In one of the UMC fb groups, someone asked a question about how we can handle now-legal marriages that are forbidden by the Book of Discipline. Indeed, the UMC prevents clergy from officiating these (gay) marriages (although there is a proposed, sort of, plan to deal with that) and our BoD equally states that such things are against Christian teaching, although we affirm the sacred worth of these individuals.
But, gay marriage is growing. It is a reality. And, these couples may even want to attend a United Methodist church. So, how do we handle this?
As much as it galls me to say this, maybe John Piper (shudder) has something to teach those who are wondering what to do with these cultural and now legal marriages not recognized by the BoD.
So I think you shouldn’t be married to two women today, or a woman to two men. And yet there are cultures that do it. And so you want to go evangelize those cultures. And you win them to Christ and now they have two wives.
I might say, “OK, those who have two wives, be faithful to both of them until the next generation, or until one of them dies. But never do this again.”
Ignatius of Antioch, in writing to the church in Rome, concludes a passage with the thought,
“Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the World.”
There are a few ways to look at this, I guess. The first, is through the lens of the self-proclaimed martyr who believed that only through his death could he be ‘proved a Christian.’ The second is through what some may label empire critical and the such. By this, I mean we understand Christianity as the other kingdom, opposing the World System. In this case, like much of the New Testament, World = Rome.
I hope he meant the latter.
After all, Westboro Baptist Church, John Hagee, John Piper and others of the ilk are often hated in the name of Christ, although we may debate just what merits ‘Christian’ when we speak of some of these.
In the last few months, we’ve seen — and I count this as a positive — a warmer reception of tradition Catholic teaching thanks to Pope Francis. Some have gone so far as to say he is ‘making Christianity cool again.’ I have to wonder what the Holy Father would have to say about that.
This presents two different realities of reception of Christianity. Ignatius demands we stand against the World System. Today, many want traditional Christian teaching to bow to modernity, the new World System.
By the way, I’m not against progressive in theology based on the Quad. I believe very much in progressing theology based on new understandings rendered to us by the host of sciences.
However, examine closely how the Right, politically, in this country desires the Church to be an arm of the State? Allan Bevere covered this in Politics of Witness and it still rings true. Not to say the left doesn’t have their sway as well, but the Right wants Church blessings on war (bad eschatology) and the such.
Have we in the West become too aligned with the Government? Isn’t it not time to find the Church hated by political parties?
John Piper is, by all accounts, an intelligent person, so I remain mystified by the lapses in logic he displays when blogging about natural disasters like the recent fury of storms in the Midwest United States. As a theologian he’s certainly more legitimate than a Pat Robertson-type figure so I’m forced to take him seriously, and I can appreciate his particular view of divine sovereignty even though it strongly repels me. Personal disagreements with his theology notwithstanding, the sheer failure of rational thinking on this particular subject is what I really find offensive.
Now, Piper doesn’t shy away from the tough questions that his brand of Calvinism raises. This week he admirably took on the question of “Why”: Why, if God executes meticulous and total control over all states of affairs, did he choose to lay the hammer on the Midwest and not somewhere else? From the blog post:
God alone has the last say in where and how the wind blows. If a tornado twists at 175 miles an hour and stays on the ground like a massive lawnmower for 50 miles, God gave the command.
“The wind of the Lord, shall come, rising from the wilderness, and it shall strip Ephraim’s treasury of every precious thing” (Hosea 13:15).
“The Lord turned the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea” (Exodus 10:19).
“God appointed a scorching east wind” (Jonah 4:8).
The obvious point to make here is that none of these scriptures really support the idea that God is the one directing these natural disasters to occur. If it’s supposed to be a deductive argument then Piper is missing some key premises that he doesn’t really explain. Clearly, moving from
1: God caused disaster X to happen in the past
Conclusion: God causes all disasters that ever happen anywhere
requires some logical maneuvering. On the face of it its ridiculous, like arguing that, since I started my car this morning, I am therefore responsible at all times for any car in the world starting.
Alternatively these verses may be meant to provide evidence for the idea that God controls all events that occur in the world, as a type of inductive argument. This really isn’t much better, and probably worse. If these verses attest to occurrences of God’s specific intervention in the world then they constitute exceedingly weak evidence to the idea that God’s control is total and absolute. As another example, pointing out that I know my multiplication tables up to the fours is very weak evidence for the idea that I can calculate any conceivable mathematical problem on the fly.
I know elsewhere that John Piper has explicated and defended his view of divine sovereignty, so perhaps it is a principle assumed for the purposes of his writing. On the other hand, its pretty clear he thinks these verses support his view, since he clearly presents them in this fashion. But any reader, Calvinist, Open Theist or atheist, should find the logical reasoning wanting at best.
