Monday, December 17, 2012

Longish Quote from C. S. Lewis

If what you want is an argument against Christianity (and I well remember how eagerly I looked for such arguments when I began to be afraid it was true) you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say, 'So there's your boasted new man! Give me the old kind.' But if once you have begun to see that Christianity is on other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading the issue. What can you ever really know of other people's souls -- of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbours or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog which we call 'nature' or 'the real world' fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?

Mere Christianity, Bk IV, ch. 11

He makes a great point concerning the futility of arguing against God by using the poor examples of individual Christians. He misses it, of course,  when he claims that ones fate is placed within ones own hands, as it would be as nonsensical for God to leave election within the control of humans as it would have been for Him to have left the job of creation with man. More nonsensical, even, as our election is vastly more important than the molecules that make up our universe. God doesn't even leave us to choose what type of weather we shall enjoy today, He knows we could never choose Him apart from His election of us.

Reason will never lead us to Christ, although it may convince us that we have, in fact, been apprehended of Him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

John Milton Quote on Truth

Let her and Falsehood grapple;
who ever knew Truth put to the worse
in a free and open encounter?
—John Milton, The Areopagitica


I hold to this same philosophy. Not being a poet, however, I could never express it as Milton does.

Speak the truth. Let the detractors defend their arguments. If they lie, truth will prevail. If they speak truth, then we will all be in agreement, no?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Let Your Women Keep Silence In The Churches

Here is the text about which I am going to comment:

 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 1 Timothy 2:11-12

The questions I ask myself concerning these verses are these: Does this mean anything to Christian women today and did the author say this with the intention of people ordering their behavior in accordance with what is said? If the author DID intend to be instructive with these words, what do the words mean?

In response to my first question, I will say that I believe that these verses, whatever they mean, are applicable and require the attention of believers in all time periods, regardless of culture. If someone who claims that the Bible is true and that it is the Word of God disagrees with that sentiment, the burden of proof is on him or her to explain why these verses are not modernly relevant. On this point I cite 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Having determined that these verses mean something to me and should be instructive as to my behavior, how can I conform myself to what is taught therein? When Paul says "the" woman, "a" woman and "the" man, to whom is he referring? I do not know Greek at all. I have been told that articles are not necessarily used in the Greek where we see them in English, but they have been added by the translators because they are necessary to English grammar. Therefore, the translators chose the article, whether "a" or "the", which they felt most accurately conveys the meaning of the author based upon their understanding of the language, the context of the passage and the whole counsel of God. (This raises the issue of unbelievers serving as translators, but that discussion is for another day.) Here we see both "the" and "a" used as articles within the same passage referring to "woman".

I have heard it said that "the" woman and "the" man used in this passage means that the words are addressed to the marriage relationship, and therefore within the marriage a woman must be taught by the man and learn in silence and that she is not to teach or usurp authority over her husband. But the very last part of the passage says that the woman should "be in silence", which seems like an extreme position, to teach that women should be silent within their relationship with their husbands.

Another way that I have heard this taught is that Paul is talking about public gatherings of the Church and the public behavior or women within the Church. When the Church is gathered and there is teaching, the teaching is done by the men and the women keep silent. When letting scripture interpret scripture we naturally turn to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, where the context is specifically the public gathering of the Church and Paul said this:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at a home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Obviously Paul could not have been exhorting women in his letter to Timothy to keep silence in the home when he so clearly exhorted them in his letter to the Corinthians to keep silence in the Church and to ask questions of their husbands at home.

Having settled in my mind that the verses are directed to the behavior of women in church, I am led to the question of what it means to be silent and to not be permitted to speak. The type of speaking being described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 is prophesying, which is more commonly known as teaching or preaching. It is also called being "under obedience" here. The complementary passage in 1 Timothy 2 calls it teaching and exercising "authority". It is easy to see that the two passages, both written by Paul, agree with each other and bring a common message. I conclude, therefore, that women should not be teaching, prophesying, exercising authority or requiring obedience within the church service.

There is no prohibition against congregational singing or responsive reading or corporate prayers. The teaching, however, is to be done only by men and while they teach the women are to be silent. I don't see any point in devoting an entire paragraph to the word "silent", it means to be silent.

The reader may wonder whether some event or series of events has inspired this post, and the answer is, "yes". No details are necessary, suffice to say that I tire of the distracting exhibitions of women who must show their puffed up knowledge and spiritual superiority by answering every rhetorical question coming from the pulpit and chiming in with "That's right" and "Amen" and "Thank you, Jesus" after every utterance of the speaker. Even worse are the praises of men who ought to know better who encourage these women in their vain and disobedient blatherings. What part of "silent" do you not understand?

On Election and Sheep

In John 10 Jesus paints a beautiful picture of the sheep fold. He identifies his followers as sheep and himself as both the door and the shepherd. See what Jesus says in verses 14-16:

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I  the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

I recently heard a man say this about the above passage, "See, this is a verse about evangelism. There are other sheep out there that need to come into the fold and we need to bring them in."

*pulls out hair in frustration*

No, no, no. The job of the undershepherds is to feed the sheep, not to make them a part of the fold. Jesus does that himself.  Jesus brings them, they hear HIS voice. When they get there, just feed them. You are making this much harder than it has to be.