To R. Scott Clark and his blogposts (they will be listed below, the comment below was in response to the part 2 link) that answers the charges on whether there is gender apartheid and toxic masculinity in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches. This appeared in Heidelblog.
There are some flaws in the two articles Clark has written about 'Gender Apartheid' and 'Toxic Masculinity.' The first error reveals more about Clark's thinking patterns than the argument he presents. By describing gender as being a grammatical characteristic only, which he does in part 1, he ignores the fact that gender can have multiple definitions. Certainly gender is used as a grammatical category. But it is also used identify one's sexual state (see https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender). Clark's approach to defining 'gender' shows a rigidity in his thinking that might affect his logic on this subject in other areas.
Another example of Clark's rigidity is seen in Clark's reaction to the use of the word 'apartheid' by those who use the term 'gender apartheid.' In part 1, Clark discounts these claims because there is certainly no gender apartheid in the Church because there is no government enforced separation between the genders and oppression of those speaking out that even slightly resemble the apartheid of South Africa. Clark doesn't realize that other forms and degrees of separation can still qualify as apartheid since the definition of word 'apartheid' isn't mystically tied to the status quo state that tragically occurred in South Africa.
Likewise, his reaction to the term 'toxic masculinity' is to say that the term seems to be a grievance against being a boy or a man. In the light of what was written before, we should note that he does acknowledge that there are multiple legitimate ways of being a man.
The second flaw in Clark's argument here started in part 1 and continues through to part 2. Clark wants to use definitions only to answer the charges made. Though he doesn't use definitions to consider whether sexism or oppression of women exists in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches, , he acknowledges the possibility of that occurring, he does use definitions only to deduce that neither gender apartheid or toxic masculinity exist. And using his rigid definitions of both 'gender' and 'apartheid,' along with his doctrinal view of both men and women tells him that these charges are false.
The better way to handle these charges is not just to define the different biblical roles there are for men and women, but to survey the women in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches to see what degree of agreement, if any, they have with those making the charges. The over reliance on definitions and theology to define what reality people are and are not experiencing is one of the strongest temptations that we in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches face because of our reliance on doctrine to settle these disputes. Thus, we often skip over asking people what they experience when solving problems or answering questions. That is what Clark has done here. Rather than propose that we ask the women of these churches about how they experience and see things, he has answered the charges by applying logic and rigid thinking to definitions to describe what is reality.
Thus, the charges that Clark is responding to will not only go unanswered, they will be unexamined because instead of including the experiences of other women in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches, Clark sees answering the charges as an exercise in logic. And perhaps, ironically, such an exercise by a man to charges made by women could be another example of gender apartheid and toxic masculinity.
To Russell Moore and his blogpost commenting on how we should react to a Christian teacher who now accepts homosexuality as a Biblically acceptable practice. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.
Two points here. First, Russell Moore provides a wonderful example of how to disagree with a fellow Christian on an important topic. He shows compassion and a recognition of the other person's strengths while remaining firm on his Biblical view of the subject. If only all disagreements by Christians with fellow Christians and others would be made this way.
Second, we need to recognize two kinds of stress lines that cause Christians to make an unbiblical choice on how to think about an issue: necessary stress lines and unnecessary stress lines. The necessary one has to do with acknowledging whether a practice or way of thinking is sinful. The unnecessary one has to do with unnecessarily trying to insist that society make the biblical stand the law of the land. When it comes to homosexuality, the unnecessary stand consisted of opposing equality including same-sex marriage in society. No doubt that homosexuality, like all sexual practices outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage, cannot be tolerated in any church that follows the Scriptures. But what in the NT requires that we oppose equality for the LGBT community in society including same-sex marriage? The association of preaching God's Word about homosexuality was made with trying to marginalize the LGBT community in society by those opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage. Such was part of an effort to marginalize the LGBT community in society. Knowing that trying to marginalize the LGBT community in society was wrong, some have felt compelled to make compromises on what the Bible says about homosexuality.
We Christians need to identify the unnecessary stress lines that we might be creating for people when we take stands on public issues. Why? Because it is possible that Jesus would call our unnecessary stress lines 'stumbling blocks.' For unnecessary stress lines do function as a kind of stumbling block.
To George W. Rutler and his blogpost praising Trump’s speech in Poland that praised the West for democracy and the advancements it has achieved. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.
In all of this bravado about the ideal West, there is a lack of awareness of its faults. And thus, self-praise seems quite natural, but, then again. believing that one's own group is special is normal. And with that self-praise comes an obliviousness to double standards. For example, when a socialists revolution overthrew a US supported dictator in Nicaragua. the Reagan administration supported terrorist actions to overthrow that government, to the tune of being convicted by the World Court, because of proximity that such a revolution was to the US. At the same time, the US, through NATO, broke an agreement that then President George H.W. Bush made with Mikhail Gorbachev over the reunification of Germany when NATO and its troops moved East of Germany. Gorbachev wrote about that (pg 308-309 in The New Russia):
The agreement on the final settlement with Germany stated that no additional NATO troops would be deployed on the territory of the former GDR, and neither would weapons of mass destruction. That meant that NATO's military infrastructure would not move eastward.
