that our evangelical neoCalvinism plays out: torturing us with the sense that we're just not finding what God has been telling us all along that he wants us to do. What if that's not the way God operates?

    5. That story of the new husband being asked to pray at her home church rings tragically true.

    6. "It's all I can do to drag myself to church" because of frustration resonates strongly.

    7. I wonder if Dr. Johnson will ask - and this applies equally well to men as to women! - why "being the leader" is so all-fired important to us? Is this a cultural artifact of a strongly merit- and competition- and achievement-oriented society? If our society were different in this regard, would we be likely to focus so heavily on leadership roles as the measure of the extent to which we are "living out our 'call'" (whatever we mean by that)?

    8. The pioneers always take the first arrows. These wonderful young womyn will be the last generation in their families who experience this particular torment; they are, through their heartache and tears and protest, breaking the inherited chain of dysfunction. Already theirs are prophetic lives, even without that phone call from a Church of Christ as they have known it.


  2. Been trying to not comment; but, I find myself in such agreement with you (who wouda thunk?) that I just thought I would add a thought to your excellent list. In a number of places Jesus says that if a believer asks anything (let me repeat that) anything in His name, then He will (let me repeat that) He will do it.

    Well, unless He was just kidding around, why don't these nice young ladies just pray for a leadership role in His name? AHHHH, the problem. If they should happen to actually pray in His name (not actually that easy to do), that might just not be their request.

  3. i can't see or listen to this material, since the firewall software (over which i have no control) at my station blocks it.

    The story, however, is familiar. Women are routinely denied permission to speak "in church," although they are not required to veil themselves in the assembly of the Body of Christ. They are denied permission to preach or to teach or even to pray, and the gifts of the Spirit that may have been given to them are disregarded, because the church's doctrine of mission is founded on genitalia.

    Therefore a nine-year old male whose flesh has been baptized may be called to "pray" before the assembly, while women who have been practicing a discipline of prayer for 40 years or more may grind their teeth. "Those who live according to the flesh," says our brother Paul (not "the Pastor"), "set their minds on the things of the flesh." So it is here. But that same Paul, in that same place, says, "those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."

    When the elders of Churches of Christ "set their minds on the things of the Spirit," then they shall recognize the gifts of women that they have so far overlooked. "O Lord, how long?" i pray, "Not long."

    Until then, if you're gonna gag 'em, then you better veil 'em.

    May God have mercy.


  4. Juxtaposition the 2000 Lectureship program beside the 2010 Summit program. There's no way I can express what joy it brings me (age 77) to be living when the Spirit is moving mightily in my beloved tradition and University. Additionally I am a part of a CofC that has opened gender, racial, ethnic doors in the last 10 years. qb I am an arrow-scared pioneer (lightning rod bcs of my anger) but gently mentored by Catholic nuns who understand the commitment "for better, for worse, until death do us part".

  5. 2. I think you're right - if calling functions as a trump card, that would be unhealthy. But no more (or less) unhealthy than Scripture functioning as a trump card (shutting down conversation). I would love to have Scripture and Calling/Experience (like mine, the other 3 women in the podcast, and innumerable others) in conversation with each other.

    7. I can't speak for anyone else, but at least for me, it has less to do with "being the leader" and more to do with "being allowed to use the gifts (I think) God has given me for the good of God's people." Again, at least for me, I think that the gifts God has given me tend to be in vocal, leadership roles which puts me in tension with church tradition/policy as it is.

    3. (This follows from 7 for me) Although there is a vital place for the "institutional v. home church" debate, the reason I am primarily interested in bringing about change in institutional church rather than finding/starting a home church where gender doesn't matter (which, btw, I'm not sure is the case in all house churches. In my experience, this issue follows you. It just may take longer to come up the more "unofficial" or "relaxed" church is) is because, again, I sense (and have been affirmed in) my calling/gifting is to preaching (crafting and delivering in a public forum a piece of the story between God and God's people as recorded in Scripture). There doesn't seem to be much of this happening in house churches - the format tends to be more communal, discursive (both of which are great things!).

