God's woman: is she needy of a representative priest? Part 2

God's woman: is she needy of a representative priest? Part 2

In part one, (click here to read) we discussed whether God created the woman as needed or needy. In this continuing discussion we ask whether God has ordained that a woman must have a priest in the home to represent her to God and God to her? The complementarian view is a strong “Yes” when asked this question, but is this a biblical view or a view passed on by tradition?

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) makes their view available through an on-line book called “Building Strong Families” by Dennis Rainey. (Dennis is on CBMW’s board of reference.) Chapter 4 of this book is called “The Husband as Prophet, Priest and King” and this chapter is authored by Bob Lepine.

Mr. Lepine states that it is God’s design that the husband is the priest of the home. To prove his point, he produces the patriarchal rule of the Old Testament as proof that God wants men to act as priests in home today. He says, “The patriarchs, who were the family and tribal leaders in ancient Israel, knew they had a duty to lead their wives and children into God’s presence for worship, to remind them of God’s grace and mercy in forgiving their sins, and to intercede on their behalf. Husbands today have the same priestly assignment.” While Mr. Lepine states this as a fact, he gives no New Testament scriptures that say that the Christian husband is the priest of the home.

While there are no New Testament scriptures on the husband being “the priest of the home”, there are also no Old Testament scriptures that show that God ordained the husband to be the priest of the home either. In fact the only reference there is in scripture to a “priest of the home” is in Judges chapters 17 & 18. Micah, an idol worshipper had stolen eleven hundred pieces of silver from his mother and after he returned the silver to her, she made a graven and a molten image with part of the silver and gave them to her son for his use as an idol. Micah made a shrine where he placed his household idols and he consecrated his son as his own household priest.

In Judges 17:8 the story goes on to say that Micah found a young Levite and he also requested that this young Levite be his household priest.

Judges 17:10 Micah then said to him, “Dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and your maintenance.” So the Levite went in.
Judges 17:11 The Levite agreed to live with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons.
Judges 17:12 So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in the house of Micah.
Judges 17:13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as a priest.”

The book of Judges does not say that this was God’s way of ordaining that every home should have a “priest of the home”, but rather noting that there was wickedness and idolatry in the land, Judges 17:6 says “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

So contrary to the tradition promoted by CBMW, there is no instance of a “priest in the home” arrangement set up by God and only one example in the entire bible of such an arrangement and it was set up by an idolator named Micah.

According to Lepine, the husband’s priestly duties in the home start when the spiritual responsibility for a young woman is passed from her father to her husband and these priestly duties are a “necessary function” of being called a husband.

Where are the scriptures for this spiritual role passed from father to husband? Where does it say that a husband must take on a priestly duty for his wife? I would respectfully say that this is a tradition that may sound Christian, but it isn’t biblical. I would also respectfully say that this tradition can be harmful in several ways. Let me explain as I go through Bob Lepine’s explanation of what the husband as priest in the home is responsible for.

Lepine says that the man is to “assume responsibility to oversee the spiritual condition of his wife.” The husband is responsible as a priest and prophet of God to hear from God and then as a “bearer of the word of God” pass these words on to his wife. He must be the resident theologian because it is his responsibility to teach the Bible to his wife. The husband, Lepine says, should tremble at this assignment because they should recall that false prophets in the Old Testament were stoned. With all of these responsibilities, a husband must “determine for his wife and his family what is right and true.”

The first harm that comes as a result of the view that makes the husband fully responsible to hear from God on behalf of his wife, is that this is a heavy burden forced on the man which is not found in scripture. Where does scripture say that the man is responsible for hearing what God has to say to the woman? What a heavy burden to think that one may be severely punished by God (think about the picture that Lepine gives of stoning) if they fail to be a correct “bearer of the word of God” to his wife! This burden is not one that God has laid on the shoulders of the husband.

This tradition has also been responsible for many men concluding that God does not speak to women directly but only through the man. No wonder so many men feel a spiritual superiority to women. There may also be a temptation to a spirit of pride with the man thinking that he has been set up as a type of intermediary between God and his wife. While Mr. Lepine states that “there is no intermediary between man and God except for the man Christ Jesus” his continual emphases that the man’s responsibility as “one who speaks for God” to his wife in essence makes the wife a needy spiritual person who must have a prophet/priest speak to her on God’s behalf. How many women have been harmed thinking that they are not capable of hearing from God on their own? The greatest harm that I see from this is that women will not grow up in Christ as fully mature Christians, but will stay under the limits placed on them by the highest level of spirituality that their husband attains to.

A fully mature Christian will not be dependent on another person’s hearing from God, but will hear God’s voice for herself. When we keep a woman dependent on the spirituality of her husband, we are treating her as a dependent child all her life. Her sons may grow up and be spiritually mature, but somehow she is treated as one who cannot be depended on to hear from God on her own. One of the most harmful “fruits” of this faulty tradition follows with Bob Lepine’s advice to the husband regarding his wife’s sins.

Mr. Lepine says the husband has been given God’s call to be the one who confronts his wife’s sin and the one who calls her to repentance even if it rocks “the domestic boat” and even if it incurs his wife’s wrath. Pointing out his wife’s sin may seem harsh and judgmental, but Lepine assures husbands it is not unloving and is a necessary part of the priest/prophet function of the husband. Lepine says that the husband must not “fail to confront his wife’s sin because he has a soft view of what it means to love her.” As a priest/prophet the husband “will not think it loving to ignore or overlook our wives’ ongoing patterns of sinful behavior.” Instead he suggests that one of the keys to a happy marriage is confronting sin in your mate and he quotes Proverbs 27:6 “the wounds of a friend are faithful”. Ultimately he suggests that even if this does not produce happiness in marriage, that happiness in marriage should take a back seat to the “higher calling” of a husband and that is making sure that the wife is conformed to Christ’s likeness. Lepine does concede that many men struggle with their priestly duty of representing God to their wives because they are afraid “we’ll be exposed for what we don’t know, or for the shallowness of our own spirituality, or that we’ll be convicted of hypocrisy by a wife who knows too well that we don’t always practice what we’re preaching.”

Is this what scripture teaches? What Mr. Lepine is suggesting here the husband taking the place of the Holy Spirit and the confrontation that he says is a “higher calling” is nothing less than emotional abuse. Scripture does not tell husbands to “confront his wife’s sin” but to be gentle, loving and patient. Paul tells us in Colossians:

Colossians 3:19 (ISV) Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Peter tells us that love “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) and neither Peter nor Paul tell husbands that it is their duty to be confronting their wives over their sin. Instead Paul tells men to love and cherish their wives as they do their own body.

Ephians 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
Ephians 5:29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

And James tell us that mercy and gentleness are wisdom from above:

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Instead of confrontation, Peter tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way and nowhere does he say that husbands are to be responsible for confronting their wife’s sin. Instead Peter says that if a husband does not treat his wife in an understanding way that his own spiritual life may be jeopardized.

1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Peter goes on to encourage husbands as well as all others to be harmonious, kindhearted and sympathetic:

1 Peter 3:8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;
1 Peter 3:9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:10 For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
1 Peter 3:11 “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.

Is a husband to be a spiritual overseer for his wife, keeping watch to continually expose her sin? Scripture gives no such instruction and those who follow CBMW’s advice through Bob Lepine may find unnecessary conflict and stress in their home. Instead of the man called to be “the priest of the home”, the scripture is clear that he is called to something far different. The husband is called to give of himself for his wife and be the one who joins himself to her.

Ephesians 5:31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.

It is the husband’s responsibility to give himself up for her and to come to her to join himself with her. The result of a biblical view of scripture will be harmony, gentleness and oneness. The result of the doctrine of the “husband as priest in the home” is a heavy burden on the husband that the scripture never lays on him. It also results in a childlike reliance of the woman on the man for her own spirituality.

For further reading, click here to read an earlier post on the husband as the priest in the home.  Or click here to go to part three of this series.

71 thoughts on “God's woman: is she needy of a representative priest? Part 2

  1. That is so well done and biblical (as usual).
    Thanks for the light shed on this Cheryl 🙂

    My only reservation is lest your words be interpreted as an excuse to neglect addressing ongoing sin in the household. I believe that believers- male or female- have a Christian duty to hold others accountable for their sins against us (and against the children who are under our care). Indeed, this needs to be done with grace, mercy, and gentleness… but it needs to be done for our own good and the good of the marriage and the next generation.

