Archive for August 2006

Blog Discussion [Updated 1 Oct ’06]

26 August, 2006 EUTC

There is a blog discussion that has been going on regarding the pursuit of marriage, in particular between Debbie Maken and theologian and author Andreas Köstenberger, with others involved in the issue also making comments. Köstenberger’s view is not as far from Maken’s as others, particularly on the nature of the “gift”, and amidst the disagreements there have been highlighted some important points of agreement.Andreas Köstenberger wrote this post in which he references Debbie Maken in his first paragraph and goes on to explain his different opinion. He closes disagreeing again with Maken’s view and linking to a couple of his books and a negative review of Maken’s book as further reading.

This led Maken to set up a blog where she posted her response to the Köstenberger post, including a response to a section of the Courtney review, and a reassertion of a lot of her beliefs on the issue.

Köstenberger made a further response to Maken’s post, in which he pointed out that his post was mainly intended to be a summary of the chapter from his book on the subject, rather than a review of Maken’s book.

Parableman reflected on Köstenberger’s first post here.

Carolyn McCulley’s reference to Köstenberger’s first post elicited comments that included 2 comments from Köstenberger.

Carolyn McCulley made this post mentioning her concern with the level of Christian dialogue in blogs, before introducing Köstenberger’s second post. She says she that though her perspective is different to Maken’s, conversation should be charitable. She intends to finish her review of Maken’s book soon. She emphasises agreement on the importance of marriage.

Alex Chediak (author of With One Voice) posted this open letter to Köstenberger in response to his second post in which he asks for clarification on a couple of points and makes some other points of his own and asks for response.

Köstenberger has responded to Chediak’s letter in the comments to his second article.

Maken has written another post discussing comments about the tone of the debate. She quotes a comment to McCulley’s second post.

Chediak has read Köstenberger’s chapter, however he has removed his response from his blog.

Maken has written what she expects to be her concluding remarks in her exchange with Köstenberger. She says that they agree they won’t agree on the issue. Her response essentially outlines how her view leads her to disagree with what Köstenberger has said.

Chediak has had an article published at the boundless webzine that is well worth a read. In his blog post referring to it he links to his first open letter and Köstenberger’s second article (indicating some level of support for it).

Köstenberger has produced a third article where he systematically responds to Maken’s latest post, and lists the issues that he made that she didn’t respond to. This led to a spirited dialogue in the comments, including a couple from Köstenberger (here and here). At the time of this update Maken has not responded publicaly, though she has continued with her blog, her posts after Köstenberger’s concentrating on other criticisms, though still reaffirming her basic position.

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Trusting God More Than Statistics

17 August, 2006 EUTC

Candice Watters has written an article that looks at a Barna poll that shows that there are more unmarried men than unmarried women who are identified as born again Christians. She conlcudes from this that “Never-married Christian women don’t outnumber never-married Christian men.” However as I said in a previous post, those who identify as born again Christians are not the same as those who actually are Christians. There is a general impression that there are more single women than men in churches and I have much greater confidence in that than the Barna statistic.

Fortunately as Watters says in her post, it doesn’t matter anyway if her conclusion is false. The way I wish to put it is that God is not bound by probability and if he desires for somebody to be married, then they will be married (and he will continue to be faithful in the meantime). This is a good illustration of one danger regarding statistics, that we might believe them more than we believe God. The probability of Gideon’s small army being sucessful against the Midianites was small, but Gideon believed God and God clearly brought about their defeat through him.

As Prov 16:33 says, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. If our odds look bad, whether those odds relate to our chances of marriage, or the probability of avoiding divorce, or the likelihood of illness or something else, remember that the outcome is from our good God and trust in Him.

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The Pursuit of Marriage: Part 2, Mandate Proponents

3 August, 2006 EUTC

One major contemporary proponent of the idea that the bible mandates marriage for those who are not gifted for singleness (as I described in part 1 of this series) is Dr Albert Mohler, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and member of the Focus on the Family board of directors. Another proponent is Debbie Maken, author of Getting Serious About Getting Married. In this post I show how they present their views and note some differences.


Mohler has written and spoken about the issue in various forums, for instance on his website he has written:

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible assumes that marriage is normative for human beings….There is one significant qualification about marriage found in the Scriptures. In 1 Corinthians chapter seven, the Apostle Paul writes specifically about the gift of celibacy, offering a clear teaching for those who are given this special gift in order to be liberated for strategic Gospel service….[T]he Bible presents celibacy as a gift — apparently a rare gift — that is granted to some believers in order that they would be liberated for special service in Christ’s name. Paul’s discussion of celibacy indicates that this gift is marked by the absence of lust and sexual desire that would compromise or complicate ministry as an unmarried person. Accordingly, those who have been given the gift of celibacy find in Christ the satisfactions others are given through marriage.


Doubting Christian Statistics

1 August, 2006 EUTC

You’ve probably heard various statistics about Christians, such as Christians having slightly higher divorce rates than non-Christians. Such statistics should be treated with a certain level of skepticism. If the data were based on a random sample of regenerate Christians and accurately reflected the reality of those polled, then it would be reasonable to accept the results (in accordance with the margin for error), but reality is not like that. There are at least 3 reasons why we should be careful about our conclusions based on such data:

1. Misidentification

First, in polls (as in real life) it is simply not possible to determine who is a regenerate Christian. (more…)