The Role of Women in Ministry – Part 3

(November 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 10) The Christian community is fighting great battles over the role of women in ministry and the secular community is taking notice. For example, U.S. News and World Report, August 10, 1998, offered a special report entitled “The Bible According to Eve” outlining, with some accuracy, the issues and conflicts: In June, nationwide front-page news was made when the Southern Baptist Convention voted to add a clause to the denomination’s statement of beliefs affirming that a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband (p. 47). Not all Southern Baptists agreed, and the issue of women in ministry was avoided altogether. The latter could of course have been predicted by the fact that there are already many women pastors in the Southern Baptist denomination. A few weeks later the Vatican warned that Catholics who continue to argue in...

The Role of Women in Ministry – Part 2

(October 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 9) First Community Church is in turmoil. Michael and Jane Gregory are one of the five founding couples of the church and have believed since the church was started three years ago that they should have an equal part in its ministry. Recently Jane has expressed an interest in becoming a member of the pastoral staff, and is taking every fourth Sunday morning sermon in order to show the community that their church is on the cutting edge of relevant ministry. Michael, who is a co-pastor of the 150-member church, is in favor of the move. Several of the elders, however, are opposed to it on what they call “biblical grounds.” Several women in the church have said they will leave the church if it “promotes sexism” by barring Jane from the pulpit. A few members have presented to the elders a plan...

The Role of Women in Ministry – Part 1

(September 1998 – Volume 4, Issue 8) Someone has said that there are two views of the creation of women, one held by women, the other by men. Women say that God made man, looked at him, and said, “I can do better than that!” So He made woman. Men hold that after God made beasts and man, He rested, then He created woman, and neither beast, nor man, nor God has rested since. All joking aside, few subjects are more controversial today than the role of women in society, ministry and the home. This is true even, maybe especially, among evangelical Christians. Views that were considered unquestionably true a few decades ago are now disputed. Even the interpretation of pertinent scriptural passages, long considered settled, is now being challenged. It is our intention to develop a careful overview of this important and volatile subject. We will start with...

The Problem With Leaven

(October 2000 – Volume 6, Issue 10) The author of Underserving, Yet Unconditionally Loved writes: To many people, grace is nothing more than something to be said with heads bowed before dinner. But that idea, simple and beautiful as it may be, is light-years removed from the depth of meaning presented in Scripture regarding grace. This biblical concept of grace is profound, and its tentacles are both far-reaching and life-changing. Were we to study it for a full decade we would not come close to plumbing its depths. I never knew Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of the seminary I attended. He had died a few years before I began my theological studies in 1959. Some of my mentors and professors, however, knew him well. Without exception they still remember him as a man of great grace. He was an articulate defender of the doctrine and an authentic model...

The New Perspective on Paul – Part 3

(April 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 4)  In the NPP, justification has nothing to do with salvation and everything to do with the church, or community. Declaring that the evangelical church has misread Galatians from ancient times, Wright assures us that he and his comrades have discovered what Paul really meant, The problem he addresses is: should his ex-pagan converts be circumcised or not?… It has to do quite obviously with the question of how you define the people of God: are they to be defined by the badges of Jewish race, or in some other way?… Who belongs to Abraham’s family… Justification, in Galatians, is the doctrine which insists that all who share faith in Christ belong at the same table, no matter what their racial differences, as together they wait for the final new creation… Justification is not how someone becomes a Christian. It is the declaration...

The New Perspective on Paul – Part 2

(March 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 3) In part one of our series on the New Perspective on Paul, we examined the origins and surveyed its basic teachings. We concluded that introduction by stating that the NPP bases most of its theological views on its understanding of the rabbinical teaching of what is known as “Second Temple Judaism.” Second Temple Judaism This leads us to a brief discussion about what Judaism of the New Testament times actually believed and taught. Foundational to NPP theology and without which the system collapses, is Sanders’ thesis that Judaism of Paul’s day (often referred to as Second Temple Judaism or Palestinian Judaism) was not a self-righteous, merit-based religion. Long before the Reformation, Augustine had defended the faith against Pelagianism which taught that salvation was obtained through works. The Reformers, they claim, had read their struggle with Catholicism back into the New Testament texts...

The New Perspective on Paul – Part 1

(February 2007 – Volume 13, Issue 2) The lovers of God’s truth can be excused if they seem to be a little “under the weather” lately, for everywhere we turn there are attacks on cardinal doctrines of the faith which most of us have considered secure and untouchable for years. Nathan Busenitz says it well, It seems like just about every major doctrine of historic Christianity is currently under attack. Theology proper faces the Open-Theism debate; bibliology is still reeling from higher criticism; and pneumatology is split over the Charismatic question. For Christology the issue is the lordship of Christ; for anthropology it’s Christian psychology; and for ecclesiology it’s the Church-growth movement. Not even the gospel is safe from attacks by those who claim to be part of the church. As a matter of fact, the foremost battle being waged at this moment is over soteriological issues. Emergent church leaders...

The Imminent Return of Christ and the Pre-Wrath Rapture

(December 1995 – Volume 2, Issue 2)  Many who have been influenced by the Bible school movement, Dallas Seminary, or the Scofield or Ryrie Study Bibles have unquestionably accepted the doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture of the church. This is the view that our Savior will gather to Himself all church age saints before He brings great judgment upon the earth during the seven year period commonly called the Tribulation (but better named, Daniel’s 70th week). We have always been aware that there are other theories but for the most part we have given them little thought. For example, there is the Midtribulation Rapture view that teaches that the church must go through the first three and a half years of the 70th week before she is raptured. This would mean that the church would have to endure the first six seal judgments (Rev 6) before she is removed. The...

The Afterlife – Part 4

  Four Views on Hell Within Protestant circles there have been, and are, four primary views on the nature of Hell: 1. Universalism — In its simplest form universalism is the belief that eventually all mankind will be saved. Origen (ca. 185-254) was the first serious Christian theologian to espouse universalism. But he stood almost alone in his day, and for centuries to come, in promoting this view (see Shedd, page 3). Following the death of Origen, universalism received no serious support in the Christian community until the late eighteenth century when the roots of what would later be the Unitarian-Universalist Association were formed. A parade of liberal theologians and churches have since embraced some form of universalism including, Emil Brunner, C. H. Dodd, William Barclay, and to some extent Karl Barth. Some even see Pope John Paul II as making universalism overtures. For the true lover of the...

The Afterlife – Part 3

(March 2000 – Volume 6, Issue 3)  My how things change. The Pope recently came out with a series of proclamations about the afterlife. First he took the puffy clouds out of heaven. Then he removed the brimstone from hell. Now he has cleaned up purgatory! The Pope has declared that none of these places are really physical addresses to which souls are dispatched. Rather, heaven is a “spiritual union with God.” Hell is just “the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God.” Officially the Catholic Church has never and can never change its doctrines, so it is not surprising to find the Catholic theologians lining up behind the Pope and declaring that the church has always believed these things. But the average Catholic would certainly be mystified to hear that this is not a change, and medieval Church theologians would be absolutely dumbfounded. In truth...