Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
September 7th, 2018 by Scott Fritzsche

Still More Social Justice and the Gospel

This was intended to wrap up wrap up what I began here and continued here.  It seems I had much more to say about the subject than I had originally thought.  That said, I will simply jump in where I left off.
Affirmation/Denial 11 affirms complimentarianism. First, I am not a complimentarian. Second, I do not think that those who affirm such a thing are sexist (or any other ist or ism), part of the shadow patriarchy trying to hold women back (sorry Rachel Held Evans, you are way off here), or anything else negative. I think that this is a misunderstanding of scripture that I can easily see how it is arrived at. I do not believe that this is an active attempt to exclude women, or really anything else negative. I want to make that clear because I am not approaching this from a social stance about equal treatment under law and the like, but from a biblical perspective. While I do not want to go to far into this rabbit hole here, I will mention a very brief summary of my egalitarian belief.
Genesis 1:26-27 makes no distinction between the sexes insofar as they are created as equal image bearers, thus in the ontological sense, they are equal. Both are also given the responsibility to steward the Earth, thus functionally they are equal. Once sin enters into the world, there is the introduction of of an illegitimate hierarchy in the relationship between woman and man. This is the result of sin, not a result of God’s intent from creation. The curse upon the woman in Genesis 3:16 suggest that there is indeed now a hierarchical tendency, but again, this hierarchy is a result of sin, not a part of God’s design from the beginning. If we then fast forward to Christ, and the crucifixion, we find that the redemoption of us, as the faithful and the world as a whole has indeed begun in earnest, and that part of the restoration of the marred imago dei is indeed the restoration of the intent of God’s created order where man and woman  are both ontologically and functionally equal and no longer having the strain under the hierarchy that was brought into existence because of sin. Perhaps this is best expressed in Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians where the distinctions between Greek and Jew, Man and woman, are shown to be of no import through heaven’s eyes. Digging a little deeper, we realize that the circumcision of human hands is no longer required as that did separate the Jews from the Greeks, but this also separated the men from the women. Men bore the physical sign of faith. With the advent of the circumcision of the heart by God, there is no longer any physical distinction between the faithful in value or purpose. The ontological and functional equality that was God’s intent from the beginning is restored as part of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.  So, yes, I am a feminist I suppose, just like Jesus was, but not necessarily like the feminists of this generation are.
An examination of 1 Corinthians 12 reveals that God distributes His gifts as He sees fit. We see no gender distinctions here. A quick glance at chapter 11 shows us that women are indeed able to be recipients of the gift of prophecy for example. IF the gifts are given without distinction to gender, and we accept, s scripture that teaching is a gift, then the gift of teaching is given without respect to gender to be used without respect to gender.
We see several examples of women in places of leadership in the Old Testament. We have Miriam the prophetess (Exodus 15),  Deborah the Judge, but maybe the best example is a little known and little thought of one. In 2 Kings 22 we see the king order the priests to go to God on behalf of the people concerning the meaning of the book of the law that was found. To do this, they go to none other than Huldah the prophetess. Let that sink in for a moment. The King, sent his priests (all male) for a direct teaching from God concerning the matter at hand, and they went to a woman to get it. That is nothing less than a woman acting as a spiritual authority to men, with the blessing of God. By the way, she did not exactly deliver a feel good message. Old Testament, woman acting as spiritual authority to men, bringing the word of God to the people of God. Pure egalitarianism, and in the pesky Old Testament to boot. I get it, the story of Huldah is obscure and not given much thought most of the time, but the way in which it plays out demonstrates that women are indeed used to bring the word of God to the people of God, even in the Old Testament in a time that did not value women. We also can not forget Proverbs 31 where a woman who fears the Lord is described as one who will purchase a field. That is certainly outside the home after all. A woman who fears the Lord handling land transactions. Imagine that, Old Testament business women.
Finally we have the numerous examples of women who actively participated in Jesus’ ministry. There are to many of them to count, but let’s examine one briefly. In John, we find one of my favorites, the woman at the well. In John chapter 4 Jesus sends a woman, but not just any woman, a woman who has been married multiple times, and is currently living in adultery making her anything but holy, to her town to testify to the redemptive power of the gospel to her town. Not only that, it worked. She testified about Christ, and many believed. Sure sounds like preaching to me. In Acts 18, we find Apollos, a teacher speaking boldly. He is described as being mighty in the scriptures. Priscilla and Aquila pull him aside to instruct him in the gospel more perfectly. So, we have two women instructing a man, but not just any man, a man who taught publicly about the faith was mighty in the scriptures. Two women teachers using their gifts to better instruct a male teacher.
Ok, so I went further down the rabbit hole than I intended to, but this is the one that irks me. While I can understand how one arrives at the complimentarian position, my being egalitarian has absolutely nothing to do with modern concepts of “social justice”, and everything to do with ancients texts written hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years ago. I flatly reject the idea that the egalitarian position has anything at all to do with modern notions of “social justice” and instead have everything to do with the whole council of scripture beginning in creation and ending in new creation. I affirm that the intent of God, from creation was ontological and functional equality. I affirm that the redemptive work of Christ on the cross restored this for all instead of the few examples we have in the Old Testament that could perhaps be taken as exceptions and not the rule. Most of all, I flatly reject the idea that this is based in some modern notion of social justice, but rather is based in the moral law of God woven into the universe at it’s creation. Not a new idea, but an idea that is a part of the nature and character of God and as such is self evident as God is self evident. (Thanks Aquinas) End rant.
Scott Fritzsche

Comments

One Response to “Still More Social Justice and the Gospel”
  1. One statement you made stood out,
    “demonstrates that women are indeed used to bring the word of God to the people of God…”
    If you use John’s definition of “Word”, then Mary is the shining example, in more ways than one.
    Growing up in the 50’s, myself, and most of the kids I knew, if they had any experience with religion, it was brought about by their mothers, not their fathers. Don’t have any idea if that still applies today, though. Mothers and fathers on iPhones blogging and texting, while their kids are texting, facebooking, or playing video games. We’re all living in an artificial world, where kids role play as male or female or something in between. Or giant green monsters, or pink pixies, or you name it. Detached from reality. While the parents are trashing the old standards of society (Rachel Held Evans). I mention her because my old UMC is using one of her latest books in a class. Interesting that a blogger has become an expert on theology.

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