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Priscilla Papers

Book Review: Beyond the Curse

Subtitled "Women Called to Ministry," Dr. Spencer's book presents a new look at Scripture's description of women's roles. She writes, "Whole dimensions of God, ministry, education and theology are being obscured and ignored if women are not properly trained, then invited, even more so welcomed, to participate as significant and affirmed once they do lead." Dr. Spencer reminds the reader that "God has often surprised the church by the workers He sent out."

Book Review: How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership

Alan Johnson, emeritus professor of New Testament and Christian ethics at Wheaton College (Illinois), has put together autobiographical accounts of twenty-seven evangelical leaders, both men and women, from many denominations. These stories recount journeys from belief in a restrictive role for women to a realization of freedom for women to use all their gifts and callings for God’s kingdom. In many of these accounts, the implications for Christian marriage are brought out: a side-by-side partnership of mutual love and submission, where no one is “boss” and no one needs to dominate.

Book Review: Christian Standard Bible

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The CSB was published in March 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
 

Book Review: Does God Make the Man? Media, Religion, and the Crisis of Masculinity

Does God Make the Man? is a fascinating look at how evangelical and ecumenical men process the messages they hear about masculinity from religion and media. The authors organized focus groups and recorded hundreds of hours of conversations to see if religion is vital to developing masculine identity. They conclude that, although evangelical men may claim to learn gender roles from the Bible, the actual sources of this knowledge are media and culture.

Book Review: Women's Socioeconomic Status and Religious Leadership in Asia Minor in the First Two Centuries C.E.

This book is a PhD dissertation, published in Fortress Press’s selective “Emerging Scholars” series. Indeed, it reads like a dissertation, and only specialists will resist the urge to skim through the survey of scholarship and explanation of method in the introduction and first chapter. (That is not to say these sections are of no value.)

Book Review: Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle's Vison for Men and Women in Christ

In the often-heated evangelical debate concerning the ordination of women, one struggles to find a coherent and exhaustive work that covers more than the relevant Pauline texts. For example, the respected works by Philip Payne and Craig Keener provide concentrated exegesis on the significant Pauline texts.1 Cynthia Long Westfall’s recent book offers a larger interpretive framework for the evangelical gender debate, a framework that is lucid, compelling, and profoundly refreshing, and one which does not miss the theological forest for the exegetical trees.

Book Review: What's Right With Feminism

Many people are aware that women's wider opportunities to use their leadership gifts in both society and the church are due primarily to the efforts of women's movement—a feminist movement that began in this country in the mid-eighteen hundreds and was closely allied with the abolitionist movement. Yet as Christian women confront the complex (and often negative) baggage carried by the word "feminist" today, these women can often feel ill-equipped to sort out the many social and theological issues regarding women's roles in the nineteen nineties.

Book Review: Call Me Blessed: The Emerging Christian Woman

Faith Martin begins her book by stating: ''In the eyes of the church, a woman's humanity is overshadowed by her being perceived as a sex. Woman is the spiritual equal of man, but the church teaches that a woman's sex prevents a practical working out of that equality...All of this contrasts with the Holy Scriptures. When reading the Bible I am not conscious of my sex but conscious of my humanity. And so felt the women who flocked to Jesus. No man before or since has treated women as so completely human."

Book Review: Gender and Grace: Love, Work & Parenting In a Changing World

Gender and Grace is simultaneously one of the most challenging and most reassuring examinations of male-female relationships written from a Christian perspective. A professor of interdisciplinary studies at Calvin College, Van Leeuwen brilliantly integrates insights from faith and science, maintaining that the Bible provides the basic framework on which all our more detailed solutions to human problems must be founded.

