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Mutuality

In the first century church, Paul and his fellow workers fought mightily for the Lord. Many Christians then — and throughout the following centuries — suffered persecution, loss, torment and death to serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel message: Christ has died for our sins; he is our salvation, our redeemer and our most holy Lord. But today, the Church itself persecutes some Christians simply for believing God equally gifts men and women. These persecuted Christians believe so earnestly in the truth of biblical equality that they are willing to stand firm and accept loss rather than turn their backs on that belief. For over a decade, Christians for Biblical Equality has bestowed Priscilla and Aquila awards upon those who have stood firm in their convictions. • Joe and Audra Trull, who accepted early retirement from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary rather than agree with the Southern Baptists 1998 “Family Statement,” which stated that women were to “graciously submit” to their husbands. • Dan Gentry and Barbara Kent, who resigned their positions at a Southern Baptist seminary after they were asked to sign the new statement. • Alan Brehm, a New Testament professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, resigned his professorship rather than sign his name to the statement. Read more
CBE has recently become the subject of unexpected news coverage. Our ministry has been featured in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Baptist Press. That these stories have led to numerous radio shows is both exciting, and somewhat curious. Why are the leaders of religious news so interested in CBE? Read more
Americans lead busy lives, and Vanessa Chitwood was no exception. Since the beginning of her marriage, Chitwood had worked to part-time as a nurse support her growing family. She also enjoyed volunteering at her local church. Still, she felt God wanted more from her. “There were areas of my life I kept under my own control. God was speaking to me about the need to give everything to him.” One day in 1996 she pulled her car into a parking lot and breathed a prayer of complete surrender to God. Eighteen months later Chitwood felt called to full-time ministry, but uncertainties kept her silent. It was not a direction she would have imagined for herself. “I kept these feelings to myself for about a year, thinking I was crazy, but the desire to serve just grew deeper, and in 1998 I acknowledged the call to my family and pastor and the process began.” Read more
Editor’s Note: Mary Katherine Campbell, a 60-year-old veteran missionary to Togo, West Africa, and a cancer survivor, returned to her field of service on Sept. 3, using her savings and contributions from friends. Campbell was one of the missionaries terminated by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for not signing the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. She wrote this letter to family and friends explaining her situation. I was among the nearly 100 foreign missionaries who could not in good conscience sign the oath of affirmation of the revised 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Many of my colleagues in our worldwide missionary force of 5,000-plus were able to sign it; some gladly, some reluctantly. Among those of us unable to sign, most either resigned or took early retirement, but 13 held out until “termination” was voted on May 7, 2003, by the board of trustees. Why couldn’t I sign the document? For 18 months, my mind and heart churned with the doctrinal changes made to the statement and the motivation behind the request to affirm it. I listened to colleagues as we debated it and the so-called “statement of accountability,” and read everything I could about the arguments, pro and con. I prayed, read scripture and sought God’s will for my own life. I reviewed the changes made in my beloved Southern Baptist Convention during the last 20-plus years, and I deeply resented the more recent accusations of heresy against the missionaries made by some of the current Southern Baptist leaders. I listened to respected colleagues say, “Just sign the piece of paper and go on with your work.” But I couldn’t honestly do that. Read more
This is a letter Ron Hankins wrote after the International Mission Board ordered missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Over 27 years ago, I came to Japan with the International Mission Board as a journeyman. Here I met another journeyman — Lydia Barrows, the woman I would later marry. As God led us both into full-time Christian service, we returned to the United States, got married and headed for seminary. After graduation, we were both ordained in Lydia’s home church into the “full gospel ministry.” Each of us was appointed to Japan as a “general evangelist” to start and lead churches. There wasn’t a “church and home” designation for Lydia — she was called by God and trained by Southern Baptists to be a church starter and pastor. Read more
Seven years ago, just a few quarters shy of college graduation, I discovered the cost of my belief in biblical equality. I chose to ask questions and push boundaries, but those actions had consequences. This fall, thousands of students across the country started their freshman years at Christian colleges. Ten years ago, I was one of them. As a journalism student, my experience was probably quite different from what the majority of my peers experienced. Journalists are trained to observe, to notice incongruities and to question. And while these characteristics won the respect and friendship of a few professors and staff members at the school, we journalists also gained enemies — particularly among the administration. Read more
At its yearly convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America passed a statement opposing abortion, pornography, homosexuality — and female pastors. For Southern Baptist leaders, these issues hang together. They assume that on their side of the culture war, Christians must oppose these practices as a piece. It is only the liberal, secular, or religiously compromised people on the other side who think differently. The press has also tended to present the issue in these polarized terms. Read more
“I felt angry as I observed a woman dressed in a robe seated where our pastor normally sits. Was she actually going to preach from behind the pulpit? Women never addressed women and men in our church, let alone clothed as a pastor and from behind the pulpit. “Listening attentively, I waited for her to utter something heretical to confirm my feelings that God had not called women to preach or teach adults. Even though it was surprising to hear a female voice, I had to admit that I really couldn’t find anything wrong with what she said. Her message was definitely biblical, and she was excellent! The more I thought about it, the more it made sense that women could talk about Jesus too. After this I began to seriously study the Scriptures, and I found that the Bible doesn’t condemn women in ministry; it actually supports them! I continue to ponder my prejudice.” Read more
Like most of the other kids that grew up in Good News Baptist Church, my testimony begins with the day I asked Jesus into my heart as a 5-year-old girl in Vacation Bible School. But 20 years later, as I prepared my statement of faith for my application to seminary, I realized something about my testimony that I had never noticed before. As I bowed my head to pray, I remember feeling disappointed that the pastor’s wife was praying with me instead of the pastor. Although she was a godly woman, I thought that somehow if he led me in prayer it would count more than his wife’s prayers. I wished that I could sneak away and join the children who got to pray with the pastor. Read more
A product of middle-class suburbia in the 50s and 60s, I was raised in a world well defined by gender-based stereotypes. A woman’s place was in the home and a real man wouldn’t be caught dead doing “women’s work,” which was less important and less valuable than real work you got paid for. In athletics, I learned not to run or throw like a girl, and when hurt, not to cry like a girl. At home, at school, and at play, I learned boys did things better than girls and men were superior to women. Read more

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Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge: A book review

While enjoying Valentine's Day dinner this year, my husband and I talked about the joys of being married. When he asked me what has been the most pleasant surprise of the past three years, I thought for a moment, slowly smiled, and said, "Marriage has been a lot easier than I thought it would be."

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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