WOMEN LEADERS & Women who were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches

“The Elect Lady” by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 9/21/17.

Not often observed in the conversation (ahem, debate) about women in ministry is 2 John, a letter addressed by John (according to traditional scholarship) to a woman who is the leader of a house church.

…Women were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches: Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Lydia (Acts 16:40), mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), Nympha (Col 4:15), Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1-2), and perhaps Stephana (1 Cor 16:15, 17) [from p. 3, from his wife Aida Besancon Spencer’s study].

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99

WOMEN LEADERS & Why the Elect Lady of John 1 is Probably a Church Leader

“The Elect Lady” by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 9/21/17.

Not often observed in the conversation (ahem, debate) about women in ministry is 2 John, a letter addressed by John (according to traditional scholarship) to a woman who is the leader of a house church. The whole text immediately follows so you can read it, with important expressions italicized (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99)

…Yes, in church history some have argued that the “elect lady” of 2 John is the church itself and not a female leader. But William David Spencer, in his final piece as editor of Priscilla Papers (28.3, 2014, pp. 1-4), has devoted some space to showing that in fact it is far more likely that the “elect lady” is the church leader of a house church.

1. 2 and 3 John are close enough that few question the same authorship, making parallels between the letters especially important.

2. Inasumch as 3 John’s address is Gaius, who is clearly the leader of that church, it follows that the “elect lady” of 2 John is most likely the same at “her” church. Some speculated her name was “Electa” or “Kuria” (from the Greek of 2 John 1).

3. The use of “children” in the Epistles of John refers to church members. The lady must be distinguished from the children and, therefore, the “lady” cannot be the church itself.

4. By calling them “your children” the “lady” functions as the pastor of those children, much as Gaius does in 3 John. To call the “lady” the church as a whole, then, fails at the simplest level of language.

5. Women were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches: Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Lydia (Acts 16:40), mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), Nympha (Col 4:15), Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1-2), and perhaps Stephana (1 Cor 16:15, 17) [from p. 3, from his wife Aida Besancon Spencer’s study].

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99

KINGDOM & McKnight + Stroope on “Why Do Christians Speak of ‘Mission’?”

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 4/7/17.

Michael Stroope has a full scale analysis of the Christian usage of the term “mission” and terms associated with it, like “missionary” and now today the very happy, fuzzy term “missional.”

His study is called Transcending Mission... The big book has three essential points:

(1) to figure out why the Bible has so little use of the language of mission, and never does “mission” occur,  and then,

(2) to examine where we picked up this term “mission.” 

(3) His third point? Get rid of mission language and reframe our calling with kingdom language.

He contends the term enters the Christian vocabulary through pilgrimage traditions that soon become colonialism and imperialism and territorial conquests. He locates some of it in the Jesuits and esp in the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference.

Instead of mission language, Stroope proposes “kingdom” language. Ah, kingdom, but what does kingdom mean? (That’s what I’m asking as I’m reading him. I have my Kingdom Conspiracy in mind of course.)

Mission is contested language that requires continual promotion, defense, and revision, as this vocabulary is supplied language to the Christian tradition. When mission ascends to the status of sacred language, it can eclipse the kingdom and thus limit our view of Gods reign and muddle our ability to participate in his kingdom. The language of the reign of God, on the other hand, expresses an abiding theme throughout the Bible that culminates in the message of Jesus. When discovered and embraced, God’s reign forms us into pilgrim witnesses, who, though weak and afflicted, are liberated to live alongside and love those we encounter along the way. 358

He contends “kingdom” reorients us to be witnesses and pilgrims of the kingdom. His view of kingdom is largely that of GE Ladd with some NT Wright.

As language enters vocabulary, integrates with thought, and becomes the content of communication, it changes the way one sees God, it shapes identity, and it determines actions. Kingdom language prompts those who follow Christ to live as pilgrims who give witness to the coming reign of God. They are not called missionaries, and their life purpose is not named as mission. To supplant the structures of thought expressed in Scripture with the language of a modern tradition is to underestimate the power of God’s kingdom to change the world through witnesses and pilgrims. 376

Kingdom language is the better choice of language, because it is rooted in revelation, includes all types of believers, prioritizes formation of life, expands possibilities, underscores the place of the church, liberates from Christendom assumptions, and points to the Spirit’s work. 376

What of the church?

