Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Short History of Feminism, Pt. 2: CBMW's compromised foundations

How the Bible Versions Contribute to Liberalism and Feminism by Undermining Inerrancy

After watching the film about the 19th century women's movement, I went to the website of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in search of material on the history of feminism. Of course the preponderance of their work is aimed against feminism.

There I found Mary Kassian's book, The History of Feminism and the Church, where the material I've just covered from the film is reviewed; also a talk by Carolyn McCulley that outlines the movement and its various phases, three phases as she describes it, and also Wayne Grudem's book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism, an excerpt of which is here.

As I say in my previous post, it seems to me that the feminist movement was itself born of liberalism, so to consider that today's evangelical counterpart in the church could lead to theological liberalism is only to affirm the natural affinity between the two. Grudem traces the phenomenon in the growing practice of ordaining women ministers, and analyzes the various ways Biblical inerrancy and authority are undermined to allow this. A study found that
Biblically inerrant denominations are . . . resistant to formal gender equality.10 .... for "biblically inerrant denominations" the argument that the Bible prohibits the ordination of women is by far the most persuasive argument.11
Of course, what immediately comes to my mind because of my immersion in the Bible versions issues over the last months, is that there has to be a connection with this major influence against Biblical authority. The Bible versions hoax is the biggest Trojan horse ever parked inside the churches, and it is hard to believe that the influence of the liberal thinking that brought these versions to us would not have an undermining influence on Biblical thinking in general. One of the most jarring pieces of cognitive dissonance in the general acceptance of the modern Bible versions, it seems to me, is the fact that their very existence argues against Biblical inerrancy while the evangelical churches that so uncritically accept them nevertheless try to hold onto the idea of Biblical inerrancy without noticing that the foundation for it has been pulled out from under it.

If you can question the authority of the text that was held to be preserved by God up to the King James Bible, throw it all over in favor of the notion that it had been erroneous all those centuries and that only in the 19th century was it possible to begin to reconstruct the true originals, you've stabbed the very idea of Biblical inerrancy in the heart. And this is exactly what the Westcott and Hort revision of 1881 did. They planted doubt in all the Bibles up to their time. They claimed that their own favorite Alexandrian texts had to be the truest because they were the oldest, but that required them to come up with an explanation how it was that the traditional Byzantine texts existed in such great numbers and with such obvious church approval for so many centuries afterward. Their explanation was the completely hypothetical idea that the true texts (their cherished Alexandrians) were officially revised early on, meaning officially corrupted, and that this corrupt line became the basis for the Bibles in all languages including all the English Bibles through the King James. According to this hypothesis much was added to the text that didn't belong there.

As John Burgon points out, this very hypothesis defeats itself since it implies that the church leaders must have regarded the Alexandrian texts as the corrupt ones if they felt it necessary to reject them and try to reconstruct what they considered to be the authentic text, and in the third century they would still have had access to the earliest manuscripts to work from.

In any case, this is pure conjecture. There is no evidence for this hypothetical early revision; it rests absolutely on the unsupportable assumption that the Alexandrian texts are superior, and the evidence against that assumption is voluminous. Just read John Burgon. But the assumption has prevailed in the minds of those who accept the modern versions. And it would have to work its poison into their thinking in many subtle ways, insinuating that the Bible is not inerrant but subject to the same treatment as any man-made book, which is exactly the viewpoint aggressively endorsed by the revisers themselves.

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood doesn't question the modern versions. Some probably have no idea of the anti-inerrancy textual criticism principles that underlie them, but it can't escape all awareness that so many versions can't all be right, and that fact in itself undermines Biblical inerrancy. So to my mind the Bible versions Trojan horse must contribute to the thinking that brings liberalism into the churches by justifying opinions that contradict the Bible. They hold firmly to Biblical inerrancy with the one hand while the other surreptitiously throws it away.

I also found at CBMW that they deny that women are literally to cover our heads, in favor of a culturist explanation that effectively renders meaningless the whole idea of the covering in 1 Corinthians 11, and this seems to me to be another way Biblical authority is undermined even while it is proclaimed. In fact this is an attitude that's similar to some of those Grudem outlines as the thinking that leads to liberalism. He lists two that seem most pertinent, one being "2. Saying that New Testament teachings are "seed ideas" showing that superior teaching would come later." If Paul really was calling for a literal head covering, and this is in fact recognized, but in our superior wisdom we know he really really was only affirming the cultural standard of his day, isn't this similar to judging that what the New Testament actually said needs our superior perspective to be fully grasped? It isn't quite the same as another of Grudem's points: "4. Saying that Paul was wrong" but almost.

