Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Christian Response to Social Issues

 


 If the best-seller listings on the Amazon "Christian Social Issues" page is any indication, the state of the professing-Christian-book-buying-community is in sad shape. And that is a direct reflection on the failure of pastors to lead in a biblical manner and on individual Christians who need to become biblically literate.

I'm not saying books shouldn't be written about Christian social issues. They should. I write about them myself. But why aren't Christian shepherds teaching their flocks to follow Christ and feed themselves from the Word of God instead of jumping on the band-wagon of every divisive media narrative?  

Social issues exist; and Christians often deal with them poorly. That is why so many [professing] believers write about them. Issues abound: Political hatred, religious hatred, woman hatred, white hatred, black hatred, Jew hatred, Asian hatred, gay hatred, and hatred of the unborn. 

The only reason for any of this is sin. 

Racism is sin. Regardless of which race practices it. Hatred against women is sin. Abortion is sin. Gender hierarchy is sin. Homosexuality is sin. But hatred against homosexuals is also sin

Good heavens, Jesus lived in a society where homosexuality was rampant, openly practiced, and socially approved. Did he single that one thing out and make an issue of it, even though the scriptures plainly declared it to be sin? Did Jesus single out any social issue or people group to harp on? If not (and he didn't), why didn't he? 

Because he is the Prince of Peace. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life for everyone who chooses to follow him...regardless of where they come from. 

Yes, choices must be made. Old must be traded for new. But Jesus leaves the door open for all to make their own choices. Why would anyone choose to belong a God who hates them

I wouldn't.

It is not God who hates. It is fallen humanity. Schism within the Body of Christ because of social issues only exists because of the sin of hatred. Repentance is needed. Beyond that, the solution is so simple we trip right over it. 

Jesus gave his followers only one response to every social issue that might confront us. And if practiced by everyone, his solution would tear down every fence that separates believer from believer. Are you ready? "Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself Whatsoever you would have others do to you...you do the same to them."

This doesn't mean we accept everything, but it does dictate how we respond to issues that would otherwise divide. 

If every book we write confronts social issues from Jesus' perspective, then I say write-on! If it doesn't, don't write it, don't read it, throw it away. Don't support it with your money, time, or attention. And for Heaven's sake, don't promote it within your fellowships.   

What if others don't extend us the same grace? 

It doesn't matter. We must start somewhere, and it is the same place for everyone. We must each say [and put into practice] only one thing..."It starts with me. I will not return hatred for hatred." 

For by this, all will know that you are my disciples. That you have love one for another...Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And the government shall rest upon his shoulders. And he shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Sunday, May 09, 2021

The Church in Time-of-Covid

 

What perfect timing that my on-track Bible reading puts me in the book of Acts during this time-of-Covid, that has been so challenging to the Church. 

This present distress has forced believers to re-assess the ways in which they walk-out their faith. The first believers had to do the same. Would to God we mimic their faith and courage.

 My Bible commentary on the Book of Acts is still a work in progress. The chapters will be posted on my Bible commentary blog as they are completed. Below is an excerpt:

            Acts 4:1-2 And as they spoke to the people the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them Being grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead [1]



[1] Followers of Jesus have been a feared and outlawed sect from the beginning. He and his disciples (not just the twelve) threatened the status quo of the political-religious leadership of his day, just as true Believers still do today. 

The move to create an official organization of the relationship-based “Out-Called” [the Ek-klesia] came early. Its purpose was entirely about control. 

The moniker of “The Church” was placed in Bible translations referring to that organization which has been headed by Popes at the Vatican. After that, hierarchical protestant religions followed suit in the reformation. But even before that, in the third century, the Roman Emperor Constantine made a successful move to influence the people’s perception of the Body of Christ—the Ek-klesia—by creating a political-religious organization of it.

Jesus did not call his people “The Church.” That is just one example of God's people being influenced by hierarchical-English-translation-theology. He called the body of those who would follow him after his resurrection, the Ek-klesia, meaning the Out-Called. 

To this day, many Christian leaders of all denominations, even those who claim to be non-denominational, deliberately engender a fear of “rebellion” in God’s people, via covenantal church membership. The fear is not of rebellion against God but of rebellion against human religious leadership. 

In many states, counties, and cities, Christians have been forbidden to gather together during these trying times. Their leadership, especially those in hierarchical-based fellowships, have [sadly] provided examples of obeying man rather than God. Is that the example of the earliest believers? 

