June 02, 2006

Points to Ponder

I am intimidated by smart people. This is not a good thing when I have extremely smart friends.

I am intimidated by people who like to debate a lot. I think it all goes back to college. I had a roommate who was a B&T major, and she would want to debate theological issues I had never heard of before all the time. Shoot, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Calvinism, let alone Arminianism, until I got to college. Hey, I grew up Catholic; we didn’t really discuss those things... (insert Catholic joke here... J)

There was also this one time when my roommate and I were asked our opinions about a very hot church issue, and she assumed we would have the same opinion. You should have seen her face when I told her that I didn’t agree with her. Yep, the topic of choice was women in ministry; more specifically, women as pastors. If you know me at all, you know my opinions on this subject.

Which brings me to my second point: there are a lot of issues out there, especially in the Christian circle, that there is no point debating. I had a professor who wanted to sit down with me and hash out the women in ministry thing. Why? I was not going to change his mind (trust me, I knew this) and he for sure was not going to change mine. So what was the point in sitting down and “hashing it out?” It would just create anger, animosity, and bitterness. And it’s not like my opinion on the subject determined my salvation or anything; it wasn’t a sin to confront. (No jokes may be inserted here at all, even if I DO know you! I’ve heard them all anyway!)

I am thankful, however, for those out there who do debate issues worthy of discussion. There are a number of blogs (some by friends of mine) that cause me to stop and think about issues I haven’t thought of in years. Topics worth thinking about, that Christians should stop and ponder more than they do. Sometimes I fall into the trap of being a Christian who doesn’t think, and that isn’t healthy either.

Is there a point in all this? Not really. My brain just got fired up by reading some pretty profound blogs. And I am feeling less intimidated than usual. Both good things.

18 comments:

~bradley james said...

Wow sebner, I have no idea what you believe about women in ministry.

This goes against the point of your post, but I have to disagree with you. I think that discussing these issues is very important, as long as both parties have the proper mindset going in - knowing that it's not a salvation issue but it does affect the church. For example, this women in ministry issue. There is great Scripture evidence for both sides, so it's useful to discuss that and see where it leads.

I guess I don't think these sorts of issues should be discussed "to change each other's minds," but to make sure that both sides have all the evidence and are making intelligent choices. Of course, sometimes people do change their minds, and that's good. It means new evidence arose sufficient to prompt a different belief.

justin winzenburg said...

sebner, I completely sympathize with you. Believe it or not, having been taught to think theologically, and having been taught how I'm supposed to discuss theology, and which issues I'm supposed to value, I've found out in the process that too often we completely miss the point!!! If theology exists to discuss it for the sake of 'obtaining truth'--as if it is something to be held in a box and brought out when I need to be 'right,' then I'm not sure if I care to discuss theology ever again. Then again, if it is something which leads us to Truth (i.e. Jesus--the person, not the idea) then lets talk!!! I've experienced the debate side of theology, where discussion exists so that one person can become more confident in the way they possess the certain 'truth,' while the other person is supposed to become convinced of their wrongdoing and repent of their view. I've also experienced the energizing way of talking about theology--which after all, SHOULD truly lead us to a better way of living for each other and living for God--and that kind of discussing, while it certainly has it's disagreements, also has an energizing aspect that invites others to challenge and be challenged so that we can all try to get closer to Truth, not possess it. I also agree that 'hashing it out' is not the way to go about talking theology. You couldn't be more right about choosing our debates. Then again, even the issue of 'women in ministry' can be either an opportunity to build the people of God into a people that follows closely to Jesus, or it can be one which simply causes disagreement and withdrawl between the Christian community. In talking, we strive to understand Someone who cannot and will not be confined to our language, to our conceptualization, and to our statements. But I'm also glad that while our talking will NEVER do justice to the reality of who God is, it will hopefully drive us closer to being the people of God who learns to love Him better, love each other better, and love the world better. That's why talking is worth the disagreement, and that is why debating can become worthless!

Sebner said...

Bradley, I think that it is funny that you have known me so long and do not know my views of women in ministry. I think we must have met when I was tired of getting called a "Femi-Nazi" due to my views. We'll have to chat sometime. And, yes, there are some times when debating is good; I think I have been burned to often in the debates (i.e. Femi-Nazi) and so got a bit hardened towards it.