  2. Hey Charis,
    Yes, if a wife sins against her husband, this sin should be brought to her attention and vice versa. However this is not what CBMW and Mr. Lepine means. The sin that they are talking about is her sin. Any sin. Her sin, her faults and her failures are to be brought to her attention. This is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit in our lives and when we usurp the Holy Spirit’s position of shedding light on our failures and our sin then we can expect conflict since the man (or the woman) is a sinner themselves. Jesus said that we are to take the log out of our own eye before we attempt to take the speck out of our brother’s (wife’s) eye.

    When our brother sins against us, this is a sin that needs to be dealt with, but our own personal sins are something that needs to be dealt with by the Holy Spirit. God certainly has not given the husband to be the priest who exposes sin in our life.

  3. One other thing….if a husband sees his wife in sin, the best thing that he can do for her is to pray for her and to live an example for her of godliness. I think the same thing goes for women. When I stopped trying to change my husband and just concentrated on being the woman that God meant for me to be, it helped me a lot. I remember once being very angry with my husband and going into the bathroom to shut off myself from him and express my anger. I heard the voice of the Lord tell me that I needed to go to him and say I was sorry. I knew that I was to blame partway, but it was his own sin and his own faults and started it. I remember stamping my foot in anger at God and asking him why he always was telling me that I needed to change and I needed to apologize and why he wasn’t doing anything with my husband to correct him. I heard the Lord as clear as a bell. He said that it was none of my business what he was doing with my husband. It was only my business what he was doing with me. That changed everything for me and I stopped trying to change him. For years and years I was under the hand of the Lord and was being molded and changed. Now the things have changed and the last number of years the Lord has been dealing with my husband for change and I seem to be getting off scott-free. What I have learned is that we belong to the Lord Jesus and it is in his timing and in his way that we will change. Yes, we confront sin when the person is sinning against us, but sometimes the bad behavior is best left alone to only the Lord to deal with and when we walk in forgiveness, it seems to be the catalyst that God uses to start the change in the other person.

  4. Anyone who calls himself “prophet, priest, and king” is a blasphemer, and anyone who worships such a self-made god is an idolater.

    Prophecy is a gift; priest is what we all are, and only Jesus is as mediator between God and people; king is reserved for God alone or a human civic ruler.

    I’ve seen the hoops the patriarchalists jump through to say things like: “she can have the gift of prophecy but not the office” (there is no “office”)”, or “she had the gift of apostle but not the office”, or “gentiles, slaves and women are equally saved, and gentiles and slaves are equal socially, but women are only equally saved”, etc.

    They are Pharisees who make impossible burdens for women and never lift a finger to help. They love to have the seats of honor, to be praised, to be called ‘rabbi’ (or king or priest or prophet or Pastor or Bishop or lord or master). They shut the kingdom of heaven in women’s faces.

  5. I am thinking of doing another post on the issue of “King”. I didn’t comment on that part of the chapter in this post as it was already a long post. My work on our new DVD series on the Trinity is taking most of my time, but I may take the time later to post on what this attitude does to the body of Christ when we make the man the “King”. Other than that I may only be posting every week or two as my nose is fully into the Trinity script.

  6. Does Mr. Lepine ever say who the husbands ‘priest’ is? Wonder how he would like to live with a priest? Who is confronting the husband’s sin? And what is his advice for the wife in dealing with her husbands sin?

    What is SO scary about this is that Mr. Lepine is assuming that most husbands will do this lovingly all the time with correct motives?

    Quite frankly, I am more worried about the husband’s eternal life with this teaching for many reasons I won’t go into here. This is obviously false teaching and I am thankful you are making it public.

  7. Hi Lin,

    No, Lepine doesn’t prescribe a “priest” for the man, because the man doesn’t need a priest for him. The woman is apparently the only needy one and he is there to “fill” her need for a priest. This is just so unbiblical and I am afraid that men with their heads filled with this new “job” description will not even understand how hurtful and unloving it is to have your own in-house sin detector. If the wife protests his treatment, that won’t help because Lepine says, “…he needs to obey God’s call regardless of how his wife will respond.” I see a recipe for a disastrous and unhappy marriage.

    It also seems to me that Lepine should know better just from his own words. He says “Most books I’ve read on how to have a happy marriage don’t suggest that one of the keys is confronting sin in your mate.” There is a reason why most books don’t suggest this confrontation method. It is because it doesn’t work and it only sets a division and a hostility between husband and wife. There doesn’t appear to be any equality for the woman in a “role” that gives her the ability to confront her husband’s sin. While I don’t recommend this type of confrontation either, it comes across as the man is on a high pedestal and he gets to choose how he lays down the law. In fact Lepine says “He is to know and apply the law of God in the home.” If that doesn’t ring some warning bells in our heads regarding what the husband can do regarding his wife’s “sin”, then we may be very comfortable in Muslim countries where the husband has the right to discipline his wife in anyway he chooses without consequence. If he kills her for disobeying him or for ruining a dinner, then she deserves it. It really does make me shudder how far we have gone away from God’s original intent of a one-flesh union and towards the world’s way where the man is the true master and king of his home.

  8. What has to be remembered about most of the stuff that comes out of the CBMW site is that it is just re-packaged goods from John Winthrop’s Puritan theocracy in 17th century Massachusetts. Gone are the whipping post, the ducking stool, and the stocks; but the basic doctrine of male federal headship is still intact.

    Even though Lepine tries to couch it in kinder and gentler 21st century terminology, the doctrine of absolute patriarchy is still the framework of his writings. Here’s a quote from John Winthrop’s speech to the Massachusetts General Court in 1645 on natural and civil liberty:

    “Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is so easy and sweet to her as a bride’s ornaments; and if through frowardness or wantonness, etc., she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit, until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her, and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported, and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her.”

    Not much has changed in the 300 and some years from Puritan Massachusetts and CBMW. A husband is still priest, prophet, king, and federal head in authority over his wife. WAIT!!! they now concede that it’s no longer ok to “slap the little woman around”…

  9. Greg,

    Let’s hope that this type of marriage advice will not become common so that we go back to the dark ages for women as you described. I do shudder to think how some would take this advice if they are prone to an abusive personality. There may be more than a little unhappiness for these women behind closed doors.

  10. Cheryl,

    I am in complete agreement. That’s why it’s crucial to keep blogging on these issues and exposing them for what they are, flat-out false teaching and tyranny over women who exist in the shadow-worlds of these belief systems.

  11. Great stuff Cheryl,

    thanks as usual for your clear points on a crucial aspect of the patriarchal -egal debate.
    hope you are getting the rest you need!

    Kerryn

  12. Grudem has written that he believes mutual submission is impossible. He does this purposely to keep “helper” as an inferior, to the point of making God inferior to man every time he helps him! Here is a quote from his Systematic Theology:

    Recently some writers have denied that the creation of Eve as a helper fit for Adam signals any difference in role or authority, because the word helper (Heb. ‘ezer) is often used in the Old Testament of someone who is greater or more powerful than the one who is being helped.

    In fact, the word helper is used in the Old Testament of God himself who helps his people. But the point is that whenever someone “helps” someone else, whether in the Hebrew Old Testament or in our modern use of the word help, in the specific task in view the person who is helping is occupying a subordinate or inferior position with regard to the person being helped. Page 461-462

    I realize this belongs under the “needy” thread but didn’t want it to be missed. But it does tie in with the overall “male godhood” teachings that come from many Christian leaders today, and it should be noted that Calvinism is involved as well. They look to the Puritans as role models. While the Puritans had some good influence, such as being anti-slavery, they thought nothing of flogging women who even so much as taught other women the Bible in their own homes.

    Misogyny is the “universal sin”, the one that pervades all societies and religions, including “churchianity”.

  13. “In fact, the word helper is used in the Old Testament of God himself who helps his people. But the point is that whenever someone “helps” someone else, whether in the Hebrew Old Testament or in our modern use of the word help, in the specific task in view the person who is helping is occupying a subordinate or inferior position with regard to the person being helped. Page 461-462 ”

    I am confused. Doesn’t he negate his point?

  14. Most people, when they learn that God is a “helper” using the same word as that for Eve, conclude that “helper” cannot denote inferiority because obviously God can never be inferior to man. But Grudem is so desperate to make Eve inferior that he would stoop to the level of putting God under males at times. That’s blasphemy.

    So in his mind, God as “helper” does not prove that Eve is not inferior, but that God is. Very twisted and evil.