Many Christian fellowships, today, are based on covenantal rule. And their leaders face a quandary, because the powers that be have forbidden many churches to hold services, or placed harsh restrictions on those that do. These leaders have trained their people so well to "Obey them who rule over you..." that when called upon choose between man's law or (in most cases these days) un-Constitutional mandates that order Christians to cease gathering together, they take the Bible out of context and choose man's law. 

After all, we can meet online. Right? 

We can, but for how long, and can the full practice of our faith--which includes the laying on of hands--be accomplished meeting only online? 

Meeting online is not a substitute for gathering together with other believers. The practice of our faith demands in-person gatherings. How can we obey Jesus' command to lay hands on the sick, if we only meet online? How can we lay hands on new messengers, pastors, deacons/deaconesses and send them forth, according to the Word of God...if we only meet online? 

Meeting online is not the solution. 

At any rate, it hasn't worked very well in China. Just this year, the Communist Chinese regime not only shut down churches meeting via Zoom, but arrested the members. China still has an official Church, but the Body of Christ in China has been forced underground...again. 

And unbiblical hierarchical Christianity does not work well in an underground church. Under Moses, God established a political-religious theocracy that continued even under Roman rule. But that ended with the cross. 

This new thing, Jesus called the Ekklesia--the Out-Called, was not an organization. It was not based on any chain of command like that of the Old Covenant priesthood. 

Rather, New Covenant leadership is based on gifts and callings, example and relationship. That is why Jesus made a point of telling his followers that where two or three of them were gathered together in his name, there he would be also. No quorum needed. No political-religious structure needed. No 501c3 with its hierarchical chain of command needed. 

In fact, a 501c3 structure harms the Ek-klesia, as it incorporates [literally] a chain of command where none biblically exists. In creating such, the Out-Called Body of Christ is done great harm as a whole and is spiritually detrimental to those who believe they have been called to rule.

Do a Greek word study of the verses in Hebrews 13:7and 17. These are usually only read to believers when leaders want to keep their flocks in line. English-translation-theology renderings of these verses [in virtually every Bible version] are unfortunate. Below is a literal amplified reading:

Hebrews 13:7, 17

Remember your [martyred] leaders who have spoken to you the Word of God whose faith mimic carefully considering their end [deaths] and manner of life…Have confidence in your leaders and yield [to their examples] because they watch in prayer over your souls as they must render a verbal report [of accountability of their teachings and your reception of any truth they taught] that they may bring it forth with joy and not grief because that would be unprofitable for you.

 

John 13:14-15

"If I then your lord and master have washed your feet You also ought to wash one another’s feet For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you...."

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What about you? Has your fellowship and gathering together with other believers been challenged during this time-of-Covid? Have you had to make difficult choices? If so, what solutions have you found? What choices have you made? Please share in the comments below.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Jesus Spoke to Me in an Audible Voice

 

Christians serve a supernatural God. 

Our Bible is a supernatural book. 

So why are God's people surprised when the supernatural happens? 




I have a personal testimony of a dark time in my life, when Jesus gave me supernatural encouragement by speaking to me in an audible voice. 

It was in 2002, and I was living in miserable circumstances of marital abuse, that sometimes escalated into domestic violence

I was desperate for change and afraid for my future. I was in the grip of fear for virtually every aspect of my life, and I couldn't seem to shake it. I was anxious for my happiness. I was anxious for my livelihood. I was anxious for my home. All I could see before me, was a vast expanse of hopelessness. The future looked bleak, and I was terrified.

One morning, while sitting in my recliner, reading my Bible and having my morning coffee with the Lord, the softest audible voice spoke into my left ear. The voice said, “Be not faithless but believing.”

Beyond the incredible peace and immediate comfort that voice gave me, I cannot describe what the voice of Jesus sounded like. But I know it was the voice of Jesus and not that of the Holy Spirit, because the words came straight out of John 20:27, and it was Jesus who spoke them.

Today, almost twenty years later, we know Jesus brought me through that terrible time in my life. None of my fears materialized. My future did not turn out to be bleak. I did not lose my livelihood.  And I did not end up homeless. 

On a daily basis, the Holy Spirit continues to bring me comfort, guidance, and fellowship with my Creator. I hear from God every day through reading his love letters to me. These are found in his written word, the Bible. 

But I will never forget that day in 2002, when Jesus knew I needed something more, and he provided it...in a way I never expected and could never deny. 

