women’s dessert nights and men’s breakfasts – is gender a useful category for ministry?

I was involved in a mission last week which meant I dutifully went along to a women’s desert and coffee night and my husband to his men’s breakfast. This was the second time in six months.

cupcakes

I confess. I don’t like being around large groups of women. Women’s events mean another night not shared with my husband. There’s too much oestrogen. Perhaps it was the all-girls high school which ruined it for me… I couldn’t help thinking this does feel a lot like going back to school… So I wondered, when else do large groups of women meet together? When else do we segregate according to gender? Why?

  • In school – that has to do with different stages of development in young male and female brains, and trying to keep horny teenagers focused on their learning.
  • In sport – that’s because of the different bodies of men and women (thoughwe could see less segregation in sport – and Steve Waugh thinks so too – especially in kids’ sport).
  • In the Country Women’s Association, the Mother’s Union and the Girl Guides…

But it’s actually kind of weird these days to separate men and women post-puberty. We don’t do it in any other forum? Why do we do it at church?

cupcakes

While sipping my juice (who drinks coffee at night anyway?) I looked about at all the women in the room. There were teenagers, retirees, mums, students, workers, grannies, aunties, widows, divorcees, wives, fiancées and single women. There were plenty of anglo-Australian women, but there were also Chinese women, Indians, Pacific Islanders, Japanese. Some were Christians, some had been missionaries, some had never come to church before, some only came for the cake.

The only thing we had in common was that we were all women. Actually, I felt I had much more in common – in terms of interests, experiences, struggles – with the single male students who were helping in the kitchen than the stay at home mums across the table from me.

Whenever I go to a women’s event there’s talk behind the scenes. Someone’s sick of cake/craft/flowers/pink, ‘why are these events always so girly?’ ‘why can’t we go camping/shooting/gaming/[insert ‘masculine’ activity]?’. Then someone suggests we think of an event which would appeal to all women, not just ones who like craft and kittens. That just about kills the conversation. What appeals to all women? … no… nup… I’ve got nothing. So coffee and dessert it is.

The thing is, you can’t create an event that appeals to all women any more than you could have an event which appeals to all people. And if you could, why wouldn’t you invite men too?

In our post-second wave feminism society ‘women’ as a group have very little holding them together as women (not that women were ever a homogeneous group). There is no ‘typical’ woman. Women’s experiences are so diverse that I’m not sure that segregating men from women is useful.

Titus 2 (the ‘women’s ministry passage) might help.

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Notice the that the older men and the older women are to model much the same qualities. Yes, the women are told to teach women. But they’re teaching things which are particular to the women’s shared experience. Older, more experienced women are teaching young wives and mothers how to be wives and mothers in their context. It’s not a picture of taking all the women aside – widows, single women, mothers and child-free alike – and teaching them the Bible at a convention or desert night. It’s particular to the older women’s expertise and younger mothers’ needs. It is not arbitrary segregation but segregation because these groups face particular issues. The aim is to be respectable to outsiders so that there are no barriers to hearing God’s word.

In light of this, I can understand the value in holding separate events or conferences to talk about parenting, being a student, being single, managing work – different life stages or particular circumstances. I can understand separating men and women to talk about sex so that people feel comfortable. I can also see the value of meeting with someone of the same sex to discuss personal issues. But I’m not sure what it is that all women in common today that men don’t which would make it necessary to segregate men and women when teaching the Bible generally.

The speaker at this dessert night talked about the need to be dependent on God not self, on the need to confess our sin and on the forgiveness Jesus offers. This is true for all of us! It’s a shame the men weren’t invited. They missed out.

It’s not just an issue of creating extra work and extra events (although I think we’re often in danger of that). It suggests that we’re not united, that in Christ maybe there is still male and female.It suggests that men really are from Mars and women from Venus rather than both made in the image of God. It suggests that either we’re so different that the Gospel is different or has different implications for women and men. It suggests that we’re primarily Christian women or Christian men rather than just Christians, people who follow Jesus.

