Works in Progress

lossy-page1-558px-Martin_Luther_by_Cranach-restoration.tifWe’re all works in progress. Last night I was caused to think about the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

How beautiful! How miraculous! How appealing!

How elusive.

What I mean is that Paul makes the process sound basically instantaneous. Be in Christ and–boom–you’re a new creation. But here’s the thing:

Becoming a new creation takes time.

If you’re like me, on your journey to becoming a new creation, you take one step forward…and then what feels like five or six giant steps backward. Cooking up a new creation is not a microwave, it’s more like a crock pot.

So those of us who are on this Jesus journey are simultaneously new and old, redeemed and fallen, Christ-like and broken. And when it comes to how we view this idea of male privilege, we’re all works in progress.

It’s in this spirit that I’d like to bust out another round of “bad quotes from dead theologians.” Because it’s important to remember that the church’s historical thought leaders where BOTH new and old. They were works in progress as well. And in that sense, what they’ve bequeathed us in the modern (or postmodern) church is both redeemed and fallen.

So, this morning, allow me to share three gems from Mr. Martin Luther:

“Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.”

“God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God’s will. ‘Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error.”

We may well lie with what seems to be a woman of flesh and blood, and yet all the time it is only a devil in the shape of a woman.

To be sure, Martin Luther has a lot of really great quotes. These are not among them. But as we explore the reality of male privilege in the church, it’s important to remember that there is a history to reckon with. It’s important to remember that where we are today is a result, at least in part, of where we’ve been in our past. It’s important to remember that male privilege has been around for awhile and is therefore deeply entrenched in how we do church.

It’s also important to remember that we’re all works in progress.

What about you? How are you a work in progress in this area?

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2 responses to “Works in Progress”

  1. Noemi says :

    1) Thank you for creating a category on your blog for “bad quotes from dead theologians.” I appreciate it!

    2) How do you defend the posit that since these theologians whom you quote (the heroes of our faith whom a lot of our theology is still based off of) hold this negative/archaic/damaged view of women, they are developing their theology with this misogynistic perspective.

    In other words, Luther, Calvin, etc. have this skewed biblical perspective of women while they are developing their thoughts on the faith. Why should we listen to these theologians in the first place? Does their view of women discount them from contributions to Christian theology? If not, why not? I’m not asking this to be scandalous, but simply because I am curious. Do these theologians lose all credibility because of their view of women? If not, why not?

    Rob, I love this blog and am thankful for your prayerful, thoughtful development of male privilege in Christianity!

    • rdixon1365 says :

      Great questions Noemi. I wonder what others would say, but my response is that Luther, Aquinas, Calvin, et al do not lose all credibility because of their views on women. My whole point (and I think the previous post in this category explains this a bit better) is that no one has it all right. Maybe it’s best to say that these men lose some credibility, but for me it’s more like they become humanized, seen as both new and old and honestly acknowledged as holistic influencers of where the modern church is today. Luther, for instance, gives us “sola fide,” but he also gives us “a devil in the shape of a woman.” I think it’s important to acknowledge both legacies.

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