  6. Dr. Beck, in your "Hello Ladies" post, you asked about problematic usage of "ladies". Please see example in David's post above.

  7. 2. I grew up in a conservative c of c where there was no concept of "divine call." I don't even remember hearing that phrase til adulthood, and it wasn't at my home congregation. However, I had a strong desire for mission work and joined summer mission trips while at Harding U. A large part of the mission work involved teaching Bible classes in other countries. When I returned to college from the trips I had to contend with a professor who was quite disapproving that, as a woman, I taught men in these classes. Never mind that they would be considered "unsaved" by c of c standards. Better they not be taught at all than a woman teach them!

    7. First, we are a product of our culture, so it makes sense that we might focus more heavily than collectivist societies on leadership roles. But, we can't divorce ourselves from the context in which we're living. Should we adopt a first century, Mediterranean worldview when it comes to living out our religion or are we allowed to bring it into 21st century America and practice in a way that is congruent with the context in which we find ourselves?

    I resonate with the response under "7" posted by Naomi Walters. It's a bit crazy making to be told to use your gifts for God and to not hide your light under a bushel but then be told that, in fact, you can't use your gift that way, or that way either, or even that way if men are present.

    When my husband and I were first married, he preached at a tiny congregation. The one where there were only a few men present, forcing these poor men into roles I swear God never intended for them to be in. On especially poorly attended services, my husband was stuck in the role of preacher, song leader, scripture reader, prayer leader, communion-thought-giver, etc. He was never especially comfortable leading singing, so guess what? He and I really co-lead the song, except I was in the pew. It was maddening to sit back and watch these sadly comedic church services, knowing there were perfectly capable individuals who could have gladly and effectively filled these roles, except they weren't allowed. We'd rather experience the madness of awkward men with poor reading skills leading scripture reading, men with no singing ability leading singing, boys with no Sunday school teacher because they were baptized and suddenly can't be taught by the woman who single handedly teaches all the children (well, except baptized boys), 10-year-olds passing communion trays to women who pass them to the person in the pew next to them......After awhile it becomes difficult to maintain a worshipful attitude in a scene like that. I had a visceral reaction just writing this out.

    I can tell you that a lifetime of this impacts the way you see and think of yourself. I have female friends who have trouble praying even alone because they have internalized the message that the prayers of women just aren't that effective or important to God. And these are strong, independent, feminist, educated women. For myself, I have difficulty bringing myself to make comments in Sunday morning class where there are men present. And that is even in a congregation where women are encouraged to speak in class and are allowed to pray aloud in class. I don't have trouble speaking in front of men in non-church class settings. It's the years of conditioning I internalized that women's thoughts regarding spiritual and religious matters just aren't as important as men's thoughts. It can be soul numbing and spirit crushing to experience your religion this way.

  8. As to your first reaction to #7, I guess I'm suggesting that we have created these highly artificial communities (in the first place) that mimic the business world in many, many particulars. Many cogent arguments have been made that aping the business world is an exceedingly bad idea. Are you disagreeing with that body of thought?

    It looks to qb as if the kind of egalitarianism that would be more congruent with gospel assumptions would be a radical departure from this artificial community cobbled together from all corners of town and buying into the corporate-style power structures required to keep the peasants in harness. The emergence of power structures by itself creates the space within which leadership controversies naturally and inevitably arise. Is it really necessary that we adopt such a modern mind-set and its assumptions in order to speak meaningfully to our culture?

    Thanks for your insights. Given the assumptions that POPULAR evangelical Christendom has made, there's not much in what the women have said that I disagree with. But that's quite a consequential caveat. qb

  9. Do or do not,

    I read your comment. I feel such grief. It's almost like I'm watching a news story about the Taliban way of the world.

  10. The tone of humility, pain, and earnest love of these young women compared to the sneering tone and behaviors of those who would see them "put in their place" ... It's not a stretch to see which better represents the attitude of God in the recorded life of Jesus.

  11. "Why don't these nice young ladies just pray for a leadership role in His name?"