So why do we segregate ourselves?

I have two ideas

  1. It’s about babysitting. We do separate women and men’s events so that each parent has a chance to go something. I’m not sure that childcare logistics justify separating men from women, especially if what’s being heard is relevant to both parents. Perhaps we need to think laterally. Moreover, single parents can get overlooked it the assumption is the other parent will mind the kids. This is easy for me to say – I don’t have kids! Perhaps parents find separate events helpful. Any thoughts, parents?
  2. It’s about women preaching. There are so many gifted female preachers, but because many people do not believe they should be allowed to preach to mixed groups, we artificially create segregated events so that these women can use their gifts.
  3. It’s a hangover from the time when it was normal for women and men to gather separately (Mother’s Union etc.) because of the gendered division of labour.

Any other ideas? Why do we segregate ministries according to gender? Are these good reasons to separate men and women? Do you find segregated events helpful?

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Thank God it’s the very best of Fridays!

On Easter

Rachel Held Evans Holy week for doubters

Anthony Kelly Good Friday: The scandal of the cross, the foolishness of God

On the NDIS or ‘DisabilityCare’

Stella Young DisabilityCare: a bad name but a good direction

Craig Wallace DisabilityCare: what’s in a name?

On Australian politics

Frank Brennan Rudd right not to run

Scott Stephens Kevin Rudd’s lesson on morality in politics

Australian politics bears all the traits of having been chastened by a cruel and often unforgiving country. Moments of genuine inspiration are fleeting. Kevin Rudd’s decision not to challenge the Prime Minister may not have been inspired, but it was the right decision – it may have even been a moral one. In a time when the nation’s capital is dominated a particularly nihilistic version of political contest, the least we can do is appreciate moments of moral rectitude when they occur.

Nick Bryant Australia’s coup culture

Paola Totaro Australians don’t know how lucky they are. Australia’s had 21 years of economic growth. While we were having the recession we had to have, I was in Kindy and not really paying attention to the economy. Now we have a whole generation of people like me who have no idea what recession looks like and, according to the poms, have become a pack of whingers. In some ways the Labor party’s been the victim of the success of Hawke/Keating.

And responding to Totaro is The Moonbat Modern democracy is about a lot more than economic growth

On the Pope

I think I’ll like this guy. Pope Francis breaks the mould with ceremony at prison instead of St Peters.

On saints

Happy St Patrick’s Day for last week! Geoffrey Reiter Saint Nicholas strikes back: Catholic memes and secularised feast days

St NickOn the Bible

Tim Gombis Evangelicals and the Bible (part 2). It’s worth reading this whole series.

We can fool ourselves into thinking that we already know it.  We’re already “biblical.”  “What, we need to study the Bible!?  We already know it!  It’s our job to tell others to be in subjection to it!  They’re the ones who aren’t listening to what God says!”

But the end or purpose of the Bible is not for us to take it up as a weapon against others.  The end or purpose of the Bible is for me to be shaped, transformed, rebuked, comforted, informed, enlightened, and rectified.

On calvinism and arminianism

Not many will like this one, but again, I found it clarified the issues. Roger Olson What’s wrong with Calvinism?

On happiness

The Hoopla The happy family secret. So happy families have a strong family narrative about the ups and downs their family has faced over generations. What could this mean for Christians whose family is the Church?

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Finally Friday again.

While we were all distracted by the turmoil in the labor party (I wasted a whole afternoon flicking between the ABC and twitter), there were other things going on in parliament yesterday – an apology for forced adoptions and the NDIS Bill passed!

NDIS

Here’s an update on its unfortunate new name – Discontent over DisabilityCare name

Also Vanuatu actually did lose a PM yesterday (and I like trying to read Bislama). Here it is in English.

On finding a church

Derek Rishmawy Checking out churches – don’t forget the ‘Jesus Drinking Game Test’

 As a baseline minimum, if you wouldn’t get drunk if you had to sip every time they mention Jesus or the Gospel in a church service, then it’s probably not a church you want to be going to.

