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Priscilla Papers

A funny thing happened on the way to an issue that was originally planned to emphasize the family The Southern Baptists came to Orlando, not far from my new home, and they were in the news daily as their convention took another step in affirming women as unequal with men. You may recall the furor resulting from action taken at the SBC’s convention two years ago to declare in their official “Baptist Faith and Message” statement that a wife must “submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” Read more
When CBE’s leadership contacted me last fall to ask whether I might consider becoming the next editor of Priscilia Papers, I was taken by surprise. At that moment I was in the throes of selling a home in which I had lived for more than three decades and packing up all my worldly goods for a move to Florida. While I was in no way contemplating a life of idleness in my retirement from full-time editing with Christianity Today magazine, I had not expected God to lay at my feet the opportunity to use my editorial experience in furthering the work of CBE. CT had reported on CBE ‘s growth and development from the very beginning, and I had followed it eagerly; I recall having written a news story for the magazine about an especially memorable national conference in the Colorado Rockies. I had become a member following some turbulent times at my home church over the question of women in leadership in which I was personally involved. Thus CBE’s invitation to me became a challenge I could not refuse. Read more
Like many churches, ours on Boston’s North Shore is invested in a mission in a developing country. In our case, we support a school in Haiti. The vision belonged to one of my students in the first class I taught for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (its Boston Campus) some fifteen years ago. Joseph is himself a Haitian with a burden for a poor village outside of Port-au-Prince. It had an infant mortality rate of more than 80 percent, since the people had to depend on a river for everything— drinking, washing, etc. Read more
When Aída and I were living and ministering in the center of Newark, New Jersey, first as interns in the summer of 1970 and then as missioners in the years between 1974 and 1978, we slowly came to realize that the complex set of social, racial, and economic problems in which our city was enmeshed originated not in itself, but extended as a legacy of oppression from the conquest of the New World itself. More than a decade later, I dissected those problems in the chapter I wrote for our book, The Global God. The deeper we involved ourselves in the imprisoned lives in our neighborhood, the deeper we realized the issues ran with spiritual, practical, and historical attitudes and behaviors that were inexorably intertwined. You can lead someone to water, but they may no longer have the heart to drink it. Read more
Community is one of the most valued gifts that God has bestowed on humanity. Every church I have ever encountered has wanted to be a healthy, supportive, Christian community. The term, after all, is built from the New Testament word koinonia, which means “close association involving mutual interest and sharing, association . . . fellowship, close relationship”—a description every church claims for its identity. Koinonia was brought over into the Latin as communio, transferred to late Middle English as the cognate commuyone, and finally adjusted into modern English. In Spanish it became communidad, in French communauté, describing a group of people living together. Read more
What price do women pay in following God’s call to ordained ministry? For Lou­ise Woosley in 1889, her ordination in Nolin Presbytery cost her the support of her father, her colleagues, and many in the larger Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee, of which the presby­tery was a part. Read more
Ministries come. Ministries go. For the last twenty-six years, my wife and I have been teaching with Gordon-Conwell Theologi­cal Seminary (GCTS). Occasionally, I pause and wonder: How exactly did A. J. Gordon and Russell Conwell pull this off? How did they each establish a ministry that not only lasted throughout their lifetimes, but went beyond and today continues to thrive to­gether? Did they ever imagine that, some­time long after their deaths, people they never met would fuse their two ministries into a powerful institution that would propel their vision for training pastors on into a second century? Read more
The Book of Genesis opens with the words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (my trans.). Since God is eternal, what “beginning” can the text be discussing? Certainly not God’s. God is always existing, which is a concept absolutely inconceivable to us finite creatures who know only beginnings and endings, breakings down and startings up, all of which are limited by time. Obviously, then, the “beginning” Genesis describes is ours—the book commences with the creation of our world. Its opening tells us nothing about pre-creation other than to affirm the fact that God was already there. If it did tell us more, it would have begun in an entirely different way, say, “Long ago, before anything was created, the Great Triune God forever lived in perfect love, peace, and unity in an eternal day without morning or evening, constantly communicating that perfect love among the persons of the Godhead. Verily, this is what the Trinity was like before there was creation and incarnation . . .” and then a lot of details. Read more
Eighteen hundred years ago, a cell group of Christians was arrested during the per­secution of a.d. 202–203 that accompanied a brief stopover at Rome of the pugnacious Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus. At Antioch on January 1, 202, Severus had declared his son Bassianus (nicknamed “Caracalla,” or “greatcoat” for the military outfit he habitually wore) joint counsel with him and returned to Rome, only to set out for a trip to Africa in 203–04. Read more
In the introduction to their important new book, Beyond Abuse in the Christian Home, the editors, CBE founder Catherine Clark Kroeger, Nancy Nason-Clark, and Barbara Fisher-Townsend, underscore the tensions raised when abuse is uncovered in Christian quarters: Read more

