Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Homemaker Track at SWBTS


The following is my conversation with Denny Burk over the Homemaker track at SWBTS (in response to his post):


My comment:

You said:

“Frankly, I don’t see what the big deal is. Universities and colleges have been offering courses in home economics for a very long time. My pastor’s wife, for instance, has a degree in home economics from the University of Texas.”

The description for the concentration says:

“Preparing women to model the characteristics of a Godly woman as outlined in Scripture. This is done through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today. It is unique in that we recognize the need to challenge women both intellectually and practically. It is our mission to equip a woman to impact women and families for Christ.” (see the whole thing here).

I said:

You, in your blog, are doing something that the College at Southwestern is not doing, namely, equating a Home Economics degree with that of the Homemaking Concentration. One teaches life skills, while the other teaches that the ‘biblical’ role of a woman is to be a ‘Homemaker.’ You don’t even have to be egalitarian to disagree with this belief.

I don’t see how in scripture ‘Homemaker’ and ‘the gender role of the woman’ are synonymous.

And, as a side note, one can see that the concentration does nothing to “equip women to understand and engage the culture of today” as it states. It teaches them to prepare food, recognize that their child is valuable (because apparently most Christian woman don’t), and turn their curtains into prom dresses. This is the role of a woman according to scripture? Give me a break…

Denny’s response:

You need to go read the description of the program. It only comprises about 20 or so hours of work for a four year degree (about 120 hours). All of these ladies still take Greek, Latin, and the rest of the Humanities core.

I have no problem with a Home Economics program taught from a biblical worldview, which of course would give heed to Titus 2:3-5: “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”

My response:

I understand that the women have to take the rest of the core humanities program… I was speaking to the claim of the concentration itself, not the whole of a humanities degree.

I don’t think that Titus 2:3-5 comprises the whole of a woman’s duty in the Kingdom. Titus is writing to the men, the women, and the bondslaves instructing them to act in such a way so that ‘the word of God would not be dishonored’(v5), so that others would have nothing ‘bad to say’ about them (v8), and so that others would ‘adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect’ (v10).

This concentration is causing such a commotion because the whole of a woman’s duty is being summarized by one, controversial, word: Homemaker.

Denny’s response:

Joel and Steve,

I saw a couple of things in common in your remarks. It looks like you both interpret this new program as saying that every woman should enroll in it. If you listen to the interview, it’s clear that is not SWBTS’s intention. Patterson affirms the freedom of female students to sign up for whatever program of study they choose.

I think there may be some confusion over what is included in the concentration. There are courses that are very similar to what you would take in HomeEc courses at secular undergraduate schools (textiles, interior design, cooking, etc.). Nothing new here. The difference is that there are also a couple of classes that teach a complementarian view of womanhood.

My response:

Laying aside the argument of whether this degree is useful, as long as SWBTS does not endorse that women, because they are women, ought to enroll in this program then I don’t care.

My problem, however, is that the description in the concentration does seem to imply this (whether or not it contradicts Dr. Patterson’s remarks on the radio):

“Preparing women to model the characteristics of a Godly woman as outlined in Scripture. This is done through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family…” etc.

So, according to this, if a woman is going to ‘model the characteristics of a Godly woman, as outlined in scripture’ then she needs to learn homemaking skills, etc.

Now, should a woman have homemaking skills? Yes, she probably should (not to mention the fact that I need these skills too). However, is the whole of a woman’s duty as ‘outlined in scripture’ match the description of a ‘homemaker’? That is the question. When we read about women who were obedient to the Lord in scripture are we always reading a description of a ‘homemaker’?

Denny’s response:

I don’t know anyone who is arguing that “the whole of a woman’s duty” is homemaking. The Pattersons and SWBTS aren’t saying that. I’m not saying that. Complementarianism doesn’t teach that. Where are you getting that from?

My response:

Homemaker concentration: “Preparing women to model THE (unique/singular- see Russell’s Theory of Descriptions) characteristics of a Godly woman as outlined in Scripture…”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tom Cruise, The Assassin Scientologist


CNN reports that 11 people were injured during the making of Tom Cruise's latest film. In it, "Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who fronted the failed attempt by a group of largely military conspirators to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944."

This, to me, was the interesting part of the story: "Cruise has come under fire from politicians and the Stauffenberg family for his role in the movie due to his involvement with Scientology, which the German government views as a cult." (my emphasis)

For an interesting perspective from a former Scientologist on Cruise and his involvement in Scientology go here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Note On Honesty...

I try to keep tabs on several blogs and as I peruse from entry to entry I often see note-worthy thoughts and interesting little articles regarding life or theology or philosophy or literature or whatever. And, on occasion, I see entries that look familiar or maybe even regurgitated word for word from somewhere else, yet I rarely see any kind of reference or footnote, giving credit to the person with whom the idea/thought/phrase originated.

This reminded me of Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.”

My charge: give credit where it is due- if it is not your idea, catch phrase, or concept, or if you borrowed it in any way from another, give him/her the credit. Otherwise, you are taking something that doesn’t belong to you. It is dishonest.

Free Books...

