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    Bible Backgrounds: When Is It Legit to Appeal to Them?

    A few months ago, a friend expressed discomfort with appealing to culture, or “backgrounds,” to explain some difficult Bible passages. “Aren’t we just explaining away what we dislike?” he asked. “Can’t an appeal to culture become a way to change obvious meanings? Isn’t that what liberals do?” He asked great questions. Important questions. Sometimes people do use knowledge of Bible backgrounds to explain away what they dislike in the text. But that doesn’t mean all such appeals come from having a low view of Scripture. A few weeks after that conversation, I heard a Bible expert discourage appealing to Bible backgrounds to help with understanding texts because, “the text itself…

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    Heads and Coverings: Observations (Part 2)

    In my previous post I shared some observations about 1 Corinthians 11:3–16, which speaks of women praying and prophesying in the church. After asking the Spirit for insight, observation is the first step in Bible study. Here are some observations sometimes missing in the discussion:  • According to Paul, women could prophesy in the church. And the end result of prophecy was the learning and encouragement of the Body (14:31). So it was assumed in Paul’s day that everyone could learn spiritual truth from a woman. Even if one believes the gift of prophecy has ceased today, one’s reasoning behind women’s silence in the church today cannot be “grounded in…

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    Heads and Coverings: Observations (Part 1)

    My friend’s Facebook status this week struck a familiar chord with students who have learned Bible Study methods: “Stuck at 30 observations. Need 20 more!” No doubt she was doing the assignment that requires students to make 50 observations about a Bible verse, such as Acts 1:8. The assignment teaches people to notice every single, solitary detail about what the text says, the first step in studying the Bible—after asking the Spirit to grant insight, of course. As I’ve been prepping for a Role of Women in Ministry class I teach, I’ve been re-reading different authors’ understandings of 1 Corinthians 11:3–16, which speaks of women praying and prophesying in the…