How the Body of Christ Talks by C. Christopher Smith – Book Review

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C. Christopher Smith brings yet another wonderful book to the fellowship table of the church. Following in the brilliant trajectory of his “Reading for the Common Good” and co-authored “Slow Church,” Smith masterfully expounds and encourages the church to begin talking again.

In such a culturally timely manner, Smith brings the reader along cutting through the divisiveness and noise of our society, to rediscover and engage in the lost art of conversation.

The aim, simply put in my own words, is that churches should lead the way in being the epitome of fruitful conversation. As Smith says, “intentional spaces of learning to listen and talk in the compassionate ways of Jesus. Our practices of talking together will make possible a multitude of formal and informal conversations that guide our congregations toward health and maturity in Christ” (p. 181).

Even in a world more connected and noisier than ever, it’s amazing how fragmented humanity is becoming. Smith not only diagnoses the heart of the topic but gives the reader techniques to begin to employ productive and abundant conversation in their own communities and churches.

A must read for every pastor, community leader, and even lay person!

 

My review of Smith’s other book Reading for the Common Good.

 

Available on Amazon, Christianbook, and other fine book retailers.

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Eerdmans Sale on Kindle Books for July 2019

Reading Acts

During the month of July, Eerdmans has some great deals on Kindle versions of recent publicationsAlthough I prefer real books to digital (and Logos books to Kindle), these books are worth the price. If you do not own a Kindle device, you can get an App on most devices to read Kindle books. I use the iPad Kindle App, it is very convenient for travel (or reading in the dark).

Although used hardback copies are available for less, George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (1974) is $4.99. This was one of the most influential books on evangelical scholarship. Ladd “popularized a view of the kingdom as having two dimensions: ‘already/not yet’” (The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax, A Theologian You Should Know).

Commenting on Ladd’s legacy John D’Elia said

Ladd’s legacy within evangelical scholarship is hard to overstate. I argue in the book…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 20 (Gupta)

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Recommended Reading on Women in Ministry

Recent books and classic works worth consulting. [* = Highly recommended]

Non-Technical Books

(suitable for laypeople and readers with little or no theological education)

*James Beck and Craig Blomberg, ed. Two Views on Women in Ministry (Zondervan, 2005).

A helpful counterpoint perspective with multiple contributors.

Michael F. Bird, Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry (Zondervan, 2011, Kindle only)

In this short book, Bird gives his take on the issues; he points out non sequiturs in complementarian approaches and the dangers of overinterpretation.

Michelle Lee-Barnewall, Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian (Baker, 2016)

Lee-Barnewall notes how current conversations can be very individualistic, but God’s vision for the church (and its leadership) requires re-centering on the kingdom and the gospel as a people together.

Cohick.jpg*Lynn Cohick. Women in the World of the Earliest Christians (Baker, 2009).

Cohick is an expert…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 19 (Gupta)

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Does 1 Timothy 2:12 Prohibit Women from Leading and Preaching over Men in the Church?

For those who argue that women should not be preachers, elders, or leaders (over men) in the church, they often appeal to 1 Timothy 2:12 as their most direct and clear biblical foundation. Here are some questions I want to discuss:

  • Is Paul offering universal and general teaching in 1 Timothy 2:8-15?

  • Does this passage teach that women cannot have authority over men in the Church?

1 Timothy is an occasional letter, not a comprehensive church leadership manual

The “Pastoral Epistles” are situational letters, from Paul to a particular individual (here Timothy) in order to address certain circumstances. Now, all of Paul’s letters contain some general teaching. But, sometimes, his teaching is more limited to one situation. Only the literary/rhetorical and socio-historical context will tell us whether the teaching is “once and for all.”

Did…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 18 (Gupta)

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The Books that Helped Me Change My Mind about Women in Ministry (written before 2003)

I changed my mind in favor of supporting women in ministry around 2003, while I was in seminary. In this post, I will mention a few books then that moved me along on this issue towards that change. In a separate post I will point to more recent works of note.

