Monthly Archives: August 2010

Book review: Faith Intersections, edited by Matt Zimmer

“Faith Intersections” is a book about listening to people who have different belief systems than our own. In each chapter a Christian interviewer listens as an individual talks about what they believe and why. We hear from them what they consider to be the purpose of life and their view of the afterlife. In some cases, we listen as they talk about us.

Some chapters are almost painful to read. Right off I find myself listening as a former Christian dismantles modern Christianity. This man knows us well and many of his observations are, I fear, painfully accurate. The conversation with the Mormon leaves me feeling frustrated as I hear the “party line” stated with such conviction. The chapter on Scientology leaves me deeply saddened. It’s the only chapter without an interview. The reason? The knowledgeable writer has years of experience trying to dialogue with adherents and knows it can’t be done in the spirit of this book.

Let me add that there’s some positive material in this book, some encouraging and some instructive. The whole idea is to model for the reader how to listen, valuing the speaker’s point of view without having to debate them. In fact, in some instances, the genuine friendships have had wonderful results. It’s encouraging to hear people who aren’t Christians speak positively of Jesus even if some are rather critical of his followers. Sometimes I’m critical of our crowd myself. The “atheist” chapter has a great story in it that will bless your heart.

I appreciate the opportunity to do an early read of this thought provoking book.

Here’s a link to the book at NPH

I’m glad Peter said Sarah called Abraham “Master”

1 Peter 3:5-6 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6  like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

I’m glad Peter said Sarah called Abraham “Master.”  Before you start laughing at me let me explain why. Peter is obviously writing to his own culture here. No preacher in his right mind would suggest that this is God’s mandate for women everywhere and for all time.  You see the writers of the Bible often apply principles to their on their own culture and that’s what’s happening here.  I have to be careful that I don’t fall into the “The Bible says it and that settles it” trap.  Remember that Paul tells Timothy that we’re to be good students, rightly applying the Word of God to our lives

This “Master” business highlights how important that is.  Am I to take this statement literally, and insist that all wives must, from now on call heir husbands “Master” or do I look at the culture of the Bible, the culture today, and find the principle in play here?  I think “the principle” approach is the one we want, so what is it?  That makes things easy: it’s a beautiful thing when a wife loves and respects her husband – that’s it!  Easy!

Let’s take it one step farther.  It’s my belief that the few passages of the N.T. in which women are limited in some way (be silent, don’t teach, wear long hair) are based on good principles being applied to local cultural concerns.  That principle is that people aren’t to demand their rights if their doing so somehow hinders the spread of the gospel.  Otherwise, there’s a broader Christian principle to apply: Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God works in the lives of women the same as he does in the lives of men, using them for his purposes – for the advancement of his Kingdom on earth

Peter also tells women “do not give way to fear.”  I think these words are especially meaningful in our society today.  On one hand, Christian women hear the call of what might be labeled radical feminism – “claim your rights” — “you’re just as capable, or even more capable than men, don’t let them walk all over you.”

On the other hand, Christian women hear the call of Christian fundamentalists: “the Bible says for you to keep quiet.”  Women of God find themselves in the middle.  On one hand it’s not about our “rights.”  On the other hand we want to be careful to read and understand the principles behind what the Bible says.

So we take hits from both sides.  Without joining the battles and not being afraid of what people say or think and we focus on getting the Good News of the Gospel preached.