Which brings me to Justin--thanks for your sympathy. And, I agree, there are good and bad points to debating the theological issues. I was just speaking from my experience. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about how I appreciate your blog because it made me start to think again and use my brain, and think about issues that I have not thought about in a long time. Anyway, I enjoyed your post on the Holy Spirit, and am forming my own thoughts on it, so I will hopefully work up the courage to post a response :)

justin winzenburg said...

Please--I hope you feel welcome to post a response. If anything, I'll guard people from backlash--at least those whom may have to 'work up the courage' as you said. Guys like Kurbis and my friend Andy--sure, I guess I'll guard against people backlashing them too-but I think that they feed off of it more sometimes than get intimidated by it. Plus, you've got some great things to say!!! I like your last post--kicking us in the pants to remind us what theology is all about! I even find myself being drawn into debate at times, shoot, sometimes maybe more out of pride than out of genuine interest--but I guess it just depends. I'm glad your enjoying the discussions. Another thing--a little encouragement...unfortunately, I stumbled upon an old Hustad paper that I remember writing about women in ministry and I was appalled that I actually used the term 'femi-Nazi' in my paper--I'd go back an kick my own butt if I could. I'm glad you're not ashamed of your views on the issue. I'll tell you what, it only takes a few conversations with women who are entirely capable of carrying their own in ministry, theology, preaching, teaching, etc. to know that the 'traditional' (if it can be called that) way of looking at the issue needs to be challenged with rigor! Many of the best students at Bethel Sem are women (the same was true of Crown as well, as I'm sure you know!), and I couldn't possibly imagine having to exclude them from pursuing theological and ministry endeavors because they don't have male reproductive organs (not to diminish our sexuality to that!) I think the issue marks a big failure in the area of what it means to be the church (i.e. ecclesiology). Even many of the seminaries who don't allow women to be in their pastoral ministry programs have women teachers! I guess they figure it's okay to teach pastors, but it's not okay to step into a 'church' building and do the same on a sunday morning. A double standard! Well, I didn't mean to fan the flame on this issue, but again, I cannot help but sympathize with your position!!! P.S. There is a HUGE difference between being passionate about equality in Christ, and the genuine giftedness of women in Christ than being a 'femi-Nazi.' Unfortunately, people like whom I used to be--cannot make the distinction as easily. Then again, I think that just demonstrates that they haven't had to wrestle with the issue either--at least that is how I would speak for myself and the comments I made in that wretched Hustad paper that I once wrote!

justin winzenburg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
justin winzenburg said...

I butchered that last post with my bad spelling...so here it is.

P.S. I put your first and last name on my links section on the blog. I wasn't sure if you were okay with that or not. If you want, I'll change it to sebner. Be sure to tell me what you think. I figured I'd include you on the links. People need to hear what your thinking! Hopefully the link will be a way to guide them to your site. I hope that's okay!

Sebner said...

Eh, I can handle Kurbis :)

Really, I'm not worried about backlash anymore. It is my own feelings of intimidation and such that I just need to get over. Which I am.

And, no worries about the Femi-Nazi comment--I was a bitter man-hater for at least a year--we all like sheep have gone astray...:)

justin winzenburg said...

I'm glad your not worried about backlash. In fact, this whole blog things has taken a little getting used to for myself. What I love about it is that people feel more free to disagree when they don't have to see the person face to face. I got a lot of heat on the whole war issue that I posted on and I found myself having to learn a bit about how to handle criticism. It's a good thing though! And you're right--we've all gone astray, but good thing that our tweaks can turn into a learning process that actually causes us to grow and communicate in ways that are both more articulate and sensitive.

Sebner said...

I think it is always easer to open up about anything when people are not face to face; we've become such an impersonal society. We'll talk about things on a blog that we wouldn't dare talk about in a "real-people" community. Our culture is weird!

justin winzenburg said...