  15. I am doing a Matthew 18 work with Matt. …
    Matt is not responding well to correction….
    Matt
    -bore false witness against me
    -berate me as a heretic
    -claim that he has not slandered me.
    I had hoped that he would be humble enough to be willing to be corrected but as you can hear, he is not.
    He is just so angry… and I appear to be his main target for his anger and frustration. ….
    I am hoping that Matt will be willing to repent publicly in the same forum that he slandered my good name.

    So, Cheryl, what sticks out to me is the striking parallels between what is going on between you and Matt and my situation with my husband (When Daddy verbally abuses the children, how can a Christian wife and Mommy respond?)

    You said this about marriage:

    I remember … asking him [God] why … he wasn’t doing anything with my husband to correct him. I heard the Lord as clear as a bell. He said that it was none of my business what he was doing with my husband. It was only my business what he was doing with me. That changed everything for me and I stopped trying to change him. … What I have learned is that we belong to the Lord Jesus and it is in his timing and in his way that we will change. Yes, we confront sin when the person is sinning against us, but sometimes the bad behavior is best left alone to only the Lord to deal with and when we walk in forgiveness, it seems to be the catalyst that God uses to start the change in the other person.

    Frankly, I feel quite confident that God wants me to stand up to the sin in a way which is quite confrontational and unpleasant for my husband.

    I believe that my ostensibly “respectful” and “submissive” behavior tiptoeing around his “fragile male ego” for 22 years at the expense of the vulnerable tender hearts and spirits of our children was destructive and sinful on my part. (This enabling behavior on my part was reinforced by just such teaching as your post here highlights. I thought I was being “biblical”.)

    So which is it?
    Is it confront sin and attempt to hold him accountable?
    Or is is “forgive” “love covers a multitude of sins” and “blessed is she who overlooks an offense”?

  16. While I am at it (being “contentious” as my husband loves to fling at me), brace yourself for a sharp comment: I hope you will keep in mind the spiritual law (just as sure as the physical law of gravity)…
    “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow.” Gal 6:7

    Sometimes the comments I read on your blog against the emergent church distress me. Personally, I think many in that movement are hearing from “what the Spirit is saying to the churches” every bit as much as those who are advocating for women are hearing from the Spirit. I think we do ourselves a disservice to assume the worst or to lump them all brethren who have a different perspective with the most extreme of the bunch.

    If you say you don’t want to be condemned and branded a heretic, you don’t like it, you want your good name cleared, just be careful you aren’t dishing it out anywhere… because if you sow it, you will reap it.

  17. Charis,

    I agree that evil in any form must be confronted. It may not be my business what God is doing with someone else, but it surely is my business to expose sin and stand against it. That’s why egalitarians have to speak up and not remain silent. Whether the message is received or rejected, we must speak the message. I will not defer to evil or sin in the naive hope that it will just go away. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

    Regarding emergent church, the same principles hold. If something is sinful or spiritually dangerous, and I do not speak out, that is surely sin on my part. I will not defer to evil, no matter how harmless it may appear, or how long its been practiced, or how many influential people say it’s okay. If it could possibly be just a “gray area” where Christians can disagree I wouldn’t say anything. But I know better, and have read a lot about it, and examined its roots.

    My motives for both cases are the same: Warn people so they can escape a trap. I must speak the message regardless of how it is received, because I honor God more than my personal popularity or any kind of political or spiritual correctness. Such messages are offensive and confrontational. But that’s what “salt” does.

  18. Hi Paula,

    Surely you can see that there are extremes under any doctrinal position? Painting with a broad brush, sweeping generalization against emerging churches bothers me. I think it was a link from your blog which went to a page critical of contemplative prayer and spiritual formation- equating them to eastern mysticism….

    I pray contemplatively and it is not at all how the “anti contemplative prayer” camp represented it.
    I have a mentor, a spiritual companion who encourages me toward a deeper walk in the Spirit.
    I have read a book by David Benner and one by Dallas Willard… and I think they are both solid Christians, probably not doctrinally “perfect” but who is?
    I have read Donald Miller and Rob Bell and enjoyed their books as well, they have a great appeal to the younger generation, they put flesh and blood on the gospel.
    None of them are “dangerous evil heretics”. I consider them all brothers in Christ.

  19. Hi Charis,

    “Emerging church” is itself a “broad brush”, a general catch-all for non-traditional churches. Many who use the term do not align themselves with eastern mystical practices, but many do. That’s why, as far as I know, I haven’t use “emerging church” as a synonym for “mystical”. But like “complementarian”, there are many people who use the term but don’t agree on its definition, so I try to make it clear what I’m referring to when I use those terms. Also, I try to make it clear that I’m referring to teachings and movements, not every individual in them.

    As for links from my blog, please remember my Disclaimer. But I am convinced that eastern mysticism has greatly infiltrated the churches, and it is not harmless or condoned by the NT. The fact is, contemplative prayer and spiritual formation are from eastern mysticism (EM); those who have been in EM know it when they see it. They wrote books because they saw that there was no difference between the teachings of CP / SF and EM. In other words, these former mystics are saying “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…”

    I have not judged anyone’s salvation over CP/SF, but I strongly believe it is EM and thus foreign to the teachings of the Bible. I say what I do, as also is true for the links from my blog, because I must sound a warning when I see danger. That’s my mission.

  20. Its off topic for this thread, so I won’t press it.
    I noticed on the link to the older post about “husband as priest” ( http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2006/11/11/husband-as-the-priest-of-the-home/) that
    Molly commented

    Cheryl, one thing I would appreciate you guys maybe doing a little more research on is the emerging church movement. I noticed in the pamphlet that came with the dvd’s that you guys are presently “anti” it…

    I think it muddies the waters to bring division over “emergent church” into the debate on women in ministry. But if Cheryl wants to do so, its her call and I’m sure that she will be able to reach a niche (like yourself) who can agree with her on all of it.

    I believe God’s will is “unity of the spirit and the bond of peace” even when there is strong disagreement. (I pray for that very unity in my marriage to a patriarch wannabe despite our major differences). I’m not sure GOD is as interested in “changing people’s minds” as HE is in changing their hearts.

  21. Lin said:

    http://www.sohmer.net/Velvet_Elvis.pdf
    Charis, Here is something you may want to prayerfully consider.

    I had a brief look. 1. I have not read that book. 2. If I went into any of 98% of Evangelical Churches in America and took a transcript of any Sunday morning sermon or if I went to your blog with the intention to critique, I could probably find quotes to lift out to make you or any pastor sound scary (and vice versa about quotes from me BTW so please don’t take offense)

    I identify with this from Scot McKnight in Christianity Today

    . We believe the Great Tradition offers various ways for telling the truth about God’s redemption in Christ, but we don’t believe any one theology gets it absolutely right.
    Hence, a trademark feature of the emerging movement is that we believe all theology will remain a conversation about the Truth who is God in Christ through the Spirit, and about God’s story of redemption at work in the church. No systematic theology can be final. In this sense, the emerging movement is radically Reformed. It turns its chastened epistemology against itself, saying, “This is what I believe, but I could be wrong. What do you think? Let’s talk.”

    God’s will for those who are His is “unity of the spirit and the bond of peace”. Jesus prayed for us ” that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one”
    I think the “oneness” Jesus prays for is not about one doctrine or one denomination, but community and love between believers of differing convictions. I have a rather unique experience of having moved around a great deal and having been a member of many different denominations around the country and a little bit of the world. I was raised Catholic. I have been a member of Baptist, Nazarene, Wesleyan, Lutheran (LCMS), Episcopal, Congregational, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ (Cincinnati), and most recently an Elim church…
    I have had deep Christian fellowship with people from every one of the above mentioned churches and more…. I have fellowshipped, been in community with people who had some really far out ideas doctrinally (IMHO) but we were still able to break bread together and share our love of the Lord.
    We lived in Indonesia for a few years in the late 80’s. We stayed with a pastor when I was pregnant. He stopped my husband from killing a rat because it was a common belief that the baby would have whatever deformity my husband inflicted upon an animal . A baby down the street from us was a floppy baby (hypotonia?). The parents blamed it on the dad strangling a chicken when his wife was pregnant. A Christian girlfriend said her baby was dark because she drank a lot of coffee during the pregnancy. Christians, and even a pastor had what I secretly disdained as superstitious and animistic beliefs. I thought my faith was superior…. Nowadays I know better. They were onto something. We become like what we behold. Perhaps they went overboard with it in the material sense, but it is spiritual truth. We become like what we behold. And biblically, Jacob did have the sheep look at spotted branches so that they would become spotted. (Gen 30:37ff)
    I don’t believe God fits in a Baptist box.
    But far be it from me to disown anyone as my sister in Christ for believing that way. 🙂

    If I am disowned by the sisters here, if I am seen as someone off the deep end theologically, if you want to label me a heretic… (((((Shrug)))))).
    Jesus loves me, this I know. 🙂

    PS. Sorry for the tangent Cheryl. I’ll shut up now.

