Listening to the Bible when You’re Hard of Hearing: A Response to Chris Rollston by Nathan Gilmour, Wes Arblaster, and Micah Weedman

It was 1851, at the Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio that a former slave stepped up to the platform and became one of the most powerful voices for Abolitionism and Women’s Rights of the era.   Her chosen instrument of liberation?  The Bible.   Without any historical, literary, or hermeneutical expertise she discovered in its pages a message that would turn a male-dominated culture on its head.  As she declared in that famous “Ain’t I a Woman ” speech,

“…that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.  If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

Some may dismiss this as simply one voice crying out in the wilderness, but these are exactly the kinds of voices that the Bible schools its readers to listen to.  The God of Biblical witness is one who hears the cries of slaves, outcasts, and the marginalized and who demands justice on their behalf.  But to read a recent piece by Emmanuel Christian Seminary professor Christopher Rollston, one would hardly know that the God of the Bible had anything but evil in mind for women.

Before enrolling at Emmanuel School of Religion (the seminary’s previous name) ourselves, we attended Milligan, a small liberal arts college just across the street.  It was here that a wise professor of philosophy taught us to call into question the language of “values.”  Anybody can have “values” that don’t actually play out in the way that one lives life.  More interesting are virtues and vices, the patterns of excellence and corresponding deficiencies of character that one shapes and learns in the course of one’s life.  There are virtues appropriate to particular areas of living, virtues of general moral character, and intellectual virtues.  Among this last group was the virtue of intentional listening, which our professor taught us was the willingness and patient capability not to take written and spoken language as pre-text for one’s own performance but as the articulated shape of another human being’s soul.

We point this out because a text like Rollston’s makes listening hard.  As far as we can tell, his article seeks to reduce the Bible to something which simply degrades, excludes, and silences women.  Even worse, because it is a ‘holy book’ it gives such mistreatment divine sanction.  In making his case for the moral bankruptcy of the Bible Rollston seems uninterested in listening either to those he calls the ‘exceptional voices’ of Scripture (one of whom he identifies as the Apostle Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament) nor to the long and diverse history of Biblical interpretation which surrounds those texts he criticizes.  He also chooses not to give voice to those alternative interpretations concerning women that are by no means novel but which have followed the Bible across the centuries as Rabbis, theologians, and ordinary folk have grappled with these sacred texts.  Despite the fact that Rollston is himself seminary-educated and privy to the many ways the Bible has been understood throughout the ages, he seems to want us to believe that “what the Bible says” about women amounts to only what the most trenchant fundamentalists would today take to be its meaning.  While Rollston believes he is showing us what some of the Biblical authors originally intended in their writings (and attempts such as this are important) in any tradition as rich as Christianity or Judaism speaking for these “original” voices amounts to speaking for only a few – even if an important few – among many.  The Bible itself is a collection of voices expressed through innumerable stories, literary forms, and linguistic devices many of whom give voice to the dignity and integrity of women and other marginalized persons.  Rollston seems uninterested in these other voices, however.  He seems more concerned in perpetuating an especially constrictive (and ugly) debate about “what the bible says,” the rules of which have been drafted between fundamentalists and those who regard fundamentalist readings the only ones worth mentioning.  If Rollston’s essay seeks for possibilities other than this, none of us have the power to discern them here.

The pity of such broad omissions is in the riches that Rollston discards.  If only he could recall some of the readings that he most surely picked up along the way he might remember that some of the earliest stirrings of what would afterwards be called feminism happened through people’s engagement with the Bible.  He might recall the strong mix of Roman and Biblical imagery that lent Mary Wollstonecraft’s “Defense of the Rights of Woman” its power.  He might give a thought to the Quaker women who boldly stepped forward to preach the very Bible that Rollston blames for the oppression of women (they did not do so disingenuously).  For that matter, he might remember that the early Church, Old Testament and all, was sneered at as a religion for slaves and women.  These observations might lend a bit more nuance to his broadside.

To mention such examples is not an attempt to whitewash the history of Christian (or Jewish or Islamic) biblical interpretation.  Throughout its long and complex history the Bible most certainly has been used to justify the marginalization of women.  There are many scriptural texts that have been appealed to time and again to sanction male superiority and justify exclusion.  And yet it is only historically responsible to note that this same text has, time and again, also been one of the most important sources for resistance to this same mistreatment.  To borrow a term from the philosophy of history, the Bible has often if not always been part of a dialectic, moving in the name of the God who would order the world and at once moving in the spirit of a God who would take a stand in behalf of the oppressed.  It was slave-owners who used the Bible to salve their consciences, and it was slaves and women who turned to the Bible as a guide and inspiration for social change.

Rollston may of course respond that he was not speaking of the history of Biblical interpretation but only of those specific texts in their original historical contexts.  The question remains, however, when speaking of issues of such vital importance as the place of women in the Bible, is such a limited reading ultimately adequate?  Would we, for example, consider this same kind of reading of The Declaration of Independence to be fair?  Rollston accuses the Bible of being “written by men and for men.”  Could not the same be said of that founding document of the American republic?   Its enshrined declaration that “All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was certainly not intended by its authors to apply to women and slaves, and yet this document stands today as one of defining texts for modern liberty and equality.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just to cite one memorable example, grabbed hold of that document’s powerful phrases (and those of the Bible) to combat the injustices perpetrated in his own day.  Rather than dismiss the Declaration as a document by slave-owners for the sake of slave-owners, King (among others) saw in the document a spiritual force, one that could turn against even its original situation for the sake of a better America.

If one were to ask how The Declaration of Independence should be evaluated concerning the question of women’s rights certainly one would find it necessary to consider how it actually has been used throughout its history of reception and interpretation.  One would need to ask how this document was read as part of a tradition of law and a history of social change. How did it come to be read differently amidst changing conceptions of personhood?  It would also be important to recognize that this document, while “foundational” and “normative,” is also “living” for what it is believed to say grows and changes as part of the history of those people who are committed to it.  Generations turn over texts like The Declaration of Independence and The Bible as they are presented with new challenges and discover in them new possibilities and new self-understandings.  That is in part what makes these texts exceptional.

What we find lacking in Rollston’s comments is not only a willingness to listen to history but also to theology.  For persons of faith the Bible is always read as part of a larger collection of beliefs, actions, and ways of life.   Certainly there are those who neglect this larger picture, but they do so at the expense of intellectual breadth.  Rollston seems to assume that reading the Bible by separating it from its context of faith and speaking of it as an isolated artifact is the only way that’s worth mentioning.  But surely this is questionable.  Approaching a text that people claim to be holy because it is an important part of their lived relationship with God, and then reading it by bracketing out this relationship, is odd.  Surely the faithful’s confessions as to the nature of God should be taken into consideration when interpreting texts that are attributed to him.  For example, when asking whether “the Bible marginalizes women” certainly it is also important to ask, “And what does the God of the Bible charge us to do concerning those who are marginalized?”  The answer to this is one that anyone who has spent time in Sunday School should be able to answer.  This response, of course, doesn’t get the Bible off the hook, but it certainly shows that the matter is much more complex than whether the Bible deserves a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” when it comes to women.

