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I wish I had encountered Phoebe Palmer (1807-74) about 25 years ago when wrestling with the issue of the role of women in the church loomed heavily on my heart and mind, and had surfaced in our church as well. Palmer's underlying thesis is that the promise of the Father to pour out his Spirit on all flesh, male and female, and that sons and daughters would prophesy, relates to the role of women in the church today.  Read more
Priscilla Papers thought it would be helpful in this discussion of the Southern Baptist Convention and women to ask for her perspective on issues that are related to the recent changes to SBC faith statements. Read more
The only church life I have known has been Baptist. My early rearing was in an SBC-related church. Mine was a conservative church upbringing; I was given a Scofield Reference Bible when I was ordained. Read more
Historically, Baptists have pretty well reflected culture on this issue as they did on the race issue. Baptist women, as in most denominations, are vital to the church. Nevertheless, they have been pretty much relegated to a secondary role, To some degree, the movements of the late 1800s and 1900s gave more freedom to Baptist women, though—being mainly in the South—the Abolishionist movement affected Baptists less than the rest of the culture. Read more
Biblical scholars are aware that “Cush” sometimes refers to all of Africa, sometimes to all of Africa except Egypt, and sometimes to ancient Nubia, stretching from modern Aswan in the north to Khartoum in the south. Today most of this area lies in the Sudan. But how is the general reader to understand that Cush and Cushite (used 57 times in the Hebrew Bible) are in fact a designation for an African nation and people? Some versions of the Bible translate “Cush” as “Ethiopia,” but this does not ordinarily designate the modern country of that name. David Adamo has suggested that the best translation is simply “Africa.” Read more
I’m really not against the family—honest. Just ask my wonderful wife of 18 years and my three (great) kids. I’m really not against the Bible—really. I spent 13 years working toward a doctorate so that I could teach the Bible as a Southern Baptist seminary professor. What I am against is the disgusting and deceptive way that some use the Bible to oppress and manipulate faithful, honest church folks. Read more
Perhaps the most influential woman associated with the Welsh and Keswick revivals in Great Britain at the turn of the Twentieth Century, Jessie Penn-Lewis overcame a shy disposition, a victory she credited to the power of the crucified Christ. Preaching throughout Great Britain, Scandinavia, India, Russia, and North America, Penn-Lewis taught the Bible’s affirmation of women in public ministry Penn-Lewis believed the movement of the Holy Spirit, poured out on women and men throughout history, is always in harmony with Scripture. A prolific writer, Penn-Lewis wrote more than thirty books; many were translated into over one-hundred languages and dialects. Her journal, The Overcomer, remains in print today. Acknowledging the power of Christ to abolish the ‘old Adam’ and the hierarchy of men over women, Penn-Lewis wrote The Magna Charta of Women, a defense of women’s public ministry. Read more
In the early 1800s, Texas was frontier territory. As one historian noted, settlers believed “Indians were to be killed, African Americans were to be enslaved, and Hispanics were to be avoided.” In the 1830s these “Texicans” built a Baptist church at Independence that had two doors: one for white males and the other for “women and other creatures.” Read more
From ancient times and in almost every culture the role of women has been questioned, debated, and regulated. At present in the evangelical Christian church, much of the debate centers on theology as it defines the role of women in ministry. Actually, different biblical passages and different interpretations of the same passages give rise to quite different theologies. On the one hand, when the focus is on a few selected verses in the Bible that seem to restrict the ministry of women, a restrictive theology of ministry is the result. On the other hand, when the seemingly restrictive verses are put in their cultural and historical context and when the whole of Scripture is taken into account, a theology is revealed that supports women’s mutuality with men in all forms of Christian ministry according to the gifts of the Spirit. Read more
After languishing in obscurity for many years, the work of Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874) has been rediscovered by church historians and scholars. Although virtually unknown today, Palmer was a widely-recognized religious figure in her day—a woman whose concern for the holy life enabled her to transcend the limitations of both gender and denominational affiliation. As a premier proponent of “the holiness way,” Palmer functioned as teacher, writer, social activist, theologian and evangelist for the cause of Christ. She desired nothing less than full consecration to God, and her passionate devotion compelled her into the pulpit and onto the printed page. Consumed by the divine fire of God’s call, Phoebe became a dominant force in the nineteenth-century Holiness Movement, “a woman to whom thousands of people looked for leadership, and by whom thousands were instructed, in a time when women were not generally accorded positions of leadership or authority in American culture.” The brief biography that follows is intended as an introduction to this amazing woman. It is also offered as encouragement for all who, like Phoebe Palmer, desire nothing less than to be used fully of God. Read more

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