Her.Meneutics vs John Piper and the Rise of Biblical Masculinity.
We’ve been hearing a lot about masculine Christianity lately.
By now we’re used to hearing Mark Driscoll campaign for more masculine church leaders and expressions of Christianity; late last year, Reformed pastor Douglas Wilson invited Driscoll to his church to speak at a Grace Agenda conference—a gathering that tactfully segregated women by offering a separate pre-conference just for them. In turn, Wilson spoke at John Piper’s Desiring God Pastor’s Conference, which this year had an explicitly masculine theme: “God, Manhood & Ministry: Building Men for the Glory of God.” No stranger to strong statements in the blogo-twittersphere, Piper again drew attention by declaring that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.”
The insistence that Christianity ought to be muscular is often traced to American evangelists of the early 20th century, such as Billy Sunday and D. L. Moody, who emphasized sports and physical strength to counter the perception that Christians were soft and docile, in other words, feminine: a concept attributed to the 19th-century idealization of women as keepers of home and hearth and nurturer of the family’s spiritual well-being. But even then, the perception of “spirituality” as “feminine” was itself a relatively new idea. For millennia, Western ideology tended to understand women as being grounded in body and matter, while men dealt in the realm of the mind and spirit.
If nothing else, it’s clear that masculinity and femininity are not fixed and eternal sets of attributes, but are by and large culturally defined, and always changing.
Which is why cultural definitions would be handy, except for stuff like this and this which, by definition, aren’t. Further, Christianity is in a sense a bit muscular. In all references to God in Scripture, including over 900 verses in the NT, He is consistently referred to with masculine titles, nouns, and pronouns. God isn’t a man, but He chose a masculine form, including “Abba” Father, to reveal Himself to humanity. Jesus Christ, to whom both OT and NT gives masculine titles, nouns, and pronouns, took a male form while He walked on the earth. To deny this is problematic. That’s why honoring men and loving women as God created them, and following Christ’s example in how He engaged men and women in various situations, has its advantages.
She concludes: “I do believe God in Christ has given Christianity a redemptive, inclusive, good-news-for-the-least-of-these kind of feel. And that is glorious.” Yep. And this ‘less-inclusive’ Jesus is glorious too.
Clearly she fears that the Church’s cultural pendulum is shifting back to the center a bit. What we should be concerned about (and where parental leadership is so important) is what our culture is communicating to our families and our men and women about sexuality writ large.