“Owning Up to Our Baptismal Vows” (Galatians 3:26-28)

During the Pepperdine University Bible Lectureship last week (1st week of May), there was a sermon given to about 3,000 people (by one attendee’s estimate) that took a look at what Paul was actually saying in Galations 3: 26-28.  Jarrod Robinson was the speaker and he took a really hard look at those verses. He first leads us in the more “shallow or surface” understanding. In other words, what the verses say just reading the words. Then, he leads the listener into a much deeper understanding of what Paul was really saying in the language and customs of the 1st Century Jew. These verses are sometimes referred to as the “foundation verses” or the “Holy Grail” of biblical egalitarian beliefs. However, those descriptions are usually made with just a “surface” reading and understanding of Gal. 3:26-28. The “surface reading” interpretation is important to us but it is the deeper meaning of Paul’s words understood in the light of Jewish customs of the first century that really shed light on just how important these two verses are for everyone. In verses 26-28, we find out how we should see and treat our fellow believers in Christ regardless of race, class or gender, but more importantly, they define how God sees us, and that is how we should see each other.
“Owning Up to Our Baptismal Vows” (Galatians 3:26-28) by Jarrod Robinson

Just An Observation

Today has been COLD! Texans don’t normally do well in extremes of cold like people who live further to the north of Texas where the cold is far more common. Today started with a temperature of 18 degrees and a wind chill of 12 degrees. That may be a warm day up north during the winter but for those of us who were raised in the Texas heat, it is just pure misery to go out in the cold!  I’m just starting to warm up at 100 degrees F.  I guess the only good things I can say about the type of cold we have had this year is that it will help control some of the bugs that we have to live with when it is hot and it gives us a good excuse to not leave the warmth of our homes or offices. We can get caught up on desk work that we have put aside when we could be outside instead of  locked indoors. So today was a day to do some minor updates to my Directory of Gender Inclusive and Egalitarian Churches of Christ that I have been putting off for several months.  While I was doing those updates, I was looking at the states and the numbers of congregations in each state who  rejected traditional gender restrictions and have become gender inclusive or egalitarian churches of Christ. I noticed an interesting fact showing up while thinking back on our history over the last 20 years of so while making updates.

Texas has always been a very traditional Church of Christ state. We do not change quickly or easily.  Our preacher training schools and Christian universities have always been quite unchanging when it comes to teaching about gender roles in our congregations.  They taught men could do anything and women, well, they could teach children who have not yet been baptized and do behind the scenes work, such as cleaning, preparing the Communion trays, etc.    Women’s voices were never heard except to sing with the congregation or to teach unbaptized children in their Bible classes.  Not a pretty picture.  Not something that I think we should be proud of, as many seem to be.  However, when the restrictions are the greatest we find the most fertile ground for change and breaking with tradition.  Looking back on our church history of the last three  decades, we can trace the gender equality movement basically to two congregations:  one on the East Coast which is no longer active,and one in Houston, which is doing well.  There may be one or two more of the same time frame that I am not aware of.  Looking at the number of churches in the United States that have removed most, if not all, restrictions on women and moved to the more Scripturally sound practice of using Christians as they are gifted by God rather than their gender, race, or social status, Texas stands out, about like Big Tex at the Fair in Dallas every Fall.  California is next, followed by Michigan.  Conservative, traditional, restrictive Texas leads the nation in the number of churches of Christ who have pushed through the walls of the box that limits Christian service by gender and begun utilizing their members as they are gifted by God.

I’m a born and raised Texan who has lived 65 years in Texas and who will die and be buried in Texas.  I’m proud of my heritage and my state.  I’m Texas conservative and Texas traditional in almost every way imaginable.  My family moved to Texas within months of state hood in 1848 and built their house on land they would eventually give to Navarro County for a county court house in what became Corsicana.  My wife’s family arrived around 1830.  They fought for Texas’ independence at San Jacinto and took part in the actual capture of Santa Anna.  Most Texans are accused of being just a bit too proud of their state, but we just can’t help that.  Guilty as charged!  It’s a genetic trait of Texans and when someone moves to Texas, most catch a bad case of the same thing.  We believe we are the backbone of the nation.  However, where my pride is at its peak is for our Texas churches of Christ who have dared to re-study the traditional interpretations and restrictions that our women have lived under for  way too long and have set aside those restrictions to become churches where gender, race, and social position are not limiting factors to service in God’s Kingdom.

 

It’s The First Day of 2014! Read a New Study!

It’s the first day of 2014, a new year with new goals, new ideas, and a new study added to this web site in December. Why not start out the new year by downloading this new study on gender equality in the church. I received this study from Don Willis, who lives in Australia, and is a part of the churches of Christ. It is a scholarly study that is also easily understood by the non-scholarly person (me), extremely well researched, fully referenced and footnoted, and absolutely Biblical. The title is “What Can Women Do In the Church”. This is a study I wish everyone in the churches of Christ, regardless of their present belief regarding gender, would take the time to read and consider. Don and I have basically walked the same spiritual path over the last 25 years and arrived at the same conclusions regarding gender equality. The following link will take you to the Don Willis page where you will find links to download the study in its entirety. Be sure to down load all three parts. The files are pdf’s so you will need to have a pdf reader to display and print the study. I wish everyone who is reading my first blog on the Where The Spirit Leads web site a successful and truly blessed New Year!

http://www.wherethespiritleads.org/Don_Willis/Don_Willis.html