Thursday, 28 March 2013

If Words Were Arrows: 1 Chronicles 8 (RBHW)

Benjamin's descendants, from king Saul onward, were known for their skill in archery and battle.
Our abundant utterances through the spoken and written word are often like arrows flying all around in mid air. These utterances can do either tremendous good or great harm. Thank God, the potential for good increases to the extent that our vocabularies are informed by the Word of God.

There was a time when SDAs were known as a "people of the Book." O how I hope and pray that what we're seeing with RBHW will snowball into what will be for us in this generation, "the SDA Renaissance." I do feel like we're onto something. This will certainly improve our expressions and potential for advancing the cause of our God.
Lord, please help us to become skilful in the use of Your Words to guide our thoughts, our words, and our actions. And as arrows have traditionally been used to hit human targets, light fires, and convey messages, may our words (arrows) only affect persons to the extent that the "old man of sin" is what perishes. May our words set ablaze the corrupt systems of the world, even as they convey life through the message of hope of Salvation in Jesus Christ. This we ask in His name, amen.

To read or listen to 1 Chronicles 8 and to read other related blogs click here.

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Pauline Concept of Women – Androcentric or Christocentric? The Sequel

By Orlando Broomfield (NCU Religion Student)
Copyright © 2013

Androcentricity, as defined by the Dictionary of Human Geography is “the structuring of all life and narrative around the experiences of men.”[1] The term Christocentrism is defined by P. c. Lai as, “an approach towards the doctrine of revelation in which the person and work of Christ plays a determining or central role.”[2] In the Pauline corpus, Jesus is the essence of Christian theology and practice, but today when the rights of the individual is championed, there is a legitimate probe into the level of applicability of the Pauline concept of women for our time. Although the life and death of Christ was normative and authoritative in Pauline theology, Christocentricity was applied predominantly in androcentric ways in the primary context. 
The male-dominant culture certainly influenced Pauline theology. This Pauline theology was not uniquely Paul’s, but the continuous product of the reciprocity of the impact between the Jesus tradition and a believing community.  Professor of contextual theology, Marcella Althaus-Reid, supports this view, expounding that the Christological process is at best one aimed at constructing the Christ through “a process that depends on the interrelationality between a man called Jesus and a community of women, men and children.”[3] The point to bear in mind is their world was enwrapped in male-dominance, and the primary audience would understand in both a Christocentric and an androcentric way, any Pauline point.
The Bible on a whole is expressed through the natural and real androcentric manner over its years of production and transmission. This is not to say that females were never featured as key characters of heroism, prophecy, leadership, and philanthropy; but those incidences were not a characteristic feature of the Bible. The Pauline concept of women would be of no exception, as the sitz im leben remained essentially the same. The treatment of women in the Pauline corpus or the gospels, also points out that neither Paul nor Jesus was hostile to women. Of this, M. Rosario Barbosa stands in agreement, appealing that Paul’s respect of women in his letters “is definitely not the profile of a man who is guilty of misogyny.”[4] At the same time, the practice resulting from his theology did not bring about equality for women in the many subsequent years.
Therefore, the conceivableness of egalitarianism in Pauline epistles would be equivalent to an anomaly. Paul as a first century Christian author from an unquestionably androcentric cultural setting would only unnaturally transcend that context to be fair-minded. A broader picture is even painted by Isherwood and McPhillips by their summation, that though it was hopeful for the male Messiah of the patriarchal God to show respect to women, “this is swiftly smothered by macho-Paul.”[5] Thomas W. Ogletree does not even give Paul a point for his all-inclusiveness in salvation for both genders in Galatians 3:28, arguing that, “On this matter at least he (Paul) may not have fully comprehended the radical logic of his own position.”[6]  WM.O. Walker Jr.[7], takes this side as well, suggesting that Paul was unwilling, uninterested, or unable to challenge his political, economical, or social norms, or to apply his own theological worldview with complete consistently. Androcentricity sums up the Pauline concept of women.


Barbosa, M. Rosario. “Women According to Saint Paul.” 2007 (accessed March 11, 2013).

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.

Lai, P. c. Towards a Trinitarian Theology of Religions: A Study of Paul Tillich's Thought. Walpole, MA: Peeters Publishers, 1994.

