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Church History

Can't we just agree to disagree? Have you found yourself sharing the Bible’s support for women’s gospel-service when someone asserts emphatically, ‘Can’t we just agree to disagree? This isn’t a salvation issue, after all!’ And, being peace-loving Christians, we are at first inclined to agree, until we remember someone like Lottie Moon. Considered one of the great missionaries of all time, Moon’s refusal to obey male authority led to the salvation of many. Lottie’s male supervisor opposed her desire to build a church in Northern China, where she not only made massive inroads for the gospel, but where she also inspired the next generation of Christian missionaries - and all the generations since then! Today, Lottie is celebrated... Read more
She wore plain clothing, a white dress, a white bonnet, and a rather drab shawl, but her Christian life was vibrant, colorful, and focused on the work of the gospel. When, in the early 1800s, Elizabeth Fry dedicated her life to the pursuit of a Quaker life, her family was not pleased. Only her brother, Joseph Gurney, really stuck by her side through it all. In her supposed radical devotion, Fry struggled intensely between her desire for the comfortable and prestigious life she was used to and her desire to promote only the glory of Christ. This accounts for her seemingly constant state of depression evident in her journal and sometimes weight loss. Fry is best known for her prison reform, call for fair treatment of the insane, and opposition to the death penalty. Her famous work began... Read more
The following article is a guest post submitted by Anita Bell, ordained pastor in the PCUSA Church. Rev. Bell offers the following reflections on her denomination in hopes that her critique would continue to call believers to solid scholarship surrounding the empowerment of women and men in ministry and encourage her denomination to clear and cohesive action as they strive to live out their statement of faith. Some of my friends are thinking about leaving our PCUSA fellowship for EPC pastures. They plan to go as a whole- men and women, lay and ordained. They offer to circle the wagon in this new denominational home, through non-geographic presbyteries, to protect and uphold their women called to ordained leadership. Yet, it is not hard to imagine the established EP... Read more
A few weeks back I was teaching a class on Anabaptist history. I gave my usual spiel about the nature of history and the problems with reductionism. Anabaptist concerns were both theological and economical (among other things); cases of injustice, after all, traverse all aspects of life. Abuses by the church and its oppression of ideas were paralleled by abuses by the state and its oppression of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (in this case, something as simple as the right to fish). To take the Anabaptist cause and bring it down to one simple idea (e.g., baptism), is to ignore the complexity of the situation and the people involved. Despite my caveats, there were still a few students who didn’t yet catch on. “But what was the reason they separat... Read more
A prominent sociologist on evangelicals, Sally Gallagher, has much to say to egalitarians in her article, The Marginalization of Evangelical Feminism. She questions, when 56% of evangelical women are employed outside the home and when many evangelical marriages are egalitarian in practice, why evangelicals as a whole have still rejected mutuality and partnership between the genders. One important point she makes is that well-known evangelical leaders have effectively linked evangelical feminism with androgyny. I have personally seen this many times from complementarian writing—statements like “evangelical feminists and their efforts to blur the genders that God made so beautifully distinct.” Complementarians have had definite success in convincing many people bo... Read more
I've been reading the recent issue of Priscilla Papers (Summer 2006). I have been struck by both Catherine Clark Kroeger and Philip B. Bayne's use of history in their respective articles on 1 Corinthians 11. In Kroeger's article she is looking at what kephalē, "head," means in 1 Corinthians 11:3: "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (NASB). She uses a plethora of secular, Jewish, and early Christian historical sources to show that the conventional meaning of kephalē means "source" or "beginning," not a hierarchal understanding of a boss or somone who has authority over other people. Bayne does the same thing in his... Read more
The Evangelical Christian Publishing Association (ECPA) has announced this year’s finalists for their Christian Book Awards. Normally, I do not pay attention to these types of awards, because I like to judge a book for myself rather than take somebody else’s word for it whether the book is good or not. However, a couple of entries under the category of “Best Bible” disturb me. They are The Holman CSB Minister's Bible and The ESV Reformation Study Bible. Let me explain why it bothers me that either of these would be considered the best Bible that Christians can study. To begin with, both the CSB and the ESV were created as a protest to the TNIV. How do we know this? Well, let’s take a look at the CSB first. It is published by Broadm... Read more
When the messiah comes, says the Old Testament, he will “proclaim freedom for the captives.” (Is. 61:1 TNIV) Jesus the Messiah came, but he brought something better than the expected freedom from foreign domination: instead, he was interested in making people’s spirits free. Jesus himself said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:34-36 TNIV) Of all the authors of the Old and New Testaments, Paul speaks most often about freedom. Christ, he says, brings freedom from sin (Rom. 6:18-22; 7:14), freedom from death (Rom. 7:24-25; 8:2, 10-11) and especially freedom from the bondage of the [Jewish... Read more

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