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Does Jesus ask us to become fishers of “men” or of  “people”?  And does it even matter?  This question has become a heated one, as the International Bible Society and Zondervan recently announced the release of Today’s New International Version Bible (TNIV).  Based on the New International Version (NIV), this Bible offers clearer language, including gender-accurate language for people.  Read more
The church has not only the right, but the duty, to be the church of Jesus Christ. . . . The job of the priest isn’t to give you the answers to all of your questions for all of your life. But the priest is there to help you frame the questions and to point you toward the one with the answers. The goal of the priest is that you might enter into a mature relationship with God. We believe in the priesthood of all believers. Have you taken to heart the implications of your own priesthood? Read more
One’s identity and self-definition are dependent to a great degree on well-placed trust. That societal, familial, political, or religious forces that define us are not always trustworthy is the catastrophic reality that can lead to tragic effects. Some of these are subtle. Some of them are blatant. Some of them are even violent. Read more
Many decades ago, while I was still a young and brash student, I happened to read about a book being assembled analyzing a variety of interpretive approaches to literature. With all the gall of a neophyte, I contacted the editors, pointed out they were missing a chapter on “Christian interpretation,” suggested I could supply that need, and they agreed (with great reluctance) to let me submit an idea for it. I took the Christological approach (an emphasis on identifying Christ-types), ladled in some exegetical method, peppered it with what I thought would be centrist Christian doctrinally dogmatic elements, and sailed it out onto their waters. It subsequently sank. Obviously unimpressed, they sent me back a form letter thanking me so much for my efforts and essentially telling me to get lost. Read more
Barak may be the most misunderstood hero in the entire Bible. For years, this thoughtful warrior who insured a victory by forgoing personal glory to partner up with God’s anointed spokeswoman Deborah has been dismissed out of hand by simplistic, popular readings of his complex egalitarian story. Read more
In his classic study The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, the great archaeologist William M. Ramsay noted that “women-prophets were a feature of the Christianity of Anatolia”—the ancient name for what is generally Turkey today, but which, in New Testament times, included so many of the churches we read about, including the seven churches of Revelation. In fact, so prominent were women with this gift that the name “Prophetilla” was found on an inscription from this region and may actually be a unique Christian term created to designate a female prophet. Since “there is nothing to mark this inscription as later than 200,” one wonders what happened to this flourishing and noted “feature” of early Christianity. Ramsay’s next observation explains that prophesying women were “in the Catholic church before the latter part of the second century, and in the Montanist Church even after that time.”1 Read more
If you were blessed enough to attend one of the many memorial services honoring the life and legacy of Catherine Clark Kroeger (1925–2011), you undoubtedly caught a glimpse of a Christian leader whose prodigious ministries touched the lives of thousands. Family members, foster children, friends, colleagues, and members of the community remembered how Cathie’s faith directed her copious talents and energy. Cathie gave of herself on behalf of others, not only through the ministries she inaugurated, including Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) and Peace and Safety in the Christian Home (PASCH), but also through her church, denomination, neighborhoods, and academic societies. At the service I attended in St. Paul, Minnesota, it was abundantly clear that we were commemorating a leader who stands as part of a unique evangelical tradition. Cathie embodied the evangelical belief that God speaks through Scripture, that the cross redeems all of life, and that we are called to live out vigorously our reconciliation with God and others in word and deed. Cathie’s utter devotion to these theological ideals places her beside evangelicals such as Pandita Ramabai, Frances Willard, and Katharine Bushnell. Read more
Christians for Biblical Equality’s founder, Catherine Clark Kroeger, was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She defined the words “can do.” Read more
One of the epiphanic moments of my faith came about in north Philadelphia at what had been Temple University’s theological school, redubbed Conwell School of Theology after Russell Conwell, the Civil War officer whose coming to Christian faith was profoundly influenced by a devout and devoted assistant, Johnny Ring. Johnny seemed a perfect candidate for the ministry when his life was abruptly cut off in “the war between brothers.” Severely wounded himself and left for dead for a night at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (Georgia), Conwell eventually embraced Johnny’s God.1 Years later, now a Baptist pastor, he was asked by a young deacon to teach him to preach and responded in the grand style, founding Temple College in Philadelphia, “the city of brotherly love,” perhaps as much a tribute to the young believer Johnny Ring. Temple blossomed into the university with a theological seminary, the latter becoming independent and soon acquiring a new name, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, when Billy Graham brokered a merger with another seminary, Gordon Divinity School, which was also leaving its present campus. Read more
In 1664, a young Puritan minister named John Cotton Jr. was found guilty of “lascivious unclean practices with three women.”1 Mr. Cotton was a Harvard graduate, a descendant of well-respected parents, and a husband and father. As a punishment for his sinful deeds, English officials in Massachusetts forced Cotton to give up his pastorate of a local church. The question was, what could he do to support Joanna, his wife, and their children? Puritan leaders found the answer in an unlikely place: Martha’s Vineyard. For many years, members of the Mayhew family had labored as missionaries on the island, trying to teach local Indians about Christianity. The Mayhews needed help, and John Cotton Jr. was sufficiently qualified, in the eyes of the English at least, to preach to Indians. So, in 1666, John Cotton Jr. began a long missionary career on both Martha’s Vineyard and in the town of Plymouth. In many respects, his legacy lasted beyond his death, for his two sons, Josiah and Roland Cotton, preached to Indians in Massachusetts long after their father was gone.2 Other scholarly works have examined male members of the Cotton family and how they interacted with Native Americans.3 In this article, however, I wish to explore the experiences of Joanna Cotton, a wife and mother of missionaries in colonial America. In particular, I will explore the extent to which Joanna fell in line with expectations regarding gender roles in colonial New England. These roles typically involved a degree of female subordination to males. Read more

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