Q Church pastors show movie clips in the worship service. Everyone gets a good laugh and a little Bible lesson. Now they’re doing fashion shows (January 2005 Banner, p. 9). Does anything go in worship these days as long as we throw in a little God?
A The apostle Paul announced, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22, NRSV). He demonstrates a wonderful sensitivity to Athenian culture as he preaches the gospel (see Acts 17). Today churches try a number of approaches to similarly “hook” people—to communicate the gospel in ways that speak to them.
Some greet such attempts with skepticism, as the Banner report indicates. But even skeptics change as they and others see God in fresh, new ways.
The goal is not to throw a little God or a little Bible lesson into some entertainment but to use contemporary tools to tell a lot about God’s love and God’s Word.
Q In Luke 10:18 Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” In Revelation 12:9 John writes about a war in heaven and says that Satan and his angels were hurled to the earth. Were angels given the choice to obey or disobey God?
A Genesis 1:31 says that God created everything good. Second Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 tell us that some of the angels sinned. These angels were cast out of heaven and now seek to ruin others as they ruined themselves. We see that already in Genesis 3 as Satan tempts Adam and Eve to disobey God.
The falls described in the passages you cite should not be seen as falls occurring before human history began but rather as defeats suffered by the devil in the great cosmic battle being waged by the spiritual hosts of wickedness against Christ and the church.
In Luke 10, the 72 Jesus sent out return from missionary journeys during which the gospel is believed and signs of God’s kingdom are manifested. Jesus exclaims that the final defeat of Satan is already evident in the events that have taken place. In Revelation 12 believers overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb (v. 11), and Satan is no longer able to accuse them.
“Your enemy the devil [still] prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Pet. 5:8-9), so that even today you and others can exclaim, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Q In answering a question about women in church office (January 2005), you indicated that Synod 1957 permitted congregations to invite women to vote at congregational meetings. Is that a fair comparison to the matter of women in office? The Bible doesn’t say anything about congregational meetings. —Iowa
A Though the Bible doesn’t say anything about congregational meetings, the Christian Reformed Church prohibited women from voting at those meetings for the first 100 years of its existence. It did so by using the same texts some still use to prohibit women from voting at congregational meetings—and from serving in the offices of the church.
After citing 1 Corinthians 11:1-15, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and 1 Timothy 2:12, a study committee appointed by our synod said, “The passages from Holy Writ just discussed do not deal directly with the questions of women’s suffrage at our congregational meeting. These passages are, therefore, not immediately conclusive regarding our present question. We would also remark that some very able Reformed scholars are convinced that the Bible passages considered above do not warrant the introduction of women’s suffrage at congregational meetings, but that these passages definitely militate against this suggested introduction” (Acts of Synod 1950, p. 277).
Synod 1950 urged the church “to study the questions basic to this issue, giving particular heed to the scriptural passages cited in this report.” And it declared, “It should be understood that pending the outcome of this further investigation no church should undertake to introduce women’s suffrage at its congregational meetings” (Acts of Synod 1950, p. 41).
The point of comparison is this: our denomination has used the same texts to prohibit women from using their gifts in certain areas of the church’s life.