I’ve been back for a week but have not forgotten my desperate need to think through all that went through my head and heart during The Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference. It already feels so long ago. And Angel Baby has not exactly stayed angelic. But. There’s too much good stuff to just walk away.
The thing I heard over and over leading up to the conference, while I was there, and even since I’ve returned was that this was a conference for women but not about women. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but it sounded refreshing. Not that I don’t have much to learn about being a wife and mom and other womanly things, but I looked forward to some dedicated time to just learn about God.
It’s sort of a new thing for me, this pursuit of theology. I mean it started awhile back. My husband is passionately dedicated to a proper handling of Scripture. He would gently 😉 correct and guide me if I leapt to make an unwarranted application of a text. I was learning to be more careful in my understanding before jumping to “what about me,” and my Bible reading plan allowed for a broad span of Scripture each day, so I felt like I was looking at the Bible as a big picture and not just a “lesson for the day.” But I still found myself often functionally approaching Scripture with an attitude of, “Who cares about the big picture? Just give me the practical application.” I dare to argue that this is true of many women I know (and don’t know, and certainly some men too). We have accepted our roles in our homes and we just want to know how to do them well. But in anticipation of the conference, I read a couple of statements made by Don Carson and was both excited and convicted:
“TGC aims to reform evangelicalism, putting the “evangel” (the gospel) at the center of our thinking and practice — and that means focusing on Scripture, on Christ, on the cross and resurrection, on the God who redeems his people. If we are going to contribute to the reformation of evangelicalism, we must aim to teach women as well as men.”
“If we leap too quickly to personal application without reflecting on how any biblical passage fits into the Bible’s grand history and plan of redemption, we almost always end up (however unwittingly) distorting the Bible. Worse, we lose sight of the way Scripture flows toward Jesus. The best application of Scripture takes place after coming to grips with how any text fits into the God-given big picture.”
So the question I was asking myself all weekend was this: Why does theology matter? The answers were laced throughout each session. The theme was “Here is Our God,” and plenaries walked from Exodus through Revelation, looking at God’s progress of redemption in passages where he reveals himself to people. Never did I walk away from a session thinking, “Okay, but what does this mean for me?” Instead, I was struck over and over again by how incredible, how majestic, how glorious, how merciful and gracious God is. How incredible and intricate and purposeful His story. How beautiful my Savior.
All you can do in light of these truths is worship. There is no other response.
And it feels like there’s not enough praise inside of me.
With all these words, all my heart can sing is holy.
You are holy. (Leeland, “And I Wonder”)
If you go listen to just one session from this conference, let it be Paige Benton Brown’s plenary about the Temple. She started in 1 Kings 8, where God’s glory filled the architectural temple, and then walked through redemptive history, where the Inhabitant God becomes the Incarnate God in the person of Jesus Christ, because of whose life and death we now have the Indwelling God in us! We are the Temples of the Living God!
I mean, do I get that? Really? Deep down to my core? Do I really grasp the depth of his glory, of his grace, of his goodness? Because it matters. There’s no, “What does this mean for me?” It affects everything. Nothing is left untouched. I have the Living God living inside of my body, and now I am called to be a living sacrifice! And it is from HIS FULLNESS that I am called to live. Not mine! Being a wife and mom can only flow out of this truth – it can’t possibly come before it or it will only be my measly effort heaping failure upon failure. Filthy rags.
Paige Brown said it this way:
The problem isn’t that we need more.
It’s that we don’t know Whom we already have.
Theology matters! We must know Whom we have or we will live every day thinking that there’s something more we must do – something more we must be – distilling the beauty of God’s story down to a list of do’s and don’t’s and in so doing we will miss the point. We will miss Christ.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss said as she commented on the amazing teaching we had heard, “Sound theology should always lead us to doxology and transformation.”
If I had to summarize the conference and all that I learned, this would be it. I hope there will be more to share, but if this is it, it’s no small thing.