Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Why Chicks Need Theology Too

I detest slang, but isn't the above a hilarious title for a women's Bible study? My pastor's wife has a friend who is currently leading a book study with that name, using the book When Life and Beliefs Collide, by Carolyn Custis James. Knowing such a book would interest me, she offered to let me borrow the book, which has proved very good so far! Women do need theology, as well as men. Theology has fallen by the wayside in general in our society, but especially for women, the pursuit of theology is viewed with suspicion. Carolyn Custis James addresses many of these suspicions in her book. Here is an excerpt:

Far from diminishing her appeal, a woman's interest in theology ought to be the first thing to catch a man's eye. A wife's theology should be what a husband prizes most about her. He may always enjoy her cooking and cherish her gentle ways, but in the intensity of battle, when adversity flattens him or he faces an insurmountable challenge, she is the soldier nearest him, and it is her theology that he will hear. A woman's theology suddenly matters when a man is facing a crisis and she is the only one around to offer encouragement.

Lane Keister's Message to Women was eerily timely, given my current read. He also followed up his Message to Women with an added list of resources for beginning a study of theology, for men or women. I encourage you to peruse both posts, both of which are short in length.


zan said...

It is nice to see someone talking about this. I read Lane's post too.

The only problem I come across with learning theology is that my entire family belives something different. I am talking about extended and immediate family.

In my parent's search for the perfect church, I attended anything from home church with brethren type people to hyper-Calvinistic Dutch reformed churches to charismatic churches. It boggles my husband's mind when he hears how many churches I have been to.

Anyway, I have come to realize that differences in theology really can divide a family. I have worked so hard to keep our family living in harmony, but if something like infant baptism come up or Calvinism, it gets really tense in the room.

My younger sister attends a LCMS church and thinks "limited attonement" is heresy. My older sister is a Presbyterian and would absolutely flip if she heard that. My parents are starting to be convinced that the Roman Catholic church is the REAL church (don't ask, how someone can go to Presbyterian to RC is beyond me, but I guess it happens quite a bit).

My husband and I differ on a few things, but we have learned to live with our differences. It has also turned into some good discussions. I just see our family growing apart.

One problem that I see in women learning theology is that she may lead the man astray. I have seen this happen so many times in my family. The husband HAS to be strong and consistent in this area. The main reasons we left so many churches is because of mom studying theology. She had this subtle way of convincing my dad that she was right.

My husband is very strong. I couldn't move his system of beliefs with a bulldozer. I think it needs to be stressed that the women must submit to her husband, first and respect his theology. I am not saying that we should blindly follow them into heresy.

I really get tired of hearing so much about being a good wife and mother and keeping the home. I like to exercise my brain in other areas than housework. Don't get me wrong, I love being home. It is just a relief to have someone say, go read a book.

I have actually been studying Revelations lately and the Roman Catholic viewpoint of it. (Don't worry, I am not following my parents.)I like to study historical Christianity and with all the talk of the end of the world with the fighting in the Mideast (when HASN'T there been fighting in the middle east?)I have been interested in different views of eschatology. Did you know that RC's interpret REV as directions for Mass? I include my husband in my readings too make sure we are on the same page.

Actually, we are both a-mil so that is one thing we agree on. : )

Jessica said...

I love the title...and that's a great quote too...add that to my reading list!

Amy said...

Great post Susan. I love what Zan said in the comments, "I like to exercise my brain in other areas than housework." Here here!

Mr. Baggins said...

To Zan, those are extremely interesting thoughts about women and theology. And you have certainly pointed out some real dangers that must be addressed. Here are some questions for you: is the strife in your family due to the fact that the *women* know something about theology, or could it be something else, like outside theological pressure from friends?

Amen on women submitting to their husbands in theology. However, it should be the husband's duty to lead his wife into sound grazing pastures. In a way, the husband is a pastor. He is to lead her where she can find good grazing in the fields of sound theology. That way, she can grow. Scripture tells us that the older women should teach the younger women. That *cannot* happen without women studying theology. And I'm not talking about _The Purpose-Drive Life_ (retch, choke, and otherwise reacting badly). I'm talking about the Puritans. In fact, I am going to post today about Puritans to read. The Puritans had theology mixed with practice in a way that no one has since. They never held any truck with this nonsense of theology being impractical and only for the professionals. They connected and held together theology and practice in a very tenacious way.

Susan said...

I loved your thoughts, Zan. They are very interesting to consider. I agree with Lane that certainly, a man should be the leader or "pastor" in his home! You know enough of my views on the roles of men and women to know that, probably, though :). Ideally a wife's theological studies should be overseen by her husband, and they should draw them together, not pull them apart.

