Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Anglicanism

I am putting this blog into mothballs for the present, and will focus on my new blog site with a focus on all things missional in Anglican contexts- check it out, over at

Saturday, February 26, 2011

‘Acts of God’ and the futility of creation (thoughts on Christchurch part 2)

The questions raised by last week’s destructive earthquake in Christchurch give cause for the revisiting of reflections about ‘acts of God’. I make no pretence of providing comprehensive explanations, let alone entering the philosophical dimensions of theodicy (the justifying of God). I will leave that to those with more expertise in the arguments of Augustine and Irenaeus.

Once again, my thoughts are more in the way of theological reflections.

Firstly, there is a helpful distinction to be made between God’s ‘decretive will’ (all things that come as a result of what God intends or decrees) and God’s ‘permissive will’ (those things God permits or does not intervene to prevent). Such a distinction cannot be pressed too far, and it isn't as 'neat' as it sounds. Yet it does reflect something of the tension within Scripture between God's engagement with the messiness of the world 'here and now'—whether natural disasters or results from sin and evil--and the shape of things 'yet to be'.

There are still ultimately unresolvable questions about God’s capacities (all-powerful), yet things God is unable to do without diminishing the inter-relatedness of things (e.g. questions of whether God ‘could’ stop the cycle of seasons yet in doing so the consequent impact all that depends on seasonal cycles would be catastrophic). However, that is not the direction of my thoughts in this post.

What does Scripture tell us regarding a ‘non-moral’ disorder in inanimate creation? It is certainly recognised, and at a couple of points it is clear that those caught up in such happenings are no more sinful than anyone else. The attribution of God’s hand of punishment as an explanation for Job’s calamities (and those of his family) is clearly and decisively dispelled. While Job is never privy to a explanation of ‘why’, the association of personal sinfulness and the experience of any suffering is dismissed.

There is a theological framework reflected in the greater narrative of Scripture that points us in the right direction, even if we fall well short of anything like complete comprehension (and it is foolish to pretend otherwise).

Creation as reflected in the first creation account (Gen. 1:1-2:3) is ‘good for purpose’ but not complete. The ‘meta-creation’ is finished in the sense that it is in place (Gen. 2:2), but it is not static. Creation is an ongoing project that is progressing towards a goal of ultimate ‘fulfilment.’ Within this meta-order of things (the ‘wide angle lens’ account of creation), humans have been created in the image and likeness of God to be instrumental in the ongoing creation project. I understand ‘image’ in the sense of ‘role’ (to function as God’s authorised agents within creation, with special responsibilities), while ‘likeness’ reflects distinctive capacities given to humans to enable them to undertake such special responsibilities.

In the terminology of Psalm 8, humans have been made ‘a little lower than God’, crowned with glory and honour, and given dominion over creation to be exercised responsibly before God.

The language of Genesis 1 and 2 informs us through the power of evocative imagery more than precise description. Three themes in particular are important to note:

1. Creation itself is an ongoing act of bringing order and rightful place over a realm experiencing ‘hovering darkness’ and characterised as ‘total chaos’ (the image used conveys a desert wasteland, hostile and inhospitable). There is a ‘non-moral’ disorder at work that is to be subdued through the ongoing work of realising creative order.

2. The garden does not cover all the earth: it is a specific entity depicted as a walled sanctuary in which wider disorder and chaos is kept at bay so that within the garden the purpose of God’s creation is revealed and experienced.

3. The ongoing process of ‘filling out’ creation involves the spreading out of human community and in doing so extending the sanctuary of the garden further afield, with its fruitfulness and order.

There is much more in these chapters (especially in terms of the male being inadequate for the human vocation in creation and needing a companion corresponding to him to work in partnership to fulfil such tasks), but we have sketched enough to observe the main theological contours.

My purpose in noting this is by way of setting the necessary backdrop to our interpretation of the ‘Fall’, and especially its consequences.

The great disobedience is conveyed as an act and attitude of rebellion that reflects a paradigm that is true of us all. In narrative terms, Adam and Eve represent bigger realities than two individuals in themselves. In theological terms, each of us in our own way are Adam and Eve. And all humanity share in the consequences of rebellion against the God who is the source of life and all that is life giving.

Human existence now is located outside the garden sanctuary that makes real God’s purposes in creation. We now no-longer experience the order and protection from disorderly and chaotic forces yet to be subdued over wider creation.