Concluding Rollston’s article we were left wondering whether Rollston had really lost sight of such basic observations in the rarefied air of specialized ancient history (he is one of the world’s leading authorities in his field) or whether his apparent ignorance was feigned.  Either possibility is a painful one, an indictment of the scholarly guilds’ prominence in the life of the seminary as much as a warning in the person of Rollston.  Either way, in Rollston’s article, there’s no history, and there’s no theology.  But finally, there’s no reverence.  And reverence (despite the fact that it is often scoffed at today) remains one of those postures that is most important for listening well.  Certainly one would expect that an atheist writer like Richard Dawkins would ridicule the Bible as a litany of backward and offensive opinions.  Reductivism is the modus operandi of the irreverent because it enables them to level their own best attacks against said reductionist reading.  But Rollston is one of the main teachers of Old Testament at a seminary, a place dedicated to the training of Christian ministers and leaders of faith. This is a seminary in a tradition that holds the canon of Holy Writ to be not only the core of Church authority but also the primary the critiquing agent of theology, that which can call into question any doctrine or ideology or practice of the Church.  Rollston’s public attack on the text of the Bible therefore amounts to a radical rejection of his very professional raison d’etre.

Throughout our theological and pastoral training at this same seminary we were schooled to understand the Bible as a complex, multi-layered, and hermeneutically “open” book.  It has been subject to diverse conflicting interpretations as it has been read throughout countless cultures and historical settings.  It has been appealed to for just about every cause around which people have rallied.  It has been wielded by the powerful to sanction their power, but it has been upheld by the powerless as a source of strength and resistance.  And yet, in all its complexity, its troublesome and awe-inspiring character, almost never have readers so readily dismissed it.  What we found so disconcerting about Rollston’s essay is that it seemed to encourage such dismissiveness.  He “listened” to the Bible in order to condemn it.  Ultimately we found it difficult to believe this was not an effort to marginalize the Bible itself from its revered location as the central moral guide for people of faith.  In doing this Rollston expresses little of that virtue which we have been speaking of and which has been so central to the cultivation of the Biblical faiths: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”

[Update 9/19/2012: Nathan Perry has posted an interesting “atheist response” (his phrase) to our piece at his site.  I encourage our readers to take a look.]

217 comments
KhachigJoukhajian
KhachigJoukhajian

Ok. Perhaps I was hoping for too much, but wouldn't addressing interpretations or misinterpretations of the passages Rollston cited be a more direct response and either more effective in silencing supporters of his argument or re-framing the conversation for better dialogue?

KhachigJoukhajian
KhachigJoukhajian

I was very dissapointed that rather than responding to the argument made by Rollston, that The Bible itself has passages which marginalize women, this article instead discusses historical uses of The Bible, its interpretations, etc. This is pretty much a red herring, regardless whether its intentional or not. I would very much like to see a justification, explanation, something which makes sense of the passages cited in the context of a Jewish, Islamic, Christian understanding of these passages and their place in our Holy Book.

ngilmour
ngilmour

KhachigJoukhajian Part of our argument was that the phrase "the Bible itself" names a historically complex entity, not one that neatly divides into "text" and "interpretation" but is always interpreted-text.

Anne226
Anne226

I find a few things truly distressing here.  First, the utter sausage fest that is the comments, with a couple of exceptions (including Alisa, who directly expressed the pain that she had experienced as a woman in the church and seminary, and then was met with cold arguments and a listing of exceptions to the 2,000-year-old rule of female marginalization within the church.  I find that similar, actually, to the use of Sojourner Truth's quote above.  What Sojourner Truth is saying is that men used scripture to marginalize women in her time - and she turns this on its head not by a straightforward reading of the Biblical text but, among other arguments, by citing Eve as a symbol of female power!  Then she likewise turns the Biblical curse on its head, saying that rather than the man ruling over the woman, women will in fact turn right side up again the world that Eve so powerfully turned upside down.  Here, she's citing those exact passages where the Bible does in fact marginalize women and she turns them upside down.  That doesn't mean the Bible doesn't marginalize women; that means Sojourner Truth was smart enough and bold enough not to be marginalized. Alisa said this: "Why are these truths, the real point of his article, being minimized and turned into a debate about interpretation? When 1 in 3 women suffer sexual violence and rape, when women still make 72 cents per every mans dollar, why can't this conversation be lifted up as an opportunity to illuminate the pragmatic, real life issues facing women who are still denied the basic rights men have always enjoyed? Women around the worId are not only denied rights, but are suffering violence at this very moment based upon the fact that they are women. I find it disappointing that three men wrote this response piece without considering the need for a women's voice in the authorship of an article about women in sacred scripture. It is this type of subtle yet culturally normalized dismissal of women's participation and voice that repeatedly broke my heart and eventually nudged me out of the denomination into which I was born."  The response to her recitation of women's pain, to women's suffering, to her own marginalization, was a return to cold debate.  Can I posit that perhaps this is because the men posting here have not in fact experienced the sting of marginalization, and so do not actually know that an appeal to the few Biblical passages that actually do show women free and strong - Deborah and Jael in Judges, Junia in the Pauline letters, and yes, Mary in the Gospels - does not cause women to forget every Eve and Leah and Bilhah and Hagar and Dinah and Bathsheba and Michal and Jephthah's daughter (she doesn't even get a name) and Tamar and Gomer and Vashti.  The few "husbands, love your wives" and "there is no male or female"s don't cancel out the stings of "women should remain silent" and "submit to your husbands" and "I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority" and "what have I to do with thee, woman" and "women shall be saved through the bearing of children."  This is an emotional argument, not merely an academic one, because the subject is emotional.  It's personal to us women.  And you men who respond so coolly to this issue have the luxury of doing so in part because you've never had to read these words and think "That's me. The Bible is talking about me."  I am Eve.  I am Vashti.  I am Jephthah's virgin daughter."  Consider the agony that might inflict on a young woman hoping to love God - and then reconsider whether it harms or helps the cause of Christianity that Dr. Rollston is willing to admit publicly that yes, those words hurt women, yes they marginalize them, and yes, we ought to do something about it.

