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As a child, my family celebrated the beginning of summer by watching the Wizard of Oz. Everyone had their favorite scenes, and mine was Dorothy’s final encounter with the Wizard. Victorious over a powerful foe, Dorothy enters the Wizard’s sanctum expecting him to honor their bargain—the witch’s broom for her return to Kansas. But the Wizard shouts at her through flashing light and smoke, attempting to scare her away. Despite her fear, she spies a curtain and pulls it back to find that the Wizard is only a man. Dorothy exposes the Wizard for what he is—a farce. He pretends to be powerful but in reality, he's nothing but smoke and mirrors. Male headship is portrayed as God’s ideal, a position imbued with theological strength, by complementarians like... Read more
“The 21st century agents of change—across the world—are women,” Dr. Salim Munayer announced in a slow, deliberate, hear-this-if-you-don’t-hear-anything-else voice at a conference. Dr. Munayer is an Arab Christian who grew up in Israel, a renowned missiologist, and an authority on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and reconciliation. Such an audacious and unforgettably empowering declaration from such an impressive man sent a shiver down to my toes. Not of trepidation; it was rather a jolt of conviction, responsibility, and courage. Boom! At the time, I was in the thick of nurturing a fledgling congregation. Talk about serving as a change agent! Women church planters are still a very, very small group amongst pastors, but there are at least five reasons the wor... Read more
This is an entry in the recent conversation on authority, women, and online writing. We appreciate all who have contributed to this discussion so far, including the controversial article that sparked the debate: Who’s In Charge of the Christian Blogosphere?”, a Christianity Today opinion piece by Tish Harrison Warren in CT’s new Amplify Women series. We’d love your thoughts and also invite those who agreed with the original article to offer theirs. Every time I fly into Santiago, Chile, I jump at the chance to meander through the public plazas. There, I encounter something that has nearly disappeared in my own Western context: street preachers—mostly men—perched on boxes, waving black bibles, and sermonizing with megaphones. These evangelists find their... Read more
This article is the third in a three-part series in response to the recent Twitter conversations on #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear, #ThingsBlackChristianWomenHear, and #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear. Read Part 1: "3 Ways The Church Can Love Sexual Assault Survivors" and Part 2: Too Pretty To Pastor."   We all know the schoolyard chant: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” In growing up, we learn that however empowering this phrase may seem, it is far from true. We all bear the scars of careless words: some harshly spoken in anger, some spoken with good intentions but still just as hurtful. These words that wound also have the power to shape how we see the world and our own place in it. Sarah Bessey started the hashtag #Thin... Read more
This article is the second in a three-part series in response to the recent Twitter conversations on #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear and #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear. Read Part 1: "3 Ways The Church Can Love Sexual Assault Survivors."  I read Sarah Bessey’s recent thread #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear with fascination. As I perused the comments, I was both amused by the absurdity of it all and grieved by the negative impact these sexist statements have on the community of God. This Twitter dialogue garnered so much attention that it was picked up by secular media, including the Huffington Post, which highlighted the ungodly comments and beliefs foisted upon women in many Christian circles. I have heard many #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear in church, women’s group... Read more
In stumbling after Jesus, the church has sometimes faltered. Sometimes, we’ve been the ones holding women’s bruised and bleeding hearts in our fists. And sometimes, for all our good gospel intentions, we've salted the wounds we should be binding.  Sarah Bessey  launched a conversation this past April about the abusive #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear which morphed into the more hopeful #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear, initiated by egalitarian advocate Bronwen Speedie. This is the church many of us both love and lament—flawed and holy, mistaken and striving, haplessly human and somehow still sacred. The church is washed clean in Calvary blood, but it is still the stuff of flawed people. I hold the church in the tension of holy imperfection. But I don’t t... Read more
I cannot express how much I appreciated Tina Osterhouse’s recent essay, “Why Christians Can Do Better Than The ‘Billy Graham Rule.’” I have been confronted with this rule growing up in a Christian church, participating in various venues at a Christian college, serving as a youth pastor, etc. And every time, it's baffled me. “What am I, an animal?” Of course, there was no room to ask that simple question, for to even doubt such rank legalism was immediate evidence that I was ripe for the fall, pretending to be “wiser than Solomon and stronger than David.” It was only a matter of months before I’d be “purpling” with some temptress who was also apparently as mindless and indecent as myself.   The rule had the... Read more
Last night, Sarah Bessey (we’re fans!) began a conversation about the strange, sexist, abusive, and toxic things Christian women are told on a regular basis. We’ve been leaning into the conversation and doing our best to keep a record of the profound and heartbreaking stories women and male allies are sharing. We’ve collected some of the most powerful tweets so far in a list, and we're inviting our audience to follow the ongoing conversation happening on Twitter under #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. If you have a relevant story or experience, please join the conversation yourself or share in the comments below. 1. “You can teach the women and children, you just can’t teach the men.” –Charlie Grantham 2. "You are an amazing leader! You... Read more
Today marks the final installment in CBE's Women's History Wednesday series. We opened the series by exploring the ways history has tried to erase women. We followed up with three articles on history-making egalitarian women. In this final installment, we'll lay a path for courageous advocacy in the tradition of the bold leaders who walked this path before us.  I’ve been invested in equal rights for women in the church since I could talk. At eight years-old, I made a tape recording of myself preaching the gospel to imaginary people. Like a good Presbyterian, my persuasive sermon tackled original sin: “Adam and Eve became sinners, and we became sinners, too!” My little girl voice rings out on the recording with passionate fury. I was full of hellfire and... Read more
Language matters—what we say, where we say it, and to whom. If, for example, a Victorian era Brit planned to “knock someone up,” he meant to get a person out of bed. Listeners in his day would have understood the popular phrase from a Sherlock Holmes novel. If a 21st century North American plans to “knock someone up,” however, he expresses less-than-honorable intentions toward a woman. Depending on the context and intent, it would be appropriate to say, “Thank you.” Or, it would make sense to take out a restraining order and install an extra bolt on the front door. Context matters. I heard it all the time in seminary. It’s no small thing to translate biblical passages from Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek into English. This re... Read more

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