  22. Charis,
    No you are not going to be disowned here. It is my desire that this blog will always be a loving community. One way to show love and community is to show acceptance. Another important way to show love and community is to educate and to warn of danger.

    Okay I feel a long one coming on here. Be prepared 🙂

    Think about it this way…picture Adam and Eve in the garden and the serpent is talking to Eve. Adam is thinking to himself that the serpent is lying because he knows for sure that they cannot become like God. But then he thinks that he should be quiet. After all, he reasons within himself, maybe there is a right way for Eve and a right way for me. Who are I to try to correct the serpent or who am I to inform Eve about the lie? Isn’t that an unloving thing to do?

    I guess there are two things going on here. This is how I see it – if I am wrong, would I want to know it? During the 16 years that I was running the support group for former Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would often ask them this same question, especially when we had a new person join our group. The answer that we all agreed on, is that if I am a truth loving person I would want to know if I was wrong or if I was being deceived. I would want to know even if it hurts me.

    The next question I would ask them, is how would you know if you are deceived? This always brought a good discussion and the answer was always the same. If one was truly deceived they would not know it. One would need the help of others or the help of something that was a standard that one trusted that revealed the deception in order to come out of being deceived. I have had the privilege of counseling many deceived people from various cults and there are common signs of deception no matter what group or weird belief they came from. They always believed they had the truth and they were all very sensitive to have their group or doctrine questioned. It would produce anger or defensiveness in them. I would have to help them to understand that if they had the truth, it was not a fearful to have it tested. Truth will always stand up to the test. It is only error that fears the test.

    So the question then becomes, who is the one to judge the truth? Aren’t we all susceptible to deception and is it really important what we believe as long as we are sincere? The Bible gives one of the serious signs of the last days and that is deception and the falling away from the faith. We need to be on our guard so that none of us is deceived and falls away from the faith that is “once delivered” to the saints.

    So my “bottom line” is and always has been that the only safe way to make sure that we are not deceived is to “test everything and hold fast to what is good”. It is the bible that will keep us safe from deception and anyone, any church, any theology, any technique, anything at all that contradicts God’s word is to be rejected.

    So if a well-loved pastor tells me that it is okay to talk to the dead because the dead will help us get closer to God, I will not follow that pastor but will reject what he says because it contradicts God’s word. If a man who has a doctorate degree tells me that Jesus is not equal with the Father in the Trinity and has never been equal with the Father, I test that by God’s word and I reject it even if the man is a noteworthy man who has written many books and who has much more education than I have. Education and personality and good feelings are not a test for truth. Only God’s word is a trustworthy test for truth.

    How about if I “feel” right about being a woman in ministry? Feelings can deceive me. Everything must be tested. I did not come to the conclusions I have about women’s freedom to serve in the body of Christ because it felt right. I was willing to give up everything and to live my life as a doormat if that is the only thing that God allows women to do. I would have been very unhappy and demoralized to not be able to use my gifts for the common good of the body of Christ, but God’s word is more important than my feelings. I searched and searched and looked every scripture up carefully. I tested the traditions about women by God’s word and the traditions were found wanting. God’s word taken in context affirms women in ministry.

    But even with a strong biblical foundation, I have always been willing to look at the opposing side. I just don’t get it when people are willing to condemn something without even investigating. My motto as an apologist is that if you have the truth, the truth will stand against error. Only error runs away and hides. That is why I have never been afraid to read opposing literature of any sort. I have read countless books from the cults. I have also read everything I could get my hands on from the complementarian camp regarding women in ministry. It is also an important part of my thinking that if what I have is true and if it is grounded in scripture than I need not fear the challenges that come from the opposition. After all, if I am wrong in any point, I want to know where I am wrong. Can it harm me to be proven wrong? It might hurt my ego, but I love truth more than I love my ego. If I test everything and am affirmed in what I believe by the test of God’s word, then I have become strong since my faith is a tested faith.

    Every time someone wanted to share their “truth” with me I have been willing to test my faith against their “truth”. I have taken the time to read literature from the mystics and those who have practiced contemplative meditation or centering prayer and as a unbiased observer I have noted some troubling similarities. For example I read several books from Catholic mystics that my Catholic friend who was trying to convert me to catholicism gave me. Again, if what I have is true, then my faith will stand. If what I have is in error, I stand to be corrected.

    The books I read from these catholic mystics were very bizarre. They regularly practiced contemplative meditation and they started to have mystical happenings. Somethings were bizarre, others were scary. There were visions and manifestations of the dead as they progressed in their mysticism. More and more they progressed and by the time they died, they appeared to be suffering from mental illness or some kind of strong delusions. These types of spiritual experiences apparently are not uncommon and so people like Richard Foster finding themselves needing to warn people that those who practice contemplative mediation need to pray for protection from evil spirits before they practice this kind of meditation. This put the red flags up for me.

    So what does the scripture say about these practices? The bible says much about meditation but it is always meditating on God’s word or God’s principles or God himself. When I read about contemplative meditation, the instruction is not to fill one’s mind with the things of God but to empty one’s mind. One says a mantra which is a word or phrase that is said over and over and over again until one comes into a state of nothingness or an emptied mind. But scripture does not tell us to empty our mind but to fill it with thoughts of God’s word. Scripture does not tell us to do repetitious prayer as the world does, but we are to pray with intent.

    Mat 6:7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
    Mat 6:8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
    Mat 6:9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven…”

    What I would recommend you do, Charis, is to be open enough to see the other side. If what you have is from God, then truth will prevail. If what you have is a form of mysticism that God has not given but is a doorway into another spiritual realm, then it is to your benefit to know that. If what you have is truth, you will be a stronger person for knowing the objections to the “truth”. That is the mindset that has helped me the very most. I have never feared to check anything out because I dearly value and love truth. If I am wrong I WANT to know I am wrong and why I am wrong.

    I also value those who speak with love. Although I love truth, it is much easier to hear that truth from someone who comes across as caring and kind. One person who is loving and kind regarding contemplative meditation is Ray Yungen. I would recommend that you listen to some of his audio files. Go to http://www.calvarychapellangley.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=78
    and listen to “New Age Spirituality in the Church”. There are also another two more audio files on this page that are worth listening to from Ray. Roger Oakland is good too, but listen to Ray first. Ask God to help you to know the truth and then check out the scriptures that Ray gives. Ray is one of the kindest apologists that I have heard and I think you will find the material helpful.

    Ray also has a book called “A Time of Departing”. I highly recommend it. You can get it from our web site at http://www.mmoutreach.org/order_macgregor_books.htm Ray has written a very carefully documented book on this subject. It is important to know all the facts because these facts can open our eyes to the truth. If what you have is God’s truth, what others say against your faith will not hurt you – it will make you stronger. The things they say will either correct you or help you to know what the opposition is saying so that you can properly refute the opposition. If you cannot afford the book, some good information is found here http://www.mmoutreachinc.com/nvweb/featureart/contprayer.html

    So are you loved and cared for here on my blog whether you are willing to check out the facts or not? Absolutely! I believe you are my sister in Christ. I just want you to know that I am not an Adam. I will speak up when I see things that clearly contradict God’s word because warning someone is showing them love. This is what I would want others to do for me if I was in danger in any way of following something that had the potential of harm for me underneath the surface of what seemed like calm waters. Be careful. Watch out. Don’t trust your feelings. Test everything and what passes the bible test hold on to with a clear conscience.

  23. not about one doctrine

    Christians, and even a pastor had what I secretly disdained as superstitious and animistic beliefs. I thought my faith was superior…. Nowadays I know better. They were onto something.

    Charis, these are very disturbing statements, because they contradict basics of the Christian faith grounded in the Bible.

    The first one, “not about doctrine”, is countered by:

    1 Timothy 1:3
    As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer
    1 Timothy 1:10
    …for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine
    1 Timothy 4:16
    Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
    1 Timothy 6:3
    If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,…
    2 Timothy 4:3
    For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
    Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
    Titus 2:1
    You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.
    2 Thessalonians 2:15
    So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

    There are many more, but clearly doctrine matters. Much of the NT was written to combat false doctrine.

