Hell and the Chickification of Christianity

Ecclesiology Theology / Biblical Studies

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Recently I posted some thoughts on what I see as the really inappropriate verbal and written attacks being carried out by professing Christians against Mark Driscoll, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. The inevitable happened, and some people (whether here at the blog or elsewhere) suggested that maybe I would be more supportive of some of those attacks if I didn’t happen to agree theologically with mark. Really, it was suggested, I was being over sensitive when he was being criticised and giving a free pass to anything he says or does just because I’m on his “side,” doctrinally speaking. That, some thought, is why I don’t think he should be called a jerk, an ass, a slime ball, a “douchebag” and worse. It’s not that I think such conduct is wrong, I’m really just biased and over-sensitive about my theological buddies being disagreed with.

As a response to my concerns about the way Mark is being treated, this is actually a fallacious approach. It’s the old ad hominem fallacy, suggesting that my criticism of the treatment being dished out can be dismissed because of some other feature I have – like agreement with Mark on theological matters. Of course this is a mistake, and even if I agreed completely with Mark on theological matters the concerns that I raised about the conduct of fellow Christians should be taken no less seriously than if I disagreed with Mark on every point of doctrine imaginable. So this kind of reply is a non-starter.

But, as I said in the comment thread of my previous blog entry, I actually don’t agree with Mark at every point, and even some of the things for which he is now lambasted by his spiritual family are things that I disagree with him on. I just choose not to belittle him for them. One such thing is Mark’s concern over the “chickification” of Christianity, and the way he can use that concern to dismiss points of view that really have nothing to do with it. Here’s an area where I think appropriate criticism is required. Although I agree with part of what Mark – and many others for that matter – say about the feminisation of the Christian faith, I think he misunderstands and badly misapplies the principle to which he appeals, in a way that many other evangelicals also do with different principles. So to reassure people that I’m not a “Mark Driscoll sycophant,” I wanted to unpack some of the concern I have here – maybe even for the purpose of modelling the kind of criticism I think is appropriate, having already vented a bit about what’s not appropriate.

First, I do want to talk about how Mark gets it right in this regard, to provide the backdrop for how I think he (and others) go wrong. I’d like you to watch these two clips. First, here’s Mark talking about the fact that the church needs “dudes.”

You might think he goes too far. The language of “chicks” and “dudes” might not resonate with you. That doesn’t matter. You might think that because he says that getting young men into the church means getting “everything,” he thinks that women are “nothing.” I don’t think that’s what he meant, but I want to you to see what he’s getting at: The church is not young-man-friendly enough, and it suffers as a result. In case you think that he really isn’t interested in reaching women:

Did I say I don’t want women and children? That’s not what I said. But women and children with men who abandon or abuse or avoid, that’s not nice for women. Ask a single mother how nice it was that the man abandoned his obligations. Ask a woman who’s getting beaten by her husband how much she would like someone to be stronger than him, and to give him the truth? See, I think the nicest thing we can do for women, the nicest thing we can do for children, is to make sure that the men are like Christ; in a good way; in a loving, dying, serving way. Pouring themselves out. That’s why I get frustrated when I see churches that have enormous children’s ministries, and enormous women’s ministries, and no men.

Mark Driscoll, Proverbs, Part 5: Men and Masculinity, 28 October 2001

Mark is right. Next, here’s an example of Mark expressing anger over the way a lot of professing Christian men interact with women:

You mightn’t like his style, you might think a pastor who shouts at his congregation is out of line (I think it’s fine sometimes), you might think it’s showmanship. Heck, maybe it is. Overlook that, because I’m just trying to show you what he says. He places a very strong emphasis on bringing men into line in their relationships with women as followers of Christ and bringing men into the church, and he’s bothered by the feminisation of churches.

Mark’s not the only one raising these concerns.

Andrew, a fellow New Zealand blogger and self-professed centrist Anglican (and in spite of what you might think, that’s not a redundancy), who himself is not a complementarian, nonetheless observes:

It is right and proper to be concerned about the gender and generation mix of the church. It is a worry to find mid-morning congregations (i.e. in Kiwiland, the main congregation of a parish) composed of elderly people. It is worrying because it raises the question when and how the next generation of that parish will arrive. It is also a concern to find that a congregation is mostly composed of one gender: at the least it raises the question whether the gospel is being presented in such a way as to engage with one half of humanity rather than both halves.