Now, in my case, my dad and I differ on theology some, but he doesn't mind if I study views that are different from his, and we'll discuss different issues at times as well.

You certainly have an interesting background in churches! My family has been in the PCA for almost all my life, but I've visited a variety of churches with friends.

Anonymous said...

It is possible to study something, like Zan said she is about the RC point of view, without ending up espousing it. That is, so long as you approach the idea the right way as a purely academic, "out-of-curiosity" thing.

Given we're OPC, and my cousins are Greek Orthodox, you can imagine a pretty heterogeneous theological lot in our family!

-Katie G

Susan said...

Thank you for stopping by, Katie! I agree that we can study other viewpoints to gain insight. I have many books in my collection that differ vastly from my own beliefs. It is always good to study other viewpoints when one is already grounded in one's own :). I am so thankful that Christianity is not a blind faith! Even Paul read the "DaVinci Codes" of his day. Think of how many times he quotes the pagan philosophers - many times very subtly.

helen said...

wow! good thoughts there. theology - not just the abstract study, but the real knowledge of God - is what makes us who we are.

Lydia said...

Very timely, thought-provoking post Susan.

I have been wanting to delve more into theology for quite some time. Some of my thoughts are very cemented but others are still unclear or open. It's important to remember that much of the way we view God or understand the Bible leads to how we interpret the world around us. An improper view of God leads to wrong choices elsewhere in life. Also, if we come to understand God by our own personal experiences rather than the grounding of scripture it leads to an improper theology.

Years ago when I had severe trials with my health, I had a very warped view of God. It wasn't that God has changed since then but I better understand His true nature because I see it through the scriptures rather than the circumstances around me. I liked what Lane had to say about the Puritans having an applicable theology in their faith. That is what I want to have as well.

Thanks for bringing up this topic, Susan and thanks to everyone for the stimulating comments.

Susan said...

Thank you for sharing your own struggles a bit, Lydia. I've gone through periods in my life where my view of God has been severely distorted as well, and life trials are so different with a more proper view of God. I heard R.C. Sproul Sr. speak recently, and he did an excellent job of explaining that our doctrine of God controls all of our other doctrines and our view of life. Very important!

I also appreciate the Puritans because they not only had solid doctrine, but applied it as well. Knowledge without application is just that: knowledge. As Christians we should search for wisdom, which is knowledge + action.

zan said...


My mom never had many friends. My mom's best friend was and is her husband. They had friends in the past, but whenever they would have a theological difference that friendship would end.

I think because I have had such a broad variety of denominations and their theology thrown at me I get very confused.

Calvinist have some great scripture to support their beliefs. I was saved in a Calvinist church. However, my Lutheran sister has made some great arguments against "limited atonement." My husband who is a Baptist (not Independent Fundamental, I think he went to a GARBC or American Baptist, his father was the pastor)has great scripture to support his views. Now we don't differ a lot on doctrine. Our big difference is baptism. He doesn't buy limited atonement, I guess you could call him a 4 pointer.

As I read this book about Revelations and the Mass (btw, it is called, "The Lamb's Supper,")they have some really good scripture to support their beliefs. ( I don't buy that the communion elements actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus).

I guess I see so much division everywhere. Aren't Christians supposed to be united? I heard a priest say that ever since the Protestant Reformation the Prot. have been protesting each other. He has a point. Even the OPC is going to split soon. How many different Presbyterians are there out there?

I had a conversation with a dear blogger that every church should be independent and that is the way it was since the beginning. I don't see this evidence in history and the early church did not have the Bible (as far as I can tell). Revelations and Hebrews wasn't even added until 400AD.

I am trying to study and "study to show myself approved." I use Matthew Henry commentary, but even he thought that Mary was a perpetual virgin.

I am rambling on here. I guess I wish that I had only gone to one church my entire life like my husband who is at peace with his theology. I have seen so much division ie. skirts on one side pants on the other, headcoverings, long hair-good, short hair-what do you want people to think you are a harlot?,you are going to hell if you are not reformed, you haven't been baptized if you haven't been dunked-no make that dunked three times forward, you have to be brethren to take communion, it HAS to be wine or you aren't really getting communion, if you aren't saying gobledygook during a very loud sermon you don't have Christ within you, the Lord is coming back in 1994 (any reformed people out there remember that? Harold Camping),You must have a homebusiness, white stockings cause men to sin more than black stockings, psalms only for congregational singing and no music accompaniment, etc... I guess I could go on and on. Looking at this list it is no wonder that I am so messed up.