    But Christians do not have anything to do with “animistic beliefs” and superstition:

    You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. (Isaiah 2:6)

    They are not Christians who add to the gospel or subtract from it. That’s what the Bible says, not me. They are not Christians who have what the Bible clearly says are pagan beliefs, even if combined with the gospel. No, the lost are not “on to something”, they are lost, and we have nothing to learn from them except the “ways of death”.

    Last, whenever you argue that quoting others means taking them out of context, the burden of proof is on you to prove that the person has changed the meaning of the quotes. You’d have to go to the original writing to check the context, and then prove that the meaning is different. The charge must be proved, not merely asserted.

    Charis, we’re all trying to warn you about compromise. It is deadly. If anyone believes that Jesus is God in the flesh who died for us and rose again, that person is a sister or brother in Christ. But anyone who considers the gospel only part of the answer has not accepted Jesus as the **only** Way, Truth, and Life. “There is salvation in no other name.” So additions and subtractions are not part of the gospel; they make Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection inadequate, and his Word defective or untrustworthy. The animists, the superstitious, are not saved because they add to the gospel.

    Cheryl, thanks for providing pinklight’s answer.

  24. The bible says much about meditation but it is always meditating on God’s word or God’s principles or God himself. When I read about contemplative meditation, the instruction is not to fill one’s mind with the things of God but to empty one’s mind. One says a mantra which is a word or phrase that is said over and over and over again until one comes into a state of nothingness or an emptied mind.

    What I practice sounds nothing like that. I use worship music. I focus upon the Lord and upon His Word. I speak to Him. But it has no resemblance whatsoever to “laundry list prayers” and I spend a lot more time listening to Him and resting in His presence than talking. And I hear Him.
    ~
    I do not object to pointing out the error of the odd mystics extreme you read.
    I object to lumping other fine Christians into the category of “dangerous” and “deceived” because they use similar language or attempt to reclaim lost Christian practices which the church needs.
    ~
    Thank you for your well thought out and true post, Cheryl. Your point about not fearing other perspectives is interesting. You are not afraid to allow God to be God. You don’t have to protect Him nor His reputation. You are responsible to speak the truth in love. And I hope you are careful not to agree with the “accuser of the brethren” (I think you are).
    ~
    Contemplate means to thiink. Spiritual formation is needed in the church which is a mile wide and an inch deep. Christians neglect really contemplating upon GOD and HIS Word and pressing in. A contemplative was a monk or nun who spent time alone with God, quiet, thinking, praying… I think I would like a contemplative lifestyle if I wasn’t married with 8 children. I would hear these stories about missionary greats who would spend 3 or 4 hours a day praying and I could never understand how they could do that and not be bored. Now I understand. Now I spend time hearing from God.
    ~
    I read a lot. Mainly the Bible, but also lots of Christian authors. I don’t approach them looking for what to criticize or where to disagree. I am looking to learn and I find I can learn something from just about everyone.
    ~
    I was trying to help a couple very like my husband and myself on a Christian forum (but they have been separated for a year). The husband a patriarch wannabe who could be the poster child for this post of yours, Cheryl… nothing but faultfinding toward his wife and justifying it by saying He is the “head” and the “spiritual leader”. I gave the husband links to some articles at CBMW ( Love and Respect in Marriage and God’s Tool to Preserve and Heal Marriages) and I gave the wife a link to this post on your blog, Cheryl. I really don’t care who speaks the truth, or what words they choose to describe the truth. The truth is the important thing, not the messenger. And I am not against anyone because they have a mix of truth and deception. How can I condemn them when I am quite sure I resemble that?

  25. I said: We lived in Indonesia for a few years in the late 80’s. We stayed with a pastor when I was pregnant. He stopped my husband from killing a rat because it was a common belief that the baby would have whatever deformity my husband inflicted upon an animal . … a pastor had what I secretly disdained as superstitious and animistic beliefs. I thought my faith was superior…. Nowadays I know better. They were onto something. We become like what we behold. Perhaps they went overboard with it in the material sense, but it is spiritual truth.
    ~
    To which Paula replied:

    Charis, these are very disturbing statements, because they contradict basics of the Christian faith grounded in the Bible.

    We become like what we behold. You can read the biblical account at this link: Gen 30:37ff Jacob had the sheep look at spotted branches so that they would bear spotted offspring.
    ~
    Contemplative or soaking prayer, and spiritual disciplines as I practice them are all about beholding the lamb of God that I may be transformed into His image.

    2Cor 3:16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

  26. Charis,

    When you use a term that is identical with a mystical practice, you have to expect people to assume you mean the same thing. Not qualifying your belief, and not asking which kind of prayer the people who oppose it are talking about, isn’t helping. It would be as if I told everyone I was a Scientologist but didn’t believe anything like the teachings of Scientology; how should I expect people to react? If you don’t do the Contemplative Prayer of the mystics, it would be unwise to keep using that term.

    Why not just call it prayer? How is it different from Biblical prayer? I can’t imagine a kind of prayer that doesn’t involve focus on the God I’m praying to, or thinking about his words, so why give it a special name? What you described is no different than prayer has ever been in the Bible, so why give it a new name, along with Spiritual Formation– another widely-used term for mystical pagan prayer? Sure, we all know about people just mouthing the words and not meaning them, but that isn’t prayer at all, it’s just going through the motions. So again I ask, why give ordinary Christian prayer a new name, unless something has changed?

    The monks the proponents of Contemplative Prayer refer to did the opposite of thinking about God. They were doing the mind-emptying kind; that’s a documented fact. Their practices were identical to those of the Hindu gurus. So here again, you associate yourself with terms and people who do or did practice eastern mysticism. Why?

    As “good Bereans”, we **must** read everything with a critical eye. We must “test the spirits” and look for error. To neglect this is dangerous and unwise. We cannot know the truth unless we test everything against the scriptures. Only when a writing passes the test can we look for what may benefit us or build us up. Test first, swallow second. I think that’s what Cheryl was referring to.

    The church does not have “lost practices” or techniques; it has lost faith and doctrine. Jesus and the apostles never listed “practices” but beliefs. The “practices” of love, righteousness, joy etc., are the good “works” that flow from real faith. But what CP means by “practices” include “prayer walking” (labyrinth), repeating a word or scripture passage till a “new meaning” emerges, “the silence”, etc. Those are known occult techniques for entering an altered state.

    What “practices” do you think have been lost? The “fruit of the Spirit” are still listed in the Bible, as are many other teachings about how Christians should behave. We are also told to pray like Jesus did, or like Paul, who called God “daddy”. Those have not been lost, so what are we missing?

    It is our duty as Christians to discern error and expose it. We must stand for truth, and that can’t happen without standing against error. We must accept the “wheat” and discard the “chaff”, that deadly “mixture of truth and deception”, whether it is us or another who has it. We don’t condemn the people, Charis, but the teachings. We cannot ignore falsehood just because we aren’t perfect. The Christian life is a life of self-examination along with everything else, and we need to listen when other believers point out a dangerous or false belief in us.

    Surely Paul never claimed to be perfect, but he nonetheless spent a great amount of time and many words to point out false teachings and name knowing false teachers. He warned, he taught, he scolded, he comforted. He never tolerated even the smallest “mixture”, the tiniest falsehood, and never used his own imperfection as an excuse to keep quiet.

  27. We don’t condemn the people, Charis, but the teachings.

    I’ve seen otherwise. Lumping mainstream christian teachers, churches, colleges, etc. by name all together with one broad “heretic” brush because one has an issue with the terminology “spiritual formation” and “contemplative prayer” is divisive IMHO and displeases the Lord.

    The Samaritan woman at the well did not have the “doctrinal” t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Nevertheless, she spoke with spiritual authority greater and more powerful than any of the pharisees who would have viewed her as an immoral pagan heretic.

  28. Surely Paul never claimed to be perfect, but he nonetheless spent a great amount of time and many words to point out false teachings and name knowing false teachers. He warned, he taught, he scolded, he comforted. He never tolerated even the smallest “mixture”, the tiniest falsehood, and never used his own imperfection as an excuse to keep quiet

    Paul:
    Phil 3:10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
    15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
    ~
    He sounds patient with those who differ.
    He’s doesn’t sound like he is overly concerned with points where they differ.
    He sounds like he knows full well that there is a process involved in spiritual growth.
    He sounds motivated to become like Christ.
    I love Paul.

