The website of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) sells books that are predictable given the organization’s commitment to furthering the egalitarian point of view within an ostensibly evangelical context.
At CBE's "Equality Depot Bookstore," works can be found on mutual submission such as Heirs Together by Patricia Gundry. And there are tomes arguing against historic Christianity's view of gender roles in the home and church the likes of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women by J. Lee Grady.
But CBE's website also offers books by at least two authors whose lifestyles and ideologies seem to conflict with both the organization's parameters for resources and its self-professed commitment to serve the evangelical church.
One such book Is it Okay to Call God Mother? is written by Paul R. Smith, an openly-homosexual Baptist minister. In his work, Smith argues that it is necessary and proper for Christians to refer to God as mother. Smith claims that patriarchal language has come to dominate contemporary speech and that referring to God as "mother" will help offset a sexism patent to the vernacular of modern culture.
Smith serves as co-pastor for Broadway Church in Kansas City, Mo. Alongside Marcia Fleshmian. The church's website touts a congregation that is "inclusive and theologically progressive," openly accepting to communion any person regardless of sexual orientation.
Broadway is anything but an evangelical congregation. On its welcome page, Broadway presents its belief in a Jesus who rejected "all images of God as punishing, vengeful or violent, and, therefore, never teaching an unending hell for anyone."
CBE's website sets forth "Evaluation Criteria for CBE Resources" which seems to oppose Smith's sinful lifestyle. In choosing the resources it offers, CBE rejects homosexuality as unbiblical: "All resources affirm 'the family, celibate singleness and faithful heterosexual marriage as the patterns God designed for us.' While CBE addresses the subject of homosexuality with kindness and carefulness, CBE does not affirm homosexual practices."
A second book that seems to present problems for the CBE mission is God, A Word for Boys and Girls by feminist theologian Jann Aldredge Clanton. In the book Clanton argues for the use of feminine pronouns for deity in teaching children about God.
She posits that "children cannot grasp a theology of God as transcendent spirit if they hear trusted authority figures in the church constantly referring calling God 'he,' 'father,' 'king.' Forget "Jesus Loves Me," Aldredge-Clanton says using feminine language for God will rid boys of arrogance and enable girls to stop devaluing themselves.
Not only is Aldredge-Clanton a feminist theologian, she is also a committed worshiper of the false pagan god "Sophia-Christ." Aldredge-Clanton is the author of Praying With Christ-Sophia: Services for Healing and Renewal in which she offers a number of hymns and songs written to accompany worship of "Christ-Sophia."
While CBE's resource criteria confesses that all the materials the group makes available affirm the Bible as "the inspired Word of God and … the final authority of faith and practice," it is difficult to see how using feminine pronouns in reference to God-something the original biblical languages do not validate-fits that rubric.
In an e-mail reply on the availability of works by Smith and Aldredge-Clanton, Marketing and Book Services Coordinator Jamie Hunt says CBE considers each individual work and not the lifestyles or beliefs of the authors in question. CBE uses only works that "further its mission," she said.
"Each resource we carry has first been evaluated by our team of reviewers to ensure that it furthers CBE's mission and vision," Hunt said. "Each resource is chosen on its own merit. (CBE does not necessarily endorse an author's entire body of work, nor does carrying the book imply that we endorse the author's personal life.)"
But CBE's selling of books by Smith and Aldredge are telling as to the overall direction of the organization, said J. Ligon Duncan, chairman of the Board of Directors for The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
"It is very telling," Duncan said. "The willingness of CBE to sell this kind of material shows the inevitable trajectory of so-called 'evangelical egalitarianism.' Over time, it becomes less evangelical and more egalitarian, because the heartbeat of its own philosophy is not drawn from the Scriptures but from a worldview that is in conflict with the Scriptures.
"Over time voices within CBE, like that of the great Roger Nicole, who is so imminently biblical in so many areas of his thinking and theology–though incorrect in this one–will diminish, and more strident and less evangelical voices will come to the fore."
Offering books by authors the likes of Smith and Aldredge-Clanton is also pastorally wreckless, Duncan said.
"I think it is pastorally insensitive and even irresponsible to give the sheep material by people whose lives are in patent contradiction of biblical norms and whose books reflect views that are inimical to biblical Christianity," Duncan said. "All of us should take care in recommending and conveying material to the Christian reading public. The content of that material ought to be scripturally sound, and the lives of its authors ought to commend its truth."
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