ngilmour
ngilmour

Anne226 Anne, I would like to thank you for your contribution.  I'll note, just to provide a bit of counter-weight to the "sausage factory" comment, that a friend of mine did provide between ten and twenty comments in this long thread, but for reasons she didn't choose to disclose, she deleted all of them.  And while I declined to respond to Alisa, I would note that nowhere in our piece did we deny that there have been abuses; we merely label them as abuses rather than necessary consequences.  Thus the "cold" debate for which you expressed distaste. I think Wes and Micah have hit the big difference between our approach to the Bible and what we see in the HuffPo piece: as both have noted, we don't see the task of Biblical studies as first and foremost saying what is "dominant" in the "original," save for some "exceptions," but rather seeing the dialectics inherent not only in Biblical interpretation but also in the historical moments of Biblical composition.  Yes, those who seek to dominate the weak often use the Bible as a warrant.  So do those who oppose that domination.  And yes, some moments in the Bible simply reflect the ethos of their own moments.  Others reach beyond the moment towards liberation.  But the historical fact is that the impulse to resist domination, historically speaking, have done much more among actual human beings than have ham-fisted self-declarations of moral superiority.  In other words, the "anti-dominant" threads of Scriptural tradition, because they speak to the faithful, ultimately strike me as more interesting  ethically, than do ahistorical claims of modern liberals' moral superiority. My own take on the Bible with regards to questions of women's struggles is part Walter Brueggemann and part David Bentley Hart: the text is always involved, never "just the facts."  And yes, part of what I confess (and my hunch is that Wes and Micah do as well) is that the God who comes to us always-mediated in these texts ultimately reaches from beyond any social imaginary (even our own) to pull us towards a more perfect vision of good human life, even as the same God frames those moments that Christian theology calls revelation (small-r) in terms that are intelligible to those in that historical moment.  Or, to put it another way, nobody's got clean hands, especially those who insist most loudly that they do. I realize that a certain constellation of ideologies, those who don't think of their own morals as historically conditioned, think that a wholesale rejection of the "primitive" is ultimately superior to the "compromise" or the "rationalization" of those who try to face our own historical situated-ness, but ultimately I'm unable to make that jump.  But I've found myself lacking a capacity for credulity on several occasions, so that's no big surprise.

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

Anne226 There's much to think about in your comments Anne.  Let me begin by saying that you're right, I am a man, and I recognize that that does shape my experience, especially within the church.  I also think it is telling that it is mostly men who are speaking in this debate.   Perhaps the fact that Micah, Nathan, and I were the ones who issued a response to Dr. Rollston is also telling of the general condition of our seminary as currently "male dominated."  However, I wouldn't make too much more of this than that.  We're just three old friends who bumped into each other after reading Rollston's piece and decided to issue a response to what we saw as a particularly selective (and unhelpful) way of interpreting scripture.  The "male authorship" was merely circumstantial.  There are many female friends, incidentally, who would be willing to join me in issuing a very similar response as the one that Micah, Nate, and I offered.  Even more importantly, I do think you're very wrong about our "coldness" and your presumption that somehow we are "insulated from the marginalization of women."  This has been something that my wife and I have both struggled with for years as leaders in our congregation.  We have both faced direct attacks from individuals and church leaders on this issue.  My wife has been the object of this kind of marginalization, and I have watched it damage her.   I also struggle as a father of a beautiful eight year old girl that I desire to come to know her faith without being marginalized in the process.  Sure, I myself have not been the direct object of said marginalization.  But anyone who is married or has children knows, mistreatment is often felt even more acutely (at least on an emotional, if not psychological level) when it is of someone we love rather than us ourselves.  I desire deeply for the church to change its posture on its treatment of women and for years I have fought for it.  That said, I really don't believe that Rollston's piece does much of anything to help in this struggle that my wife and I engaged in.  Christians who believe the Bible to be the Word of God need to learn to read it in a way that corrects this injustice.  Does Rollston's gives them no skills in doing so?  I don't see how.  It  only validates those who either already believe that it is somehow their prerogative to "stand over against the text" or others who support patriarchal readings.  Our selection of Sojourner Truth was just one (among many possible voices) who instead of giving the bible over to patriarchal readings, found in the biblical text a way to articulate her own voice as one who "speaks truth to power."  Part of struggle for equal rights and equal dignity for women, we believe, is for women to claim the Bible in a way that empowers them, refusing to allow this sacred text to be given over to patriarchal hands and minds.  This is the way that genuine change will take place in the church, not through simply giving the bible over to patriarchy.

Anne226
Anne226

WesArblaster I really appreciate this personal response to what I had to say, and I thank you for being a part of the struggle for female equality in the church.  I'm sorry, too, for the extent to which the wording of my comments was dismissive of your own participation - certainly, I wrote in a moment of passion, which no doubt affected my tone.  And while I would never suggest that there are no women out there who share your point of view, or that it was wrong for three like-minded friends to collaborate on this article (though the addition of a women's voice might also have been helpful), I do want to point out that it is not mere coincidence that both you and many of the commentators here have been male.  Emmanuel Christian Seminary is 71% male and 29% female.  That's the current ratio; imagine what it might have been, say, 20 years ago, and how many seminaries around the country show a similar imbalance.  That is certainly in no way the fault of the authors of this post (in NO WAY) and is not even the fault of Emmanuel Christian Seminary; it is the fault of the patriarchal system that has held sway in Christianity for 2,000 years.  It is the fault of churches in this denomination (pardon the term) and others that have taught women to ignore their leadership gifts and dismiss the ministry as a possible vocation.  It is also the fault of the Biblical text, which is hard to interpret in a way that doesn't suggest its authors were patriarchal and limited in their view of women at best (even those authors as sometimes-progressive as Paul); it's hard to read in a manner that does not suggest that either 1) God sanctioned these patriarchal views of women, at least at those moments in history, or 2) that it is the authors' values, and not God's voice, being reflected in the text.  It is wonderful and refreshing to read the words of Sojourner Truth, but the theme she takes up related to Eve, for example - that Eve was strong enough to turn the world upside-down and therefore women likewise have the power to set the world right again - is not one taken up in scripture (as others commenting on this same incident have pointed out).  1 Timothy, in fact, uses the same scripture to make the opposite point: "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."  I know full well and very much respect those women and men who have reappropriated Biblical texts in favor of feminist arguments, but I cannot believe that this discounts the original texts or relieves us of worrying over the meaning they would have conveyed to their original audience.  Long ago, I got sick of doing acrobatics with the Biblical text to find ways to re-read, re-interpret, and re-contextualize these passages so that I could believe they weren't as cruel as they seemed to be.  My belief is that either the Bible is THE Word of God, and we are responsible for everything in it no matter how much it damages us, or it is a collection of many voices, its authors inspired by a divine impulse perhaps, but flawed and biased and sometimes wrong in the way that all humans are.  My reading of Dr. Rollston's article is that it is simply a description of some of the places where the Biblical authors were wrong about women.  It's not meant as an ending point; it's just a place to start.  I disagree with the suggestion made in your original blog post that he was somehow endorsing a misogynistic viewpoint by describing the marginalization of women as a "Biblical value;" rather, he was saying that among the multitude of perspectives and values found in the Bible, misogyny is one that emerges frequently but should be rejected.  If you want to critque his view of Biblical authority, that seems totally valid to me.  But since, among other things, you say that "throughout our theological and pastoral training at this same seminary we were schooled to understand the Bible as a complex, multi-layered,and hermeneutically 'open' book," you actually seem to be arguing for a more subjective reading than Rollston is, influenced by the intervening history and the many conflicting and complex interpretations that have likewise intervened.  As much as I appreciate the importance of those intervening voices, in the end, we have to come back to the text itself; in the end, we must take the text on its own terms, come to grips with its meaning as best we can, and accept or reject the text on its own terms.  We do this whether we believe the solution is to reject offensive texts or reappropriate them to suit our own values (and those more palatable values found in other parts of scripture); I tend to fall on the Rollston side there and reject rather than reappropriate.

