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Priscilla Papers

Biblical feminism is an oxymoron—or so I thought when I met Becky Merrill in 1983. She had leanings in this direction, but I did not let that stop me from being interested in her. But time makes fools of us all, especially when God undermines our convictions and replaces them with new insights into old issues. That year Becky joined the staff of The McKenzie Study Center, a campus ministry in Eugene, Oregon, which served The University of Oregon through teaching, writing, and discipleship. Fresh after receiving my bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1979, I joined this ambitious ministry, modeled on the vision of Francis Schaeffer. As a small team of under-funded but earnest evangelicals, we desired to defend and apply the Christian worldview at a secular university. Becky joined us to work as a graphic designer, editor, and writer—all before computers were used for this.  Read more
Christian tradition is sometimes remarkable for the liberties it takes with the reputations of its saints, and in this regard no example springs so readily to mind as that of Mary Magdalene. Tradition has had its field day with the reputation of this once deeply troubled woman; the recent blaze of controversy set by Dan Brown’s incendiary novel, The Da Vinci Code, is only the latest in a series of firestorms stretching back almost two thousand years. Read more
In 1930, a young woman named Gladys Aylward left the suburbs of London and set out for China, convicted that she was meant to preach the gospel to the people of this remote land. Rejected by the China Inland Mission because her “advanced age” of 28 made her too old to learn Chinese, she headed for the mission field entirely without support. Her resources were a meager two pounds nine pence, far short of the ship fare of the time, so her journey encompassed train, boat, bus, and mule before she finally arrived in the city of Yangchen in a mountainous region just south of present-day Beijing. Read more
“If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it—then I know nothing of Calvary love.” The author of these words, Amy Carmichael, spent 55 years in the mission fields of India, rescuing over 1,000 children from temple prostitution and other forms of abuse, and providing them with a home, an education, and spiritual salvation. Her organization, the Dohnavur Fellowship, still thrives 50 years after her death. Read more
Two hundred years before Martin Luther’s reformation, a woman now known as St. Bridget of Sweden (1302-1373) challenged wayward kings, priests, and popes, calling them to repentance. As a young woman married to a nobleman, she dedicated herself to prayer and service to the poor and sick, even as she mothered eight children and served as a lady-in-waiting to the queen. (The royals remained fond of Bridget even as they ignored her pleas for moral and legal reform.) Read more
This study on the prophetess Huldah as found in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 will include a background study of prophets and prophecy of the Old Testament. This study will include a general definition and role of a prophet as nabi and prophetess as nebiah. Other prophetic roles such as roeh and hozeh (seer) will not be included. Also, there is a short study on the message of the prophet and how a true or false prophet is discerned. Read more
John Stuart Mill was a Victorian political and social philosopher. He received a unique and rigorous education starting at the age of three when he learned Greek and went on to be lauded as the first great interdisciplinary mind of the modern world. His most famous works are his Autobiography, Utilitarianism, and On Liberty. Utilitarianism is Mill’s statement of Utilitarian ethics, the principle of which is that the right action is that action which will tend to increase happiness and decrease un-happiness. By happiness Mill means pleasure, both physical and mental, and by unhappiness, pain. Mill’s goal was a collectivist one, the improvement of society. Read more
We are most aware of inner peace—its presence or its lack—in the midst of trial. I expect that was true for Frances Ridley Havergal. A prolific British hymn writer, Havergal created poetic texts for the glory of God, but she also saw writing as her profession and livelihood. With great hopes of reaching a new market, she had signed a contract with an American publisher, but in January 1874 she received devastating news. Read more
The New Testament is the earliest source for Mary. Galatians, possibly written around 57 AD, speaks of Jesus being “born of a woman” (Gal 4:4); that is our earliest reference to the mother of Christ. All the Gospels, probably written between 70 and 100 AD, testify to the existence of Mary. Read more
Perhaps the most influential woman associated with the Welsh and Keswick revivals in Great Britain at the turn of the Twentieth Century, Jessie Penn-Lewis overcame a shy disposition, a victory she credited to the power of the crucified Christ. Preaching throughout Great Britain, Scandinavia, India, Russia, and North America, Penn-Lewis taught the Bible’s affirmation of women in public ministry Penn-Lewis believed the movement of the Holy Spirit, poured out on women and men throughout history, is always in harmony with Scripture. A prolific writer, Penn-Lewis wrote more than thirty books; many were translated into over one-hundred languages and dialects. Her journal, The Overcomer, remains in print today. Acknowledging the power of Christ to abolish the ‘old Adam’ and the hierarchy of men over women, Penn-Lewis wrote The Magna Charta of Women, a defense of women’s public ministry. Read more

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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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