Archives For social justice

Posts like this are hard to write.  Hard because they are humbling.

I started reading through the #metoo posts on Twitter, at the request of some women in my church.  It’s hard to organize my thoughts so I’m just going to put them out there:

I was wrong.  I do a lot of work around racial reconciliation and talk and preach a lot about racial inequality and the oppression of people of color in America.  When women would talk to me about the oppression women face, and how it should be included in the conversation of oppression, I’ve always resisted.  With race I say, “How can a white person tell you what it’s like to be a person of color in America?”  They obviously can’t, but they try to over and over again (while not listening to people of color’s experiences).  Meanwhile the same applies here, “How can a man tell you what it’s like to be a woman?”  We can’t.  I can’t.  But that’s where I’ve been living.

The response of some men to #metoo is sickening and sad.  The men who are mocking the #metoo movement are sickening to me.  It’s also sad to me the men who feel defensive over this.  How can you feel defensive over this???  Yes, men and boys are sexually abused as well, that’s not the point of the #metoo posts from women.  It’s not a contest!  It’s about giving a voice to a demographic that has been shut up for ages.  Men have never been shut up.  While yes, the male victims of sexual abuse need to share their stories, and those stories are welcome, this is much bigger than that.  It’s about an entire gender that’s been silenced in almost every area of society; the sexual abuse is the tip of the iceberg to the feelings of inferiority women are carrying around with them.  Whether it’s in racial injustice or in these conversations about gender injustice, I will always struggle to understand the response of the white male who feels like they’re being attacked when these important oppressed voices speak up, and then use that feeling to miss the whole point.  This isn’t about you, it’s about the person that’s been oppressed by our society.  Yes, a society that benefited you (and me) at their expense.  But don’t make it about you by feeling attacked or defensive.  And if you’ve been a part of the problem, own it.  Stop acting like you’re innocent of everything; none of us are.  Own up to your part.  Continuing in obstinate pride isn’t going to help anything or change anything.  Why not be a part of the solution? Continue Reading…

An apology post I wrote after reflecting on how I’ve written about Trump and immigration / refugee policy

Romans 13:1-2, 4-5

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities…

These verses seem to indicate we are to do whatever our governmental leaders tell us, and if we don’t, or if we resist it, it is like we are disobeying or resisting God.  If only it were that simple.  A few quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” muddy the waters quite quickly:

I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal”

In fact, the majority of Dr. King’s letter dealt with this tricky biblical subject as he faced the brutal oppression of “legal” Jim Crow laws, which most white Christians argued must be followed based on Romans 13:1-5.  This was no different than white Christians justifying slavery a century earlier for the same reason.

Yet, there has always been Christian resistance to these legal movements.  Christians who saw the governmental law in stark contrast to God’s law in the Scriptures; they saw it as the sin it was and would not let themselves be complicit in it.

Christians who harbored Jews in Nazi Germany.

Christians who helped run The Underground Railroad.

Christians like Dr. King who led the Civil Rights Movement.

Not the mention the modern day global Christians living in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian, to attend church, to own a Bible, etc.

Or consider this Scriptural wrench from Acts 4 thrown into the engine of the Romans 13 argument: Continue Reading…

Noah Filipiak interviews Shane Claiborne about how to engage churches in helping the poor, activism and justice issues.  They talk about celebrityism within popular Christianity, about what can be done to stop the death penalty (Shane’s latest book is Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us), and about how to be an ordinary radical as both a single person and as a married person (and what to do if one spouse is moved toward this and the other isn’t). 

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Shane Claiborne below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes

Continue Reading…

Noah Filipiak interviews World Relief’s Haiti Country Director, Joseph Bataille.  Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere before the 2010 earthquake and even more so after.  All this despite millions and millions of dollars of international aid over the course of decades.  Noah and Joseph have a “behind the curtain” conversation about how Haiti got in the spot its in, what World Relief is doing about it, and what we all can do about alleviating poverty in ways that work.  Noah and Joseph also discuss the perils of compassion fatigue and how to avoid it.

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Joseph Bataille below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes

Resources and Links:

December 17th, 2016 Lansing for Haiti 5K Run / Walk (location: Lansing, MI)

“Run From Anywhere” Your City for Haiti 5K Run / Walk (location: anywhere!)

Email Noah if you’re interested in our Haiti Golf Scramble (location: Lansing, MI), date TBD, on a Saturday morning in August 2016.

Book:  Haiti: The Aftershocks of History by Laurent Dubois

Book: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Fikkert and Corbett

If you want to connect with World Relief Haiti by getting news updates and joining their prayer team, email World Relief’s Church Relations Director Craig Pixley.  Craig can help you and / or your church in any type of church engagement with World Relief Haiti or anywhere World Relief works throughout the world.

www.worldrelief.org/haiti

To donate to World Relief go to http://www.worldrelief.org/give/

What does the Bible say about women in church leadership?  The complementarian case.

Alright here goes, the theological issue that has single-handedly kept me awake at night more than any other: Women in church leadership (Can women be pastors, elders, etc.?).  Maybe it’s cut and dry for you; it used to be for me as well.  Maybe by the end of reading what I’m about to write, you’ll be awake at night too!  And maybe not.  Whatever the case, please read both of my articles on this topic.  I am publishing them simultaneously with the express purpose of helping one side see the merit in the other and to help address some of the many misunderstandings out there.  The two posts are:

The Accusation from Complementarians: Egalitarians are not Biblical.

The Accusation from Egalitarians: Complementarians are Sexist & Oppressors.

The reason the topic of women in ministry leadership has deprived me of so much sleep is because of my love for hermeneutics and because of my deep conviction that the Bible is God’s word.  If you throw out any of it, how can you trust any of it?  Hermeneutics refers to how we interpret the Bible, taking into account the cultural context, the author, the audience etc. and figuring out how to apply the timeless truth of a passage to today, a very different context from when it was written (i.e. Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.).  Some passages of Scripture require no hermeneutics at all.  1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and Galatians 1:6-9 are some homeruns in this category–so clean, so clear, so refreshing.  If only all texts were this way.  In all honesty, as I’ve thoroughly studied the Bible’s women in church leadership texts, I often feel exasperated that both views seem unbiblical!  And then I can’t sleep…

Some quick vocab:

Egalitarian – The belief that women and men are equal when it comes to church leadership.  That women can be senior / lead pastors or elders in the same way that men can.

Complementarian – The belief that women and men are different in function, but complement one another when it comes to church leadership.  Only men can be elders / lead pastors.

There is a relatively wide spectrum within each camp, but this gives you a basic framework so you can follow along.

While there is a related debate about men and women’s household roles, I will be focusing on church leadership roles.  Onward:

The Accusation from Egalitarians: Complementarians are Sexist & Oppressors

Due to their heart and convincing biblical argument, I will attempt to show that to accuse complementarians of being sexist or oppressors is to accuse God and the Bible of this.

Source: Freedom and Boundaries: A Pastoral Primer on the Role of Women in the Church by Kevin DeYoung

Continue Reading…