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Priscilla Papers

At least 10% of the people in developing countries have functional limitations, said a 1984 World Health Organization report. Of these, women and girls receive proportionately less food, less education and less opportunity. Women with physical limitations are the poorest of the poor. Read more
Whereas I see no need to defend, only to lament, the sexism of Christendom, I do think feminine Christians should think again about what Jesus himself taught. Jesus was a man. How did his maleness affect how he related to, and what he taught about, women? Read more
As one might expect, much of the research in the area of wife abuse has been done by feminists, some of whom themselves have been victims of wife beating. They speak with an understandable bitterness and anger toward a society so insensitive that it only publicly acknowledged the plight of battered women decades after having established laws to prohibit the abuse of animals. And often they have given up on the hope that change will come through social institutions such as the church. Rather than seeing the church as part of the solution to the abuse of women, they almost unanimously perceive the church as a big part of the problem. Read more
In 1664, a young Puritan minister named John Cotton Jr. was found guilty of “lascivious unclean practices with three women.”1 Mr. Cotton was a Harvard graduate, a descendant of well-respected parents, and a husband and father. As a punishment for his sinful deeds, English officials in Massachusetts forced Cotton to give up his pastorate of a local church. The question was, what could he do to support Joanna, his wife, and their children? Puritan leaders found the answer in an unlikely place: Martha’s Vineyard. For many years, members of the Mayhew family had labored as missionaries on the island, trying to teach local Indians about Christianity. The Mayhews needed help, and John Cotton Jr. was sufficiently qualified, in the eyes of the English at least, to preach to Indians. So, in 1666, John Cotton Jr. began a long missionary career on both Martha’s Vineyard and in the town of Plymouth. In many respects, his legacy lasted beyond his death, for his two sons, Josiah and Roland Cotton, preached to Indians in Massachusetts long after their father was gone.2 Other scholarly works have examined male members of the Cotton family and how they interacted with Native Americans.3 In this article, however, I wish to explore the experiences of Joanna Cotton, a wife and mother of missionaries in colonial America. In particular, I will explore the extent to which Joanna fell in line with expectations regarding gender roles in colonial New England. These roles typically involved a degree of female subordination to males. Read more
“The problem of patriarchy in the church is the problem of male as norm,” charged British author Elaine Storkey at a recent meeting of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) in St. Paul, Minnesota. Read more
At the evangelical colloquium on women and the Bible October 9-11, 1984 in Oakbrook, Illinois (see the papers in Women, Authority, and the Bible, ed. A. Mickelsen, Inter Varsity Press, 1986), I introduced the section on biblical hermeneutics (the art of interpreting Scripture) by saying that the most crucial issues for evangelicals in the modern world of biblical studies were not in the arena of the so-called "Battle for the Bible" (inerrancy and authority). Important as these considerations may be, the hermeneutical issues are still more critical. Read more
When we say, “We are persuaded from Scripture that masculinity and femininity are rooted in who we are by nature,”1 what do we mean by “nature”? How do we relate our view of nature to our understanding of the role of women? In this article, I will examine how John Calvin, to whom contemporary Reformed churches owe so much for their confessions and practices, used the argument from nature to understand the role of women as different from that of men. Read more
Former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China said, “The speed of a fleet is judged not by the fastest ones in the front, but by the slowest ones trailing at the end.” This imagery, unintended though it was for the women’s movement, provides a vivid depiction of women and girls who are left behind. Though gender equality has seemingly made significant strides inside and outside the church in the past few decades, there remain many overwhelmingly horrid stories of women and girls whose lives are severely broken by extreme abuse and exploitation. In the biblical framework of creation-fall-redemption, and against the cultural backdrops of China and Cambodia, we look into God’s intention in restoring lives of these violated girls. Read more
Ideas have consequences. This is particularly true in addressing domestic violence. Men who abuse hold ideas—or, as we will term them, beliefs—that support their abusive behaviors. And, like the verbal abuse and lethal neglect of Nabal in the biblical account of 1 Samuel 25 that nearly led to his own and the death of his servants and children, such behaviors have dire consequences for the men themselves and those who live with them: wives, aging parents, partners, and children. To understand the cycle of abuse and the beliefs that support it, we must first understand the details and reality of those living in abusive homes by defining terms, reviewing the types and frequency of abuse, and examining the beliefs of men who abuse as well as assessing the consequences of these beliefs—and the subsequent actions they engender—on their female partners and children who witness abuse. Finally, I will close with some basic tenets in challenging men who abuse and their belief systems. The standard in the domestic violence field is to address the issue using multidisciplinary teams or coordinated community responses. Read more
The unilateral authority of males is evident in shaping nearly every culture throughout history. Further, when patriarchy is framed as a biblical ideal, it is not only at odds with the teachings of Scripture and the purposes of God’s covenant people, it also becomes a deadly spiritual disease that chokes life all around it. As Jesus said, if the fruit is bad, the tree also is bad (Matt 7:17–20). This is not to say that gifted men should not exercise authority, but, at the same time, they should affirm the gifts and authority that God grants women as well, working mutually to lead and serve the church and the world. As a balance, it was thrilling to see three women receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for their courageous activism in advancing democracy and justice for women. Three days later, a blog appeared by CBE member Jenny Rae Armstrong, who wrote: I haven’t stopped grinning since I heard the news about the Nobel Peace Prize recipients. You see, it was in Liberia that I first witnessed the true ugliness of gender injustice, first understood that a tiny seed of pride and superiority dropped into the heart of a man would blossom not into a sheltering tree but into an ugly, invasive weed that choked...life...around it. Read more

