Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stirring the Pot

Apparently I've started 2012 by ruffling a few feathers.  And it has pushed my little peacemaking heart out of its comfort zone. That last book review on The Resignation of Eve did not make a few people happy.  Honestly, I'm a little shocked that people other than my faithful family and friends even read what I write.  Not only did they read it, but they felt they had to respond.  Not sure if I should be thrilled or more censored in what I say.  I think I may have learned a few lessons, though.

Lesson #1: When you say that you like something, yay!  People love it and probably think you are clever and witty.  When you say that you dislike or disagree with something, then you better be ready to prove why you have the credibility to say something about it.  Interesting.

My comments about The Resignation of Eve have made me feel like I should have gotten a degree in...something before I was allowed to say anything about it.  I've been called into question about my background and bias.  So here it is: I was born and raised in the church.  I attended Christian high school and graduated from a Christian college with a degree in Bible.  I currently work in a church, both in the children's ministry and the women's ministry.  Therefore I believe that I have some credibility when it comes to discussing a.) the workings of a church and b.) what the Bible has to say about the workings of a church.  I've never written a dissertation on 1 Timothy or anything like that, but I do have 16+ years of interacting with Biblical truths under my belt. 

Lesson #2: Not everyone who reads what I write has the same worldview as I do.  What I don't know is if that means that I shouldn't write my true opinions about something because someone else will probably be offended.

That seems to be where most of the arguments are coming from.  I was called "unfair and biased" for saying this book was written from a secular worldview.  I stand by that statement.  I read this book as someone who works with women's ministry and who has a Biblical worldview.  The conclusions in this book do not come from a Biblical worldview.  They simply don't.  I do not believe we should look to the world to tell us how to run the church.  They don't understand; it is foolishness to them.  I believe if we did, then we'd have a soft place where everyone can feel good about themselves and all the decisions they feel are best for them.  The church is not about making people feel good about themselves.  It is about drawing people closer to God, through worshiping together and Biblically-sound teaching that tells the truth, whether people are comfortable with it or not. 

Maybe my comments would have been more well received if I had said something nice about the author.  Here it is: Jim Henderson is a great writer.  I read every single word of his book, because he is very good at writing.  It's the conclusions that I take issue with. 

The point of my review was I would never, ever take that book to my church leadership and tell them to use it as a springboard when addressing the roles of women in church.  It would spring them right into the pool of the world.  I truly believe this book will do more to fuel the fires of discontent and division than it will to bring any church together, giving women who look to the world to show them what their role should be a reason to feel justified in their attitudes.

I get extremely passionate when someone tries to represent Christianity without representing the Bible. It's impossible.  But this book tried to do just that.  It let the experiences of women dictate the conclusions, and not once did it look to what the Bible has to say about the issue. There are too many people out there who claim to be Christians without knowing what Christianity is all about. This book and most of those women are a classic example. The WORLD says that women should be equal in every aspect. The BIBLE points to the fact that while men and women are equal in their value and worth, God has very different plans for the two different genders. One is not worse than the other; one is not superior to the other. But they are different. And anytime someone tries to say that there should be no difference, then I know they are not coming from a Biblical worldview.

I know the women in those stories were real.  I know that most of them had not so good and downright horrible experiences with their church leaderships.  I'm sorry for them.  They should not have been treated that way, and only the Lord can heal their hearts and help them to trust leadership again.  But those handful of women do not represent the whole of the church today, nor prove any points about any perceived errors in leadership.

One of the author's closing statements was "maybe God's ways aren't our ways."  So true.  Except the conclusion of this book pointed to the ways the world would have the church run.  And something tells me that that is probably not God's way either. 

I stand by my review.  I'm not sorry I threw the book in the trash (which I probably did too soon, since I can't pull it out to quote specific passages.  I did that mostly because I'm trying to get ahead of the clutter in my house, and one of my goals is to throw out things as soon as I decide they should be thrown it.  It wasn't done out of spite; just because I wanted to get rid of the clutter.)