Our God is indeed an AWESOME God!


Do you have a testimony of a time God gave you supernatural encouragement? Encourage us with your story by leaving a message in the comments.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

When Marriage Counseling Fails

The Fishers were a Christian family in crisis. 

April 10 was the 20th anniversary of Mary Fisher's death. She and her two children were murdered by the children's natural father and Mary's husband, Robert Fisher...after they attended couple's counseling at their church. 

As of this writing, Robert is still at large

Mary Fisher was a Christian woman who was abused for years while she and her husband were active members of a complementarian Baptist church in Scottsdale, AZ. Typical Christian response to domestic violence failed Mary, Brittney, and Bobby Fisher.

I was recently contacted by a young man doing a documentary on Robert Fisher, who is still on the FBI's Most Wanted list. He reached out to me because I wrote about the case in my article, "Would Mary Fisher and Children Still be Alive if her Church Taught Equality Rather Than Male Headship." 

But the young man was hesitant to contact me for comment because we appear to be on separate sides of many issues. We probably are. But I am glad he contacted me anyway.

 Below is an excerpt from his email to me:

"...your affiliated website passionately talking about the ERA “focusing on common ground & leaving out issues that divide” convinced me that I could hopefully trust you in good faith. Your writings are excellent and there is a confidence and gumption in you that I deeply admire...we seemingly have close views on complementarianism and how it sadly may have contributed to this tragedy."

This was my reply: "Dear ----,Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I am passionate about ERA, but doubtful to ever see it pass. Sadly, no one in Congress or Senate has seen fit to champion the Equal Rights Amendment in decades. It was given a bad rap and people are frightened of it for no good reason. It is the one amendment that would have guaranteed Constitutional equality not just to women but to every American across the board. Period. Women's rights are human rights, and every person's human rights should be protected--no exceptions. Have you read my statement of life? Jocelyn Andersen: My Statement of Life


I am also passionate about women's autonomy within the Christian community. Complementarianism in all its forms is malignant. How did you plan to interview me?"

Christians are commanded to bear one another's burdens. The Fishers were a family in crisis who attended church regularly--likely several times a week. Who bore Mary Fisher's burden with her? Would she and her children still be alive today if someone had?

 

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Complementarianism Defined: Traditional Role Religion on Steroids


    Traditional role religion has always held that the first man and the first woman were created with an equal mandate to rule over all non-human creation together, with no semblance of female subjection to male dominance until the balance of power was shifted to favor the male by the introduction of sin into the world. 

