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Risk is not easy. Change is not easy. Finding a particular mold, a set way to do something, provides comfort to our souls.

Now let me preface this by saying I do believe that there is a true ancient path in which we are called to walk. I love these words of Jeremiah:
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls. (Jer 6:16)
But I am also convinced this ancient path is not intricately wrapped up in a kind of static mold. Even the ways of God carry a dynamic to them, meaning they are not simply motionless and immobile.

Please, don't misunderstand me. I'm not here to argue about changing morals. Well, I would first ask why our mind turns to morals when we talk about these things. For those who are truly new creations, I don't find that we need so much convincing about right and wrong morals. True, some do, no doubt. But I'm not here arguing about morality.

And I also know Christ didn't come to simply make us moral people. He came to awaken us, give us life, give us His Spirit.

Yeah, yeah. We know.

Yeah, we know. We know it, oh, so well, right? So well it doesn't even transform our lives. And we get caught up in arguments about morals and other things that don't draw us into the life of God. And we set everything in black and white language, we put everything into static and stone-cold molds, and then we take up arguments with those who disagree.

We forget that the letter kills and the Spirit gives life.

This is not what God had in mind.

We don't want change. We don't want risk.

Our commitment is to follow Jesus.......as long as we can stay in our comfortability.

Listen, I agree. I like to stay comfortable. I don't simply want my basic needs met. I want a whole lot more! Western Christianity's general motto - 'We'll follow you, Christ, as long as we can be comfortable and you don't ask much of us.'

So don't ask us to change. Don't help us understand what true transformation is. Don't ask us to get a real glimpse of what Jesus meant when he meant the church. Don't ask us to think about what it means to be the church in the 21st century. We went through enough and got established fairly well in the 20th century (or the 16th century).

But we are headed somewhere. The kingdom will come in all its fulness. Jesus will be shown as Lord of heaven and earth. The new heavens and new earth will become a reality one day. Yet it's not fully here. So you know what this means? It will call for massive change. But not just in morals. It will call for a complete renewal of our perspectives, renewal of our mindsets.

New things come about with each new generation. Some of it is junk and falls to the wayside. I'm thankful we have a sovereign God.

But most of the time, when change comes, change that is truly needed, we resist it. Yes, even those who take the name of Christ-ian. Even those who identify themselves as already entering the transformation of the new creation. And this includes me.

I have to be honest and say it scares me at times. It really does. Because what it means is that I am not in control. That is an oh-so important word. You see, I like to be in control - of me, of my family, of my finances, of my time, of the people I shepherd, of the church culture I claim to be a part of. And then God brings a change into one, or all of them at the same time, and I feel very uncomfortable. Very!!

If you admit it, I think you would agree.

I recently heard of a particular denomination's ruling on the NIV2011. It's not really that this denomination has such a hierarchy as to demand that all of its members adhere to their specific pronouncement and ruling on this new Bible translation. But the pronouncement was made anyways. The recommendation has been made that the NIV2011 should not be sold in the bookstore that is connected with this particular denomination, the pastors should make the errors of this translation known to their people, and these pastors should not commend this translation to their people.

Why?

It's all centred in the gender-neutral language of the NIV2011.

I have a copy of the NIV2011 and have now made it the main version of Scripture I read and teach from (moving from the ESV, though I have no problems with the ESV). I read the intro pages at the beginning of the NIV2011 and appreciated what the translation team had to say as to why they took this specific approach on gender language.

Of course, gender issues and language are hot topics of today. They've been around before, but the past few decades has really brought a special interest.

This is one of those places of change where we are beginning to be uncomfortable. Yes, change IS taking place here. More and more churches are allowing women in leadership, moving to a more egalitarian view. This is huge and will no doubt, unfortunately, cause church splits, maybe even denomination splits. It is a blue parakeet issue, to use a phrase in the title of one of Scot McKnight's books.

We want to cage this parakeet, but we really can't. We even try caging it by quoting Bible passages. But again, I don't believe this parakeet cannot be caged. Now, it could be that, in a couple of more decades the issue will have settled down and we are all convinced the complementarian view is the proper perspective of God on gender issues. But we still cannot cage the issue. It must be dealt with in all of its details. And systematic theology isn't going to fully help this one. It will probably just keep it caged.

