Thursday, June 2, 2016

Spiritual Coffee: Truth Doesn't Divide, Unbelief Does - Helping Women Cherish Being a Weaker Vessel - Novels for a Christian Mind

Here's the best of what I've seen recently for building up your mind in Christ and refreshing your heart. Prior roundups are under Spiritual Coffee.

Division Begins with the Departure from the Truth, Jared C. Wilson (For the Church)
Most of us in the Church have been battered and browbeaten with the modern myth that anyone who insists upon something as true is divisive and disruptive. When a person wants to go their own way, those of us who try to call them back are labeled judgmental and closed-minded. Wilson does a very concise and clear job of demonstrating that it is actually the person who has chosen to depart from what we shared as a belief who is being stubborn and closed-minded. Most orthodox creeds and statements of doctrine were created in response to someone abandoning truth for what is deceptive and misleading. They were reactions to the stubbornness of error and rebellion. This is a welcome reset of our perspective, reminding us we don't cause division and conflict just by remaining true to what we believe.

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7).
This verse provokes so many emotional reactions from both men and women. In our age, obsessed with independence and autonomy, the idea of being weak carries with it the implication that you aren't able to assert yourself independently and be free of social stereotypes imposed on you by tradition and culture. No one wants to be weak. I know women struggle over understanding this comparison between men and women, and I know men who struggle with wanting to explain it away out of sympathy and support. Yet it's a teaching of the Bible, and that means that there is something good for us here that we shouldn't miss. We hide from it or dismiss it at our peril, because every time people try to ignore or defy what God has designed and force things into roles and shapes they weren't meant to have, tragedy follows.
Abigail paints a beautiful portrait of the strength and preciousness that coexist with fragility and weakness, illustrating that being weaker does not mean inferior or less capable. The excerpts below speak for themselves - and have a lot to say to both men and women. Although I'm not a woman, I've been married to one for 16 years and I am very familiar with how she has pondered and wrestled through verses like this. She commended this post as among the most helpful things she has read on this verse, and I am grateful to have words like this with which to encourage her. 
"It helps to first acknowledge that what God says through Peter is true. We are weaker, or we could use the synonym fragile. Not stupider. Not less human. Not incapable of reason or achievement. Not emotionally broken. Not more sinful. And not even without great strength, as the Scriptures testify. But weaker. And yet many of us are, or have been at some point, uncomfortable with this because it’s inimical to the spirit of the age and it feels like an offense to our pride. So much so that we may stubbornly spurn 1 Peter’s verity, even as we take every precaution when walking alone in a dark alley.
"Our weakness — the fact that no matter how much time I spent in the gym, I’d likely never be able to overpower an average-sized man or beat him in an arm-wrestling match — is not a sign of something gone wrong. It is to be handled with care, because in it resides exquisite beauties, abilities, and feminine strengths — like the beautiful strength of thick beveled glass."
12 Recent Novels for your Summer Pleasure, Byron Borger (Hearts and Minds Books)
I include this because it is a great joy to discover fiction that brings truth to life with creativity and wisdom, and also because Byron Borger is a voice you should know if you love books. He reviews them often on his Booknotes blog, and his depth of knowledge is astounding. If you're looking for a guide to uncharted wonders and rare jewels in Christian literature and non-fiction, this is your guy. This is the kind of bookstore you wish you could go around the corner to every week. (The one that particularly intrigued me from this list of novels is the sixth one, This Is Why I Came.)
Every year, Byron and his wife Beth put together a remarkable portable bookstore for the Christian Legal Society National Conference, filling a gallery with hundreds of handpicked selections in every imaginable category a Christian may want. Take one look at the organization and care in arranging a room that size with so many useful titles, and you'll know why their experience and knowledge of books is so valuable.

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