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Thursday, November 30, 2006

We've Got You Covered

I begin this post knowing this may be one of my trickiest ever. There are only about 146 different directions I could go, yet I do not wish to dedicate the entire future of my blog to the issue of head coverings. So before I get into my primary premise, allow me to lay down some thoughts I feel need to be said, but again, are not primary.

Legalism is not a valid argument.--I've heard some people resist the concept of a literal head covering because they fear legalism. If they have been in an environment where someone has said "only women with their heads covered are God's chosen," then they may believe the head covering caused the legalism. However, that's not a valid argument. For instance, there were those in Galatia who believed only the circumcised were God's chosen, and Paul confronted them that it is by faith, not by an outward work. However, the majority of American Christians still have their boys cimcumcised, not fearing it will lead to legalism.

Current culture is not a valid argument.--I've heard some claim that we still see elements of this principle in our culture, therefore it is still valid. Most men take their hat off when praying, in fact, usually we tell men to do so. (Interestingly enough, I've always been told the reason was for respect, not for the sake of the angels.) However, just because our culture seems to reflect men praying with uncovered heads, that does not then say this is the proper practice. There are plenty of practices we share with first century middle east that are not pleasing to God.

In a nutshell, I'm not sure about headcoverings. I'll post my thoughts and would love you to review them, but there is a bigger picture I hope to show. Yes we should strive to know what a passage is saying. No, every passage is not equally discernable. No, that does not mean we should quit trying. Yes, I do believe we can still be confident about clearer passages. (If I'm making no sense, possibly my next post will clear up my purpose.) Therefore, this post is not designed to give a definitive perspective on headcoverings, but to show that this passage is unique in approach to other passages (specifically 1 Timothy 2).
    Why I'm not confident 1 Corinthians 11 means a literal head covering.

1. Heads up!--Paul uses the word "kephale" (still have no idea how to insert greek text) for head. In verse 3, he clearly means this metaphorically (for how could a man be a literal head of a woman). So in verse 4, does he immediately switch to a man's literal head (his cranium)? Is there anything in the text to clue us into this? Try this exercise. Read the entire passage seeing "kaphale" as a literal mass of flesh on top of your neck. Does every verse make sense? Next, read the passage with "kaphale" always meaning authority. Does every verse make sense? There are times when it is very clear which Paul means, but there are more than one where it is not.

2. Uncovering Coverings--"Katakalupto" is used for "cover/covered" (and "akatakaluptos" for "uncovered"). These words are only found in this very passage. Now a hapax legomenom does not dismiss authority from a word, or make the text any less inspired, but it can make things a little trickier to discern.

3. Hairy verses--Paul was not stating a woman's hair is given as a veil in a vacuum. This is not a parenthetical statement and must fit into the discussion some how. Is Paul saying a woman's hair is the covering she needs? His brevity (which we have to believe was Spirit directed) does not give us much indication.

4. Appeal to angels--Paul, again, directed by the Spirit, makes an unusual appeal for angels. The issue of head covering, authority, and gender is under consideration for the sake of the angels. But what does this really mean? In the context, he then states that men and women are both necessary for procreation. The angelic order is already set and established, they were created. Is this a distinction that the angels marvel at? That man and woman become one flesh and actually produce another man/woman? If so, how does the head covering factor into that?

5. The long and short--Like most difficult passages, we've heard abuses of this. I've heard preachers declare certain male "hair styles" shameful based upon what they determined long. Does it hang over the ears? Its too long. Touch the collar of your shirt? Your father must be embarrassed. But the text gives us no such clues. We are not told at what point hair is long or hair is short.

6. Bueller, Bueller--We can search the rest of Scripture and not really find much more explanation for this. Sure, authority and submission are all through the Word of God when it comes to a marriage, but having that tied into hair and head coverings is not established anywhere else. We are completely dependant upon this passage for our understanding.

I do not look down on a woman who literally covers her head. I do not look down on a woman who does not cover her head. (Before you think I'm getting squishy, let me say I do believe somebody is right and somebody is wrong.) Whatever a person's perspective, I think they have to admit there are elements of the passage that are troubling.

