Opinions on faith and life

You Like Manifestos?

2008-10-13

This post is in response to The True Woman Manifesto, a male supremacy-endorsing document meant to be signed by Christian women as, I suppose, some sort of defiant reaction against people like me who believe that the very concept of supremacy between one believer and another is exactly what Jesus came to abolish. Enjoy.


A True Christian Manifesto

A Biblical declaration honoring the work of Jesus Christ to set us all free to serve God from the heart and not the flesh, such that we are all adopted children of God by faith alone

We believe that there is only One True God, the God of the Bible, and that he does not share His glory with any other so-called gods.

We believe that God created humankind as the crowning glory of creation, in His image, male and female, to responsibly manage the earth on His behalf, and that male and female as one flesh and bone are to stand as equal partners in this task.

We believe that while sin has broken the relationship between God and mankind, that mankind still reflects His image1 and is therefore still distinct from all other creatures, but that all who would be restored to God must come to Him in faith, accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection on their behalf.

We are resolved that the community of believers is never to get its values from the surrounding culture but only from God, and that we must not let down our guard even when parts of the culture reflect Godly designs, knowing that the winds of change can subtly turn us from His ways.

We believe that Jesus Christ came to restore the broken relationship between God and humankind, and that our mission as believers is to spread the knowledge of this to all, and show them the way to be reconciled.2

As Christians, we desire to honor God by living lives that do not bow to cultural norms such as slavery, misogyny, racism, elitism, or seeking preeminence, but to heed Jesus’ command for the greatest to be the least, and the master to be the servant, remembering that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and that every believer is to follow the example of Jesus Himself3 as the role model for all.

To that end, we affirm that...

Scripture is God’s authoritative written Word, revealing His nature, methods, and plan for us-- a plan that found its ultimate expression in Jesus Christ, whose example was one of humility, of considering others better than ourselves, of serving each other as equals instead of seeking to control them, with Love as the overarching principle.

We glorify God and experience His blessing when we no longer act as the world with its hierarchies and chains of command, but instead as the Body of Christ whose parts cannot say to each other, I have no need of you.

As redeemed sinners, we cannot sustain this ideal cooperation without the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and continual instruction in the full counsel of God as revealed in His Word.

Husbands and wives are not separate classes of beings with one a mere assistant to the other, but equal partners whose unique perspectives, gifts, experiences, and personalities can be truly complementary such that they are much more than the sum of their parts and become one flesh, allowing each one to support the other’s weaknesses and exalt in their strengths.

We are called as Christians to affirm and encourage each other, all of us taking our example of humility from Christ and following His example of lifting each other up, recognizing those among us who are mature in the faith and following their example until we too exemplify the truly transformed life of a disciple, instead of trying to play the part of God to any other.

Marriage, as created by God, is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, representing the mystical union between Christ and His Body, the community of believers-- not that between the Father and the Son, or the Son and the Spirit.

When we respond humbly to the leadership of mature believers and follow their examples, we can grow to become like them and then in turn lead others who are younger in the faith, and in this way the whole Body grows together in love and faithfulness.

Selfish insistence upon flesh-based privilege, tradition, or other worldly traits is contrary to the spirit of Christ3 and His example for all believers regardless of race, class, or sex, that we should all humble ourselves and be like Him in His humanity, choosing to lay aside privilege as He did for the betterment of others.

Human life is precious to God and we do not have the right to take it except as God has ordained governments to punish wrongdoers, and we recognize that no one can be held responsible for anything worthy of punishment before they are born or have reached an age or mental state whereby they are responsible for their actions.

Children are a blessing from God and benefit most when both parents lovingly and firmly protect, nurture, and guide them until they are capable of independence, with each parent providing what God has enabled them to provide, working together as a team for the benefit of the family.

