[forthright] Counter Cultural

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 12:56:15 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Reality Check

Counter Cultural
by Stan Mitchell

I ran across the following statements recently:
While discussing 1 Timothy 2:2-8, (on the role of
women in the church) one writer remarks that Paul
"was as much a child of his own time as we all
are, but he simply had no concept of a world order
in which women would be accepted in leadership
positions equal to men."

In other words, Paul was nothing more than a
first-century Jew, limited in his understanding by
his era and upbringing. His comments are,
therefore, culturally conditioned and not
authoritative for us today.

Which made me wonder. Where did we get the idea
that the Biblical writers were lashed so
helplessly to their culture? How astonished Paul
would have been if someone had suggested that he
was swayed by his culture, a hapless dupe to
whatever the latest first-century fad happened to
be! Can you imagine the deeply self-disciplined
Apostle worrying about his standing in the opinion
polls, or asking what Oprah thought? Does that
sound like the Apostle Paul you read about? The
Biblical writers were not shallow-minded fashion
followers, they were countercultural. To speak for
God was to run counter to the thinking of their
own day and age.


"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind ..." (Romans 12:2).

"Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the father
is not in him" (1 John 2:15).

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly
things" (Colossians 3:2).

"You adulterous people. Don't you know that
friendship with the world is hatred for God?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world
becomes an enemy of God" (James 4:4).

"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong" (Exodus

Of one thing we can be certain. The Biblical
writers were no mere dupes of their age. They were
determined not to be tainted by the thinking of
their culture. They were deeply conscious of the
fact that their God-inspired message was
countercultural. Whatever Paul wrote about women
in the church, morality, worship, or any other
subject, was not the thinking of his culture; it
was a word from God.

I wonder. Was it really Paul who was swayed by his
culture -- or is it we who are the ones struggling
with choosing between God's ways and man's?

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