The human indictment is in failing to be the image and likeness of God as intended by God. The world suffers as a result, and indeed inanimate creation itself is marred in that its fruitfulness is hindered and the work of cultivation becomes hard toil (Gen. 3:17-19). Death is now a reality that shall embrace all humans.

Just as all creation is drawn into the fruitfulness of cultivation and care through the first Adam, so too it is drawn into the consequences of the original disobedience and rebellion against the Creator.

This is picked up in Paul’s similarly evocative language of all creation (including inanimate creation) being subjected to ‘futility’ through the disobedience of Adam (Romans 8:20). ‘Futility’ conveys the sense that creation no-longer functions as intended by God. This takes us into the realm of creational disorder such as earthquakes reflecting God’s permissive will, but not decretive will.

Paired with this recognition of ‘futility’ (the present experience of life does not reflect God’s full creative purposes), Paul speaks of the sufferings of creation as ‘bondage to corruption’ (Rom. 8:21). This is not to be understood as moral corruption (evil), but the decay or entropy that features in the ‘age of Adam’ reversed in the unfolding new era and creation in Christ.

The wider context of Romans 8 is highly significant. It is set emphatically in terms of hope and the completion of God’s creative purposes, despite the consequences of rebellion. The new Adam, Christ, fulfils where the first Adam fails, and all creation will be drawn into all that comes with this great reversal. The resurrection of Christ is the ‘first-fruits’ of the greater fulfilment yet to come. Creation with its present travails is personified as a ‘mother-to-be’ in the pangs of childbirth, where new life will emerge and flourish.

Paul’s thinking is clear: the present experience of all that is not right with creation is, in the greater scheme of things, a transitional stage that will come to an end. It is for these reasons that we may ‘grieve, but not despair’ of all hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

However, my final thoughts are more pastoral (although hopefully no less theological). Where is God in the midst of such experiences? God is active through humans living up to all that we are called to be: to be responsible to our families and our neighbours. God is present through the capacities we are given as humans to bring order and restoration where there is chaos and destruction. God is present where we cultivate and create community – when we are about culture-making that honours God.

And God is especially present where the gospel of comfort and hope associated with the name of Jesus Christ is faithfully proclaimed in ways that speaks to the whole range of life's experiences.

Through God’s Spirit, we have the power to transform and to be the means of God’s grace (or in the classic terminology of St Francis, to be channels of God’s love and peace).

God weeps—and calls us to weep—with those who are weeping; and to rejoice with those who rejoice.

Beyond the recognition that events such as earthquakes are part of the fabric of life in the present order of things, there are no clear answers as to 'why?' I am quite sure we cannot comprehend what it takes to sustain a creation project with the complexity of the world as we experience it, let alone advise or instruct God how to do his job (Job 38).

But I see enough of God’s greater purposes revealed in Christ to sustain my faith and deeper hopes. The resurrection is at the heart of our gospel proclamation and hope. It changes everything, and Paul—who knew the realities of suffering as much as anyone—sets such suffering alongside the vision of the greater glory yet to be, but already impacting and shaping the present (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Finding God in the rubble: Christchurch-some thoughts theological and pastoral (part 1)

My colleague down south, Peter Carrell, has offered some characteristically incisive, honest and helpful posts coming out of the incredibly challenging experiences of those in Christchurch–experiences shared side-by-side by both local Cantabrians and many of the visitors from far and near drawn to the attractive city.

Such experiences very understandably raise more questions than answers. Inevitably-and rightly-many of these questions will be theological nature, one way or another. It is important to recognise, however, that initially–and again understandably–such questions are primarily grounded in emotional responses to such trauma. And that is only right and healthy.

While as much emotional as theoretical, such questions are legitimate. Responses need to recognise that a detached analytical type of engagement will very often be unhelpful, even if the thoughts and argument itself have some validity. What I am underscoring at this point is the importance of hearing the emotional burden reflected in such questions. When such questions arise in the context of very real grief, the underlying questions get to the heart of core theological formulation: where is God? Does God care? What is God doing?

Scripture is actually profoundly located in recognising and giving expression to such questions. One of the realities of Scripture that I find especially striking (in contrast to many other reflections on life, ancient and modern) is that it so starkly names what is wrong with this world–there is no pretence or avoidance in recognising that the experience of life is both fragile and all-too-frequently traumatic. There is no denial here, and indeed deep outbursts of anger.