I could post quotes from Pat Robertson all day, but this is the last one…
All of that and more vs this:
And, perhaps the best image of ‘feminine’ Christianity is from the Women of Liberia Mass Action which ended a bloody civil war…
Leymah Gbowee and Comfort Freeman, presidents of two different Lutheran churches, organized the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and issued a statement of intent: “In the past we were silent, but after being killed, raped, dehumanized, and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war has taught us that the future lies in saying NO to violence and YES to peace! We will not relent until peace prevails.” 
Asatu Bah Kenneth, Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety of the Liberian Ministry of Justice, was president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association at the time. Inspired by the work of the Christian women’s peace initiative, she formed the Liberian Muslim Women’s Organization to work for peace.
Together, Gbowee and Kenneth brought both groups together to form the Mass Action, a rare thing to happen in Liberia. Since they were brought together, relations have been less tense and more open between Christians and Muslims in Liberia, specifically Monrovia.
The Christian and Muslim women joined forces to create Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. They wore white, to symbolize peace.
I’m telling you, there’s a lot of weak vessels, silly women, out there, who ungodly men lie in wait for. Am I controlling for keeping my woman away from these evil men? Then so be it. Yes, I am in control, but I love my woman enough to grant her freedom of thought and expression. She is as intelligent as I am, but still the weaker vessel, due to her willingness to surrender and submit to a man who takes charge. Ask yourself, how many men adopt the interests and beliefs of their wives? None. How many women adopts the interests and beliefs of their husbands? They are in abundance. It is clear that a woman submits to a man who rules her, even to the point of abuse, I’m sad to say. Therefore a Christian man is told to love his woman as himself. What man would abuse himself? He may abuse drugs or alcohol but not himself.
Note: This is a departure from my normal genre of writing, and is in the format of a rant or vent….one of which I don’t apologise.
John Piper has got up my nose when he said, “God’s intention for Christianity is for it to have a “masculine feel”
I made the following comment elsewhere today:
Pipers ‘sodmonisation’ of Scripture is what happens when you cowtow to a certain theological belief system and community, in which the peer pressure to remain “one of the boys” is immense.
Seriously this guy has overstepped the mark. Joel made a great comment about his marriage improving in his recent post about leaving Fundamentalism in which he posted about a new book being released by IVP.
Shame on you John Piper! Shame! Do you really believe that God’s intention is for Christianity to have an masculine feel!
I thought Christianity was about Christ, freeing all of humanity from the bondage of sin and reconciling us back to God. I thought within the framework of Christianity we recognise that both male and female were created in the image of God. And I thought that within the glorious liberation of the Gospel that there is no distinction between gender, race and societal class / position in Christ. … H.T my blog
Piper, Driscol, et al, all remind me of a school boys club where they get a grip on each other, if you know what I mean? I think Paul’s vent to them would be….guys I wish you would go and cut all your tackle off! Such is the nature of circumcising the body. …..end of my rant!
1. A masculine ministry believes that it is more fitting that men take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose women to this assault.
2. A masculine ministry seizes on full-orbed, biblical doctrine with a view to teaching it to the church and pressing it with courage into the lives of the people.
3. A masculine ministry brings out the more rugged aspects of the Christian life and presses them on the conscience of the church with a demeanor that accords with their proportion in Scripture.
4. A masculine ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.
5. A masculine ministry heralds the truth of Scripture, with urgency and forcefulness and penetrating conviction, to the world and in the regular worship services of the church.
6. A masculine ministry welcomes the challenges and costs of strong, courageous leadership without complaint or self-pity with a view to putting in place principles and structures and plans and people to carry a whole church into joyful fruitfulness.
7. A masculine ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church.
8. A masculine ministry models for the church the protection, nourishing, and cherishing of a wife and children as part of the high calling of leadership.
There is so many things wrong here. For one, where are the validity of women as women and not as a wife or mother? I mean, sure, there is the denial of the aspect of Wisdom in the Divine, something I’ve covered before. And yes, I named my daughter after Jesus… Sophia.
Further, there is the notion that a non-masculine ministry will not uphold Scripture and conviction (point 5). Really? Ignoring the fact that Piper believes he is right on these matters, how would a more feminine Christianity (anyone find it ironic that Israel and the Church have been called the Bride of YHWH/Christ, meaning that it should be by nature feminine?) not do those things? Further, I guess women couldn’t preach that people are depraved (point 4) because they would be too busy teaching Grace. This makes women seem weak, misinformed and only good for being a wife and a mother, which, of course, seems to involve predominantly sex. Odd that Mark Driscoll teaches so much about sex, ain’t it? While some will take issue with the idea of an God who is Male-and-Female, I note the role of Wisdom and Logos in the Divine as well as Genesis 1 and that particular passage in Galatians.
I have two daughters and a son and all will be valued in Church, in the Body of Christ, in the Bride of Christ for what they do, not for the body parts they were born with.