On the Bible

Rachel Held Evans The Bible: it’s just not that into you

So some friends recently pointed me to thePersonal Promise Bible, in which you can personalize the biblical text to include you name in over 7,000 places.

Some examples provided on the Web site:

2 Peter 1:4 – “By which He has granted to Joe His precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these Joe may become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

On the pope

I feel like the new pope is old news now. Still, I found this piece interesting.

Kevin White The new pope: novelty following precedence

On ridiculous gendered products

The Hoopla Hah hah hah…no, it’s real

Yep, it’s real. And so far 7,000 lucky, lucky women have one.

It’s the pink ePad Femme for women that comes pre-loaded with ever app a chick could ever want – cooking, yoga, perfume, recipes and supermarket shopping.

On Barth

This one’s long, but as a beginner, I found it helpful and mostly easy to follow. Roger Olson Was Karl Barth a universalist? A new look at an old question.

On ‘the fundamentalist tendency’

Arthur Davis Evangelicals and the fundamentalist tendency

How can we claim to hold Scripture as our final authority in a way that’s not fundamentalist?

On its own, to claim that Scripture is your final authority doesn’t make you a fundamentalist; it’s a mainstream Christian perspective, as Jensen says. However, Scripture is always interpreted, and ‘Scripture as final authority’ must always mean, at some level, ‘Scripture as we read it’. The thing is, it’s a treacherously small step from saying, ‘We’re Bible-believing Christians’ to saying, ‘We’re the true/only Bible-believing Christians.’ This is where we evangelicals face a recurring temptation: when we encounter others who also hold to the authority of Scripture, yet who differ from us, we’re inclined to claim this is because they do not truly recognise the authority of Scripture, and are disobedient. That’s where the fundamentalist tendency begins to show.

On the biggest loser

I caught a few minutes of The Biggest Loser while channel surfing last Sunday. They’d taken people up the top of a cliff over water and told them they had to jump and swim if they wanted to stay on the show. One of the mothers was in tears of fear – she wasn’t a strong swimmer. What jumping off cliffs on national TV has to do with promoting mental and physical health,  I don’t know. It’s just bullying. I turned it off.

Kerri Sackville Fat shaming race

On reconciliation and acknowledgment

Sophie Timothy Churches acknowledge stolen land

On Gina

Yes, you’re sick of hearing about her, but this one from the New Yorker’s a good article. William Finnegan The Miner’s Daughter

On dolls

Jessica Samakow Dolls for downs: mom creates doll inspired by her daughter

When Hannah Feda was 9 years old, she was flipping through a toy catalog and noticed that there were dolls that resembled her younger sister, but none that looked like her. Hannah, who is now 13, has Down syndrome.

On computers

computer parade

East Germany showing off its computers in a state parade, 1987

 

we need disability insurance, not care

The federal government has just changed the name of the promised National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

They’re calling it DisabilityCare (the capital C is part of it). The logic being that we’ve got Medicare and we all know what that is.

NDIS is a bad name. It’s a mouthful. It sounds like bureaucratic jargon. It’s yet another acronym. I’m all for scrapping it and getting something else.

But my problem with DisabilityCare is the big capital C Care that stands out in the middle (ok, I also don’t like the fact they’ve tried to be cool by making it into one word when it’s clearly two words – I’m a grumpy old woman before my time – but that’s not my main point).

Care.

As I understood it, the importance of the insurance scheme is that it promises to replace a hodge podge of various charitable and government programmes designed to care for people with disabilities and give people with disabilities the authority to make their own decisions with their own money.

It’s meant to transform a model of charity and benefits for people with disabilities to a model of entitlement through insurance. That’s the beauty of an insurance scheme – it means people with disabilities aren’t treated like objects of charity but as autonomous agents.

By whacking the word ‘care’ on the end I’m worried it’s a throwback to the paternalism we’re trying to overcome. I’m worried it will encourage people to view the scheme as just charity.

But what’s needed isn’t care, it’s rights.

Could we have Disability Insurance instead?