Kingdom language recognizes the place of the community of faith in the activity of God. Some view the church as the problem or an impediment, so they advocate a “kingdom orientation” rather than a “church orientation,” as if we must choose between the two. For sure, the church is not the kingdom of God, but the church, as the body of Christ, exists in the world to speak and embody kingdom values. As a community of people being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the church is able to witness to Christ’s teaching, life, and death. By the very fact that people surrender personal desires and their agenda to live alongside others, they offer a counterwitness to the pervasive individualism of modern life.

The themes of my Kingdom Conspiracy are God/Jesus as king, the king’s rule by way of redemption and governing, the people of Israel and the church who are the redeemed/governed people, the king’s instructions/law and the king’s location and sacred space. The above paragraph could have been expanded to see even more vitality to the relationship of kingdom and church and actually support most of what he is saying.

As for replacing “mission” with “kingdom”? I’m for far more stringent and rigorous biblical theology, which Stroope is doing. He’s right on the history of the term “mission” being something that has taken over, though some of what is meant by “mission” surely is involved in “kingdom” so that I’m not sure I’d make as big a difference. However, he’s right when speaks to the framing issue: which term we use matters immensely, and kingdom is the term to use.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/07/christians-speak-mission/

BRIDGES & Not Walls

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 11/15/16.

Bridges not walls. I am convinced that, as Christians, we are called to build bridges not walls. This doesn’t mean a wishy-washy lack of conviction, but an approach that sees the others as human beings created in the image of God – often as brothers and sisters. I fail in my calling as a Christian and a scientist if I fan the flames of conflict rather than seek to lead people into understanding. I also fail if I allow wall-building to pass unchallenged… (Gal. 5:13-26, 6:7-10) …

We tend to put a lot of emphasis on acts of the flesh such as sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft … drunkenness, orgies, and the like, often skipping over the central part of the list. But this is the part that is hindering our witness today … hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. I have not heard anyone among my non-Christian colleagues accuse Christians of debauchery and drunkenness; the most common complaints come from the middle group: hatred, discord, selfish ambition and the like. The impression is not of a people shaped by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or of a people who are marked as those who do good to all people.

Far too often we invite people to come behind our wall rather than building bridges that heal.

Elsewhere Paul writes “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:17-18)…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/11/15/bridges-or-walls-rjs/

THEOLOGY & Scot McKnight on Ecclesiaphobia

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my research into emerging and fresh expressions of the church in both North America and England, I have witnessed what Scot McKnight calls ecclesiaphobia. Here is a good introduction to the concept, along with some important concerns.”

by: Scot McKnight, 7/6/15.

In a few of his many writings Roger Scruton wags his finger at the deconstructionists, and he’s concerned especially with Foucault and Rorty and in some measure Derrida. He calls the concern oikophobia. (See his A Political Philosophy or The Need for Nations.) Oikophobia is a Greek term, composed of house/household and fear, and the term is thus used to describe rejection of all things local and home-ish, that is, that which is Western, traditional, the supposed hegemony of bourgeois culture, and what amounts to a Western sense of economy.

To one degree or another the oikophobes become anarchists. Anarchy, by definition, is oikophobia.
Oikophobia, it can be said with utter candor, in the hands of some — I have my eye on a few authors and supposed leaders of the church who in one way or another believe God/Jesus has left the house — has become ecclesiaphobia, a fear of all things connected with the institutional, traditional church. In fact, both terms are suspect: institution and tradition. It must all be done away with, we — I now speak in their mindset — must start all over again, we gather our crowds of the discontented, and then we pretend (for that is all it is) that the institution and the tradition are dying so let’s join in what will be when it will be and we will be its true priests and prophets (most are males.

