[ This is not something that we have done before, but given the boldness of John Piper’s recent remarks that Christianity must have “a masculine feel,” (LGT: Scot’s McKnight’s summary) I felt compelled to post my editorial for our forthcoming print issue here, as it is a response to Piper that states in no uncertain terms that we do not share his vision of the Kingdom of God. ]
As I sit down to write this editorial,
the internet has been abuzz for the last couple of weeks over John Piper’s recent comments that Christianity must necessarily have “a masculine feel.” I do not want to demonize John Piper, and even here at Englewood Christian Church, we bear the baggage of a long history of thinking and abiding in a masculine-dominated fashion similar to that described by Piper. However, we must be clear, this sort of patriarchy is a part of the old older of things that is passing away. The Kingdom of God is a new order in which there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female (Gal. 3:28). Paul’s point in this passage, as he makes clear in the latter part of the same verse, is not that we should deny these characteristics, but that in Christ’s new creation, they no longer serve to divide us. Jesus put it more directly, his way was not one of domination (Matt. 20:25-28).
Piper’s comments would have been more truthful in the era in which the biblical texts were written; the culture was patriarchical and God worked in and among that culture – the Judaism of the Old Testament era and Early Christianity undoubtedly had a “masculine feel,” but culture is not and should not be static. God is at working, transforming and redeeming creation. John Piper notwithstanding, patriarchy is dying, and praise God for that!
I mention this story not only to go on record with my concerns about Piper’s latest remarks, but also to emphasize that this sort of Christianity is not the kind of faith that we want to nurture in the reviews and commentary that we offer. We have no desire sanctify any sort of domination, be it patriarchy, greed, militarism, colonialism, racism; instead, we want to nourish a vision of the Kingdom of God in which these orders of a dying age can be clearly seen in the light of Christ, as the doomed powers that they are. We are therefore proud to feature in this issue the work of three extraordinary and visionary women: Marilynne Robinson, Madeleine L’Engle and Lauren Winner. All three of these writers have long poignantly spurred our imaginations with the real hope of Christ’s new creation in which males and females work and flourish together as equals.
This issue comes at the dawn of the season of Lent, a time when Christ’s followers remember their own mortality and, through practices of fasting and contemplation, remember that we are called to die to ourselves and to the old order of things in the world. John Piper’s recent remarks remind us that however comfortable we are with powers of the present age, and however handsomely they have benefited us, they are doomed to failure in the resurrection of Christ, and the promise of their failure is the promise of our own transformation into the image of Christ. We do not need to execute these powers, just as Christ did not do so, but our job is simply to proclaim that they are doomed and to patiently and lovingly work toward embodying a different way of life together in our local church communities.
I pray that this thought would resonate in your heart and mind as you read these reviews and as we all proceed together through the season of Lent and toward the celebration of Christ’s resurrection!
Praying for the Shalom of Christ’s new Creation,
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