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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: The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity

The terms “page turner” and “doctrine of the Trinity” would not often be found in the same sentence, but they are appropriate in the case of Kevin Giles’s most recent book on the issue. I found this five-chapter account of a recent theological dispute absolutely riveting, even though I already knew how it would end! It is an extraordinary story, told by a major player in the drama.

Book Review: Building Your Family to Last

The secret of building families to last is found in Kari's emphasis on parents modelling the Christian life before their children. If the mother and father— who are responsible before God for what happens in the home—are not walking with God, and not walking in harmony with each other before God, how can they become models to their children? Hence this modelling has to start with choosing a life partner with the same foundation in life and faith and loving obedience to Jesus Christ.

Book Review: Is God the Only Reliable Father?

This small, highly provocative book by a staff associate for the General Assembly Mission Board, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has surprising premises and conclusions, worthy of the careful attention of pastors and serious students of the Bible. Tennis pleads with readers not to abandon the imagery and language of God the Father. Her conclusion is not surprising—but some of her reasons are.

Book Review: Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity

The four-volume Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity (DDL) provides a well-rounded overview of life not only across time periods but also across the several cultures of the biblical world. Thirty-three scholars, including editors Edwin M. Yamauchi (Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University) and Marvin R. Wilson (Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Gordon College), have contributed to the DDL.

Book Review: Gender Roles and the People of God

Theologian and author Alice Mathews recently said in a Christianity Today interview with Hannah Anderson, “Satan knows that if he can keep women out of service, in the church and in the world, he will have won an enormous victory.” Mathews’s most recent book, Gender Roles and the People of God, takes back some of the territory gained by the enemy.

Book Review: Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry

Walter Brueggemann dedicates his seminal work, The Prophetic Imagination: “For my sisters in ministry who teach me daily about the power of grief and the gift of amazement.” As he describes the grief and amazement that together shape the prophetic imagination, he also describes the story of many women in ministry—lamenting what is broken in themselves, the church, and the world while also imagining what can be.

Book Review: The New Perspective on Mary and Martha

Recently, as I was listening to a Christian radio station, the female announcer shared that she was feeling guilty about her busy life. She made reference to the biblical “story of Mary and Martha,” typically feeling at fault because she was not taking ample time to “sit at Jesus’ feet” properly. She went on to say that Martha had it wrong because she was more concerned about her chores than she was about being in the presence of the Lord. These two sisters are examples, one positive and one negative.

Book Review: The Message of Women: Creation, Grace and Gender

As part of the “Bible Themes” series within the larger The Bible Speaks Today collection of Bible commentaries and themes, The Message of Women is an exposition rather than a detailed commentary. It explores the life of women in Old Testament times and in the life of Jesus and the subsequent life of the early church. Without actually saying what is suggested by the title of their work, Derek and Dianne Tidball find a message for the twenty- first century church.

Book Review: Her Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women

Reading Her Own Story is like looking through an ancient, rusty trunk in your great-grandmother’s attic and finding, hidden under yellowing linens and fading daguerreotypes, the journals of a forgotten female relative. The journals make this unheard-of kinswoman come to life in such a way that you feel you know her intimately. She writes of her spiritual journey in all of its joy, splendor, pain, and frustration.

Book Review: Equal to Serve

When I attended the last Sydney Diocesan Synod I was aware that events outside the Chapter House were frequently of greater interest than those inside that hallowed structure. One of the exciting extramural activities was the visit of Mrs.G.G. Hull who spoke lucidly and informatively on the subject of the role of women in the church.

What Mrs. Hull said on that occasion is available on tape from the Anglican Radio Unit and is expanded in this book. The book has as its subtitle, ''Women and Men in the Church and Home".

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