This is relevant because CBMW makes much of the concept of male headship in their work, but 1 Corinthians 11 is where Paul defined the concept most particularly, arguing strenuously that headship authority is symbolized by the literal human head. The head of the man is to be uncovered because he is the glory of Christ and has headship over the woman, but the woman's head is to be literally covered in order to conceal her own glory and the glory of man which she is, and to show subordination to the man's authority. But CBMW and others who follow them have dropped the literal human head part (in favor of the vague "feminine dress" which ignores the head), yet they try to hold onto the headship idea.

Along with the leaking away of Bible inerrancy through the embrace of the Bible versions, it seems to me they've got a serious leak in the idea of male headship, and the poison of liberalism is already within their own house.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Short History of Feminism Pt. 1: A Project of Liberal Christianity

Over the last couple of months I've watched some good Ken Burns documentary films on my computer monitor through my Netflix account. I saw another one over this last weekend, this one about the 19th century women's movement led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. I had no ambition beyond entertainment and perhaps improving my understanding of history from watching it, but afterward it seemed there was blog material there that's right down my alley, though I'll probably need to do more research.

I'd known next to nothing about these women or their movement. It struck me as I watched that much of their thinking could be chalked up to Liberal Christianity, which was very big in the 19th century, but this wasn't discussed as such. Just about everybody was a "Christian" in some sense or other in America in those days, but there's no way to sort out the true believers from the nominal with the facts given --in fact, ALL the main actors in the movement seem to be merely nominal, and that may have been the case.

"Progressive" ideas of all sorts were in the air, Marx and Darwin contributing among others as the century wore on, and inventing your own religion, such as by rewriting the Bible to suit yourself, had some popularity since Jefferson himself had done it. Toward the end of the century Elizabeth Cady Stanton also rewrote the Bible to expunge what she considered to be unjust attitudes toward women. Earlier, she and her husband knew some of the "progressive" movers and shakers of the day, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. For her own wedding ceremony in 1840, when she was twenty-five, she had the word "obey" removed from the vows, and she chose to keep her own first and last names rather than become "Mrs. Henry Stanton."

Her husband was an active abolitionist, had grown up in what sounds like an orthodox Presbyterian church, and for a time before he married he was considering becoming a minister. But it's happened quite frequently that someone becomes a minister who isn't a true believer, and his actual beliefs are not touched on -- in fact I learned these few facts about him from Wikipedia, not the film.

Some of the situation of women that Stanton and Anthony sought to correct seems unjust from a Christian point of view, not just a "progressive" point of view, but sorting it all out would take quite a bit of thought. Women couldn't own property for instance, nor have custody of their children if the marriage dissolved, and they were legally owned by their husbands, not treated as citizens in their own right. Their complete lack of legal and social status except through their husbands or fathers is quite shocking to think about from where we are now. Some of this injustice probably came from a misunderstanding of the Bible. Surely there was justice in some of the reforms sought; yet some of the reforms also have an anti-Christian flavor that is still with us and needs to be recognized.

The movement started out from an abolitionist base as they fought for the freedom and rights of slaves, and although that probably had some genuine Christian support it's hard to tell there too; certainly much of it was done by "progressives" and liberal/nominal Christians. Somebody should do a study of these distinctions some time (or perhaps it's been done but I haven't run across it). It's a shame for the true church if few genuine Christians worked for abolition -- or some of the women's rights for that matter.

Quite a motley list of desired rights and reforms developed as the women's movement got going, including temperance (which was regarded as necessary for protecting women from drunken husbands who abused their wives and squandered the family income), divorce reform, co-education, property rights for married women, equal pay for equal work, and "dress reform," as well as the right to vote, which was the most controversial on the list. The enemy was clearly the men of the society, who, according to Stanton in the speech she delivered at their first Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, had "systematically deprived women of their rights...." It was of course the men who ran the government and all the institutions of society who refused to give them a hearing, laughed at them and scorned their proposals as ridiculous.

Susan B. Anthony had a Baptist mother and a Quaker father, as well as a Quaker aunt who was a preacher. One of the biographers interviewed in the film says that it was her Quaker experience that gave her a perspective that was "so far beyond what other people had at the time." The Quaker treatment of women as equal even to the point of being able to be ministers was of course "progressive." "Progressive" meant that injustices and oppressions of many kinds were understood to be the doings of "ignorant" traditions from the past, including of course also the Bible which is clear that women aren't to be preachers, though that wasn't directly addressed in the film.