ngilmour
ngilmour

Anne226 WesArblaster MicahBWeedman ngilmour Anne, First, I'm delighted to read that you're also a student of literature.  My own Ph.D is in English literature, though my comps and dissertation were mainly in English Renaissance, not 19th-century, texts.   I'm with you on your constellation of points about interpretation, and that's why I find Walter Brueggemann so appealing--he insists at every point that nobody reads the Bible from nowhere and that, even if one grants Wes's point that Jesus, not Bible, is the proper object of contemplation, that another of Wes's points, namely that the Christian God is always mediated through "texts" (whether that be Bible or Missal or oral "texts" in the Derridean seanse).   One understandable response to that complex of realities is a sort of agnostic surrender, a basic stance that holds all theological claims to be nonsense or at most speculation.  But I'm inclined to say that, when pressed a bit, most versions of agnosticism (there are true Pyrrhonians out there, I'll grant) begin with some central claim that "We cannot know X because we know that Y is true."  In other words, just about everybody has some point at which one roots all assertions, even assertions of doubt, on some fixed postulate in the system.  The response that I prefer is a stance of rhetorically self-aware confession, one in which I speak what I take to be true, knowing as I do so that there have been times when I would have spoken differently and that the future is such that I might not always speak the same. With regards to "original" meanings, I grant the textual-critical problem (I work with Shakespeare, after all), but the difficulty I had in mind was more the polemic/dialectical character of most complex texts.  In other words, certainly Aristotle's Politics has certain "fixed points" that merely reflect his own Athenian bigotries, but more interesting to me are his responses to Plato's Republic.  And while few would find Harriet Beecher Stowe's idealization of the pious and passive Tom entirely satisfactory, I find more interesting that the daughter of a famous Presbyterian minister finds the cause of American slaves compelling enough to write a book that turned out to be consciousness-altering for so many Americans of the time.  Certainly folks have made academic careers showing that certain kinds of racism are still "Stowe values," but an account of Stowe that neglects her influence in reaching beyond her historical moment, ethically speaking, would be at best partial accounts.  Move this dialectic over to the history of the Bible and various women's empowerment movements, and you have our basic case in the blog post. I also grant your point about the relatively low status of "literature" as opposed to "Bible," but I'll remind you that we literature people are little more than a century removed from Matthew Arnold's literature-piety, and there are still Arnoldians among us.  The human urge to order discourse around "god-terms" (to borrow Kenneth Burke's phrase) hasn't gone away; some are just more apt to name our gods as God, while others leave theirs implicit.

MicahBWeedman
MicahBWeedman

Anne226 WesArblaster MicahBWeedman ngilmour   Glad though I am that you found the sentiment refreshing, I must concede that it was Wes that said it, not me.  Though I mostly agree with him. :)

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

Anne226 MicahBWeedman ngilmour excuse the typos, I didn't proofread.

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

Anne226 WesArblaster MicahBWeedman ngilmour Anne, much of what you have to say about the 'literary approach' you've adopted I would agree with.  Theologians often prefer the term "mediation" but I think that we're ultimately articulating something similar.  To clarify, I wouldn't really propose what you thought concerning 'moving from the flesh to the spirit.'  While I do believe in the activity of the Holy Spirit, I share your skepticism about personal affective states being the ground for "true interpretation."  I agree, there is self-deception everywhere, and in this way invoking the 'Holy Spirit' often just serves as either as a deus ex machina or as some kind of form of self-validation.  In speaking of moving from 'the flesh to the spirit' I was suggesting something else.  I was referring to reading scripture not so much by the use of a 'method' so much as part of a spiritual practice.   I should just say up front that I do NOT believe that the 'true meaning' of scripture can be arrested from the text by formulating a certain method by which we can disinter 'its real meaning.'  We moderns, on the whole, are overly superstitious concerning method.  We make of methods what animists made of incantations.  Somehow, we believe that by establishing a certain rationalized process we can access the hidden treasures we seek (this goes all the way back to Bacon, if not further).  Except in my more regressive moments I have given up in such primitive beliefs.  I do however believe that we as readers can receive insight through engaging with texts in attentive manner, when ourselves are properly attuned.  (To be clear, this isn't at its core some esoteric practice, its just another way of saying, at its most fundamental level, when we become good readers)  I know that invoking the language 'properly attuned' smuggles in a prescriptive or regulative moment in interpretation, but I do believe something like this is inevitable.  Even supposedly 'scientific methods' like forms of higher criticism have tacit prescriptions of this kind (whether they admit it or not).  While what I have said so far isn't synonymous with patristic approaches to reading scripture, it is more similar them.  When Patristic commentators read the scriptural texts they did not attempt to secure 'their meaning,' they were attempting to hear God.  And this, to be sure, was not an a-critical posture.  This was a rigorous discipline.  'Meanings' were abundant, indeed profuse, but they weren't seeking first and formost to discern an 'original voice' nor even a 'subjective voice' nor a 'divine voice.'  They were attempting to discern a 'form' - one which does not originate in scripture, but one which scripture does communicate.   To speak dogmatically, scripture is not the primary revelation of God, Christ is.  Scripture is merely one primary and privileged form of the reception of this revelation.  It is exhaustively and ineliminably human, and yet God's form is to be found therein, just as God's form is to be found in Christ more perfectly (because Christ is the image of God who also IS God, which is not the case with scripture).  Thus, the center of scriptural reading is contemplation.  And yet contemplation is not essentially a esoteric Christian practice so much as the heart of the Christian's living response to the self-revelation of God in Christ.  To quote Hans Urs von Balthasar, "Christian contemplation becomes an ever deeper and richer living from Christ and into Christ, and progressively both the living triune God and the whole of creation as recapitulated in Christ enter into this life, not however, in the rareified space where ideal contents are beheld in abstract purity, but within the shaping of the image of Christ in the contemplative subject.  For the theological imagination lies with Christ, who is at once the image and the power of God."  All of this may sound somewhat esoteric and obscure, but that's because its being spoken about in abstraction.  The actual practice of reading the Bible is never this, however.  It is an experience and experience is always particular and concrete.  One may read the Bible for innumerable reasons and gain an innumerable number of readings.  However, it is my view that people of faith (particularly Jews, Muslims, and Christians) should receive the text as a gift given to them in their attempt to respond to the One who transcends all understanding.  This does not yet answer the question of what we do with scripture regarding its apparent relegation of women, but it does, I believe, place it in the appropriate setting.

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

grubbsey WesArblaster Anne226  Grubbsey:  FYI I would say most of your assumptions about what I believe are wrong.