I won’t labour the point with a long list of examples. The point is, there are Christians out there who think that there’s a problem. One last example that I will use is “Church for Men,” where you can find a few resources on the subject.

I think that there are people out there who simply don’t appreciate this concern adequately and who dismiss it as chest-beating or an attempt to make churches macho. I won’t go into examples, because my point here is not that they are wrong. So I’ll just say that I disagree with them, and I think there is a real problem, and that marginalising the problem (and by extension those who feel disadvantaged by it) is harmful. It’s a problem, thankfully, that a number of churches and organisations are working to address, but a problem I won’t be exploring in-depth here. The problem just serves as the backdrop for the actual criticism I want to raise.

OK, the scene is set. Mark Driscoll is concerned about the phenomenon that others are also drawing attention to, that Christianity is becoming “chickified,” and it would really be a lot better if churches were more appealing to men, and allowed them to be men without all the sissification he sees in churches today.

This was discussed between Mark and his interviewer Justin Brierly recently, and you can hear that interview on the Unbelievable podcast. Subscribe through the iTunes Store, or the link to the episode is here. The interview covered a range of subjects, from the book written by Mark and his wife Grace about marriage, to Mark’s view on women in ministry, to the history of Mars Hill Church, among other things.

During the interview, Mark made the claim that many British churches reject a penal subsitutionary view of the atoning death of Christ because “it seems too dark, too masculine, too intense.” Toward the end of the interview, after the interviewer divulged that his wife was the pastor of his church, Mark asked him if he believed in literal, eternal conscious torment in hell. Now why would that question come up? You see, as Mark then explained, not believing in the eternal conscious suffering of the damned goes hand in hand with a weaker, less manly view of God, with a lack of biblical manliness. It’s soft. The discussion rounded off with Mark – only very slightly in jest – saying that Justin needed to stop drinking decaf and get a little more courage.

Manliness? Courage? Something has happened here. A perfectly worthwhile and valid concern about the way we do church has morphed into something completely different: A way to dismiss other doctrinal points of view – and by extension the biblical arguments for them – by psychoanalysing the people who hold them, and by creating our own standard of what is and is not in keeping with certain virtues.

How on earth can Mark Driscoll or anyone else determine what type of punishment is more in keeping with true manliness?

Firstly, how on earth can Mark Driscoll or anyone else determine what type of punishment is more in keeping with true manliness? One would have thought that a real, old school tough dude would think that a firing squad was a stern end for an evildoer. And yet somehow because this isn’t as drawn out and horrific as torturing somebody forever, it could be more aggressive and sadistic and therefore more manly, so it is false and the more manly alternative true? Is that really the way of assessing theological points of view that Mark is implying? Of course, if it is then his view is just as easily dismissed as the views that he himself dismisses. After all, if you just hold to a point of view because it’s in keeping with gruffness and toughness, it’s more aesthetically terrible and more difficult to stomach, then you don’t hold it because it’s true.

I would also put money on myself if Mark and I were to meet in the MMA ring. Bring it.

I’m a Calvinist. I’m also a complementarian. (And I may have just lost some readers by saying that.) I think the penal substitutionary view of the death of Christ is right. I think churches should actually practice church discipline. I share those points of view with Mark. I would also put money on myself if Mark and I were to meet in the MMA ring. Bring it. I would do that to make the point if I had to. I would make him cry uncle. If he wouldn’t worship a guy he could beat up, he certainly wouldn’t have to refrain from worshiping me on those grounds (not that I would have him worship me of course). Let’s just see who the winner is (it would be me), and since the winner is obviously tougher and therefore more like a proper man and therefore more like God, his theology must be right. Shall we? Look, I have no time for the kind of limp approach to theology that Mark has no time for, but I have just as little time for the man who wants to play psychiatrist to everyone who doesn’t share his doctrines. Frankly I don’t think that’s manly at all. Argue about it, man. Deal with the biblical evidence. Don’t go all Freudian on me.  That’s not the way to fight such battles. Be a warrior, not a namby-pamby analyst (I’m trying to relate here, bear with me). In lieu of the MMA match, I would gladly set aside a longstanding rule I have about publicly formally debating other Christians, and I would debate Mark on what the Bible teaches about hell. I would show that quite irrespective of testosterone levels, the biblical evidence is against him. The Bible does not teach eternal torment. It teaches annihilationism.

