CBE members have always loved our award-winning journals Priscilla Papers and Mutuality. After last week, Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) members now love them too! Thanks to the generosity of many, CBE was able to send every ETS member in the U.S. (over 3,000) a special edition publication of academic and popular CBE articles. The journal, “The Deception of Eve and the Ontology of Women,” included an award-winning exploration of 1 Timothy 2 by John Jefferson Davis; a piercing assessment of ontology, the Trinity, and it’s bearing on women’s ordination by John Jefferson Davis; Alan Myatt’s insightful critique of the complementarian worldview; a response to pornography by Gerald Ford; and a collection of reflections by ten women on the struggles they face as ministry leaders. The issue moved from theory to practice and considered the human impact of our theological evaluation of gender.
CBE’s special journal, egalitarian lectures, booth, community meal, and all of the resulting conversations worked collectively to “take back the night,” by addressing gender and power theologically and practically.
Almost immediately after staff opened CBE’s booth, ETS scholars, pastors, and students stopped by to thank us for the special edition publication. With deep anguish in his eyes, one scholar lamented the pain evident in the article on the struggles women face as ministry leaders. He said; “It is shameful how badly they were treated. We need to address this issue!” He likened their experiences to that of African Americans who suffered not because of their moral, theological, or vocational choices but because of their ontology–their African ancestry. Another pastor stopped by to say that after reading our journal he took the time to phone and thank one of the authors personally. He said he had to do something to stand with us.
CBE’s special edition publication promised each recipient a complimentary book. This offer drew many (particularly students) to our booth which was rarely quiet. Some came by to join CBE for the first time, or to renew their membership. Nearly every hour we had to replenish our free article rack and it was amazing how quickly books and recordings sold. We completely sold out of Alan Johnson’s new book, How I Changed my Mind About Women in Leadership. Perhaps this book was so popular because contributors such as I. Howard Marshall new testament scholar at the University of Aberdeen; Alice Mathews theological professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary; Stan Gundry, Zondervan executive; and Bob Fryling, IVP executive; discussed their egalitarian journey on an ETS panel.
CBE’s community dinner also had a record attendance. We were delighted to engage old friends and make many new ones–especially students. Two CBE members “just happened to sit next to each other” only to discover that their daughter and granddaughter attend the same Christian college. What is more, one of these students had been feeling alone as an egalitarian, and the other had become a strong support to her. Their friendship was a direct answer to prayer! The two members dashed up to tell me the news of their “chance meeting.” God appears to delight in bringing people together who need the encouragement of like-minded believers.
Certainly that was my experience when engaging individuals after my workshop, “Does Male Preeminence Lead to Abuse?” One woman approached me to say that the stories I cited in my paper resembled her own journey as an abused woman. When women lack a voice in their families or churches, their credibility and experiences are too easily minimalized. Biblical scholarship becomes a path of healing and life for them, as they learn for themselves that God gives women equal authority in marriage and ministry.
CBE was grateful for an opportunity to bring this message to ETS members this year. Like the early suffragists and egalitarian missionaries, our evangelism is a continual “taking back the night” as we not only provide a biblical basis for women’s shared leadership and authority, but actively challenge injustices like abuse.
Join all of us at CBE in giving thanks to our faithful Lord, especially as we gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving. We celebrate the many ways in which God has answered prayers through the ministry of CBE.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very joyful Thanksgiving.