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When editors Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Groothuis’s Discovering Biblical Equality came out in 2005, many were surprised to read its subtitle: “Complementarity without Hierarchy.” “Wasn’t that term ‘complement’ already taken? Didn’t it already mean ‘hierarchical’ by its inherent nature? Was this a case of co-opting a word and attempting to redefine it away from its original meaning?” were the questions to ask. Those who took the time to check it out in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary may have been surprised to read: “1. something that completes or makes perfect . . . 2. The quantity or amount that completes anything . . . 3. Either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart.”1 Read more
A superficial glance at the New Testament in translation, combined with an expectation of a subordinate role for women, results in generalizations that Paul commands women not to teach or have authority (1 Tim 2:11–15), except in the case of older women teaching younger women how to be housewives (Titus 2:3–5), and women are not to teach in official, public, formal positions in the church, but they can teach in informal, private, one-on-one situations in the home. Read more
A perennial and difficult question for conservative evangelicals to answer is the relationship between the Bible and the creeds and confessions of the church. We evangelicals say that we believe in the ultimate authority and sufficiency of Scripture. We thus often hear evangelical teachers saying, “What we believe and teach comes directly from the Bible.” I frequently heard these words as a young theological student, and they rang in my mind for twenty years until one day, when writing an article on “the how” of doing evangelical theology, I came to see they were inherently untrue. We evangelicals draw on a rich theological tradition that impacts heavily on how we interpret Scripture on doctrinal matters. Scripture is our ultimate authority in matters of faith and conduct, but we always come to Scripture with the theology or doctrine we have inherited from our teachers and mentors in our minds. This theology does not spring directly from the pages of Scripture. It is the product of a long process of reflection and debate over many centuries as to what is the primary emphasis, the fundamental insight, given the diverse teaching of Scripture on specific doctrinal issues.  Read more
My interest in women and missions of the 1800s has been reinvigorated by several experiences I’ve had lecturing at Christian colleges and seminaries around the county. Read more
Before I understood enough to describe this nebulous label very well, I would feel the need to begin by offering clarifying statements, like, “Don’t worry, not the kind of evangelicals you see on TV,” or “You know, evangelical as in someone who believes in Jesus and cares about serving others?” I often got confused looks in return and more than a few raised eyebrows. It seemed that for many, ‘evangelical’ was a dirty word.     Read more
“Can I write a paper on a woman interpreter?” asked a student in Marion’s class in the history of the interpretation of the Old Testament. This question opened the door to the world of women interpreters of the Bible from the past. We have discovered thousands of unremembered published works on the Bible written by women, from the period of the early church to the present.    Read more
In 1771, John Wesley received a remarkable letter from devout Methodist convert Mary Bosanquet (1739–1815). With her friends Sarah Crosby (1729–1804) and Sarah Ryan (1724–1768), Bosanquet had been running an orphanage and leading the small-group Methodist gatherings for spiritual growth that Wesley termed “class meetings.” Crosby had in fact been speaking to groups sometimes numbering in the hundreds — though Wesley would not let her call her spiritual testimony “preaching.” Bosanquet too had been leading class meetings, and been criticized for doing it. Read more
As women ministers, evangelists, and preachers began flooding urban, rural, and global mission fields in the 19th century, Christians started to question assumptions about the inferiority of both women and slaves. They did so from a thorough examination of Scripture. These early evangelicals — many of whom were founders of Bible institutes — insisted that gospel values must triumph over cultural values, especially regarding the gifts God has given all people for Kingdom work.  Read more
The Trail of Tears (1838–1839) culminated in the relocation of over 20,000 Cherokee Indians from Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina to northeastern Oklahoma. Estimates are that 4,000 Cherokee men, women, and children died during this journey.  Read more
Is it difficult to take Priscilla Papers to the beach? Not exactly light summer reading? Maybe not, but this issue introduces you to an interesting collection of individuals, any of whose stories would make some novels pale in comparison. Each in her or his own way, some intentionally, and some not, has made a lasting contribution to the egalitarian thought of our authors as they lived lives so remarkable that they have, in their own sphere, become significant figures of history and, in some cases, of legend. Read more