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Priscilla Papers

I have been a Christian for more than fifty years and a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators for forty years, but it has only been in the last ten years that I have realized how much my Christian­ity has been influenced by my Confucian heritage as a Japanese American. Reflecting back on my missionary experience, I have discovered a number of ways in which Confucianism contrib­uted to the ongoing cultural stress that I experienced. Read more
Home. What does it mean to someone who lives alone? Countless sermons, seminars, and songs, which define the word in terms of people, make one’s own rooms and furnishings seem less than adequate, less than deserving of the warm word. But the Thorndike Barnhart Dictionary defines home as a “place where a person can rest and be safe,” and, in her book Once My Child…Now My Friend, Elinor Lenz says that “Home, for adults, is a place that they have created for themselves and that reflects their tastes, and life style.” Read more
This is not an article about the role of women in the church or in the workplace. It is about managerial responsibility to safeguard women on the job. Our laws today say that employers have that responsibility. They must ensure that women are not unfairly treated as sex objects, and that sexuality not interfere with normal work patterns and practices. Read more
It is useless to deny that women can be victims. Increasingly, the secular press documents it. The Christian press has long acknowledged it in society at large and is now beginning to acknowledge it even within the sacred walls of the church of Jesus Christ. People are also beginning to acknowledge that sexual harassment and violence exist on the job, even in strongly Christian organizations. I recently stood beside a woman in such a situation. (In referring to her in this article, we will call her Sue.) I, too, had experienced sexual harassment on the job, but in a secular context. I found few differences in what needed to be done between the secular context and the Christian organizational context. Read more
I was at seminary – being equipped to lead and serve. I studied, I searched, was stretched and learned. Yet I also cried. I cried for myself; I cried for other women. We endeavored to follow God’s will in our lives, but found instead rebuffs, questionings, and disdain. One night in the midst of this time, I wrote the following piece. It shares my personal experiences yet is actually a composite of several women’s struggles. Read more
Last week I had a dream reminiscent of many childhood nightmares. The communists were coming then, putting me in prison because I was a Christian. In the adult version of the dream, the characters and scene had changed. I was not part of a crowd, gathering in a large hall set up for a crusade-style service.  The seats were divided into two sections. By far the largest group was reserved for Christians who were carrying Bibles, smiling, greeting one another. A roped section at the back of the auditorium was marked for nonbelievers. Read more
So when Mariana arrived in Costa Rica in 1984, she was in for a shock. She saw that people with physical limitations generally were given no responsibility for, or control over, their own lives. In some homes, people with physical limitations were kept “hidden away in a back room.” She immediately set out to help persons with physical limitations run their own lives, excel and even serve others. In the process, she said, “God has opened doors.” Read more
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
I stood behind some trees the school bus braked to a stop on our country road. The driver paused and glanced down my driveway, then closed the doors and started the bus down the hill. I watched until the bus was out of sight, then stepped from the protective trees, my sense alive with excitement. I wasn’t going to school this year! I was 14 years old and about to begin a big adventure. Dad had already taken me to Indiana University to register for eighth grade correspondence courses in English, algebra, and history. Mom was packing the last of what clothes and personal items she thought we’d need for the trip. My father was an evangelist and my mother, sister and I were going to join him in his full-time ministry. It wasn’t long before we were on the road. For me that road stretched over four years of time; I lost track of the number of miles and faces. Read more
When a junior in college, I was given a pink Helen Steiner Rice birthday card by a grandmotherly woman who watched me open the envelope and read the rhymed sentiment. The now long-forgotten exact wording was clearly inspired by a portion of Psalm 37 that refers to God giving a heart its desires. I looked up from the card to thank the giver for her thoughtfulness and saw the word “husband” written, as clear as this type, across her beaming face.  I flushed with embarrassment. Desire for a soul-mate was something I felt all too keenly, but something I talked about with only a few close friends. Although I looked for him, the man of my dreams had not ridden – on a horse or in a sports car – over the horizon. For my emotional survival, desire was, then and for several years, something to repress. Read more

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Book Review: Gayle Haggard's Why I Stayed

Gayle Haggard's Why I Stayed is a spellbinding book. My reflections, as I read it, revolved around three separate but related themes—marriage, mutuality, and "healing through meeting." We all see the stories others tell about their lives through the prism of our own. I am no exception. I have been married for fifty years this summer to Ron Sider. Since the late 1970s, we have used, as a guide in our marriage, a Christ-centered hermeneutic of biblical equality.