Anne226
Anne226

WesArblaster MicahBWeedman ngilmour  I think that when you invoke the move from "flesh to spirit," you're suggesting the intervention of the holy spirit in the reading, in the interpretation, and in the acting out of our faith, and I think you suggestthis as a way to bridge the interpretational gap.  I'm influenced, I'm sure, by the fact that spiritual understanding is not a factor in literary studies; again, we're compelled to live with the discomfort of the gap between "the" meaning of the text (nonexistent, as has been pointed out) and our subjective understanding of the text.  But another more personal factor intervenes here, as well for me:  I simply have not found a reliance on spiritual impulses to be a useful or accurate guide for me. In the formative years when I was trying to understand the Bible for the first time, what I discovered was that the impulses and guidance I believed I was receiving from the Holy Spirit were in truth all too often the voice of guilt, of fear, of self-interest, of personal preference, and even the voice of goodintentions, but rarely if ever can I cite an example where in retrospect I believe I was truly receiving clear guidance from the Holy Spirit.  My own conscience certainly does lead me, but this voice I have found I must consciously shape through Bible reading, reading of other voices I believe (subjective) to be right and true, and by observing and emulating the actions of those Iperceive (subjective) to be good.  Those are good guides for me, and at this stage of my life they are good enough.  But I acknowledge that even here, I'm facing an interpretive gap - I can know essentially what my rolemodels are doing, but I can't know why, or ultimately what effect their behaviors will have.  All the rest of the sources I have are merely texts.  To be frank, I've come to believe that the difference between me, a person who follows her conscience but nevertheless believes her own "spiritual discernment" and spiritual impulses to be an unreliable source at best, and someone who believes that they can be guided from a flesh interpretation to a spiritual interpretation by something other than real-world guides, is simply a matter of confidence.  Some people have faith in their own internal voices, for better or - oh, so often - for worse.  I justdon't; I haven't found those voices reliable or unified. Micah, you say this: "Instead, I think it is much more helpful to ask what we are really searching for when we seek out 'the original' at all?  I believe that for most intents and purposes, what we really seek to gain is a way of locating a certain 'authoritative interpretation.'  A place where we can say this is 'the real meaning' of said text.  I get that desire.  I often struggle with that picture of things too."  Micah, I found this expression totally refreshing.  I'm totally fine with the idea that no authoritative interpretation can be located - certainly, that's the case in other disciplines - even the experts disagree, we know that, there is no one authority but a group of authorities, and we just have to decide whichinterpretation to trust.  However, as I've already said, no reading can exist without the text itself, and so it is that that serves as the foundation for all this other intervening text. It's probably the combination of all these things - the evident problems of the "original" text; the profound diversity of readings that allow - as more than one here has pointed out - for a spectrum of interpretations so broad that to canonize all interpretations would be to embrace two mutually exclusive positions on nearly every topic addressed in the Bible; and my belief in theunreliability of an individual's discernment of spiritual meaning in the text - that have led me to start labeling myself an agnostic, at least for the time being.  Right now, I don't really find a way in to all this.  The only way in that I find is the Bible itself, and I find it at times utterlyenraging.  This may be your objection to Rollston, in fact - that he's in league with agnostics :-) (I'm being playful here, not serious) - but that's why I find his frank treatment of "the text itself" (whatever that is, I still believe in it) refreshing and on target. I'd love to hear your responses to the things I've misunderstood in your previous comments - I'm sure I have misunderstood some things and am still thinking through them all.

Anne226
Anne226

WesArblaster MicahBWeedman ngilmour Guys - I've spent some time trying to absorb and process all of what you had to say there.  I'm not a seminarian myself, and so some of these ideas are actually very new to me in the context of Biblical scholarship.  However, my own advanced field of study is in literature, so much of what you're saying about text and interpretation and the subjectivity of language is very familiar to me. To summarize my thoughts, students of literature and academics in the field live with the paradox of language and interpretation all the time.  Language is nothing but a set of agreed-upon signifiers, we know this.  Therefore, we acknowledge that even a text created in our own immediate time and culture goes through several stages of interpretation between speaker and hearer as the speaker translates their thoughts into words, the hearer receives the perceived meaning of the speaker's speech, and the hearer translates it into their own thoughts - all of this influenced by both communicators' individual cultural and personal situatedness, and a thousand other factors neither are aware of.  So we acknowledge that it is not only unclear that objective meaning can be communicated between two communicators, it is in fact impossible that it can be.  There is no locating "the original text," as you point out.  And yet, we acknowledge that on a daily basis, we live as if the text is immediately accessible to us - when our boss says "get the mail," when our friend says "meet me at lunchtime," when our bride or groom says, "I promise to love, honor, and cherish," we operate as if we can in fact communicate with them and understand what they are telling us.  Thus the paradox on which the entire literary discipline, and in fact all human communication, is based:  It is impossible for us to access the text.  It is necessary to access the text.  It is impossible for us to communicate clear meaning to one another; yet we shape all of our relationships and most of our behavior around those communications.   Thus, this is how I approach all texts.  I acknowledge that I cannot, say, understand Charlotte Bronte's "original meaning" by reading Jane Eyre; I cannot remove the lens of interpretation through which I view it because I cannot un-read (or un-write) Gilbert and Gubar's famous "Madwoman in the Attic" analysis.  In that sense, I cannot even read Jane Eyre.  Nor can I remove the subjective filter of myself, as all of you so aptly point out.  And yet, I would not be a student of literature if I did not keep returning to the original text, attempting to comprehend the incomprehensible, to imagine and incorporate the cultural and historical context in which it was written, analyzing and absorbing the text that is actually there.  The text is inaccessible; the text is also immediate. I would also be foolish if I attempted to disregard the history of interpretation and application surrounding any given text.  That would be an even more foolish approach to the Biblical text; nobody is trying to live their lives according to Jane Eyre, nor to discern the Word of Charlotte Bronte, and so the interpretation and enactment of Biblical principles throughout history are infinitely more important than a historical understanding of Jane Eyre.  But still, what starting point do we have but the text itself?  I appreciate and am intrigued by the approach you all seem to be suggesting, which I'm interpreting as some kind of canonizing (lowercase "c"?) not only of the intervening texts but of the historical efforts of Christians to live out their faith in the time between the life of Jesus and now.   Yet again, we have no access to the story of God's work in history, or to the history of Christianity itself, but through the Bible and the intervening texts.  We cannot access them; we must access them.  This is the dilemma we live with.  (continued in next comment)

grubbsey
grubbsey

WesArblaster Anne226  I see that Dr. Rollston did put a brief reference to the "male, female" statement in his article   "He also wrote: "there is no longer male nor female" (Galatians 3:27). But these voices were the exception, not the rule." He did not include the entire passage to covey the context, and he seems to have made a "minor" out of what is a "major."  He did not discuss the conditions concerning "being one in Christ" either. This "voice" was huge - it was God speaking! Dr. Rollston should be forgiven for this oversight.  I think he has some more studying to do.

