Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Abbess Weighs In On Accommodation!

Oh. My. Goodness. I guess I am going to dive into the bog and lay it on the line. Scot has a good post about a new book (Finally Feminist) by John Stackhouse (I enjoy and appreciate John's ideas, but I haven't read the book under discussion.) read and discussed in his "Women, Mary and Jesus" class.

As before, I give you a bit from the original post (please do read the entire post ... and the comments, if you can spare the time) and then my comment (which is down as #33):

First, Stackhouse argues that Scripture needs to be approached through accommodation. That is, “God works with what he’s got and with what we’ve got” (39). The accommodation view of Scripture is increasingly on the rise: it helps affirm historical conditions and some things in the Bible Christians simply no longer do and some things that Scripture does affirm — like slavery — that are no longer acceptable. Anyway, when it comes to women what the Bible says is accommodated to its time.

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Scot, Ron...and everyone!

It has been striking to me to read through this thread having come from the thread on freedom in Preparing for Pentecost 22....

I think it is also important to remember that there are many of us who have begun in one came and over time moved into the other one! This does not happen glibly or on a lark. It takes years of struggling with different interpretations on Scripture that are used to hold up the varying positions. At least it did in my case -- a good 20 years!

Sometimes it seems impossible to solve because each of us comes to this discussion with a perspective -- one which we have not been (and will not be) able to fully disclose so that we might have good understanding of each other's context. This is where patience and listening are required (and all too frequently lacking in the blogosphere and in real life!).

I have come to believe that God works with us through accommodation to our situation. Some of you will have heard me comment about Hersey and Blanchard's work on "Situational Leadership" -- but bear with me. The point is not that there is not a proper understanding of God's will. God's will is that all come to accept his offer of covenant relationship through Jesus Christ -- that we are adopted into the Body of Christ so that we might be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.

The problem is that each of us must be approached according to our readiness level to understand and engage willingly in God's plan. This is where, IMO, the trouble comes in. When we are functioning as God's middle management, as it were, we strive to firmly teach and implement the letter of the law. And this is all good and well. The problem, as Jesus pointed out with the pharisees, is that the spirit of the law must be recognized as well. And the spirit of the law is LOVE. And God's love DOES NOT COMPEL.

So we have to watch how God woos us: by accommodating our readiness to respond to his love and follow the Jesus Creed. The Bible is full of the stories of this process. The challenge is to discern the ways in which God has accommodated himself to the readiness of his people -- and not set them in stone. Mont Smith calls that "frozen accommodations."

The Preparation for Pentecost threads have also talked about the love languages, and I see them very important to this discussion as well. They speak to the recognition that people respond better to their "heart" language. And God speaks all five of them fluently! So, to one whose language is quality time...we see a focus on his presence. (I believe that quality time is God's heart language -- and that is why community and perichoresis are foundational to understanding God's will.)

With others he uses words of encouragement or acts of service or physical touch or gift giving to convey his will. It is not an either / or thing ... we all need to become fluent in all five, so that we can love others in a way that they feel loved and so are able to respond and follow Christ.

Developing a number of ways to approach people allows us to lead them in such a way that they can follow. You can't delegate tasks to someone who isn't competent in the tools required. You can't delegate to someone who isn't confident in their competence. You have to teach to reach them individually, not treat everyone equally, according to the style of management that is most comfortable for you!

Sorry...too long here...but I really think this whole topic requires a paradigm shift in order to really move forward.

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The Abbess implores you to shift that paradigm, brothers and sisters!

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