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The news coming out of Willow Creek Community Church recently has been nothing short of tragic. It has been painful to hear the stories of the women who were victimized, and heartbreaking to know that their church and their pastors betrayed them, neglected to help them, and called them liars. Sadly, the mishandling of abuse allegations is not unique to Willow Creek. We have seen and read story after story of women reporting abuse to a pastor or church leader, only to be told that they were somehow responsible, or to have their stories ignored. We have seen pastors stand up and “confess” their sins only after they have been exposed and backed into a corner, while congregations give standing ovations. We have seen churches protect leaders over victims, and keep abusers in their... Read more
Dorothy Greco
This is a two part series. In part one, we’ll trace the history and impact of misogyny. In part two, we’ll explore what Jesus has to say about healthy, whole, male-female relationships in a more just world. The #MeToo movement uncovered a fault line running across the entire country. Revelation after painful revelation exposed the pervasiveness of misogyny and sexual brokenness in the United States. Among the accused were Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, politicians Roy Moore and Al Franken, talk show host Matt Lauer, physician Larry Nassar, and perhaps most shocking, Willow Creek’s founder and head pastor Bill Hybels. The charges certainly didn’t come as a surprise to the 321,500 Americans who are victims of sexual assault or rape every year. After... Read more
Last year, CBE hosted our first ever popular writing contest and it was a huge success! We’re holding the contest again this year because we’re determined to give those passionate about biblical gender equality/egalitarian theology/Christian feminism an opportunity to share their stories and insights. We’ve also got more great prizes this year: winners can get published with us; win a $20 Amazon gift card and a copy of Kathy Khang’s new book: Raise Your Voice; and get a free CBE subscription! Topics: We want to hear from you on one of these seven topics. Each broad topic includes a series of bullet point prompts to help you understand the intent of the prompt and to provoke ideas. You can mix and match the prompts we’ve provided or answer multiple p... Read more
Does God prefer “debt-free virgins without tattoos”? A recent viral article claims that men do, and that women should avoid college, independence, career, and the world—lest they fall into debt and sexual failure and be unattractive to Christian men. Notably, tattoos, after the title, get precious little mention! And there's our first clue that the author doesn’t support her claims well. The article says nothing further about tattoos and also says little about biblical values regarding fiscal responsibility and sex. Despite the author’s well-intentioned desire to teach young women to live biblically, she promotes a culturally-influenced view of Christian womanhood. Fundamentally, this cultural view of women assumes they’re more susceptible to world... Read more
“Her very name evokes images of beauty and sensuality, yet when we look for this creature in the New Testament, we look for her in vain.” –Susan Haskins, Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor Who is Mary Magdalene to you? Apostle or icon of penitence? The Feast Day of Mary Magdalene is on July 22. In 2016, Pope Francis elevated her memorial day from a celebration to a feast. He wrote, “Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of a true and authentic evangeliser.” In the Eastern Orthodox Church, she is “the apostle to the apostles” as one of the first women to witness and announce Jesus’ resurrection to the male disciples. Yet even with such official praise, and sainthood as well, Mary Magdalene’s name is still ta... Read more
The Bible’s Warning to Leaders From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture speaks emphatically about character alignment in leaders. It’s impossible to miss God’s point. Leaders have an impact on lives—sometimes for good and sometimes for harm. We will be held accountable by God when our actions are inconsistent with God’s expectations of leaders (Gal. 5:22-23, 1 Tim. 3:1-14). Passages like Matthew 18:6, Acts 20:28, Romans 2:21-23, and James 3:1 give sober caution to anyone eager to become a teacher or leader. Choose wisely, because the Bible also makes clear that those with power rarely manage it well. That’s why successful leadership depends on systems of accountability. Without accountability, bad leaders do enormous damage to decent people, to strugg... Read more
A couple days ago, my wife Jessica and I finished reading a rather depressing book: Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Evangelical Empire. It’s an academic work that includes countless interviews, field research, and eyewitness accounts of the dramatic fall of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. The book does a great job dissecting the factors that led to one of the most notorious pastoral (and moral) tragedies in contemporary American evangelicalism. Truly, it’s difficult to overestimate the intoxicating effect of an authoritarian and charismatic leader, a cult-like church culture, misogynistic teachings, and state-of-the-art, profit-driven ministry media. The combination led to unspeakable trauma and plenty of evangelical embarrassment. Many of us... Read more
My church recently learned the song, “Sound of Adoration,” written by Bryan Torwalt and performed by the band, Jesus Culture. It begins like this, “When we were lost ones, You were the Shepherd that carried us home. When we were prodigals, You ran to meet us with open arms.” The opening sentence refers to Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep, and the following line comes from his parable of the prodigal son. Most people understand the shepherd of the lost sheep to symbolize God. One of the most influential books on Jesus’s parables (by Joachim Jeremias) supports this claim, calling the shepherd “an image of God’s activity of love.” Bible readers, ancient and modern, have made this connection—after all, “The Lord is my shepher... Read more
Imagine you’re Mary, the mother of Jesus. You just made it through an unplanned pregnancy. You’ve delivered your baby in less than ideal conditions and now you're mixed up in soreness and lack of sleep and awe over this new-to-the-world little baby. Eight days after giving birth, you go with your husband to present your son at the temple, as was the custom. A righteous man from Jerusalem named Simeon finds you there. You stand before him, slightly awestruck, as he speaks a blessing over you and your husband. But then, he says this: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” A sword will pier... Read more
In recent years, the term “toxic masculinity” became a part of the public conversation surrounding gender, power, and violence. Actor Terry Crews spoke to congress last week about his own experience with sexual assault. He took the opportunity to condemn what he called a “cult of toxic masculinity” and urged congress to implement the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights.   But what is “toxic masculinity”? Without a more detailed explanation, the term can leave us with a bad taste in our mouths. It can inspire defensiveness, largely because it’s been misunderstood to mean that all masculinity is toxic. But it actually refers only to negative cultural expressions of masculinity that encourage violence, aggression, misogyny, and entitl... Read more