Thursday, July 28, 2005

Gender Revolution at Cornerstone Festival

It was absolutely great to be able to once again co-sponsor (via Jesus People USA) the Gender Revolution Tent at Cornerstone Festival. Christians for Biblical Equality, the GR Tent's other sponsor, is in my mind one of the most important voices of the post-evangelical church era. We heard from a variety of people over the three days, including Mimi Haddad (CBE President), Jay Phelan (president of the Evangelical Covenant Church's Chicago North Park Seminary), Linda Belleville (New Testament scholar), and many others.

We had no great controversies like we did last year (the fellow with the confederate flag tattoo who accused us all of being heretics). But we did see some serious opening of minds, hearts, and healing. Tears fell more than once as people encountered the liberating power of a bible freed from the shackles of false interpretation. As a male, I found it incredibly liberating (as I always do) to listen to women who are truly feminist -- that is, strong and Spirit-empowered persons using their gifts to communicate the gospel's reality. I also shared a rather long-winded story of my own journey in this regard, "Are Men Really Human?", which at one point or another (sooner rather than later) I'll post here.

Mimi Haddad recently sent out her own thoughts on the festival in an appeals letter. I would hope a few readers might think about supporting CBE's ministry... but at any rate, here is the gist of her comments:

In Minnesota, we think a lot about water. Located beside the largest freshwater preserve in the world, even a short commute through Minnesota provides breathtaking views of lakes and streams teaming with life that cannot be stopped, suppressed, or stilted.

The waters of Minnesota remind me of the river in Ezekiel. Everyone that “touches the water of this river will live . . . wherever this water flows, everything will live” (Eze. 47:9). Just as the river in Ezekiel carries God’s healing and brings new life, so too does the Word of God give life and quench those who are thirsty.

Two weeks ago, CBE held three days of lectures as part of the Cornerstone Festival—a yearly arts, music, and theology conference that nearly 20,000 young Christians attend. Our lectures at Cornerstone gave me a new appreciation for the power of God’s Word. Here is what we observed last week, thanks to your generosity!

  • A husband and wife team—both physicians—attended our workshops. Though they were initially skeptical, their eyes began to brighten as we studied the Word of God. The last day, they asked us to recommend a Bible translation that would facilitate their study of the gender issue.
  • For some individuals, attending our workshops each year at Cornerstone is the only opportunity they have to explore Scripture from an egalitarian perspective. One woman in particular waits patiently all year to learn something new about what the Bible says concerning women. Each summer, she swims in the water of biblical equality, and CBE’s lectures and dialogue bring her strength for the coming year.
  • One woman who had been drinking in the gospel message throughout the lectures took me aside and shared her painful journey with a church that will not recognize the gifts of women. She told me that attending our workshops was worth the price of admission to Cornerstone.
  • During an open microphone session, one woman said: “I feel really blessed to have been in this tent today. I have been praying and struggling over the biblical passages on gender. But the lectures today confirm something deep within my spirit. God is releasing me to see a new message in the Bible, and I thank you for that!”
  • Perhaps the most profound experience we had this summer involved a woman who ministers to children, though she did not allow herself to be called a children’s pastor. After attending a CBE lecture and sharing her story with CBE staff, she returned the following day with tears in her eyes, saying that she can now call herself a pastor.

Are these events significant? You bet'cha, as we say in Minnesota! We literally watched the Word of God transform, heal, and strengthen souls. This is the reason we exist, the reason we work late into the night, the reason four staff members spent July 4th on the
road, far from family and friends. We wanted to be part of that miracle of God’s Spirit, working in the Text, giving the people of God fresh waters to swim in!

(Mimi and the CBE staff incurred costs over $2500 for the festival, and I urge anyone interested in supporting this cause to contribute online or contribute via other means.)

1 comment:

Heidi Vanderpool said...

I'm looking forward to you leaving your talk at C-stone online, I have a bunch of people that want to read it.