  29. Note that I said we don’t condemn the people. We call them heretics, not condemn them to hell.

    The people who teach error are to be named. They are heretics if they teach falsehood and do not repent when confronted. Since eastern mysticism is false religious teaching, then all who teach it are heretics.

    The woman at the well did not teach falsehood.

    So tell me, what practices has the church lost, and why call ordinary Biblical prayer by a new name if nothing has changed?

  30. I can quote Paul too:

    Gal. 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

    1 Cor. 4:18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

    Paul’s “think differently” statement, in context, is about “straining for the goal”, not accepting false teachings. That would make him contradict himself. He could be very “in your face” with the arrogant and the false teachers.

  31. So tell me, what practices has the church lost, and why call ordinary Biblical prayer by a new name if nothing has changed?

    contemplative prayer is not a “new name” as far as I know. It is a description. contemplate means “think”, “meditate”

    I was in evangelical churches of many flavors for 25 years, and the corporate prayers were pretty much laundry lists of what we want from God….

    That is my experience.

    And while I am at it, I will “out myself” some more into the company of your “heretic” list. I like my present church very much. It is very refreshing and spirit filled 🙂 We had a sunday school video series taught by Pat Robertson. The young adult Sunday school which my daughter attends is reading “Velvet Elvis”, and last quarter they read “Blue like Jazz”. We have a woman elder who often delivers prophetic messages. Yet my pastor- with whom my husband and I are engaged in marriage counseling- used the distasteful and unbiblical (to me) term “servant-leader” about my husband. ((((yuck!!!))))

    Let me add to my black sheep credentials by bragging about my adult son and daughter- who moved away before we switched churches… My son read “Blue Like Jazz” 4 times and said it is the best Christian thing he has ever read… so I had to read it and I like it. My son is the one who first attended our present church (with a former girlfriend). My daughter called me up to send her copy of Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” (which was a text at her Christian college) because she is going to study it with a group of friends. I haven’t read that one yet, but I would never refer to my christian brother as a heretic. And I have the utmost confidence in my daughter’s spiritual maturity and discernment to be able to hear and respond to God’s voice from a frail human vessel (after all, she was raised by ME- the chiefest of frail human vessels :p)

    There we go.
    Are you all sufficiently alienated, suspicious, and fearful of anything and everything I say?
    YIKES!!!

  32. To top it all off…
    when I think of the handful of rare Christians I have known who truly exuded Christlikeness…
    represented among them are
    Seventh Day Adventists and devout Catholics.

    (Might as well put it all on the table while I am at it)

  33. Charis,

    You have decided that I must consider you as my enemy, and that I have called you personally a heretic. Not so. I believe you have been deceived, but that doesn’t make you a heretic. The heretics are the ones who promote false teachings.

    The terms “contemplative prayer”, “spiritual formation”, etc. are new terms (or borrowed from known mystics), terms which are being promoted as mystical and something that had been “lost”. Like it or not, that’s what those terms mean. Calling ordinary “thinking” prayer by those terms is not only unnecessary but confusing. Your personal definition is just like what I was saying would be the case if I called myself a Scientologist but didn’t have anything in common with them (which I don’t).

    Yes, people recite prayers without meaning. But that hardly justifies using a term to describe “real” prayer that is identical to one that is being promoted as mystical and mind-emptying. “Contemplative Prayer” and “Spiritual Formation” are the titles the mystics give to what they do.

    You’ve been warned about the books, and there’s nothing more I can say that will convince you of their danger.

    When you say “Are you all sufficiently alienated, suspicious, and fearful of anything and everything I say?”, you’re saying we are afraid of the unknown. That’s not true at all; we know what we’re talking about, and it is against the Bible.

    I could say that same thing in other venues. In most egal boards and blogs, I’m the black sheep, because I reject this mysticism wrapped up in Christianese. I’ve taken quite a lot of heat for this. Yet I’ve never accused them of fear, or called anyone but the teachers heretics. I tell them they are deceived, and I post warnings. Then I leave, because they become very hostile and unwilling to listen.

    I’m not telling you to leave, and I do not consider you my enemy. But please don’t accuse me of being fearful or ignorant about these terms you use. Do read that Velvet Elvis article, it’s a real eye-opener.

    What people act like in other religions or sects is irrelevant to what the truth is in the Bible. Truth is the standard, not how people act. All I’m doing is telling the truth, and exposing false teachings. If you consider me your enemy for this, I hope that someday you’ll see that I warned you because I cared, not because I’m afraid or ignorant or un-Christlike. Jesus strongly opposed false teachers, and I’m only following his example.

  34. I think we are really getting off topic here and I think it might be good to move this discussion somewhere else. I just don’t know where that somewhere else would be right now. I will have to think about it.

    Anyways I think that there is a missing of the meeting of the minds. Charis, in reading your comments from other posts, I understand that you are able to read books and material and pick up things that help you and your situation even if the things you pick up are not exactly what is intended by the author. That isn’t a bad thing. Not if it is in self-help books. But when it comes to biblical doctrine and spiritual matters we really do have to know what the author means so that we can test it by scripture. If we only test what we would like them to mean then it isn’t a real genuine test.

    Paula has brought out that contemplative meditation is praying using a mantra (a word or phrase that is repeated over and over) and a silencing of the mind (emptying of the mind) by repeating the mantra. That isn’t a judgment. That is a definition. Now if that definition is wrong, and the authors that you read mean something different then that, you need to show what they actually mean by their actual words.

    The next thing that one needs to do is test things by scripture and not by a church or a study group or your own children. All of these things can be wrong because they are not our standard for the test. Last night I gave a scripture off the top of my head in answer to a question my son had and I gave the right scripture but I told him that it was said before the resurrection instead of after the resurrection. It was the wrong timing of that scripture because I went by my memory instead of taking time to read the scripture. I was just so busy that I didn’t take that time. So it turns out I was wrong. This morning I got an email from my son telling me that he had used what I said but then had to correct it because the time line was wrong. I felt bad, but that just goes to show you that I am just human like all of us. I make mistakes. I am not the test for truth and my son has just learned that once again. The scripture is the only test of truth for spiritual matters. Everything else is fallable.

    I have heard the argument before that something cannot be wrong because my Pastor teaches it or my good friend believes it or because I read a book that teaches it. This is very, very dangerous and many people have gone to hell trusting in other people’s word and other people’s judgment instead of testing everything by God’s word. I know many sincere people who are in the cults right now because they trusted an neighbour, a friend, an elder, etc.

    A few years ago I had a lady put her finger in my face and tell me who do I think I am? What right do I have to tell her that her son is wrong for teaching that it is okay to talk to the dead? If her son says it is okay, it is okay. After all he got one of the church “fathers” to read his book and the church “father” didn’t have a problem. If it is wrong, then why didn’t these other men see that it is wrong? My answer to her is that I trust the bible and the bible says that we are not allowed to speak to the dead. When it is my time to be judged, God will not ask my why I didn’t believe the pastor or the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the yogi down the street. He will ask me what I did with his word? If I cannot prove something by God’s word, then it doesn’t matter who says something contrary to that.

    Anyway perhaps we should email one another and join in the discussion that way. Although these are very important things, I just don’t want to distract from such an important topic as women in ministry.

    Charis, consider yourself cared for. I do not consider you a heretic. I hardly every use that word myself. I think that it has to be used very carefully. Heretics are to be thrown out of the church. False teachers are to be corrected and taught the truth. Heretics are deliberate deceivers who are not capable of being taught the truth. This was my point in 1 Timothy 1. Paul wanted those who were deceived to know the truth. The ones who were deliberately distorting the resurrection, Paul gave them over to Satan to be “taught” not to blaspheme. This is the reason that we know that “a woman” in 1 Timothy 2 was not a deliberate heretic. Paul said that she was to learn. The fact is that you cannot teach a heretic and they simply will not learn. So please consider things that you have heard here to be words of wisdom not words of condemnation.

    I dearly love those in the body of Christ who have been mislead especially about the women’s issue. Is the husband the “priest” of the home? Scripture does not tell us this and this would contradict scripture since all believers are in this kingdom of priests. There is no hierarchy in the priesthood of the believer so there can be no priest over another priest.

  35. If you consider me your enemy for this, I hope that someday you’ll see that I warned you because I cared, not because I’m afraid or ignorant or un-Christlike. Jesus strongly opposed false teachers, and I’m only following his example.

