Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Religion: Does Theology Matter?

Yes and no.

Seems to me in some cases, a theological debate is really akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I think the "end times" theology arguements within Christianity are in that realm. I'm sure some would disagree with me on that. But as I see it, the mode and timing of when Jesus returns to usher in the Kingdom of God into fullness is so murky that to take a dogmatic position assumes much too much on our interpretive abilities. The Christian moral bottom line is unaffected by one's "system" of theology regarding the return of Christ.

Another classic intra-mural debate is between the Calvinist and Arminian view of God's Sovereignty and Human Free Will.

Theology debates on the identity of Jesus are important because that is the foundation of Christianity. If Jesus is fabricated a la the Da Vinci Code then Christianity is worthless.

Another area that is very heated these days is the question of the theology of men and women. Though the debate doesn't go to the heart of Christianity like the debate on Jesus, it does go to daily life in how men and women should live their lives.

I was web surfing and came across this item regarding the position of publishing arm of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, IV Press. Excerpt:
InterVarsity Press (IVP) is fairly up-front about its commitments on the gender issue: the organization is committed to publishing books that undergird its viewpoint that all ministerial offices are open to women.

Perhaps more than anything else, IVP’s publishing vision proves that there is no genuine middle ground on the gender debate: logically and practically, a ministry is either complementarian or egalitarian.

"There is no middle ground or mediating position with regard to the current gender debate within evangelicalism," said Randy Stinson, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

"Anymore, individuals, churches, and parachurch ministries must take a position on this issue since it determines so many practices within these various groups."

IVP’s practice, if not its profession, is clearly egalitarian and it has been so from the beginning.

The publishing company was founded in 1941 by C. Stacy Woods as a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). From the outset, the 20-member board of trustees that holds IVCF and IVP accountable resolved to support complete freedom for women in ministry.
While Stinson applauds IVP’s stance on homosexuality, he says the gender debate is not only about a slide toward homosexuality; it is mainly about obedience to the clear teaching of Scripture regarding the home and the church.

A wholesale commitment to feminism or egalitarianism by IVP or any other Christian ministry sets aside the authority of Scripture, he said.

Said Stinson, "The egalitarian view is harmful to the home and to the church, and it undermines the authority of God's Word, which, contrary to the assertions of many on the other side of this debate, is very clear regarding the roles of men and women.

"It harms boys and girls who are not being encouraged to exhibit biblical characteristics of their gender. It also, many times, leads to a perversion of one's view of God since there are many egalitarians who are arguing for feminine God-language and advocating calling God "Mother." In other words, this is not some kind of casual, intramural debate.
Stinson said the debate must necessarily continue because the two sides hold opposite views; both views cannot be in line with the objective truth of Scripture. Stinson urged Christians to employ biblical discernment in supporting parachurch organizations by making certain their views square with Scripture.

"It is no wonder, then, that Fryling would like for all of us to quit declaring the other position as unbiblical," Stinson said. "This would mean that no one would be called upon to take a clear stand.

"This will not do, and evangelicals are now going to have to decide how they will hold organizations like InterVarsity accountable for their various theological positions. Those who support organizations like this should rethink how their money is being used and realize that even organizations trying to focus on the gospel are also sending other theological messages that are antithetical to the teachings of the Bible."
I've recently been doing a lot more reading on the debate between the egalitarians and the complementarians. Although both sides try to be civil, it inevitably devolves into something less than civil and as passions run high as the stakes are so high for day-to-day life of how men and women should relate.

To check out the dualing web sites:
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Christians for Biblical Equality



Anonymous Cheryl said...


You said "I've recently been doing a lot more reading on the debate between the egalitarians and the complementarians. Although both sides try to be civil, it inevitably devolves into are very passionate debate because the stakes are so high."

What I have found in my experience is that as an egalitarian, I can agree to disagree with my complementarian brother, but it is almost impossible for him to agree to disagree with me. Why? The reason that I have found is that he believes that I am in sin for teaching the bible to men while I can have grace with him and not accuse him of sin for judging me.

Here is a case in point. On October 20th of this year I gave a talk to a convention of ex-Jehovah's Witnesses on whether a woman is in sin if she teaches the bible to men. (I have the audio on line at my blog - under October 2006 Subject: audio talk now available on line.) The next day I talked to a Pastor who attended the convention but who arrived after my talk. He is against women teaching the bible but somehow seems to not mind attending a conference run by a woman and featuring several talks by women. Go figure. Anyway I asked him some questions to pinpoint his objection to women teaching the bible and his answers were eye-opening.

I asked him if there was a law that forbid women from teaching the bible to men. He said yes. Then I asked him if one disobeys that law will they be guilty of sinning against God. He said yes again. That answer made my next question applicable to me and every other woman teaching the bible to men. I asked him if I taught the bible to men and did not repent of this "sin" by the time that I died if I would go to hell. He said yes. Wow, that's the bottom line for many complementarians! My last question was if that concerned him and he also said yes. Interesting that it concerns him that I am heading for hell for teaching correct biblical doctrine to men (and he seems to have some concern about what he sees as a unalterable law of God) that he cannot answer the exegesis on scripture that is found in the 4 DVD set that our ministry produced called "Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free?"

So although he cannot answer my arguments, he has trouble leaving the tradition that God has a law that accuses me of sin. That is the key thing that causes complementarians to separate themselves from egalitarians. They must either try to convince them of the error of their ways or they must separate from them as unrepentant sinners. How sad.

God never gave a "law" through a man where the man said "I do not allow". God made it clear that his laws come directly from him not what a man does or doesn't allow. Plus all of God's laws are repeated at least 2 or 3 more times in scripture as a confirmation that they are supported as law. However there is no second witness of the "law" for forbid a godly woman from teaching correct, biblical doctrine to men. I appointed some of these things in my talk. Several women came to me after the talk and shared how my reasoning from the scriptures set them free.


11:12 AM  

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