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As a former missionary I've been intrigued with the American debate over the place of women in the ministry of the church. Some take the position that it is unbiblical to deny leadership and teaching roles to women in the church under any circumstances. Others say that when a church allows a woman to teach, it is denying the inspiration of Scripture. To build the Body of Christ, we must use all our God-given resources. Yet the church is fragmenting itself over the issue of how to use the resources. I argue that the testimony of the whole body of Scripture leaves room for cultural interpretation on the role of women in the church, and thus we must be sensitive to cultural expectations. Read more
Kari Torjesen Malcolm
The call for women missionaries is not often heard today. Often women are left with the feeling “we are only needed because the men fail to go.” Our American culture looks on pioneer missionary work as man’s work because the Church is infiltrated with a worldly and pagan view of women as inferior to men. This view runs contrary to the Gospel of Kingdom of God, and leads women only to go along to support the men. Like pagan cultures, many of our conservative evangelical churches still believe that the public sphere belongs to men, while women’s place is in the home. Read more
In 1664, a young Puritan minister named John Cotton Jr. was found guilty of “lascivious unclean practices with three women.”1 Mr. Cotton was a Harvard graduate, a descendant of well-respected parents, and a husband and father. As a punishment for his sinful deeds, English officials in Massachusetts forced Cotton to give up his pastorate of a local church. The question was, what could he do to support Joanna, his wife, and their children? Puritan leaders found the answer in an unlikely place: Martha’s Vineyard. For many years, members of the Mayhew family had labored as missionaries on the island, trying to teach local Indians about Christianity. The Mayhews needed help, and John Cotton Jr. was sufficiently qualified, in the eyes of the English at least, to preach to Indians. So, in 1666, John Cotton Jr. began a long missionary career on both Martha’s Vineyard and in the town of Plymouth. In many respects, his legacy lasted beyond his death, for his two sons, Josiah and Roland Cotton, preached to Indians in Massachusetts long after their father was gone.2 Other scholarly works have examined male members of the Cotton family and how they interacted with Native Americans.3 In this article, however, I wish to explore the experiences of Joanna Cotton, a wife and mother of missionaries in colonial America. In particular, I will explore the extent to which Joanna fell in line with expectations regarding gender roles in colonial New England. These roles typically involved a degree of female subordination to males. Read more
We have always liked the idea of an equal marriage, but there are vexing questions. Do we both need to earn the same income, or is it better for us to work an equal number of hours? How do we share all the responsibilities of maintaining our home? If we’re both going to work full time, who will raise our children? There are many options, but one solution is to spend less time at work. In fact, for most of our marriage, we have both worked part time.  Read more
Sam had a hard time with the concept at first. He grew up as a Southern Baptist, so the idea of a woman pastor seemed sort of heretical to him. He had always subconsciously imagined that his wife would do everything that his mom used to do for him (cook, clean, pick up after him). The first time we really talked about it was after a Bible study we attended together where Pastor Dora Wang led us to the truth that God doesn’t intend for women to be silent in the church. After that, we had heated debates and arguments and very productive conversations about its implications. We talked about it all the time — in emails during the day, while cooking in the evening, while brushing our teeth late at night. It was an ongoing conversation for days and weeks.    Read more
Q:  My church is unwilling to address the gender debate, feeling that it is too divisive. I have tried many times to advocate for women, but I am labeled as a trouble-maker and a radical. How do I, in a non-threatening way, encourage my church to examine the issue? A: This is a familiar dilemma and there are no easy answers. Perhaps some of the following suggestions will be helpful: Read more
When we were first married, we both sensed a call to full-time ministry, and this calling did not disappear when we had our child. We wrestled with questions like “How does a called couple organize its life to fulfill both callings to minister without costing it its family?” and “How exactly does such a couple balance familial and professional responsibilities?” For some Christians, the answer is that God always calls only the husband to work; wives are to be homemakers and stay-at-home mothers. For egalitarians attempting to pursue God’s call on both spouses’ lives with equal diligence, the solutions may not be so simple. Read more
CBE founder Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian shares the Bible’s vision of transformative community rooted in the reciprocal love and service that characterize the triune God. Read more
Imagine a medium-sized room filled with high school boys and girls. You sit with your friends laughing and joking, discussing the week while the band sets up their equipment. Welcome to high school youth group. Tonight’s message: modesty. The boys are escorted off to another room for this conversation—modesty is an issue for women. This captive audience of young women listens as their youth pastor outlines why and how a girl should be modest. Read more
When Bob Dylan sang “the times they are a-changin’,” he wasn’t kidding. Recently I glanced over at my seventeen-year-old son doing his homework. While he was online doing research for a paper, he was also instant messaging four of his friends-all of this while listening to his iPod and typing words into his research paper. He explained to me that he’s able to work better when he has a lot of stuff going on. It helps his concentration. What a contrast from the time I got irritated at the librarian at the University of Northern Iowa for whispering too loudly while I worked on a research paper. The times they are a-changin’. Read more

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