Susan B. Anthony wrote the following at some point, blurring different conceptions of the sexes together, conceptions both at least vaguely biblical and clearly unbiblical:
The old idea that man was made for himself and woman for him, that he is the oak, she the vine, he the head, she the heart, he the great conservator of wisdom, she of love, will be reverently laid aside with other long-since exploded philosophies of the ignorant past.
The society of the day treats women as inferior and incompetent and attributes its authority to the Bible, though the Bible does not teach that. The Bible does call the man the head of the woman, but in the sense of role and responsibility, not as a judgment of competence or capacity (Paul even goes out of his way to try to prevent such an idea in 1 Cor 11:3, 11 and 12) and it certainly doesn't add the sentimentalized nonsense about the woman being the "heart." Yet historically men (fallen unredeemed men mostly?) have misread the Bible to judge women as inferior, or they trivialize them sentimentally, and apparently that view held sway legally in the 19th century.

In such an atmosphere it's hard for a woman to accept being told she was made for the man, as the Bible so clearly says she was, men being so unjust and also such undesirables in so many ways. In fact one of Stanton's most effective speeches in my opinion was her indignant denunciation of the insult to women of the law that allowed silly boys and drunks and good-for-nothing rowdies the vote along with other rights that were denied to women.

Among the first participants in the women's movement was Lucretia Mott, another Quaker minister, as well as the very first officially ordained woman minister, Antionette Brown, a Congregationalist. "Religious equality for women" became another plank in the platform, and here is where the sought reforms clearly conflict with the Bible. Biblical standards are blurred with merely social requirements and all together are treated as the product of the "ignorant past." Later Antionette Brown herself takes a stand against divorce rights based on the Biblical teaching that marriage was ordained by God and therefore indissoluble, despite her own ordination's having already contradicted Biblical teaching. But Liberal Christianity seems to know how to make the Bible say whatever suits, being a "Christianity" that treats the Bible as just another man-made work from which you may pick and choose what you like and discard the rest as merely the backward thoughts of ignorant primitive people.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Not politics, not prayer, not seeking revival. We need light on our sins and repentance.

Some time ago I pretty much gave up on politics. I used to get involved, posted quite a bit on various political issues, especially the rise of Islam that we've seen even after they attacked us on 9/11. That in fact was one clue that events aren't making any sense, that things are out of control and no matter what we do to raise the alarm about dangers to the country the dangers seem to increase.

Finally it really came home to me in truth that it's all in God's hands. I mean, you "know that" but usually you don't REALLY know that so you go on looking for political solutions anyway, at least doing what you can to get the word out, until you REALLY know it. I was even saying the truth before the truth really came home to me: the reason the nation is in so much trouble, the reason nothing we do is working, the reason the forces of destruction keep on bulldozing their way over everything the country once stood for, is that God is judging us. You can't fight God. If God has set His face against us there simply are no political solutions.

So I became more focused on understanding all the ways the nation is under judgment. At first the obvious looms largest: abortion is a big one for instance, the push for "gay rights" another. But then you start wondering how legalized abortion happened anyway, how we got so far down this road to perdition. Oh you can identify causes here and there. Marxist influences loom large and they got very big in the 60s, and those of that mentality are now in power. But really, how could all that have happened so easily? Why have those who oppose it been so helpless to do anything about it? Now on top of Marxism we have Islam increasing in power. Terrible paradoxes.

But the fact that we are falling under leftist and anti-Christian influences means the church had already been effectively silenced. For that to happen at all means the country had already lost its Christian identity. Certainly God judges all nations, pagan and Christian, but "judgment begins at the house of God" and that now seems to me to be the place we should be putting all our attention. I think we have to face that it's the church that has let down the nation. All we seem to do as Christians is complain that the nation does what unbelieving nations are likely to do under the influence of fallen human nature. We complain about the legalization of abortion, we complain about the push to legitimize homosexuality, and so on. We complain and we do what we can to combat such legislation. But as I'm saying here, it isn't working. The church has no clout any more. Hatred of Christianity is getting very strong. "Hate speech" laws are closing in against us. The question is "Why?" Why is the church so powerless?

Sometimes I'll just figure that it's time Christians in the West experienced the kind of persecution Christians all over the world have experienced for millennia. And persecution is good for the church too. It sifts the wheat from the chaff like nothing else. And it strengthens true believers in the spiritual powers we need to make a difference in this world. And if we can't get any further than that in our understanding, at least that's some kind of progress in the right direction.

But we COULD be asking WHY it's happening this way, why we've lost our spiritual power in this world. We should stop blaming it on nonChristians. We should stop pursuing the hopeless route of politics, the life of the flesh, of the fallen human nature, and focus exclusively on God who is the source of everything we need to make a difference. Oh we pray too, of course, but something is just not right, our efforts are just not accomplishing anything. Our focus is wrong. We helplessly watch while more and more dangerous things come against our nation. We get Obama for instance. People seem to have lost their ability to judge things rightly altogether. The nation is acting like the mythical lemmings rushing to certain death.

So I've pulled back from all that in the last few months. My focus is now on trying to understand where the church has gone wrong. I keep finding various ways it has gone wrong that need correction before God might smile on us again, what Biblical principles we have been violating. I have to suppose I've only started to recognize just a small portion of what's been wrong, and keep seeking more light.

