Someone asked me, “Amanda, why do you read TGC if it frustrates you so much?”
Ah yes, the million dollar question.
My blog reader is full of all kinds of blogs. Some are blogs that encourage me, others are blogs that remind me how diverse and beautiful the Body of Christ really is. And still others frustrate me to no end. As will be seen, it is not just Young, Restless, Reformed blogs that belong on this list of blogs that challenge me.
Reading blogs that challenge me, accomplishes several things:
1. It reminds me that I am not always right. I know, it’s shocking isn’t it? Amanda is not always right.
2. It challenges me to think through why I believe what I believe on certain issues. On several issues, I have learned that I believe what I believe not “just because” but because I have theologically wrestled through the issues and spent time in prayer and study on the issue.
3. It reminds me what the essentials are. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Christian Unity means affirming the essentials, and allowing space for the non-essentials. (Ultimately, it comes down to this)
4. It gives me something to write about on the blog. Let’s face it, sometimes the best blog material comes from wrestling through the areas of disagreement. And as everyone knows, if you post a response to something Mark Driscoll has said, it is bound to create a stir.
5. Just because I disagree with the content of certain blogs does not mean that I cannot learn from them.Sometimes these blogs actually have valuable content that I don’t disagree with. This has happened, surprisingly, numerous times over at TGC, including a fantastic post this week on the relationship between pastors and theologians.
So, without further ado, here are some of the blogs that challenge me; blogs that I read and will continue to read even when they frustrate me and make me question the future of Christianity. Some of these are on the list because I have theological and philosophical disagreements with them, and others because I think they push their agenda too far and too hard at the expense of promoting Christian charity.
Experimental Theology by Richard Beck.
Jesus Needs New P.R. by Matthew Paul Turner.
What blogs challenge you?
This year’s list is my favourite blogs from a variety of disciplines. In no particular order:
The Ruthless Monk by Leslie Keeney.
Die Evangelischen Theologen by Travis, Brandy, Kait, Derek, Kate, Jon, Scott and Matt.
Out of Bounds by Adam, Jon, Justin, and Darren.
Storied Theology by Daniel Kirk.
Near Emmaus by Brian, JohnDave, and Daniel.
NT Blog by Mark Goodacre.
Everyday Theology by Marc Cortez.
For Christ and His Kingdom by students from Wheaton.
Quadrilateral Thoughts by Ken Schenck.
The Comics Professor.
What are some of your favourite blogs?
Next up: Blogs that challenge me, or The importance of reading blogs I disagree with.
Last November, Owen Strachan wrote a post on ‘dad-moms': those men who take on female responsibilities like laundry, dishes and childcare. This post was then picked up by Her.meneutics where the discussion continued. Well, this month, an expanded essay on the topic appeared in The Journal For Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Two things of interest in this expanded essay. First Owen Strachan admits that complementarianism is patriarchy. He writes, “For millennia, followers of God have practiced what used to be called patriarchy and is now called complementarianism.” It’s interesting that he says this given that most complementarians try their hardest to distinguish complementarianism from patriarchy.
Second, he says that most of the response to his post was from a ‘feminine voice.’ And yet, I was blessed by seeing how many men stood up to voice their opinion about it (particularly on twitter). But it does raise the question, is this an issue only for women? Why isn’t it an issue for men? Is it not a manly enough issue for men to discuss? Do those men who disagree with Strachan no longer qualify to be ‘men’ because they supposedly have been shaped by culture rather than Scripture? What happens if it turns out that those men who don’t have a problem with ‘dad moms’ have truly based their understanding on Scripture instead of on secular culture and still arrive at their conclusion? Does that make them ‘feminine?’
This post is part of series I’m doing on Women in the Reformation. Be sure to check out the other installments, including:
Life for Women in Munster under Jan Mathjis and Jan Leiden
Gender in Anabaptist Circles in the Reformation
Education for Women in the Reformation: My Brain Wears Man Pants!
It’s Not a Throwback to the 50’s; It’s a Throwback to the 1500’s
One of the questions that historians who research women’s contributions to the Reformation wrestle with is, Where have the documents gone?
Prominent women who published like Argula von Grumbach had nearly 30,000 copies of her works in circulation and yet today there is no original manuscript copy to be found. Was it because they were deliberately destroyed? Were they just thrown away as trash?
