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Could it be that the complementarian notion of “biblical womanhood” (especially the claim that women’s distinct personhood makes no room for women as teachers and leaders of men) is a recent, Western perspective?

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The one hundred and ninety-seventh letter of Gregory of Nazianzus, addressed to Gregory of Nyssa, contains a message of consolation over the death of Theosebeia, who has apparently been his colleague in the Gospel ministry. “Theosebeia, actually the priestess and colleague of a priest and equally honored and equally worthy of the Great Sacraments.”

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The battle over women leaders and the church continues to rage unabated in evangelical circles. At the center of the tempest sits 1 Tim. 2:11-15. Despite a broad spectrum of biblical and extra-biblical texts that highlight female leaders, 1 Tim. 2:11-15 continues to be perceived and treated as the great divide in the debate. Indeed for some, how one interprets this passage has become a litmus test for the label “evangelical” and even for salvation.

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A prolific British hymn writer, Frances Ridley Havergal created poetic texts for the glory of God, but she also saw writing as her profession and livelihood.

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Two hundred years before Martin Luther’s reformation, a woman now known as St. Bridget of Sweden (1302-1373) challenged wayward kings, priests, and popes, calling them to repentance. 

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Part 1 of a 3-part series, presented here, focuses on the radical redefinition of authority Jesus taught and set in motion for his church; it considers the complementarians’ circuitous idea of gender authority.

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In recent decades, traditionalists have dug for deeper roots in search of a viable biblical theology on which to support their superstructure of hierarchy. What has emerged instead in contemporary complementarianism is a sociocultural and extrabiblical “theology of roles.” It is this to which we will direct our critique.

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The marriage guidance in Ephesians 5, rather than subjecting wives, is aimed at bringing the freedom of true Christian community into our homes.

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Amid the patriarchy of the ancient world, early Christianity had a particularly liberating and redemptive place for women, one significant enough to be mentioned by Christianity’s first major critic, the second-century philosopher Celsus.

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