However, because this passage is vague is no reason not to search the text. It does not validate that every passage is equally difficult. We certainly can't make the claim that culture taints the entire Bible so much that we can't know what it's saying.

It's funny, this passage is difficult to understand--but if we do understand it--it would be very easy to apply (either wear a covering or don't). However, I hope to show next that 1 Timothy 2 is not hard to understand, it is just hard to apply in our culture.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Purpose Driven and Evangelism?

I read this post today:

What's wrong with Rick Warren and why?

Before you get upset, here is one line:
First, we should love and pray for Rick Warren. He does say some good and useful things and my prayer is that he will return to preaching Biblical salvation and repentance of sin.
I think "Pastor Eric" reveals that evangelism can't remain evangelism if it is too vague.

Sloppy Heretic

The book isn't brand new (published in August) but I ran across this troubling title again last week.

I hear some of you right now...

Troubling? Has he even read the book? Does he know that Burke is a good guy who makes a lot of terrific points in his book? Is he really going to give his opinion on a book he hasn't even read?

In short: Yes, I believe so. No, I have not. If true, that's great to know, but it doesn't change my concern? Yes.

Slightly longer version:

1. There is a huge line between a heretic and a perceived heretic. In chapter one, Burke states
Copernicus and Galileo are among the world’s most famous heretics.
He explains that because Copernicus believed the sun was the middle of the universe and not the earth, some labeled him a heretic. However, there is a big difference between actually being a heretic and being called a heretic. According to the Word of God (the real standard), I never want to be called a heretic. However, if a Jehovah's Witness, Mormon or even Catholic wants to label me heretical, as long as I'm accurate to the Word, I'm ok with that.

2. I'm sick of mocking hell. Perhaps I'm misreading the cover design but the words "heretic" and "eternity" accompanied with fire sends the impression that Burke is saying, "Call me a heretic. Say I'm going to burn in hell for my heresy. See if I care." Again, maybe I'm reading him wrong, but this has been the tenor of some I've read of those who question the reality of hell. But this is never the attitude of men calling the church back to Biblical doctrine. They are worried for those with the convential, religious belief (think Reformation) and call them to repent to escape the fires of hell. They don't minimize hell. They certainly don't flipantly declare they may be going there. There heart breaks for those who oppose them, for they believe that is their destiny.

3. Is this concept anywhere in the Word? I can make a case that we should be radical. I can even make a case that we should seem foolish. But I can't find anywhere that men should aim to be different. Men should aim to be true to the Scriptures and that will sometimes get them labeled are rebels, but there aim should never be to act different just for the sake of difference.

4. A heretic is an awful label. No one should strive for it. A heretic is not one who strays from tradition or holds a different biblical perspective on just any issue. A heretic is one who distorts and perverts the gospel, thus their doctrine does not lead to eternity. That's like writing a book to encourage evangelism to Jews and calling it "Be Antisemetic." What a horrible, gross idea! If I'm ever called a heretic, it's not something I want to celebrate, but mourn. First, I should stop to evaluate my teaching according to Scripture to see if that is true. Second, if I believe I am being accurate to the Word of God, I should mourn for the brother who called me a heretic. Either he misunderstands the word and is making an accusation he should regret, or he himself may be the heretic, for he cannot spot the truth. That conclusion shouldn't be one to celebrate.

Overall, I'm just sick of the church's obsession with shock-value. Do we not believe the Word of God presented accurately will pierce the hearts and souls of men? Instead, we have to pick shocking titles, abusing words, just so we can sell more copies.

I don't know much about this book, but if its contents are as sloppy as its title, I think I'll stay away.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Culture and Authority

The Scriptures were completed nearly 2,000 years and 6,000 miles from here. Should that make a difference?

We speak a different language, in a different land, with different govermental systems.

We're all fallen, depraved and in need of redemption.

Culture can run along a grid. Must we still gird our loins? Should we actually buy a tunic so we can give it to others? Is the kiss still the proper way to greet fellow believers? Are women still restricted from teaching doctrine to men? Are Christians really to refrain from suing one another? Should a family still comprise of a mother and a father? Should churches still exercise discipline? Is there really only One Way to God?

