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On February 11, 1991, Christianity Today carried an article by J. I. Packer titled “Let’s Stop Making Women Presbyters.” In it Packer asserted that Protestants are abandoning the position traditionally held by Roman Catholics, Orthodox and evangelicals with respect to the ordination of women. Packer attributed the growing trend to five factors: Feminism has infiltrated the church. According to Packer, “feminist ideology demands equal rights everywhere, on the grounds that anything a man can do a woman can do as well if not better.” The socialization of women since World War I has permitted them to enter spheres previously open only to men. The New Testament passages on women speaking in church (1 Cor 14:34-35) and teaching men (1 Tim 2:11- 14) have proved “problematic” both in their interpretation and application. God apparently has blessed ministries led by women. Ordination with its incumbent status and privileges has provided a certain degree of “job-satisfaction” to females in professional ministry roles. Read more
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Old Testament prophecy”? Do you have a vivid picture of Elijah, valiantly opposing King Ahab and denouncing the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel? Or do you think of the Christmas story, where the scholars of Herod’s court tell the king that the Messiah, in fulfillment of prophecy (Michah 5:2), is to be born in Bethlehem of Judea? I think most of us, if asked to explain the nature and function of “Old Testament prophecy”, would define it in terms of foretelling – that is, we would say that the prophets had visions of the distant future, in which they predicted such things as the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth; the final judgment; and the new heavens and new earth. And indeed, the true prophets of God foresaw and recorded these things in their writings that have been preserved and handed on to us in Scripture. But if we view OT prophecy solely or primarily as prediction, then we have failed to understand the true nature and function of prophecy in ancient Israel. Read more
First Timothy 2:11–15, and especially verse 12, has long been a focal point in modern discussions of the ordination of women. Traditional reservations about the ordination of women as pastors and elders have generally made two assumptions in the interpretation of this passage: (1) that the meaning of authentein in verse 12 is clearly known and should be translated simply as “have authority,” and (2) that the appeal to the creation narrative naming Adam and Eve in verses 13 and 14 implies a universal, “transcultural” principle that prohibits the exercise of ecclesiastical authority by women over men in all (or some) circumstances. Read more
Many of us have become embroiled in arguments when the discussion turns to women and the Church. One friend confessed that, to her own surprise, she found herself confronting a complete stranger who had espoused gender hierarchy in the Church. For nearly an hour they pressed their perspectives on each other. Afterwards my friend felt embarrassed by her candid remarks so she apologized. Her acquaintance thanked her for her apology and said, “No need to apologize. You really made me think.”  Read more
I recently participated in an adult education class led by a CBE intern. The class was promoted as an opportunity to explore the biblical basis for women’s Gospel service. We were delighted to have a diverse group attend.  Read more
In York Minster, the cathedral in the English city where I used to live, there is a famous window called “The Pilgrimage Window.” Two panels within this window usually draw the most attention from onlookers. The first shows a knight upon a white horse, holding a triumphant banner. He appears to be venturing forth on a pilgrimage. However, whenever I came to contemplate this window, it was not the knight’s panel that drew me. Read more
I recently had the opportunity to interview three of CBE’s most devoted members: Alvera Mickelsen, Ginny Erickson, and Betty Clark They were crowded around a table in CBE’s office, having volunteered to organize our historical files. As a newcomer to CBE, I had expected a cordial but formal interview (perhaps even with a few awkward silences). Instead, I was surprised and delighted by their sincerity and warmth. They welcomed me into the friendly conversation of longtime companions, openly discussed their lives with me, and asked me about my own life. They displayed all the humility and grace of true disciples of Jesus Christ. Read more
Biblical battles tend to reveal the importance of Scripture in church life. We may not like to admit it, but sometimes it is the Bible (and therefore the church) that loses in our biblical battles. The Bible and the church lose when we fail to read the whole Bible on debatable topics, when we fail to read the Bible as connected to a historical and cultural context, or when are simply too lazy or worn down by debates to spend the time necessary to truly think through a subject. Many of us tire of old debates, finding it easier simply to give in to the first person who comes along with a sense of conviction in what they believe. We’ve been there, done that, and we often feel as if we have nothing new to offer. Read more
If denomination could be passed down genetically, you could say that I’m a Southern Baptist all the way down to my DNA. My family tree grows in Southern Baptist soil, my earliest memories take place in Southern Baptist churches, and even though I have learned from and spiritually matured in a wide variety of other denominations, my heart pumps Southern Baptist blood. I am also an egalitarian because I grew up Southern Baptist. Read more
I was at seminary – being equipped to lead and serve. I studied, I searched, was stretched and learned. Yet I also cried. I cried for myself; I cried for other women. We endeavored to follow God’s will in our lives, but found instead rebuffs, questionings, and disdain. One night in the midst of this time, I wrote the following piece. It shares my personal experiences yet is actually a composite of several women’s struggles. Read more

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