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Mutuality

In the introduction to his book The Different Drum, M. Scott Peck recounts a mythic tale about a monastery that had fallen on hard times. What had once been a great order had, for several different reasons, deteriorated to the point that there were only five monks left in a decaying main house: the abbot and four others, all over 70 years old. However, in the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi from a neighboring town occasionally used for personal retreats. As the abbot agonized over the fact that his order would likely die with the five monks who were left, it occurred to him that maybe the rabbi could offer some insight that might lead to a revival of the order. Read more
An American journalist covering the ordination of women in the Church of England entitled her article: “Women’s Ordination: A Second Reformation?” As I consider the similarities between reformist movements of the past and the current gender debate within the Church, I see why one might refer to it as a “reformation.” Read more
I have an interest in passion plays, so when my pastor asked me to serve on the Easter drama team with a small group of fellow believers, I eagerly agreed. As a team, we worked on the production with one goal — to express the incredible sacrifice Christ made on the cross. Our team was made up of three males and three females. Initially I wondered: would the males want a production that dealt with the facts of the Gospel message while the females sought a more emotional experience? If I stuck to my guns on a point, would I be seen as aggressive? However, as we dug ardently into our task, gender differences fell away. Looking back, I see a tiny snapshot of God’s plan for his people — a plan where believers work side-by-side with love, hope and purpose. Read more
Some time ago, the movie Legal Eagles featured a scene in which two lawyers, a man and a woman, organized some ship- ping invoices. One of them put the invoices in piles according to the size of the shipment; the other organized the invoices according to the shipment’s destination. They kept redoing each other’s stacks to make the division more “logical.” In my experience, that’s too typical! What seems logical to women seems illogical to men. What seems to be a natural and effective way of organizing work to a man looks confused and haphazard to a woman.  Read more
“Can you stay late again tonight to help me work out one last kink in the budget?” Pastor Keith gently urged Sarah from the doorway of her office. Sarah glanced at her watch, then back at Keith. His big blue eyes won again. “Sure, I’ll come to your office as soon as I make a quick call home.” Her heart began to race a little. She had worked for other pastors before, but never had one of them appreciated her as much as Keith did. She really felt special around him. “Great!” he beamed as he gave her a wink and big smile. By the time Sarah had cleared her desk, made the call and joined him, all the other staff members had gone home. As she entered his office, he jumped up and offered her a chair beside his desk. “You’re an incredible woman, Sarah. You’re the best administrator this church has ever had. Besides that, you bring me more joy than you can imagine!” Keith exclaimed. After that last comment, his face clouded and he added, just above a whisper, “I wish I could say that about my wife.” That she could mean so much to Keith touched Sarah deeply. How she longed to save him from the heartache he was experiencing in his marriage... Read more
As business partners, Charles Arnold and Jaime Nolan share the same goals as most business owners: serving their clients, making a profit, growing their business and maintaining a positive work environment for their employees. However, as Christians their top priority is to remain centered on God’s will. “From the very beginning Charles and I have prayed about every potential client, every potential employee and every potential direction the company can go,” Nolan says. Read more
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s student mission convention, Urbana, has been held every three years since 1946. However, the most recent December convention made 2003 a milestone year. This year’s delegation of InterVarsity students was the most ethnically diverse in the history of the convention. About 39 percent of the 19,000 students who attended the convention were of non-white descent, with Asian/Pacific heritage students comprising 30 percent of the delegation. Read more
When we talk about mutual submission, unconditional love or service through giftedness rather than gender, we are often conscious of the tension between these biblical ideals and the realities of a Church that is still “under construction.” While we pray for and envision a Church in which all Christians may serve through giftedness rather than gender, class or race, we are often sideswiped by the tenacious presence of sin that weakens our witness and drains our effectiveness. At times we are, as Soren Kierkegard suggests, “a glorious ruin.” We seem caught between what theologians call the “already and the not yet.” Church reformers such as Sojourner Truth, Frances Willard and William Wilberforce experienced this tension deeply as they pressed into God’s Spirit to build a society few had dreamed possible — a world without slavery. Read more
C.S. Lewis said that we are more easily beguiled and led astray by statements that are mostly, but not entirely, true. An inaccuracy is made more potent by being comprised largely of truth. This is often the case when it comes to popular Christian literature on what it means to be male or female. For example, one prominent evangelical leader says that the essence of femininity is submission to God. This sounds right, doesn’t it? As devoted Christian women, we long to please God and so we strive to be submissive. Yet, Jesus was totally submissive to God. Does that make Jesus feminine? Aren’t men supposed to be submissive to God too? Perhaps we are misguided because such comments are partially true. Read more
Sister Peng pays a high price to be a Christian in China. She has been arrested many times, and she will go to jail again if the police catch her preaching the gospel. Forced to live as a fugitive, she must sneak into her home at night to visit her husband and young daughter. The first time Peng was taken into custody, just after the Tienanmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989, she was delivering a fresh shipment of Chinese Bibles to some unregistered pastors. She was thrown into a dirty detention cell and tortured with an electric cattle prod in an effort to force a confession of her “crimes.” She shivered in that cell for months. Guards offered no coats, blankets or feminine hygiene supplies. “For eight months I had no contact with anyone. I just ate soup in my cell,” Peng told me when I visited China three years ago. “It is really God’s mercy that he fed me and kept me warm.”  Read more