If anyone is interested in FREE BOOKS, Desiring God is offering about 30 books that can be read and downloaded online here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More on Darfur

I recently read more about Darfur on BBC. Here is a portion of the story that I thought was especially interesting:

"In the past three years India's trade with Sudan has increased 100%.

India and its economic might, and even its softer cultural pull, is becoming important here. This means that India's leverage for political diplomacy is also growing - a leverage that India has so far not exploited for the people of Darfur.

Trading with a country without any social responsibility, and turning a convenient blind eye to a conflict of gargantuan proportions, does not bode well for the emerging economic and political giants of China and India.

But, while there has recently been a chorus of international disappointment that China is not pulling its economic weight in Sudan, India too cannot be excluded, for its hands are very much in the honey pot."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Science

When most people say the word science they are referring to “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation” (dictionary.com). Science is, by definition, empirical- it attests to those things as understood by the senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. If science is strictly empirical, then how could any number of lab experiments of any kind demonstrate any result that is anything other than empirical? They can't. Therefore, the metaphysical dualist is not going to turn to science to have his questions about reality, or metaphysics, answered by something that, by its nature, has no hope of answering his questions.

So, not only can science not be used to eliminate the existence of God, neither can it be used to prove the existence of God. Scientific evidence, at best, can lend to an already established belief, but cannot be the grounding for belief itself.

Some scientists have propagated the idea that only those things proven by science can be verified as being truthful (call this proposition P). However, the foundation for this belief, that P, is itself not verified by science, and is, therefore, self-referentially incoherent.

So, we have determined, then, that science cannot speak or give results to anything non-physical and science cannot be the standard for truth. If this is so, then what is the purpose of science? Simply, to help construct an understanding of how the world usually works. Well, then, does science do a good job of this? Many times it does. A lot of incredible medical (and other) advances and discoveries have been made through scientific experimentation. However, even in the area science can speak to, my doubts remain.

In logic there is what is called the fallacy of composition. This basically asserts that it is a fallacy to know something about a part and then attribute it to the whole. For instance, my dog is black, therefore, all dogs are black. Right? Of course not. In a similar fashion, science is required to do the same thing. There is absolutely no way that the whole of the scientific community can test all of the natural world at once in order to come to a conclusion. Essentially, they test a small part over and over and over again and if the results maintain, it becomes fact. But aren't they just committing the fallacy of composition? Yes, in many ways they are.

So, I am pretty much immediately skeptical when someone says “its a scientific fact” and I always dismiss any statement made about God when the means to the conclusion are scientific.

Your thoughts?

The Rational Response Squad (RRS)

I recently heard of the rational response squad (RRS) and their blasphemy challenge from a friend and decided to look into it. Frankly, I don't care much about the whole thing. It is the same debate that has been going on for centuries and will continue to go on for centuries. There will always be people who believe in God and people who don't. And, as for this specific segment of the debate goes, it seems fairly childish.

It seems as though many of the arguments (on both sides) are being made from empirical data and scientific 'proofs'. However, as far as I understand my faith, the presuppositions of Christianity are not scientifically or empirically based. Rather, they are faith-based or 'revelation-based'.

Moreover, I don't put much stock in science or many of its presuppositions anyway. Things like: the world is orderly, this order can be discovered and tested, my senses are reliable, etc., etc. So, to test our arguments against the modern canon of science is itself a flaw.

The RRS have a good mode of operation by putting the burden of 'proof' on Christians so that they have to come up with an irrefutable case for theism. Whether or not such a case exists is the topic of another blog. I would submit, though, that even if such a case does/did exist, guys like the RRS would not be dissuaded of their current position. Why? Because information alone does not cause action or decision, emotion does.

In Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz, he says, “I don't believe I will ever walk away from God for intellectual reasons. Who knows anything anyway? If I walk away from Him, and please pray that I never do, I will walk away for social reasons, identity reasons, deep emotional reasons, the same reasons that any of us do anything” (103). I agree with his assessment.

Apparently, though, it is more about Christianity than theism. The blasphemy challenge is directly associated with belief in Christ, which itself shows that there is some sort of emotionally charged bias to attack Christianity and not solely theism. This rational response, then, seems more closely associated with emotion than with rationality.

Do I think that Christianity is rational? Absolutely. People like Alvin Plantinga have continually demonstrated that belief in God is rational. My concern is for those who hold more firmly to atheism because of bad arguments or because of the lack of some magical proof that provides a kind of Cartesian certainty.

The bottom line is that when the atheist has the burden of proof placed upon him, he can't come up with any more of a scientific or rationally justifiable reason to abandon the faith than the Christian can to prove the certainty of God. It is about faith.

So what is the Christian Response Squad ( that is, all believers) supposed to do when they are pushed in a corner and fail to apologetically karate chop the atheist with a Ray Comfort scientific fact? First, Christians should have good reasons for the faith they hold but second, and more importantly, they should be quick to love those who are attacking the faith. I call this emotional evangelism. Help them change, not just the way they think about theists/Christians/God, but the way they feel as well.

So, What Is All This Darfur Stuff Anyway?