    I don’t consider you my enemy. My original point for Cheryl (which was buried and lost I am afraid) is to be careful not to be allied with the accuser of the brethren…. and “whatsoever you sow, that shall you reap”

    As Cheryl requested, we can stop taking up space with this and I will just remain in disagreement with you about branding Foster, Pat Robertson, Dallas Willard, Rob Bell, Donald Miller, etc… as heretics. My circles teach respect for God’s anointed even though they be imperfect and even though I don’t agree with every word out of their mouths. (If they need correction, God know it, there is a biblical route, and I am not part of that loop)

  36. Charis,

    I haven’t said that these men are heretics. I don’t get into personalities but work on issues only. And, my friend, please do know that they are not God’s anointed. No one but Jesus is God’s anointed. This is a tactic that many use as a “thought-stopping” technique. It doesn’t work with me because I know that we are to test all things. We cannot test people. People are to test themselves. 2 Cor. 13:5 says to test yourself to see if you are in the truth. What we are to test is doctrine not people.

    I sincerely hope that helps. It is not my intention to attack. If you saw my DVD or saw the introduction to my DVD you will see that I do not believe in attacking people but exposing faulty doctrine. I want people to do the same for me. I ask people to correct me when I am wrong, but I ask them to not call me names or attack me personally.

    Now that we are back on track, anyone have thoughts on the priest issue?

  37. I believe it was in Groothuis’ book Good News for Women that she point out that a priest does not represent God to man, but man to God; prophets represent God to man. So the husband as a priest wouldn’t symbolize his being over his wife, but as her equal under God.

    So even if the Bible did call him her priest, which it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be a position of authority.

  38. … Which, when you think about it, shoots down the whole “only men could be priests in the OT so only men can be elders” thing. Unless they’d like to claim elders represent all the people to God, as an intermediary.

  39. Charis,

    Going back to your comment in #15 you said:

    ” Frankly, I feel quite confident that God wants me to stand up to the sin in a way which is quite confrontational and unpleasant for my husband. I believe that my ostensibly “respectful” and “submissive” behavior tiptoeing around his “fragile male ego” for 22 years at the expense of the vulnerable tender hearts and spirits of our children was destructive and sinful on my part. (This enabling behavior on my part was reinforced by just such teaching as your post here highlights. I thought I was being “biblical”.)

    So which is it? Is it confront sin and attempt to hold him accountable?
    Or is is “forgive” “love covers a multitude of sins” and “blessed is she who overlooks an offense”?”

    I think it is difficult to speak of a course of action without specifics. I like to think about how I would like to be confronted and let that be a guide. But what if the action is a serious sin? You definitely have to hold a person accountable. But ultimately you are only in control of yourself.

    One thing that I have found since I followed God’s way for *my* life is that “respectful” and “submissive” and “forgiving” are all places of power under control. When I know that I have a choice and I am not forced into a position, then I am happy and contented. My husband is also happy and contented and so it has worked very well for us. In fact my husband has done a lot of submitting to my gifts and my abilities as he considers himself the one called to come alongside me in ministry.

    Just this morning I asked my husband if he would be willing to give his testimony of his journey from being a generational complementarian to the place where we are at now. He is considering it. He doesn’t much like email or writing, but if it helps someone, he may force himself to write out his own story. 🙂

  40. Paula,

    You said:

    “I believe it was in Groothuis’ book Good News for Women that she point out that a priest does not represent God to man, but man to God; prophets represent God to man. So the husband as a priest wouldn’t symbolize his being over his wife, but as her equal under God.”

    I agree here except for the fact that they say that the husband is the Priest AND the Prophet AND the King. My goodness, if the man is the Priest and Prophet and King in the home, what is he in the church? No wonder so many are jostling for a position of power.

    But Jesus tells us that we are not to be in power, but in servanthood. We are all on an equal footing as brothers in Christ and that is the way that Christ mean it to be.

  41. ” And, my friend, please do know that they are not God’s anointed. No one but Jesus is God’s anointed. This is a tactic that many use as a “thought-stopping” technique. It doesn’t work with me because I know that we are to test all things. ”

    Cheryl, what does this in 1 John mean? I always thought it meant that all true believers were anointed:
    20But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. In the same vein, Peter writes that we are all a Holy Priesthood.

    But this idea of ‘God’s special anointed’ is making headway in many denominations. I am hearing it all the time. It feeds into this topic…if the pastor or elders are God’s anointed…and the husband is ‘priest’…then the woman has no chance. She is burdened with many authorities. It really is a ‘thought stopping’ statement and I think it is meant to be by many in leadership. Where do they get this ‘God’s anointed’ teaching as if they are ‘set apart’ with special revelation or something?

    Is it a hold over from the clergy/laity distinction brought into the church? NT scripture just does not support this.

    All these issues…women’s roles…God’s anointed….husband as priest…all evolve from wrong teaching on ‘authority’.

  42. Lin,

    We all have the anointing (charisma in Greek) but we are not God’s anointed (kristos in Greek). The word “Christ” is kristos which means the anointed. This is why some aberrant groups say that we are “little gods” and they claim that they are the ones who are special – God’s anointed. There is one Christ and the rest of us are brothers in the body of Christ. No one is “the anointed” one but Christ alone.

    1 John 2:20 says that we all have the anointing (charisma)

    Mat 24:23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ (kristos or anointed),’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.

    No one in the New Testament was called “God’s anointed” one except for Christ. There is no longer a hierarchy either in gender or in position for we are all to be brothers.

    Mat 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

    In my opinion anyone who would let someone call them “God’s anointed” has a serious problem with pride and most likely a serious issue with wanting authority over the brothers.

  43. Charis,

    i would LOVE to read/hear your hubby’s journey/testimony.
    pls tell him it would mean a lot to me (and no doubt many others) if he would be willing to share it.
    My wonerful husband and I are still on different ‘sides’ of the comp-egal fence and I am always looking for encouragement regarding how husbands have moved from head = authority towards spiritual equality in marriage.

    Many thanks
    Kerryn

  44. correction – pls forgive the typo – that should read ‘wonderful’ husband! and my request related back to #34.
    (-:
    k

  45. Cheryl, you are very blinded …. even beguiled … with the foolishness of Feminist Theology. Your eguilitarian views are fleshly and a lie, sister. You have fallen into deception. I pray you will be set free to TRULY discover the wonderful role Jesus ahs for you in your marriage.

    I Tim. 4:3-4
    3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all

    Blessings!

  46. P41 Mustang,
    Thank you for your concern. Perhaps you can explain one “lie” that is deception on my post. You wouldn’t want to be guilty of a “drive-by” without opening yourself up to be tested by scripture would you? Sharing the truth with love involves more than just a rebuke, my brother.

    On this blog I work hard to share truth with dignity and respect. While I allowed your posts to go through, I would encourage you not to name call or you will be edited. The Christian way is speaking the truth with love and I expect you to follow that. Is that fair?

  47. P41,

    You say “Feminist Theology”, a common epithet. Where is that defined? Do you understand the difference between a belief that one gender has supremacy over another, and a belief that neither has supremacy? The former is either masculinism or feminism; the latter is egalitarianism. So unless Cheryl is pushing for female superiority, which she isn’t, you have made a public false charge against someone you call a “sister”, and you need to repent.

    No, it isn’t Cheryl who has been “beguiled”, but male supremacists. They “love to have the preeminence”, the “best seats”, to keep their position. They love to “lord over”, control, dictate, judge, and restrict. Egalitarianism, in stark contrast, seeks to “esteem others as better”, to treat all equally, to tell everyone the truth that sets them free. We do not seek preeminence, control, supremacy, or any other such worldly and culture-defined traditions of men.

    Jesus said “Not so among you”, and “the first will be last”. Think about how those statements apply to male supremacism. Think about 1 Cor. 13 and whether you exhibit this most basic “fruit of the spirit” when you call believers deceived without any evidence. Couching such accusations in words like “sister” and “I’m praying” and “sorry” does not hide your message of judgmentalism.

    Why do you say such things to fellow believers? Why is it so important for males to retain a place of supremacy and preeminence? Cheryl and many others have shown the Biblical basis for equality, using only the Bible and nothing even close to “feminism”. You have falsely accused, because the egalitarian teaching is anti-supremacy by definition.

    PS: Chery is being way too nice to you. 😉

  48. I want you to know, Cheryl, that I certainly don’t expect your “moderation” to allow me on your site. You see, you don’t REALLY care what an opposing view would share. You claim to be openminded but you are not. Sister, you have been beguiled. I am sorry that your “abuse” has led you to this deception of the enemy. I am praying that you will be released from this false teaching and the spiritual scales will fall from your eyes. I do have empathy for you, by the way!

