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Category Archives: New Zealand

A brief reply to Mark Keown’s, Should Women Lead Churches and Preach?

Recently a friend sent me a link to Mark Keown’s blog post “Should Women Lead Churches and Preach?”

In general, Mark’s post didn’t state anything significantly new and revolutionary in the world of egalitarian/complementarian debates. What he writes, for the most part, has been stated by many others who hold an egalitarian view.

Let me state at the outset there are many who would use the term complementarian to describe themselves who are really patriarchy and from whom I would have no fellowship. They say stupid things about what the Bible supposedly claims about woman, the home, the church and society. Their views and practices are unbiblical and harmful.

However, Mark’s post is very unhelpful as well. For, at least three reasons.

  • Due to his lack of reference to and interaction with the best of complementarian representatives, one could sadly conclude that Mark’s arguments here have never been addressed from Scripture by anyone and therefore you’d be an idiot to think differently than he does. I know it is only a blog post. Yet, one should, at least show an awareness of the literature and give some indication that there are Christians who love Jesus, the Bible and woman who have come to different conclusions.

Here are just a few examples of excellent books which address every argument raised in Mark’s post:

Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian : A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate

Different by Design : God’s Blueprint for Men and Women

God’s Good Design : What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women

Notice the above three books are all written by woman, each solidly exegetical, each familiar with the historical arguments and current debates.

Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (a collection of essays, one written by a female scholar)

Here are a few items written by the husband/wife duo of Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger:

God, Marriage, and Family : Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation

God’s Design for Man and Woman : A Biblical-Theological Survey

Women in the Church : An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15

Jesus and the Feminists : Who Do They Say That He Is?

Notice that none of the above authors, as far as I am aware, are connected to CBMW. I say that simply to point out that there are solid, robust, complementarian authors and scholars from a variety of sources. I haven’t even included Amiee Byrd and Carl Trueman, who are both complementarian, yet who stirred up a hornet’s nest last year in critiquing CBMW and others in how they often defend their complementarian views.

  • Mark makes this statement near the beginning of his post, “However, for women who are called to ministry, this is essential to their identity in Christ, and it cannot be treated as a secondary issue. It is a primary issue where Christian identity is concerned.”

I find this statement concerning on a number of levels which have nothing to do with gender.

As a Christian my identity is in Christ. It’s not in my vocation, my role as husband, father, etc.

As someone in full-time Christian ministry it is critical that they never begin to think that their identity is tied up in their ministry or their ministerial role.

For someone training future ministers it would be critical to constantly remind them of this. To send anyone out into ministry where they are thinking that their ministry or ministerial role is where they find their identity is to set them up for great disappointment, frustration, and failure.

  • In the last few sentences, just before Mark’s concluding paragraph he makes the following statement, “We may be standing in the way of the Spirit if we block women from ministry. We may be like the Pharisees who thought Jesus was ministering under the power of Satan. Jesus warned them that a sin against the Spirit is the ultimate sin for which there is no forgiveness. That is worth thinking about.”

To give credit where credit is due, this is certainly an original contribution, as far as I am aware, in the whole egalitarian/complementarian debate.

Essentially all of the authors above, and everyone who has ever been a part of Jesus’ church who place some limits on when and how woman can serve in the church may be guilty of the “unpardonable sin”! Wow!

I’ve read some strong statements by both egalitarian and complementarian authors before. I’ve read statements by complementarians that embarrass me. I’ve never read anywhere such an unfounded and frankly ridiculous statement by contributors to this debate on either side.

There is no possible way one can defend this conclusion exegetically. If one handles such an important part of the Gospel’s teaching – “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” – with such a casual and indefensible approach, why on earth should anyone listen to how they handle the rest of Scripture?

To be frank, Mark, suggesting that brothers and sisters in Christ whom you disagree with as potentially guilty of committing the “unpardonable sin” is a serious matter. I obviously have quibbles with the rest of your post, but this kind of statement is beyond excuse. I would beg you to reconsider your words.

 

2015 – Invercargill Bible School – The Certainty of Christ in an Age of Unbelief

I have the privilege to speak at this weekend Bible Conference next weekend. If you know anyone in or near Invercargill you might want to encourage them to attend.

2015 - Invercargill Bible School - The Certainty of Christ in an Age of Unbelief - back 2015 - Invercargill Bible School - The Certainty of Christ in an Age of Unbelief - front

 

Charles Spurgeon’s Down-Grade Controversy and the Church Today

The more I consider the issues being debated in most church denominations in New Zealand (and elsewhere) today, the more I find myself thinking, “this is Spurgeon’s ‘Down-Grade Controversy’ all over again!”

If you are not familiar with this controversy of Spurgeon’s day, you will find a great collection of primary source materials here.

