According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Christian View of Submission

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog

Humility, Not Hierarchy: How Submission Works for Us

by Rachel Held Evan
April 13, 2011

People are often surprised to find out that I submit to my husband…or at least I try to.

They are surprised because, as a self-described “liberated woman” who champions women in church leadership and an egalitarian interpretation of Scripture, I don’t fit the perceived mold for the submissive wife. The word “submission” has become synonymous with “subordination” and so it is assumed that only conservative complementarian wives submit to their husbands.

It’s too bad because I’m pretty sure that submission—a willingness to yield to another person’s ideas and desires—is almost as important to a relationship as a shared sense of humor.

I know it is for us.

What has emerged in our eight years of marriage, (perhaps accidentally), is a pattern of submission that is a) mutual and b) characterized by humility rather than hierarchy. It’s not a perfect marriage…I still forget to put new toilet paper on the roll…but it’s a happy and healthy one.

I can’t tell you what will work in your marriage, but I can tell you what has worked in ours.

The problem with hierarchy

The contrast between hierarchy and humility has become more clear to me this year as I’ve been altering some of my behavior for my year of biblical womanhood. As I’ve tried to apply passages like Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Peter 3:6 hyper-literally (even going so far as to call Dan “master” for a week!), we’ve both noticed how awkward it is to try and institute hierarchal gender roles into our daily routine when, really, we’ve never found such roles to be practical. For us, it’s just always worked better to let the person most suited for a specific task or venture take the lead.

A lot of Christians appeal to Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, and 1 Peter 3, (the “wives submit to your husbands” passages) to suggest that every husband is the God-ordained head of his household and that every wife is to be submissive to his leadership. But relying on the letters of Peter and Paul is problematic because in nearly every case, the admonition for wives to submit to their husbands is either preceded or followed by the admonition for slaves to obey their masters. In fact, phrases like “likewise” or “in the same way” are used to link the two. So to say that the hierarchal structures presented in these passages are divinely instituted and inherently holy, raises some troubling questions about God’s view of slavery.

What if it isn’t the structure that is sacred, but the attitude? What if submission can both inhabit and transcend culturally constructed hierarchal categories?

After all, didn’t Paul instruct Christians to submit to one another?

I don’t submit to Dan because he is a man and I am a woman. I submit to him because I love him, because I deeply respect him, and because I made a promise to put his needs before my own. I would hope that he would find that more meaningful than if I submitted to him simply because it was my “place.”

That said, I know plenty of couples who find that identifying an official leader of the family helps them make decisions faster, stay on the same page better, and move through life with more harmony and peace. If such an arrangement works better for you, GO FOR IT! This post is not an indictment against hierarchal marriages. I am convinced that God can work in both complementarian and egalitarian relationships and that both have the potential to be happy, healthy, and Christ-honoring.

Hierarchy may work for some people. I just don’t think it is biblically mandated.

The challenge of humility


I suspect that both egalitarians and complementarians would agree that an attitude of humility is necessary for true, heartfelt submission. We are to imitate Christ, who “although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…” (Philippians 2).

The essence of submission, then, is not the absence of power but the voluntary relinquishing of it.

It’s not about sticking to a prescribed hierarchy; it’s about walking in humility.

Dan and I are equals. But for our marriage to thrive, we both have to relinquish our power now and then. Sometimes I submit to Dan, sometimes he submits to me. Sometimes submission is easy, sometimes it’s hard.

But I can only be responsible for my actions. It’s not my job to try and force “mutual submission;” it’s my job to humbly submit.…which may mean watching “Mad Max” instead of “Persepolis” on Netflix Instant Play (not that I’m holding any grudges about that one).


A note on “spiritual leadership”


Back in college, my friends and I were constantly fretting over how to find a guy who exhibited enough “spiritual leadership” to qualify as a potential husband. I remember flipping through the college directory—affectionately dubbed the “ugly book”—and rating the guys based not on looks, but on spiritual aptitude.
Once, when we were dating, I even questioned whether Dan was a good enough “spiritual leader” for me because he knew less about theology than I did. I figured I should either dumb myself down a bit or find a guy who like reading C.S. Lewis.

It sounds silly now, but in talking with campus ministers, I’ve found that this whole “spiritual leader” thing is alive and well on Christian college campuses today. Perhaps because “submission” has been understood in terms of hierarchy, young women assume they must marry men who are more assertive, driven, and knowledgeable than they.

I wish I could send out mass email to college girls everywhere reminding them that if Christ is our example of leadership, then what they should be looking for are men who are servants. It matters not whether a guy likes to take charge or work behind the scenes or whether his prayer time lasts longer than yours. What matters is that he is willing to put other people’s needs before his own.

What matters is that he too is willing to submit.

I'm so glad I found that kind of guy.

***

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “submission”? How does submission work in your relationships?

McKnight - A Critique of Love Wins 6

http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2011/04/13/exploring-love-wins-6/

Exploring Love Wins 6

by Scot McKnight
April 13, 2011
Filed under: Universalism

Today’s topic, from Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, is the one of the big ones — is Rob a univeralist? — and our post begins with a prayer. I am asking that you pause quietly and slow down enough to pray this prayer as the way to approach this entire series:

O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing:
Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift,
which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue,
without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you.
Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.†

Rob Bell is not a universalist, and he can’t be if he is as committed to freedom as he says. Now to explain…

What “category” do you think Rob fits into when it comes to his view of how [one] gets in and how many [will] get into The Age to Come? Do you think there’s biblical grounds for “second chances”? What texts would you use in this discussion? Do you think it is right and good to hope for the salvation of all?