Interestingly, during the interview Mark named a number of great conservative evangelical writers who have influenced the new wave of young conservative Christians like a number of those are Mars Hill Church, and among them was the British theologian John Stott “who I really love.” This, of course, is the same John Stott who caused heart palpitations among a number of conservative American evangelicals when he went public with his endorsement of annihilationism. Was he therefore showing signs of gender weakness? Was he less of a real man? Maybe a bit gay? Perhaps he believed in Mother God? Hardly. Edward Fudge, a dead giveaway for a very conservative Evangelical, went into painstaking detail through hundreds of pages of biblical exegesis and historical detail to provide what most normal people would call dry, boring evidence for the doctrine of annihilationism. But this somehow reflects – not a critical response to the Scriptural evidence, but a caving in to the softening, effeminate view of God and approach to church? Come off it.

Of course Mark’s not alone here. An evangelical giant, J. I. Packer slipped into the same sort of reductionism, saying that “the feelings that make people want conditionalism [annihilationism] to be true seem to me to reflect, not superior sensitivity, but secular sentimentalism.”1 The problem here is the same: “I have a view of what I think is more sentimentally appealing, and since somebody else’s belief lines up with what I  think is more sentimentally appealing, it’s therefore the case that they are motivated by that sentimental appeal.” Outside of the academy, others make the claim more bluntly: “the motivation for annihilationism is emotional.” This kind of intellectually vacuous cheap shot is all throughout evangelicalism, and rears its head when people would rather dismiss others then get their hands dirty with the evidence.

People do this with other principles too, like a commitment to biblical authority. “I believe in the authority of Scripture. The Bible teaches eternal torment. You believe in annihilationism. Therefore you’ve got a weak commitment to the authority of Scripture.” Well, no. It would be nice if issues could be settled so easily, but we just don’t think that the Bible teachers eternal torment (and we’ve got piles of good evidence for our view), just like we don’t think you have to believe in that sort of torture in order to be a real man and have a sufficiently “male view of God.”

That is the criticism I would make of Mark Driscoll’s teaching. It’s not that he’s wrong about Calvinism, or about gender, or about church discipline, or about the need for the church to resist the “chickification” in its presentation, music, mannerisms and so on. I have no problem with that. The criticism that I make of him is the same criticism I make of many evangelicals. They take fine principles, and they just don’t know how to use them. They try to apply them when they’re simply not relevant, and they dismiss points of view in an uncritical and sloppy way with those principles instead of through a process of genuine intellectual and biblical engagement. Mark (and others): Appealing to the recovery of biblical manhood is not the way to answer questions that depend on biblical exegesis, like predestination, the nature of the atonement, or the nature of eternal punishment. When it comes to that, I’m afraid you’ll just have to man up and engage the issues.

Glenn Peoples

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  1. J. I. Packer, “Evangelicals and the Way of Salvation: New Challenges to the Gospel — Universalism, and Justification,” in Evangelical Affirmations, ed. Kenneth Kantzer and Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 126. []
{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Joey January 29, 2012, 5:22 pm

    Annihilationism isn’t wrong because it is girly; it’s wrong because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe it 😉

  • Glenn January 29, 2012, 5:57 pm

    God believed it first 😛

  • Mike Crowl January 29, 2012, 8:09 pm

    ‘compelementarian’? It’s in this post twice, but I still don’t think that’s how it’s spelt. Other than that, a good post, Glenn.
    What has upset some of the bods overseas is Mark’s latest book – on marriage – in which he says some rather odd things, things you probably don’t want your congregation (especially the males) following through on. These, more than his views on masculine Christianity, are what have got people going this time round. (And his interview with the British guy.)

  • Quinton January 29, 2012, 8:24 pm

    SO FRIKKIN WELL SAID GLENN! WELL BLOODY SAID! I agree.

  • Quinton January 29, 2012, 9:20 pm

    I SERIOUSLY CANT BELIEVE THAT some other Christians actually brand anihilationists as being soft and feminine/unbiblical! It’s EXEGETICALLY the opposite, it’s adhering to the text (against pop evangelical opinion) that compels it!!! DON’T THEY READ their old testaments ever??????? The Hebrews didn’t believe in descartesian dualism!!

  • Glenn January 29, 2012, 9:43 pm

    Well, there were certainly Jewish dualists, Quinton. It was the rage among Pharisees and Essenes.

  • Marcia January 29, 2012, 11:11 pm

    “Argue about it, man.” love it!