Isherwood, Lisa. Introducing Feminist Christologies. Lexington, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001.

Isherwood, Lisa, and Kathleen McPhillips. Post-Christian Feminisms: A Critical Approach. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2008.

Ogletree, Thomas W. The Use of the Bible in Christian Ethics. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Walker Jr., WM.O. "1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 and Paul’s Views Regarding Women." Journal Of Biblical Literature 94, no. 1 (March 1975): 94. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 11, 2013).

[1] Walter A. Elwell. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2001) 446
[2] P. c. Lai. Towards a Trinitarian Theology of Religions: A Study of Paul Tillich's Thought. (Walpole, MA: Peeters Publishers, 1994) 37
[3] Lisa Isherwood. Introducing Feminist Christologies (Lexington, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001) 68
[4] M. Rosario Barbosa. “Women According to Saint Paul.” 2007 (accessed March 11, 2013)
[5] Lisa Isherwood and Kathleen McPhillips. Post-Christian Feminisms: A Critical Approach (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2008) 75
[6] Thomas W. Ogletree. The Use of the Bible in Christian Ethics. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003) 168
[7] WM.O. Walker Jr. "1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 and Paul’s Views Regarding Women." Journal Of Biblical Literature 94, no. 1 (March 1975): 94. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 11, 2013).

Jesus is the Way Home – 1 Chronicles 2 (RBHW)

I grew up not knowing my father (he died when I was 2 years old; no recollection of him).  Imagine my delight when last December when my travelling a few hours with my eldest brother, who'd come home visiting, he told me things about my dad I was hearing for the first time.  I would have liked him... a lot.  He also told me about the original members of my paternal forebears who first came to Jamaica.

An amazing discovery I made was that I began to understand and appreciate myself a bit better.  The state of being lost is to find yourself at a place and having no idea how you got there, but more so having no idea how to get "home."  Genealogy/history provides a map that tells us where we are, and shows how we got there.  It gives us context and helps to define the person and the purpose.

A complete genealogy should really take us back to Eden; to the spot where God formed man out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

The story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) is most instructive.  While in the pigs' sty he made an important declaration, "how many hired servants hath MY FATHER."  His decision following the declaration was, "I will arise and go to my father; I will go home." (adapted).

I must admit that there is a big gap between my present and my very beginning, but thank God for His Grace; Jesus has bridged the gap.  He has provided a way for me to be "born again" so I don't have to know every detail about my biological family tree; I only have to know Jesus, "the way, the truth, and the life." John 14: 6.  Jesus is the way "Home."

To read or listen to 1 Chronicles 2 and read other related blogs click here.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Pauline Concept of Women: Androcentric or Christocentric?

By Shawn Wilson (NCU Religion Student)
Copyright © 2013

In popular hermeneutics of the corpus paulinum,[1] that is, the Pauline Epistles, there has been much accusation against the apostle Paul for being an androcentric chauvinist, rather than being Christocentric. These accusations arose because of certain texts that seem to suggest that Paul had a Patriarchal misogynistic outlook on women, especially as it relates to them performing certain functions in the church. Quotes such as, “the man is the head of the women” (1 Cor. 11:3, AP),[2] “women should be silent in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34, AP; cf., Eph. 5:22; Col 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Tim. 2:12),[3] and so forth, are often used by those who advocate a chauvinistic structure of church leadership; while these same texts are used by feminist to point out that Paul was a sexist. However, recent scholarship has recognized that there are numerous problems with the chauvinistic use of the Pauline epistles, as well as the ad hominem attacks on Paul. Here, I will highlight some of those problems. 
Firstly, it has been widely recognized among contemporary scholars that the traditional negative misogynic picture of Paul is exegetically untenable. One of the reasons for this conclusion is that, of the fourteen letters said to be Pauline only seven of them were actually written by Paul. These are: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. The other letters are said to be Deuto and Trito-Pauline i.e., pseudepigraphical works of second-generation followers of Paul.[4] Given the truth of these findings, it therefore follows that certain radical patriarchal scriptural injunctions like, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she should keep silent” (1 Tim. 2:12, AP), and so forth, should not be ascribed to Paul. Now if this is true, then it begs the question, “Why did the followers of Paul do such a thing?” The answer lies in the simple fact that the first century socio-cultural worldview was utterly patriarchal, and misogynistic. Hence, the followers of Paul simply inherited the prejudice of their time. 