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Luke Reynold's A New Man: A book review

Kings of smut Larry Flynt and Joe Francis made a lot of Americans uncomfortable in January when they requested $5 billion of stimulus cash from Congress. It is unclear whether the request was earnest or a cynical joke, but most commentators in the media expressed disgust that Flynt and Francis wanted taxpayers' dollars to fund porn. What often went unsaid in these discussions was the awkward fact that taxpayers were pitching in plenty of their own cash for Flynt and Francis already. Government assistance wasn't needed to keep the porn industry afloat; we were taking care of that ourselves.

Book Review: Felicity Dale's The Black Swan Effect

The enduring sidelining of women exists in the contemporary church because so many are convinced that this is the way it is supposed to be—that it is a biblical mandate, a divine commitment to a patriarchal order. The notion of women leading, preaching, and planting churches is still unheard of in many corners of Christendom. The idea of Christian women fulfilling the mission of the gospel on their own without the permission or leadership of men seems about as likely as a flock of black swans flocking into a church yard.

Rachel Held Evans's "A Year of Biblical Womanhood": A Book Review

The topic of "biblical womanhood" is what we could deem a "hot button" topic in certain circles of Christian culture. While many books, conferences, speakers, and pastors have spent a great deal of time and energy encouraging Christian women to pursue "biblical womanhood," the concept itself has also generated a great debate and begs the question: What does the Bible really say about being a woman of faith?

Vulnerability Makes the Man: A Review of Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle

They say clothes make the man. Translation: appearance counts for a lot, even everything. When image is paramount, vulnerability becomes the enemy. It threatens to shatter that image, exposing the person underneath. Nobody says “vulnerability makes the man.” Until now.

Nate Pyle’s new book, Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood calls Christian men to disregard elusive cultural ideals of masculinity in favor of Jesus-like vulnerability, love, and relationship.

Book Review: Borderline by Stan Goff

Stan Goff’s Borderline: Reflections on War, Sex, and the Church offers a fresh, if controversial perspective on the relationship between the church, war, and patriarchy. Goff’s central argument is that war loving and women hating are ultimately two sides of the same coin, driven by the same fears that allow for the rationalization of conquest and colonization.

Book Review: Mentor for Life by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

In Mentor for Life, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson gives us a fresh challenge to develop committed followers of Jesus through mentoring. I found her model and exhortation fresh for its small group approach (in contrast to one-to-one) and for its balance between recommending structure or content and encouraging adaptability as mentors get to know their mentees. The book provides a solid framework rather than a prescriptive “ how-to” manual—or maybe it is inviting because the ample “ how-to” is situated among reminders that God’s gracious work is primary.

Jesus Feminist | Reviewed by Naomi Krueger

“Are you a feminist?” I ask him, purposely provoking a conversation.

“No.”

“Do you believe that women and men are equal in the sight of God and should be treated with mutual respect?”

“Of course! But I’m not a feminist.”

This is a conversation I’ve had many times with male friends and family members. Many times these people tend toward a complementarian perspective and the response is no surprise. Others really do subscribe to egalitarian theology and are simply opposed to using the term “feminist.”

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