Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21–28 can be perplexing to contemporary Christians. This article will look at the interaction between the Canaanite woman and Jesus, examining the social and scriptural underpinnings of their encounter.
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.
I foresee days when the gift of words will feel like a curse. On mornings when the labor is hard, I must remember to hold on to the hope of the joy. I must remember that I’m not alone. Annie Dillard reminded me of this: “At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace...you search, you break your fists, your back, your brain, and then—and only then—it is handed to you.”
Within the Episcopal, PCUSA, and other mainline churches, there has been for years a diversity of views of the Christian faith. For most of this century, the leadership, seminaries, and many members have held to liberal views of Christianity, including a Bible which is not inerrant (i.e., without errors), as well as views of God, Jesus, salvation, etc. which are significantly different from the historic orthodox position.
It was a desperate ploy. If it failed she would be, at best, a social pariah; at worst, burned alive. Probably few of us, either women or men, would be able to summon up the kind of courage Tamar showed when, realizing that the system was failing to give her justice, she decided to do something about it. She used womanly wiles, but not in ways we usually associate with the term.
In the account of the anointing of Jesus by the sinful woman, Jesus radically reverses all assumptions about himself, the woman and Simon, highlights true repentance and forgiveness, and causes us to reflect on the boldness of the Lord’s ministry to women.
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4–5, NASB)
For today’s “traditionalists,” 1 Timothy 2 mandates the subordination of women to men in the church because the headship/submission principle is grounded in the created order, an order that Christianity redeems, but does not alter. Today’s traditionalists/male hierarchists also claim to be upholding the historic interpretation of this passage. New research on early Protestant beliefs concerning natural law and the spiritual and civil kingdoms, however, brings their claim into serious question.