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Women of the Bible

When I was a child, I wanted to be just like my father. He was a preacher, and I loved watching him share the Word of God with his flock. I especially loved it when he expounded on the original Greek and Hebrew in the biblical text. I thought the most wonderful thing in the world would be to attend seminary, learn these languages, and then share my insights with others like my father. Unfortunately, I faced one very large hurdle: women weren’t supposed to preach. I knew this because I heard my parents discussing it. One day in our house they were complaining about how our denomination was simply becoming too extreme. I distinctly recall hearing my mother say, “Why, I hear that in some of our churches they’re even allowing women preachers!” A couple of years later... Read more
We Stood and Wept It was late morning when my friend Drew received a call urging him to rush to the hospital where his 31-year old wife, Pam, and their 10-month old son, Mark, had been taken after a car accident. They'd been struck from behind by a dump truck while waiting at a four-way stop. By nothing short of a miracle, baby Mark survived the accident with minor bruises. Pam sustained severe injuries from the impact. Desperately praying for her to live, Drew took to wearing Pam's rings on his pinky finger. Tragically, within a day, Pam died. Holding his little Mark in his arms, Drew stood outside her room, and wept. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb and wept. We've all stood in the valley of death's shadow and wept. Later, Drew wrote this on his blog,... Read more
I grew up hearing the Bible stories surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. Of doubting Thomas, and the Emmaus road encounter. Of the final ascension. I remember the women—Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome—who discovered the empty tomb while delivering spices to Jesus’ grave (Mark 16:1-8). And the fact that Jesus first revealed himself to Mary, a woman, was constantly emphasized my wonderful mom. It showed that Jesus was different. And it meant something to our treatment of women in leadership. I remember those thoughts being ingrained in my head from the age of nine. I had years of Bible stories behind me at this point. But that wasn’t all—my family, along with a few others, had recently separated from our church over the issue that wo... Read more
The women of the Bible are beautiful. They flow throughout the Scriptures like a fragrance, leaving sweetly-scented trails of courage across the text. Thanks to my Jewish paternal lineage, I spent some years in a traditional synagogue studying the biblical narratives of brave women who worked, fought, and taught alongside their male counterparts. In the synagogue, the patriarchs and matriarchs--Abraham, Sarah, Deborah, Moses, and Miriam, were all presented in such a wonderful way. I discovered relationships of unity and understanding of purpose that have been forgotten. This is particularly evident in one set of matriarch and patriarch--Sarah and Abraham, the mama and papa of the Jewish people. Yet, when I finally encountered this couple in the hallways of Christianity, their relationsh... Read more
I had such a hard time finding myself in Scripture. I attended Christian schools where the resources for learning about the Bible were numerous. We played Bible memorization games and put on plays starring "Psalty the Songbook." We all possessed illustrated Bibles and every year, we received a Christian religion book intended to help us understand the Bible. Despite all of these tools, something was missing. It was not uncommon for most of our studies to revolve around men. We even referred to them as the giants of our faith--Abraham and David, Noah and Elijah, Paul and Peter. The number of men we could all learn something from seemed unending. But women embodied stories of disdain. I learned about Eve eating the fruit and bringing damnation to the world. I learned how Delilah... Read more
Have you ever dismissed or overestimated someone on first meeting? Has that happened to you? Once when I was speaking at a church, I saw in the bulletin that I was to be introduced as "The Reverend Doctor John R. Kohlenberger III." When I tried to explain that I was neither ordained nor had an earned doctorate, but was just "John," I was simply answered with "we like to be formal here." Formal I can understand, but not incorrect. On the other end of the spectrum, because I was first published at age twenty-eight, I used to hear "I enjoy your father's books." But now I look enough like a big boy to have written on my own. Bible translators have to fight presumption and bias, as do preachers and teachers, to be sure they communicate what the Bib... Read more
This post originally appeared on Scot's blog Jesus Creed on August 5, 2014: patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/08/05/beliefs-known-by-praxis/. What we believe and how we behave are not quite perfectly matched, at least not this side of the kingdom, but it is not unfair to say that what one believes is seen in how one lives. If you say you believe in God but never pray, or if you say you believe in forgiveness and hold grudges, or if you say you believe God loves all but your circle of friends is restricted to folks like yourself — well, your acts reveal what you really believe or you have acted outside the bounds of your beliefs. Sometimes, however, it works another way: sometimes what we believe needs praxis to reveal what the beliefs entail. Sometimes the beliefs are... Read more
Happy Friday! Another great week of posts speaking out against patriarchy and lifting up the biblical ideal of mutuality in marriage and leadership. Be encouraged, dear friends. Apostles, Deacons, and the Women of Romans 16, by Nicholas Quient One can only imagine the honor of hearing the stories of one of the most outstanding women God has given to the world, and what a debt we owe to her. Christian history, it seems, is built off the deeds of such women. 10 Ways Male Privilege Shows Up in the Church, by Gail Wallace (The Junia Project) I think many Christians are becoming more aware of racial and class privilege, but I don’t see the same level of awareness about male privilege in Christian circles. A Legacy for Women, by  Michelle Mosier Would... Read more
What an amazing week. Because of a week-long synchroblog called Faith Feminisms, the Christian blogosphere has exploded with posts about biblical gender equality. Can faith and feminism coexist? The resounding answer: YES! Not only coexist, but feminism comes out of our faith in a Lord who breaks down the walls that divide us and limit us along gender lines. There is no hierarchy in the kingdom of God. I'll highlight some posts here, but if you want to immerse yourself in the bounty of these writings, please go to FaithFeminisms.com to check out the entire list. Here are a few of our favorites: RECORDING: Faith Without Feminism, by Emily Rice (Thirty Seconds or Less) I need feminism in my faith to challenge those lies and to remind me that all are made in the... Read more
I'm reading N.T. Wright's latest popular installment entitled Surprised by Scripture and chapter 4, "The Biblical Case for Ordaining Women", caught my attention. Having previously read his stance, I expected not to be "surprised." Though I wasn't "shocked, amazed, stupefied, or bewildered" (all synonyms of "surprise"), I did get another picture, of sorts, about Galatians 3:28 (from which my blog's theme takes it's name, by the way). This text likely means so much more than a prima facia reading suggests. For starters, "this verse is often mistranslated" (p 66). Here's Wright's take on it: "Neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female.... Read more

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