Welcome to CBE’s Library

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Recently, a friend of mine was asked why she chose to work, and not stay home full-time with her child, even though her husband makes enough money to support their family. The question is unsurprising given the ongoing pressure on Christian women to prioritize home and family over career and calling. It seems that Christian women are still expected to choose between the public and the private.

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“Most likely to become a pastor.” I was embarrassed, really. How could I be voted that? Sure, I volunteered a lot, but out of everyone in our conservative, non-denominational high school youth group, why me? I was a girl—a quiet girl with no framework for becoming a pastor.

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“At the heart of every woman,” a pastor once commented on Mother’s Day, “is a God-ordained desire for beauty, marriage, homemaking, and motherhood. If you doubt it, check out the covers of women’s magazines at the grocery store.”

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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.

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Clearly there are complex reasons why women fail to answer or reluctantly answer God’s call to ministry. Those who do will very likely face a difficult road.

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I grew up in a traditional, warm, and well-meaning suburban Baptist church in Western Canada. No one who looked like me ever brought a word, prayer, sermon, or exhortation from the chestnut pulpit that elevated speakers to near-heavenly status. Certainly not on Sunday mornings or at Sunday evening services. Not on Wednesday nights either, unless they were visiting missionaries from a “far-away land” and even then, they “shared” their experiences. They never preached.

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“So, are you a student here too?” asked the young IT worker I called to fix my office computer. I smiled, wondering how the student missed my name on the office door, or the row of diplomas framed on the wall. “No, I’m a professor here.” Sexism against women in college undoubtedly happens, but sexism against female college faculty is perhaps more often overlooked. As a thirtysomething woman professor at a Christian university, I have a unique perspective on sexism in higher education.

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Female theology students in a rural context are often online students who don’t regularly see flesh-and-blood role models: women who are leading in church, teaching a mixed congregation and fulfilling other roles.

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Like most of the other kids that grew up in Good News Baptist Church, my testimony begins with the day I asked Jesus into my heart as a 5-year-old girl in Vacation Bible School. But 20 years later, as I prepared my statement of faith for my application to seminary, I realized something about my testimony that I had never noticed before.

As I bowed my head to pray, I remember feeling disappointed that the pastor’s wife was praying with me instead of the pastor. Although she was a godly woman, I thought that somehow if he led me in prayer it would count more than his wife’s prayers. I wished that I could sneak away and join the children who got to pray with the pastor.

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A study of curricula across 15 evangelical seminaries and of material from the Evangelical Theological Society reveals an almost total absence of women's history, meaning male leaders can rise to high levels while never being exposed to the countless ways women have impacted history and theology.

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