September 2010

Headship in the family

Series Five – Structure
Theme = God’s way for family, church, and society

‘Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.’ Ephesians 5:22-23[/su_note]

When they are in public, one of my closest friends relates to his wife as though he is a king and she a humble serving wench. He snaps out instructions and she scurries over with a second portion of food or a glass of refreshment. Hang it, she practically walks two steps behind him when he enters or exits a gathering. Now this is definitely not a glorious display of male headship, but just a cultural convention they adopted from early childhood… so relax all you female readers, I am not advocating this practice. Actually, I wouldn’t dare because my wife sometimes reads these blog posts 🙂
Headship in a family has to do with structure, function and unity. God has ordained that the husband assume the role of head of the home. This is not because men are more intelligent than women, or more capable of making decisions, or superior in any way. In any equal partnership one of the two must have a casting vote and one must be responsible to a higher authority for the wellbeing of the partnership. If both partners have exactly the same authority and accountability, then any major difference of opinion has the potential of bringing the partnership to a standstill and of damaging relationships.
Why did God decide to allocate headship to the husband and not the wife? In other words, why is it gender specific? I don’t really know, but the Bible is pretty clear on this issue. We know that there are physical, emotional and psychological differences between the genders, so why should there not be spiritual differences as well?
Being the head of the home does not mean that the man is superior to the woman. It simply means that he has a different functionality and responsibility within the marriage partnership. Verse 25 of the Ephesians text goes on to say, ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…’ So a husband is responsible for placing his wife’s wellbeing above his own self-interest. The essence of headship is sacrificial service. This is a far cry from the male chauvinism that so many people associate with family headship. 
If you are a married man, do you accept the responsibility of headship? How do you display this role of sacrificial service?

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The Godhead three-in-one

Series Five – Structure
Theme = God’s way for family, church, and society
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Matthew 28:19
In the early days of my local church, I ran a theology class for leaders and others who were interested. On the first evening, about sixty people crowded into my lounge. “Wow!” I thought, “This is great!”. At the end of the evening I set the first assignment. I handed out a three page-long copy of an entry from a theological dictionary on Oneness Pentecostalism and I asked them to critique the doctrine. The next week there were only thirty people there and they all had a look of puzzled desperation on their faces.
Oneness Pentecostalists believe that there is no Holy Trinity, that God is not three-in-one. Granted, the doctrine of the Trinity is impossible to grasp fully, because we humans just cannot conceptualise a multidimensional being like God. However, the biblical evidence is strong, and so we accept the doctrine of the Trinity as true and try to understand it as best we can. 
One of the things that the concept of the Trinity highlights to us is that in the very essence of God Himself is structure and relationship. The three personages of the Godhead are structurally united as one being, yet also have relationships with one another. In the Trinity we find authority and submission relationships within a unity of absolute equality. God the Father is the ‘head’ of the Trinity, God the Son is in submission to the Father, and God the Holy Spirit is in submission to both Father and Son. Headship and submission have to do with functionality and relational harmony, yet do not infer superiority of one over the other.
The structures that God has established for the family and church, and by extension society, are all patterned on the divine structure found in the triune Godhead. God made humankind in His own image and then extended that ‘image’ into the foundational institutions of human society.
Can you imagine a partnership where the two are absolutely equal yet one is in submission to the other? Actually, you should be able to… it’s called a married couple. And a large group of people where a few have authority yet are no better or superior in any way to all the others? It’s called a church.

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Biblical Translations

Theme: Doctrine

‘Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”          1 Corinthians 4:6[/su_note]

A few years ago I had a Sunday off (actually this happens more than just every few years) and decided to visit another church in the area. The preacher’s message, delivered with passion and conviction, was that we had the biblical right to ask God what He was doing and then, if we didn’t like it, to tell Him what He should be doing! His source of scriptural authority was Isaiah 45:11 which he quoted from the King James version of the Bible as, ‘Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!

Isaiah was actually speaking a severe divine admonition to the people of Israel. He wasn’t saying “Hey guys, feel free to question my plans, and by all means tell me what to do if you don’t agree.” God was saying the exact opposite. The NIV translation makes this very clear: ‘This is what the Lord says — the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?’
How could that preacher have got it so wrong? Well, the man came from a name-it-and-claim-it theological background that set him up for this sort of error. His basic understanding of human importance and divine impotence was reflected in his biblical interpretation. However, the use of the King James Version of the Bible didn’t help either. Its archaic phraseology and word choices made it seem like God was sanctioning what the preacher proposed. Someone living in Elizabethan times would probably not have made such a mistake, but we live in the twenty-first century, and English just isn’t the same any more.

Some people mistakenly believe that the KJV is the only authentically inspired version of the Bible but this is obviously off the wall – does every language only have one authoritative version, or is Elizabethan English the only language that God can use?  So, the lesson to be learned from the story of the misguided preacher is, ‘Use a good current version of the Bible.’ Most of the modern versions are excellent. I use the NIV extensively but I also use the New Living Version from time to time.

What version of the Bible do you use and why?

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More about Biblical Sufficiency

Theme: Doctrine
‘Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ John 20:30-31
The young student looked earnestly into my eyes, her brow furrowed with concentration and concern. “But Doctor Chris”, she asked, “The Bible says nothing about the internet, genetic engineering, cloning or any other twenty-first century issues, so how can you say that it is sufficient for faith and life?” This is a fair question.
The Bible was written in the days (or a time) when humans did not even dream of the things that we have to deal with in our age. However, it contains principles, values and models that have guided each generation for thousands of years. It does not address genetic engineering or cloning, for what use would that be to any generation other than the current one? But, it has much to say about the value of human life, the composition of each person, how we reflect the image of God and so on. We can deduce ethical standards and norms from what the Bible has to say about such things. No, it has nothing to say about the internet, but much about communication, what we see and hear, and how we should evaluate all the inputs we receive.
Most of all, the Bible reveals Jesus to us. By reading, studying and meditating on the scriptures, we can not only learn what Jesus said and did, but we can encounter Him in a very real way. It is in our relationship with Him that we chart our life through the complexities of the twenty-first century.
Another question the young student might have asked is, “What about the things that the Bible doesn’t address, even in principle?” Well, the claim I, and most Evangelical scholars, make is that the Bible is sufficient but not exhaustive. The Bible itself does not claim to be a record of all that is real, only an account of all that is truly important. When we get right down to it, the only truly important thing in life is our relationship with Jesus Christ. Second in importance is our relationship with others. Everything else is of passing and relative importance. What do you think? Is this true for you?

More about Biblical Sufficiency Read More »

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.