Last week I attended the first week of the New Wine summer conference. This is run by a Network of evangelical charismatic churches, mostly Anglican and Vineyard. With four children all in different age-groups, and some heavy rain during the week, I didn’t get to as many meetings as I would have done in previous years, but still there was plenty to enjoy.
One of the highlights was the morning Bible teaching from Kenny Borthwick. His teaching on worship, holiness, Spirit baptism and revival stirred us to seek more of God’s presence. I also attended two seminars from John Lennox, speaking on a Christian response to the new atheism, which was interesting as I had already heard his debate with Dawkins.
Most of our evenings were spent in Venue 1, a huge tent seating around 5000, where we enjoyed the worship led by Kathryn Scott and Eoghan Heaslip. There was also a smaller tent, called Venue 2 which we visited one evening. The worship was a bit louder and edgier and we appreciated hearing Matt Redman lead with some of the songs from his new album.
Another interesting feature of Venue 2 was the resident “theologian poet”, who got up and performed a mini theological treatise in the form of a poem for which he earned a standing ovation. I thought it was a superb and creative idea, although it gave me food for thought as his topic was a forceful defence of a fully egalitarian position with regards to women in church leadership. I thought a few of his points were a little weak, but to his credit, he didn’t dodge any of the “difficult” verses, and made his case well given his limited time.
Another boost to his argument was that probably the best Bible teacher I heard during the week was Amy Orr-Ewing. Whilst that alone would not be sufficient reason to overthrow my belief that the Bible teaches a complementarian position, it does raise some important questions for those of us who hold this view. First, how would we make use a woman with such an outstanding teaching gifting in our own churches? And second, would it even be possible for that gift to develop in the first place, let alone flourish? As an evangelical, I do place primary importance on obeying the Scriptures, but as a charismatic, I consider it vitally important that the grace gifts the Spirit bestows on the church are developed and used for the edification of the body.