I sincerely believe that the fact that women stopped covering our heads some time back in the early 20th century is one reason God has turned His face from us. That's a violation of His Creation ordinance and an insult to Him.

I also have been coming to believe that the proliferation of Bibles based on untrustworthy Greek and Hebrew texts that came out of Liberalism and Rationalism of the 19th century has eroded our spiritual power. There are some hints that make me shudder to think about, that on a supernatural level the expunging of so much of God's word by heretics has actually erased names from our Book of Life.

I suspect that the decline in modest dress is also partially involved, which is why I've got a blog laid out to pursue that topic when I get around to it. And I still haven't got around to thinking through the topic of nonresistance, or Jesus' command not to resist evil, which the church has certainly violated even sometimes to the point of a near-idolatry of military force. Violence of any kind against enemies is utterly contrary to the Spirit of Christ, who told us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. We're to die to ourselves, and literally die if it comes to that, not kill or threaten anyone.

Where are the "rivers of living water" the Lord Jesus promised believers? I've also spent quite a bit of apparently futile time on seeking revival. We aren't going to get revival until we have reformation, until we recognize where the church has been going wrong and repent of it.

Leonard Ravenhill was a man of God who knew God's power, and yet he prayed and prayed and prayed for revival, and wrote books exhorting Christians to seek revival, as the greatest need of our time, but he died without seeing revival and we've seen no revival since his death either.

We aren't having revival because we haven't faced our sins yet. We haven't even identified them. We aren't even looking for them. I was disheartened to find out about Ravenhill how much support he gave to Billy Graham, Graham who is a notorious supporter of the Roman Church and devoted to a destructive ecumenicism. I was further disheartened to find out that he didn't definitely oppose the Bible versions although he did seem to believe the KJV is the best. A W Tozer also fell for the versions I believe. I think these things may be a clue to why Ravenhill died without seeing revival. Ravenhill and Tozer were great Christian men with a prophetic bent. If they could be deceived, what makes any of us think we can't be?

God will not bless His people if we have such sins in our midst. Even the best of our Christian preachers seem weak and ineffective these days, sometimes even defending people and ideas they should be confronting instead. We need to wake up and consider that yes indeed we CAN be deceived. We CAN be taken in by clever wolves among us. Who the wolves are is not all that easy to identify. We have to ASSUME that we have many things wrong and submit our beliefs to God's light a lot more often than we do so that He can lead us out of our error. THEN maybe we can hope to have revival. But I don't think we can hope it at all in our present state. A.W. Tozer said that if we did have revival in our present state -- he was writing over forty years ago and it's worse now -- it would be the worst possible thing because it would confirm us in a multitude of errors. He said it better than that but that was the basic idea. But really God won't give us revival anyway in our current state, which is a great blessing. There will be counterfeit revivals of course.

Oh Lord help us. Wake us up. Show us the paths out of our present darkness. Lead us to understanding and repentance and restore us to Your favor that we might overcome our paralysis and have the rivers of living water You promised us.


I know this is just a long ramble, but I hope it's coherent enough. I suppose as usual I may come back and make changes after it's posted to clarify this or that, sorry for any confusion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If You Really Want It, It's Going to Cost, Part 2

Besides sacrificial prayer and fasting and that sort of thing, the main way Christians need to die to self these days is to rethink some of their most fondly held beliefs.

In a sense that's what I've been doing for some years now, although I must admit that most of what I've had to change my mind about isn't anything I've held to with any particular fondness or zeal. Giving it up has been mostly a matter of learning and learning and learning rather than fighting my own prejudices. I salute anyone who takes up the fight against his/her own prejudices; that takes real courage and humility and dedication to the pursuit of truth.

So if you've been a staunch advocate of the Westcott and Hort-based modern Bible versions and are willing to reconsider the foundations of your advocacy, I praise the Lord for your willingness and wish you God speed. It would have to cost a great deal of personal pride at least, and possibly even friendships, to give up a strong attachment to your accumulated knowledge, and even to the seminary or the teachers you've been trusting about this.

If you've been a diehard supporter of the interpretation that the woman's head covering is her hair, or feminine dress, or something else, I applaud your willingness to reconsider that belief. I can imagine how much it would cost a woman who has spent her life cultivating her long hair in the sincere belief that it meets the Biblical requirement, to have to think she might have been wrong all that time.

I pray the Lord would wake up many, lead us to repentance and humble us deeply over our wrong allegiances, so that His church might yet rise up in these last days in the power we've been so desperately without for so long now, in the purity of a spotless garment, in a return to our First Love, in a deeper knowledge of God. Strengthen Your people in faith and truth and wisdom and courage in these last hours, Lord.