Craig Keener, Paul, Women, and WivesHere is a conservative, biblical scholar who is absolutely brilliant, and he had answers to a lot of my questions. Craig is always careful with his scholarship not to overstate what the evidence can prove.

Beck and Blomberg, ed. Two Views on Women in MinistryOn the “pro” side you have Keener and Belleville, on the “not-pro” side you have Schreiner and Blomberg. This book helped me see the strengths of various arguments and how the…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 17 (Gupta)

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Biblical Interpretation and Modern Cultural Influences

Sometimes I hear this argument: you are just arguing for women leadership because of modern sensitivity to women’s rights.

This is an important issue, because this can be a real obstacle for people accepting an argument in favor of women in ministry—that somehow it is contaminated by cultural pressure and therefore spoiled.

I want to raise the following points in response.

1) Modern culture is not a threat per se to the Bible

We cannot sustain the assumption that all modern cultural forces are bad. There are a lot of good things in culture.

2) Biblical interpretation does not take place in a vacuum

We do not take off our presuppositions, experiences, or values when we approach the Bible. We bring ourselves to the reading of the text.

3) Sometimes modern cultural insights can be beneficial

Imagine that you have a child with a…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 16 (Gupta)

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Junia was a Prominent Female Apostle of the First Century Church 

Did you know there is a woman who is named an apostle in the New Testament? To be accurate, she is actually commended as prominent or noteworthy among the first century apostles.

NIV Romans 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. (Rom. 16:7 NIV)

Perhaps you didn’t fully catch how important this little verse is. But why has it escaped the notice of most Christians? In the medieval period, translators and commentators on the Bible shifted this female name “Junia” to a made-up male name “Junias.” Why? Christian scholars and leaders simply could not believe that Paul could call a woman an apostle. So for more than 500 years, Andronicus and Junias were both believed to…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 15 (Gupta)

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Phoebe, Deacon and Benefactor (Romans 16:1-2)

Whenever I hear people say, “according to Paul women can’t…”, my first thought is: but women did. And often Paul sent them to do it. When I had a change of mind about women in ministry in seminary, much of this happened when I took a closer look at what women actually did in Paul’s ministries. A good place to start with that is Phoebe.

(If you want a mind-blowing lecture about Phoebe, watch this video by Beverly Gaventa.)

NIV Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.
 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.
 (Rom. 16:1-2 NIV)

Paul commends Phoebe…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 14 (Gupta)

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Translation Matters: The Generic Use of ἀυτος/autos

This is going to be another post that engages with why Bible translations should be gender inclusive (when the Greek text requires it), and where and why some translations get it wrong. Again, I am going to focus on the ESV because of its popularity.

The following gets a little technical. Sorry, occupational hazard.

What is autos?

This Greek word is a pronoun that can mean he, she, or it. Pronouns refer back to a given noun (in most cases). Its grammatical gender will match its antecedent (what it is referring back to). When it comes to the use of autos in reference to a man or a woman, it will be grammatically masculine in reference to a man, and grammatical feminine in reference to a woman.

The Generic Use of ἀυτος/autos

Sometimes Greek uses autos in a generic way, where…

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Why I Believe in Women in Ministry: Part 13 (Gupta)

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Should Women Be Silent and Submissive in Church? (1 Cor 14:26-40)

There are, I would say, two primary texts that people use to prevent women from preaching and teaching over men in the church. One of them is 1 Timothy 2, the other is 1 Corinthians 14 (esp vv. 34-35). Here we will address 1 Corinthians 14.

The focus of our attention will be on these matters:

Are women really not allowed to speak? Why? (14:34)

Does the silencing of women relate to a universal standard of submission to men? (14:35)

There’s Something Fishy about This Passage…

If you are like me, when you read 1 Cor 14:34-35 you think: this just doesn’t sound like Paul. (This seems to contradict his attitude towards women elsewhere; e.g., Phil 4:2-3; Rom 16). Well, you and I are not alone. Some scholars believe it might be an “interpolation.” An interpolation is a piece…

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