God’s plan for believers is for them all to grow into the likeness of Christ and His humble example, and no believer is exempt by virtue of any quality of the flesh or any traditional worldly notions of propriety, but instead are all to strive for the fruit of the Spirit.4

Suffering is an inevitable reality in a fallen world, and believers of all generations have had their faith tested in this way, regardless of the winds of change and whims of society, such that we should not think it unusual or doubt God’s provision or abandon His teachings.

Mature Christians have a responsibility to leave a legacy of faith for the less mature, exemplifying the humble service we all are to render to each other and training them to know the Word and pass on the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Believing the above, we declare our desire and intent to be True Christians that follow their Master. We consecrate ourselves to abandon all ambition for preeminence or rule over another and replace it with a servant’s heart and a warrior’s protection of those they love. By His grace and in humble dependence on His power, we will:

  1. Seek to exhibit our love for God by loving his children.5
  2. Gladly yield control of our lives to Christ as Lord.
  3. Be people of the Word and true followers of Christ, following His example for us all in humility, service, and sacrifice for the betterment of others.
  4. Nurture our relationships with God and His children by forgetting self and pride.
  5. Discard the world’s hierarchies and chains of command in favor of the unity of the Spirit as parts of Christ’s Body.
  6. Follow the examples of mature believers and emulate their lives, that they may do this with joy because it is for our good.6
  7. Recognize and encourage the spiritual gifts in others instead of trying to restrict or control them, so that the Body may be built up.
  8. Be examples to the unbelieving world in the way we treat both leaders and followers, parents and children, those who agree with our personal convictions on secondary matters and those who do not.7
  9. Be always ready to either gently explain the gospel to the seeking8 or to rigorously defend the faith against the hostile.9
  10. Pray for a true revolution in Christianity such that the world and its ways are excised from the Body, allowing it to heal and become the strong, unified whole it was meant to be, with all the parts working together instead of interfering with each other or playing the part of the brain to other parts, resulting in that against which the gates of hell can never prevail.10

  1. James 3:9
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:20
  3. Mt. 20:28, Phil. 2:5-11
  4. Galatians 5:22-23
  5. 1 John 4:7-8, 5:2
  6. Hebrews 13:7
  7. Romans 14:1-23
  8. 1 Peter 3:15
  9. Jude 1:3b
  10. Mt. 16:18

48 Comments

Paula Fether

Thanks, Lynne and Greg!

I was especially disturbed that they should put a reference to suffering in a manifesto targeted at women. Why? A veiled reference to domestic violence, perhaps? A backhanded endorsement to the barbaric practice of sending abused women back to their abusers and calling it "suffering for Christ"?

And of course the idea that men are to play God to women’s Christ and emulate the father/son relationship is pure heresy. It is the Christ/Church relationship that marriage symbolizes, not parent/child, and men as well as women are to follow the submissive example of Christ to the Father. And of course they still leave the Holy Spirit out of their "Trinity is the model for marriage" teaching.

Don

Stop the presses, I just found out that there is a place where women lead men.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081104/ap_on_sc/sci_dirty_hands

Vicki

Beautifully written. I was doing a search online tonight to look for reactions to the manifesto. Your True Christian Manifesto is outstanding and articulates the kind of response that affirms God’s original design and removes the heavy burden placed on women found in the True Woman Manifesto. So glad you took time to respond and include biblical references.

Lynne

Thank you. I was appalled when I read the original online. Now here is one I would be happy to sign!

Truthseeker

Paula, I am sickened when I read the Piper manifesto. As always, when they speak of women going out and sharing the gospel and ministering to the spiritual needs of others, in this case the various downtrodden categories, they DON’T tell you that as soon as you step off the pristine path they describe, you enter the tangle and snarl of the many rules and regulations that make it very difficult for women to truly operate freely in Christ. You discover that you cannot preach to men or mentor them spiritually, etc., etc., etc. and so what looks-at the onset-to be a wonderful calling quickly deteriorates into a frustrating and hopelessly discouraging, deeply limited bondage. It makes me angry. I have experienced it personally and it is an outrage. Yet, I know that despite all this I am called to be Christ’s ambassador even to these mistaken ones.

