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Atlanta changed my life! There, I’ve said it, OK? To be a part of the world’s largest-ever collection of clergy ( 42,000) in one building at one time; to hear the thunderous, earsplitting applause, the four-part harmony, and that eerie, haunting, inspiring chant of “Je-e-e-s-u-s” as this handholding, mid-sized city of men affirmed their common faith—what can one say? It will never be forgotten. The highlight for me had to be somewhere around the time of Steve Green’s emotional presentation of “Let the Walls Come Down,” leaving thousands of male pastors of every race and denomination tearfully hugging while offering and receiving apologies for centuries of injustice and blindness to each other’s plight. Hats off to Coach Bill McCartney and the team for bringing vision to fruition as they launched the much-needed Promise Keepers’ theme for 1996, “Break Down the Walls.” Read more
“Why don’t you attend as a volunteer, and then we can observe the rally from different angles.” This was Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen’s suggestion. She was coming to Pittsburgh to report for Books and Culture on the 1996 Promise Keepers’ rally to be held at Three Rivers Stadium. I wasn’t sure about the plan. Mary would be there in an official capacity, and that seemed more up-front to me. I didn’t want to be a spy. But she proved persuasive, and at the last minute I offered my services for the second day of the rally. Read more
Hearing ambulance sirens was nothing out of the ordinary when I worked as a nurse in the emergency department in Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital. But, although I didn’t know it at the time, the sirens blaring one day were signaling a major change in my life. Through the emergency doors came a woman and her 12-year-old daughter. The mother—a single mom— had killed her son, wounded her daughter, and stabbed herself with a knife. Read more
It is interesting to compare Christianity Today’s cover article on John Stott with the cover article featuring “Ministering Women.” The “ministering women” are presented in mannequin-like poses, in full color, standing on thin air. Out of their mouths come comic-strip-style blurbs. Pastels are the chosen colors for sidebars and screens. It was hard to tell if the layout was a take-off on “Designing Women” or “Sister Act” In the Stott article, the “ministering man” is depicted black and white, face-only, with meaningful quotes set apart by boldface black type. The accent color is red. Despite the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, a comparison of even the layout of the two articles reveals clues that seem to suggest that some “priests” are taken more seriously than others. Read more
A few weeks ago at 5 p.m. I pushed my chair away from my desk. I had only three hundred words of prose to show for an eight-hour day. Not that I had stopped to shake popcorn or weed my garden. I had sat and stared. I’d written a sentence and crossed it out. I’d stared. I’d written half a sentence and crossed half of it out. Eventually fit words had filled a page, but the day was over; night had drawn nigh. 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 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
It happened many years ago. I was having a discussion with a male friend. We had taken opposing sides on a theological question, one having nothing whatsoever to do with the role of women in the church. It soon became apparent that the weight and substance of the arguments were mounting up in behalf of my position. Perhaps I was displaying some satisfaction in that, or perhaps it was just becoming obvious to my friend that he didn’t have much of a point. I don’t remember all the details clearly, but I remember the shot. Perhaps it was after I had too confidently made a statement too liberally sprinkled with “I think...” that he drew and fired, “The Bible says women are to be silent.” Read more
Several years ago I got an idea for a biblical novel; Placing myself in the world of Mary the mother of Jesus’, I would write in her voice — a diary spanning thirty years and titled Mary’s Journal. Read more

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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."

Book Review: Gender and Grace: Love, Work & Parenting In a Changing World

Gender and Grace is simultaneously one of the most challenging and most reassuring examinations of male-female relationships written from a Christian perspective. A professor of interdisciplinary studies at Calvin College, Van Leeuwen brilliantly integrates insights from faith and science, maintaining that the Bible provides the basic framework on which all our more detailed solutions to human problems must be founded.

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