3 comments:

  1. Right on sista. I read the first review - right on there too. This response further answered, perhaps, some criticism, and I think this post in particular (and this is an encouragement) is one of your best well-written posts! I hear your "voice" here Tori!! Thanks for standing for Biblical truth!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Victoria - Here is what you said,

    "Apparently I've started 2012 by ruffling a few feathers. And it has pushed my little peacemaking heart out of its comfort zone. That last book review on The Resignation of Eve did not make a few people happy. Honestly, I'm a little shocked that people other than my faithful family and friends even read what I write. Not only did they read it, but they felt they had to respond. Not sure if I should be thrilled or more censored in what I say. I think I may have learned a few lessons, though."

    That you would choose to do book reviews for Tyndale and have them posted both on your blog and Amazon - and think only your friends and family would see them as if this is not a public forum, leaves me wondering if you are naive or being disingenuous? Also, I am left wondering if your friends agree with you 100% or if they just don’t express their differences to you?

    For you to have written an extensive review on what is clearly a controversial topic in Resignation of Eve and not expect others might read it differently than you, again, are you naïve, disingenuous or what?

    Expressing differences is a healthy thing when you take ownership of your own feelings and thoughts and are not imposing your beliefs on others. When you present your opinion as fact, it leaves no room for others. Remembering that each of us is the ‘expert’ of our own story opens the possibility for a real conversation and connection. Replacing certainty with curiosity opens space for the Holy Spirit to surprise us.

    I am challenged to discover how I might have a real conversation with you. Could I hold the space with you and our differences to discover that we are more alike than you or I might suppose.

    For me, God is a mystery. He/She is so much bigger than my brain has the capacity to understand. God is very clear in stating His/Her ways are not our ways. I accept and rejoice in the mystery of all of that.

    This book is a collection of stories of real women. Good women. Your review – while you do not have to agree with them – shows a lack of empathy and compassion. Their stories are true for them and many other women. Having been on staff at a megachurch for five years, I know their experiences are more true than you would like to acknowledge.

    And, I am glad for you that you are content in how your role in church has been defined for you.

    In my world, there is room for women who are resigned to, resigned from, and re-signed from. Is there room at your table for them or do they lose their seat because they’ve had a different experience than you?

    I have faith God will work it out in each of them and you and I. I am not willing to trade my faith for your certainty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments, Elaine. The word "naive" is indeed one I used when talking to my husband. I can't argue with you there. I've been blogging and reviewing for several years now, and the only people to ever respond until now have been friends and family. I don't take the time to read other reviews...why should I assume that people read mine? That is where I'm coming from.

      I think you must have overlooked the rest of my post, if you think that I have no empathy or concern for the women showcased in the book. You clearly missed the part where I said: "I know the women in those stories were real. I know that most of them had not so good and downright horrible experiences with their church leaderships. I'm sorry for them. They should not have been treated that way, and only the Lord can heal their hearts and help them to trust leadership again. But those handful of women do not represent the whole of the church today, nor prove any points about any perceived errors in leadership."

      My stand is not about the women; it's about the conclusions of the book. This book is supposed to be a "wake-up call" for the church, but not once did the conclusions of the book come from the Bible. They came from experiences of women. Experiences can't be argued with, but any mature believer would know that we can't base our lives on what we feel after what we've experienced but by what the Bible has to say. Not an easy task, but one that we must strive to do. The heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9) and using it to dictate our next actions is foolish.

      I welcome women who have other experiences than mine. I could probably enjoy time with them, learn from them and find wonderful friendships. I would not, however, coddle them in their views that are contrary to Scripture.

      I believe that if our feelings and opinions are backed by the inerrant Bible, then we can take them as certainty. That is why I present my view as fact. They aren't ideas I created; they are Biblical truths I'm repeating.

      I have not written anyone off; just this book.

      Delete