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I grew up in patriarchal churches. I got used to hearing Scripture readings and having to internally translate “man” to “humanity” or “people;” to seeing women behind the piano but not the pulpit or conducting the children’s choir but not the adult musicians; to being allowed to ask public questions in my high school Sunday school class but then denied the same opportunity later when I became an adult. So when, a few years ago, all my searching and questioning finally produced a permanent shift to egalitarianism, the smallest acts of justice in the church were great sources of encouragement to me. At the time I was a member of a patriarchal but relatively supportive congregation, and when “liberal” forces within the congregation le... Read more
To what extent does Christ's completed work on Calvary redeem all of life, and all of our relationships? If, as Scripture teaches, knowing Christ changes everything, should we expect and anticipate the power of the cross to renew our relationships as Christians? The early evangelicals asked similar questions—questions they answered with a high view of the cross. The early evangelicals were the most cross-centered Christians in all of history, and they were also the first to develop a biblical basis for the emancipation of women and slaves. They believed that Christ's work on the cross gave rise to a newness of life exhibited through unity and reconciliation between people. Consider Penn-Lewis (1861-1927) an evangelical who believed that the cross ushered in the new creatio... Read more
I am amazed that the small part of Ephesians 5 which is translated "as Christ is head of the church" is extended and explained so that a husband is compared to Christ in so many ways. What is a simple comparison of the type of care which a husband is encouraged to give becomes in some people's minds the open door to husband as leader, decision maker, initiator, final authority in the home, and the one who must give account of every family member's spiritual life. The extension of this is the expected response of a wife which presumably is the same as that of the church—submission in everything. If there is not submission "in everything," then the comparison breaks down at several points. The church (bride) doesn't have a say in the decision mak... Read more
"...in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." Three retired women volunteered at CBE’s office recently. As they worked, they reminisced about their youth—a time when hearing from a female evangelist was not that uncommon! In fact, our eighty-year old friends remembered having heard the female evangelist team Stockton and Gould preach and sing at some of the most prominent evangelical churches in the greater Chicago area! The rest of us were amazed as they named the churches and places this team had preached and sung. The truth is, most churches active in the revivals of the 1800s and 1900s gave female evangelists a platform. As teams like Stockton and Gould drew hearts to our Lord, the results were clear. Ministry worked best when it was gift-b... Read more
I recommend to you the work of John Polkinghorne, the noted Christian apologist and Cambridge physicist. Working in the area of particle physics, Polkinghorne notes that the physical world does not always behave the way scholars and scientists expect. Because the world is so strange and mysterious, a critical analysis of any field will always require a healthy skepticism of the assumptions made by any scholarly tradition. Polkinghorne calls this "bottom up thinking"—an inductive approach to research. Bottom up thinking greatly helps us in our work as egalitarians, too. Why? Bottom up thinking encourages us to really look at data (biblical or historical) in assessing the statements made by the experts in any field. For example, scholars and church leaders have,... Read more
How many of us are in churches where we have been told that the time isn't right to consider the gender issue? Timing is everything, right? How many of us wonder when is the right time to model the example of women like Priscilla, who explained the way of the Lord to Apollos (Acts 18:6)? When is the right time to consider the examples of house church leaders like Lydia (Acts 16:14), Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11), the Elect Lady (2 John 1:1, 5), and Nympha (Colossians 4:15)? When should we notice Phoebe, who served the church in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1), or Junia the female apostle (Romans 16:7)? What about the women who prophesied at Pentecost (Acts 2), or the women prophets in the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:5), or Philip's prophesying daughters (Acts 21:9)? When is t... Read more
Thanks to Sue for pointing out this interesting bit of news to CBE. Towards the end of last week’s Republican presidential debate in Myrtle Beach, a debate that dealt largely with foreign policy and the war in Iraq, the debate turned sharply to the issue of marital submission, and by extension, biblical equality. Here is an excerpt from the debate’s transcript, found in its entirety here. Governor Huckabee, to change the subject a little bit and focus a moment on electability. Back in 1998, you were one of about 100 people who affirmed, in a full-page ad in the New York Times the Southern Baptist Convention’s declaration that, quote, 'A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.' Women voters in both part... Read more
I came across a book recently that reinvigorated my dedication to the mission of CBE. This book argues that because men are God’s appointed leaders in the home they are therefore God’s chosen leaders in the church as well. As I read the author's perspective, I wondered why he failed to insist upon male authority in society as a whole. To be perfectly consistent, male authority, if divinely appointed, should be ubiquitous—it should be practiced everywhere. It seems to me that if God intends for men to hold final positions of authority then women should not become CEOs of companies, nor should they hold final positions of authority as elected officials, nor should they be allowed to run hospitals, schools, businesses, or ministries where women make decisions apart from... Read more
Why do some people say that there is no evidence kephale can mean 'source' or 'origin?' The Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott Greek lexicon lists, among the possible meanings of the Greek word kephale (translated as ‘head’ in English), ‘source’ or ‘origin.’ This is the word translated ‘head’ in 1 Corinthians 11:3 ("Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God") and Ephesians 5:23 ("For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior"). Here’s the reference from the lexicon, and a... Read more
'You should learn how to play the piano or something... since you'll be a minister's wife someday.' An older gentleman said this to me as we were walking along toward the Sunday school class where my husband Sam and I were to share about our missionary experiences. When we were single, Sam and I had both individually heard God's call and confirmation to be long-term missionaries, and both of us had taken steps of faith on short-term trips to answer that call. And, though they had invited my husband to be the speaker that morning, as equal partners in all things Sam of course wanted me to share my story as well. Sadly, the assumption was that Sam was the minister and I was the minister's wife! The gentleman's comment left me dumbfounded and speechless. I... Read more

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