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People sometimes write us to ask where they can find evidence that actual women held official positions of church officership. Professor Greg Horsley of Macquarie University, Australia, has kindly supplied us with the following partial list of references to  women in church leadership. Although we do not usually follow this practice, in this instance we are supplying the bibliographic citations so that our readers may check the material for themselves if they so desire. Read more
One of the earliest women to be ordained in America was Anna Howard Shaw. Even before her ordination, she served as pastor of a Methodist Church (now the East Dennis Community Church)  on Cape Cod. The following is excerpted from her description of her resignation. Read more
There are many great blacks who have influenced our spiritual heritage. We find them both in and out of the Bible. We should like to tell you the story of the priest’s family who took in Moses in his hour of desperation. We know that there are some problems, some different names given in the texts, but our purpose is to nourish our souls rather than to look for difficulties. Let us rather see the story with the eyes of faith. First Corinthians 10:1-11 tells us that the adventures of the children of Israel in the wilderness happened as spiritual examples for us. Certainly the family about which we are talking had much for all of us to emulate. 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
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
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
I was raised Plymouth Brethren. They are a small denomination that began in Plymouth, England and have churches throughout the US and Canada. Both of my parents’ families are well-known in this denomination and have been active in church life for several generations in Canada and Great Britain. Men and women in the branch of the Brethren that I grew up in have different, well-defined roles. There are no clergy and each local church is very autonomous. Each local body is governed by a group of male elders which usually act in this role for life. The Authorized version [King James Version] is uniformly interpreted by all churches and there is a fairly cohesive set of rules and lifestyle options that "we follow”. I learned to read at 2 1/2 and by 3 I understood that (1) women are silent during church services (I could read 1 Timothy myself and my Grandpa told me what it “meant”); (2) teaching children in Sunday school and at women’s meetings are okay, singing is okay; (3) women wear head coverings (same learning process as above); (4) my father required complete and total obedience from my mother and all four of us children. (He had scripture to back him up on this. My mother believes that she should obey not only his specific commands, but what she believes he would want us to do.); (5) I had specific career options which were to get married and stay at home with children, become a teacher or a nurse. Read more
“To promote a woman to bear rule, superiority, dominion, or empire above any realm, nation, or city is repugnant to nature, contumely to God, and the subversion of good order, of all equity and justice.” So wrote the Scottish theologian John Knox in the year 1558 in his book titled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Although he made his points more strongly than many others, Knox was only repeating the widely held notions of his day. He quoted Aristotle and Aquinas, as well as a host of secular authorities, to demonstrate female inadequacies: “Nature, I say, doth paint them forth to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish.” He quoted Saint Paul, along with the ancient Fathers of the Church, to demonstrate the “proper” place of women, and was in full agreement with his contemporary Martin Luther that Kinder, Kirche und Kuche—Children, church and the kitchen, are where women rightly belong, according to the divine plan. Read more
When I was a girl of only seven years old, my father passed away. My mother was left with the job of raising her seven daughters by herself. I realized early on that not having a male in our family was a dishonor. At important events my family felt ashamed because we had no one to represent us to the community, a role reserved for male members of a Korean family. With my father’s death, my family had lost its public voice and had become invisible in the community. As I reached adulthood, I recognized that inherent in the structure of Korean society was gender discrimination. I also recognized that gender discrimination extended even into the Korean churches. When I felt called to attend seminary to train to be a full-time minister, my gender stood as an obstacle. Although others agreed that I had the gift of leadership and that I had been called to ministry, many tried to persuade me to give up my dream, telling me, “Women are not suitable for professional Christian ministry.” Read more
My friend excitedly shared how much he’d enjoyed Dr. Dobson’s September 1999 letter. “Though I support Focus on the Family’s work,” I responded, “I strongly disagreed with one point Dr. Dobson raised in that letter. I am not encouraged by increased support shown in evangelical circles for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Statement on the Family.” My friend stared. He could not understand how any Christian could object. Dobson states that over 100 Christian leaders have signed their support for the SBC resolution, including Denver-based Promise Keepers, Colorado Springs’ Navigators and Focus on the Family, and many other organizations. Dr. Dobson adds that Family Life Ministries and Campus Crusade for Christ have also adopted an expanded version of the SBC statement. How can this be bad news? Isn’t the unity among Christians praiseworthy? Why should I be concerned? I thought about how to answer my friend, and here’s what I concluded: Read more

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