    (castlerook reads this, is flabbergasted, thinks he should probably just ignore it, but ultimately cannot)

    David, what possible basis could you have for assuming that these women have not done exactly what you suggest?

  12. Try this one on for size.

    God, when He reveals, is communicating to a people who use a language that God didn't create. As in all communication, participants are bound by language and world views and the like.

    Within the paradigm of sacrificing, sons were prized more than daughters, so when a first born needed to be sacrificed in order to create the most powerful sacrifice they could, that first born needed to be a son.

    What if though, these cultures prized daughters over sons? Wouldn't the most powerful sacrifice then be a first born daughter?

    If this were the case through O.T. history, and God--needing to communicate in the language of His hearers if He is to be understood--wouldn't it follow that God would of had to sacrifice His first born DAUGHTER if He was trying to communicate in the language of His hearers? If His hearers were to hear Him right?

    If the cultural norm had been one of daughters being more prized than sons, then why wouldn't we now be talking about the Daughter of God and referring to the second member of the Trinity by a common feminine name? After all, the name Jesus was a common name for boys in His culture....

  13. qb,
    I do agree that it's unnecessary and often counterproductive to ape the business world in the church setting. The more informal and intimate setting of home churches do provide a certain counter to that tendency. However, I don't think that is sufficient.

    I tend toward a "trajectory" approach to scripture regarding a woman's value and role in church, so I am not eager to revert to a 1st century worldview in attempting to understand these matters. There are aspects of a modern worldview that, I believe, lead us closer to understanding the value of a woman as well as her intended place in the church.

  14. Mike Gottschalk
    I appreciate your empathy. At least I'm not required to wear a veil to church!

    Your thoughts about God needing to communicate in our language and within our worldview are well taken. However, I also struggle with this and wonder if He couldn't be a little more aggressive in shaping our worldview and speed up the process of humanity learning to value everyone equally. Arguably, there's plenty in scripture that could be taken as reinforcing a patriarchical and misogynistic worldview rather than simply benignly communicating through that culture.

  15. What would it look like DODNT, if God were more aggressive in shaping our world view?

  16. Originally, I chose not to listen to this podcast. I didn’t really understand my ambivalence until I made the decision to hear it all. About halfway through, it clicked. Many of us repressed the constant pull of ministry. It’s a struggle, at best, to know a good place to fit in the church. Practical work I can do. Other stuff? I don't know. I have nearly enrolled in divinity school twice. My husband was the hold up both times. Rather ironic, since I have always tended to study much more Bible than he has. Maybe my calling was not that strong. Maybe, at 51, I have been steeped in keeping silent far longer than I should.

    As I listened, the pain in these young women was heart-breaking. While I do not understand their desire to preach, I do know the deep desire to work within the body of a church. As a self-defense mechanism, I kept their stories at arm’s length until I remembered that nearly 15 years ago, I was about to lose my Sunday school class because an 8 year old boy had been baptized. Baptized boys trump life long teachers. A reprieve was extended because the boy was my son. Since he still had to listen to me at home, it was okay that I could teach him at the building.

    I don’t know how this will work out. I do know that I will be praying fervently.

  17. Tina,
    Thanks for this.

    When I was young my Sunday School teacher was Miss. Gloria. I loved her and she was an amazing bible teacher. Well, while I was in her class I decided to get baptized. The next Sunday when I went to class Miss. Gloria was no longer there. The fact that I had been baptized, despite being a mere child, meant that I had "authority" over her. So she could no longer "teach" me.

    I was devastated and thought to myself, "If I had known, I would have never gotten baptized."

  18. Do you think Do Or Do Not, that a people can be so entrenched in their cultural reality, that even God can't show His/Her fullness in the Life of Jesus?

  19. So, is your answer to my question that they couldn't have prayed in Jesus' name because if they had, then Jesus would have already granted their requests? (your Jesus works on quite the accommodating time schedule!)

    Or are you saying that such a request is inherently unbiblical, and therefore could not truly be prayed in Jesus' name?

