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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
The author of Women as Risk-Takers for God, Lorry Lutz, is currently the international coordinator of the Women's Track of AD2000 and Beyond. Her purpose for accepting this position was to be an advocate for women among Christian leaders so that women would be released to use their gifts for evangelism and discipleship. Read more
Hearing ambulance sirens was nothing out of the ordinary when I worked as a nurse in the emergency department in Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital. But, although I didn’t know it at the time, the sirens blaring one day were signaling a major change in my life. Through the emergency doors came a woman and her 12-year-old daughter. The mother—a single mom— had killed her son, wounded her daughter, and stabbed herself with a knife. Read more
The 1990’s have seen the deterioration of the traditional American family, and the rise of the blended or patchwork family. The normal father, mother, and two children model has become mother, step-dad, brother, step-sister, and sister, etc. Included in the term patch-work family is the broken family, where neither spouses are together any longer, or the people who started the family were not married in the first place. Confronted with the breakdown of the traditional family, we as Christians wonder how to minister to people in non-traditional family structures, and we also wonder what standards we should uphold in our own families. Read more
Ruth Hess felt a call from God. She had attended her monthly meeting of fellow quilters and at the end of their business agenda, one woman suggested that someone could go and teach quiltmaking to the women in the Kingston, Ontario, Prison for Women. God spoke to Ruth in that moment. Read more
It is often assumed that opportunities for women in ministry have expanded over the past century, and that Christian leaders have relaxed their once tight restrictions on women assuming leadership roles in the church at home and abroad. This assumption is well-founded in most mainline churches. Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and some Lutheran bodies have opened wide the doors of ministry on all levels to women. In previous generations these denominations systematically barred women from leadership roles, but, spurred by the feminist movement, they have legislated equality of opportunity for women in recent decades. Read more
Born to a slave mother about 1798 in Princeton, New Jersey, Betsey Stockton was the first unmarried woman missionary ever sent by a North American mission agency beyond the borders of the United States. She went to the Sandwich Islands back in 1822, when James Monroe was president of this young Republic. Read more
Throughout the nineteenth century, women struggled with oppressive interpretations of the Bible that deprived them of their power and dignity. But while Elizabeth Cady Stanton repudiated those portions of Sacred Writ which she found repressive, other women took another tack The most prominent voice declaring the Bible as liberating of women was raised by Katherine Bushnell, a crusader against the forced prostitution of women, and also world evangelist for the WCTU’s Department of Social Purity. Insisting that the Bible fully upheld the rights and integrity of women, Bushnell stated that she and her followers would not yield “one jot or tittle” of the inspired text. Convinced that the Bible’s message about women was one of empowerment and freedom, she developed a hermeneutic designed to challenge the complacency with which supposedly Bible-believing folk countenanced abuses against women. She further composed over one hundred and one studies for women—studies which became the precursor of much feminist thought that was unique in springing from a conservative theology. Read more
Margaret Fell, known to many as the “Mother of Quakerism,” is arguably one of the most fascinating figures in Western religious history. Though frequently overlooked by historians, Margaret Fell played a germinal role in the development of the Friends (Quaker) movement, and her life presents a compelling picture of the power of faith and the cost of discipleship. From her position as an educated woman of power and social standing in Cromwell’s England, Fell was able to defend and nurture Quaker founder George Fox and his followers, many of whom endured persecution or death as the movement grew. In addition to bringing organization and stability to the early Friends movement, she was also an able biblical exegete who authored sixteen books on Quaker distinctives such as pacifism, the role of women in the Church, and eschatology. Fearless in defense of her beloved fellow Quakers, Margaret Fell endured dungeons, met with Kings, and ultimately sacrificed all that she owned for her faith. Read more

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