Friday, April 20, 2012

“God is in the Laundry Room” The Best Women’s Small Group Bible Study Evah! (Addendum Added)

I pity Evangelical women and the spiritual second class treatment which is hoisted upon them as well as their broad willing acquiescence to this undeclared and often denied but real status and treatment. Frankly what I see on the landscape, even within conservative Evangelicalism, is a disconcerting patronization.

Obviously all is not bleak but if you consider some of the most prominent women personalities in Evangelicalism who are held out as models in both doctrine and practice, it is simply horrendous. Leading the pack of these doctrinally/theologically maladjusted teachers is Beth Moore. She is an Evangelical/Southern Baptist version of charisimaniacal Paula White.  I genuinely feel sorry for the women who have and are using her material with confidence. It is poison and certainly not of any substance.

On the other hand, but still to the injury of women, is the opposite kind of women's group. They do like having women speakers and women gatherings too, but normally it is in a matronly setting (the wife of a celebrity Teacher/Preacher whatever you want to call him-but if you only knew just how dysfunctional many of these marriages and families are and how unsatisfied these matron leaders are you would run for the hills) with condescension for all. The pecking orders are rather obvious and there is no real pursuit of doctrinal/exegetical edification. Most women at such meetings go away empty-handed except for a little legalism to go with their false guilt, sentimentality and Satanic Special-Interest Theology (of the gender kind) which is no real theology at all. The rest simply learn how to be sweet homemakers who are adept at choosing colors for the children's clothing, but for all of them, no serious exposition or forays into Koine Greek nuggets.

But there is hope…

The book God is in the Laundry Room got my attention, not because of its off-putting title but because of the surprise I received upon investigating its content. As you might suspect when I read the title I had my suspicions but being better than my initial suspicions I investigated the matter. Wow, talk about concealing gold!

The book itself is published by Concordia House Publishing and is authored by Susan Senechal. She is a Lutheran (LCMS) by denomination. Unlike Evangelical models where women authors prize their appearance on the cover of their books (some appearing in ghastly make-up styles) Lutherans emphasize modesty, even in ministry, believe it or not. This, by the way, is why many of them have their choirs in the back or to the side in a church, less emphasizing their personalities and more emphasizing the object of their ministry, Jesus Christ. So you won’t get a picture of Susan smacking you in the face on the cover of the book, though I am confident there is one available. And I would not be surprised if she has had her picture taken and possibly distributed for recognition purposes, but it certainly is not for the personal celebritism method of the common Evangelical author in order to sell books. But I digress.

The book offers 8 chapters to correspond with the 8 sessions about “seeking God”. Susan Senechal begins her first session with 1 John 1:8-9 using the analogy of laundry maintenance. Simple? Yes. But it is how she uses this analogy that satisfies and her careful treatment of the text which makes one immediately aware that laundry and womanly chores with a good attitude is not what this book is about at all; it is simply an effective analogous backdrop to a much more serious consideration. Senechal carefully explores the nuggets of Greek nuance without attempting to present herself in an apostolic or ecclesiastically ordained manner so as to disingenuously distinguish herself by trying to introduce a “new insight” undetected by her Teachers and all those before her or one unvetted by those who have ecclesiastical oversight in her life. Here is one sample she uses in 1 John 1:9

“If we confess our sin” (1 John 1:9). The Greek word here is homologeo. This word is formed from two Greek words, homo, which leans “same,” and logos, which means “word.” It does not mean to merely repeat the same words over and over, as we may do if we just thoughtlessly utter prescribed confession. Homologeo is not a simple, mindless repetition of what someone else has said: it is agreeing the with statement and taking it to heart. In fact, it is agreeing with God, saying in effect, “Lord God, You see this as sin, and I say the same thing”.

This small sample reveals that Susan (unlike many other women who teach  in Evangelical circles-and men-John Piper could use a lesson from Susan), disciplines herself to sticking with exegesis and avoiding the temptations of eisegesis (the importing of feelings and opinions). What some might expect, for example, from this one verse about confessing our sins is an appeal to *“feeling bad” for your sins. But in truth, this simply is not a part of the meaning of homologeo.  Senechal makes no such reference since it is not present in the in the meaning of the word. In other words someone trained her quite well and she received that training as to how to exegete a Greek word.

So with this pattern in mind I explored the rest of the book and she never fails throughout her treatment of the subject. She sticks to all of the right forms of hermeneutics and packs the book with material that in all honesty, is much more than a women’s small group Bible study, but one from which all believers can benefit spiritually without regard to gender. At times it is like reading Kenneth Wuest’s nuggets on Greek words.

If you are tired of  bizarre antics coupled with deformed theology, condescending Reformed matrons or hyper-submissive mommybot theology, try Susan Senechal's book. It treats women like they should be treated, as co-heirs of the kingdom of God and seeks to lead them into spiritual enlightenment and edification. It's the best, evah!

*Addendum - While the word homologeo does not have in view one's feelings, this is not to assert one will not have them when confessing sins. Emotions are physiological reactions or anecdotes to thoughts (or lack thereof which is called irrationality). The point is that feelings or emotions are not in view or required with respect to the confession of our sins but certainly they are often likely, still they cannot be prescribed as essential to confession.

Also as to small groups. I believe many small groups are detrimental to the health of a local assembly. They often end up utilizing the Hegelian Dialectic which basically is group consensus as to what the Word of God says. This is a very bad but modernly tolerated practice in the body of Christ. This is precisely why I recommend Senechal's book, it sticks to exegetical boundaries and models for women (and men if they wish) an appropriate approach to small group disciplines in Bible study.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Note to Readers: Marriage Project Upcoming

I apologize for the lack of material as of late but I have been extensively involved in some personal endeavors which have demanded my full attention. However, I have outlined a new series on marriage that I hope to have completed in the upcoming weeks. With Russell Moore's recent anti-doctrinal post at The Gospel Coalition on marriage, recently, and John Piper's nonsense about interracial marriage being a product of spirituality, I am compelled to complete this necessary task. A special thanks to my readers, commentors and those who have taken the time to email me with your thoughts.