I sense that when my children and grandchildren are grown, this won't be an issue. The church will finally have shifted to allow for women in leadership, also realising that we don't have to reject the NIV2011 nor the NIV2050. But we cannot cover the issue by telling people they shouldn't read a certain version of the Bible. Guess what it does? It makes people want to go out and buy the item and read it themselves. For proof, remember what happened with the whole Rob Bell thing a few months back. Or, for this particular denomination, let them recall past rulings (e.g., when they recommended that Disney movies should not be watched).

You want people to do something, just tell them they should not or cannot. We will do the opposite. Such is the reality of our individualistic, free, western spirit. Ok, let's move on......

We don't like change, do we? I don't like change. I mean really, think about your worst nightmare - changing from cessationist to continuationist, or vice versa; changing from complementarian to egalitarian, or vice versa; changing from Calvinist to Arminian, or vice versa; changing from reformed to new perspective on justification; or vice versa (has that happened yet?); changing from exclusivist to inclusivist, or vice versa. And on and on we go with the most uncomfortable of situations.

To share that you participate in eastern exercises and look to reappropriate such for the glory of Christ himself. Is that possible? To begin to pray with a work colleague each morning that is a Muslim? Is that acceptable? To eat pork ribs at your neighbour's BBQ. Well, thankfully that one seems to have been dealt with. To use the NLT in your daily devotions. For some reason the NLT is ok, but not the NIV2011?

While evangelicals don't tend to excommunicate, you might definitely be considered part of the gossipprayer list for such changes and approaches - whether more theological or more practical.

Change is not easy for any of us to walk through.

I hope you catch that I am trying to swing a pendulum here. Whereas I believe the pendulum has swung too far one way, it needs to head back the other way in many areas. But I am purposefully looking to make a pendulum-swinging point, one which I believe is desperately needed in certain circles, maybe even my own, lest I become arrogant and unwilling to walk out my own preaching.

Life is easier when we don't take risks. I am not for taking risks just for the sake of taking risks. But I am up for plowing forth in risky areas as I see God's hand at work, as I hear God's voice speak. Such a path of change might be difficult, but it will take place as He leads us forward. And it will be all the better, producing much more fruit in our lives than if we had stayed in a particular static mold.

Sometimes we are too cautious for our own good. We put up guards and cautions and barriers and boundaries with every issue. And it not only keeps particular issues caged, it keeps God's people caged. It keeps us from the dynamic truth that is found in Christ as his Spirit truly works amongst the body that we are.

I end with these wise words found in the book of Acts, possibly coming from one who was not a Christ-follower. We aren't sure, but his words are very appropriate here:
38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Views: 83

Tags: change, culture, issues, theology, world

Comment by mem on July 7, 2011 at 8:58am
So well it doesn't even transform our lives. And we get caught up in arguments about morals and other things that don't draw us into the life of God. And we set everything in black and white language, we put everything into static and stone-cold molds, and then we take up arguments with those who disagree. We forget that the letter kills and the Spirit gives life.

How do you know it doesn't transform our lives? Is it because we disagree with others whose positions we find unbiblical? Is it because we are unwilling to change our interpretations of Scripture because we are fairly confident that they are the correct ones? Is it because we expect things to be taken in proper context (e.g., the letter kills and the Spirit gives life)?

While some complementarians may have knee-jerk reactions to the feminist movement, others are well reasoned and biblically grounded. They are not complementarian because they are risk-averse, but because they think egalitarianism is wrong. Not out of fear, but courage. In our culture today, it is complementarianism that is the risk, not egalitarianism.
Comment by Cherylu on July 7, 2011 at 9:35am

Scott,

 

For some of God's people that have embraced change--even huge change--and been deeply burned by it, caution has become a necessity of survival.

Comment by Scott on July 7, 2011 at 10:21am

mem -

 

Is it because we are unwilling to change our interpretations of Scripture because we are fairly confident that they are the correct ones?

 

And such has been the argument for millenia. No?

 

The thing is that I find many a people extremely confident in their currently held positions, seeing them as the correct ones. But I believe we need to be convinced that we don't hold the correct position on every theological matter. I am convinced that has to be the case, or we wouldn't ever need to be changed, we would never ever consider change an option. If change is simply connected to morality, how we behave, then I think we are missing something. But if change is our call across every part of life, well then we need to embrace that is our lot.

 

Do we have it all correct or not? I am not talking about simply being mish-mashy on every subject. But we do not hold these things tightly. Or God would be fine to rip something out of our grasp. He has done that decade after decade, century after century, millenia after millenia.