  • Chad January 30, 2012, 5:12 pm

    It’s a shame that Mark talked down to Justin so much in the interview, really disappointing. I quite like Mark, he’s a strong communicator and focuses on stuff alot of other pastors don’t – but when he acts the way he did to Justin it’s just frustrating.

    Pobodies nerfect.

  • helen marple-horvat February 1, 2012, 11:14 pm

    What do you mean by the feminisation of Christianity? Women want and need the risky adventure that is following Jesus same as you.

    Very disappointed that you would come out as a complementarian though Glenn. According to the wiki definition anyway. First heard of it a year ago through talking online with people.

    How did our thirty year marriage manage to struggle along without this pillar of doctrine. Phew. Ridiculous.

  • helen marple-horvat February 1, 2012, 11:16 pm

    Could you tell us what you mean by role? I am not talking about difference but roles.What on earth is a role in the home? Good grief man !! x

  • Glenn February 1, 2012, 11:30 pm

    “Women want and need the risky adventure that is following Jesus same as you.”

    This, I just don’t understand. Of course women need to follow Jesus too. Has someone here implied that people like Driscoll actually don’t believe this? It’s news to me.

    By the way – don’t rely on Wikipedia if you want to get a fair understanding of theological points of view. I think this provides a good summary of the two major views.

    I didn’t want to go through the whole issue of the “feminisation” of Christianity, because that was just the background tot he actual criticism I wanted to bring against Mark’s argument. However Helen, the issue here is not one where moral disapproval of me holding a belief makes sense. The issue is whether or not Christians have good grounds for thinking that the Bible teaches that a position is the right one to hold. If I find that it does as far as I can tell, nobody should be annoyed or disappointed in me, as though I am to blame for this. I’m not.

    Maybe an interesting question to ask, Helen (and you don’t have to tell me the answer) is this: If you saw that the New Testament taught complementarianism, would you accept it? Should you? Because this is the position I found myself in. What should I have done?

  • helen marple-horvat February 1, 2012, 11:56 pm

    Yes glenn. Dont duck. You have the brain of a philosopher. Apply it to complementarianism.

    You of all people know that there is a massive range of scholarship on this issue. You are not passive in this as in any other difficult question we face.

    Put the work in or I will go off you! Big time.

    Now lose sleep. haha

  • Glenn February 2, 2012, 6:39 am

    Yes I know plenty of people have written on it – although I don’t intend to give the subject any real treatment here. I only mentioned it for the sake of full disclosure on where I agree and disagree with Mark.

    I do want to put the challenge there, Helen, as you didn’t answer it: What would you do if you came to see that the Bible taught this? Seriously, would you accept it or not? That’s an important question for Christians to be able to answer, because it says something about why they believe as they do.

  • helen marple-horvat February 2, 2012, 10:24 am

    Checked you link and it said nothing that I did not expect. I know all the arguments inside out. Its just that in England we dont have the word complementarianism. As a brand new christian it was extremely important to me to find out what the NT had to say….but of course, I quickly became aware of the differing perspectives of scholars.

    I believe in egalitarianism because Jesus taught that we lay down our lives for one another and that is how I understand the gospel.

    We bring everything we are, have read, have experienced, have had revealed to us, have wrestled with to our interpretation of the Bible.

    Paul takes the prayer of the first century

    “Thank you God for not making me a woman, a gentile or a slave ” and totally subverts it in Galatians.

    I am commanded to love Dil with a love like the messiah too…laying down my life as he does for me.We are to submit to one another out of reverence for the Messiah…. unless a man is supposed to submit to every other woman in the church except for his wife?

    The onus is on the complementarian to say what on earth would the NT have to say that could be persuasive of another way of doing things.

    The hypothetical is a meaningless challenge because it would be like saying…if your uncle was a woman would he be your aunt?

  • Glenn February 2, 2012, 4:43 pm

    Helen, it is not meaningless. I can only assume that when you first leaned that this issue existed, you were willing to listen to the evidence from Scripture. Why else would you have found it important, as you say, to “find out what the NT had to say”? You must have thought it mattered what the NT had to say, so the question is important. I won’t drag it out and ask again, so I’ll just pose the question one more time, and then I’ll leave it: If – when you decided to “find out what the NT had to say,” you had learned that the NT taught complementarianism, would you have accepted it?”

