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Priscilla Papers

I begin this discourse with a disclaimer, since the title suggests far more than one can deliver in a limited amount of space. It suggests far more knowledge about this topic than I actually have—indeed, it is safe to say that there is much more that we don’t know about these things than we actually do. What I hope to do is to offer a few probings into the cultural background of this passage—which has become such a crux for people on both sides of the issue of whether there is a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home, based on gender alone. Read more
If we all approach the text of Scripture, each having his or her own framework of understanding (even when we share a view of the Bible that it is inerrant and true in all it affirms and teaches), is there any hope that we can ever reach a “correct” or “objectively valid” interpretation,1 especially on passages that are so sensitive as those that deal with the place and privilege of women in the body of Christ today? Surely, no one particular set of presuppositions is to be favored in and of itself over any other set of presuppositions as the proper preparation for understanding a text. And no one starts with a tabula rasa, a blank mind. So does this mean we are hopelessly deadlocked with no possibility for a resolution? Read more
Human beings begin to develop gender identities very early in life as they pick up on cues and clues given off from the sociocultural contexts in which they find themselves. As people and institutions demonstrate socially appropriate ways of being male or female, children become apprentices and learn what it means to be a boy or girl in their culture. Read more
Where and how we start in our interpretation of Scripture determines where we will end up. When seeking to understand the relevance of the Bible’s teaching for our lives, interpretive starting points are particularly significant. The method by which we read and derive meaning from Scripture is the fundamental determinant of the nature of the meaning we will derive. Read more
Excerpts from the booklet, The Feminist Bogeywoman, written by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis and published in 1995 by Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group. It is used here by permission. Please note that it is not the same as ch. 8 of Groothuis’s 1997 book Women Caught in the Conflict: The Culture War between Traditionalism and Feminism (Baker, Wipf and Stock), which bears the same title. For more about the author, see Douglas Groothuis, “Rebecca Merrill Groothuis’s Contribution to Biblical Equality: A Personal Testimony and Lament,” Priscilla Papers 29, no. 3 (Summer 2015): 3-6. Read more
Gilbert Bilezikian published the especially influential book, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, in 1985—shortly before the founding of CBE International. Second and third editions appeared in 1989 and 2006. All three were published by Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The third edition included an extended endnote (note 55, pp. 248-50), which we reproduce here with kind permission from both the author and the publisher. Read more
The cover photo shows an icon in which a group of church leaders display a rather large banner containing the opening lines of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of AD 381. Kevin Giles explains the Trinitarian Christology of this creed in the first article of this issue of Priscilla Papers.  Read more
There can be no denying that we have starkly opposing doctrines of the Trinity. Dr. Grudem and Dr. Ware argue on the basis of creaturely analogies for a hierarchically ordered Trinity where the Father rules over the Son, claiming this is historical orthodoxy and what the church has believed since AD 325. I argue just the opposite. On the basis of scripture, I argue that the Father and the Son are coequally God; thus the Father does not rule over the Son. This is what the church has believed since AD 325. You could not have two more opposing positions. There is no middle ground. Read more
Millard J. Erickson
For the past two decades, evangelical theologians have debated over one specific aspect of the relationship between members of the Trinity. One group insists that the Father is eternally the supreme member of the Trinity, necessarily and always possessing authority over the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are thus subordinate to him. The other view contends that the Son eternally possesses equal authority with the Father, but that for the period of his earthly ministry, he voluntarily became subject to the Father’s will. Similarly differing views are held regarding the authority of the Holy Spirit, although the discussion has not dealt extensively with the status of the third person. Both parties agree that all three persons are fully deity, and thus equal in what they are. Biblical, historical, philosophical and theological arguments have been presented on both sides, without reaching agreement. Whether or not the subordination itself is eternal, some have begun to wonder whether the debate over it might be. Read more
Many modern Western marriage rituals—from engagement, to the wedding ceremony, to post-union practices such as female surname change—are clearly patriarchal. Various customs, including engagement rings that act as modern dowries, separate wedding vows where the woman “loves, honors,  and obeys” and the man “loves, honors, and cherishes,” and unequal childrearing, create a system that oppresses women and subordinates them both within and outside of the home. The Christian ritual of marriage, however, redeems patriarchal marriage through emphasis on sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church1 and on covenant in Protestant denominations.2 Read more

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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.

Book Review: John Zen's No Will of My Own

This small book (75 pages) elucidates a great present-day adversary to biblical justice and equality: patriarchy. The book is written for the Body of Christ. It is the wish of the author to bring consciousness of the subject to church membership and leadership alike. The view here presented is that patriarchy is not merely uncomfortable for some women, but toxic and dangerous to all men and women in the faith.

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