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Priscilla Papers

Who has authority and who does not? This question drives many debates in the church today, and the conclusions drawn from it determine how people can function. But very rarely do we ask the question, what is authority? We propose a reframing of authority that defines how we function as a Christ-centered community. Being a Christ-centered community should be our primary concern, and, from this pursuit, our understanding of authority should arise. This article seeks to examine new-covenant believer (NCB) interpersonal authority, questioning the appropriateness of individuals exercising authority over fellow disciples of Jesus.1 We contend that we must primarily emphasize how to mature as members of Christ’s communal body and how to exhort others toward maturity, so that we, as a Christ-centered community, might fully express who Jesus is to the world. This maturity is dependent on a proper understanding of the authority of God, not on the authority of one person over another. By seeing authority in this way, we shift emphasis from office and position to maturity and gifting. And, since maturity in Christ is the goal of all believers, and all have gifts from the Spirit, these qualifications should dictate function. One practical way this understanding of authority can be applied is to the issue of women in leadership within the church. This article will attempt to reflect Scripture’s emphasis on community, then survey Scripture’s lack of emphasis on NCB interpersonal authority, and, finally, close with practical implications of what such a reorientation would mean for the body of Christ and, consequently, the issue of women in church leadership. Read more
The doctrine of the Trinity is the primary doctrine of the Christian faith. It expresses our distinctive Christian understanding of God. Sadly, many contemporary evangelicals are inadequately informed on this doctrine, and the evangelical community is deeply and painfully divided on this matter. In seeking to promote unity among evangelicals by establishing what is to be believed about our triune God, I outline in summary what I conclude is the historic orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and then provide a biblical and theological commentary on my summary in a second and longer article, which follows. Read more
Reporting a conversation he had with Martin Luther between April 7 and May 1, 1532, John Schlaginhaufen quoted the great reformer as contending: Christ was an adulterer for the first time with the woman at the well, for it was said, “Nobody knows what he’s doing with her” (John 4:27). Again with Magdalene, and still again with the adulterous woman in John 8, whom he let off so easily. Read more
When God speaks in the Bible, it is with authority—and this is no less the case when God speaks through women. Sometimes it is privately through ordinary women like the matriarch Rebekah (Gen. 25:25) or the young woman Mary of Nazareth (Luke 1:26-38). Elsewhere, women serve as public heralds of Israel’s deliverance (Ps. 68:11, Isa. 40:9), and later of Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-18, Luke 24:1-12, John 24:1-12). In the book of Proverbs, the very wisdom of God is personified as a woman who calls the foolish to repentance and the wise to obedience. She also provides an idealized model for a person of wisdom as the “woman of valor” in the poem that King Lemuel’s mother taught him (Prov. 31). And throughout biblical history, the official “thus saith the Lord” of the prophets is heard through courageous women like Miriam in the exodus from Egypt (Exod. 15:20-21,Mic. 6:4), Deborah during the era of the judges (Judg. 4-5), Huldah at the time of the kingdom’s fall (2 Kings 22:14-20, 2 Chron. 34:22-28), as well as the New Testament examples of Anna (Luke 2:36), Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9), the unnamed women who prayed and prophesied at Corinth (1 Cor. 11), and the prophesying daughters of Israel in the last days announced by the prophet Joel (Joel 2) and celebrated by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). Read more
In the most famous chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we find a litany of Israel’s faith heroes, punctuated by the repetitive phrase “by faith” (Heb. 11:1-38). This rhetoric device drives home the unmistakable theme of the chapter and creates the strong impression that faithful heroes are plentiful in Israel’s past. Chief among those heroes are Abraham and Moses, but brief attention is also given to the actions of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, and Jacob. Read more
What does it mean to be founders of a nation chosen by God? Power? Privilege? Pride? Jacob’s blessing of his first four sons, recorded in Genesis 49:1-12, paints a different picture of God’s ideal. This article will trace themes of alienation and identification to show that the integrity of the sons of Israel is challenged and ultimately identified by the voice—or the lack of voice—of a grieving concubine (Gen. 35:16-22), a disgraced sister (Gen. 34), and a widowed daughter-in-law (Gen. 38). Read more
In recent years, much discussion has centered upon the role of women disciples as they encounter the person of Jesus. The word “disciple” (mathētēs), related to the verb “learn, study, practice” (manthanō), means “the one who directs his mind to something,” often in the sense of a learner, apprentice, or pupil. In the Greek philosophical world, the term designated a devotee of a philosopher, one who would continue the intellectual link with the teacher (adherent). While many argue for exclusively male disciples due to the fact that Jesus’ twelve disciples were all male, we can respond that all disciples were also Jewish. This, then, leads to the important question of implication: Does this mean that all Gentile disciples through the ages, male and female, are to be excluded from participatory discipleship? Certainly not! Read more
We have often heard sermons on the story of Peter’s three denials followed by Jesus’ three questions to him. Somewhere on a gravelly beach of Galilee, Jesus spoke with Peter: “Do you love Me? . . . Feed My sheep.” Nowhere does Scripture explain to us that the disciple’s three admissions, “Lord, You know that I love You,” allowed Peter to be fully restored to fellowship with Jesus. But the idea fits. We can read the message between the lines. We like it, and we use it as one proof text that God forgives and restores those who love him even after failing him. Read more
One God with Three Faces: Yauh, Jesu,Great Spirit; hear my prayer for my daughter, whom you have given me. Read more
I believe that God calls both women and men into roles of leadership with all the opportunities and challenges these roles entail. Scripture and church history make abundantly clear that women can and do exercise significant influence and power in a variety of contexts, including the church. Yet, most of the books and articles available on Christian leadership are written by and for men. In this paper, I will address some leadership issues with a focus on women as leaders. Read more