    Either way, this may be one of the worst examples of circular reasoning I have ever encountered. That said, I'm still not sure I quite understand where you're coming from, and feel free to point out what I'm missing.

  20. Mike Gottschalk,
    To me, it appears that God either can't or has chosen not to show His fullness in the life of Jesus. Why this is, I don't know. If He can't, that brings up questions about His power over sin and evil. He seems to override nature, evil, and entire nations when he chooses to, though. It is truly a mystery to me. In fact, it impacts my overall belief and understanding of the nature of God. What's your perspective on the question you asked?

  21. As an aside, I wonder what the difference would be between the worst case and the best case of circular reasoning?

    The simplest way to explain where ‘I am coming from’ is to point to John 14:12-16. There are other passages that address this; but, this passage sort of puts it all together quite nicely. Jesus is about to depart for a while and He is telling His disciples some really important stuff. It is the Holy Spirit that is the key to the Christian praying ‘in His Name.’ For this to happen, there are conditions to be met; but, I won’t bore you with them unless you ask.

    The Holy Spirit is unable to pray anything which God has not long ago included in His decree. (Which, by the way, is why Jesus can so directly say that He will do whatever they ask in this manner.) So, while I can’t speak to the timing of the prayer of any one woman, my guess, given the many women in the same sort of situation over an extended period of time, is that this complaint finds no traction in the eternal decree. Of course, if this book is just the babblings of some patriarchal guys controlled by their culture, then problem solved.

  22. DoOrDoNot,

    There's a way of being with God that amounts to being a, "Super Three Year Old"; a way that focuses all of God's genius, which we get to embody, on obedience.

    When my kids were three, I was very concerned that they would obey me when it came to riding their trikes near the street. I was at least equally concerned--if not more so--that they would develop a heart felt curiosity and a sense of life that welcomed such curiosity- along with the bravado that God's genius is all about.

    If my kids, who are now adult men, were as concerned about obeying me as they needed to be at three years old, I would consider my job as their parent a failure.

    In a church of "Super Three Year Olds" though, any talk that strays from a three year old's milleau of understanding is met with charges of, "watering down the Gospel" or, "Your goin Oprah on us."

    When Jesus confronts the Pharisees with the question, "It's the Sabbath; your neighbor's ox falls into a hole- quick waddaya do?!", the confrontation doesn't entail from a right or wrong answer, it entails from the fact that they had to look up whatever their answer in a book. They were failing to live as mature adults in the way we hope for our kids: and by extrapolation, the way God hopes for us.

    I may not know all the ways of God. Equally, I know God can't be stupid.

    To think for one moment that there's something innate to God that prizes male attributes over female ones, either makes God out to be stupid, or makes us out to be stupid.

    I'm betting the stupidity resides in us, and that not even God can override our stupidity.

    If Jesus said that God would even use stones for His glory, if He had to, I could only imagine that for God, to work with women could only be a delight.

  23. To further, why would God give each person (including women) a heart, a mind, a soul, and strengths, and then make "Love God with these" the first and primary command, if the intent was to sit on them, disengage, and basically "put baby in a corner."

    I love what you say about parenting your sons, and watching them outgrow controlled obedience. I also have two teen sons. It is such a joy to see them growing, engaging, learning, and becoming -- and I do indeed still teach them, on many, many levels. I couldn't imagine being told that I "shouldn't" teach them. Our conversations grow richer and deeper the older they get. I am blessed with a husband who was egalitarian to me before we'd ever heard the term. When we got married, I asked him how he felt about whether I should work or stay home (keep in mind, we were steeped deep in Baptist territory). I'll never forget what he said: "I want you to do whatever you need to do. Because if you are happy, whether in your work or at home, we'll be happier together." He totally refused to be even a benevolent tyrant, and 22 years hence, we've still got a fantastic marriage, with happy, healthy, hearty teen sons.

