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Priscilla Papers

The theme of this issue of Priscilla Papers is Theology. The cover photo is Martin Luther, one of the world’s best-known theologians. He is the topic of one of our articles; moreover, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Read more
I have long deliberated the possible efficacy of another Wild at Heart critique.1 Although many excellent critiques arose in the years after the book’s initial release in 2001, it still sells unusually well, progressively working its way into churches, homes, and minds. The English language version has sold over 4.5 million copies, annual sales exceed 100,000, and it currently holds the #1 Best Seller spot in Christian Men’s Issues on Amazon. To date, the book has been translated into thirty languages. Beyond this, the ideologies of Wild at Heart find expression in subsequent books written by John and Stasi Eldredge, most notably Captivating, as well as numerous contemporary Christian works on sex and gender that display direct influence from the Eldredges’ teachings or promote similar ideas. Hardly a year passes without some popular Christian book on gender or parenting acknowledging the Eldredges and their teachings or listing Wild at Heart as recommended reading. Stephen Mansfield, for example, calls the book “masterful,” listing it first in “The Ten Essential Books for Manly Men,” because it provides men with “the tools for understanding and living out the essential passions of manhood.” For Eldredge himself, such steady reception confirms its timeless truth. It is somehow paradoxically “truer” than before, because “it rings eternal, and universal. God was in it then; he is in it still.” Read more
St. Luke tells us that the women who followed Jesus to the cross “were beating their breasts and wailing for him” (Luke 23:27 NRSV). Some feminist and womanist theologians still wail at the sight of the cross—they reject traditional theories of atonement that regard the torture and death of an innocent man as a good intended by God. Many feminists and womanists find God’s saving activity hidden beneath this senseless and tragic brutality. Our goal in the present article is to analyze what feminist and womanist theologians have to say about the cross of Jesus, and from this, to examine our understanding of God’s saving activity in light of their helpful critique. Read more
Etienne Gilson spoke of medieval theology as an attempt to build great “cathedrals of the mind,” mental constructions meant to bring glory to God and to inspire worship as soaring stone cathedrals across Europe have since the same time period. Like any architectural achievement, these mental cathedrals brought together the many pieces of Christian doctrine into coherent and often beautiful structures of thought, building idea upon idea until great theological and philosophical systems emerged from scriptural foundations. This architectural analogy implies something important—it is rarely possible to shift the ground floor of a building without the entirety of the construct tumbling down. Only with great caution and preparation, whereby new supports are carefully constructed before the old are removed, can such a change go smoothly. Unfortunately, evangelical theology finds itself today in a situation where a great shift in a foundational doctrine of Christian theology has occurred—in the doctrine of the Trinity. This shift threatens several important Christian teachings and compromises the basic orientation of Christian ethics. As complementarian theologians increasingly speak of the eternal functional subordination of the Son (hereafter EFS), they move a central pillar of the cathedral of Christian doctrine, unaware that such a change could bring down the entire edifice of Christian theology. Read more
At the intersection of socioeconomics, ethnicity, and gender lurks one of the most insidious forms of violence against girls and women: sex trafficking. What theological insights should inform Christian ministry to victims and survivors of sex trafficking? Female theologians who are well-acquainted with histories of multiple forms of oppression should inform Christian practice. Therefore, mujerista (Spanish for “womanist”) and womanist scholars ought to be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, many evangelicals and other Christians whose praxis has primarily been informed by white, Western, male theological perspectives, are hesitant to consider theologies by and for women of color. This is a mistake. Whether or not a person fully embraces all the theological points of womanist and mujerista theologies, these contextualized liberation theologies contain powerful and poignant biblical truths that are particularly relevant to today’s victims and survivors of sex trafficking. This paper will first highlight relevant definitions and themes in mujerista and womanist theologies, then examine the implications for ministry among today’s sex trafficking victims and survivors Read more
Thomas Jefferson. Napoléon Bonaparte. Ludwig van Beethoven. Jane Austen. Darwin and Dickens. Wordsworth and Whitman. Lincoln and Lee. Crazy Horse and Custer. Karl and Groucho. By now you have discerned the topic—the nineteenth century. The War of 1812. The American Civil War. The Crimean War. The Industrial Revolution. The Victorian Era. The Gilded Age. First-Wave Feminism. The list could go on indefinitely. Sacagawea. Marie Curie. Clara Barton. Adoniram and Ann Judson. Indeed, someone should write a nineteenth-century companion to Billy Joel’s rapid-fire summary of the twentieth century, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Read more
On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, Alvera Mickelsen was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus. Our beloved leader, mentor, mother, and friend died at the age of ninety-seven. A founder of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), she was CBE’s first board chair in 1987, worked with grassroots CBE chapters, and served for years as a CBE board member. She authored accessible books that remain bestsellers not only in CBE’s community, but around the world. Read more
Since the beginning of the feminist movement over a century ago, historians have debated the role religion played in the lives of the great British women’s rights leaders. Olive Anderson dismissed any agency religious experience gave to these women, contending that it “contributed nothing to the spread of feminist ideas.” Gail Malmgreen described their spirituality as a “central paradox” that historians struggle to keep in context while discussing their subjects’ lives and work. She went on to point out that religion is a neglected part of feminist history, yet historically there is a direct connection between faith and political activism within the feminist movement. In response to these works and others, Helen Mathers made a simple yet profound point: many of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century feminist leaders were devout Christians who drew upon faith as their main source of inspiration and strength, so a study of their beliefs is crucial to understanding their lives. Josephine Butler was one of these leaders. Read more
Alexander Campbell is arguably the most influential leader in the history of the American Restoration Movement, which emerged from the Second Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century and sought to reunite Christians by rejecting human creeds, breaking ties with denominations, and rediscovering the essential core Christian beliefs and practices in the Bible alone. Some four million people in a handful of Christian groups today find roots in this movement, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, the a capella Churches of Christ, and the International Churches of Christ. The earliest major document in this movement was the “Declaration and Address,” written by Alexander’s father, Thomas Campbell. In that work the senior Campbell denounced denominationalism as a great evil which divides the body of Christ. In 1832, the group led by the Campbells merged with a similar movement in Kentucky that began under the leadership of an American-born Presbyterian named Barton W. Stone. Thus the terms Restoration Movement and Stone-Campbell Movement have come to be used interchangeably. Read more
When the first American missionaries prepared to leave the shores of New England in 1812, Jonathan Allen, a respected minister of the gospel, delivered an exhortation to the women of the company. Speaking to them directly, he reminded the women that they were “now engaged in the best of causes,” specifically, the delivery of women in foreign lands from oppression. Allen proclaimed the call for American women to “enlighten” the minds of their foreign sisters and to “raise their character.” The American women were to “bring them from their cloisters” so that these subjugated foreign women might “enjoy the privileges of the children of God.” Ultimately, the work of American women in missions would teach women in the non-Western world that “they are not an inferior race of creatures; but stand upon a par with men.”   Read more