Book Review: Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen's A Sword Between the Sexes? C.S. Lewis and the Gender Debates

It is interesting that we feel as if we know an author because we have read and appreciated many of his or her books. In my case, I have read and enjoyed numerous writings by British author C. S. Lewis, yet I have never fully understood many of his views. Certainly, over years of reading his fantasy fiction and his classic works of Christian apologetics, I noticed his distinct (and puzzling) attitude toward women, but I never really gave his attitudes deep consideration. I was less familiar with his life story, his education, his youth, his marriage, or his worldview.

Book Review: Millard Erickson's Who's Tampering with the Trinity

I am very happy to have this opportunity to recommend strongly Millard Erickson's Who's Tampering with the Trinity? An Assessment of the Subordination Debate to the readers of Priscilla Papers and to the wider evangelical community in generaL Erickson's book addresses two areas of vital importance to the church: the doctrine of the Trinity and the role of women in the church and family.

Book Review: Curtiss Paul DeYoung's Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century

In Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century: The Bible's Message in an Age of Diversity, Curtiss Paul DeYoung writes a foundational work about the necessity of diversity in developing a holistic Christian theology of community. This book reengages questions introduced in the first publication of Coming Together more than a decade ago. DeYoung uses the Scriptures as a tool of liberation while highlighting historic ways they have been used oppressively as tools of Western thought and colonialism.

Book Review: Women, Ministry, and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms

This fine collection of essays draws upon papers presented at a Wheaton College Theology Conference in April 2005. While they all merit reading and pondering, four struck me as particularly noteworthy: those by I. Howard Marshall, Fredrick J. Long, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, and Timothy Larsen. At the same time, with one or two exceptions, the articles break less new ground than the phrase New Paradigms in the subtitle suggests.

Book Review: The TNIV Study Bible

I am so thankful Zondervan has decided to publish the TNIV Study Bible. When the Today's New International Version first was published in the United States, I asked one Zondervan editor if they would ever print the NIV Study Bible with the TNIV text. The answer was, "Maybe. Let's wait and see."

Book Review: Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches by Dr. Dan Doriani

Dr. Dan Doriani, Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Covenant Seminary and Senior Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo., has written Women and Ministry: What the Bible Teaches in order to provide a biblical defense for traditional churches that exclude women from official teaching and leadership offices within their congregations. However, his other objective in writing this book is to show that change is necessary. The tradition governing men's and women's ministries in the church can—indeed must—be stretched beyond its current boundaries.

Book Reviews: Women in the Church

Carroll Osburn's second edition of Women in the Church is a welcome contribution to the ongoing conversation on this topic, and he has reworked the book to take advantage of new developments and research. It feels like a textbook, but nonstudents will still glean valuable insights.

Book Review: Women of Influence: Women of Devotion Through the Centuries

Cheryl Forbes's first book, released in 1983 when she held a managerial position at Zondervan, was titled The Religion of Power. As that title suggests, she holds strong views. "At a certain point, a Christian must say no to maneuvers and manipulations, to politics and pretendings."

Book Review: Feminist Theology Through the Ages: Why We're Equal

Val Webb, adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota and author of four books, including In Defense of Doubt, has written an engaging, readable, and mostly historical approach to feminist theology. Her thesis is straightforward and often restated: "The goal of this book is to look at the diversity of the feminist movement and show how limited and inaccurate negative stereotyping is" (p. 3; also see pp. 9, 12, 47).

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