    The fact that you can quite sincerely quote “Thank you God for not making me a woman, a gentile or a slave” and think that by rejecting that, Paul rejects complementarianism, is just an illustration of why I am not going to argue about whether or not the view is true. That is not a suitable headspace to debate theology in, as it displays a willingness to shockingly misrepresent your brothers and sisters in the church who think differently from you. I have no onus towards you here because I am not trying to persuade you. I just want to know, honestly.

    As a gesture of good faith, I’ll answer: If I had became convinced that the Bible did not teach complementarianism, then I hope that I would not embrace it. If I discover a new argument in future that persuaded me that complementarianism is false, then I intend to give it up.

    PS – you could at least give me kudos for not agreeing with Driscoll in this blog post! 😉

  • helen marple-horvat February 2, 2012, 11:24 pm

    Not at all. I came to Christ cold and I read what humans taught about females in some quarters, christian books etc and was horrified to find “knit your man a bible verse Jumper ” in christian woman magazine…so I set about looking at translations. Obviously ….I had a look at Paul’s letters and some historical context.

    Obviously we bring everything about ourselves and our experience to a text when we read it. Some people read Jesus as harsh and controlling, others as more like a wise teacher with rhetorical flourishes, humour and a chuckle.

    “Id rather chop my leg off than dance with that guy” type of Jewish humour ( very familiar to me from the Midlands in England)

    When you came to your study of the NT, had you found that the text taught egalitarianism would you have accepted it?

    Are you sure you are not bringing pre suppostitions to your study of the NT. x

  • helen marple-horvat February 2, 2012, 11:41 pm

    No…I did not think that that alone meant that Paul rejected complementarianism. But it is a nugget of theology that is more persuasive than a culture bound letter where we are not sure what he is writing about…. Roman Household codes, temple prostitution, pagan prophets who were female, jewish women who had no knowledge of the scriptures, etc etc etc….

    But Im sure you know the material well…. as I do. I am persuaded by arguments, as Im sure you feel you are 🙂

    Complementarianism is a lazy dualism that can be ensnaring. As a church leader I have seen couples get into knots over it because it doesnt correspond to reality and causes frustration and hurt. It is a big surprise to see it become fashionable in Seattle but it will pass no doubt. My daughters think it hilarious. The big youth movements over here are in anglicanism and charismatic anglicanism…Soul Survivor etc…with a big emphasis on social justice and female leadership prized and encouraged.

    I am just disappointed to find it held as a serious position by you Glenn and I hope you will get over it.xx

  • Glenn February 2, 2012, 11:53 pm

    Helen, as I said – Yes, if I became convinced – or had been convinced – that the NT didn’t teach complementarianism, I’d like to think I would have accepted what it did teach. I answered that in the hopes that it would coax you to answer. However, as I scan through your last two comments, I see that you still didn’t answer my question. I’m scratching my head over that, but as I said, after three attempts I’m not about to ask again.

    Or was “not at all” your answer?

  • helen marple-horvat February 3, 2012, 12:11 am

    Yes. If I thought the NT taught something I would accept it because I have learned that the teachings of the NT makes sense and are beautiful in every way. I start with Jesus…the revealed Word of God and work through that lens. Of course.

    My problem is that I dont think MD does that. He starts with a cultural problem and tries to fix it carnally and uses scripture to attempt to back up his points.

    And we end up with a pillar teaching in the so called resurgence movement wich is majoring on a minor.

    Can you answer some of my points now Glenn

    What is a gender role…not a gender difference ( biological breast feeds etc ) a role?

    What is it about a female that makes her unsuitable for leaderdhip in a church or unable to teach men, if that is what you believe. x

    gotta work now…thanks for the responses

  • Glenn February 3, 2012, 5:51 pm

    OK Helen, the first question: What is a “role” in this context? It means pretty much the same thing that this word means in everyday conversational English. A role is something like a calling, a very broad job description. We could get technical and think of it in terms of a proper function, the way things were intended (in this case by God) to be.

    The second, new question is a little bit naughty for two reasons. First, I’ve indicated that I’m not going to launch into a defence of complementarianism here. That’s not the subject, and doing it justice requires far more than I would put into the comments section. And yet, the question appears to be basically asking me to launch into a defence of complementarianism. So I’m going to simply say again that I won’t be doing that. It’s also naughty because it appears to misrepresent complementarianism anyway. The question asks what features a woman has that make her “unable” to teach men. But I don’t see how that question is relevant, since that’s not the complementarian view. It’s not a view about what people are capable of. People, as you must be aware, are capable of all sorts of things that they should and shouldn’t do. If complementarianism was the view that woman are just bad teachers – that they don’t have any skill in that area – then it would be a more expansive view including perspectives on whether or not women should teach in any context: Schools, universities, workplaces etc. But this isn’t so.