 

——

[note – In thinking over this post I’m worried I implied that there’s something undignified or degrading about needing care. I just want to clarify that there’s nothing wrong with being dependent on someone else. We all are dependent on other people (if anyone were completely independent they’d live on an island and I’d be worried about their mental health) and ultimately dependent on God. I think the association of dignity and value with independence is very worrying for our community. My problem with using ‘care’ is it keeps people in a position of dependency when they need not be and forgets interdependency, it’s not a problem with care per se.]

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What a week. Goodbye Terry Mills, hello Francis, happy Friday.

On popes

Timothy George The next pope should be catholic

Scott Stephens Humilitas christiana: what Francis reminds us of the papacy

St Francis

St Francis

I’m excited about this Latino Pope. Last time I was talking with Latinos about the pope I explained in my beginner’s Spanish, ‘la papa viene a Sydney’ not realising that meant ‘the potato is coming to Sydney.’ It’s el papa, not la papa. 

I’m also excited about his name – Francis. I’d like to learn more about St Francis. Normally I only hear about him from preachers eager to slam the slogan ‘preach the gospel – use words if necessary’ (something he probably never said, but seems to fit with the wives who win their husbands ‘without words’ in 1 Peter 3). I’ve never actually head this approach seriously recommended by anyone nor do I think many evangelical Sydney-siders are in danger of being too generous or too concerned for the poor. I’d like to hear some more about what we can learn from St Francis and about his love for the poor. Thoughts?

Alex Johnson New pope’s choice of ‘Francis’ has deep meaning for Catholic Church

On scripture

Michael Bird The importance of the narrative of scripture

On sports betting

Nathan Campbell Channel 9’s awful gamble, broken lives and betting on Jesus

On giving

Chris Green Money – when there’s way too much

On the world

Sarah Lee If the world were a village of 100 peopleToby Ng has designed a series of posters that illustrates statistics based on a village of a 100 people.

On culture

Tammie Davis Crossing cultures with attitudes to money

On kiwis in Australia

Robert Burton-Bradley New Zealanders, Australia’s ‘underclass’

On poverty

Micah Challenge has a new campaign to finish the race, please check it out.

our land our languages

Most Aussies are pretty bad at languages. For those of us who use English at home, we tend to assume that everyone else will just learn English. Most of us got a smattering of languages at school (for me it seemed to be a new language every year – Japanese one year, then German, Latin, French, Mandarin – adding up to nothing of any). It gets a bit embarrassing when we go overseas (apparently it’s not normal to be educated but still monolingual), but luckily all the locals have learned a bit of English. Other than that, I’m not sure we’re often very aware of our strange monolingualism or how it affects us.

But our presumption of English affects indigenous kids in remote areas and is getting in the way of their education.

You probably didn’t notice (it’s not your fault, it didn’t get much media attention), but a House of Reps committee conducted an ‘Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous communities’ last year – Our land our languages. The report started with something everyone knows is a fiction – terra nullius.

The Mabo decision of the High Court of Australia on 3 June 1992 legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonisation. The Mabo decision recognised that ‘terra nullius’, the concept that Australia was unoccupied at the time of colonisation, is a fiction.

But it pointed out another fiction about the country, one that’s gone under the radar – the fiction that we all speak English.

Similarly, the notion that Australia is a monolingual nation and that only Standard Australian English can benefit a person is a fiction. Estimates show that at the time of colonisation there was an estimated 250 Australian Indigenous languages being used and today there are about 18 languages, strong in the sense of being spoken by significant numbers of people across all age groups.

That fiction about English – as well as a knee-jerk reaction to poor NAPLAN results – that was behind the 2009 decision to get Aboriginal languages out of indigenous schools in the NT. When the NT government mandated that schools only use English for the first 4 hours of the day, school attendance dwindled:

Evidence shows that Lajamanu School has suffered since its bilingual education program was removed in 2009 under the First Four Hours policy. Attendance figures have barely risen above 45% since mid-2009, down from 60% (and above) between 2006-2008.

