Mr. Miller’s second critique of the evangelical culture that he argues has given rise to MM&B is that it is guilty of stressing “the religious born-again experience” over “received teaching”.

Have I emphasized personal experience to the detriment of the teachings of Christian tradition? I suppose it depends on which “received teaching” you are talking about. Yes, I stress the experience I have had of beautiful, Spirit-filled ministry through many women over the “received teaching” that,

As in all the churches of the saints, 34women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. (I Corinthians 13:33,34)

And yes, my “experience” tells me that, contrary to “received teaching,” and in some settings, centuries of church practice, my head is not disgraced if I pray wearing a hat, any more than a woman should cut off her hair if she does not feel called to “wear a veil.”

I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. 3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. 4Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. 7For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. 8Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (I Corinth 11:2-10)

Perhaps in Mr. Miller’s eyes the fact that I heed my experience in formulating my views makes me a heretic. But, I would rather affirm my “orthodoxy” by holding to the gift of Jesus’ death and the wonder of his resurrection, than some obscure social teaching formed in a context vastly different than the one I occupy today.

As Brian McLaren points out in his eloquent and charitable response to Mr. Miller ( there are a variety of applications of biblical teaching on which, in response to the unavoidable realities of human experience, the church has changed its mind, including:

our spiritual responsibility for the environment, the reality of evolution and climate change, solidarity with the poor, our role regarding peacemaking and war, equality for women, the reality of white privilege and systemic racism, and the legitimacy of torture, to name a few.

In my lifetime, a good portion of the church has also come to the conclusion that the church has historically been wrong to ban divorced and remarried couples from full participation in the life of the Christian community.

In many cases it seems that the real question in church “tradition” is which of our life experiences we choose to honour and uphold, rather than whether or not we have jettisoned the entire tradition of our church.

There is real danger in any teaching that encourages us to ignore the wisdom of human experience. It is not entirely clear to me that holding doggedly to certain social teachings from the Bible regardless of human experience is necessarily the most faithful way to follow the Spirit who

blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. (John 3:8)