 

Could it be that complementarianism might be wrong?

 

While some complementarians may have knee-jerk reactions to the feminist movement.

 

I am not sure I mentioned anything about feminism. There is quite a difference between Christian egalitarianism and feminism in and of itself, is there not?

 

In our culture today, it is complementarianism that is the risk, not egalitarianism.

 

I don't have numbers (though I did recently see a study with numbers at Scot McKnight's blog, though I cannot find it at first glance), but I suppose much of the church in North America would continue to lean more towards complementarianism and not allowing of women in leadership-eldership. No?

 

I think that complementarianism might be seen as the risky option mainly because many conservatives are convinced egalitarianism (or feminism?) is an attack on the church (or any other host of issues). There are too strong emotions arising if we see egalitarianism as a liberal attack. And many couch it that way, which is, I believe, overboard. And such can be true on both sides.

 

So I would maintain that to consider egalitarianism in North America is actually the riskier consideration.

 

Remember, I am writing a pendulum-swinging article here. Strongly pulling/pushing the pendulum one way to counter where it might have swung the opposite way too much. If this doesn't touch what you are walking through, then it's ok. But I am convinced the pendulum needs swinging, is swinging, and will continue to swing. And then my children and grandchildren will help swing it back to the middle where my generation missed it and messed up. As it has in the past, it will continue for decades upon decades, centuries upon centuries, possible millenia upon millenia, until we reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 411-13).

Comment by Scott on July 7, 2011 at 10:26am

cheryl -

 

For some of God's people that have embraced change--even huge change--and been deeply burned by it, caution has become a necessity of survival.

 

I do understand. I have seen some unhealthy things take place. But I will not abandon my wife because plenty of people (even in the church) completely destroy the good reputation of the good creation of God known as marriage.

 

I also believe relational accountability, though not perfect, can help guard against true abuse. And I am sure you are walking in such.

 

As I said to mem, we cannot couch these things as liberal attacks on the church. Such is the nature of some, but not all. The church has always been cautious, too cautious, and it holds us back, keeping us decades behind what our current world is actually walking through. We actually end up addressing issues so far behind when the world begins to grapple with them. I think it shouldn't be this way. We don't just rush in like a bull in a China shop. But we also must swing the pendulum away from being so cautious and so against change that, as in Numbers, God has to raise up a new generation to carry on his plans because the previous one become too disinterested.

 

Younger people also need to respect the previous generation. We have a lot to learn from those ancient paths I mentioned in the article. But a wrong and unhealthy caution and fear can not be our motivator.

Comment by Cherylu on July 7, 2011 at 11:17am
Ha Scott, it was local church bodies and relational accountabilities that did a great share of getting me into the nightmares in the first place.
Comment by Scott on July 7, 2011 at 12:47pm
Cheryl -

That is a sad story to hear. And it's those in that environment that hurt the most when wrong is done. I know people who stay away from such because of pain caused for whatever reason. I hope I never find myself in the place of having to walk through such. But it is possible and therefore I must stay humble.
Comment by Scott on July 7, 2011 at 12:48pm
An interesting article I was just made aware of - http://theologyonmission.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/change-is-going-v...
Comment by Marv on July 7, 2011 at 1:05pm

Scott,

My intent is to make a point about evaluation of a translation. I wasn't present at the SBC vote, of course, but here is why I would agree with a statement that the NIV2011 is not recommended.

 

First, a secondary point (how's that for illogic) about so called "complementarianism" and "egalitarianism." The latter being what we used to call evangelical feminism. It has, as you yourself state, come a long way (baby) in the past couple o' decades or three. Two things the proponents have endeavored to do during that time. (1) Convince the public that the feminist perspective is what they SHOULD adhere to, not by saying YOU SHOULD, but by hitching their wagon to the culture (see the Pyros today), and by casting aspersions on the "comp" side, attributing ignoble motives, Bulverism. And (2) trying to acheive plausibility in regard to interpretations of key Scriptural passages, where (frequently) common sense and (more importantly) disinterestedness leads one squarely into a comp understanding.

 

In other words, I would assert, that while a "comp" MAY reach his/her position via other than legitimate exegesis, nothing is required in addition to the text to demonstrate that the Bible teaches a position that falls within the complementarian camp.

 

On the other hand, to reach the so called "egal" understanding, minimum requirements are BIBLE + Something else. It's an extraneous agenda. You can only get it out of the Bible after you first put it in.