grubbsey
grubbsey

WesArblaster Anne226 It is obvious that all this "raising of the conversation," has tied several of you in exegesical and hermeneutical knots, and you are having a wonderful time displaying your academic expertise and knot tying. I'm impressed. You believe the Bible was written by God either personally, or through direct control of humans (he told them exactly what to write), or indirectly through a kind of inspiration of humans which caused them to write it over a long period of time. In any case, you believe the Bible, Old and New Testaments, every "dot and tittle" to be God's Holy Word.  I assume that is a given at ECS. There are no surviving original manuscripts, not even the inscribed stone Ten Commandments. We have copies of copies and translations of translations.  Goodness!  How can we ever know the actual meaning of the original manuscripts? I assume that you believe God is in complete control of the world and is directing the production of  all the variations of His Word. Therefore, the Bible variations we have are due to God's wishes, for God doesn't want to confuse his people. I also assume ECS people believe this as well.   So, the meaning of the various versions of the Holy Bible should be obvious to those born again in Christ and who are guided by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Bible is clear about that. Jesus tells us too "Love one another" does he not?  You believe Jesus is God, so God tells us to 'love one another,' paraphrasing a truth written by Paul. Also, God tells us this very important truth: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, thereis neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  So it is clear that nothing that is said in the Holy Bible about Jews or Greeks (Gentiles), slaves or slave owners, or males or females have any application to members of these groups who "were baptized into Christ [and thus] have put on Christ." Conversely, those not baptized into Christ [and thus] have not "put on Christ," are subject God's Word concerning Jews and Gentiles, slaves and slave-owners, and men and women.  I don't personally know Dr. Rollston, but I believe that he would include himself in the above group, and therefore must be very familiar with the above God-given truth from Galatians.  The members of the group described are 'one in Christ.'  So for them, there is no difference from God's perspective between male and female.   So, Dr. Rollston's article hit the mark when it described how God, through the Holy Bible, speaks about men and women. There is no false statement there; his article is quite accurate in fact and tone. However, I believe  had he included the above passage from Galatians, much of the hullabaloo would not have occurred. But, I could be incorrect here. If the people criticizing and defending Dr. Rollston would consider this truth from Galatians, authored by God, they would spend less time thinking up ways in their academic, self-serving jargon to attack other people and to justify themselves, and would get on with God's work in this world. So, ECS should congratulate Dr. Rollston on a Scripturally sound, well-written article that makes ECS very proud that he is a member of the ECS faculty. And, don't forget to love and forgive one another.

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

Anne226 WesArblaster Yes, I agree with Micah.  You have raised the conversation back to where it should be.  Thank you.  I was growing rather despairing about how ugly things had gotten.  I have to say that the question for me boils down to whether there is ultimately any fundamental difference between what you call "original" and "intervening" voices when it comes to the Bible.  I recognize that there is indeed a history to textual transmission.  And it is precisely this that makes me question whether the idea of an "original" even makes sense.  In a book that is enmeshed in a complex oral and textual tradition spanning thousands of years, cultures, and languages, with layers of textual adaptation, revision, and translation, where is possible to locate "the original?"  What would are we even talking about when we contrast this with "later intervening interpretations"?  It would seem that at any point "the original" could easily be shown to be fundamentally "intervention" into a conversation or situation already in process.  And how is it that Rollston is supposed find for us this "original" avoid being himself merely another "intervening voice?"   And we have not even begun to consider the fact that as part of these religious traditions later developments are believed to provide "the real" meaning to prior texts.  To be clear here, I'm not saying "the original" is difficult to discover.  I'm saying the presumption that something like "an original" exists at all becomes nonsensical.  An original what? I believe it probably better to simply stop thinking this way and instead begin to think differently.  It's interesting that "the Bible" for most of its history was never considered a "book" at all (with all the problematic presumptions such an imagination entails).  Instead, I think it is much more helpful to ask what we are really searching for when we seek out "the original" at all?  I believe that for most intents and purposes, what we really seeking to gain is a way of locating a certain "authoritative interpretation."  A place where we can say this is "the real meaning" of said text.  I get that desire.  I often struggle with that picture of things too.  I do also think that we should recognize the historical conditions for our own desire to seek after such things.  It is interesting that, for instance, this really isn't the driving need for biblical interpretation for most of the Bible's actual history.  For the patristic tradition, for example, understanding of the Bible wasn't procured from moving from the present to the past (this is arguably an result of Protestant/Catholic polemics in the 16th century) but from the "flesh to the spirit."  Penetrating the scriptures ever more deeply toward their spiritual (that is theological) core.  Yeah, but what does all this have to do with the marginalization of women?  If you are thinking about such issues in relationship to the Bible I think it means a lot.  I believe that what this entails is that rather than having historical experts like Rollston providing the "authorized interpretation" that such readings should arise by women and men wrestling out the layers of scripture by way of conversation, prayer, and criticism.  To move from "the surface to the depths" to use patristic imagery is the manner in which the Bible can genuinely be liberated from patriarchy.  Since it was almost exclusively men who authored the bible and who have provided the "authorized interpretations" of these text (through a male dominated church AND academy) its about time that we start listening to those like Sojourner Truth as perhaps providing more genuine insight into the Bible AND ourselves.  Something like this, I believe, is what present day "ethical" reading should seek.  I criticized Rollston's essay because it didn't seem, in my understanding, to really encourage the kind of engagement that allows for honest self-critique while engaging in biblical critique.

MicahBWeedman
MicahBWeedman

Anne226 WesArblaster Anne, thanks for raising the level of discourse in these comments far above what its been so far.  Your second post especially is articulate beyond nearly every other response I've encountered, especially among Rollston's supporters (the most vocal of whom, I think, are about as male as the authors of this essay). I think your summary of Rollston's point is fair, and for my part, perhaps we did not do enough to say so in our essay.  However, (and please hear me attempt to echo your own friendly tone here), your conclusion is precisely what I think is so problematic about Rollston's position: the only options are to reject the text or work acrobatics to reappropriate the text.   The reasons to reject this binary are many, I think, and perhaps outside of my ability to summarize quickly.  But you are right, in some senses, to think we argued for a more subjective reading of the text; hermenuetically open means just that that the "meaning" of the text is not, as you say, in the "original" text (whatever that is) but rather in the long struggle of the church to live faithfully in light of its vocation as a sign and foretaste of God's reign.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

Anne226 ""Consider the agony that might inflict on a young woman hoping to love God"  So you are saying that you and other women will withhold your love from God unless yo get what you want?  The Bible says that we love Him because He first loved us, it doesn't say we love Him because he gives us the role we want. God also said-- if you love me keep my commandments. what is one of the commandments  for women? Do not teach men.  So why would you or anyone tell women to not love God and disobey Him?