   In 1987, a new doctrine of men and women, called “complementarianism,” challenged traditional role religion by claiming the first couple was originally created equal in essence only—but never in function. 
  Many Christians claim they have never heard the term “complementarian,” but whether they have heard the term or not, they have likely experienced effects of the doctrine within their homes and church fellowships. 
    The term “complementarian” was coined, in 1987, by a group of evangelical leaders that met in Danvers, Massachusetts and drafted a document defining strict “roles” for men and women. That document is known as the Danvers Statement
   Within a year, that same group created a non-profit organization called, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, (CBMW) whose sole purpose is to promote female subordination to male leadership in all areas of life—church, home, and workplace. 
   With vast financial resources at their disposal, The Council (CBMW) was able to flood the Christian world with their new doctrine to such an extent and with such an impact that by 1993, the Church of the Nazarene felt compelled to put into writing what they had always practiced, and added the following statement to their official Manual of doctrine and polity: “904.6. Women in Ministry: We support the right of women to use their God-given spiritual gifts within the church. We affirm the historic right of women to be elected and appointed to places of leadership within the Church of the Nazarene,” (1993, From the Manual, the official statements of doctrine and polity of the Church of the Nazarene).
   Complementarians of all denominations staunchly defend the oxymoronic claim that although men and women are created equal in their beings and personhood, they are created to complement one another via unequal “roles” in life and in the church, with men always in the leader role and women always in the follower role.
   Complementarianism further states that women will be subordinate to men, not only in their earthly lives but all through eternity, in Heaven as well. That's what makes complementarianism religious role-religion on steroids.
 Owen Strachan, past president of the CBMW,  admitted that complementarianism is nothing less than old fashioned patriarchy. Rachel Held Evans linked to Strachan's amazingly honest assessment of complementarianism in her article, It's not Complementarianism; it's Patriarchy: "For those who think I mean "patriarchy" as an insult rather than a description of reality, consider this: In the current issue of The Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Owen Strachan wrote, "For millennia, followers of God have practiced what used to be called patriarchy and is now called complementarianism.”"
  Complementarians diverge from traditional role religion in that while traditionalists agree with them that women are subject to male leadership during their lives, traditional-role-religionists teach that this is due to a temporary curse, because of the Fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, and that women will one day be freed from the curse altogether and then, in every way, will enjoy absolute equality with men.  
  Complementarians view this teaching as a traditionalist loophole offering women full equality with men at some point in the misty eternal future. Even the expectation of such is unacceptable to complementarian leaders. So, they conveniently plugged the traditionalist loophole by teaching that the imbalance of power, favoring men over women, is a permanent eternal fact due to a  teaching created by the creators of the Danvers Statement, which they aptly named the “Divine Order of Creation.” This trumped-up doctrine, states that female inferiority was intentional and eternal as part of the creation and not a consequential temporary curse because of original sin. 
   Knowing this teaching cannot be substantiated by scripture, they attempt to shore up shoddy theology by further claiming the pattern for authority and submission between the sexes is based on an alleged hierarchal structure of authority and submission found within the Triune Godhead itself. 
   This doctrine finds its genesis in the Arian doctrine of the Eternal Generation of Christ (Eternal Sonship). Renewed acceptance of this doctrine by evangelicals—who have historically rejected it as heresy—has spawned another, relatively new, doctrine called “Trinitarian [or Trinity] Marriage.”
   To accept the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ, one must accept that a strict hierarchy of authority and submission exists within the Eternal Godhead itself. 
   Complementarians claim that inequality exists within the Godhead by assigning complementarian "roles" to God himself. They claim the Triune Godhead is complementarian, with Jesus, who is Immanuel [THE God with us] taking second place in the pecking order and the Holy Spirit following along in last place.
  One prominent complementarian leader, Bruce Ware, wrote an entire book dealing with what he believes to be hierarchical roles within the Godhead, that serve as examples for implementing the same type of hierarchy into the marriage relationships of women and men. 
   Another complementarian leader, Charles Stanley, wrote that if no hierarchy could be found within the Godhead, then no basis at all could be found for assigning hierarchical roles, based solely on sex, to human beings. 
  It is crucial to understand that on this one point (that an authority/submission structure exists within the Eternal Godhead) hinges the entire doctrine of female submission to male headship. 
   Many reputable scholars down through the ages (including, of recent times, the late Dr. Walter Martin) have contended for the faith against the heretical Arian doctrine of the Eternal Sonship of Christ.
   Despite the fact that complementarianism has basically overthrown sound doctrine within the Christian community, many individuals, individual churches within complementarian denominations, as well as entire denominations such as the *Church of the Nazarene, the Methodist Churches, and the Society of Friends (the Quakers) hold that all Christians are freed from the curse of sin and are equal and autonomous between themselves, before God, and in Christ, and that all people have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their callings to the glory of God, and that God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.

*At the time of this writing, complementarianism has already made alarming inroads into individual congregations within The Church of the Nazarene, The Church of God, the Assemblies of God, and other denominations that have traditionally supported equality and autonomy of the sexes. 

Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery & the Evangelical Caste System: Andersen, Jocelyn: 9780979429323: Amazon.com: Books



 Woman this is WAR! Gender Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System, examines Bible commentary and translation practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and, in general, has hindered the work of the gospel, by forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders or deacons. The book chronicles the early history of the women's rights movements, as well as the role of church leadership in aggressively suppressing both women's rights and the historical record of Christian initiatives within the movements. Through the complementarian movement, many of the same arguments used to support the institution of slavery, are still used today in suppressing the rights of Christian women. This book documents identical arguments used by Christian leaders against both movements and is an unparalleled resource for all who desire an in-depth study of gender equality from a Christian perspective. The history of women’s rights is traced back [much further than usual] to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women, who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This work, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 12:4 is not a Wife

A woman of valor crowns her ba`al (lord)

Proverbs 12:4

The woman in Proverbs 12:4, is not a wife. And the man who owns her (her ba`al --lord)) is not her husband. The text also does not say the woman is virtuous, it says she is chayil, a woman of strength/valor.

The writer of Proverbs had many women. He was lord over them all, but many of them--most of them--were not his wives. They were concubines, which is a biblical word for sex-slaves. 

Proverbs 12:4 women were acquired and owned by men. They were either given or sold to their lords/masters.

