Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Quote of the day: when you say, 'I see'

I implore you to remember the Irishman and his two stoves.* There are progressions in which the last step is... incommensurable with the other - and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. To reduce [objective good and evil] to a mere natural product is a step of that kind. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on 'explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on 'seeing through' things for ever. The whole point of seeing through soemthing is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to 'see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To 'see through' all things is the same as not to see.
- C.S.Lewis, in The Abolition of Man

* I confess I've no idea to which doubly-bestoved Irishman he refers. Doubtless it's delightfully pertinent.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Longing for more

I recently read Ruth Barton's Longing for More. I didn't like it. It seemed emotionally driven rather than Biblically engaged, and woman-centred rather than God-centred. In an irony only driven by laziness, I also am going to 'review' this lightly, emotionally and not engage with the Biblical texts. Barton used the word self-esteem so often as the driving force that I almost gave up reading it altogether: she seemed quite emotionally sure that our main problem as Christian women is low self-esteem, because the Church has failed us. There was no reckoning of 'the Church is us and we fail each other' but only the male Church has failed us. I had hoped that from someone who wished to minister to others and was gifted in a speaking role, Barton would wrestle with some of the key texts and help us to see God's beautiful plan for his people, reflecting his Trinity, in which we're called to minister to each other in a glorious variety of ways within the Body with the Christ-like, self-sacrificing headship authority of some godly men. But no. We had an emotional appeal which started with 'I feel low self-esteem unless I'm in a leadership role', passed through 'Church quashes that role' and 'God must want us to have high self-esteem', and ended up with 'therefore you go girl: don't let yourself be restricted'. We had a short appendix in which she considered 1 Tim 2, or rather, took vv.11-12 out of context, reconstructed a context for the whole letter, and ignored the rest of the chapter including vv.13-15. All-in-all, extremely disappointing.

We may long for more, and we do fail each other in the Church (and it did seem Barton knew only a very traditional set-up, rather than actively complementarian), but the answer is not that we need our self-esteem built up, but that we need to see God and love each other in response (Mo wrote stirringly on this today). A woman who is gifted to speak God's word does not need to emotionally react to traditionalist structures by rejecting any role distinction or structure, driven by self-esteem issues; she may examine the Scriptures to see the glorious plan for the family of God, and seek to use her gifts to build up the Church accordingly. That may well, admittedly, require some facilitation on the part of others in more traditionalist structures, but this is not the book which will help those ladies seeking to use their gifts nor those seeking to encourage them. When I was younger I learnt much from Sharon James on this, and although I can't remember precisely what's in her book and what I learn from her life & teaching in person, I'm sure God's Design for Women is more helpful than Longing for More, which left me longing for... God's design.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Announcing the birth of...

We have a new baby! In UCCF, that is. And for a baby, it's remarkably loud and large... baby dragon perhaps. Watch out for the fire-breathing. It's dangerous, but it might just stoke up the fires of your heart for worship... And that tail has some mean idol-smashing ability. Remember, theology is the revolution.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Keep reading; oh keep reading!

I won't have this construed as a betrayal of my Midlands posse (impressive dancing); but why this man is thematic, he’s charismatic, he’s systematic,... he's Wayne Grudem, and I suspect he's never been celebrated quite like this: [HT: Bish]