Many people assume the way to discern a cultural issue in Scripture is to examine our own culture. If a passage is troubling, or its application seems backward, then it is probably a cultural issue. A typically conservative person may find this a non-threatening approach to obscure and periperal issues, yet they are baffled when another person uses the same approach with issues like hell and the atonement. But why be surprised? What one man considers orthodoxy another feels free for reinterpretation. Clearly, our current culture cannot be our gauge, for the authority must be the Word of God, not the society responding to it.

A casual glance at many denominations shows that when they gave ground to culture on "minor issues," major ones were short to follow. Therefore, some refuse to even acknowledge cultural differences. But if we read the Scriptures soley as a 2006 American audience the parables make little sense, issues of marriage and divorce become more clouded, and the Word of God seems silent on many (if not most) issues. Clearly we must take notice of culture.

Are we left alone to decide when to apply a cultural argument and when not to? Doesn't God's Word have something to say about our approach? Actually, God's Word is where we turn to answer our question. We should be hesitant to argue toward culture unless we see clues within the text. Similarly, we are not being accurate to the text if it gives us cultural clues and we choose to ignore them. We should check to see if other similar statements are made in other passages. As always, we should closely examine the words in their original language.

Allowing culture to determine our approach to Scripture removes the authority of the Word of God. Ignoring culture all together diminishes the power of the Word of God in our lives. But allowing the Scripture to determine how we interact with the text keeps the Word of God authoritative and understandable.

It is, afterall, the same book they had 2,000 years and 6,000 miles from here.

My Worst Nightmare

Last night, we had a lovely evening with our elders, their wives and a few other people involved in ministry at our church. We all sat at tables of about eight people each and enjoyed incredible food and great conversation. Tracing a woman out our table's testimony from coming out of Catholicism and Episcopalian background, we somehow landed on the issue of headcoverings. After discussing the unique perspectives on the head coverings issue, one of the ladies then asked:

Now I've always been intrigued, how do we know when to appeal to culture to understand an issue and when do we know a concept is not cultural?

A meal just doesn't get better for me. Not only do I get to enjoy great food with a group of people that are a tremendous encouragement to me, but now we get to talk about God's Word, how wonderful it is that He has chosen to reveal Himself, and how we can strive to be good stewards of what He has given! We begin to walk through some of the fascinating aspects of Corinthian culture and what "headship" seems to mean. It really was a delight. Then another lady asks:

I grew up in a different tradition than where we are now. We agreed on issues of the gospel and salvation, but we also said other issues involving women in ministry were just cultural. I still find it hard not to claim the women in ministry issue is just a cultural one. (My paraphrase. Her question was much more gracious than I stated it.)

Now this perfectly good meal with safe conversation has escalated to the controversial issues of egalitarianism/complimentarianism...

and I'm loving it!

I had absolutely no problem with this lady's question. She loves the Lord and His Word. There shouldn't be anything in the Word of God that brothers and sisters can not enjoy an edifying conversation about, even if they end up disagreeing. So I leaned forward and started to explain why it appears that I Corinthians 11 and I Timothy 2 are completely different animals.

And then, the nightmare came...

Our table was dismissed to get our main course, and the conversation was lost. By the time we returned to our table, people were engaged in other conversations and it did not feel right to bring things back to where we were. It was like taking a giant bite of pumpkin roll and being told you are not allowed to swallow. I was so disappointed.

Fortunately, I have this blog. I don't know if the lady reads my blog or not, but I hope to tackle a few issues in the next couple posts.
    1) How can we determine a text is cultural? Do we destroy the authority of God's Word when we do so?
    2) Are there clues in the text that I Corinthians 11:2-16 is cultural? (I admit that I may be in over my head on this one. I would love feedback from those within such a tradition and those who have ministered from this tradition...if you're out there.)
    3) Are there solid clues that I Timothy 2 is not culturally driven?

No one else may be intrigued by the posts, but at least it will get the nightmare to end for me!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Other Things I'm Thankful For...

There are the obvious (Savior, Grace, Wife, Kids, Church, Health, etc.) that I am thankful for, but there are other (lesser, but still great) things:
    Brethren Reformation is back up and the new article does not disappoint.
    Brett Kunkle provided a wonderful article (gracious, well informed, fair) about his concerns with the emergent/emerging church movement. (If you have concerns too, read it, he probably says it better than you. If you have concerns about us that have concerns, read the article and tell me how it is wrong. Kunkle shares he is open for correction too.)
    I just registered for a conference with incredible speakers, in a warm climate during a cold time here, with just the people I'd want to discuss theology with!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Burning Up the Internet

I strongly encourage you to check out Pyromaniacs this week.
But the idea of "saving faith" apart from good works, is ridiculous. The saved man is not a perfect man; but his heart's desire is to become perfect, he is always panting after perfection, and the day will come when he will be perfected, after the image of his once crucified and now glorified Savior, in knowledge and true holiness.
This quote, from CH Spurgeon really details the other part you should check out...

Phil wrote an article entitled Why the Lordship Debate Died. Naively, I thought this debate had died a long time ago, but lately, I've been hearing some scary and Biblically twisted statements that seem to be trying to resurrect the faulty "Free Grace" perspective. I invite you to read the article, but more importantly, read the comments. This is too important a conversation to miss out on.

(However, give yourself some time...it's up to 410 comments now!)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Did We Get Too Greedy?

Ranked #1
5-1 vs. Lloyd Carr
Should we feel responsible to pay part of his severance?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kettle: "Hey Pot, you're black!"

As some have graciously pointed out, I have allowed concerns to become personal at times; attacking the person, rather than just examining their doctrine. I've been trying to work on that. In my zeal for truth, I can sometimes appear unloving. (Though I am a strong proponent of the Biblical concept that love without truth is not love.)

A "movement" I have found concerning at times, can be the emergent movement and those who lead it. Here's the progression of my comments about the movement: First, I spoke of the movement as a whole (which was far too general and quite useless). From there, I spoke of specific concerns within the movement (but those concerns are not true for all who say they are part of the conversation, so it was still not very beneficial). Next I began to speak of individuals within the movement that concern me (but that was far too personal). Finally, I looked at specific statements made by specific individuals regarding specific doctrines (but some still were hornked by it).

Yet, if there is going to be a "conversation," doesn't there need to be feedback?

In the July/August edition of Relevant magazine, there is an article about the emerging church movement (Emergent, specifically). One man offered critiques of Emergent (that it has incorporated and is now fundraising, and it's more political tone). This man was very quick to say he is not trying to be hostile, he wants to be seen as a friend. Then, at the end, he makes this statement:
I'll be anxious to see how this all comes out. This is a lover's quarrel, not a Carson critique [reference to D.A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church]. In fact, I would rather be wrong with Brian McLaren than right with D.A. Carson.
Perhaps, I'm misunderstanding his quote. But it seems to me that he is stating that D.A. Carson is not a guy he would want to associate with. He'd rather stand shoulder to shoulder with McLaren even if he is wrong (because he likes him), than he would like to stand shoulder to shoulder with D.A. Carson, even if Carson is right (because he doesn't like him).

I'm not even that concerned with his flippancy toward that which is right. (I don't think that was his point and it could be blown out of proportion.) I'm more concerned that he saw fit to draw a dividing line between he and Carson (when dividing lines are supposedly what they are trying to diminish), assume Carson's motive (by juxtaposing it with love, he makes it seem that Carson's was a heartless critique), and then make it personal (in essence, saying he doesn't like Carson). Aren't these the very attacks those of us who are cautious about emerging church face? Shouldn't the rules work both ways?

[Furthermore, this is an article, not even a blog. Not excusing it, but a blog can very quickly be published. Something can upset you, you're emotionally involved, you blog about it, and it's out there to be read. This was an interview, followed by the article being written, followed by the article being edited, then being published. He had more than enough time to consider his statement and consider whether he found it appropriate.]

I've faced significant criticism for questioning some tenents taught by those who are considered emerging. Guys I do compliment in those circles are quickly discounted as fringe guys that don't really count (Kimball, Driscoll). I admit that some of the criticism was justified, for I assumed motives and made it ad hominem, and I have tried to correct it. But if we're going to have a "conversation" that needs to work both ways.