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Book Review: Gayle Haggard's Why I Stayed

Gayle Haggard's Why I Stayed is a spellbinding book. My reflections, as I read it, revolved around three separate but related themes—marriage, mutuality, and "healing through meeting." We all see the stories others tell about their lives through the prism of our own. I am no exception. I have been married for fifty years this summer to Ron Sider. Since the late 1970s, we have used, as a guide in our marriage, a Christ-centered hermeneutic of biblical equality.

Book Review: Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen's A Sword Between the Sexes? C.S. Lewis and the Gender Debates

It is interesting that we feel as if we know an author because we have read and appreciated many of his or her books. In my case, I have read and enjoyed numerous writings by British author C. S. Lewis, yet I have never fully understood many of his views. Certainly, over years of reading his fantasy fiction and his classic works of Christian apologetics, I noticed his distinct (and puzzling) attitude toward women, but I never really gave his attitudes deep consideration. I was less familiar with his life story, his education, his youth, his marriage, or his worldview.

Book Review: Millard Erickson's Who's Tampering with the Trinity

I am very happy to have this opportunity to recommend strongly Millard Erickson's Who's Tampering with the Trinity? An Assessment of the Subordination Debate to the readers of Priscilla Papers and to the wider evangelical community in generaL Erickson's book addresses two areas of vital importance to the church: the doctrine of the Trinity and the role of women in the church and family.

Book Review: Curtiss Paul DeYoung's Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century

In Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century: The Bible's Message in an Age of Diversity, Curtiss Paul DeYoung writes a foundational work about the necessity of diversity in developing a holistic Christian theology of community. This book reengages questions introduced in the first publication of Coming Together more than a decade ago. DeYoung uses the Scriptures as a tool of liberation while highlighting historic ways they have been used oppressively as tools of Western thought and colonialism.

Book Review: Women, Ministry, and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms

This fine collection of essays draws upon papers presented at a Wheaton College Theology Conference in April 2005. While they all merit reading and pondering, four struck me as particularly noteworthy: those by I. Howard Marshall, Fredrick J. Long, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, and Timothy Larsen. At the same time, with one or two exceptions, the articles break less new ground than the phrase New Paradigms in the subtitle suggests.

Book Review: The TNIV Study Bible

I am so thankful Zondervan has decided to publish the TNIV Study Bible. When the Today's New International Version first was published in the United States, I asked one Zondervan editor if they would ever print the NIV Study Bible with the TNIV text. The answer was, "Maybe. Let's wait and see."

Book Review: Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches by Dr. Dan Doriani

Dr. Dan Doriani, Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Covenant Seminary and Senior Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo., has written Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches in order to provide a biblical defense for traditional churches that exclude women from official teaching and leadership offices within their congregations. However, his other objective in writing this book is to show that change is necessary. The tradition governing men's and women's ministries in the church can—indeed must—be stretched beyond its current boundaries.

Book Reviews: Women in the Church

Carroll Osburn's second edition of Women in the Church is a welcome contribution to the ongoing conversation on this topic, and he has reworked the book to take advantage of new developments and research. It feels like a textbook, but nonstudents will still glean valuable insights.

Book Review: Women of Influence: Women of Devotion Through the Centuries

Cheryl Forbes's first book, released in 1983 when she held a managerial position at Zondervan, was titled The Religion of Power. As that title suggests, she holds strong views. "At a certain point, a Christian must say no to maneuvers and manipulations, to politics and pretendings."

Book Review: Feminist Theology Through the Ages: Why We're Equal

Val Webb, adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota and author of four books, including In Defense of Doubt, has written an engaging, readable, and mostly historical approach to feminist theology. Her thesis is straightforward and often restated: "The goal of this book is to look at the diversity of the feminist movement and show how limited and inaccurate negative stereotyping is" (p. 3; also see pp. 9, 12, 47).

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