I will say this again: what Rob is asking in this question one of the most important questions being asked today. Will God’s grace and love eventually compel all to turn to him or not?

The chapter is titled and it begins with this question: Does God get what God wants? Of course, this all depends on what “wants” means, and Rob narrows God’s “wants” to his desire, found in 1 Timothy 2:3-4: “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Others might define God’s “wants” in ways that permit other factors, but this is Rob’s book and this is what he focuses on. He asks some almost facetious questions – like “How great is God?” – meaning is God great if he doesn’t get what he wants and what he wants is the salvation of all. By Rob’s own logic, though, and this needs to be listened to, as this chp unfolds God doesn’t necessarily get what he “wants”. [this is a theological paradox posed by Rob that cannot be answered – sh].

Bell opens up the universalism question here, which means that all humans — every last one of them in the past, present and future — will in the end be saved. He quotes passages in the Bible that have both “gospel going to all people” and reconciliation of all themes. The verses can’t be denied. Colossians 1 can’t be ignored: “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” But that’s not the end for Rob Bell in this chp.

Yes, he has some “Is history tragic?” questions and some “Will God shrug God-size shoulders?” And then discusses various options beside the universalism option.

1. We have one life and one life only to decide, and then eternity is settled. It’s rooted in freedom and God won’t override human freedom. That’s standard exclusivism.

2. Another view can be called diminishment to the point of dissolution.

3. Others believe after death people will get a second chance, and he misuses Luther here but that’s been pointed out by others already. Some, not many, do believe in second chances. (The Roman Catholic view of purgatory, though, is not about second chances.)

4. He offers yet another option: endless opportunities to choose. Endless second chances. And given enough time, everyone will choose. This is a kind of compatibilist universalism with God’s grace being just too good to resist eternally.

Bell then trots out some theologians who have been more or less universalist, including Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Eusebius, … and observes that others (like classic Reformed theologians of the 19th and 20th Century) think many if not most will be saved, like Jerome and Basil, and Augustine said at his time many thought this way. [I've not seen this in Augustine but would appreciate a reference if someone knows it.]

This leads Bell to three observations:

1. There is diversity in the church on this one. He’s right, but I’d appreciate it if he’d say very few have been universalist and many of them got into hot, hot water for it. It’s not as simple as variety. Exclusivism has ruled, with other options but they are minority with various degrees of trouble for proponents.

2. A theoretical point, one not often seen as theoretical by Bell’s readers, is his view that the story of some going to hell forever is not as a good a story as everyone going to heaven.

3. Whatever view you have, it is “fitting, proper and Christian to long for” the better story. [I recently talked with a significant Christian evangelical leader in the USA who said this to me: "If you don't long for that, you need to spend more time with God." And he was most decidedly not a universalist.]

This leads him to Revelation, and it is here that I will engage him a bit:

First, “But the letter does not end with blood and violence” (112). Well, I’m unconvinced because Revelation 20 is part of the end of this book and it is “violence” if you consider being thrown into the Lake of Fire violence. So there are two ends in Revelation: the Lake of Fire end and the New Heavens/New Earth end. But it is true that the final ending in Revelation is the New Heavens and New Earth.

Second, the new creation of Revelation 21 eliminates murder, destruction and deceit. He goes back to his freedom theme here, and I can’t tell if he’s ignoring the elimination of those who reject God in Rev 20 or leaving open the option for those in the new creation to choose against God. It appears to me he’s assuming the validity of the endless second chance theory. (Without arguing for it.) But he asks here how someone could not leave the old ways … and suggests some will/can choose that option.

Third, this is where I believe Bell overtly denies universalism: “So will those who have said no to God’s love in this life continue to say no in the next?” [Again, he seems to avoid what happened in Rev 20.] He goes on: “Love demands freedom, and freedom provides that [to say no to God] possibility. People take that option now, and we can assume it will be taken in the future.” This is non universalist. Universalist is an option for Bell, but it’s up to humans. And since they have freedom, one can’t know for sure.

Fourth, the gates of the new heavens and new earth — the new Jerusalem — are open. He sees choice in these open gates, but I disagree: the gates were for protection, and open gates means there is no need for protection. Why? Because the New Heavens and New Earth are Shalom, everywhere, forever. Again, leaving the gates open is caused by Rev 20, the elimination of those who reject God and do evil. But Rob wonders if people can be banished — he doesn’t say where but perhaps he means in the Lake of Fire (it’s not clear) — and at the same time there can be gates open for them to return. He goes on…

Fifth, and here we have another non universalist position: Rob Bell says we can’t know. “Will everybody be saved…? Those are questions, or more accurately, those are tensions we are free to leave fully intact. We don’t need to resolve them or answer them because we can’t, and so we simply respect them, creating space for freedom that love requires” (115). Love wins. This is definitely not universalism. Bell is open to it, he hopes for it, but it’s up to humans to decide. If you can’t know, you can’t be universalist because universalism knows.

Sixth, and I like this one: the new heavens and the new earth are full of endless possibilities and potentialities for God. It will be new and keep on being new.

Finally… he answers does God get what God wants? This is the universalism question. His answer: the question is not Does God get what God wants but “Do we get what we want?” The answer to that is “a resounding, affirming, sure and positive yes” (116). We get what we want.

This is not universalism. It is pure emphasis on libertarian free will. In the heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan.