Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Should not appointment to Church leadership depend on ability and not sexuality? While the late Christian thinker, C.S. Lewis, admitted that “We men may often make very bad priests,” he argued that the same logic also applied to being a bad dancer:

·       He may make a bad male partner in a dance. The cure for that is that men should more diligently attend dancing classes; not that the ballroom should henceforth ignore distinctions of sex and treat all dancers as neuter. (God in the Dock, “Priestesses in the Church”, 239)

Lewis applied this analogy to the Church. The Church should be like the ballroom and not ignore sexual differences. Consequently, if a woman showed more pastoral promise than her male counterpart, the male should attempt to get up-to-speed. However, Lewis assured us that his judgment didn’t rest upon any consideration of female inferiority:

·       No one among those who dislike the proposal [of women serving as priests] is maintaining that women are less capable than men of piety, zeal, learning and whatever else seems necessary for the pastoral office. (235)

Lewis cited the example of the Middle Ages in support of his claim:

·       The Middle Ages carried their reverence for one Woman to a point at which the charge could be plausibly made that the Blessed Virgin became in their eyes almost ‘a fourth Person of the Trinity.’

How then did Lewis justify barring women from the priesthood? The priest had to “represent God,” and only the male could do this. Lewis anticipated the thinking of the female-priest proponent:

·       Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son. Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed, that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride.” (237)

Well, what’s the matter with these arrangements? Lewis countered that this would envision a “different religion.” He cited the fact that this scenario would violate the “masculine imagery” of the Bible:

·       We know from our poetic experience that image and apprehension cleave closer together than common sense is here prepared to admit; that a child who has been taught to pray to a Mother in Heaven would have a religious life radically different from that of a Christian child. (237)

This might be so, but it probably wouldn’t impress the egalitarian thinking that has been seeping into the Church.

Lewis adds that to dismiss sexual role distinctions is to transform male and female into “neuters”:

·       To say that men and women are equally eligible for a certain profession is to say that for the purposes of that profession their sex is irrelevant. We are, within that context, treating both as neuters. (237)

Lewis also argued that our marriage to our Lord was to parallel earthly heterosexual marriage:

·       One of the functions of human marriage is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and semitive figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical [non-sexually distinct] figures. (238)

According to Lewis, if human marriage is based on sexually-based role distinctions, so too should the Church’s relationship to her Savior. This would make a male priesthood mandatory.

Why didn’t Lewis base his stance more directly on Scripture? He could have cited:

·       But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3; ESV)

Since the Father and the Son share the same Divine Essence but yet are distinguished in terms of role, this same relationship pertains within the oneness of husband and wife, even in view of their role distinctions.

More to the point, Paul argued in favor of a sharp male-female role distinction based upon the order of creation and the Fall:

·       I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:12-14; also 1 Cor. 14:34-35; Eph. 5:22-31)

Paul’s reasoning grounds these role distinctions in two considerations that will not change until Christ’s return. I do not understand why Lewis didn’t ground his case in these Scriptural evidences. Perhaps someone else can provide some illumination.


My hope used to be in myself. I told myself that “whatever life threw at me, I’d be able to endure and that nothing could stop me,” and I believed it. However, life began to show me that there were things that I couldn’t endure. This, of course, sent me in a tailspin, a downward spiral.

We all need hope, even to get out of bed in the morning, but where does it come from? The Apostle Paul claimed that it comes from what has been written:

·       For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Some claim that we should trust in God without resorting to Scripture - its teaching and promises. However, this isn’t possible. How can we hope in a doctrine-less, amorphous god? Instead, we need to know that when we confess our sins, He will forgive and cleanse us (1 John 1:9), that He will return for us, and that we’ll rise from the dead to receive an everlasting kingdom of joy.

Without these Scriptural assurances, a belief in God is an empty room that can only be filled with the objects of our imagination. However, it is evident that some prefer such an undemanding “god.”

Paul also claimed that “WHATEVER was written” is for our benefit so that “we might have hope.” We cannot pick-and-choose from among the verses. They are all the Word of God, as Jesus also affirmed when He was being tempted by the Devil in the wilderness:

·       “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

Life was a matter of submitting to each word as God’s Word. This was how we were to love Him:

·       Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

How else can Scripture provide the basis for our hope unless we regard it ALL as God’s Words? If we don’t respect Scripture enough to receive it as God’s message to us in its entirety, we will also not respect those verses we have chosen to suit our lifestyle. We cannot play fast-and-loose with Scripture. When we do this, we play fast-and-loose with God.

Monday, August 29, 2016


When a militant atheist feels like he has been backed against the wall, he pulls out his trump-card – “Well, prove that God exists.”

Don’t be tempted by the bait. You will never be able to provide the militant with a proof that he will accept. You might even ask him, “What type of evidence would you find satisfying?”

He might respond, “If God exists, I want him to appear to me right now.” However, not even such a miraculous appearance will make any difference. The late author and scholar, C.S. Lewis, recounts an interesting story:

·       One person…claimed to have seen a ghost. It was a woman; and the interesting thing is that she disbelieved in the immortality of the soul before seeing the ghost and still disbelieves after having seen it. She thinks it was a hallucination. (God in the Dock, “Miracles,” 25)

From this, Lewis concluded that “seeing is not believing.” Why not?

·       Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural…We can always say we have been the victims of an illusion; if we disbelieve in the supernatural this is what we always shall say. (25)

Lewis took this principle a step further:

·       If the modern materialist saw with his own eyes the heavens rolled up and the great white throne appearing, if he had the sensation of being himself hurled into the Lake of Fire, he would continue forever, in that lake itself, to regard this experience as an illusion and to find the explanation of it in psycho-analysis, or cerebral pathology. (25)

However, the resistance to the facts of our direct sensory perception is even worse than this. Years ago at a family get-together, we – all of us were either agnostic or atheistic --      stood spell-bound for an hour at the sight of our two little girl-cousins doing the Ouiji Board. The girls were spooked by this Board, and it required a lot of adult persuasion and reassurances to get them to perform. Here are the facts about which we all agreed:

1.    Even blindfolded, the disk scurried around the Board spelling out adult words with adult thoughts and personalities. None of us suspected any deception on the part of the girls.
2.    The girls came up with answers that they were naturally incapable of knowing.
3.    None of us suspected that what we were viewing was illusory or the product of an hallucination. We were all seeing and hearing the same things, even for an hour.
Over the years, I have asked my skeptical family what they had concluded from what they had seen. None had a natural explanation or would try to ascribe what they had seen to an hallucination. However, what they had seen made no impact on their worldview. As Lewis had stated, “Seeing is not believing,” even if no alternative explanation is available.

I don’t think that we can clearly comprehend humanity’s hatred of the facts. Nor can we fathom the depth of our own aversion to the light of truth. However, this is the uniform revelation of Scripture. Jesus also pronounced this very verdict against humanity:

·       And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:19-20; ESV)

For many reasons, it is important for us to grasp this truth. For one thing, we need to understand from what depths we have been rescued. For another thing, we need to understand the world. They are really not whom they seem to be. Apart from the grace of God, they are lovers of darkness and have been taken captive by what they love:

·       And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Originally, we were not pawns of Satan. Instead, we had been “captured.”

Because we had been enemies of the truth (Romans 5:8-10), more was needed besides proper argumentation and even love to secure our freedom. God had to grant us a new heart and mind so that we could receive the truth, “come to [our] senses,” and escape our bondage.

If we fail to grasp the fact that this is a supernatural battle, we will become very frustrated with the skeptic and even with our own evangelistic efforts. However, when we are able to perceive the great extent and dimensions of the battle, we realize on Whom we must rely.

Consequently, the primarily battle for the mind is not waged against flesh and blood but against the devil himself:

·       Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

But this doesn’t mean that we are just innocent pawns in a cosmic battle. Instead, we have willingly and culpably given ourselves over to the powers of darkness:

·       Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Why have they given themselves over to the darkness? Because of “their hardness of heart!” We have rejected God and have devoted ourselves to our own desires. As a result of this, God has given us over to the blinding influence of these desires (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). And so, only the Lord can rescue us.

This means that we have to be patient and gentle with the skeptic.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


My wife and I attended a Jesus for Muslims meeting, where we saw a Jewish believer embrace a Muslim believer in Christ in love. However, there were no indications that they had attended Jewish-Muslim reconciliation conferences in order to first iron out their differences. Perhaps they understood that what they now shared in Christ took precedence over any ethic or historical differences.

We were thinking that if they had tried out the reconciliation venue that their different perspectives would have just exacerbated the raw feelings and divisions. Instead, it appears that their love and unity were a product of the overwhelming glory of Christ and the forgiveness that He had granted them. It was apparent that it was this forgiveness that had liberated them from both sin and their overriding sectarian identifications.

This made me think about other racial divisions – Black and White – we encounter, even in the Church. For the sake of Christ and the unity He had prayed for (John 17:20-23), I had wanted to thrash out these differences. However, I have been meditating on some verses that are leading me in another direction. Paul had counseled that our conversation should promote love rather than:

·       To devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the STEWARDSHIP FROM GOD THAT IS BY FAITH. The aim of our charge is LOVE that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into VAIN DISCUSSION. (1 Timothy 1:4-6; ESV)

Will discussions about race promote unity or division? Do they fall under the category of “vain discussions?” Elsewhere, Paul warned against “unprofitable” “foolish controversies”:

·       But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. (Titus 3:9-10)

Will the attempt to reconcile our differing opinions on race “stir up division?” I have seen and heard about too many failed attempts. They had resulted in the very thing that Paul had warned us about – division. This doesn’t mean that these issues aren’t very real and sincerely held. They are! However, it doesn’t seem that thrashing them out can lead to unity.

I had agreed to be a panelist for a discussion on “Racial Reconciliation in the Church.” However, I am rethinking this tentative commitment. If it creates quarrels, it violates the council of Scripture:

·       As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but NOT TO QUARREL OVER OPINIONS…Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:1-4)

I am convinced that God is able to make us stand together in unity even if we avoid certain contentious and divisive issues. It has become clear to me that as we move towards maturity in Christ, we also move towards unity with one another. How does this happen?

·       Rather, speaking the truth [of Christ] in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Perhaps growth and unity doesn’t depend on resolving all of our peripheral issues. Perhaps love and unity are better served by keeping our eyes and hopes on Christ alone. (Of course, present problems in the Church have to be addressed and resolved – Acts 6:1-6.) I don’t see how this strategy can fail us.