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Volume 11

For the past few years, I have been a close watcher of the Promise Keepers movement. This has included assiduously reading each issue of New Man magazine from cover to cover, keeping up with other movement literature, and in a temporary journalistic capacity attending a Promise Keepers stadium rally (Pittsburgh, July 1996). This included an opportunity to ask questions at two press conferences featuring Promise Keepers media representatives and leaders such as Bill McCartney and Raleigh Washington. At the same time I was watching the stadium event from the exalted heights of the press booth I persuaded a woman friend and fellow Christian feminist from Pittsburgh to spend half a day as one of the thousands of volunteers needed to run such a weekend. As well as getting a substantial box lunch and a special blue volunteer’s T-shirt, she was able to take stock of the general atmosphere while taking orders for taped lectures inside one of the exhibition tents. Read more
As the role of men in families is debated in America, since 1991 the rapidly expanding evangelical (Promise Keepers) men’s movement has sponsored conferences filling major sports stadiums. This organization aimed to reach over a million men in 1996, and to sponsor a million man strong prayer rally in Washington, DC, in 1997. Christian bookstores are creating new “men’s" sections for the many new books on masculinity being produced by most of the conservative Protestant publishing houses. A survey of these books shows that the books do not display a monolithic “return to traditionalism" approach to the changing issues of gender and family relationships. Instead there are at least three additional approaches to gender issues: 1) seeking the “essence(s) of masculinity" by the use of archetypes drawn from psychology, 2) helping men to build new egalitarian relationships with their “sisters in Christ,” and 3) a pragmatic approach from family counselors seeking to help men communicate and help families stay together. These alternative approaches provide room for evangelical men to maintain evangelical distinctives yet also cope with changing social realities. The Promise Keepers movement by the official use of their name seems to be endorsing the pragmatic approach rather than a pure return to traditionalism. Read more
The Hebrew view of marital sex, in contrast with Neoplatonism and early church, was not celibate. The Jews were never prudish about sex. The best evidence of this is the high place Solomon's Song of Songs, an ancient collection of poems on courtship and love, holds in the canon of Hebrew Scripture and in the worship of the synagogues, where it is usually read on the 8th day of Passover. Read more
The newly formed Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, co-chaired by Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, is seeking to maximize the impact of the Violence Against Women Act by recruiting the collaboration of national leaders from law enforcement, the media, colleges and universities, sports, health care, primary and secondary education, the corporate workplace and also from religion. On October 11, 1996, leaders from many faiths and religious groups gathered in Washington DC at an interfaith breakfast, with President Clinton as honorary chairperson of the event. The Attorney General gave the key-note address, and leaders of various faith communities were asked to respond briefly. Speaking for evangelicals, Catherine Kroeger made the following remarks: Read more
I have been told on a number of occasions that men who adhere to an egalitarian view of the marital relationship and who see no ministry restrictions for women in the church approach the Bible from some personal bias that keeps them from seeing the truth. What usually follows in the conversation (lecture) is armchair psychologizing as to why such men want or need to hold an egalitarian view. I find armchair psychologizing somewhat specious and boring when it occurs among my professional colleagues, so I am quite intolerant when laypersons enter into such endeavors, particularly when I know they are applying their theories to me! Nevertheless, in violation of my own rules in this regard, I offer some of my ideas as to why men have a psychological investment in holding to a hierarchical view and thus may show little willingness even to entertain the possibility that an egalitarian view could be scriptural. Read more
I recently read a letter by a young woman struggling with the issue of women in ministry. She was torn because her father, a wonderful man of God, believed strongly that women were not to be ordained to ministry. “How can I question the beliefs of such a passionate godly man?” she asked. But passion for God does not guarantee correct belief. Read more
How should women be involved in Kingdom ministries? Which specific ministries are to be opened to them? Should any remain closed? How shall we decide? Read more
The Bible does not allow gender to be a criterion for eligibility for any office or function in the church. Although in the Semitic/Hebrew culture the subordination of women to men was probably universal, and although there were no early explicit divine prohibitions against female subordination, the climax of special divine revelation in the New Testament repudiates such subordination and teaches the full equality of women and men. This equality is wrongly compromised when gender is made a criterion for church office. In support of the foregoing, the following theses are offered: Read more
There are evangelical, Bible-believing Christians on both sides of this issue. The difference between the two is not the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. Both would agree that the Bible is “the only perfect, supreme, infallible and sufficient standard of faith and practice.” The difference is in the area of hermeneutics—how to interpret the Bible and apply its message to life today. Another difference is the cultural background and life experience that the interpreter brings with him to the task of interpretation. No interpreter approaches Scripture totally free of presuppositions. When an issue becomes controversial, people tend to divide between those who are for and those who are against. When this happens, it becomes difficult to approach the Bible with an open mind. We are tempted to look for proof texts to support our views rather than being willing to examine our attitudes and views critically in the light of what the Bible teaches. As J. I. Packer himself argues in “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, we must be willing to subject our judgment to the written Word of God. Read more
Some time ago, J. I. Packer published a short piece in Christianity Today, titled “Let’s Stop Making Women Presbyters.”2 As the title suggests, this piece is a straightforward example of the age-old attempt to justify the treatment of women as second-class and substandard— an oppressive gesture, even if unintended as such. However, if Patricia Hill Collins is correct in saying that oppressive situations are inherently unstable, then it stands to reason that somewhere in Packer’s argument there will be instability or contradiction which undermines his argument. That is not to say that the contradiction will be obvious or easy to spot. Very possibly because they do not see themselves as oppressors, many apologists for oppression are very good at dissimulating, obscuring, or even ignoring the contradictory nature of their positions. Nevertheless, through a careful reading of Packer’s essay, I hope to point out and explain the way in which his argument betrays itself and comes undone. Read more

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