I admit that my concerns have not always been expressed with the love which generated those concerns. But I think it is important that both sides admit that critiques can feel personal, but are necessary for all of us, and start being willing to work together. Telling me I'm wrong is one of the most loving things someone can do. I pray that works both ways.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Buckeye Top 10

The following is a top 10 list to explain why the outcome will be OSU: 35, UM: 24











ESPN can't provide indepth analysis like that!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Humor in the Pulpit

I recently heard this quote from ____________ (Ah, not going to tell you to keep from tainting your opinion):
People say to me now, who knew me when I was young, "You're not as funny as you used to be." And I say, "Life isn't as funny as it used to be." But, I made my trade sortof being a Bob Newhart knock-off when I was young. I did every Youth for Christ thing, Campus Crusade deal, Junior High, Senior High, I spent summers doing Junior High camp. And I had the shtick, the stand up comedy, the whole bit. Once in a while it leaks out, but usually they edit it out of the tape.

Well you know, they criticized Spurgeon for saying things that are humorous, and he said, "You outta hear the things I think and don't say." And I confess there are things I think of that I don't say. Maybe more of them now than I used to say.
Through no intentional decision on my part, I'd have to say I'm finding less room for humor when I preach as well. It's not that I think it is morally objectionable to use humor in the pulpit (for I don't), it's just that the more I preach, the less time 40 minutes feels like. (I know, it would kill the church if I went longer, but nearly every week I feel like I could preach for an hour much easier than for 40 minutes.)

This week, Cedarville led our church in corporate worship. Being a Grace grad, I considered an introduction making fun of Jason or perhaps some other easy Cedarville target (Jason especially likes when I talk about Cedarville's grass). However, Cedarville did such a good job "setting the table" that it would have been terribly inappropriate to do some standup, and distract the focus from the Word. Instead, we turned straight to Joshua 5

Alright preachers, I see you on my statcounter. Tell me what you think about humor in the pulpit or how you've found the balance. What about those in the congregation, what do you think? Am I just getting old, or am I finally getting what preaching is about?

*As a side note, I do not plan on talking about the Ohio State-Michigan game on Sunday, and it will be quite minor if I do. Despite the fact that they will be undefeated and on their way to the champtionship game, it pails in comparison to the things God has for us in Joshua 6!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wise Use of Time

Whoever did this could probably find a better way to spend their time.

Perhaps they could help us plant a church?

They atleast seem to have their theology right. (HT:MR)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nouthetic "Admonishment"

I plan to discuss in fuller detail my NANC class, once the first semester has completed. However, I thought I'd give you this quote, from the footnotes of The Christian Counselor's Manual.
A realistic self-evaluation is good but impossible for those who do not have the Bible for their yardstick. Self-acceptance is possible only in Christ, in whome God accepts forgiven sinners. Yet a realistic self-evaluation can lead only to a non-acceptance of oneself and the determination that he must repent and be changed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

D Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Me

On my way to speak at Grace College (an abysmal failure, as far as I can tell), I listened to the 9 Marks Ministries interview (Dever is the best at these) about D Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It is amazing to listen to stories about heroes of the faith. Though I have only recently looked into D Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the interview presented some similarities between me and "the doctor." According to the interview:
    1. Lloyd-Jones hated being apart from his wife.
    2. Lloyd-Jones' wife was clearly his best friend.
    3. Lloyd-Jones discussed all of his thoughts about theology and application in the church with his wife.
    4. Lloyd-Jones and his wife clearly had fun together.
    5. Apparently, Lloyd-Jones wife was a physcially attractive woman.
No forgotten birthdays, anniversaries or major mishaps (key word being "major," for I'm always doing something stupid) inspired this post. I'm not trying to make up for anything or butter her up for any future thing.

But as I listen to 9Marks interviews (and biographies from Piper), I am regularly reminded that I do not deserve to be in ministry. I am wholly incompetent and unworthy. But I do have one "thing" in my corner. Charity.

Like Lloyd-Jones', I don't enjoy being apart from my best friend. We have a great time together because she is incredibly bright, God-honoring and funny (you can see all for yourself at her blog). Of course, she is also an amazingly attractive woman (no picture to prove that, for that's really for me to enjoy).

This alone does not capture all that is wonderful about her, but these are probably the only things D Martyn Lloyd-Jones and me have in common.