Links of interest – 12/11/30

A good read about Jesus

John Ortberg’s Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus sounds like a fine work for adult study, and I notice that a study guide and DVD are also available for group use. I have not seen the book myself, but John Frye’s review is certainly enthusiastic, and his experience in using it with an adult SS class has contributed to his excitement. Frye sums up what Ortberg is doing:

 What John Ortberg does in the book is highlight particular characteristics of Jesus’ character and behavior (as presented in the Gospels) and then shows how those Christ-characteristics took hold in and transformed culture through Jesus’ followers. The elevation of human dignity, especially of the maimed, marginalized and society’s bottom-dwellers, the risk-taking care for the deformed, discarded and diseased, the giftedness and place of women in Christianity and culture, the passion to educate and train others for a significant place in life, the value and influence of “a truly old fashioned marriage,” the deepening of the influence of art in culture, and the courage and creativity-producing power of hope.

Who voted against women bishops in the Anglican Church?

Recently, I read a blog post by a woman who was going to the annual meetings of the ETS, even though she knew that not many other women would be present. I liked most of her reasons for calling upon other evangelical women scholars to join her there. One thing troubled me though, and that was her obvious (though not explicitly stated) assumption that all the men at ETS would be complementarian and all the women would be egalitarian. I know many men who are egalitarian and many women who are complementarian. Can it be, I wonder, that this has not been the experience of the evangelical female scholar whose comments I read?

Thosr thoughts came back to me today as I learned from an article in The Telegraph that 33 out of the 74 members of the House of Laity who voted against the appointment of women as Anglican bishops were women. We are all created male or female, and some of us become egalitarian while others are complementarian, but we should not assume from knowing where a person fits in the first set with which of the second set they identify.

Benevolent sexism

Somewhat related to the above issue was an article I came upon through a link from First Things. It indicates that, “The bad news is that gentlemanly behavior makes people happy.” Charles Murray quotes the following conclusion from the abstract of an article in The Psychology of Women Quarterly:

 The results imply that although benevolent sexism perpetuates inequality at the structural level, it might offer some benefits at the personal level. Thus, our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence.

Murray comments (aptly, I think) on that conclusion:

 When social scientists discover something that increases life satisfaction for both sexes, shouldn’t they at least consider the possibility that they have come across something that is positive? Healthy? Something that might even conceivably be grounded in the nature of Homo sapiens?

An attitude of “inverse exceptionalism” toward Israel

On to another highly charged subject – Israel. I was puzzled by what looked to me like a surprising lack of objectivity in much of the news that I read during the recent round of hostilities between Hamas and Israel. In a blog post at First Things, about the UN decision to give the Palestinians observer status, Matthew Schmitz articulates what seems to lie behind the peculiar attitude that I have often encountered.

 There were better and worse reasons for granting Palestine its new status, but the whole proceeding was tainted by the inverse exceptionalism with which the globe regards the state of Israel. Israel’s actions are always judged with special and selective harshness while the claims of the Palestinians are looked on with a sympathy enjoyed by no other group. And so we hear loud complaints about Israel’s careful response to rocket attacks and not a peep about the slaughter of Syrians by Assad. We hear a great deal about the (in many ways legitimate) aspirations of the Palestinians but not a thing about the Kurds.


By Terrance Tiessen

I am Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Canada.

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