  24. So basically, you're making both arguments at the same time. Uh oh, this is worse than I thought. :)

    First of all, you can stop with the false dichotomy that you keep ending your posts with. It's not one or the other, and I think you know that. Now, to your points:

    "my guess, given the many women in the same sort of situation over an extended period of time, is that this complaint finds no traction in the eternal decree"

    My problem with this is that we could apply the same logic to conclude any number of things. For example, are you pro-life? Have you been praying for an end to abortions? But, God hasn't answered your prayers! Ergo, God must disagree with you.

    And we could substitute any number of things here: prayers to end war, prayers for Jesus' second coming, prayers to make all people Christians, prayers to bring the kingdom of God to earth...

    "The Holy Spirit is unable to pray anything which God has not long ago included in His decree."

    This, I suspect, is actually the main source of our disagreement: I gather that you view the Bible and everything in it as completely true in the literal-factual sense. In essence, you have made the Bible God.

    And in doing so, you diminish God.

  25. Mike Gottschalk,
    Your description is attractive to me and I hope it is true. Who knows, maybe humanity is growing from the toddler phase into adolescence and he's given us greater freedom to find the answers on our own.

  26. Maybe I’m even more confused than you already suspect. You said “It's not one or the other, and I think you know that.” I honestly don’t. What in your opinion is the middle ground?

    What is your conclusion regarding the ongoing killing of unborn babies? Surely, many have prayed otherwise over a long period of time. Is God just unable? Or as you say “Ergo, God must disagree with you.”

    I find nothing wrong with a person praying for almost anything. Surely, stopping abortion is fair game. There is value in prayer. On the other hand, unless it is prayer in the name of Jesus, there is a very high likelihood that it won’t be answered. We just aren’t bright enough to come up with a better plan than God already has.

    How do you tell which verses of the Bible are ‘true in the literal-factual’ sense? And, of course, I am not talking about nonsense like believing that Herod actually had a bushy tail and long nose because Jesus called him a fox.

    In what sense do you think that I have made the Bible God?

  27. DoOrNotDo, I think the enlightenment until now has been humanity's adolescent stage, and that now, we are poised for maturing into adulthood. Whether we succeed or not remains to be seen.

    I for one, view second coming scriptures as an indictment rather than a hope: I liken their scenarios to the ones of parents who go away for a weekend, leaving their kids home alone for the first time, and upon returning they find their home trashed.

    Also, I think the salient point to the second coming scriptures, is not that they're some kind of cryptic calender, rather, it's that God tells us ahead of time that we we're apt to destroy ourselves- and we go ahead and do it any way.

    Let me ask, "What's the difference between real democracy and Heaven?" I would answer, "In Heaven, there's more adult supervision".

    Apart from death and birth defects, what's in heaven that's not already here with us? (And besides free food...)

    Perhaps Revelation took us as far as it could go, and our furtherance into God's image requires a discipline that we call science. After all, if God is anything, She is Creative Power itself; to be a replica of God then, (the word image actually gets at this idea of replica) entails that we too should have an ability and environment in which to create doesn't it? And I mean for real and not just pretend. Science has been paramount to our becoming truly creative in ways that are profound.

    But- as you say we need to grow up. The only way I differ from you, is that I think we've already been adolescent and we need to move into adulthood.

    This means we need to quit our incessant cries for freedom--this is a classic adolescent concern and we have this already--and pursue the question of what it would mean to be adults capable of working with God as colleagues.

    Such work certainly engenders something more than piety. After all we're not three year olds any more. At least we Don't have to be if Don't want to- Or Do we?

  28. Tina,

    If you are in the Nashville area, please consider studying with us at the Hazelip School of Theology (Lipscomb University). I recently enrolled in the Masters program there at age 40 and there are several women in my classes who are 50 and above. It is never to late to answer God's call or, at the very least, to pursue clarity regarding it. And we would be happy and honored to listen for it right alongside you.

    Claire Frederick (M.Div. student)
    Hazelip School of Theology at Lipscomb University

  29. qb: I couldn't agree with you more on point 8. Keep on speaking, Naomi. And keep on preaching and prophesying.


