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How many of us come from traditions where we have been told that women cannot serve in positions of leadership because Jesus was male? And, as denominations consider where women may hold positions of service, inevitably the gender of Jesus becomes a consideration. Previous generations of Christians have also asked important questions about the gender of Jesus. Here is one example: Gregory of Nazianzus, who lived at the end of the fourth century stated to gar aprosleptom atherapeuton, which in English means, "What is not assumed is not redeemed." His words remind us that Christ came to represent all of humanity on the Cross. Thus, if we absolutize one aspect of Christ, such as his gender, ethnicity, or class, we run the risk of excluding people without those char... Read more
I came across a young woman's blog the other day who wrote about how much she appreciated and was impressed by the guys in her group asking that all the girls be careful about the way they dressed so that they wouldn’t cause the brothers to 'stumble.' And with great endorsement, she exhorted, 'To all my sisters out there: dress responsibly.' Back in the day in my youth group as well as my college fellowship, I heard the same kind of rhetoric being promoted. In talks about purity, it was always the girls who were called out. Fingers were wagged at the girls to be selective about what they wore in order to keep guys pure. And the message was clear: girls, it's your responsibility to keep the guys from lusting, and if they do end up sinning (lusting), it... Read more
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23, TNIV). Very often the questions asked by those struggling with the gender issue are quite profound. For example, after leading a workshop at the last Urbana Missions Conference, a graduate student from Harvard told me, "If the Bible really teaches that all women must be submissive to males, and men will be the final arbiters of women, then God is basically saying women are inferior to men. And I cannot be party to such an system that places women under the permanent jurisdiction of a male, not because of a man’s character, or intellect, or walk with God, but simply because he is male. Th... Read more
Thanks to John for pointing out a recent poll in Christianity Today that asked the question 'Is it unfair discrimination for a male pastor to refuse to serve with a female pastor?' The results were as follow: 45% said that it is not unfair discrimination if a male pastor refuses to serve because of his convictions. 25% said that it is unfair discrimination if a male pastor is serving in a church that officially ordains women. 20% said that it is unfair discrimination, and that it is unacceptable behavior even if it is based on a male pastor's understanding of Scripture. 10% said that it is not unfair discrimination, and that it is okay as long as a male pastor does not stop a female pastor from doing her work. And finally... what are your... Read more
How many of us have become passionate and informed egalitarians as we observed the challenges godly women faced as they tried to use their God-given gifts in the church? Their pain inspired those close to them to reexamine their own perspectives on the gender issue. And, in doing so, many discovered that the arguments used to exclude women’s gifts were based on moral, theological, and often logical errors. Consider the following: Many of us know talented women on mission fields around the globe. These women are passionate, gifted, and able leaders and teachers. Their tenacious service has and continues to lead whole communities to Christ. Yet, the very churches that pay their salaries deny them opportunities to exercise their gifts in their home pulpits. Does this m... Read more
Mimi wrote in Arise last week that baptism rather than circumcision had, in Christ, become the expression of a covenantal relationship with God and life. She pointed out that “just as Christ rose victoriously over sin, we too rise out of the waters of baptism, symbolizing our rising victorious with Christ over sin.” What I can’t help but notice is how the imagery of circumcision and its newfound irrelevance in the light of baptism ties to the bit of handwritten script posted at the end of the book. In Galatians 6:14-15, Paul writes: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.... Read more
Joy Fenner of Gaston Oaks Baptist Church in Garland was elected president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) earlier this week, narrowly defeating BGCT pastor David Lowrie by a margin of 900-840 votes to become the first woman to occupy the post. The Baptist General Convention of Texas is the largest Baptist state group of its kind in the nation, with over 5,000 affiliated congregations and more than two million members. Despite its size, less than one percent of BGCT pastors are women. A former missionary to Japan, church secretary, and executive director emeritus of the Women’s Missionary Union of Texas, Fenner has been involved in missions work for over thirty years. Many in the BGCT working in recent years to increase BGCT missions work and multicultural aw... Read more
Recently a friend of mine received a very distinguished award from her denomination for her long-term leadership in promoting the “maximum baptismal role of women in the Church.” As I pondered our baptismal role, I remembered that many baptismal fonts from the early church had Galatians 3:26-28 inscribed on them. Why? Baptism, rather than circumcision, became the public expression of our covenantal relationship with God, attained through our union with Christ. Just as Christ rose victoriously over sin, we too rise out of the waters of baptism, symbolizing our rising victorious with Christ over sin. United to Christ in baptism, God does not look upon our sins, but sees that we are clothed in Christ, a reality that Paul summarizes in Galatians 3:27-29: “You a... Read more
Some, complementarian or otherwise, may believe that we egalitarians don’t love our fathers. Well, I loved my father. I want to share some memories of my father to show why I loved him so much. When I was twenty, I had to take some medicine. My father was worried that the condition I had would interrupt my studies. As a result, he asked me daily if I was taking my medicine. My mother asked him to stop. A couple of days later I received a phone call. When I picked it up I heard a very low voice say ‘Did you take your medicine today?’ I said ‘Yes, dad.’ My father said bye and abruptly hung up. This happened again two days later. I think my mother caught him, because he never did it again. Another time, we couldn’t buy anything extra because money w... Read more
So many of you have thanked us for our weekly newsletter, Arise. In fact, almost every week we receive comments from the CBE community expressing appreciation for our work! Do you realize how rare it is to receive so many words of thanks? Research suggests that very few people actually take the time to thank those who serve them! This month is clergy appreciation month. As such, it is an opportunity for us to thank those who have helped build us up in Christ. If there are those who have inspired you spiritually, why not take the opportunity to thank them this week? Why not also send thanks to those who have inspired you as egalitarians? Perhaps there is someone in your life who has lived courageously, out of their giftedness, or has boldly rejected unbiblical teachings that limi... Read more

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