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

I took a look at Dr. Rollstons main example he used to make his point that the Bible marginalizes women. Deut. 5:21 is the passage in question and I am doing this from memory. If I recall correctly Dr. Rollston did not quote the whole passage and left out part which would ruin his point. Dr. Rollston says because the word 'husband' is not mentioned that women are property and being marginalized but the passage talks about servants but doe snot mention children, it talks about donkeys and oxen but not dogs or cats. According to his logic then, children can be coveted and are marginalized because they are not mentioned. The same goes for dogs and cats. What he omitted from his paper and his point was the last bit of that verse and it reads: 'or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'  that pat of the passage would include what was missing from the first part of the verse--husbands, children, dogs, cats, cars, planes etc. The questions you have to answer for yourself is, Does God have to be redundant to make his point? and Does God have to itemize everything to include  all that He is talking about? The word 'anything' allows the passage to apply for today. Since cars and planes televisions and computers were not invented yet, how can we expect God to include those items? Then if He closed the list, one would argue 'well he didn't mention computers so I can covet my neighbor's computer (or whatever item one likes).' If God did either, then the Bible would be so think NO ONE WOULD STUDY IT let alone read it.  Instead, God chose to use broad language to make sure His word stayed true and applied to all things throughout time. The word 'anything' covers the ancient world and the modern one and it covers all that your neighbor has. Now women are considered neighbors as well thus their husbands are off limits to other women. Women were not excluded in that command nor made property, God used the wording that He wanted to make His point cover everything in existence without making a boring list that would be longer than the Bible itself. Dr. Rollston not only said God was wrong he also did very bad scholarship as he did not recognize the fact that God will not always use the exact terminology one is looking for. God has other ways to say something and is not limited to the expectations of supposed scholars.

grubbsey
grubbsey

On a different subject, but I find this incredible to believe:  Billy Graham's group removes Mormon cult reference from website after Romney meetinghttp://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/16/billy-grahams-group-removes-mormon-cult-reference-from-website-after-romney-meeting/?hpt=hp_t2 Dr. Tee, Is Billy Graham going to burn in Hell for eternity unless he repents from his sin?  Franklin Graham too?  The webmaster too?  Willard Romney too?  Mormonism IS a cult you know - it is a false religion; a wolf in sheep's clothing well represented by Willard Mitt Romney, a dyed-in-the-wool Mormon; or might it be "died-in-the-wool"???   Dr. Tee, your serious response is welcomed since you seem to know more about the letter of the Law than do others respondents, including yours truly.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

grubbsey I am no expert in the 'letter of the law' as you assume. i am talking about obedience. You are advocating that people should disobey God and sin. Christians need to stand with God and preach the truth, obey God and help others and call sin sin.  They should not let politics alter their duty as believers in Jesus. I, for one, do not believe christians should be a member of any secular political party as the agendas are vastly different. One cannot be the light unto the world if they stop talking about what Jesus wants them to talk about and start talking about the republican or democratic party's ideologies. We all know that billy graham makes mistakes which sully his legacy and achievements. it is sad to see happen but we also all know that mr. graham has politics as his weak spot. that is where he makes his most mistakes. if what he did was sin is hard to judge but it is easy to disagree with his move.

eJoelWatts
eJoelWatts

So, the only people truly defending the unGraceful action, the unScriptural action, by PaulBlowers are the likes of Young Earth Creationist, false something-hd, anti-woman Dr David Tee, and the Hitler obsessed, homophobic Roger Pearse.  Excuse me if I remember the adage that we are the company we keep. It is time for PaulBlowers to do the Christian thing, be reconciled to each other, and go and pray.

ngilmour
ngilmour

eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee Ad hominem much? Please go back and actually read Pearse's argument.  It's actually a fairly smart counter to some of the more commonly repeated arguments contra Blowers.  I know it'll take a few minutes, but it should be worth your while.

54Husky54
54Husky54

ngilmour eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee You do realize, Nate, that his "argument" actually completely contradicts your own - yet you somehow support it.  How could you seriously be THIS dull?

ngilmour
ngilmour

Jeff Miller 54Husky54 ngilmour Sorry about that, Jeff.  I'll try to do better. ;)

MicahBWeedman
MicahBWeedman

54Husky54 ngilmour   re: Cognitive dissonance--"you keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means"

Jeff Miller
Jeff Miller

54Husky54 ngilmour The ability to insult with big words is neither a virtue nor a biblical value. It doesn't help Dr. Rollston or Dr. Blowers. It doesn't help Emmanuel. It doesn't help women. It doesn't promote Christian humanism. It doesn't promote academic freedom. Much like insulting with little words, it is bad for everyone.

54Husky54
54Husky54

ngilmour 54Husky54 eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee Not sure who "Ned" is, but interested that you persist in your incredible cognitive dissonance.

ngilmour
ngilmour

54Husky54 ngilmour eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee Yes, Ned, and I'm venal and vain and stupid as well.  I'm a MascuKlansman, and I support academic fascism.  I believe we've rehearsed all of the ad hominems.  Do you have anything new to add?

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

ngilmour eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee I'm not that familiar with blog discussions but do they all typically devolve into pointing fingers, ad hominem attacks, charges of heresy, and spiritual depravity?  When this conversation began it was about a defined topic of discussion related to an exchange concerning how scripture should be interpreted and evaluated concerning questions of women's rights and women's dignity.  Where are we now?  I'm just wondering if I need to consider it a fundamental law of internet discourse that it disintegrates into endless rambling and name calling.  The question just came to mind about how Dante would depict internet bloggers if he were to write the Inferno today.  BTW: Don't take that personally, its just a joke.

ngilmour
ngilmour

WesArblaster ngilmour eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee Perhaps I'll see you there, friend. :) It's really glorious fun, though, teaching Baptist and Pentecostal students how to get medieval.  Since for them Charles Wesley hymns are "old" traditions, Dante really is an alien world.  I actually start that segment of the course with a close reading of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, then go straight into Purgatorio.  The idea that our desires need education is really something new for them, and although they're not always convinced, at the very least they experience our "praise and worship" convocation services differently after we've read that good stuff.

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

ngilmour WesArblaster eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee  I'd like to read Dante under you Nate.  That would be fun.  And since chances are the both of us will have plenty of time in purgatory perhaps I will l get the chance Blessings. ;-)

ngilmour
ngilmour

WesArblaster ngilmour eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee Yes, please. :) I think that, in its own terms, Purgatory makes a fair bit of sense.  (I refer both to the idea more generally and more specifically to Dante's masterful poem.)  I'm not going to teach it in Sunday school any time soon, but it strikes me as a wonderful outworking of the Christian imagination.  In other words, it's no less Biblical than "the age of accountability" or an "invitation hymn," but ultimately, it's not part of the tradition that I inhabit when I'm a deacon and preacher.  So I teach the heck out of it when I'm a professor of medieval literature (I'm teaching Dante again this spring), and I talk about it any chance I get in non-official capacities. I'll agree, for the most part, about the discussion, though I'd isolate it a bit further and say that, when the question shifted from the HuffPo piece to gossip about the internal workings of ECS, it couldn't help but get ugly.  But I'd say neither that it was Thom Stark's thesis-length screed in toto nor that it was only Stark.   I tried to plug that break in the dam, but once it started popping up on other people's sites, it was in vain.

