In Eden we glimpse the larger purposes of God for humankind. These glimpses offer the framework within which the debate about the specific roles for men and women in the Christian ministry must take place.
The Old Testament teaches us much about the nature of God. It is the inspired record of God working out his eternal plan for us. From the Old Testament we learn about God’s long-suffering, loving, merciful nature. We see the beginning of his plan for our redemption. The God revealed to us in the Old Testament is the same God further revealed in the New Testament. Through Christ, we can see the promises of God more clearly than those who “welcomed them from a distance” (Heb. 11:13). Furthermore, in this era of God’s history, the Holy Spirit dwells in all who belong to his Son (Rom. 8:9). However, God is still the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We need to remember this truth as we study the Old Testament.
The church in China is different from that anywhere else in the world. But then, China itself is also quite different from other countries. China, more perhaps than in any other place and time since of beginning of USA, is a nation trying to forge its destiny in new ways that are not really copied from anywhere else. It has made many mistakes, as its current leaders readily admit. That in itself makes it quite different from most other nations!
Biblical feminists, as opposed to other feminists outside and within the church, accept the full authority of all Scripture for all the people of God. But they recognize, with all modern people, that we do not absorb Scripture in its pure form into our understanding. Like anything else we read, reading Scripture is an interpretive process.
The call for women missionaries is not often heard today. Often women are left with the feeling “we are only needed because the men fail to go.” Our American culture looks on pioneer missionary work as man’s work because the Church is infiltrated with a worldly and pagan view of women as inferior to men.
Just as earlier God called Eve to inhabit and rule the Garden with Adam, now, through Christ, God gives women and men an opportunity to respond to the two highest callings imaginable as co-heirs of salvation (1 Pet 3:7) and co-laborers with Christ. Who are some of the women in the New Testament on whom the Lord particularly confers this honor?
One of the earliest splits in the church, born of uncompromising convictions, came precisely over the issue of who was worthy to minister, and the body of believers survived it! Looking back, historians and theologians view this split as a blessing for the church, because it doubled its ministerial force.
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.