    While – as I said previously in this comment thread – I’m not going to write a defence of complementarianism here, I would just observe that to complementarian ears, that is – to someone who thinks the Bible teaches complementarianism – your new question basically says “WHY does the Bible teach complementarianism?” This is why my earlier question to you was, in my view, crucial. If we would accept complementarianism if the Bible teaches it, then the question of WHY it teaches complementarianism is not a challenge to the view itself (although of course it is an interesting and worthwhile question). Even if we didn’t know why it taught complementarianism, the question should primarily be one of biblical interpretation. Does it teach complementarianism or not?

    I also think your comments about Mark Driscoll are rather unfair. The cultural problem he sees is that there aren’t enough men in the church. His solution is the whole “God wants dudes” approach. But that is *not* his complementarianism. That’s just him recognising a problem and trying to come up with practical solutions. Complementarianism is a further question, one that he no doubt believes is answered by Scripture. You might disagree, but if my readers have learned anything from me, I hope it’s about being fair to those with whom they disagree.

    Lastly, I think it’s interesting that you should say that it’s the complementarians who are majoring on a minor here. My own experience is the reverse: The opponents of complementarianism major on the issue far more. It’s only one anecdote, I know, but just look at this very thread. I had virtually nothing to say about complementarianism, but now you seem to want that issue to take centre stage!

    Now where was I… Ah yes. Why I don’t agree with Mark Driscoll’s way of dismissing other views on hell. Let’s get this thing back on track.

  • Nick February 3, 2012, 11:10 pm

    It’s also the fact that we think a reason to hold a belief to be false is that we find that belief offensive. I blogged on this on how when a professor at Harvard said women don’t have the spatial skills men do, he eventually had to resign. No one stopped to ask “Is what he said true?” They all just said “This goes against our idea of equality and offends us, therefore it is not true.”

    And I do say this as one who believes in Hell, though I would not answer Mark that I believe in a “literal” Hell. (That literal word is always so dangerous.) At the same time, I hold that view with great sadness. That it saddens me has nothing to do with whether it is true or not. That is only determined by the evidence.

  • helen marple-horvat February 3, 2012, 11:38 pm

    Okay. I will wait for your thoughts on complementarianism then and we can talk then.x

    For the record I am married to a professor of neuroscience and in measures like spatial ability the distributions for matched male and female samples are massively overlapping with typically 1-3% difference in the means.

    Now THAT is majoring on minors.

    So he /she must have lost intellectual credibility.

    Let me know when we can talk about role because it is very interesting.

    Sorry to have hijacked the thread and I hope you will give the matter more thought.xx

  • helen marple-horvat February 3, 2012, 11:42 pm

    But if it isnt about what women are capable of…what is the reason? There must BE one I guess? or is it that “the bible tells me so”.

    Where the bible doesnt seem to make sense, its incumbent upon us to work harder at our misunderstanding of it isnt it?

  • Glenn February 3, 2012, 11:47 pm

    Helen, in terms of what we do if God commands something that doesn’t initially make sense to you, you’ve got a few options.

    * One is to convince yourself (not necessarily, you… just the proverbial you) that God didn’t issue the command. True, sometimes we could be mistaken about what God said (I just happen to think the biblical evidence is strong here).

    * Another option is to consider the possibility that our failure to immediately appreciate the point of what God commands doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, or that God couldn’t have said what we thought he did. We should never suppose that we ourselves are so enlightened that God couldn’t possibly say anything that we didn’t already think.

    That doesn’t just apply to this issue of course – but to the whole range of theological issues.

    [Edited for a typo]

  • helen marple-horvat February 3, 2012, 11:53 pm

    @Nick. If you really believed in hell you wouldnt be here wasting precious time on the internet though would you ? You would be permanently fasting and weeping with tears.

    😉

    xx

  • Nick February 4, 2012, 12:00 am

    Helen. It has long been a belief of mine that if we grasped the full reality of all that we really believe for just one second, and not just on Hell but on the topic of God, the nature of Christ, the atonement and resurrection, etc. that we would never live our lives the same way again.