WesArblaster
WesArblaster

ngilmour WesArblaster eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee  Drawn to purgatorio for literary or theological reasons?  Just curious if you've found another way of breaking out of the Protestant mold.  Regarding the conversation, I'm sorry but in my view the character of it seemed to degenerate rather quickly after the absurd "response" written by Thom Stark.  Blathering is like yawning I guess.  It's hard to stop once someone starts.  I also suppose that its difficult to put conversations like these to rest since they can always be dug up by someone else who has a bone to pick.  It's regrettable.  I do not however regret the few exchanges that arose at the beginning.  They were interesting and informative.

ngilmour
ngilmour

WesArblaster ngilmour eJoelWatts PaulBlowers Dr David Tee All the time? No. We've had some very good discussions here at CHB, I think. Sometimes? Sure. And if we're going to go Dante, I'd prefer to think that Internet brawlers are headed to the Purgatorial rings of the Wrathful and the Prideful, but I've always found the middle Canticle more compelling than the first. :)

eJoelWatts
eJoelWatts

ngilmour I've read the argument, but I've also read more things by Pearse. His argument is of the same line - if we do this, we will be Nazi Germany. His other writings are the homophobic, racial undertoned ones. Character matters, I would think. Immoral company, after all, corrupts morals.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

eJoelWatts Dr David Tee The name is Dr. Tee to you. A bad play on a late senatoir's words.

ngilmour
ngilmour

MicahBWeedman AdrienneAkins Don't know why our site ate Adrienne's comment, but at 12:15 this afternoon she wrote thus: "That is fair.  I am still glad people expressed their disagreement, asthe self-defeating nature of his arguments has become more obvious."

AdrienneAkins
AdrienneAkins

MicahBWeedman AdrienneAkins That is fair.  I am still glad people expressed their disagreement, as the self-defeating nature of his arguments has become more obvious.

MicahBWeedman
MicahBWeedman

AdrienneAkins my egalitarianism is more than professed, and I think Dr. Tee is a troll whose arguments are their own defeat.

MicahBWeedman
MicahBWeedman

My egalitarianism is more than professed, and I think Dr. Tee's arguments are their own defeat.

eJoelWatts
eJoelWatts

Dr David Tee No, I just don't believe in you. "Oh, so now you're Moses?"  Tee, I served with Moses. I knew Moses. Moses was a friend of mine. Tee, you're no Moses.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

eJoelWatts  You do not understand the role of women in the early church but since you do not believe Moses you will not believe Jesus and we see that evidenced every time you write,

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

ngilmour  you would have to make a list to see if you are correct. if you listen to false teachers, unbelievers then you are listening to the wrong people. if you lump all who claim to be christian under the christian banner then you are listening to the wrong people. People who do not listen to and believe Moses' words are not Christian.

ngilmour
ngilmour

AdrienneAkins Oh, I've only dabbled in Kant.  I don't really have enough background to have a strong position.  That was from an exchange with some fairly vocal Emergent-types who thought I was being excessively postmodernist.

ngilmour
ngilmour

Dr David Tee ngilmour Certainly I do listen to the wrong people, Mr. Tee.  All the time.  So do you.  And if you think you're immune to that, you're a great fool indeed.

eJoelWatts
eJoelWatts

grubbsey Dr David Tee  Here's the thing Tee doesn't speak for Christianity. Women were leaders - big leaders - in the early Church. He doesn't read it like that so he doesn't believe it - regardless of what Scripture actually says and what Tradition actually teaches.  ngilmour is correct - Tee is a troll. No need to engage him because the more you do, the more he gets to spout off his anti-Christian message.

grubbsey
grubbsey

Dr David Tee AdrienneAkins God said for the men at the city gate to stone the rebellious, disobedient son to death.  Gee, my older brother would have been killed long ago is we believed what you just proclaimed.   I think I stumbled into a thicket of theological mumbo-jumbo and I'm getting out while the getting is good.  Please enjoy continuing your shameful nonsense.

grubbsey
grubbsey

AdrienneAkins Looks like his "guilt bat" trick worked, Adrienne, and you fell for it. We all feel so sorry for him now.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

AdrienneAkins That is because I restrict my comments to the truth and they can't refute that.  Secular culture does not interpret God's word nor restrict its application. What God said the church was to do 2,000 years ago, the church is to do today. What is wrong 2,000 years ago is wrong today. Women were not to be pastors 2,000 years ago they are not to be pastors today. Culture doesn't change God's rules.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

ngilmour I am not a troll but then you listen to the wrong people.

AdrienneAkins
AdrienneAkins

I adore Kant, by the way, which may be at the root of some of our differing perspectives.

AdrienneAkins
AdrienneAkins

ngilmour AdrienneAkins   I don't think any of those things about you.  I am confused about your reaction here.  Do you feel I am attacking you?  If so, I am sorry.  I could understand, perhaps, not respoonding to the personal attacks.  Your response (in Pearse's case) and lack of response (in Tee's case) to those agreeing with you is what puzzles me.

AdrienneAkins
AdrienneAkins

ngilmour AdrienneAkins I don't think any of those things about you. I am confused about your reaction here. Do you feel I am attacking you? If so, I am sorry. I could understand, perhaps, not responding to the personal attacks. Your response (in Pearse's case) and lack of response (in Tee's case) to those agreeing with you is what puzzles me.

ngilmour
ngilmour

AdrienneAkins You're right, Adrienne.  I'm disingenuous.  I'm venal.  I'm vain.  I'm really not that great a human being, but I hate to inform you that I see that in the mirror every morning; you're not the first to notice. And if you believe Thom Stark, our essay is "a bloviating, self-important, contemptuous, slanderous, malignant, condescending, pretentious, cynically dishonest, and ironically oblivious piece of garbage."  And according to Jim Linville, I'm a "Mascu-Klansman."  And according to Roger Wollsey (whose book did not receive a glowing review on this site), I'm hate-filled.  And according to some, I hate Kant more than I love Jesus.  And according to others, I'm an ethically empty windbag who doesn't care whether I live the life of a Christ-folower.  And so on and so on.   Why do I not respond to Dr. Tee?  Same reason I don't respond to these others.  I don't have time to fight trolls.  Does that make me disingenuous?  If so, that sin is going to have to get in line.  Fact of the matter is that I'm a deeply immoral being, and I confess that every morning, before the sun rises.  If that makes me unworthy of attention, great.  I'd only disappoint those seeking moral perfection. In fact, I regret that those seeking the writings of the perfect have wasted their time reading anything I've written.  I hope folks find some good blogs by the righteous to replace this one.

AdrienneAkins
AdrienneAkins

ngilmour eJoelWatts Come on, you write long blog posts on a nearly-daily basis.  It seems disingenuous to plead a lack of time whenever somebody tries to ask you to do a little more research before you ally yourself with certain Internet personalities.  I furthermore find it bizarre that none of the professed egalitarians here have seen fit to murmur even a word of disagreement with "Dr David Tee."

ngilmour
ngilmour

eJoelWatts ngilmour In that case, I'll have to be content not seeing your response.  I do apologize for my inability to dedicate that much time and effort to this.

AdrienneAkins
AdrienneAkins

eJoelWatts ngilmour I agree with Joel here.

eJoelWatts
eJoelWatts

ngilmour And likewise, I've already posted something to Pearse on my blog, among other posts about this shameful example of Christian fellowship to the world.

Dr David Tee
Dr David Tee

eJoelWatts ngilmour What Watts doesn't understand about Grace is that grace does NOT eliminate discipline from responding to the wrong action. Grace is applied after true repentance has bee done by the offender. Discipline is to bring about repentance. So far I have not seen Dr. Rollston repent from his heretical ways nor retracted his offending statements. ECS is correct in disciplining Dr. Rollston

ngilmour
ngilmour

eJoelWatts ngilmour You mean like calling people advocates of "academic fascism" or something else?