As for 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, which also mentions the silence of women in church, scholars have recognized that this portion was not in any of the earliest of manuscripts, but seems to have been added to the texts by a later redactor.[5] As Reimund Bieringer points out,
At some point early in the process of copying the text, someone added these lines as a gloss in the margins. Later in the process of the text’s transmission, a copyist included these words in the actual text of the letter. There are a number of important arguments that lend support to this hypothesis, but one is of particular importance: the obvious contradiction between 14:33b-35 and 11:2-6. If women pray and prophesy in the assembly, as is taken for granted by Paul in 11:5, then they must be allowed to speak.[6]
Secondly, contrary to the views of many today, the apostle Paul held women in high regards. This is evident in Romans 16, where Paul recognizes Phoebe as a diakonos of the church of Cenchreae (Romans 16:1-16).  Plus, in his greetings to Aquila and Prisca, Paul addresses Prisca first, then Aquilla (Rom. 16:3). This particular detail is important because in first century Palestine, it was not customary for women to be greeted first.
In conclusion then, even though the first century cultural milieu was patriarchal and androcentric, that does not necessarily entails that Paul himself shared those sentiments, and also, we should not use his epistles to support a present chauvinistic church structure, because any such application would be thoroughly anachronistic. Finally, the quintessential passage that shows that Paul was Christocentric, rather than androcentric is Galatians 3:27-28. He outlines, “As many of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Thus, there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27-28, AP). Here it is especially evident that the authentic Pauline epistles show that the gospel Paul preaches supports an egalitarian Christianity that is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ.


[1] Pedro M. Rosario Barbosa, “Women According to Saint Paul” (2007). Taken from: (accessed March 7, 2013).
[2]  All scripture passages labeled AP, means Authors Paraphrase.
[3] Barbosa, “Women According to Saint Paul” (2007).
[4] Reimund Bieringer, “Women and Leadership in Romans 16,” East Asian Pastoral Review, Volume 44 (2007), Number 3: 221-237. Taken from: (accessed March 7, 2013).
[5] Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.  New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2005. 183-184.
[6] Bieringer, “Women and Leadership in Romans 16,” (2007), Number 3.

Firewalls, Homepages and Fidelity – Reflections on 2 Kings 23 (RBHW)

The chapter deals with the discovery of the Word of God that came to king Josiah’s attention.  Realizing how far Judah had drifted from God’s ideals, Josiah gets to work on a major reformation programme of eradicating all traces of idolatry from the land.  His extensive work was however not enough to prevent the onslaught of judgement on the nation.  And little wonder indeed that Judah was yet judged, given that Josiah’s to immediate successors did evil in the sight of the Lord, notwithstanding Josiah’s example.

Firewalls and Homepages
The sincere and prayerful reading of the Word of God carries with it a cleansing effect; courage is infused in the life of the reader and idols are torn down. Bad habits tend to perish, where good ones are born; tastes are redefined.

Reading the Word is like visiting certain websites that if you don't have firewall protection will automatically load certain programmes on your computer. Sometimes your homepage is involuntarily changed on your browsers. And in many instances the usual functionality of your computer is compromised. The Word of God, read without the firewall of doubt and indifference will install the image of God in us. It will also affect our usual sinful functionality. Then at length the Bible will become our homepage; the point of reference for every decision made in our lives.

Although it's important that parents lead exemplary lives, fidelity to God is not something that is bequeathed, as is a throne or an estate. Each of us must make that personal decision to follow God. At best we can only hope to at least positively influence a decision. To that end, we must endeavour to give it our best shot as parents, as teachers, as mentors... as Christians. So like Paul, we may, "save some." Rom. 11: 14; 1 Cor. 9: 22.

Lord, this is why we are certain that You have sanctioned this programme of daily reading the Word of RBHW. Please remove from every reader all tendencies of doubt and indifference. And may the power of Your Word be able to do its special work in each of us we pray, in Jesus' name, amen.

To read or listen to 2 Kings 23 and to read other associated blogs click here.