  • helen marple-horvat February 4, 2012, 12:19 am

    Glenn, in terms of what we do if God commands something that doesn’t initially make sense to you, you’ve got a few options.

    * One is to convince yourself (not necessarily, you… just the proverbial you) that God didn’t issue the command. True, sometimes we could be mistaken about what God said (I just happen to think the biblical evidence is strong here).

    * Another option is to consider the possibility that our failure to immediately appreciate the point of what God commands doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, or that God couldn’t have said what we thought he did. We should never suppose that we ourselves are so enlightened that God couldn’t possibly say anything that we didn’t already think.

    That doesn’t just apply to this issue of course – but to the whole range of theological issues.

  • helen marple-horvat February 4, 2012, 12:21 am

    Sure Nick

    Those thin places are few and far between arent they ? x

  • Glenn February 4, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Helen… given that this is a context where you asked me why God would command something in particular, apparently suggesting that it didn’t make sense to you, I’m a bit confused as to why you just copied and pasted my comment. I was just offering some suggestions on why not immediately getting the point probably isn’t the end of the world.

    But that’s a woman, confusing. 😉

  • Nathan February 4, 2012, 11:20 pm

    lol

  • helen marple-horvat February 6, 2012, 1:51 am

    This was part of a thread. The comments you made to me apply to you too, of course.

    Im sure the woman comment was meant as a joke. If not then I rest my case!

    Let me know when you would like to discuss Complementarianism though because I would love it.xx

    Is that the Nathan I think it is? LOL

  • helen marple-horvat February 6, 2012, 1:54 am

    In case I wasn’t clear and your presuppositions were blinding you…the point was in Jesus’ command that we lay down our lives for one another.

  • Glenn February 6, 2012, 2:36 am

    Helen… I’m a little bothered by the fact that whereas I haven’t tried to get inside your head and dissect motives etc, you’ve suggested a couple of times that maybe I’m just blinded by culture or presuppositions.

    I often wonder when I see comments like those, whether people who make them believe that they’re immune from the influence of culture or bias. Just a thought. This comment now is partly triggered by a completely different discussion and some reading I’ve been doing on the way that our thinking is conditioned by experience and relationships, and yet those who diagnose (or try to diagnose) that conditioning are every bit as subject to it as the next person. In that context I was reading and talking about atheists who seek to reductionistically explain away religious belief in psychological terms without ever imagining that the same kind of analysis could be applied to their own outlook. And here you’re doing the same to me over the gender issue.

    What’s ironic is that while I live in a fairly liberal egalitarian culture, it has been suggested to me that my culture is blinding me and making me read the Bible like a male chauvinist. A tangled web indeed!

  • Nathan February 6, 2012, 2:59 am

    Helen, I’m definitely a different Nathan. I’ve never been to Worcester. 🙂

  • Homer February 6, 2012, 6:36 pm

    My apology for keeping the thread off-track but I wanted to interject a thought on Galatians 3:28. I believe it is irrelevant as support for egalitarianism. Paul is discussing our inheritance (3:18) and our position as heirs (3:29) and is in 3:28 reassuring women that they are equal heirs “if you belong to Christ”. In that culture women usually could not inherit anything. The inheritance was passed down through the males so naturally Paul felt a need to reassure those who might believe that they would be excluded.

  • Glenn February 6, 2012, 6:50 pm

    Homer…. you’re right. It is off track.

  • helen marple-horvat February 6, 2012, 11:10 pm

    Of course we both approach the texts with pre suppositions Glenn.

    But I will sign off now and await a blog or poddie on complementarianism.

    Let me say again how much I appreciate your blogs and pods however much I disagree with you on this issue.

    In Love. Helen.

  • Nic February 8, 2012, 3:05 pm

    Regarding Mark’s question about belief in literal hell; is Mark really saying that belief in annihilationism is less manly? Or is it that he equates this belief with others of a more liberal nature regarding theology? Like egalitarianism or a view of the Atonement as something other than penal substitution.

  • Glenn February 9, 2012, 5:11 pm

    Nic, in context he gave the clear impression that a theology with a more manly edge – i.e. backbone – would never endorse annihilationism because that doctrine reflects a less masculine view of God.

  • Nick February 9, 2012, 5:30 pm

    If having God be manly is his criterion of truth, I wonder what he does with passages in the Bible where God is described in motherly terms.

  • Anthony Robin September 3, 2016, 8:04 am

    Glenn how do you know what GOD believes??? Did SHE tell you???

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