For sure, some ecclesiaphobes claim they love the church and that is why they are oikophobic ecclesiaphobes, but the fact is that they (1) love only the church constructed in their own mind of idealism and (2) snarl at most or all institutional or traditional forms of the church. Indeed, they are rejecting 99% of the church in the world. The hubris can be breathtaking.

First, we and they only got to the social tolerance and acceptability of their accusations on the basis of the oikos and the ecclesia as it existed in that traditional and institutional form.

Second, ecclesiaphobia operates structurally with a series of denials: it…
(1) nullifies the church is to operate on the basis of the Biblical tradition of Wisdom, made manifest in Christ and in the history of the church through an ongoing accumulation of theology-in-praxis that becomes both the resource and the guide to present and future decisions,
(2) diminishes Scripture as the origin for all theological reflection,
(3) quenches the Pneuma of God (God’s Spirit) over time — that God’s Spirit has been at work in the entire history of the church — as a fund of wisdom and divine guidance or discernment,
(4) minimizes tradition as another fund of theology-in-praxis-over-time and thinks instead starting anew will become a better tomorrow, and
(5) it fundamentally veers in its arrogance from the judgment of the universal, catholic church in the world and believes itself either as the vanguard of where the church ought to be or as so wise that it need not listen to the wisdom of the church universal.

To sum this up, the ecclesiaphobe has denied the sacredness of the church, or put differently, the sacredness of the history of the church. The enviornment of the ecclesiaphobe is de-sacralizing of the past. What gives them energy is belief about the future church.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/07/06/ecclesiaphobia/

WOMEN LEADERS & Rethinking One of Paul’s Passages about Women #ScotMcKnight

by Scot McKnight, 6/12/15.

Lucy Peppiatt WTCThere are at least five reasons why we ought to reconsider the traditional (women ought to show submission to men in church gatherings) reading of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, and these are Lucy Peppiatt’s five:

  1. The “spectacular array of contradictory commentary” on these verses should at least make us think we have not yet found a reasonable solution.
  2. The rhetorical readings of the passage, readings that genuinely resolve the tensions in the passage and with big themes in Paul’s letters, have not been refuted. They’ve most been ignored. Here she refers to Thomas Shoemaker, Alan Padgett, and Jose Vadakkedom.
  3. The historical reconstructions of what was at work behind the women wearing veils theory are far from convincing. Which, she asks in a telling way, is more credible? Women acting totally out of line and out of character or males emerging out of a misogynist culture acting misogynistically in church settings?
  4. The whole shame and honor “respect” Paul — according to traditional readings — wants to keep in tact goes against Paul’s constant rebutting of acting in a ways that bring honor. Put differently, asking Paul here to be pushing the honor categories of the Roman world asks Paul to act against his own teaching.
  5. Paul’s big theme of radical equality in Christ (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11) is mocked by radical inequality if the traditional reading of 1 Cor 11:2-16 is right.

Lucy Peppiatt, in Women and Worship at Corinth, is right on each of these tension points. The passage has not been explained adequately by those who think each of the words in our passage stems from Paul and expresses Paul’s own theology.

The problem at Corinth is a lack of unity in the gatherings. Oneness in Christ needs to be seen in concrete social settings. How they are behaving when it comes to worship, the Lord’s Supper and spiritual gifts mock their unity. The problems in these areas — note this term — is domination by those with more social cache. (This is my term, not Lucy’s.) So, and this is my reflection, one has to wonder if that same kind of domination is not being expressed in 1 Cor 11:2-16. (At least I do.) Paul’s “in Christ” theology, again, is radical and he knows it; we cannot expect him to undo it in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 by asking the Corinthians to act like the Roman culture all over again. New creation had been unleashed “in Christ” and it was to have radical implications at the social level of fellowship; it was not to be overturned out of respect to the Roman way of life.

Now to our passage: in short, the problems arise because we want to think 1 Cor 11:2-10 and 11:11-16 are expressing the same theology. A rhetorical reading, one that would have been “performed” well by the lector of this letter (see my post from yesterday), suggests these two sections do not cohere theology but conflict with one another because one is Paul’s response to the other.

