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The topic of gender and justice in the New Testament raises two preliminary questions: First, what modern sense of “justice” and of “gender” is closest to the intent of New Testament writers, and, second, how was gender related to justice in Greco-Roman soci­ety? How we answer these two questions should reveal the rela­tive role of cultural expectations in relation to transcultural ideals the New Testament envisages. Read more
It is no secret that the vast majority of the voices that speak to us from the days of the early church are male. Early church history is filled with stories of famous martyr-bishops such as Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. a.d. 107–8), Polycarp of Smyrna (d. ca. a.d. 156), and Cyprian of Carthage (d. a.d. 258). In addition to these un­forgettable personages, there is also no lack of male evangelists, apologists, and theologians whose views are readily available for anyone who has the time and desire to read them. As an early church historian, I would hardly dissuade anyone from taking up such a task. However, it saddens me that the stories of women, who surely must have made up at least fifty percent of the early church population, go largely untold. Read more
In the time of Herod, king of Judea, a young Jewish girl gave birth to a child who would change the course of history. What is men­tioned of her in Scripture is significant, yet, throughout the cen­turies, the identity and person of Mary has been elaborated upon by Catholics and often overlooked by Protestants. The biblical Mary was a woman who is to be revered not only for her faith in God, but also for what God accomplished through her. However, the metamorphosis of Mary’s identity from humble Jewish girl to semi-divine Mother of God was born out of the tradition of the medieval church, not the Scriptures. Read more
The Bible does not allow gender to be a criterion for eligibility for any office or function in the church. Although in the Semitic/Hebrew culture the subordination of women to men was probably universal, and although there were no early explicit divine prohibitions against female subordination, the climax of special divine revelation in the New Testament repudiates such subordination and teaches the full equality of women and men. This equality is wrongly compromised when gender is made a criterion for church office. In support of the foregoing, the following theses are offered: Read more
Romans 16:3-4) One of the church’s outstanding Bible expositors was St. John Chrysostom (died A.D. 407). He preached consistently through the Scriptures, and many of his sermons are still extant. Here, for the first time in English, is his first sermon on Priscilla and Aquila. Translated from the Greek, by Catherine Clark Kroeger, Ph.D., CBE President, author, and classical scholar. Read more
There are evangelical, Bible-believing Christians on both sides of this issue. The difference between the two is not the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. Both would agree that the Bible is “the only perfect, supreme, infallible and sufficient standard of faith and practice.” The difference is in the area of hermeneutics—how to interpret the Bible and apply its message to life today. Another difference is the cultural background and life experience that the interpreter brings with him to the task of interpretation. No interpreter approaches Scripture totally free of presuppositions. When an issue becomes controversial, people tend to divide between those who are for and those who are against. When this happens, it becomes difficult to approach the Bible with an open mind. We are tempted to look for proof texts to support our views rather than being willing to examine our attitudes and views critically in the light of what the Bible teaches. As J. I. Packer himself argues in “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, we must be willing to subject our judgment to the written Word of God. Read more
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
Today, March 8, 1991, we are celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, both of which occur during the pre-Easter season of the church year known as Lent. In both Western and Eastern church traditions Lent is a several week period of sober preparation for Easter – in the past, and in some churches even now, a period during which candidates prepared for baptism. Lent is also associated with penitential fasting, as Christians recall that they, along with the rest of humankind, are the sinners because of whom and for whom Christ died. It is a time during which we remind ourselves, as Jesus reminded the devil during his own wilderness fast, that we do not “live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4 NRSV). Because International Women’s Day has its roots in the largely-secular history of organized labor and the international socialist movement, we might well conclude that its celebration in the middle of lent is the result of accident rather than design. And yet I discovered during my research for this talk that the motto of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (one of the more militant of the early labor unions) is the phrase “Not By Bread Alone” – the same words with which Moses sent the Israelites into the promised land (Deut. 8:3) and by which Jesus rebuked the devil when tempted to break his forty-day fast by changing stones into bread (Matt. 4:1-4). Read more
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4–5, NASB) Read more

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