Forget ‘no pool no school’, it seems it became a case of ‘No Warlpiri No School‘ at Lajumanu.

But the report also found evidence of positive links between incorporating indigenous languages into school and school attendance (though language is no silver bullet). It’s not really surprising that kids prefer school when they understand what the teacher is saying. According to the Kimberly Education Office, introducing language meant kids actually came to school and made parents happy:

I cannot really talk about attendance data, but some principals have commented to me that ‘We did nothing else last semester that was different. The only thing we did was introduce an Aboriginal language, and our suspensions have dropped and our attendance is up.’ That is anecdotal but that is strong, and parents who say, ‘I had a choice and I could enrol my kid at school A or school B but I enrolled in that school B because I know they teach an Aboriginal language.

(you may note I’ve referenced research earlier which says that school attendance made no difference to academic results in remote indigenous communities. The evidence referenced there was for schooling in English, not in language.)

Using language in school isn’t some kind of neo-colonial attempt to keep Aboriginal kids separate from non-indigenous kids, to give them a separate syllabus and keep them in their box. It’s actually the best way to enable kids to learn to read and write in English.

Putting my historian cap on, educationalists and linguists have known since the 1930s (they did studies in Mexico with SIL/Wycliffe) that the best way to learn to read and write in a second language is to learn in your own language first. Teaching kids to read their own language means they can learn the concept of reading and writing in a way that makes sense  – connecting sounds to script – before they move onto learning English as a second language. So using indigenous languages in the early years of school actually helps kids understand and read English better.

This is important because when Aboriginal kids grow up to read English and learn the ‘secret English’ used by bureaucrats and lawyers, they’ll be in a better position to negotiate and represent their interests and their cultures. It’s not about assimilation (see Nakata on indigenous education for more) or keeping people trapped in a box, it’s about equipping people.

But it’s also a basic issue of respect. English is not the only language of value, there are many Australian languages and their speakers deserve a quality education.

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You may have noticed that sadly it’s not Friday. Last Friday was International Women’s Day and I was away and without internet. Then I had a weekend, so here we are.

On consumer ethics

Lauren Rambo Where should Christians buy their clothes?

On unity

Patrick Mitchel A personal appeal for Christian unity in diversity

On faith

Peter Enns Why I don’t believe in God anymore

On ‘radical’ faith

Daniel Jespen Radical enough?

The common warning is that a stunted belief in Jesus that does not result in radical obedience is either missing the point of the Christian life or is missing salvation itself.  Those who are held up as models of the Christian life are those who made radical life changes to follow Christ, like becoming overseas missionaries, or moving into the inner city. Anderson writes, “It really hard to read these books, one after another, and confidently declare yourself a Christian at the end”.

On memory

Alister McGrath Memory and grace: redating the conversion of C.S. Lewis

On bioethics

Not one, but two articles from deep thinkers who have OI.

Ellen Painter Dollar The dangers of solutionism applied to our always less-than-perfect children

Philip Burcham Genetic counselling and the death of medical compassion

Ellen Painter Dollar then responded to Philip Burcham – not all people with disabilities think alike on these issues. Bless those who curse you (& don’t call them eugenicists, moral monsters or murderers)

On writing well

Charles Halton A conversation with Verlyn Klinkenborg on the craft of academic writing 

The part that worries me is that I have talked with young professors all over the place, and they say things as blunt as: ‘If I write more clearly people will distrust my writing’. There is a negative placed on clarity and directness as if these characteristics pander to the public.

On gaming

Anita Sarkeesian Damsel in distress – tropes vs women

On hypocrisy

Tom Wright The church may be hypocritical about sex but is no one else guilty?

On refugees next door

Scott Morrison

‘God’s good design’ or ‘The message of women’

It was my birthday last week and I found myself in the possession of an amazon book voucher surveying all the tantalising books that could be mine.

