The great church reformer, Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), wrote of Christians:
Christ has now no hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which
Christ looks compassion on the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.
Join me in thanking God for the hands and feet of Christ, dismantling patriarchy as a biblical ideal in global communities. This year, we fanned an awareness of biblical gender equality around the world, beginning with CBE’s presence at the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS).
Building on momentum from last year’s meeting, President Dan Wallace affirmed support for women and egalitarians at ETS during his presidential address. Growing in number and influence, egalitarian scholars pressed for greater theological clarity on gender.
CBE’s 2016 ETS journal, Preserving the Trinity, was mailed to ETS members prior to the convention, a conversation that continued in panels and presentations on the Trinity throughout the meeting. The debate resulted in an apology by two prominent complementarians for their errors concerning the functional subordination of the Son.
CBE’s ETS booth showered resources on attendees and provided opportunities for safe conversations with trained counselors and gender experts. One woman’s demeanor visibly changed as we showed understanding for the abuse women suffer. Another woman purchased nearly every resource we sold.
CBE’s community meal fueled vision for future partnerships, and our volunteers raised awareness and rallied CBE supporters via social media. Kevin Giles led key sessions on the Trinity not only at ETS but also at colleges, seminaries, and CBE chapters. After ETS, a scholar requested my presentation on the Trinity, admitting that he was, “always amazed by all you [CBE] accomplish!”
This year, CBE hosted lectures for students from the African Christian College (Swaziland), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Fuller and Denver Theological Seminaries (Colorado), Olivet University (California), and Cornell University and Law School (New York). At these events, hundreds of resources were distributed and many books were donated to libraries. These communities expressed regret at knowing too little about biblical gender equality, leading some to commit to bringing students to CBE’s 2017 conference.
CBE continues to publish new resources like our young adult curriculum, Good News about Gender, and distribute them at global events. CBE’s marriage curriculum is well-under way and our many resources are now available to global partners through our new cloud-based printer, Publish4All. CBE’s most concise book, Still Side by Side, was translated into Portuguese, Korean, Urdu, Zulu, Xhosa, Finnish, and Tamil. These were distributed to partners and are available online for free.
CBE’s academic journal, Priscilla Papers, engaged new scholars and peer review members, thanks to our academic editor, Jeff Miller. CBE’s popular magazine, Mutuality, was recognized with two Evangelical Press Association awards for Valerie Geer’s “Blood and Water Flowed” and Tim Krueger’s (editor of Mutuality) “Vulnerability Makes the Man: A Review of Man Enough by Nate Pyle.” Popular articles from CBE’s official blog, Arise, were republished by prominent bloggers. And in celebration of CBE’s 30th anniversary as a ministry, we have made all content available for free online.
CBE chapters worked within their communities to hold events and collaborated with CBE to host large-scale gatherings. Our South African chapter helped host “Truth be Told: Johannesburg,” which attracted over 3,500 people to hear Thuli Madonsela, South Africa’s public defender. Her stately lecture was streamed to hundreds. (Note that all lectures are available for free on CBE’s SoundCloud channel.)
One hundred African leaders explored CBE’s curriculum Is Gender Equality a Biblical Ideal?. One pastor, who returned home to train 1,000 other pastors, praised the training as “phenomenal, enlightening, insightful, empowering and very transformative.” Others said:
“CBE is our anchor for theological questions. We have good laws, but poor implementation. We have to bring awareness to change mindsets.” –secular nonprofit leaders in India
“Patriarchy is the biggest prison of men—patriarchy kills them… Most of those in jail are men because of the toxic, risky, negative identities society has for men.” –pastor, South Africa
“The DRC is [called] the rape capital of the world. One woman is raped every twenty-three seconds. Missionaries came in 1930 and taught male headship/white male supremacy. After that, there was an increase in wife beating. After CBE’s biblical gender equality training in Congo, [staff] were amazed to learn that [women] were made in God’s image.” –Samaritan Purse staff, Congo
After Johannesburg, CBE held two events in Cape Town: one that examined Scripture’s teachings on male and female relations, particularly in marriage, and another half-day event that gave clergy and students an opportunity to consider African Christianity and its gender practices. At both events, hundreds of free resources were distributed. The enthusiasm for CBE’s work in Cape Town was so great that leaders may form a CBE chapter there, and the chapter may even host a future CBE conference.
After leaving Cape Town, CBE partnered with EFOGE for “Truth be Told: Kenya.” The conference opened with concerns that “80% of Kenyan churches preach male headship, without realizing the consequences: misinterpreting the Bible to demand female submission fuels abuse.”
Scholars at the conference critiqued the capacity of the Mother’s Union to empower women and also explored the strategic impact African women had as leaders in the East African Revival. Another leader called on the Kenyan faith community to reject harmful gender relations. Samaritan’s Purse staff traveled to Kenya for further learning, having been introduced to biblical gender equality through CBE training in the Congo. In all, CBE distributed over 5,000 books in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Kenya.
We thank God for the hands and feet that brought biblical gender equality to so many in 2016. May Christ bring that message to even more people in the coming year!