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Priscilla Papers

In the previous edition of Priscilla Papers, my article, “The Genesis of Equality,” outlined the prevailing view that the Bible’s opening chapters make substantial or essential equality of the two sexes the creation ideal, and that the subordination of women is entirely a consequence of the fall. I further noted that Pope John Paul II made this interpretation of Gen 1–3 binding on Roman Catholics. In this essay, I move on to discuss four key terms—“role,” “equality,” “difference,” and “complementary”—which “complementarians” consistently utilize to give a different interpretation of Gen 1–3 and of other biblical texts important to their cause. Again, I bring in the Roman Catholic voice to give a wider perspective. Read more
My perhaps-naïve assumption is that the editor’s introduction is the least-read part of any journal. As a result, I should briefly reiterate my first introduction from the autumn 2014 issue—in case you missed it. My name is Jeff Miller. My wife Dana and I live, work, and minister in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. I have become increasingly involved with CBE since attending their 2007 conference in Bangalore, India. My predecessor Bill Spencer and his editorial team of Aída Besançon Spencer and Deb Beatty Mel deserve sincere thanks for their decade of exemplary service. “Tertius” at the top of this page refers to Romans 16:22, where Paul’s amanuensis says, “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord” (NIV). I feel an affinity with Tertius; the work that associate editor Theresa Garbe and I do for Priscilla Papers is not terribly unlike the work Tertius did for Paul. Read more
It is common to view the entire debate between complementarianism and egalitarianism in terms of which side has more biblical support. Both sides of the debate have an explicitly high view of scripture that gives biblical texts a central place of authority. Exegetical theology, then, is naturally given a tremendous amount of weight—as are hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. Read more
The claim is often made that Christians who advance the shared leadership, authority, and ministry of men and women in the church and home do so only by circumventing the authority of scripture. Because of this claim, egalitarians are accused of theological liberalism. I was inspired to write this paper after an evangelical scholar confessed candidly to me that, though he was trained in a tradition that viewed egalitarian theology as pernicious, through a series of circumstances including a positive encounter with an egalitarian leader, he determined to study egalitarian theology more thoroughly. Cicero reminds us that a fair hearing of any position must include a full grasp of the historical context. This paper briefly considers historical material often overlooked by evangelicals in assessing the theological orthodoxy of egalitarians. Read more
Is the Bible divided on the issue of gender? Many highly respected evangelical scholars believe there is a tension in the Bible between affirmations of gender equality and gender roles. Can we arrive at a consistent biblical position without doing violence to the text? Need one sacrifice good exegesis at the altar of systematic theology? Surely, good exegesis and good systematic theology go hand in hand. I have prayerfully wrestled for forty-one years with the texts’ apparent contradictions on gender and can honestly say that the biblical texts themselves have transformed my understanding. From creation to new creation, the Bible’s message about gender in the church and marriage consistently affirms the equal standing of man and woman. Read more
In you I find peace my Lord In you I find strength my God I find contentment resting in Yahweh’s arms Desires of the flesh consume me They block out the light from Yahweh’s face Until I find myself lost in an all too familiar place I’ve heard this Siren song before, calling me, Calling me further into the darkness Where the face of my Savior is shrouded Read more
Everyone aspires to be Spirit-led, to be Spirit-filled, to be filled by the fruit of the Spirit. Everyone is ready to run on Spirit power! And I wish that for you—especially that you know the Spirit of God that has been shaped by Jesus and that you not change the gospel of power to anything less than what it should be. But this morning let me caution you about this combination of Spirit and power. For it is a combination incomplete without full knowledge; it can be potentially dangerous without full knowledge. It can be downright deadly! Read more
“Tamar lived desolate in the house of her brother Absalom” (2 Sam 13:20). These words have given me both heartache and comfort. Heartache because I don’t want Tamar’s story to end this way. Comfort because Tamar’s desolation validates my own desolation. “Desolation” describes the barren woman, a desert wilderness, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s desolation is described contrary to the creation account: formless and empty, dark, and isolated. To live desolate means to live lifeless, a common reality for those who suffer the impact of sexual abuse. Millions worldwide live in this reality: men and women, young and old, rich and poor. Even the daughter of King David. Read more
The painful and seemingly unending division among evangelicals over the relationship of the sexes is bedeviled by disputes about the interpretation of key biblical texts, most notably 1 Tim 2:9–15. However, how this Pauline text is understood depends more than anything else on how Gen 1–3 is understood. For complementarians what makes Paul’s prohibition on women teaching and exercising authority in church universally and transculturally binding is the premise that in creation, before the Fall, God gave the man authority over the woman. The importance for complementarians of the belief that woman was subordinated to man before the Fall cannot be overestimated. In stressing the vital nature of this argument for complementarians, Daniel Doriani notes that “nineteen of the twenty two authors” in the definitive collection of essays, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, argue for the subordination of women “on the basis of creation, or the order or creation. . . .” Read more
Biblical narratives of barren wives such as Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and the mother of Samson paint a picture of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness to fulfill promises to a burgeoning nation. In these narratives, the modern reader encounters polygyny and polycoity,1 wife rivalry, preferential treatment of certain wives and their children, and divorce, all of which are seemingly at odds with our biblical notions of marriage, divorce, and ethical treatment of others. Though scripture is mostly silent on the ramifications of barrenness, it is possible to look beyond the biblical witness to the broader ancient culture in order to understand its impact both on the women involved and society as a whole. Ancient legal, mythical, ritual, and medical records not only provide us with the broader cultural understanding of barrenness, but also, at times, mirror some of the personal and spiritual responses found in the biblical material. As a means of further understanding how this malady impacted ancient near eastern civilization, this article focuses on barrenness in legal records. Read more

