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Priscilla Papers

Book Review: I Suffer Not a Woman

Until now, this reviewer had to acknowledge he simply did not understand Paul's statement: "I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man" (1Tim 2:12).

No explanation rang scripturally true: e.g. "rabbinical male bias" or "a local cultural problem." Exceptions for women teaching or preaching ("only occasionally" or "under male authority" or "if there aren't male missionaries") sounded like semantics.

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."

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Volume 9

The Church is on the defensive these days, attacked by feminists for her long history of condoning patriarchy. Much of the criticism is valid, and most denominations are working hard, as they did when accused of racism, to atone and amend for past and present sins of sexism. 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
Have you ever felt uncomfortable in a church service because of the overwhelming number of masculine references to God? Have you ever found yourself changing the words to a hymn as you sing in order to be more inclusive? Have you ever found yourself counting the number of times a masculine reference is spoken, prayed or sung versus the times a feminine one is used? You will if you read Paul R. Smith’s Is It Okay To Call God “Mother:” Considering the Feminine Face of God (Hendrickson, 1993). An evangelical pastor of a Southern Baptist church for thirty years, Smith has led his congregation through nine major changes; the most recent one has been to recognize “the feminine face of God.” In his book, Smith thoroughly explores this issue, its importance, and objections to it; then he offers practical advice to implement change in the church today. Read more
In my writing I have generally used traditional “male” language for God: he, his, him. Although I do not regard God as a “Super Male in the Sky,” I grew up hearing and reading those male pronouns for God, and the use of them comes naturally to me Read more
My interest in this subject was sparked by the challenging comment of a black woman with whom I shared a class at Northern Baptist Seminary. In the course of our conversations I expressed my growing understanding that racism and sexism were two issues that needed to be dealt with together in the Christian community. More specifically, I asked her how a Caucasian like myself could help to facilitate a greater coming together of black and white women (along with interested men) to work for justice in these matters. Her only comment was, “You don’t even know what the issues are for black women.” Read more
The scandal of the evangelical mind, Mark Noll tells us, “is that there is not much of an evangelical mind” (p.3). The reasons he lists for this are many, and include evangelical over-emphasis on the emotionally-charged experience of conversion, an overly-populist approach to evangelism, a preoccupation with personal sanctification to the exclusion of concern for creation, for society, and for the institutions represented therein, and a fortress mentality left over from the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century. The minimal intellectual life that has survived in fundamentalism — affecting evangelicalism by association — has relied on an uncritical retention of nineteenth century “common sense” epistemology, with its reliance on intuition, its naive confidence in the existence of indisputable facts, and its appeal to Baconian inductivism as the route to sure truth in science and theology alike. Read more
The early American colonist William Penn made this wise statement regarding the freedom of a person’s relationship with God: “Men must be ruled by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.” I heartily agree with Penn, especially if by the word “men” he means mankind. I might rephrase it thusly, “Women in general and wives in particular also must be ruled by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.” Read more
Has anyone ever told you that you can’t do something? And then you just can’t wait to prove you can? I had that experience two years ago when the drain valve on my hot water heater was leaking. My father in Montana told me that I couldn’t repair it and that I’d be without hot water for a week if I didn’t hire a plumber. You’re right. I couldn’t wait to prove to him that I could do it. Read more
One of the major discoveries in the field of community development during the last 10 years is the critical importance of women to the development process. The feminization of poverty is in arguable. Women and girl-children repeatedly pay the highest price for being poor. They get less food, less health care, and less education. Yet they do most of the agricultural work, maintain the family, and rear the children. Read more
As we study Scripture and hear its exposition, it becomes clear that not only are there sins of commission, there are also sins of omission. The Christian community has long recognized this truth; as the Book of Common Prayer says in its General Confession, “... forgive us for what we have done and what we have left undone.” Even secular law courts recognized this danger by requiring witnesses to swear that they will “tell the whole truth...” Read more

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