 

That brings us to the NIV2011. The mass of people access the Bible directly through the translation they use--and the translation their pastor uses. The NIV2011 is deliberately feminist in its approach. Nothing wrong with "gender neutrality" if this means NOT introducing gender issues that are extraneous to the original text. This is one benefit of the ESV. What is similar--but should not be confused--is intentional blurring--sweeping gender under the proverbial carpet. This requires ADDING CARPET to the text. Bible + Carpet. The result is frequently grotesque renderings.

 

In addition, and more important, the translation takes so called "egal" positions on key passages. These are by no means the best supported interpretation in many cases (in my opinion) but they are the preferred interpretations--given the deliberate perspective taken.

 

The result is that the NIV2011 is comparable to a GMO--a genetically modified organism. Somebody had the audacity to fuse in an extraneous gene to produce a product that now meets some desired goal of the modifier. The problem with a GMO, apart from the fact that it is a cheat, is that the adulterated article eventually drives out the original, so that eventually even if you want it, you can't find it.

 

The old NIV is going away, by design, with the NIV2011 eventally being just the NIV. And readers who aren't sufficiently alterted will never know its the product of tampering.

 

As a person who was trained in translation and translation checking, I have to say this translation does not pass the acceptability test.

Comment by mem on July 7, 2011 at 1:49pm
As I've quoted Chesterton before, the object of opening the mind is the same as that of opening the mouth: to close it again on something solid. There's no sense to change for the sake of change, or doubt for the sake of doubt.

As to numbers of complementarians vs egalitarians, many mainline denominations in the US are exceptionally open. I know for a fact that both the UMC and ELCA for example have female pastors—I drive by these churches routinely. I cannot imagine the UCC or PCUSA being anything but egalitarian. Regardless, the position taken by complementarians is not by any stretch of the imagination a popular one. You may want to argue it's popular in the church—which is far from given—but you cannot argue that it could be considered popular among the population at large. So it's hardly a "risk" in the sense that you seem to want to paint it, and it's certainly not fair to suggest that complementarians simply don't want to to change.

They have solid arguments for their positions. They are not merely reactionary. They are defending what they believe to be biblical truth. Exhorting people to "take risks" because we have some sort of ill-defined link between ourselves and supposed risk-takers in the Bible doesn't actually speak to the complementarian position. It's not an issue of caution vs. risk, because complementarians by and large are also taking the same sort of risk—just with a different population group. The whole introduction of your post here is pretty much a red herring.
Comment by Scott on July 7, 2011 at 2:44pm

Marv -

 

On the other hand, to reach the so called "egal" understanding, minimum requirements are BIBLE + Something else. It's an extraneous agenda. You can only get it out of the Bible after you first put it in.

 

Umm...I think this is true of any normal systematic approach to the text. We do to the text what was not originally intended as God gave his revelation within history. I'm not saying systematic approaches are inherently wrong. But if the Bible is a compilation of multiple 'books' given over centuries and centuries, like somewhat of a library, it wasn't put together as a systematic text. God's revelation didn't come to us in the form of a one Hodge or Berkhof or Grudem or Ryrie or Erickson.

 

Again, systematics is not evil. But it is not the goal. We ended up doing something with the text that might not have originally been intended.

 

Not only that, but there are plenty of things the Bible teaches that we are not practicing today, right? I think you and I agree head coverings is not a command for all time. But a plain reading of the Bible says women should wear them. Is this Bible + carpet? Or what about particular women's clothing. Are we living the Bible + carpet today? And I suppose there are plenty of topics we could touch on. We live in a trajectory different from biblical times. It's ok. We need the wisdom to apply Scripture. And that includes with dealing with gender roles.

 

The result is that the NIV2011 is comparable to a GMO--a genetically modified organism. Somebody had the audacity to fuse in an extraneous gene to produce a product that now meets some desired goal of the modifier. The problem with a GMO, apart from the fact that it is a cheat, is that the adulterated article eventually drives out the original, so that eventually even if you want it, you can't find it......The old NIV is going away, by design, with the NIV2011 eventally being just the NIV. And readers who aren't sufficiently alterted will never know its the product of tampering.

 

Is this only for the NIV2011? What about the beloved ESV? Is it not reformed at its core? I suppose someone else will prove the greatness of the NASB over all others. Or perhaps the unadulterated KJV (1611 version)? Or the HCSB or RSV?

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