Paula Fether

All too true, TS. As bad as the manifesto itself is, it’s the fine print that makes it a real nightmare for women.

Truthseeker

It is also frustrating and curious that ’they’ remain so silent on the role and wherabouts of the Holy Spirit in all this, as you have mentioned before, Paula. It makes me wonder if they view the Holy Spirit as some kind of holy butler. And, as you have also pointed out, why are they so silent about Jesus’ warnings and teachings that we are to serve, not to lord it over others as did the pharisees?

I am glad you wrote your manifesto. I will email it promptly to anyone who might forward or mention Piper’s to me. I am even thinking about finding a way to frame it and have it displayed in the house. (With your permission and due credit given.)

Paula Fether

Anybody brave enough to agree with me in public has all the approval they want! :-)

But if you want a nice PDF like the (Wo)manifesto they made, let me get to work on that. My freebie word processors don’t give me all the font options I’d need, so I may have to do some Photoshopping.

Paula Fether

Okay, PDF version uploaded. Just go to Downloads and click!

Lin

Paula, Excellent. It almost made me weep thinking how wonderful such a Body would be.

It is about being "Christians". Why do they insist on pink and blue Christians?

Paula Fether

Wouldn’t that be something, Lin? Yes, it is sad, to think that something we could have had all along seems like a mere dream. If only...

Kathleen

This is beautiful. The indwelling of His Spirit leaves a Holy Spirit mark and effect on a person, not just a male/female distinction. With the "True Woman" manifesto, it was emphasized to live "counter-cultural". So, they are redifining what is acceptable culture?

It also implies or states that Christ submitted to God His Father, and makes me wonder if they believe in the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.

The Spirit comes and goes where He wants and you see the effects of His Spirit. "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14).

Years ago, two mature, older believers told me they could see the glory of His Holy Spirit in me. That was the most edifying word I could possibly have been given. It’s nice to be told I’m "a good mom", or a "good wife", or a "good hostess" or whatnot, but being told people could see the effects of His Spirit in my face and life was the most encouraging.

My point is that it’s not how awesome we live out our "distinctives" as people with human parts, but how Christ is glorified in us.

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Cindy K

I love you Paula!

molly

Well said, Paula!

Lynne

Suffering as a requirement for women? Not only does that speak of keeping women in abusive situations (all in the name of the Christ who came to liberate the oppressed), but do I detect a smidgin there of salvation by works for women? If you read some of the most virulently misogynistic of the Early Church Fathers, and some of the stuff from mediaeval catholicism, there was definitely a message that it was right for women to suffer in this world to somehow make up for Eve’s sin!!! (And I could write an essay on all the levels that that is wrong) Do I see shades of that thinking creeping back? Truly sickening

EM

I appreciate your "manifesto," Paula. I couldn’t sign the TWM myself but I think I could sign yours.

Greg Anderson

Paula,

I read Piper’s manifesto at the link you’ve indicated. It’s a curious mixture of obdurate Calvinism and Baptist theonomy.

Not much, if anything, has changed with these belief systems since the days of Anne Hutchinson vs. John Winthrop.

You know, it’s really too bad that so much secondary stuff gets mixed in with, and in turn demands the same level of adherence, as the simple good news of Jesus Christ.

To be charitable, I’m sure that much of it comes from a sincere desire to be "Biblical" and thus pleasing in the sight of the Almighty.

Kudos on your post here! It’s a challenge for believers everywhere to become Bereans, and check out the truth tables of anyone who makes sweeping claims (aside from the core essentials of the faith), from a few "Biblical" premises.

Paula Fether

Thanks Cindy and Molly! You all have no idea how you encourage me!

You’re right, Lynne, the "church fathers" left nothing to the imagination concerning their hatred of women, but they had little to go on in the way of examples of women in their time who were able to demonstrate full Christianity. But today’s misogynists have no such excuses; they’ve seen women in society do practically anything a man can do, with the only exceptions being physical, and even then there are plenty of exceptions.