If you were to only read three items, I would recommend these:

  1. Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade
  2. The Case Proved
  3. Attempts at the Impossible

As you read them think about the current theological and culture debates raging in most of today’s denominations. There is nothing new under the sun.

Like Spurgeon I can’t understand how one can stay in “fellowship” with those who deny even in practice the authority, sufficiency, and inspiration of Scripture.

 

2015 January – Cass Lagoon Tramp

Gavin & I had the most fantastic opportunity to go on a four day tramp with Wide Open Spaces.

IMG_4919

We were four days and three nights on the Cass Lagoon Track near Arthur’s Pass.

Cass Lagoon Map

This was the most difficult physical activity Gavin had ever done in his life and in 20 years for me. It was very, very hard. We were pushed beyond our limits in almost every way.

IMG_4925  IMG_5061

Yet, we had the most priceless and amazing opportunity to experience this together as father and son. I would do it again in a heartbeat (well, after I recover from this one).

I can’t speak highly enough for the crew of Wide Open Spaces. They were tremendous guides, well equipped, patient, & knowledgeable.

A full album of our tramp is on FaceBook.

For these tramps all of the necessary equipment, including food, is provided by Wide Open Spaces. All you need to bring is your clothes and even then they will provide jackets, thermals, etc. if needed.

Everyone involved are Christians and the tramp is purposefully focused on Scriptures and Biblical principles. This included evening devotionals together as father/son as well as purposeful chats along the track attempting to direct our attention to God’s glory in creation and from the Scriptures.

Gavin & I had never attempted even a full day’s tramp with a pack, let alone a overnighter, and certainly not a full four day tramp. We jumped into the deep end on this one.

It was the best father/son activity we have ever done! We will certainly look to do it again!

 
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Posted by on 19/01/2015 in Family, Fun, New Zealand

 

My Top 10 Books of 2014

Well, it seems the thing to do each December, so I’ll join the fun and list here my top 10 reads from 2014, in no particular order.

  1. Selina: Countess of Huntingdon by Faith Cook. I try to always be in the process of reading a biography. This proved to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in a long time. Selina was a friend and contemporary of Whitefield and the Wesley brothers (along with many others during the Great Awakening) and used her position and finances to help enable their ministries.
  2. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective – A fantastic read. Very challenging and helpful. I found myself better able to think Biblically about a very important doctrine and to consider carefully its practical implications.
  3. Journey of Grace (Theological Novels) by Richard Belcher – I have been reading these books to the family most evenings. We’ve now read the first six volumes. They are fantastic. Excellent stories that keep the kids attention yet, all the while, teaching solid theology. Really unlike anything else I am aware of. I can’t recommend these more highly for families and/or individuals.
  4. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti Anyabwile – I found myself, due to the kind providence of God, planting a church this year with a great group of believers here in Rolleston. This book proved timely and extremely helpful in equipping me to think carefully about who and how to appoint as leaders in Christ’s church.
  5. 9Marks: Building Healthy Churches – There’s actually seven books in this series. They are each excellent. They are short and concise, yet thorough. These are highly recommended to anyone who loves this church.
  6. Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool CollideGray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty by Brett McCracken – two books which have some overlap in content and intention. I was surprised how helpful, informative, and challenging I found these books. I seriously think these two ought to be required reading for anyone in ministry or considering ministry under the age of 40 (at least).
  7. Christ-centred Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles by Graeme Goldsworthy – I try to read a volume of Biblical Theology each year. This was my choice for 2014. I found Goldsworthy helpful and challenging. I wouldn’t agree with every point, I think he finds Christ in places and ways I am not sure is intended. However, I was helped to think and for that I am thankful.
  8. C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath – An excellent new biography on the life of a profoundly influential 20th century author and intellect. I learned a lot about Lewis, the era in which he lived, and his influence on Christians today.
  9. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? by Randy Alcorn – I teach ethics and try to read up on related materials often. This is an older book but one I was unfamiliar with until it was recommend to me by a friend. I found Alcorn’s evidence and arguments compelling and convincing.
  10. A Controversial Churchman: Essays on George Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand and Lichfield, and Sarah Selwyn by Allan Davidson – I found this book really cheap on a discount table. I don’t think I would have ever gone looking for it. I decided to read it as I now live in the district named after Selwyn and I have heard bits about him over the years. I am very glad I read the book as it provided me with a number of insights into the early years of the church here in New Zealand and helped me to see many of the roots to the current mess the church is in today.
 
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Posted by on 21/12/2014 in Books, Ministry, New Zealand

 

The Naming of a Church

Yesterday, I read this post by Joe Thorn and it reminded me of the thought process we went through in naming Rolleston Baptist Church.

I am convinced that much of this discussion is contextual and therefore is not easily transferable to other settings. Thorn hints at that in his post. So this isn’t a response to his post, it is just that his post reminded me of our process.

