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EFAC Australia

Essentials

Is complementarianism on the way out?
he Masculinist thinks so.
In an issue largely themed on the state of the Christian discussion on gender, it might be worth finishing by noticing emerging energy for critiques of complementarianism from quarters which are dissatisfied with the character and direction of the cultural take on gender, and dissatisfied with egalitarianism and complementarianism as faithful and viable roads to walk.

Unveiling Paul’s Women: Making Sense of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Lucy Peppiatt, Wipf and Stock, 2018

her recent book, Unveiling Paul’s Women, Lucy Peppiatt writes with reference to 1 Corinthians 7-10, that ‘The only real application of these verses, if we think that Paul wrote them, and we think that he is an authoritative voice for the church, is that women should wear head coverings in church when they pray and prophesy’ (p. 55). She had just pointed out that ‘there are no cultural reasons given in these verses for the shame that an uncovered woman and a covered man causes … the disapproval comes from God and the angels’ (p. 54). To deal with this Peppiatt proposes a bold re-reading of the passage. By an act of interpretive judo, she flips everything around and finds that Paul is actually arguing against the practice of women’s head covering. She writes, ‘Paul was faced with a group of domineering, gifted, prophetic men who had implemented oppressive practices for women in Paul’s absence. They constructed a theology to support their practices that was a blend of Paul’s original thought and their own distorted view of the world’ (p. 86). Paul is presenting their thinking (not his own) in vv4-5 and 7-10, which Paul then opposes with his own corrective in vv11-16. Verse 13 expects the answer ‘yes’, and the uniform custom of the churches is to allow women to pray and prophesy without a head covering.

Scientists as Theologians: A Comparison of the Writings of Ian Barbour, Arthur Peacocke and John Polkinghorne,
John Polkinghorne, SPCK, 1996

This is an unusual book in that a commentary on a group of writers would normally be written by someone outside the group, but in this case Polkinghorne includes himself as one of the authors under discussion. On Polkinghorne’s own admission (p. x) this is problematic and he owns that inevitably he gives greater space to his point of view in those areas where there is a difference of opinion amongst the three. I have been reading all three of these authors throughout most of my academic life, and I need to declare my own bias that I find Polkinghorne’s theology far more congenial to my evangelical and Biblical understanding of the Christian faith than the more liberal/process theological approach of Barbour and Peacocke.

That the late Archbishop Donald Robinson’s thought and ministry have already had a significant influence in Australian Anglican circles is clear. Here Chase Kuhn puts his finger on the conviction at the heart of Robinson’s enduring influence. Chase R. Kuhn lectures in Christian thought and ministry at Moore Theological College.

Archbishop Donald W. B. Robinson’s most enduring influence has been, and will no doubt continue to be, his high esteem for the Word of God as the governing authority of all of the Christian life. This esteem for Scripture was a hallmark of his biblical theological studies, agreeable with what he believed to be the best of Anglicanism, and therefore definitive of his ministry.

Enriching our Vision of Reality:Theology and the Natural Sciences in Dialogue
Alister McGrath, SPCK, 2016

Molecular-quantum-theorist turned- theologian Alister McGrath is a prolific writer with 42 major works to his name in the Wikipedia article under his name (which is current only to 2015). He has written several books since that date including this one. The relationship between Christian faith and science is a major pre-occupation of McGrath’s and this book is one of the best of many which he has written in my view. It is more personal than many of his previous works and it describes something of the progression of McGrath’s understanding of Christianity throughout his eventful career so far. The book is in three distinct parts: first, an opening essay on The Christian Vision of Reality. Second, a comparison of the work on science and religion produced by three major influences on McGrath’s life and thinking, namely chemist and physicist Charles Coulson, Thomas Torrance (a Scottish theologian with a scientific bent), and Oxford professor of mathematics (and later Oxford professor of theoretical physics) John Polkinghorne, who also turned to Christian theology later in life. The final part of McGrath’s book is a series of ‘parallel conversations’ between theology and science including topics such as ways of seeing reality, the legitimacy of faith, models and mystery, religious and scientific faith and natural theology as well as an interesting study of Darwin’s religious thought. The book has detailed explanatory references and notes, a core reading guide and a more specialist reading guide.

What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women
Kevin Giles, Cascade, 2018

This book is, in my opinion, the best book available today on the controversial topic of the status and ministry of women. It is wide ranging in scope, very well researched and easy to read. The book is the fruit of Kevin Giles’ forty years of careful study of the scriptures and of debates with those of counter-opinions both in Australia and on the international scene.

God’s love for Cain and for Abel   Genesis 4:1-10

T he story of Cain and Abel speaks to guilty people who have screwed it up, and to innocent victims. It speaks to those who are tempted to resentment and bitterness, and to those who despair when believers fall prey to evil. It speaks most fully when seen together with the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

When considered on its own, Genesis 4:1-10 is a story about Cain, and how the Lord deals with him as he becomes a murderer and an outcast. Cain is angry when God favours Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s. Perhaps Cain felt he was the victim of some divine unfairness. Perhaps he wanted to be lord of his brother, but God’s favour threatened this aim. The Lord draws near to Cain, precisely because he is in this sullen, angry state, and asks him some hard questions: ‘Why are you angry? … If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?’ These questions challenge any assumption Cain may have that he has a reason to be angry, or that God is treating him unjustly. The Lord does not explain the favour thing to Cain. He simply but earnestly warns Cain that he is at a crossroads. Will he do what is right, despite being the unfavoured one, or will he let the vampire sin in, and become himself one who crouches to spring, and take the life of another? This is not perhaps, what Cain would have liked from God, but it is, nonetheless, the good gift that the Lord has for Cain on the verge of Cain’s selfdestruction; it is what he needs.

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