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Book Review: Man and Woman, One in Christ

The research of Philip Payne is exceedingly important for all who are concerned about justice for women. Over the years, gifted women and those who support their cause have treasured the work of Dr. Payne—each of his articles, presentations at learned conferences, and accessible Bible studies. Year in and year out, he has been there for us, by his patient handling of Scripture authenticating the legitimacy of women in ministry.

Book Review: The ESV Study Bible

Christianity Today (March 2009) 21 reports the ESV Study Bible sold 100,000 copies prior to its release. Its goals are admirable: "Within that broad tradition of evangelical orthodoxy, the notes have sought to represent fairly the various evangelical positions on disputed topics" (11). "Emphasizing word-for-word accuracy . . . it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original . . .

Book Review: Kenneth Bailey's Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes is appropriate for laypeople who are motivated to study the Bible, as well as pastors and scholars. Kenneth Bailey intentionally writes in a way that those outside of the circle of scholarly discussion can hear and apply some of the important insights and contributions that emerge from the dialogue. He is well qualified as an author, lecturer, and emeritus research professor of Middle Eastern New Testament studies for the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. He lived in the Middle East for sixty years.

Book Review: William and Aída Spencer and Steve and Celestia Tracy's Marriage at the Crossroads

Many of us have longed for a sane, nuanced conversation around differing viewpoints on gender issues in marriage. The Spencers and Tracys have given us that conversation in this fine book. This is not a debate pitting egalitarian against complementarian and vice versa. This is a genuine conversation in which each couple has laid out their beliefs about the nature of Christian marriage, issues of headship and submission, marital roles and decision making, and, finally intimacy.

Book Review: Margaret Köstenberger's Jesus and the Feminists

How would feminists answer Jesus' question: "Who do you say that I am?" (Matt. 16:15). This is an intriguing question raised by Margaret Köstenberger (adjunct professor of women's studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Book Review: Mignon R. Jacob's Gender, Power, and Persuasion

In Gender, Power, and Persuasion, Mignon Jacobs examines the ancient Genesis narratives with fresh insight and clarity. She weaves together both a faithful identification of key texts and a modern "multicritical" analysis of those texts. Indeed, this book is particularly relevant for egalitarians looking for different methodologies to address the gender issues of the familiar Genesis stories.

Book Review: Laceye Warner's Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice

The church's patriarchal past (and present) is notorious for hiding and diluting the work of women for the kingdom of God. Laceye C. Warner removes the shadow from the evangelistic work of seven women from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in her book Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice. Dr. Warner is the associate dean for academic formation and associate professor of the practice of evangelism and Methodist studies at Duke Divinity School.

Book Review: Margaret English's Removing the Veil

Removing the Veil was written to affirm the place of women in God's economy. Author Margaret English gives special attention to the subject of women in ministry and maintains that women should be permitted full participation in ministry on an equal basis with men. The author draws from Scripture, her own personal testimony, and facts from church history as she presents evidence in support of equality in ministry. Anyone interested in the subject of women in ministry might read this book, but it was written with pentecostal/charismatic women in mind.

Book Review: Jackson Katz's The Macho Paradox

Violence against women is an ugly reality in our fallen world. And the more one studies this subject and the more one listens to women, the uglier it gets. This makes The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help a particularly welcome addition to the literature on male violence against women. Jackson Katz, a well-respected "anti-sexist male activist" and national leader in gender violence prevention, tackles this subject with candor, yet hope.

Book Review: Kristina LaCelle-Peterson's Liberating Tradition

Kristina LaCelle-Peterson writes a compelling outline of Christian feminism that serves as a valuable tool for the average evangelical seeking more refined and informed thinking about gender from a biblical perspective. The book's title hints at its ambitious purpose: to liberate evangelicals from cultural trappings that have misdirected our reading of Scripture, our family structures, and our models of church participation.

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