For the record I got the Economy of Desire; Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World and  Justice in Love (I don’t normally do philosophy, but apparently this one’s so well written that it’s worth reading just as an example of philosophers communicating clearly). But to max out my shipping (this is the only time I wish I lived anywhere but Australia – internet shipping costs) I needed one more book.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know I’m trying to work out what the Bible teaches about gender. Two books came out last year on the Bible’s teachings on women:

  • Tidball & Tidball The Message of Women which is about ‘women in Scripture’
  • Smith God’s Good Design which sets out to explain ‘what the Bible really says about men and women’

I was only going to get one. Both have the intro available for free online (here and here) to help me make my choice. This is what I learned from their introductions.

Content

First up, the Tidballs implore the reader not to skip to the end to the bit on women in leadership because they’re concerned to understand what the whole Bible says about women (not just leadership).

When playing Monopoly the unfortunate player may be instructed to ‘Go to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.’ Regrettably we fear that many who read this volume will fall into the equivalent trap and go straight to the chapter on women in leadership, bypassing all the other chapters en route. We beg you not to do so. One of the most interesting reflections on writing this book is how many people have assumed in conversation that it was about women in leadership rather than women in Scripture. While the issue of women in leadership, Scripture has much more to say about women than whether they can be ordained or not. Moreover, we would contend that it is by isolating this issue from the rest we are liable to misunderstand what Paul was teaching.

Claire Smith, on the other hand, begins her book with that very issue, starting at  1 Timothy 2 – women preaching in church. The following chapter is on 1 Corinthians 11 (head coverings) then 1 Corinthians 14 (women speaking in church). The books’ theology of men and women is entirely built on the difficult and contested passages. She explains her selection of content in the introduction:

 This book is a text-by-text, verse-by-verse, and sometimes word-by-word look at passages that many of us have put in the ‘too hard’ basket.

Structure

The Tidballs structure their book according to the Bible’s own overarching narrative (creation, fall, new creation). It’s a Biblical theology of women.

The book is divided into four sections. First we lay some crucial foundations about women in creation and in the new creation. Then we survey the rich Old Testament material concerning women…The third section examines the Gospels…The final section deals with both the practice and teaching of the early church and fully examines some of the more controversial (and misunderstood?) writings of Paul.

Smith structures her book according to our 21st Century questions about women – what’s their ‘role’ (not a Biblical term) in church and marriage? She does the opposite to the Tidballs; she deliberately does not consider passages in the light of each other so that each chapter can be read in isolation.

The book falls into two parts. The first looks at those texts that deal with the roles and relationships of women and men when Christians gather together for what we call ‘church.’ The second section of the book focuses on their relationship within marriage, and in God’s original design for creation. Each chapter is written as a discrete unit dealing with a particular text, and so can be read on its own or as part of the whole.

Hermeneutic

What’s their approach to interpreting the Bible? The Tidballs say it’s difficult and complicated. Smith says it’s straightforward and that any difficulty is due to sin and our cultural biases (i.e. feminism).

This is what the Tidballs said about interpretation:

When we approach Scripture with integrity we find it speaks on the issue of women in ways which are diverse, complex and particular. Diversity demands we look to the range of the Bible’s teaching and do not merely select those passages which suit our particular viewpoint. Complexity demands we study the text carefully…Particularity means we must locate the text in its original cultural setting and the issues that were around then…before we consider how it applies to our very differenct cultural context and questions today.

And Smith:

The problem [of the difficulty we experience in understanding the Bible’s teachings on men and women] is not really with God or with his word. The problem is with us. The difficulties we have with those texts that deal with the responsibilities of men and women lie in us – not in the clarity or goodness of God’s word. We can expect God’s word to speak clearly. And it does.

Tone

The Tidballs are going for a more academic tone (though still very accessible), whereas Smith is writing for a popular audience. The Tidballs seem careful to explain their position with humility and graciousness towards those who understand the Bible differently.

Humility demands that we eschew calling one another names. Sadly a good deal of name-calling goes on in the church and some feel that labelling an opponent’s view as ‘feminist’ or ‘reactionary’ is sufficient not to consider thoughtfully what they are saying. This is part of a wide cultural trend which finds moral discussion difficult and thinks all questions are resolved by labelling those with whom we disagree. Such a trend…is deeply unworthy of the followers of Jesus Christ.