  30. Thanks, Tina. I've been in a funk the last couple of days because it seemed like overwhelmingly, despite the best efforts and the undeniable sincerity of these women's voices, they were going mostly unheard. It's really, really nice to hear a witness otherwise...that "halfway through it clicked." Even within the heartbreak, your words offer some reason for hope. :)

  31. Soul numbing, yes. Spirit crushing, absolutely...especially when one's God-given talents (like Naomi's) are public in nature and there is simply no place for them to be exercised and/or utilized in one's home congregation. That is why our young women are leaving the church of Christ in droves...some perhaps to go to other denominations but others simply leave church altogether, confused and frustrated by our (wrong) presentation of a God who first gives gifts and then forbids their use. And when these women leave, to the loss of our fellowship and to the detriment of God’s kingdom agenda, their voices are not quite missed at all because, in the words of minister Katie Hays, “The majority of our voices were never heard anyway." Talented leader? You can be President of the U.S., but not a church of Christ preacher. Gifted as a public speaker? Speak at the ladies retreat once a year and be content. Talented singer/songwriter? Go sing in a bar and we'll all come hear you, but don't dare ascend the pulpit to lead a praise hymn that you've written in Jesus' name (if you are female and c of C), for that would be sinful. Indeed we are conditioned to hide our lights in and under various bushels, or (in my case) the darkness of the secular music industry where no one cares what gender you are. "And I was afraid, and went and *hid* your talent in the earth..." Matt 25:25. I went and hid my talent in the service of various Music Row publishers and producers and wasted a good 12 years or more doing so, all the while silently sitting on my God-given worship-leadership abilities in church. DoOrDoNot -- once I began to recognize myself as the spiritually unprofitable servant in Matthew 25, who was not being faithful with her gift/talent, who *buried* her gift in the earth (read: world), my silence then became sin for me personally. That's when I decided to get up off the pew.


  32. Thank you for the invitation, Claire. I am nearly speechless with gratitude. May you bring glory to the One whom we serve every day.

    I am in Greenville, SC so it's a bit long to commute to Nashville.

  33. You are very welcome, Tina. Do pay us a visit sometime though when you are in Nashville...

  34. First of all, I appreciate the earnestness of your latest response. As an aside, let me say that while I have sometimes found your arguments infuriating, I can tell that you are honestly seeking to communicate your point of view, and I respect that. (also, for what it's worth, in "real life" my name is also David)

    What I meant by my perhaps over-the-top rhetoric about making the Bible God is that I suspect (based on some of your posts here) that you mistake the finger pointing towards the moon for the moon itself. The Bible is a vehicle, perhaps our primary vehicle, for knowing God. But once we declare every word of the Bible to be the absolute, ultimate declarer of Truth, then we have locked God inside a book. God is much, much greater than the Bible.

    "How do you tell which verses of the Bible are ‘true in the literal-factual’ sense?"

    I can't. I can develop reasoned opinions, but ultimately I cannot know, and to be honest, I don't really care. You could give me convincing proof that Jesus did not actually rise from the dead, and I would still believe and follow Christ. (I think mythological truth is far more important)

    What I was objecting to in what I termed your "false dichotomy" was implying that if I don't agree with your point of view, then I had to dismiss the Bible as "just the babblings of some patriarchal guys controlled by their culture." While from my perspective it is certainly true that the authors of the Bible were by today's standards patriarchal, and necessarily influenced by their culture to some degree or other, it is quite clearly not "just" that, and I for one revere the Bible as an extraordinarily sacred means of revealing the Divine.

    Finally, my abortion example was simply meant to illustrate what I considered to be the absurdity of your own argument; I certainly don't think that God's inability/refusal to stop the killing of babies means that God approves of such killing (any more than I think God's inability/refusal to give some women a leadership position in the church means that God wishes them to not have such a position).

  35. I find this developmental view of humanity strikes a chord with me. Overall, humanity seems to be increasing in self-awareness and making some moral progress. It is a hopeful view anyway. Your image of working with God as colleagues is certainly an egaltarian view. It's interesting to think about what that might look like.

