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)
As a scholar of rhetoric and as a Pentecostal Christian, I notice that, although rhetoric and religion embody quite different theoretical perspectives, rhetoric, religion, and gender collide when we examine who is given the authority to speak and who is believed within the church.
Gretchen G. Hull was instrumental in the founding of CBE. One of CBE’s founders, as well as a board member and early pioneering editor of Priscilla Papers, Gretchen was brilliant, gutsy, and never afraid to speak out.
In the so-called “conservative resurgence” currently seeking to divide Baptist loyalties, the initial “line in the sand” was the inerrancy slogan, which was dropped when it proved too ambiguous to define and enforce. In its place as a litmus test of loyalty was put the subordination of women, first in the home and then in the church, in the form of a 1998 family amendment and 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith & Message.
In my life journey as an Asian American woman who has lived in two cultures—in the post-colonial milieu of a country in the developing world and in the post-modern setting of cities like Boston, I have gradually begun to embrace the meaning of that recurrent dream. It resonates with the universal search for identity, with the promise and peril of leaving home, and, finally, with the understanding that even the unsorted pieces of every life are ultimately part of God’s gift.
The Bible sets forth an ideal and calls the ideal woman an eshet-chayil, which is the Hebrew for a “virtuous woman” (KJV) or a “wife of noble character” (NIV). This Hebrew expression occurs only three times in the Old Testament, but a study of these three passages is likely to reveal what the Bible supports as an ideal of Christian womanhood.
Vibrant, faithful women have helped to establish and build the Chinese church. Their robust faith and their engagement with the Scriptures empowered them to evangelize, preach, nurture and teach generations of Chinese Christians.