Open Thread on Julie’s Closed Thread; or, How should we interact with authority?
by Christian Y. Cardall
[UPDATE: Julie revised the verbiage explaining her decision to turn off comments. My references to 200 comments and the babysitting she didn’t want to take on allude to the original version.]
If Julie doesn’t want 200 comments on her post on women’s authority, I'll take them. (Actually, since the T&S readership is about 200 times the readership of this blog, we might expect this post to garner of order 1 comment.) As for the babysitting she didn’t want to take on, I won’t bother; I trust you to behave as the courteous adults you are. I’ll kick things off with two observations, one specific, and the second more general.
First, regarding Paul’s parallel Christ:God :: woman:man, Julie argues that “The relationship of woman to man–as paralleled to Christ and God–is not eternal. …since Christ ultimately inherits all that the Father has, it implies that the heirarchical aspect of the male-female relationship is temporary.” I don’t think Joseph’s teachings support this. I quote from Bushman, who quotes the King Follett discourse:
“I saw the father work out a kingdom with fear & trembling & I can do the same & when I get my K[ingdom] work[ed out] I will present [it] to the father & it will exalt his glory and Jesus steps into his tracks to inherit what God did before.”So while Jesus becomes like the Father and gains all that he hath, there remains an eternal hierarchy.
The words evoked a hierarchy [!] of gods, succeeding to higher stations of greater glory as kingdoms are presented to them and as rising souls below them ascend to godhood.
Second, in a couple of places where she cannot obtain a satisfactory reading, she seems to feel free to disregard it, saying “Paul is making an argument from nature/culture that probably won’t persuade many modern readers.” Why not apply that to the entirety of Paul’s teachings on women—or, if “cultural baggage” is pervasive, to all of scripture? What are the criteria used to separate the wheat from the chaff? If it is ‘that which is not persuasive to modern readers,’ we may as well treat all of scripture not as if it has normative authority, but ‘only’ with the same seriousness we take any other great literature worthy of our attention and consideration, but not necessarily our obedience (a result, I confess, to which I am rather tempted).
Jim F. provides more questions than answers in his lessons, so I can’t know for sure; I don’t get the fundamentalist inerrancy vibe, or a drive for harmonization, but I get the sense that he would rather leave questions unanswered than presume to dismiss any canonized text. I still don’t quite get what he’s doing, and I don’t know if I can be persuaded do the same; but there seems to be something special in his approach (‘patience’ and ‘gravitas’ come to mind). There seems to be querying, even respectful probing; but then simply listening, sometimes, perhaps often, for answers that do not come; but in no case does there seem to be an impatient need to force resolutions.
It is, I suppose, a remarkably mature trust in and patience with the word, and those granted custody over its canonization status—neither of which is expected to be perfect, but is also not to be transcended. Again, for myself I am not sure it is a trust I can muster, but his posture is one I can respect. I can see either taking the whole ball of wax with a grain of salt—a kind of passive leave-taking—or, alternatively, thinking and waiting patiently; but when the issue is a text (or Church) claiming legitimate authority from God, a kind of pushy activism aimed at change is a stance I am not sure makes much sense.