  36. I hope this won’t sound self serving or defensive. I truly am sorry that my comments could possibly result in anybody (especially another David) feeling infuriated. However, I have seen this in a number of those here and have always been surprised and saddened.

    I do not know the TRUTH. Given the level of intellect that I have, I have worked to understand God. I have developed opinions which I believe to be true. BUT, I never intend to put them forward as the TRUTH. My motive, as best I can know such a thing, is to find the parts of my beliefs which are wrong. As a trivial example, I don’t speed; but, I surely like driving faster than the speed limit, especially when I am late for an appointment. I would love to find out that I have that one wrong. In any case, what I seem to get in response to my comments is not factual or constructive but emotional utterances. This blog has a personality. It seems all warm and fuzzy and open on the surface but it really is very intolerant.

    “God is much, much greater than the Bible.”

    Amen. I guess we agree God had a hand in bringing us the Bible. And, that we would each estimate a different 'percent influence' to His involvement. And, thus a different percentage of influence gets allotted to the human writers.

    So, here is the problem (at least for me). This Bible attributes words to Jesus (in John 14 for one) which if taken in a reasonable manner seem to have Him saying that He will do whatever is asked in His name . What is one to make of that? Certainly, women have had this information and have attempted to avail themselves of that promise. Nevertheless, at least some women feel oppressed by a patriarchal establishment calling itself the church. So, is it that no woman has ever prayed for leadership in the name of Jesus? Is it His desire for men only in leadership positions in the church? Is He not really involved? Etc. Etc. Etc.

    From my understanding of Scripture, I have concluded that He has all the ability required to make women the pastors of every church in the world for which He had such a desire. Humanity can not stop the God I know if that were to have been His choice. So, I conclude that the best way for it to be is as it is. While this may not make ‘sense’ to me, personally, what other conclusion is realistic given that Jesus did say what He is purported to have said. Of course, one may still be left with the opinion that He didn’t utter those words. But, that would leave me with the impossible problem of living based on words about which my only authority is my own reasoned opinion. Very bad place to wind up given what I know about me.

    I just have to add a comment about ‘even if Jesus didn’t not rise from the dead.’ I really would like to know why one should have anything to do with this person and his teachings if he is not actually God and had a more than 99% role in producing the Bible? Otherwise, I don’t even know if what he is supposed to have said, he actually said. What exactly would I be following if he did not rise?

  37. David,

    The scope of our discussion has certainly expanded quite a bit! I think it's certainly been worthwhile, but I don't have much to add at the moment--if you'd like to better understand where I'm coming from in my view of the Bible, I suggest googling "progressive Christianity" or reading something by Marcus Borg ("The Heart of Christianity" is largely responsible for my still being in the Christian faith).

    But, I do want to address your complaint that this blog is somehow intolerant. I've been reading this blog for some time now (much longer than I've been actively commenting), and I must disagree. To this observer (and I want to be clear that I am speaking only for myself and certainly not for this whole blog-community), several of your recent comments have been pretty abrasive in their tone (and to be sure, you've gotten a good deal of that reflected back at you).

    Of course, it's quite possible that this is not how you intend to come across; certainly this medium is highly prone to tone-misreadings and misunderstandings as a result.

  38. As a christian gay man with a call to leadership I feel also closely related with the stories of these women.

  39. This interview demonstrates an amazingly shallow concept of ministry, and ignorance of the word and will of God on the part of these girls and this professor.
    Have they never heard of great women missionaries who served on their own in the last hundred years, such as Elaine Brittle (who was murdered on the mission field), Elizabeth Bernard, Betty Roemer and Irene Johnson, without violating the word of God to do so? See
    Do they know nothing of the vital role of women such as my wife, who has been on the mission field with me for more than 40 years and who is a vital part of all that I have ever done or accomplished, although she does not even like to take leadership roles in women's meetings?
    These girls' professors have let them down. Their opportunities for service are limitless within the framework of the word of God. But they have to go with God, not with the god of this age. May the Lord open their eyes and the eyes of their failed professors.
    Roy Davison

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