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Biblical and Theological Studies

Last week I considered the flawed logic coupled with the lack of biblical support of those who advance male authority as a biblical ideal. This week I will offer a brief response to the more detrimental aspects of these errors. For each assertion ascribing “masculine” qualities to leadership, we’ll consider the biblical evidence. 1. Jesus was Male  To begin with, we must remember that Christ represents your flesh and mine. It is not Christ’s gender that is essential, but his humanity. According to the ancient church, Christ was born as a male to represent males, and also born of a woman to represent females (Gregory of Nazianzus, “Epistle 101,” Hardy, Christology, p. 218. Migne, P.G. 37:181). Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a woman, C... Read more
That is my question to the blogosphere today. But first let me share my thoughts on this as a Bible teacher. Not many are called specifically by God to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. Keep in mind that apostles today are likened to missionaries. Prophets are often prophetical preachers. Pastors should be shepherding but too often are more like business executives and administrators, who are still expected to be busy teaching and preaching, as well as doing the works peculiar to evangelists. And there are many who are called teachers who have not been called by God to be teachers but are good talkers and have read lot about what scholars say on this or that subject. Many who are called teachers today can only teach on one subject and know nothing about how to pr... Read more
Why is patriarchy so entrenched not only within the major faith traditions, but particularly among Christians? One obvious answer is that the “he will rule over you” of Genesis 3:18 was one of the first consequences of sin in the garden. But unlike the other effects of sin—death, toil and work, or even pain in childbirth—male rule has been elevated and advanced as a biblical ideal by religious leaders from the early centuries to the present day. What would happen if Christians also enshrined the other effects of sin, like death for example, as we have male rule? On the contrary, Christians consistently resist death; we oppose the thorns and thistles of labor through technology and agriculture, just as we work to improve the experiences of childbearing. Yet, male... Read more
Two weeks ago, John began studying the revolution in relational thinking that Paul presents in Colossians 3. Last week, he considered God’s call to mutual relationships. This week, John will explore relationships through the lens of service and discipleship. Service This command of mutuality leads us to a second feature that we find in this passage. Paul’s emphasis throughout his instructions is not on authority in relationships or on rights, but on serving. He does not give permission to a husband to go to his wife and tell her, “It’s your duty to submit to me,” or to parents to demand obedience from their children. Instead, he tells husbands to love their wives. The term he uses is agapao, that wonderful word denoting a love that gives itself... Read more
In last week’s Arise, John considered the apostle Paul’s view of marriage, parenting, and slavery that opposed the hierarchy of his own culture. This week John will explore the basis of mutual relationships. Mutuality “Wives,” Paul writes, “be subject to your husbands…” Now before we get into a knot, it is important that we keep on reading. “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18 NRSV). Notice first of all that Paul places a condition upon the wives’ submission. And notice secondly that Paul does not stop with wives. “Husbands,” he continues, “love your wives and never treat them harshly.” If Paul had been typical for his time, he would have given inst... Read more
Every July 14th, France celebrates Bastille Day. More than 200 years ago, an angry mob of just under a thousand people rushed upon what was known as “the fortress of despotism.” The Bastille was the symbol of everything that was wrong, unjust, and cruel under the French monarchy. At the heart of the Christian faith there also lies a revolution. It is evident in the latter verses of Colossians 3:18–24, which begins, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly (NRSV). I recognize that there are many who are critical of passages such as this. Surely, they would argue, Paul is supporting the typical hierarchical view of marriage in his injunction for wives to submit to their hus... Read more
A dinner conversation I had months ago still sticks out clearly in my mind. The party consisted of some of my peers, as well as their parents. One of the elders at the table asked my friend about his current occupation. When my friend replied that he was studying at seminary, the other exclaimed, “That’s wonderful! Are you going to be a pastor?” His numerous questions and well-wishes made it clear that he was enthusiastic about my friend’s endeavors to become a pastor. Sadly, I remember having a similar exchange with this same man, but with a stark contrast: there was an acute lack of enthusiasm on his side. I knew from my experience that he was excited about my friend’s seminary studies because he is a male student. In his opinion, a male studying at seminar... Read more
Margaret Mowczko
Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty (1 Timothy 2:15 NRSV).  1 Timothy 2:15 is a difficult verse to interpret. One of the more disturbing interpretations of this verse is that women cannot be saved unless they have children. I have heard several well-known ministers and even seminary professors teach this faulty interpretation. For example, one seminary professor has stated that, “Women must embrace their role as women by bearing children and, if they do this in faith, they will then be saved.” Is this the gospel that Jesus taught? On one occasion Jesus had the opportunity to affirm the calling of motherhood. A woman cried out to him, “'Blessed is the mother who gave you birth a... Read more
 CBE’s Youth Curriculum, Called Out, has recently made its way to Kenya! On May 28, 2013 Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE)—a CBE partner organization—held a meeting between church and school leaders to plan how they could engage youth with the knowledge and skills of biblical equality. Seven secondary schools were brought together within the Bondo and Rarieda District, one of the poorest areas in Kenya.  The Venerable Monica Owiti, the new and first archdeacon of the area, facilitated the program and Reverend Domnic Misolo led the meeting. Misolo made sure to emphasize the mission, vision, and objectives of EFOGE, which are similar to CBE’s: to promote the biblical basis for the shared leadership of males and females. Above all, he... Read more
I am fascinated with the family lineages of the Bible. Perhaps it is the writer or counselor in me. Genealogies of the Bible abound with intriguing insights about biblical characters we rarely hear or think about. For example, consider 1 Chronicles chapter seven. Here we find a list of the descendants of the Israelite tribe of Ephraim. Patriarchal sons of Israel are always mentioned, daughters hardly ever. However, among the descendants of Ephraim, we find an incredibly interesting name. Verse 24 states “His daughter was Sheerah, who built Lower and Upper Beth Horon as well as Uzzen Sheerah” (1 Chron. 7 NIV). The Hebrew word for “built” in this verse literally means to build, to make or set up. Those who cannot accept or believe that a mighty woman of Israel c... Read more