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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.

Book Review: Veiled and Silenced: The Cultural Shape of Sexist Theology

This highly readable book introduces much interesting evidence to demonstrate that subordination of women perpetuates an institutionalized cultural myth rather than a scriptural truth.

Book Review: A Voice of Her Own by Nancy M. Tischler

Why, over the years, haven't women produced more in the arts—specifically in literature? At the turn of the century, Virginia Woolf began the answer to that important question by saying a woman could and would write given a "room of her own." This is the leisure, privacy, and financial support needed to encourage creativity that has traditionally been withheld from women either intentionally or because of the demands of other roles.

Book Review: Global Evangelicalism

Global Evangelicalism is an important contribution to historical and theological studies because of its scope and accessibility. The book is made up of an introduction, ten essays which are divided into three sections, and a glossary and index. The first section deals with basic theoretical issues, such as defining evangelicalism, describing its theological impulses, and its relationship to globalization. The second section is the heart of the book and is composed of five regional case studies of evangelicalism.

Book Review: Becky Wooley's Non-Prophet Murders

In her biography Fighting Angel, one of the most famous and disaffected missionary children of them all, the Nobel Prize-winning Pearl Buck, tells the sad tale of her longsuffering grandmother. After years of cooking, cleaning, serving for an unappreciative husband and set of sons, one day, she simply sat down on the porch. She had had enough. No amount of demanding, threatening, pleading, or cajoling could ever cause her to lift a finger to serve again.

Book Review: The New Evangelical Subordinationism?

This new book on the Trinity is not to be missed. It may well prove to be the definitive contemporary reader on the debate over whether the Trinity is stratified according to rank or not—God being equal in substance and equal in rank, authority, and glory or eternally differentiated in these aspects, a difference that may or may not reflect in human relations.

Book Review: Dennis R. Hollinger's The Meaning of Sex

Is there any inherent meaning in sexuality, or does sex simply mean whatever we intend it to mean in the moment? Dennis Hollinger, president of Gordan-Conwell Theological Seminary, insists that there is meaning in sexuality—several meanings, in fact, which guide Christian thought and practice.

Book Review: The Eternal Generation of The Son

This book addresses a topic within the Godhead that cuts across the lines of gender conviction and unites egalitarians and hierarchists on both sides of the debate. In this case, the topic is not whether a one-way eternal subordination of the Son to the Father exists in the Trinity, but whether the Son is begotten by the Father solely in the incarnation or throughout all eternity, always proceeding from the Father.

KeumJu Jewel Hyun and Cynthia Davis Lathrop's Some Men Are Our Heroes

As we journey through life, many of us will be able to recount key individuals who noticed our God-given gifts and potential. Those same individuals not only showed an interest from the sidelines, but they also took proactive measures to mentor us and abet us in pursuing God's dreams for our lives.

Tim and Anne Evan's Real Life Marriage

Real-Life Marriage: It's Not About Me is coauthored by Tim and Anne Evans, a longtime married couple involved in Christian marriage counseling for many years. The Colorado authors open and close their book with an appealing image: "Marriage is a lot like climbing a mountain" (345). This image not only sets the tone of the book, but implies its purpose and invites a diverse audience.

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