The text of Proverbs 12:4, has nothing to do with marriage; but who would know that by reading most English translations? The verse has consistently been mistranslated in a disingenuous and gender-biased manner that supports hierarchical gender-role-religion. This is  antithetical to both the over-arching message and redemptive theme of scripture as a whole and to the text in particular.

The practice of gender-bias in Bible translation is a fulfillment of one of the most ancient prophecies [Genesis 3:16] that foretells one of the most undisputed facts of history, which is the reality that men would dominate women. 

Even good men fall prey to fulfilling this prophecy. But men who name the name of Christ and love the Word of God should not. The prophecy in Genesis 3:16  was pronounced as a cursed consequence and not a command. Women and men of Christ have been redeemed from the curse, yet complementarian theologians treat Genesis 3:16 as an eternal punishment for all women and eternal reward for all men. 

The woman in Proverbs 12:4 can certainly be called virtuous, because indeed she is. But it is not her virtue the text is speaking to, it is her chayil, which does not mean virtue and is only translated as such [and falsely so] when the person of chayil happens to be a woman. 

The Hebrew word chayil has no connotation of virtue, it means strength, valor, might. It is the woman of strength who is an asset to--crowns--the one who possesses her, her ba`al.

Proverbs 12:4 is still applicable today, as there are countries where women are owned by men. These men are not their husbands, but they are their masters. 

14-year-old Leah Sharibu, was taken in 2018. She remains in captivity today due to her refusal to deny Christ and convert to Islam. She is being held hostage and deemed a “slave for life” by her captors.

Another example is the tragic scenario of 2014, when 200 Christian girls were kidnapped and no doubt sold as sex-slaves. Would these girls/women need chayil? Much chayil, much strength, much valor, would be required to live as a sex-slave, whether their ba`al is kind and gentle or whether he is cruel. 

Most of us cannot relate to such horrific circumstances, but for American, Kayla Mueller, who was kidnapped, tortured, and died as a sex-slave to the leader of ISIS, this was a devastating reality of our time. Those 200 Christian girls, if still alive, have never been rescued and are still in whatever situation they were placed or sold into in 2014. Never-mind the lack of international outcry against this tragedy, where was the outcry from international Christian community against it? 

Those 200 girls were stolen and sold by radical Islamists, who hold to a systematic theology of male headship. So how is it that Christian theology holds to virtually the the same thing? Not as radical perhaps, but gender-supremacy nevertheless. 

Gender-supremacy is gender supremacy, wherever it happens to fall on the spectrum.

It is shameful, especially in the United States, land of the free and home of the brave, that those who call themselves Christians, would contribute to abuse of women through unscriptural gender-biased-English-translation-theology, that positions women to be abused through the unscriptural notion of male supremacy [called male headship among complementarians], but that is exactly the case. 

In the case of Proverbs 12:4, traditional-gender-role-religion and gender-biased-English-translation-theology have created a non-existent marriage by transforming sex-slaves into wives and ba`al's into husbands.

https://www.amazon.com/Woman-Gender-Slavery-Evangelical-System/dp/0979429323


Complementarianism [also called complementarity], teaches that all men are born into a leadership caste and all women are born into a follower caste. This caste system follows them from the moment they exit the womb throughout all eternity.

   The doctrine suppresses the autonomy of adult Christian women and has been embraced, with few exceptions, by virtually every Christian denomination...despite unmistakable parallels between complementarian dogma [and the adverse effects of the paradigm on men, women, and children] and that of institutionalized slavery in previous centuries [caveat: lots of Black History up through the Civil Rights Movement].

Woman this is War! quotes well-known evangelical pastors who compare Christian marriage to a war of dominance between wives and husbands, a war they claim that husbands must win.

Gender-biased-English-translation-theology, along with male-centered Bible commentary and translation practices, are used in forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders and deacons in most churches. This hinders the work of the gospel. In most churches where women are not forbidden to preach, they are told to submit to their husbands at home. Gender-biased-English-translation-theology has interfered with understanding the scriptures, pitted men and women against each other, and eroded the happiness of women and men.

 All of this is wrong.

The book contains rare insights into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights that have either deliberately or inadvertently been keep out of Christian literature. These observations bring a new perspective, along with freedom and hope.

 The doctrine of female submission to male leadership in the church and home, is refuted using scripture to support equality between women and men. Woman this is WAR! is a treasure-trove of information on gender equality from biblical, historical, and Christian perspectives.