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Church History

The doctrine of the Trinity has been the cause of much theological controversy over the centuries. In the fourth century, a preacher named Arius argued that Jesus was less than God the Father. In response, the council of Nicaea developed a comprehensive statement of faith upon which subsequent doctrine and theology has been measured for centuries. The Nicene Creed affirmed the divinity of Jesus and the co-equal, co-eternal nature of members in the Trinity. For centuries, Christians sang a hymn that affirmed this creed.Tantum Ergo Sacramenetum was written by St. Thomas Aquinas and was part of the communion celebration. Two verses read: "Procendenti eb utroque,  camper sit laudation." "Proceeding from each other,  Equal may they be praised." *... Read more
I believe that it is inconsistent for one to be a strong complementarian and a Protestant at the same time. Complementarians often hold that, though women can be involved in various forms of ministry, they cannot become "ordained ministers." But consider the following simple argument: According to one of the fundamental tenets of Protestantism, the priesthood of all believers (hereafter, PAB): (1) All baptized believers are ordained by God as priests. From here the rest of the argument quickly follows: (2) Some women are baptized believers. Therefore, (3) Some women are ordained by God as priests. We might thus simply ask our complementarian friends the following: If God has ordained someone as a priest, who are we to deny her ordination?... Read more
Margaret Mowczko
In the current discussions about the roles of women in the church, there has been a great deal of attention directed toward Phoebe, Junia, and Priscilla. These three women are mentioned in the New Testament as being involved in significant Christian ministry. Much of the discussion surrounding these women concerns identifying their actual ministries, and evaluating the precedent, if any, they set for women in the church today. Euodia and Syntyche are two lesser known women who were ministers in the early church. The apostle Paul names these two women in his letter to the Philippians and, in just a few verses, he gives us a glimpse into the value and significance of their ministries. I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you,... Read more
It's Stephen Covey, I believe, who's credited with the quote, "The important thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Like most aphorisms, it's simple to understand, but challenging to apply. Christ is the preeminent example of pretty much every life principle, and this one is no exception. But I have to admit, for quite a while I was mystified by his summative declaration from the cross: "It is finished." Weren't there other people to heal, disciples to train, Pharisees to annoy? The answer for the evangelical is that Christ's substitutionary death on the cross was his ultimate goal and essential action. Another question, perhaps more practical, is how did he know. An answer comes from the intriguing, John 5:19, "Jesus gave... Read more
In passing, Luke mentions that Philip "had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy" (Acts 21:9, NRSV; all Scripture references in this article are from the book of Acts). Feminist scholars have pointed out, however, that women's voices remain silent throughout much of this book, so we know neither what these daughters said nor much else about them. But we know a bit about Philip, and I would like to suggest that aspects of his life might shed some light on how his daughters were nurtured in the gift of prophecy. First, we know that Philip was a man full of wisdom (6:3) and courage. When persecution broke out against the earliest followers of Jesus, the Twelve remained in Jerusalem, but he ventured into Samaria, "proclaiming the word" (8:4b). Here wa... Read more
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me" (Rom 16:1-2 TNIV). I love messing with my students. Yes, I know it catches them off guard, but exposing their assumptions and ignorance is both enjoyable and actually educational too. When I get to my Romans class, I ask the students four questions: So who actually wrote Romans? "Paul," they immediately reply in chorus. "No," I retort, "Who physically sat down and penned the letter to Paul's dictation?" Blank faces, deep thoughts, then some bright spark will blurt out, "Oh, oh, th... Read more
Why would the Christian community reject or fail to support well-trained female ministers when the apparent need for ministers is so great throughout the world? The Barna Research group has investigated gender differences in the American population. Among their findings women are more likely than men to read the Bible, attend church, pray, be born again, believe the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings, and describe themselves as "deeply spiritual." Historically, women have been the backbone of churches. It is only logical that women would desire to attend seminary as a means of better equipping themselves for ministry. Because of the advances women have made in the non-church culture, however, women now expect the same level of respect, compensation, and leadership... Read more
Equal and Complementary was a hierarchical-complementarian conference held recently in Melbourne, Australia and organised by an informal working group. Kevin Giles, a prominent evangelical-egalitarian, has written a lengthy response to the conference. Giles spends a lot of time discussing Greek words like exousia and authentein. It may seem that continued discussion about such words won’t move the discussion forward. But Giles’ definition of ‘moving forward’ may differ from how others see it. He sees the issue as having the same impact in our society as slavery did last century. Retrospectively, we would not say slave owners and liberationists agreeing to disagree about slavery (but affirming their shared belief in the glor... Read more
If you’re looking for a powerful film to watch, consider Iron Jawed Angels, a dramatization of the American suffragist Alice Paul (1885-1977). Her legacy is one of a kind. Few leaders exhibit more genius in responding to the rhetoric and strategies of their opponents than Paul. For egalitarians today, her struggle and ours have significant parallels. We have much to learn from Paul’s challenge to the illogic that portrayed women as wholly different from men and therefore unsuitable for decision making responsibilities. At a crucial moment in the film, while imprisoned for picketing the White House, Paul is examined by a psychiatrist for mental instability. In a penetrating declaration, she establishes her sanity as well as woman’s shared humanity with men. She tell... Read more
Caryn Rivadeneira
If you read the GFL e-newsletter, you may recall my mention of a certain giddiness when I saw an ad for a one-day conference about “Women and Christian History” being held right in my neighborhood. Well, this past weekend, I went. Some highlights for me included seeing archaeological evidence of women priests, deacons, and elders in the early church, and that Notre Dame in Paris had women priests as recently as the Middle Ages. And I enjoyed learning about ancient Jewish and Roman marriage and divorce practices and how those related to the apparently mis-read and misunderstood story of the Samaritan woman at the well. But my favorite moment of the day, the one that lingered and has made me smile whenever I replay it, came when Dr. Mimi Haddad talked about the women of the... Read more