Indeed, Scripture gives powerful expression to grief and lament. We do indeed grieve, yet are able to do so as people who hold onto the hope of rebuilding, resurrection, and that God’s greater purposes in creation and redemption shall prevail.

So where is God? The answer is as profound as it is characteristic of Judeo–Christian witness: God is in the midst of the rubble and the outpouring of grief. Scripture does not shy from giving expression to a God who grieves, indeed grieves from the core of his being. In the remarkable instance where we are told that Jesus wept we glimpse in that moment into the heart of a God who weeps (John 11:35). It is the occasion of Jesus’ intentionally late arrival to the funeral of his close friend Lazarus. The sheer narrative poses deeper considerations. Why would Jesus weep when he knew he was about to do such a sensational miracle as a sign of the greater resurrection to come–you think you might have had a knowing look on his face. Yet the narrative doesn’t unfold in that way. In that brief window into the heart of God expressed through Jesus weeping, we see a recognition and indeed compassion for the whole experience of human loss and the outpouring of grief.

Scriptural witness affirms a God who is righteous, faithful and just. The expression of such qualities is to be found in the God in the midst of rubble. The whole direction of Jesus’ life and mission is to take upon himself all that is destructive. God is not distant, does not employ selective hearing, and is indeed moved to compassion.

Where much theological work does need to be done is in the area of our expectations as humans, and as the people of God. Nowhere are we led to believe that we will be kept immune from the realities of life. All is not well with this world, and we are told that there will continue to be earthquakes and other powerful workings of disorder and chaos. It is only in the completion of God’s creation project that the goal of shalom shall be realised.

So there is no promise of immunity, yet a pervading narrative that life has a direction. Yet a telos (end point and goal) is not the same as easy answers to the very different directions the experience of life may bring. As we’ve seen all too graphically this week, for some there is the thankfulness and joy of escaping peril, while others are caught up in a calamity not of their own making. There are no answers to why ‘this person’ and not ‘that person’ have such different outcomes.

There are some deeper dimensions where the challenge comes back on ourselves. We are drawn into such theological questions when the experience is in our own backyard, but our ability to distance ourselves from such theological soul-searching all too often features in our reactions when such trauma is overseas. The questions raised by the uncompromising realities of recurring earthquakes in Christchurch are no different from the realities of life experienced all too frequently overseas. The questions are not new, but the experiential force in which they engage us is a new experience for those of us in the developed world.

Yet the other profound insight provided by Scripture is that God is just as present, just as caring, and has just as much faithfulness to his creation as a whole, regardless of race, tribe or nation.

Where is God? The God of Scripture is the God who brings order in the midst of darkness and chaos; a God who was present in the deepest tunnels and the most lonely of corners. The God revealed in Christ is God of new beginnings, a God who gathers people into community, a God in human form manifesting the best qualities of being human in the image and likeness of God.

As Christians we are encouraged to “grieve without despair” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Amongst many other things at this time, my prayer is that God will be heard through the faithful ministry of compassion, courage, and hope from all those who stand in his name.

Some further thoughts are found in my next post '‘Acts of God’ and the futility of creation '

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Re-thinking hierarchy (2)

As with the previous post, I need to touch on a few initial comments of a more technical nature, but hang in there with me.

There is a notional distinction made between ‘working relationships’ within the Godhead (known as the ‘economic Trinity’), and the ‘essential being’ of God. However, the distinction is arbitrary, and it is widely held that we can know nothing of God’s ‘essential being’ other than what glimpses we see through God’s dealings in and through creation. There is no other ‘portal’ into perceiving God other than what is discovered in history as God has engaged with his world.

God is as God is observed to be, inasmuch as we finite beings can discern the being of God.

Why is this significant? Because the distinction between the ‘subordination of the Son’ in terms of God’s outward ‘working relationships’, and of more essential and eternal dimensions to the inner being of God is not so neatly delineated.

Now all this is much discussed and nothing particularly new. Yet it shapes how we approach Scripture. What do we observe of God, and the interaction between the distinctive entities of Father, Son and Spirit?