Yeah, this used to irritate me more than it does now. I guess I figure communication is better than no communication. Perhaps this is both a positive and a negative thing about the Internet culture. People are opening up to others like they never have before--unfortunately too often it is with people whom they HAVE NEVER met face to face, and NEVER WILL! But when people, whom already know each other, or whom will see each other face to face are able to open up to each other through the Inet, well, I like that!!! Unfortunately, for some people, their only community is the Internet community--and with those whom they never see face to face. I like the fact that I can chat with one of my best friends when he is half way across the world, but I cringe a bit at thinking of people who only have friends whom they've met online. Again, this says a lot about the church, and a lot about how we can use the Inet as a way to tell the Jesus story to those whom normally may not want to hear it!

~bradley james said...

Sorry to break into your dialogue... :)

We should talk, sebner. I'm amazed that we got engaged without ever talking about the women in ministry issue. Usually that's a first-date question.

I stand by my claim that reasoned discourse concerning things that matter most in life is beneficial for all involved. If our aim is to have all and only true beliefs about the things that matter most, then I want as much evidence as I can to justify my beliefs. Perhaps I'll encounter evidence that will change them. Perhaps I'll encounter evidence that will weaken their justification. But the last thing I would want is to believe wrongly because I did not take every opportunity to gather evidence. And I think a big part of evidence comes from other people, whether reading their books or talking to them in person.

I will never write as long a post as Fitz, but I'm ok with that. ;-)

Sebner said...

Justin-It is also sad when people only talk when they need Kevin Erickson's phone number :) Just kidding!

I agree that the internet is awesome for keeping in touch with people across the globe. One of the reasons I loved MySpace was the reconnection I had with high school friends and college friends that had been scattered across the continents. However, I got off MySpace because I kept getting random, somewhat creepy strangers (male) emailing me. I'm just not all that into that! But that's me.

Bradley-I do agree with your point about discussing things is beneficial. However, my point is that when you've been burned, mocked, judged, or shunned for expressing your beliefs and opinions, it makes it hard to want to ever do it again, no matter what the topic or who the audience is--even if they're close friends.

And, maybe I'll have to post my views on women and ministry, just so you are informed :)

justin winzenburg said...

Okay--there's two things I'll try my best to do. One, I think will be easier than the other. Sebner-I've got Kevin's phone number--we don't need to talk about that anymore, so it looks like we can talk more frequently about other things. I think that one's the easy one! The other thing I'll try to do is to either shorten my posts, or try to get Brad to post something longer than I. Shoot--I'm so used to having a word count (and a short one at that) for all of my papers that I can get a little carried away when I'm free from those restrictions! So--I know it's not New Years, but there's two 'resolutions' for you. One more thing, I can't speak for Brad, but I'm not really into having creepy guys try to hook up with me through MySpace either!!! I was stumbling upon too many naked pictures of women on Hi-5, so I canceled my account there (not that I'm saying a few naked pictures would've been okay!) The Inet can be a blessing and a curse!

Sebner said...

Oh, please don't worry about how long the posts are! I don't care about length (though do understand words counts for school...I have a love-hate relationship with that!)

justin winzenburg said...

I won't worry too much--unless people are getting a little weary in reading long posts! Otherwise, it looks like Brad posted a message almost as long as I have on the Yahad blog! Maybe the mission was accomplished! Well, I've got Adam and Naomi Wakefield's wedding today in Omaha! It should be a lot of fun. I already had an awesome time at Aaron Markson's wedding last Friday--there were a LOT of Crowies at the wedding that I hadn't seen in a while. I'm sure the same will be true today.

~bradley james said...

Thanks for reminding me all that I'm missing this summer - A-Mark, Wakefield, Naomi, Dougie J... *tear* (somewhat seriously)

justin winzenburg said...

Sorry Brad, but you also missed a chance at a face to face encounter with the host of this wonderful blog at the Wakefield wedding! I even got to see her dance! She can break it down with the best of them! Crown certainly didn't teach you that Sarah--have you been doing a little research at the clubs in downtown St.Boni? Or Waconia? Anyways, nice work Sarah! And yes, I'm still in Omaha, and still find the time to blog! Some would say pathetic, some dedicated, myself...maybe a bit of both.

Sebner said...

Actually, the clubs in Victoria are best, I find, or Norwood-Young America. :) I probably shouldn't even be kidding about this on here...someone might actually take me seriously, and that could be trouble!

Okay, back to my stupid paper...that's right I didn't finish it...no dedication here...