    P41

    [Note by Cheryl February 17 2009 – it has come to my attention that this poster also goes by various names including “Happy Promise Keeper” as well as his own name Craig Coffey and his habit is to post to egalitarian sites in order to attack his fellow Christians. This is the “fruit” of the hierarchical system of belief that allows them to launch an attack on people’s motives. Very sad indeed.]

  49. P41 Mustang,

    pls help us (Cheryl) understand the foundation for your accusations against the teaching on this site.
    be specific and help us see the ‘error’ you are talking to. if you just make broad brush claims without specifics how are we to understand and repent of any untruths we are “beguiled” by.

    pls speak with Christian love and humility rather than an accusing degrading tone as our Lord Jesus would want us to… then i guarantee you will receive a welcome audience here. since i found this site i must say i have been very impressed with Cheryl’s graciousness to anyone who holds a difference perspective – pls pay her the same courtesy.

    so – let’s hear your specific reasons with scriptural evidence whey the teaching on this site is erroneous, then let’s dialogue together in love towards truth… are you up for that ?

    K

  50. P41 Mustang,
    I’m just curious, how did you arrive at the moniker you post with? It was the “P51” mustangs that escorted their sister ships the B-17’s over Hitler’s Germany; and they were charged with shooting down the Focke-Wulf’s, not their sister ships. By the way, I’m a man who’s rejected a patriarchal model of Holy Writ as untenable by reason , common sense, and objective scholarship.

  51. [quote]By the way, I’m a man who’s rejected a patriarchal model of Holy Writ as untenable by reason , common sense, and objective scholarship.[/quote]

    Thanks, Greg Anderson. 🙂

  52. Greg,
    Good comments. You are always one that digs into the historical setting that would fly under everyone else’s radar. Ummmmm….

  53. >>>I pray you will be set free to TRULY discover the wonderful role Jesus ahs for you in your marriage.

  54. Cheryl, I absolutely adore your posts and your awesome Scriptural understanding. On a minor point here, though, I was rather disturbed when you said, “I was willing to give up everything and to live my life as a doormat if that is the only thing that God allows women to do.”

    That is the ultimate test, isn’t it? Even I have forced myself to say, “God, Praise You, even if I’m wrong about all this” (women being pastors). However, I’ve found that sometimes, feelings are reliable. Satan’s biggest and closest-cutting lie has been to tell me God wants me as a doormat. Moreover, he mocks my devotion when doing this, saying, “Don’t you want to be a doormat for your God? Are you not to obey Him? What does it matter if this tears into your soul and sears your heart’s flesh, it is your beloved God’s command!” Indeed, we are called to completely die to ourselves for God. However, Satan would like us to die to such an extent that we’re no longer of any use to anyone. Thus, he tells us that God wants things for us that are not natural or healthy to the very mold that God created us in. And how do we know that we’re being told lies that hurt our very souls? Our souls tell us! When something feels unnatural, horrible, as painful as an infected wound that poisons the very heart, we know there’s something wrong. Pain is a natural part of life, but some kinds of pain are strong warning signs that something harmful, even dangerous, to our being is happening. When we exercise, for example, our muscles stretch, our bones strengthen, and our lungs strain for more air, naturally causing aches and soreness. This kind of pain is healthy and a sign of growing, not unlike the “growing pains” we feel as Christians when we increase in our faith, die to self, become living sacrifices for God, and persevere through painful trials in order to cling to our trust in God.

    On the other hand, consider the pain we’d feel if we put our hand over an open flame or a hot burner. Would this pain be the result of something natural and healthy? No! It would be our bodies’ way of saying “get your hand off that stove! It’s hurting you badly!” This is the same kind of pain our souls feel when Satan lies to us and tries to grind his deception into our hearts: our hearts rebel and tell us to stop listening and flee for healing. THIS kind of pain, this kind of feeling, is right and can be trusted. We need God’s word, of course, but I instinctively knew that the false design of female doormat as told by Satan’s followers was wrong from the beginning, because the surface wounds my soul already bore from them were crying out in protest. God would never ask us to do something we were not designed to do; if women were designed to be what the likes of John Rice said they were, we’d be dull, soft creatures with no vitality and no real connection to God. As it is, everything in a strong woman contradicts this design. What I’m saying, in a nutshell, is that sometimes, our feelings can be trusted. They cannot always serve as proof alone, but there is reason behind them. When your entire being cries out against something like a heart rejecting a knife blade, you know something’s not natural or right.

  55. Jennifer,

    I guess I am a little different than most. Perhaps it comes from the 16 years of leading Jehovah’s Witnesses to faith in Christ and watching their doctrine slowly change from the cult mentality to a biblical worldview. Every one of these ex-JW’s originally felt that they were “in the truth” in the Watchtower Society and most also felt very guilty and bad when they walked into a church and saw a cross hanging on the wall. I have learned that while feelings are a good guide normally, they cannot be used as the ultimate test for truth. I may feel wrong about having to live life as a door mat, but if scripture in context shows that this is God’s will for me, then I have to trust his Word rather than my feelings. In the same way, I may feel that it is wrong to teach the bible to men because I had been raised to believe this tradition, but if the Bible in context contradicts this, then I need to believe that the Bible allows me to use my gifts for the benefit of men in the body of Christ and not to worry about my feelings.

    So in the end people will never convince me either way by appealing to emotions or feelings. I want everything tested by God’s word in context and that is what I trust. I have been deceived by emotions in the past and so I don’t put my final trust there. Are emotions and feelings a good thing? Sure! But I have had men tell me that sex with their girlfriends cannot be wrong because it feels so good. I choose to believe the Bible and I can assure them that feelings is not a safe method for judging sin.

  56. Hi Cheryl. Of course I don’t think feelings should take precedence over the Word, and I hardly think unmarital sex compares in any way to the feelings of pain that I described. Sex will feel good if done well no matter what; it was built to be pleasurable, so naturally I think there’s a huge difference between doing something good in the wrong time (premarital sex) and doing something that’s blatantly wrong no matter what. “Feeling” that you’re right and feeling pain when you do something that harms you are two separate issues. It would be like trying to live our lives without love; God designed us for love, so this wouldn’t work and our own self-induced misery would be proof of it.

  57. Jennifer,
    I was using an extreme example to express my point. This is the one area of my life that others see as a male characteristic. I am very logical. The logical side of me does not trust my feelings, although I respect my feelings and do consider them. But I also want to know more so that I can test what I feel. I have also corresponded with many people in different cults and highly patriarchal groups and I have been amazed at how one’s feelings adapt to the “culture”. I have also seen those who refuse blood transfusions because their heart tells them it is a sin. We need to be very careful not to go against our conscience, but we also need to be careful not to put all our trust in our feelings.

    Again, for me this is the extreme logical side. I have been told that I am also a confounded skeptic. I desire to test everything and then to hold fast to what is good. Anyone trying to convince me with emotions alone will find a stone wall. This is the one thing that is weird too because complementarians often accuse me of being ann egalitarian because of my feelings – that I feel it is right and I refuse to test it by scripture. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I am an egalitarian *because* of scripture that I have read in context.

    Hopefully that explains where I am coming from 😉

  58. Oh yes, I know where you’re coming from 🙂 Sorry, I think I meant to confirm that in my previous post, but posted before I was really finished typing. I think your doormat comment just brought up some bad memories for me. It was necessary, though, for anyone who doubts your motives.

  59. that is strange Cheryl. There was more to my comment #59 than what is shown. Don’t remember now. Wonder how that happened?

  60. Jennifer,
    Good idea to examine things critically. Although God’s word is the final arbiter of our faith and practice as Christians, I agree there are many cases in which our gut feelings of what’s right and what’s wrong; are right.

    Had I not listened to my gut feelings of what’s right and wrong, I’d still be in a complementarian mega-fellowship that teaches the doctrine of a linear hierarchy in the trinity; and by extension, the subordination of women by men throughout the church age.

  61. Hi Justa Berean,

    It is odd about what happened to the rest of your post. Your post also went into the moderation file although you shouldn’t have been there before you have posted before. I don’t know what happened. I am on the road right now and back into the office by Tuesday so no time to try to figure out what happened. If you can remember what you wanted to say, post away!

  62. I am off again for the day. If I am slow in answering, that is why. There will be a personal update later too because much has happened in ministry regarding the persecution from the government.

  63. Thank you, Greg. Praise God that He’s given you both instincts and clear evidence in His Word, plus the wisdom and courage to use it!

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