Note: I have chosen not to fill these posts with chapter and verse. This is not an exercise in proof-texting, but a consideration of the contours of New Testament theology. I invite readers to fill in the gaps and make the connections. (I have an academic paper being drafted that will provide a more detailed engagement with specific passages and terminology). This post is more of the ‘musing aloud’ variety…

We can note that there is not reciprocal identity—they are distinct and not to be confused. And without making the error of suggesting that there was a time when the Son did not exist, we also observe the Father is the kephale – source of the Son, and the Son is ‘begotten’ of the Father, while the Spirit ‘proceeds’ from the Father. This much is not the point of this post, but the backdrop to what follows.

While the hot issue is whether the Son’s submission is eternal (and if so, whether this is functional or ontological), I wonder whether the wrong question is being explored. It is less the timeframe of such submission, but how that ‘submission’ is understood. Is it necessarily a hierarchical notion, of command and submission?

In what sense may we understand the ‘submission’ of Jesus to Father? In similar terms, we hear of the ‘obedience’ of Jesus to the Father, although this is largely to be understood in contrast to the disobedience of Adam to God. Jesus, the new man and ‘second Adam’ was and is obedient where the original Adam was wilfully rebellious. Such obedience is also a reflection of love and trust here. The willingness to be obedient is the outworking of such love.

In like measure, talk of the submission of Jesus to the Father is better located in the sense of the depth of respect and love. The will of the Father becomes the will of Jesus. The ‘convergence of will’ better reflects what we observe about Trinitarian relations. The Trinity exists in the ultimate ‘oneness of mind’ and purpose, and it in this—and this alone—that we discover the possibility of ‘mutual submission’.

The adoption of some form of ‘hierarchy’ as a paradigm to understand relationships within the Godhead take us in the wrong direction, and places strain on the affirmation of ontological equality (ultimate equality of ‘being’). Yet the biblical windows into the inner realm of the Trinity lead us elsewhere, to a mutual indwelling and complete alignment of values, will and purpose.

In similar measure, the reduction of human relationships between males and females along the delineation of roles and hierarchy of order is ill-considered. The goal set before the fellowship of God’s people, those transformed in their thinking towards the will of God and participating in the Spirit, is to be of one mind, that is, the same mind as that of Christ.

Ideas have consequences, and the preoccupation with reducing every gender relationship to some form of hierarchy in terms of ‘who is the boss?’ and exercise authority reflects more of our culture than the gospel.

Re-thinking hierarchy (1)

Paradigms shape the way we think. The direction and shape of the notions in view adapt to the conceptual mould. This is not so much of a problem when the notion itself has some clarity about it, and the interpretive paradigm can be recognised as helpful in as far as it goes, with allowances for where the conceptual ‘fit’ may be inadequate in some respects.

I find it curious, and increasingly alarming, to note the recent pre-occupation in various sectors of evangelical theology with hierarchical relationships - even to the extent of deliberating whether a male who is lost and seeking guidance in finding a route may receive such assistance from a female - because it is not the female's role to give directions! I know the example is extreme and would be dismissed by most complementarians (but not all!), but it does underscore to me the dangers that come with being so focused on authority-obedience hierarchy that it shapes any and all relationships.

Caution is especially in order when we consider the Trinity. The inadequacies of using analogies are well known, but the conceptual paradigms in play are just as capable of pre-determining the resultant shape as analogies and metaphors.

If you are not overly familiar with the history of Trinitarian formulations, hang in there with me for a moment. Western traditions are characteristically construed in terms of the Athanasian Creed, with its definitive ‘Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence’ distinctions (elaborating on earlier terminology credited to Tertullian and integral to Nicean orthodoxy as ‘three hypostases in one ousia’). Eastern models explore a different conceptual paradigm, especially in viewing Trinitarian notions as ‘energies of God’.

Now none of the above is mutually exclusive, but they do starkly illustrate one thing: there is no one paradigm capable of fully explaining or shaping our understanding of the Trinity. The danger of over emphasising one paradigm is offset by allowing a number of other models to sit alongside one another.

For example, there is some legitimacy to recognising the actions of God may be considered in terms of particular functions or ‘modes’ of God (so Barth), but an over-emphasis on this results in the error of ‘modalism’. Similarly, an over-emphasis on the distinctive ‘persons’ of the Trinity can lead towards an effective ‘tri-theism’ (belief in three Gods).

It is for these reasons that warnings about the inherent dangers in becoming overly focussed on understanding the inner realities of the Trinity in terms of hierarchical order are very real.