You have probably been hearing a lot about 'saving Darfur' and may have wondered what all the buzz is about. Well, I found the website www.savedarfur.org when I was checking out Emily McGowen's blog and found a great overview. Please read:

"Darfur has been embroiled in a deadly conflict for over three years. At least 400,000 people have been killed; more than 2 million innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes and now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad; and more than 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid for survival. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, and mass slaughter.

Since early 2003, Sudanese armed forces and Sudanese government-backed militia known as “Janjaweed” have been fighting two rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The stated political aim of the rebels has been to compel the government of Sudan to address underdevelopment and the political marginalization of the region. In response, the Sudanese government’s regular armed forces and the Janjaweed – largely composed of fighters of nomadic background – have targeted civilian populations and ethnic groups from which the rebels primarily draw their support – the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.

The Bush Administration has recognized these atrocities – carried out against civilians primarily by the government of Sudan and its allied Janjaweed militias – as genocide. António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has described the situation in Sudan and Chad as “the largest and most complex humanitarian problem on the globe.” The Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias are responsible for the burning and destruction of hundreds of rural villages, the killing of tens of thousands of people and rape and assault of thousands of women and girls.

With much international pressure, the Darfur Peace Agreement was brokered in May 2006 between the government of Sudan and one faction of Darfur rebels. However, deadlines have been ignored and the violence has escalated, with in-fighting among the various rebel groups and factions dramatically increasing and adding a new layer of complexity to the conflict. This violence has made it dangerous, if not impossible, for most of the millions of displaced persons to return to their homes. Humanitarian aid agencies face growing obstacles to bringing widespread relief. In August 2006, the UN's top humanitarian official Jan Egeland stated that the situation in Darfur is "going from real bad to catastrophic." Indeed, the violence in Darfur rages on with government-backed militias still attacking civilian populations with impunity.

On July 30, 2004, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1556 demanding that the government of Sudan disarm the Janjaweed. This same demand is also an important part of the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in May of 2006. On August 31, 2006, the Security Council took the further step of authorizing a strong UN peacekeeping force for Darfur by passing resolution 1706. Despite these actions, the Janjaweed are still active and free to commit the same genocidal crimes against civilians in Darfur with the aid of the Sudanese government.

International experts agree that the United Nations Security Council must deploy a peacekeeping force with a mandate to protect civilians immediately. Until it arrives, the under-funded and overwhelmed African Union monitoring mission must be bolstered. And governments and international institutions must provide and ensure access to sufficient humanitarian aid for those in need."

If you are interested in taking some kind of action, you can sign a petition and have a letter sent to the appropriate authorities. Just go here and fill out the appropriate information (it only takes a second).

Friday, September 15, 2006

John Piper Quoting Dr. W. A. Criswell In 1980

July 13, 1980 (Morning)
Bethlehem Baptist Church
John Piper, Pastor

THE WISDOM OF MEN AND THE POWER OF GOD (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

In coming to you brothers and sisters, I come proclaiming to you the testimony of God not according to excellence of word or of wisdom. For I decided not to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and this one crucified. I come to you in weakness and in much fear and trembling. My word and proclamation are not in persuasive words of human wisdom but by the demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God!
I would consider my life well spent if I could preach and live and die like the apostle Paul, who wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. If you would open a Bible to this passage in the New Testament I think we could get a glimpse of what a preacher should aim at in his work and how he and his people can be sure to hit this target.
W.A. Criswell, the pastor of that giant church in Dallas, was asked one time by a man who had a business across the street: "Dr. Criswell, I thought you were the pastor of a Baptist church. How come all your people carry prayer books to church on Sunday?" Criswell smiled and said, "Sir, we are Baptists and those are Bibles not prayer books."
Baptists the world over have a reputation of urging every man and woman to read the Bible for themselves. And I want to preserve that great tradition. If I could choose a symbolic sound that Bethlehem Baptist Church would come to be known for, you know what it would be? The swish of the pages of 500 Bibles turning simultaneously...

My heart aches for the pastor who increases his own burden by trying to come up with ideas to preach to his people. As for me I have nothing of abiding worth to say to you. But God does. And of that word I hope and pray that I never tire of speaking. The life of the church depends on it.
Dr. Criswell gives an admonition to pastors which I think is right on the money and I take it as a great challenge. He says:
When a man goes to church he often hears a preacher in the pulpit rehash everything that he has read in the editorials, the newspapers, and the magazines. On the TV commentaries he hears that same stuff over again, yawns, and goes out and plays golf on Sunday. When a man comes to church, actually what he is saying to you is this, 'Preacher, I know what the TV commentator has to say; I hear him every day. I know what the editorial writer has to say; I read it every day. I know what the magazines have to say; I read them every week. Preacher, what I want to know is, does God have anything to say? If God has anything to say, tell us what it is.'

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Breath of Life

I was recently thinking about how interesting it is that we, as humans, often try to save people’s lives through CPR and the similarity that exists between that and God breathing the breath of life into Adam. God started Adams life by breathing the breath of life into him and we frequently attempt to prevent death by breathing our life into others.

What do you think?