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Book Review: Kristina LaCelle-Peterson's Liberating Tradition

Kristina LaCelle-Peterson writes a compelling outline of Christian feminism that serves as a valuable tool for the average evangelical seeking more refined and informed thinking about gender from a biblical perspective. The book's title hints at its ambitious purpose: to liberate evangelicals from cultural trappings that have misdirected our reading of Scripture, our family structures, and our models of church participation.

Book Review: Aída Besançon Spencer, William David Spencer, and Mimi Haddad's Global Voices on Biblical Equality

Global Voices on Biblical Equality opens with a poem To Prisca and Aquila, which ends, "Gemstones of God, buried in stony, multicultural mines." This book is about "gemstones of God," women ministering together with men in the church worldwide.

Book Review: David Bailey's Speaking the Truth in Love

"Roger and Annette Nicole . . . form a partnership to which anyone might point to illustrate the egalitarianism of men and women together that Roger so implacably defends" (ix), writes J. I. Packer in his introduction to Dr. David Bailey's delightful biography of CBE cofounder and evangelical statesperson Roger Nicole. In his preface, Roger explains that he allowed the author, who is a pastor, professor, and director of the Orlando Center of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, to write his biography in order "to emphasize the footsteps of God Himself in the path of my life" (xv).

Book Review: Nicola Hoggard Creegan and Christine D. Pohl's Living on the Boundaries

In 2006, some senior women faculty at Calvin College were inspired by the film Calendar Girls, a lightly fictionalized account of an improbable fundraising device by a group of middle-aged Britons in a rural Women's Institute. The Englishwomen decided to pose in discreetly suggestive ways (featuring food, flowers, and fancy hats) for a calendar, which ended up selling so widely and so well that it raised almost $1 million for the cancer ward of a local hospital.

Book Review: Glen Scorgie's The Journey Back to Eden

One scholar stated, "You can't learn something you think you already know." In light of this proposal, Dr. Glen G. Scorgie's book on relational harmony between men and women will enlighten only those who do not think they already have the right answer. The book is for those who hold Scripture in highest regard while also admitting that many issues, including gender issues, are not presented in clear black-and-white answers.

Book Review: Carrie A. Miles's The Redemption of Love

Carrie Miles' well-written book should be read by all who cherish the institution of marriage and wish to understand (and stem) its decline. Miles, who has a PhD from the University of Chicago, is associate director of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture. Using the tools of socioeconomic analysis, her book explores two large questions: (1) What biblical norms should anchor marriage and family in every time and place? and (2) What material forces either support or undermine people's ability to live up to those norms?

Book Review: Royce Gruenler's The Trinity in the Gospel of John

The 2005 appearance of Bruce Ware's Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance marks a bold attempt to put subordinationist claims before the Evangelical Church in a popular and accessible form. Professor Ware writes:

Book Review: The Trinity and Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate

Have you heard the claim that relationships between men and women should image the "eternal subordination" in the Trinity? If so, read this book. With a profound, concise course in Trinitarian theology and hermeneutics, using two case studies to exemplify points, The Trinity & Subordinationism is highly recommended.

Book Reviews: Cultural of Analysis: Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals

William J. Webb's Slaves, Women and Homosexuals is a hermeneutical tour de force. Webb severs ties with traditional hermeneutical textbooks by offering intra-scriptural and extra­scriptural criteria and a case study approach (akin to W. M. Swartley's Slavery, Sabbath, War & Women) rather than a step-by-step methodology.

Book Review: Women as Risk-Takers for God

The author of Women as Risk-Takers for God, Lorry Lutz, is currently the international coordinator of the Women's Track of AD2000 and Beyond. Her purpose for accepting this position was to be an advocate for women among Christian leaders so that women would be released to use their gifts for evangelism and discipleship.

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