Well, Harry Bug is screaming so I have to go.

PS does anyone know if the Apocrapha was added when the Cannon was closed and why and who took it out?

zan said...

Just wanted to add that I do respect my parents a lot. They are searching for the truth (I guess) and are easily persuaded. I didn't realize this until I was married.

My mom is a big reader like I am and she would read a lot of books about different things. It was her idea to homeschool (of which I am very glad).

Mr. Baggins said...

Zan, I can certainly understand if you are a bit jaded about theological discourse, if you have seen church divisions over such issues as you listed. Those are some of the worst offenders in terms of majoring on minors. Limited atonement is not a minor affair, and needs to be discussed honestly and openly. I discuss this regularly with my father-in-law (who denies limited atonement), and it is difficult.

If only the church would see what was important and truly argue (not altercate) about such things from the Scriptures! The Bible everywhere commends Scriptural argumentation done in love, and everywhere condemns altercation done out of hatred and narrow-mindedness. Where is the balance?

My caution in all of this is that a distortion of the truth does not make the truth unimportant. What I mean is that if you have seen all of this division about petty things in theology, what you are actually seeing is *lack* of theological training, *not* too much theological training. What I mean is that if one has Puritan-style training in theology, then *one knows what is important and what isn't*. Surely only ignorant people would split a church over something like whether you have to be dunked three times or just once! Therefore, such arguments are distortions of true knowledge and wisdom, and do not constitute true wisdom. Therefore, the theological enterprise in itself is still not only a laudible goal, but a necessary one.

Katie Gillet said...

What's this about an OPC split??

zan said...

The denomination that dunks three times forward is the Grace Brethren. When you join them (even if you have already been baptized by immersion) you have to be re-baptzed). My grandparents are very godly Christians, but they attend a G. B. church. I don't know if they believe this, but the church would, that I have not been baptized. The Baptist church I go to is encouraging my husband and I to become members. I would have to be rebaptized because I was sprinkled (as an adult). My husband is not forcing me to. He doesn't think mode is important, just as long as you use water.

I guess I just get so confused and frustrated with the many different (Protestant) denominations. Baptism is a very important issue. I see baptism as extremely important. I don't see people waiting until summer when they can use the lake to be baptized in in the Bible. They were baptized immediately. You can't say that the theif on the cross is an excuse for baptism not to be important because he was under the old covenant (Christ had not died yet).

I went to a Reformed church (actually it was the church I was saved in as a teenager). They were huge Puritan fans and I read some. The pastor quoted more Puritans than scripture during his hour plus sermons. We left that church after a misunderstanding. The pastor was so huffed that he forbade any of the congregation to speak to us. I guess I saw too much of the dark side of Puritanism, there. Then we went to an OPC church. The issue of creation came up. We found that the pastor held to the framework idea. We didn't, and brought our concerns up to the session. The pastor started a series up on being divisive after that. No offence to the pastor because I love him dearly, but in a church of like 35 people it isn't very hard to figure out who the sermon is pointed at. By the time we left that church I was dating someone and I wanted to make sure we did our dating, engagement and marriage under the authority of a church. My husband and I stayed in that church all during our dating and marriage counciling and wedding. We left after our first child was born because of baptism and still keep up a great relationship with the pastor and congregation.

I think New England is unusually dark (spiritually). The Puritans totally failed at leaving their legacy of holiness here.

Why is limited atonement so important? I don't see anywhere in scripture where it says people are elected to hell. Just curious. I know if you logically think about it, it makes sense, but does everything have to make sense? So was your (Lane) wife not reformed when you married her?

I am trying to find that balance of holding to sound doctrine and fellowship with Christians who don't have a similar understanding. The church we are in now is a pretty tense place because the pastor is trying to preach reformed theology to a bunch of people who aren't reformed. The people are not taking it well. How do you spell split?

Katie, I have heard rumors of a split ( my sister attends an OPC). The split is over creation (do we allow many other beliefs other than 6 literal day and framework?)I guess there are many different views. They are also discussing some other issue that I read in New Horizons (the OPC newsletter). I can't remember what it was. It will hopefully not occur.

I just wish we could all just get along, but I don't want to get wishy-wash either. The best church I ever went to was the Irish Free Presbyterian church. They had a huge amount of Reformed Baptists. They accomadated both by by infant baptizing the Presbyterians and immersing the Baptists. It is over an hour away, though. My husband and I strongly believe in attending a local church. Besides, I traveled hours to attend church when I was a kid and we ended up leaving them over bad circumstances.

Anonymous said...

What is OPC?

Susan said...

