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We all like to believe ourselves to be discerning. However, Luke 7:36-50 challenges us: Do we really get the main point? And if so, how shall we respond? In the account of the anointing of Jesus by the sinful woman, Jesus radically reverses all assumptions about himself, the woman and Simon, highlights true repentance and forgiveness, and causes us to reflect on the boldness of the Lord’s ministry to women. In examining this account, we need to ask: How does it relate to Luke’s major themes and its immediate context? Is this text reliable? What is the historical-cultural meaning of the woman’s act? How do the grammar and literary aspects highlight the Lord’s major point? What is the significance of key words? How does this text apply to our own lives? Through seeing this passage as representative of Luke’s theme of discerning the truth (which causes paradigm shifts) and the theme of God’s gracious forgiveness, we see this woman’s seemingly lavish response as appropriately representing a repentant heart. Because the historical-cultural information has such importance for the clarity of this article, it has been moved to the forefront of the following presentation, to be followed by grammar and word studies. Read more
In the latter part of the twentieth century the doctrine of the Trinity captured the attention of theologians more than any other doctrine. At no time in history since the theologically stormy days of the fourth century has there been so much discussion on this topic, and the discussion does not seem to be ending! Books on the Trinity by Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox theologians continue to be published as I write. No longer is it thought that the Trinity is an obtuse, secondary, and impractical dogma. Today theologians are generally agreed that this doctrine is foundational to the Christian faith because it articulates what is most distinctive in the biblical revelation of God—he is triune. Read more
As Katharine Bushnell pointed out nearly a century ago, there are some hundred passages in the Bible that bespeak God’s direction, affirmation, and blessing upon the ministry and leadership of women. There is also profound sympathy for those conditions that leave women most vulnerable: widowhood, childlessness, pregnancy, famine, and atrocities in times of war. It is the very breadth of these supportive passages that started many of us on the journey to understand the limited number of scriptural selections that appear restrictive of women and their ministry. Read more
God has given me a vision for the kind of things he wants to do in the lives of his people, specifically in the lives of women—powerful and priceless things that people have not yet understood fully. I share not just out of gratitude but also out of weakness. I share not as somebody who has all the answers. Read more
By the time Jesus came into Galilee preaching and healing, the Israelites had been in exile over six hundred years. Jeremiah had promised that it would only be seventy years. Seventy years away from the land. Seventy years without the temple. Seventy years to contemplate their sins and bemoan their losses. Seventy years to reconnect with their God. And they had gotten back to the land. They had rebuilt the temple. They made sacrifices. They celebrated holidays once again. But it wasn’t what they expected. The glorious prophecies of Isaiah concerning the return from exile seemed to mock their present reality. It seemed to many people in Israel that the exile had been extended from seventy to nearly seven hundred years. Some Jews had begun to wonder if it would ever end! Read more
Paul’s first word to women in this passage was corrective. He wrote, “Women should be silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home.” Read more
In Creation, God made man and woman equal in dignity and status, giving authority and dominion over creation to both (Gen. 1:27-28). They are male and female, differentiated by divine act, yet equal in essence/nature/being and in authority. Read more
As the Word of God in human words, the Scriptures can and do speak with a fresh voice today. It is sometimes hard, however, to read a familiar passage in a new way. The purpose of this essay is a simple one. I hope you will come away with a new understanding of one paragraph in Paul’s letters that deals with women and men in the church. The paragraph in question is 1 Cor. 11:2-16, a passage I have been studying and writing about for over twenty years. Read more
Some Scriptures seem to be known by everyone, and 1 Cor. 14:34 is certainly among them. In fact, if you bring up the topic of women preachers, many Christians can quote Paul’s words: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” Read more
Linda L. Belleville
The battle over women leaders and the church continues to rage unabated in evangelical circles. At the center of the tempest sits 1 Tim. 2:11-15. Despite a broad spectrum of biblical and extra-biblical texts that highlight female leaders, 1 Tim. 2:11-15 continues to be perceived and treated as the great divide in the debate. Indeed for some, how one interprets this passage has become a litmus test for the label “evangelical” and even for salvation. Read more

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