I finally got in late Tuesday night, home from Abilene.
The rest of the lectures and classes I got hear (Monday night through Tuesday afternoon) were just as good as the ones I talked about last time. The Landon Saunders speech on Monday evening was something like an oracle.
Tuesday morning, I got to attend the Restoration Quarterly breakfast; even to got sit next to Carisse Berryhill who at Harding Graduate School and now at Abilene has always been so friendly and helpful to me in my studies. What a great lady and scholar she is.
I also got to hear Mark Shipp (on the early chapters of Hosea) and Glenn Pemberton (on the ambivalence we have in Churches of Christ about someone getting "a call to ministry" and the call narrative in Isaiah chapter 6).
After lunch, I went to Mike Casey's presentation on the subject of his latest book, Sir Garfield Todd. The best presentations you hear come whenever someone is speaking from a mind filled up from study and writing and reflection and prayer. That's the sort of thing I got to hear all day. What a pleasure. I even happened upon fellow blogger Bobby Valentine; so good to finally meet him in person.
That said, there's one perceived negative I want to mention and explore.
Something that most any observer of the ACU lectures would pick up on is that it has now become quite vogue (at least at Abilene during lectureship week) to come down hard on the "sexism" of the Churches of Christ.
In the opening lecture, for example, "racism" and "sexism" were mentioned together. Knowing the current situation in Churches of Christ, it was easy to connect the dots. Anyone who would argue for the traditional practice and position of the Churches of Christ on gender-and-worship questions is an unwitting "sexist" at best.
The next morning I attended a class in which the presenter told the story of a conversation he'd recently had. Someone who had attended the church where the presenter preaches told this preacher that he wouldn't be coming to his church. One of the reasons for staying away? The "sexism." The story was told in a way that affirmed the viewpoint of the dissenter. The upshot was that Churches of Christ have got to do something about their "sexism," or else.
To be fair, I should mention this. I realize that someone might say that, in the perception of someone unfamiliar with the Churches of Christ, current practice in most of our congregations might be taken as blatant sexism. It has sometimes been perceived (when our buildings weren't so plush) that acappella churches simply couldn't afford a piano.
But has it occurred to people who increasingly favor the s-word that congregations of the Church of Christ that are so "progressive" they encourage women to preside at the Lord's table would seem hopelessly sexist to many outsiders because they have not also ordained women to be some of the preachers and elders?
And I wonder. Where is the tolerance for people who hold to traditional positions on these questions, not because of their misogyny (if they know their own hearts and are extended a measure of trust) but because they think that's what the Word of God really says?
Why must these people be told they're guilty of "sexism" by their loving brothers and sisters who evidently assume that the other side can maintain their stance only when they maintain inherited-but-flawed interpretations combined with a bad heart and good-ole'-boy attitudes, the feeling created by the s-word.
Isn't there a way of taking issue with the traditional position on this set of questions without ascribing to others the motive of a latent sexism? I say there is. Study Scripture. Review history. Talk about tradition. Analyze arguments. Speak about how people think and feel. Make any points pro and con. Unveil what you believe is the vision and intent and heart of God according to the Scriptures.
Christian people should be able to do that without resorting to labels and names that serve no good purpose.