One will search in vain to find any prescriptive Biblical teaching on church names! So when it comes to planting a new church one has the opportunity to do something (actually a lot of things) that is not a “normal” ministry experiences when in an established church – pick a name!

This can be rather terrifying, in that, you are establishing a name to a church that will, Lord willing, outlive you! In today’s world, web address as registered, FaceBook pages setup, etc. all with this name. The name of the church takes on significance long before you have an physical location, sign, etc.

In our setting I found this to be rather simple… I was driving around town with two other men from Grace Baptist Church in Christchurch on my first visit to Rolleston and we began to discuss the name.

For me, I considered the following:

  1. Church – we are a church. We are not just a fellowship, and certainly not a club, or just a community organisation. I am committed to having the word “church” in our name.
  2. Rolleston – we desire to be a local church, established in and actively reaching Rolleston for Christ. I like the idea of having “Rolleston” in our name.
  3. Baptist – I’m a Baptist (a Confessional Baptist). I am not uncomfortable with this and make no apologies for holding to Baptist convictions. In our context, where we have a Presbyterian Church in town, and are surrounded by Anglican churches, I think Baptist in the name helps folks to immediately recognise who we are as compared to others.
    • I must add here, I have many friends in area Presbyterian, Anglican, and Reformed Churches. They are dear brothers and sisters-in-Christ. In the big gospel game, we are on the same team. Yet we hold differing doctrinal distinctives.
  4. Reformed – I am a Confessional Baptist (I’m happy to affirm the 1689, London Baptist Confession of Faith). We require our elders at RBC to affirm the 1689, Long Baptist Confession of Faith. Generally this would classify us as a “Reformed Baptist Church”. However, in our context we opted not to include the word “reformed” in the church name:
    • We do not require members to affirm the 1689, London Baptist Confession. In other words, we are quite happy with gospel diversity at the membership level.
    • The word “reformed” in New Zealand (at least in church names) has been so historically recognised as “belonging” to the Reformed Churches of New Zealand, it just seemed like a point of confusion which would constantly need explanation.

The result of this, rather simple process, was the name Rolleston Baptist Church. We are a church, holding to historically recognised Baptist distinctives of doctrine and practice, seeking to reach the community of Rolleston with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Do we have to choose between hate and the condoning of sinful lifestyles?

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the “Baptist” pastor from Auckland who supposedly sent an extremely evil email to a gay man.

Interestingly Ian Wishart has made the following observation on his FB page:

“Maybe it’s the investigative journalist in me, and the sceptic in someone else who shall remain nameless, but something seems fishy about this story of the pastor abusing the gay author.

Logan Robertson does not seem to have much of a digital footprint pre-dating this. In fact, his “church” is so obscure it runs from a house and its website was only established a matter of weeks ago. Frankly, I’m surprised Jim Marjoram was able to find so obscure a church to send an email to…because I couldn’t find it in the usual church email directories he would ordinarily have used..

Maybe I missed something…”

The Baptist Union clearly and rightly distanced themselves from this supposed “pastor”.

As a Christian I would want to clearly affirm that this man’s statements do not represent true Christianity or the Bible, regardless of what Denominational label he chooses for himself or whether he even pastors an actual church.

At the same time, I am just as concerned about the following sentence in the Herald article, “He [the author of the book] said several congregations in Auckland, including St Matthew in the City and Ponsonby Baptist, had supported his book and support group.”

Not only do this man’s [the supposed “pastor”] views not represent true and historical Christianity, neither do the views of St. Matthew in the City and Ponsonby Baptist.

In today’s cultural environment it may be more palatable to speak publicly against those who claim to be Christians and are inherently hateful, but it is equally necessary to speak out against those who name the name of Christ and openly encourage sin and do not call people to repent of their sin. By openly condoning an active, homosexual lifestyle even performing same-sex “marriages” both of the above mentioned churches have done just this. [I am not sure if St Matthew’s has performed a same-sex “marriage” yet, but Ponsonby Baptist has and there was (may still be) another scheduled there this month.]

The Scriptures clearly rebuke those who hate and command us not to speak evil. Yet they also clearly call us to speak the truth and to call sinners to repentance, never forgetting that we all are sinners in need of repentance.

As Christians, we don’t have to choose between hate and condoning of sinful lifestyles. We can strive to obey God’s Word by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

The supposed “pastor” from West Auckland failed to do this, but so have churches like St Matthew in the City and Ponsonby Baptist.

I have written quite a bit on this subject over the past couple of years. You can read more on the following links:

Marriage manifesto

Marriage, definitions, and homophobia

Everything’s different. Nothing’s changed

To Attend or not to Attend? This is Soon to be the Question

To Attend or not to Attend? This is Soon to be the Question – Part #2

To Attend or not to Attend? This is Soon to be the Question – Part #3

 
 
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