Ben Witherington recently wrote a review of Rachel Held Evans’ book “Searching for Sunday”. He captures very well both what I like and dislike of Rachel’s blog. He writes:
“What her book fails to really grapple with however is the major difference between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance of us as we are.
Frankly put, God doesn’t ‘accept’ us as we are, because what we are is fallen and flawed sinful people. God loves us as we are, but God is insistent that we all change, repent of our sinful inclinations and ways, and become more like Christ. A loving welcome by Jesus does not exclude incredible demands in regard to our conduct, and indeed even in regard to the lusts of our hearts. As it turns out, God is an equal opportunity lover of all humanity, and also an equal opportunity critiquer of all our sin, and with good reason— it is sin that keeps separating us from God and ruining our relationship with God. This is why the only proper Biblical approach to everyone who would wish to be ‘in Christ’ and ‘in the body of Christ’ is that they are most welcome to come as they are, and they will be loved as they are, but no one is welcome to stay as they are— all God’s chillins need to change. Welcoming does not entail affirming our sins, much less baptizing our sins and suddenly calling them good, healthy, life giving.”
Witherington’s review can be found here: A Searching Book – Rachel Held Evans’ ‘Searching for Sunday’
Here’s a link to video of the presentations at the recent Wesley conference at Northwest Nazarene College: Wesleyan Theological Society 2014.
- The Death of Sin in the Death of Jesus – Ben Witherington III, Asbury Theological Seminary
- The Holy Spirit and Holy Communion: A Wesleyan Liturgy of Atonement – Jason Vickers, United Theological Seminary
- Christ Crucified: Charles Wesley’s Passion – Randy Maddox, Duke University
- Atonement in the Wesleyan Tradition: Past and Present Looking Forward – Panel discussion.
Lately among some Calvinists there has been promotion of “Masculine Christianity”. Not all of their ideas and observations are off mark. God is referred to as male in scripture, and there is a place for exhorting men to keep their responsibilities. However, it sometimes becomes evident that Piper, Driscoll and others are not as interested in encouraging men as they are in keeping women “in their place”. And that is sinful. It is wrong to prevent women from leading when they are gifted and have been called by the Holy Spirit to do so. And it’s also misguided to present God in such a way that focuses only on His “masculine” qualities. Women are made in God’s image too. Every quality a woman has also comes from God.
Ben Witherington gives a good critique here: John Piper on Men in Ministry, and the Masculinity of Christianity. From the post:
Well let’s start with the orthodox Christian point that GOD IS NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE IN THE DIVINE NATURE. The Bible is clear enough that God is ‘spirit’, not flesh and gender is always a manifestation of flesh….Just as it is wrong to say that the father language in the Bible is just a bad outcropping of the thinking of those who lived in an overwhelmingly patriarchal culture and couldn’t help themselves, so it is also equally bad theology to suggest that the reason for the Father and King language in the Bible is because this tells us something about the divine nature or even the divine will that ‘Christianity’ have a masculine feel.
Here’s a great article by Ben Witherington 3 about sexual fidelity: Eros Defended or Eros Defiled.
He addresses what he calls “same sex sexual sharing”, and what Jesus, Paul, the Church (throughout history), and the Wesley’s taught about it.