Now it’s true that part of the dearth of documents can be because of wars and other unfortunate circumstances. Olimpia Morata’s personal collection and most of her writings were destroyed during the siege of Schweinfurt.
But, at the same time, there appears to be evidence of deliberate destroying of documents.
The city council of Geneva ordered that all copies of Marie Dentière’s “The Epistle to Marguerite de Navarre” be confiscated and destroyed. Her husband went before the city council and pleaded that the copies of his wife’s work be returned, and they refused. Thankfully, due to his quick thinking, several hundred copies of her letter were rescued from the printing shop before the city council could arrive to confiscate them. The writings of Marie Dentière led to the city council of Geneva tightening up their rules regarding publication, including the stipulation that all documents being published had to be first approved by city council.
Another factor was that the women who published had to be a) well connected, probably of some political prominence and b) have sizeable financial resources as publishing was an expensive endeavour.
And lastly, the writings of women were not considered to be valuable. As such, unpublished works, diaries, letters, hymns and devotionals were often just discarded rather than preserved for historical value.
Dentière, Marie. Epistle to Marguerite De Navarre and Preface to a Sermon by John Calvin. Edited by Mary McKinley. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Matheson, Peter. “Breaking the Silence: Women, Censorship, and the Reformation.” Sixteenth Century Journal XXVII (1996): 97–109.
Stjerna, Kirsi. Women and the Reformation. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2009.
Weisner, Merry. “Women’s Response to the Reformation” in The German People and The Reformation Edited by R. Po-Chia Hsia. Cornell University Press, 1988.
I keep noodling this idea of grace and transformation. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about not wanting to be “Just As I Am”. And this week I looked at the church’s slayer: grace. Over at RHE’s post on the conversation on the dialogue between churched and unchurched Christians, I wrote this:
“Whenever I look at these conversations, my first question is “where is the grace?” And by that I don’t mean tolerance. What I mean is where is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit? Too often people on both sides of the table set out with a “The other side needs me to change their mind, their convictions, their beliefs, their practices” when what we should be saying as we enter into the church is “Am I willing to let grace change me, and transform me? Am I willing to admit that I need to be transformed? Am I willing to allow grace to convict me and expose my blindspots?” Unfortunately it feels like we’ve exalted experience to the place of grace and made experience the authority that judges everything that does and should happen. (and this happens on both the churched and unchurched sides).”
And here a few more random thoughts that are bopping around in my head:
Our extending grace is done because God has first extended grace to us. The grace is not our own, it is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What happens when we receive grace? What happens when we extend grace? When we come in contact with grace the veil is pulled back, and we see the Holy Trinity dancing and working and rejoicing. This encounter with grace cannot leave us “just as we were”.
And I think that’s where I’m camping right now: Grace does not leave us unchanged.
One of my favourite themes in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that high school is hell. From the cheerleaders who spontaneously combust, to the swim team that is made up of creatures from the black lagoon, to the fact that the high school was literally sitting over a hell-mouth, Whedon explores the common high school experiences through a supernatural lens. Not only does his comment on the high school experience, he also captures the irony of Hollywood and our culture exalting high school as the “golden years” of our lives. Sunnydale High looked like an idyllic California school, but those who attended knew the truth of the darkness and problems that existed in its hallowed walls.
Are there parallels between the “high school is hell” motif in Buffy, and the reality of living as a Christian in the North American evangelical Church?
Like Sunnydale high, there seems to be more focus on the drama of relationships and interpersonal conflict than on the purpose of the institution. For Sunnydale high, the purpose was education; for the community of faith it is worship.
Like Sunnydale high, from the outside the community of faith tries to look like a sunshiney-bright place. In reality, what resides within it is infighting, outgroups, bullying and ostracizing.
Like Sunnydale high, the community of faith is a place that has jocks, beautiful girls, geeks, losers, punks and brainiacs. There are the hyena people who bully and prey on the weak. There are those who are ignored and are basically invisible. There are the jock and popular girls who are the “in-crowd” and who define what is popular and cool.
What both Sunnydale high and the Church in North America have is a slayer who protects and fights against the dark powers of the hellmouth.
At Sunnydale High that slayer is Buffy. In the church, that slayer is grace.
Grace fights against the legalism.
Grace comforts the outcasts.
Grace unites the different cliques and reshapes them as they journey through they come together to worship.
Grace takes on the darkness and wins.