Wow, Zan, you have quite an interesting background in churches. It makes me thankful for my relatively uneventful background in church. My mom was raised in the PCUSA, where my dad also attended in his teens (my dad's family are unsaved, for the most part), so we've witnessed some false doctrine, but we rather quickly switched to the PCA when I was still quite young. Ironically, though, I really didn't become reformed in conviction until less than 5 years ago (my dad is non-denominational, so doctrine wasn't huge growing up), and not paedo-baptist until less than 2 years ago. I would imagine your wide exposure makes you more able to appreciate a really solidly-grounded church!

Reply to Anonymous (please sign your name next time :-D. . . )- OPC stands for Orthodox Presbyterian Church, one of the (many) presbyterian denominations in the US.

zan said...


Maybe in a future post you could explain how you came to be reformed. So your dad isn't reformed? Did I read that right? Is your mom reformed?

Susan said...


I can just give a short explanation as to how I became reformed instead, rather than a separate post - because it's not extremely long, and I'd probably not get it written :).

My mom was a PK in the UPC, which later became the PCUSA after the split. My dad was raised in a non-Christian home, though ironically he became a Christian at age 4 (at a VBS), while my mom did not until college. Anyway, they both attended a PCUSA church (my grandfather's church) through high school and then for a time after college, but they had some issues with the PCUSA, so when we moved to Georgia when I was a baby, they decided they had enough of presbyterianism, since they had no idea there was such a thing as a theologically-conservative presbyterian. Anyway, they ended up at a PCA church (not knowing it was presyterian until they visited, since it had no denominational affiliation in the name), and they could tell right away that it was different from the PCUSA. We've been in the PCA ever since, except for a 1-year detour to a non-denominational church.

Anyway, Mother Dear is mostly Presbyterian in beliefs, though after college she didn't want anything to do with Presbyterianism for a while, due to the PCUSA. Father Dear jokes that he's half Baptist, half Methodist, and half Presbyterian (and he calls himself a math teacher ;). . . ), since he first comprehended the gospel in a Baptist church, attended a Methodist church in his younger years with extended family, and has since attended mainly Presbyterian. He's never been huge into denominational theology, though he doesn't mind discussing it and he likes many things about Presbyterianism, and he likes the PCA. He has no problem with my reformed beliefs, also, and doesn't mind me studying different theologies.

So how did I become reformed? Well, as I said, growing up we didn't really talk doctrine (outside of Christian essentials), but I did spend almost my entire childhood in the PCA and I had some really good Sunday School teachers! And I learned the catechism (in Sunday School, and through home school). I would say the catechism was instrumental in instilling a reformed bent in me from a young age.

I developed an interest in theology in late high school and college, and it seemed that I kept coming upon reformed theology every turn I made. Also during that time I studied Biblical womanhood, and many of the sites I found were from a reformed perspective.

A few years ago the Stated Clerk of the PCA (Roy Taylor) became the adult Sunday School teacher at our church, and he did a series on What Presbyterians Believe. That was the turning point for me. Everything I had been studying and learning sort of came all together for me into a more cohesive understanding. My whole family really enjoyed his lectures, in fact.

My brother, sister and I were baptized (by sprinkling) in middle-school, not as infants, and I've always considered myself mostly credo-baptist until a few years ago when I really started studying the issue. Now it makes so much sense to me, in light of scripture, unlike the 50/50 view on baptism I had for a while ;).

AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO START A BAPTISTIC DEBATE ON THIS THREAD!!! - to anyone who is reading ;). I don't have time this weekend!

Okay, that wasn't as short as it was supposed to be. Hehe. Anyway, I hope that clarifies :).

zan said...

No baptistic dicussion on this thread? ahhhh, that is too bad. I was looking forward to one... NOT!

Thanks for the the answer to my question. I didn't think you would post one so soon. : )

I was sprinked as an adult(make that teenager), too.

Ashley said...

I really liked that book, Susan. I have no comments about the rest of this denomination discussion although I see it becoming somewhat of an issue for us since Paul is very non-denominational and I am reformed. So far, it hasn't really been an issue for us, but I can see it when our kids are born and we have to make the decision about whether to baptize them as babies or later.

zan said...

Ashley, That is so great that you were able to marry a man with some doctrinal differences. I have gotten some critism aobut not marrying a fellow reformed guy. i thought the most important thing in looking for a mate was to marry a fellow Christian. It would be easier to marry someone in which you agree on everything from Creation to eschatology. The past nearly 3 yrs has been a great lesson in submission for me. I came into the marriage thinking I could persuade him to my point of view, but my husband is not that persuadable. Oh, well.