A hierarchy is the arrangement of items or people as ‘above’ and ‘below’. When related to questions of authority, hierarchy devolves into ‘chain of command’ and ‘obedience’ types of relationship, understood as roles or fundamental order. Hierarchy is essentially unilateral –the exercise of authority moves in one direction and has little or no room for reciprocity or mutuality.

It is particularly with the latter in view that hierarchy is recognised as (at best) a very limited paradigm for understanding the Trinity, and more often, a very dangerous trajectory for construing relationships between Father, Son and Spirit.

Over against such hierarchical thinking, theologians from early times have affirmed the importance of ‘mutual indwelling’ within the Godhead – perichoresis for those familiar with this rich term. Of ancient usage and derived from Greek with the sense of ‘containing around’, T F Torrance characterises the term as a ‘dynamic three-way reciprocity’ between Father, Son and Spirit.

It is precisely because the unilateral character of hierarchy, with its ‘chain of authority or command’ sense of order, that serious caution is needed in allowing such a paradigm to shape our perceptions of the mystery of the Trinity.

Now my background is more in the area of New Testament theology than historical or systematic theology, so in part 2 of this post I will consider how Paul views the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit. What I will propose ends up looking much like perichoresis, but I have come at it from a different direction.

In short: I do not believe ‘hierarchy’ is adequate or even helpful in understanding the use of ‘hypotasso’ by Paul (and elsewhere in the New Testament). The use of human relationships as paradigms in exploring the Godhead will be inevitably and significantly limited. When we recognise the counter-cultural critique made by Jesus of those who exercise authority within the human realm (Matthew 20:25-26), in contrast to the ways of the kingdom-reign of God, even more caution is needed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Challenging ‘headship’

This post has the danger of treading the wrong side of a default evangelical litmus test. Note carefully, however, that my point is more specific: it is my contention that ‘headship’ is an unhelpful term in identifying beliefs and perspectives on the relationship of male and female in God’s creation schema. One disclaimer, however: I have chosen to keep things short, so I am not going to clutter things by a range of lexicons, translations and the like...

It seems to me that one of the enduring frustrations in seeking constructive dialogue is that a range of terms are thrown around as if they are self-evident. A particular term may be used by a number of people, and only at a later point does it become apparent that such a term may mean different things to different people.

There is a range of terms used in the gender debates that in and of themselves are fine with me. ‘Equal but different’? No problem—of course we are equal but different (as individuals, as much as gender), and I have yet to come across anyone ‘egalitarian’ who argues otherwise. ‘Complementarian’ – likewise. Of course there are distinctive aspects to being male and female and that in God’s creative purposes male and female were/are created to complement one-another. Such terms (in and of themselves) don’t actually identify anything distinctive about the views they represent.

‘Headship’ I find particularly frustrating. “Do you believe in ‘headship’, or more specifically, 'male headship'?” Well, it very much depends on what you mean by the term—and that is far from self-evident. In more common use, it denotes the fact that a role of ‘head’ is identified in Scripture with regard to God, Christ and husbands/men (could be either). So yes, some form of ‘headship’ may be affirmed.

Yet the term is employed as though it is self-evident and clear. A line such as 'the case for male headship which is rather clear' is not uncommon (see comment #19 found here)

The problem is that this obscures more than it clarifies. Let me identify a number of reasons why I believe the term ‘headship’ is less than helpful:

1. The term ‘head’ does not occur anywhere in the Bible (that is, in the original language texts as we can discern them). The Greek word ‘kephale’ does of course occur, but it is not a simple ‘word for word’ equivalent, especially when used in a metaphorical sense. Words have a ‘semantic field’—a number of senses and nuances that convey a variety of meanings (look up any lexicon, preferably one with semantic domains), and the English word ‘head’ is not always the most appropriate one to use in translation. The metaphorical sense may be more specific, or intentionally ambiguous. Now none of this is contentious—it is well-established theory of the 'semantics 101' variety.

My point is that there are occasions when a more specific metaphorical sense should be reflected. Of course, the English word ‘head’ may also used in a metaphorical sense. The benefit of ‘head’ as a translation is that it keeps the ambiguity open, but this leads to my second point.

2. The second problem is that the English word ‘head’ carries significant theological baggage, and this is where the slide from ‘head’ to ‘headship’ is misleading. Where ‘head’ may be potentially open to an appropriate semantic range when employed as a metaphor, the term ‘headship’ does not. It narrows the semantic sense down to one—to the exclusion of other possibilities.

