Tag Archives: Christian theology

Gender Justice in light of the Bible

Gender Justice ScaleA major worldwide issue today is gender justice—ending inequalities between men and women in the family, workplace and larger community. Christian approaches to this critical problem can help to reveal the character of the gospel to the rest of the world.

Female subjugation is a worldwide tragedy. More women, aged 15-44, die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. Millions of women and girls suffer sex slavery. A woman dies in childbirth every minute. Women suffer from illiteracy, medical discrimination and many other things more than men. Sons are valued more than daughters. In India and elsewhere, this is a millennia-old calamity.

This calamity results from the fall. To understand what true gender justice is, we must return to what God originally intended when He created the first man and woman. We find that in Genesis 2:18. Many English translations say something like this: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Historically, even in the church, we have considered the woman as an assistant to the man, a “helpmeet.” But the original Hebrew, ezer, does not allow this weak interpretation. This word, rich in meaning, actually means more like “comrade,” or “ally,” a “mirror image” or “complement,” one who supplies something the man lacks and can never do alone.

In the Old Testament, ezer is used of God 16 of the 21 times it appears, as helper to His people. It is used twice of Eve. In other words, just as God supplied vital help to His chosen people, the woman also performs a vital, God-ordained role without which something important never gets done. The woman performs an essential, equal, but different, role in partnership with the man.

In this plan, the man is the “head” of the woman (like the head of one’s body). “Headship” does not mean “hierarchy,” any more than God the Father is superior to the Son in His essence. Even in the church, this basic truth is imperfectly understood.

From these biblical principles, male domination subverts God’s original plan and prevents a man from being a man. Male domination is part of the curse that befalls humanity after the fall (Genesis 3:16). Feminism also subverts God’s original plan because it reacts or rebels naturally against male domination, but fails to recover God’s intended role for women as ezer.

We are all fallen beings and none of us, even as Christians, ever perfectly follows God’s original plan in our marriages and other relationships with the opposite sex. We have lost who we truly are.

However, we who have entered Christ’s kingdom by His grace have His Holy Spirit through Whom we may recover what we lost through the fall. When we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit in our marriages, in our church fellowships and in the marketplace, we begin to recover those truths Adam and Eve knew before they lost fellowship with God.

When we do this, many outside the Kingdom will begin to grasp the practical implications of the gospel and want it for themselves. Pray that as men and women of His Kingdom, we will learn these lessons well for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom. India needs this. So do we all.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Monica’s Prayers

Monica's-PrayersEach believer in Christ is called to do great and mighty things for God. To say, “I am just a small and insignificant person” shows lack of faith and insults God to think He cannot work through you.

The name of “Monica” is remembered for the lasting influence she had upon her son, Augustine. A Christian woman of the 4th century, she was called by God to pray him into the Kingdom. It doesn’t sound like much of a calling—to pray for a single person—but Monica did not waver in her commitment because she knew God had placed this upon her.

Augustine was not a promising prospect. Highly intelligent, he was also lazy, a lover of pleasure and sensuality. Monica tried to teach him to pray, but he twisted her intentions by praying, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!” He took a lover and had a son out of wedlock, and he did many other things that broke Monica’s heart, but she never stopped praying for her son with many tears.

One day, as Augustine tells it himself, he heard a childlike voice say to him, “Take up and read.” He saw this as a divine command to open the Bible and read the first thing he saw. When he opened the Bible, he found himself in the Book of Romans, and his eyes fell upon these words:

“…not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision of the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:13-14).

These short words struck him as a summary of his own life and a call to commit his life to Jesus Christ. It came as a word from the Holy Spirit. From this moment on, Augustine became a new man in Christ.

In coming days, Augustine became one of the most prolific and influential Christian thinkers and writers of all time, influencing Protestants and Catholics alike. Martin Luther and John Calvin were strongly indebted to him. His influence helped to end slavery in Europe. He helped to lay early Christian foundations for later scientific learning and research.

Augustine gave credit for his transformation to the faithful prayers of his mother, Monica, who never gave up on him even in his darkest days. In the end, Monica’s prayers not only influenced her son’s life but also generations of believers and of human society around the world.

Monica’s story and that of her son, Augustine, teach all of us the power of our influence, and how it may even change generations not yet born. God is glorified when we put ourselves into His hands. God told Jeremiah, “Call unto me, and I will answer and do great and mighty things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). God’s invitation to Jeremiah is also His invitation to us.

In dark days like our own, God especially loves to work His greatest works, through people willing for Him to use them.

All major revivals and awakenings begin in dark days when nameless people, known only to God, cry out to Him. The most influential people in the world are those not paralyzed by the times but energized by them because they anticipate His victory and their part in helping to make it happen.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Theologian in You

There is a general misconception that theology is only for religious specialists who spend years in college and seminary and church pastorates. Not true. In truth, we are all theologians. Theology is the study of God, and whether our beliefs are well-formed or half-baked, all of us have ideas about God and the world in which we live. Our decisions and our attitudes are influenced by those beliefs.

Therefore, the wise person sets out to determine just what his beliefs about God are and to correct those that are wrong.

Some of the sources of our beliefs about God come from the revealed Word of God. There are moments in which God may have indeed spoken to us to clarify truth about Him. At other times, our beliefs come from questionable sources, such as negative personal experiences or cultural influences that tell us lies about ourselves and about God. These unconscious but erroneous beliefs can have a devastating effect upon us and those who must live with us.

At times, we should each clarify what we actually believe about God and whether our beliefs agree with the revealed Word of God. It may be that what we say we believe is not what we actually believe in practice.

Theology is not just for theologians, seminary students and pastors, it is for all of us. We must make a conscious and constant effort to align our beliefs with scripture to help us make wise life decisions and decisions that affect us and those around us for eternity.

The main divisions of Christian theology include (1) exegetical theology (interpretation and study of scriptural texts), (2) historical theology (the history of doctrinal thought), (3) systematic theology (arranging the teachings in a logical order which includes apologetics and ethics, the doctrine of origins to the doctrine of last things) and (4) practical theology (salvation, preaching, education, administration, worship, the Great Commission). To effectively live our Christian lives, we must have strong foundations in each of these areas.

Of course, Christian theology is more than the sum of correct beliefs about God.
It involves our response to the work of the living God in our lives, moving us to act in love and obedience toward him. Our correct beliefs become a living faith as we listen to God and learn to do His will in our lives.

For example, if we say we believe in an omnipotent God, we will trust God to do great things in our lives and the lives of others. We will give ourselves to prayers of faith.
We will not become discouraged when things do not always go our way. We will trust God to be stronger than the circumstances that surround us.

We will also get our priorities straight when it comes to the Great Commission.
We will more readily see the lost world around us and ask God how He can work through us to accomplish His redemptive purpose among the spiritually lost at home and abroad.

In India, millions of people remain in spiritual confusion because of diabolically distorted and darkened perceptions of God. Join us with your prayers and resources to insure that the Bread of Life reaches all who hunger for it.

Blessings in Christ,
Valson Abraham

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,