Peppiatt, along with Shoemaker, Padget and Vadakkedom, proposes then that Paul interweaves words and views of the Corinthian male dominant crowd (found in the letter from Chloe) with his own responses. Thus, the passage would have been “heard” as Paul’s argument against head coverings, head coverings proposed by males who wanted females to be in submission in the public assembly.

Here is the scenario at work in the community of Christians at Corinth, and here she adapts Ben Witherington III’s scenario:

  1. Partisanship centered on particular Christian teachers.
  2. Cultural values of the wealthy that could lead to lawsuits.
  3. Unequal treatment of the lower status folks at the Lord’s table and dining in pagan temples.
  4. Hubris with respect to spiritual gifts.
  5. Disagreements about sexual conduct — inside and outside marriage.
  6. Disagreements on eschatology, esp the resurrection, and over reigning and glory.

Both Witherington and Peppiatt think — and #1 makes this clear — this is about some dominant males. The problem was well-to-do Gentile males. Bruce Winter, too, thinks there is a pervading masculine culture of dominance at work in Corinth (After Paul).

Peppiatt: Corinth was being dominated by some articulate, gifted males and they implemented some oppressive practices that was unraveling the freedom Paul’s gospel created. They wanted to display their glory, honor and authority on their heads (short hair, bald, etc) and wanted women to reflect their honor by what they wore on their heads. The males, in other words, were worldly in allowing the Roman culture of honor and shame to shape what worship looked like. This, she contends, is superior in explanation than the wild women theory.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/06/12/rethinking-one-of-pauls-passages-about-women/

PREACHING & Why/How Paul’s Letters Were Performed by a Reader in Public #ScotMcKnight

by: Scot McKnight, 6/11/15.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 5.37.27 AMIn a previous post I observed that Paul’s letters were not read by individuals but performed by a reader (or lector). The lector didn’t read a letter of Paul cold on the spot but instead would have been given instructions (by Paul and his co-workers). In fact, it would not have been unusual for the lectors to have prepared and performed the letter in advance — or a number of times, perhaps rehearsing the letter’s performance a few times. None of this, of course, is discussed by Paul in his letters but he does mention couriers and reading (e.g., Rom 16; Col 4).

Though this helps explain Lucy Peppiatt’s theory about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, the post today is about performance in the world of Paul and is based on the excellent sketch of memorized speech-making by William D. Shiell, in a book called Delivering from Memory: The Effect of Performance on the Early Christian Audience (Eugene: Pickwick, 2011). Shiell is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church Tallahassee. His work is rooted in the excellent work on rhetoric by George A. Kennedy.

Some are calling this “performance criticism,” and perhaps America’s best-known expert is David Rhoads. The facts/details about performance are based on ancient rhetorical handbooks. I don’t know anyone who thinks Paul was trained as a rhetor or a lector, but the reality is that most in the Roman and Jewish worlds would have experienced trained rhetors on a common basis — the public square. Thus, those who “read” Paul’s letters aloud would have “performed” them on the basis of experiencing other lectors/rhetors. None of this stretches evidence and is therefore valuable for learning to “hear” Paul’s letters as they were meant to be heard for he wrote them to be read in the congregation’s public gatherings (Col 4:16).

To quote Shiell, “In Hellenistic Jewish and Greco-Roman audiences, the performer and the audience were shaped together by the recitation [or reading], retention, and response to the performance” (7). Furthermore, “Prior to performance, the reader practices, remembers, retains, and paraphrases the reading” (8). [Is it possible that what we now know as text-critical variants began at the original performance?]

Here are some clear texts about public reading of letters: Acts 15:31; 1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; Luke 4:17-20; 1 Tim 4:13-16.

On performance, notice these texts: Acts 12:17; 13:16; 19:33; 21:40; 23:1, 6; 24:10; 26:1.

On audiences, here: Acts 2:37; 19:28; 26:24; 2 Tim 3:16…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/06/11/performing-a-pauline-letter/