Welcome to CBE’s Library

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What happens when churches agree that women should be free to minister and lead, yet they never take practical steps to equip and empower them to do so?

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I offer here a history of preaching rhetoric with the hope of encouraging women whose calling is the pulpit. We will explore how women have proven their preaching authority and constructed their sermons across time.

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We should acknowledge that patriarchy and the oppression of women have played large roles in both culture and the church for centuries. In fact, far from being countercultural, many complementarian claims about men and women are echoed outside the church.

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Hild is one of any number of women who remind us that women have always played a role in leading the church. That role may be constrained or downplayed, but it nevertheless cannot be hidden.

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We are caught in tension between thanks for progress towards gender equality and dismay at the misogyny we see around us. Gratitude for progress does little to ease the pain of sexism by Christian men who tell women in ministry to “go home.”

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There were some spaces in the medieval Western church where women were free to write theology and have spiritual influence. Yes, patriarchy and misogyny barred women from the priesthood and the great universities that produced scholastic theology. But many women became well-known, admired, and influential in monastic life and through mystic theology.

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Women pastors are not a new phenomenon, but many Christians aren't aware of the long history of women pastors in the church. 

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Although we may idealize the early church, most of us would not have enjoyed a visit to a worship service at Corinth. The impression which one was most likely to receive was that of chaos and delirious insanity:

So if the whole congregation is assembled and all are using the "strange tongues" of ecstasy, and some uninstructed persons or unbelievers should enter, will they not think you are mad? (I Cor. 14:23, NEB).

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For most of my life, I didn’t understand the significance of Advent. It paled next to Christmas. And I felt the same indifference for Advent that I had for every other church season.

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"Although the people living in the Greco-Roman world might not have been able to imagine a world in which slavery does not exist, Paul’s churches leave the hierarchy of slavery behind as part of the world that is passing away, along with ethnic division and gender hierarchy. Paul removes the power differential from Philemon and Onesimus’s relationship (in their church), and he replaces that differential with koinōnia by asking Philemon to receive Onesimus as if he were Paul."

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