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Book Review: Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate by Michelle Lee-Barnewall

Increasingly, one of the latest reactions to the evangelical gender debate among some younger Christian women is “I am neither complementarian nor egalitarian,” inviting the reply: So, then, what are you? And, why do you respond in this way?

Book Review: Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God by John F. Kilner

In his book, Dignity and Destiny: Humanity in the Image of God, bioethicist John F. Kilner sketches the theological history of the image of God, critiques prominent viewpoints from this sketch, and offers a robust formulation of what it means to be in God’s image. Since the understanding of this theological doctrine has both dignified and vilified certain human beings, Kilner astutely asserts the importance of explicating this doctrine well.

Book Review: Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World

I am in a unique position. I am a woman who leads a men’s group. After years of leading an identity formation group for women, I was asked to create a similar process for men. While developing the curriculum, I was hard-pressed to find material that was not complementarian, or that did not rely heavily on archetypal models to frame a man’s identity. Because I wanted the curriculum to be rooted in the biblical story and the imago Dei, I searched for resources that provided a biblical framework for a male identity. I never quite found what I was looking for—until Malestrom.

Book Review: The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls

The media has in recent years given increasing attention to global violence toward women and girls. In 2012, the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) went to Saving Face, which focuses upon survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan. In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager, became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her activism on behalf of young people (especially girls) denied access to education. Another past Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former US President Jimmy Carter, has also committed himself to activism on behalf of subjugated women.

An Extended Review of One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life

Wayne Grudem says that for twenty-five years he has believed that how the Trinity is understood “may well turn out to be the most decisive factor in finally deciding” the bitter debate between evangelicals about the status and ministry of women.1 This is encouraging to hear, because Grudem and many of his fellow complementarians have got the doctrine of the Trinity completely wrong.

Book Review: Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood

Nate Pyle is a pastor in Fishers, Indiana. His recent book, Man Enough, tackles the question of biblical gender roles from a fresh perspective. His offering is the latest in the recent influx of gender studies in the “spiritual memoir” genre. While authors like Rachel Held Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood, 2012) or Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist, 2013) have provided important insights on the ongoing complementarian versus egalitarian debate, they have commented largely on how this debate has affected women.

Finding Their Voices: Sermons by Women in the Churches of Christ

D’Esta Love is no stranger to writing and editing; as co-editor of the Pepperdine University based ministry journal, Leaven, she has often encouraged the ministry of other women.1 She is also no stranger to “finding her voice.” In the introduction to Finding Their Voices, Love reflects on the number of years she waited for the opportunity to preach in her own heritage, in a Church of Christ (she was seventy years old).

Wild at Heart: Essential Reading or “Junk Food of the Soul”?

It seems a discussion of masculinity can scarcely commence at Gordon College without mention of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, a book enthusiastically endorsed by Christians nationwide. Many would agree with writer Charles Swindoll, who calls Wild at Heart “the best, most insightful book I have read in at least the last five years” (Eldredge, i). Eldredge’s immense popularity, however, must not be allowed to disguise the fact that his suggestions are often incongruent with the teachings of Jesus.

Book Review: Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women

I have read nothing quite like Elaine Storkey’s book, Scars Across Humanity. It tells the story of violence against women in today’s world. The book is very well researched and accessible; moreover, it is spine-chilling. As I sat with the book in hand after reading it I felt both pleased that someone had so powerfully told this awful story and depressed by what I had read.

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