3. ‘Headship’ is not simply another way of referring to ‘head’ (although it is often used as if this is the case). ‘Headship’ is not actually used in scripture (happy to be corrected if I am mistaken). As employed in theological discussion it carries much more baggage than the metaphorical sense of kephale in itself can bear.

‘Headship’ is much more particular, referring specifically and necessarily to hierarchically shaped relationships. Someone is ‘under’, and someone ‘over’. Someone has authority and issues commands, and someone is obliged or compelled to obey. The ‘will’ of the head is all important, while the ‘mind’ of those under the heads authority is not strictly relevant, but their willingness to be obedient, regardless of their agreement or otherwise. Not only is some form of hierarchical order intrinsic to ‘headship’, it is more specifically ‘unilateral’ hierarchy. Authority and submission run in only one direction, from the one ‘over’ to those ‘under’.

4. When the term ‘headship’ is used therefore, it is not in the loose sense of kephale (with all its potential nuances and variances), but more specifically implying there is one, and one only, way of understanding kephale. Instead of using the term ‘headship’, it would be more helpful (in identifying the specific view) to speak of ‘unilateral hierarchy’. To say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question of whether you believe in a ‘gender-based unilateral hierarchy’ would do much more to clarify the views being affirmed or denied.

5. It might be said that this is just playing semantics and that ‘headship’ is a more succinct term. However, not only does ‘headship’ unduly narrow the metaphorical range, it has more subtle but dangerous effect. Because of the strictly hierarchical assumption, it seriously obscures otherwise well-established biblical notions: interdependence, servanthood, mutual submission and respect. None of these comes readily to mind when thinking of ‘headship’, yet they reflect the counter-cultural approach to relationships that are defined by the gospel.

I will argue in another post that a mutual indwelling of will—oneness of mind—is a better paradigm for understanding the inner world of the Trinity (in as much as we can conceive), rather that this insistence of pushing every form of relationship into some form of hierarchy. It seems to have become an evangelical obsession, and one that is distorting the complexity of Scriptural revelation.

My next post will explore the dangerous territory being posited by those arguing for the eternal subordination of the Son, and suggest an alternative, non-hierachical, paradigm for conceiving the relationship between Father, Son and Spirit.

In summary, my contention in this post is that the term ‘headship’ unduly narrows the semantic field that applies to kephale, and should be more clearly be expressed by the term ‘unilateral hierarchy’. My point is not to argue against such an ‘unilateral hierarchy’ (I will argue such in a later post), but simply that the term ‘headship’ obscures more than it clarifies.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ideas have consequences

There have been a few moments in recent weeks when my fingers have been poised over the keyboard, asking myself ‘will I or won’t I?’ Engaging with the world of blogs takes time and energy. I often find myself questioning the value of such exchanges, given that the blogging format itself constrains developed exchange of views, especially in the comment mode. Yet there are some excellent examples of thought-provoking blogs of a biblical-theological nature that convey stimulating insight and an enviable way with words. Such examples can be found here, here or here. My friend down south generates regular interaction over matters Anglican and maintains an impressive rate of production.

It was hearing just one deceptively straightforward statement that has changed my mind: ‘Ideas have consequences’. We underestimate how much prevailing thought and assertions shape expectations, attitudes and choices.

Two instances of theological jargon particularly irk me. They are increasingly used as short-hand for evangelical orthodoxy – the quick test of establishing one’s bona fides within the realms of evangelical reputation. The fact they seem to be more commonly adopted by a ‘younger generation’ of opinion-makers depresses me on two fronts:

1) that I am at all conscious of a ‘younger generation’, when I used to self-identify as such not so long ago… have I become one of the ‘olds’?!

2) more seriously, as someone who participated in such debates in the 1980’s and 90’s (and changed my mind as a result), I had hoped that such facile thinking was behind us (just as I used to wince at references to the great debates in the good old days of the 1960’s!)

The two terms: - ‘headship’ and ‘subordination’. Neither is conducive to providing clarity or helpful distinctions of views, and both are used as if their meaning is self-evident.

So my ‘poised fingers’ are set for action. In coming posts I set aside my better judgement and enter the fray – I will argue that both terms have outlived any usefulness they may have once provided, and should be dropped from any thoughtful theological discussion in such areas. The former is simply non-biblical, and the latter is so prone to ill-conceived conceptual baggage it obscures our appreciation of the transformation wrought by the gospel.