Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Early Church and Gnosticism: The Context Behind the Pastorals

Dearest Readership,

What a joy it is to write this announcement! I am so thankful to the Lord that He has allowed me the opportunity to return to my personal blog ("Men and Women") and continue writing to the glory of God.

I desire to announce that the work here at Men and Women in the Church will begin to take a different turn from the last series I did here. That series was on the Trinity and how we see good news for women in the fact that Christ's subordination on earth was not an eternal subordination. To have a situation of "God in hierarchy" in eternity would lead to such heresies as "tritheism" (three Gods, instead of one God) and the Lord Jesus Himself would be beneath us in eternity. Even Jesus said in the Gospels that there will be no marriage in heaven---which means that male headship in the home will not last forever! And if the church of God is supposed to be the visible sign of the kingdom of God come to earth, then we have got to stop completely living with a "life on earth is how it is" mentality. If we are now sons of God, we have to prepare for the day when we will fully live out that sonship...this means, then, that men have got to stop thinking in terms of power and control and begin to think of what life in Christ is really all about.

Those who stress the differences of the Trinity members do so at great peril; those who stress the similarities too much begin to conflate the Trinity (and the Son and Father, for instance, could be labeled the same person in this mindset). What believers must learn to do is demonstrate both the similarities and differences of the Trinity members. But we must not let go of the fact that, whether it be "Father," "Son," or "Spirit," none are "less God" than the other members. All three members of the Trinity are God, and share the essence of divinity. Because of this, neither can be "eternally subordinate" to the others, in the same way that no one human is eternally subordinate to any other human.

The new series will deal with a subject that I have been wanting to approach for a long time: that is, the context of the Pastorals. I have written some work here on complementarian scholars who argue that Gnosticism and false teaching is not the context of the Pastorals, and that the real issue is the role of women in the church. I intend to look at the Pastorals themselves to glean all the info we can about the situations that existed in the letters themselves; next, I intend to focus on how the details of the Pastorals "line up" with what we know of Gnosticism and the Gnostic Gospels. In addition, I will provide quotes from the church fathers themselves, who battled Gnosticism from even within the church (take Marcion for example, who even truncated down his version of the canon, even diminishing the amount of material in Luke's Gospel; Luke's was all he kept in his version of the Scriptures). All of this research is geared at showing believers that Paul did battle Gnosticism in his day (what scholars call "Proto-Gnosticism," meaning "first Gnostic thought").

It is my prayer that this will put to rest the idea that the Pastorals are just all about church leadership and that they are simply manuals for church leadership. While Paul does provide administrative counsel in these letters, he does so because of the atmosphere at the time: the church was battling false teaching from without that was being brought "within" the church. No wonder then, that Paul could write to the Corinthians, "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3, NKJV)!

Thanks so much for your support...and I apologize for my time away. For those of you who desire to see what I've been working on in all the time I've been away, please read posts written at my other blog, "Center for Theological Studies." I've done some interesting work there on the Doctrine of Eternal Security (or Doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints) as well as discussed issues of hermeneutics in the biblical text. I think the church needs to know what hermeneutics is and how valuable it was to the early church (and should be to us today).

Continue to pray for me and the work done here in cyberspace. May God grant you the opportunity to hang in here with me as we embark on this exciting series. May the Lord bless you and keep you until the day of His return.

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