Smith, on the other hand, is ready to insinuate that egalitarians have a low view of scripture and are therefore unfaithful pastors.

Why would God’s word say one thing and yet mean the opposite? This is, in fact, what the various ‘egalitarian’ interpretations do. They claim to be uncovering the true meanings of these texts, and yet their conclusions fly in the face of the words themselves….

Sometimes…Christian brothers and sisters who at other times have been beloved and reliable teachers and shepherds in their sermons and books…tell us that these words of Scripture cannot be taken literally or that they no longer apply today, or that the evangelistic turn-off of these texts is baggage the church cannot afford to carry and that being missional means moving with the times and fitting with our culture.

Conclusions

Well, no prizes for guessing which book I bought after comparing their introductions. I am actually  surprised that Smith’s book has received so many recommendations (if you do recommend it and have read it please feel free to let me know why) when, as she indicates in the introduction, she starts with the contested, difficult passages and uses them to work out a theology, rather than interpreting the hard bits in light of what we know for sure from the clear passages, the Gospel and the overal story of the Bible. If her aim were simply to exegete hard passages, that’s fine, but to base her teaching of ‘what the Bible says’ on only the hard bits worries me. A Biblical theological approach, starting at Genesis 1 right through to Jesus’ New Creation – using the Bible’s own framework – seems to me to be a more reliable way of understanding what the Bible really says.

Reviews

You may be interested to read some reviews of people who’ve actually read the books.

Reviews of God’s Good Design

Reviews of The Message of Women (couldn’t find any negative reviews of this one, perhaps it’s slipped under the complimentarian radar because everyone’s been so busy dealing with John Dickson)

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There’s nothing like sleeping in on a rainy Friday. Hope you’re having a good morning too.

On the environment

Andrew Errington Oliver O’Donovon on the roots of our ecological malaise

If we only manage to protect nature on the basis of its value to us, we may have done something useful, but we are still driven by assumptions that profoundly distort our relation to natural order and so will inevitably bring further chaos in their wake.

Liz Jakimow Genesis 1 and environmental rights

On racism in Australia

David Forman Racism should be called as it is

On introversion and ministry

I’m not an introvert (I’m a shy extrovert – an ENTJ at that – so I’m constantly conflicted). But I think Chris Green is right, they are often the best preachers –  Shh the introvert is preaching

On Purim

Purim was this week. The Huff Post tells you what you need to know about Purim.

Arthur Wasco From Vashti and Esther to women of the Wall and US nuns

On hipsters

Lisa Wade The difference between nerds and hipsters with glasses. Watch the video.

On human rights

Rachel Ball Human rights and religion – where does the balance lie?

Damien Carrick on RN Strengthening Australia’s disability laws

On genetic counselling and disability

Philip Burcham My brittle bones

In the end, we are all frail creatures. Maybe this is why some people wish to abort persons like my father and me: Perhaps we confront them with the inconvenient truth of their own mortality and the ultimate futility of their existential rebelliousness. Rather than pursuing the futile idea that humanity can live in perpetual defiance of God, we Brittle Burchams have found great hope and refuge in the arms of the strong God who became as weak as a newborn baby to conquer the evil that stains our fallen world.

On mourning

Jana Reiss Let’s bring back mourning clothes

On Christians and social media

Dave McDonald Bloody facebook

My big concern with Facebook at the moment is Christians. Christians using Facebook to air their grievances, stir up trouble, attack the words or actions or motives of other Christians. The bloodshed created in recent times has left me deeply disturbed…the rational, calculated, vitriolic, acidic use of Facebook as a medium for engaging in and stirring up conflict.

(on a slightly related note, John Dickson’s been uninvited to the Katoomba Women’s Christian convention because his presence would ‘politicise’ the event)

On justification

I found this one clarified the debate. NT Wright and James White debate the doctrine of justification