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The student council at the seminary I attended called a special meeting to decide one matter: Should supporters of biblical equality have access to student funds to host forums on gender equality, when only a portion of the student body supports this position? In fact, should gender egalitarians be represented on student council at all? The dean of students came to observe deliberations. No one was in high spirits. In fact, the mood was tense and divided. The discussion was circular, until one voice was raised. Read more
Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) has come a long way in 15 years, according to Susan McCoubrie. As CBE’s first membership coordinator, she remembers when the organization’s membership information was organized in a recipe box on a TV tray. “We were very hopeful, but we knew we were on an uphill battle,” said McCoubrie. “We had to continually prove ourselves as possessing a high view of Scripture.” Since January 2, 1988, when CBE was incorporated as a nonprofit organization, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds, not only in the space required for record-keeping, but in influence as well. Read more
At the heart and soul of our lives as followers of Christ is this: We are trying to walk the talk. In the Scriptures and in the healing witness of Jesus, we have encountered the powerful, life-changing invitation to an alternative way of living. We have been given a vision of the realm of God, and invited to live out that vision in the particular soil of our lives. How do we incarnate Jesus’ values in our life choices? As I seek to answer this question in my own daily life, I find myself constantly confronted with contradictions, with times when my ideal paradigms meet the person I am — my limitations, my gifts, and the challenges of my unique circumstances and social location. Read more
Quick Bible quiz: Name one African person in the Bible. Did you mention Hagar, Simon of Cyrene or Apollos of Alexandria? What about the Ethiopian eunuch, or Queen Candace? If none of these characters came to mind, perhaps it’s due to a lack of understanding of the cultural and ethnic forces at work in the Bible. Understanding these forces can bring new light to familiar passages. For example, even though the word “Africa” is not mentioned in the Bible, the word “Cush” is, which scholars think refers to Ethiopia or to Africa as a whole. Countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya are also mentioned. While they might not correspond exactly to the countries on a 21st century map, they do refer to places in Africa. Read more
In the movie Swing Kids, a German teenager joins the Hitler Youth and is assigned a job delivering packages. At each house a child or woman answers the door, and as the teenager turns to leave after making his delivery, he hears screaming and crying from the house. Shaking with fear, he opens one of the packages to find a gold wedding band in a pile of ashes. Tears of rage and guilt begin to flow as he realizes he has unknowingly participated in a cruel system: delivering the remains of husbands and fathers who have been murdered in the name of Hitler. To be white and middle class in America is to be a participant in a privileged power structure. Often unknowingly, we lay poverty and discrimination at the door of communities of color. The challenge to white middle-class people who follow Jesus is to begin to notice the cries of pain from these communities. Read more
Christians’ attitude towards gender, while having some ambiguities, is on the whole pretty straightforward. Churches often state whether leadership positions are open to women or only to men. In relationships between men and women, people usually either believe that the Bible teaches mutual submission or distinct roles. The church’s attitude toward race, however, is hard to nail down. Most Christians would assert that people are equal regardless of race, and few would openly discriminate against people of color. Yet this spoken equity and unity isn’t always visible on Sunday mornings: Our churches are often painfully homogenous. Read more
C.S. Lewis once wrote that “the unhistorical are usually, without knowing it, enslaved to a fairly recent past.” The same might be said for the conclusion that evangelical egalitarianism is merely the child of the radical feminism of the 1960s and ’70s.  Read more
Surprises are usually associated with the future—with something unexpected just around the corner. But surprises can also sneak up on us from the past. Sometimes the biggest surprises are discovered in the history we know the best—our own.  Read more
Missionaries often speak of the invisibility of culture. By that they mean that most of us are not conscious of our own cultural idiosyncrasies. What is more, we are tempted to insist others adapt to our culture, because we view ours as normal and good! Missionaries have long recognized the dangers present when we tempt to impart our culture in addition to the gospel.  Read more
Q: My church does not believe that women should be elders, based on the phrase in 1 Timothy 3 that says elders must have one wife. Does this phrase really exclude women and single people from being elders? How should I approach this subject at my church? Read more

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