I think male supremacists today will be judged more strictly!

Kathleen, some of them do believe in the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. In fact, the modern male supremacist movement can be traced to the writings of George W. Knight III, one of which is The New Testament Teaching on Role Relationship with Men and women. Some try to say his views on the Trinity have nothing to do with his views on women, but his writings support the opposite; that it was his views on women that led him to develop his unorthodox trinitarian views.

But you’re right, we should all strive for Christ to be seen in us, not for men to try to play the role of the Father to the women’s Son.

Kevin D. Johnson

This is a great response to the True Woman Manifesto...thanks for taking it on. You can read my comments about the manifesto here:

http://www.prophezei.com/?p=170

Paula Fether

Greetings, Kevin, and thanks for the plug!

We need more and more people exposing these things so that less people are drawn in. Revolt against the revolting! ;-)

Kevin D. Johnson

You’re welcome and I agree with you.

The Church is in need of a revolution!

Kristen

Bravissimo! That was a stirring, uplifting and beautifully worded response to one of the worst pieces of oppression to ever come out of a modern Christian camp.

Paula Fether

Thanks Kristen!

Actually, there’s a few little tweaks I could make but it was just something I threw together quick because the TWM is so baaaaaaaad. They’re making it too easy now.

Don

Thanks for coming up with this.

The True Woman manifesto concerns me a lot, I fear most that signed did not even realize the implications of what they were signing. And now there is one more thing to hold against a woman who wants to be free.

Paula Fether

Just doin’ my job, Don... thanks!

I’m especially sure that the women who went to the conference signed on to a whole lot more than they realized.

What with this stuff, the attacks on the Trinity, and a lot of other nonsense, I wonder how long we’ll even be able to recognize it as Christianity.

ahunt

Well done, Paula.

Paula Fether

Tanx ahunt!

Paula Fether

Thanks for your kind words, Vicki! And welcome to my little corner of the internet.

Paula Fether

Thanks EM, and welcome!

Paula Fether

So we can kill you in more ways than you can kill us, eh Don? ;-)

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HEvencense

Bravo, bravo and mega-kudos! Well written, articulate, and about time.

HEvencense

I’m launching a three-part response to the Manifesto. Part one will be up on January 2,’09 at: http://www.HEvencense.wordpress.com

HEvencense

Part 2 of "True Woman: A Response" is up on the main page at: http://www.HEvencense.wordpress.com The direct link is: http://hevencense.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/true-women-a-response-part-2-of-2/

Included in this post is a link to this page as an alternative to the TWM.

Paula Fether

Tanx!

Paula Fether

Kewl! I’ll be sure to check it out.

Thy Peace

Amen.

HEvencense

Hi Paula:

Part one of "True Woman Manifesto: A Response" is up at HEvencense. In three parts.

Here’s the link: http://hevencense.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/true-woman-a-response/

Paula Fether

Excellent! I’ll go check it out.

Paula Fether

Thanks! And again, I encourage anyone reading here to follow the excellent series there.

naomi

Paula, Thank you so much for your wise, Biblical response to the "True Woman Manifesto." Reading your post encouraged me in my faith and reminded me of so many Biblical truths that have been forgotten or left out of the gender role debate.

Paula Fether

Hi Naomi, and thanks for your kind comment. Yes, the gender wars have obscured many things, just when we need to be spreading the gospel all the more. May we all reset our focus and not let this stumbling block get in our way anymore.

Vashra

Forgive my limited reading. English is hard =)

Does this manifesto also explicitly acknowledge the *divinity* of the Messiah?

I was not telling for sure from the reading of it.

Paula Fether

Hi Vashra, welcome to my blog. :-)

Yes, I and all the commenters here accept Jesus as God, as fully divine and fully human. Please also remember that this was written in the form of the original, as a response, and not necessarily complete as I would have written it otherwise.

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SaberTruth

You’re very welcome, thanks. :-)

EMBG

Thanks for this great response to the the TWM.