The decision to expand NATO, taken after the breakup of the Soviet Union, was contrary to the spirit of those undertakings, as I have repeatedly pointed out when parrying baseless accusations. The main problem was that the policy of the leaders of NATO harboured a real threat, and not only to Russia. There was a danger that, half a century after the start of the Cold War, the world could be plunged into something analogous.
The expansion of NATO fundamentally undermined the European modus vivendi established by the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1975.
So NATO has, for a while, had troops on Russia's border and acts as if that should be of no concern to Russia itself. But in the 1980s, the Reagan Administration supported terrorist attacks in Nicaragua because of the threat that its socialist revolution posed to the US because of the proximity of that revolution to the US border. In addition, our lack of awareness sees no problem for Russia to have western troops in bordering countries despite the fact that Russia has suffered catastrophic losses from previous Western invasions.
Our western lack of self-awareness is also evident in how Trump spoke about the threat posed by terrorism conducted by some Islamic extremists. For the US has never been viewed as a beacon of freedom and democracy by many in the Arab world. And that view of the US has been well-known to previous Presidents going all the way back to the days of Eisenhower. For knowledge of those complaints dates back to the 1950s where the complaints were about American support for current dictators and its opposition to Arab nationalism for the sake of its interest in Middle East oil (see https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1958-60v12/d5 ). Greece learned this lesson in the late 1960s when it looked like a democratic election could produce a leftist leader. America stepped in and replaced the democratic process with the installation of a military dictatorship.
Whether we travel to southern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, South America, or Central America, America's use of dictators and atrocities contradicts its claims of being for democracy. We should remember that US once supported Osama Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein. It also supported dictators before they were overthrown like Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Nicaragua. and Marcos in the Philippines. It once supported Noriega in Panama. And it helped install and supported Pinochet.
Thus when Stawrowski, who is cited by Rutler in this article, said that there are those in the West who recognize the value of Graeco-Roman culture, he could inadvertently be correct. For both Athens and Rome had empires. And while life in the empires could be sweet, that was not the case for those who were not club members. And we should also note that when Stawrowski complains about those in the west who want a democracy of elites, that President Trump himself has further established such a democracy through his cabinet appointments and executive orders that are attacking the regulatory function of the government. And the purpose of the regulatory function of the government is to protect the environment, workers, and consumers from abusive practices conducted by businesses owned by private sector elites--we should also note that conservatives are slow to recognize the existence of such elites.
Trump being applauded by the Polish people while receiving low approval rates in the US is not an example of a prophet receiving honor from anywhere but home. Rather, the approval of Trump by the Polish people can be explained by the theory of relativity. For Trump looks much better to the Polish people than Putin does. And that is despite the fact that Trump has expressed admiration for tyrants like Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Duterte.
To Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Kevin DeYoung as the blogpost consists of a recording of their conversation on religious liberty and its transcript. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition.
There are 3 points that I think are overlooked when we Christians talk about religious liberty. The first issue is a Christian issue. That is that once we call ourselves Christians, whatever we do and whatever position or cause we take, we associate with the Gospel. That should give all of us for pause because, at best, all of us have a mixed record in term of representing the Gospel. And if a mixed record is at best, we know that none of us gives a spotless or near perfect record for honoring the Gospel. What causes the Gospel to be dishonored is when we don't fully respect the religious liberty of others.
The second point that is overlooked asks us Christians to look outside of ourselves and our own world. That second point is that we have to determine how we want to share society with others. And by others, I mean all kinds of unbelievers. Will we try to share society with others as equals or will we seek some degree of supremacy in society by assuming or seizing a privileged place with the legislation we promote? Seeking a privileged place is seen when our religious views control the laws of the land in ways that give us Christians privileges and a ruling place over the rest of society. Note that whatever way we decide to share society with others, we will be associating that with the Gospel. If we seek to protect the religious rights of others, that will be associated with the Gospel. And here we should note that what many Christians forget is that homosexuality and the right to marry someone of the same sex belongs to the religions of some people. So if we try to pass legislation against homosexuality or same-sex marriage or fail to pass legislation that protects the the equality of the LGBT community, we have associated those actions with the Gospel.
Third, we need to be aware of how our actions, positions, and causes affect others. If we refuse to offer business services to those in the LGBT community or to same-sex weddings, how does it affect others? Too many times, because we seek to wear our religion on our sleeves, we don't consider how our conscientious object can hurt others. That is because we are too focused on ourselves.