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Priscilla Papers

It happened many years ago. I was having a discussion with a male friend. We had taken opposing sides on a theological question, one having nothing whatsoever to do with the role of women in the church. It soon became apparent that the weight and substance of the arguments were mounting up in behalf of my position. Perhaps I was displaying some satisfaction in that, or perhaps it was just becoming obvious to my friend that he didn’t have much of a point. I don’t remember all the details clearly, but I remember the shot. Perhaps it was after I had too confidently made a statement too liberally sprinkled with “I think...” that he drew and fired, “The Bible says women are to be silent.” Read more
How do we measure greatness? If by loftiness of purpose, we see Katherine Bushnell going to China as a medical missionary. We follow her across America and beyond its borders to several continents as she worked to reform conditions of human degradation. We read her closely reasoned exposition of Scripture as she tried to establish women in their rightful place in church and society. Read more
The Old Testament teaches us much about the nature of God. It is the inspired record of God working out his eternal plan for us. From the Old Testament we learn about God’s long-suffering, loving, merciful nature. We see the beginning of his plan for our redemption. The God revealed to us in the Old Testament is the same God further revealed in the New Testament. Through Christ, we can see the promises of God more clearly than those who “welcomed them from a distance” (Heb. 11:13). Furthermore, in this era of God’s history, the Holy Spirit dwells in all who belong to his Son (Rom. 8:9). However, God is still the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We need to remember this truth as we study the Old Testament. Read more
Have you ever met someone who quietly yet vividly made an impact on you? Let me introduce you to Kapiolani of Hawaii (??-1841). High chief, breaker of taboos, Christian champion, this heroic woman ruled both politically and spiritually. Her courage was internationally acclaimed though her greatest battle was private. Read more
The Old Testament authors did not hesitate to show the prominent role of women in die history of Israel. Within the narratives of the Hebrew patriarchs, it is clear that the people honored the deeds of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel. Miriam, the sister of Moses, was esteemed in spite of her untimely rebuke of her brother (Num. 12). Even the Canaanite women like Rahab and Tamar, along with Ruth, the Moabitess, were retained in the historical records of the nation. Read more
A friend of mine attends a church that longs for renewal. The pastors acknowledge a sense of spiritual ineffectiveness among their members, and they have sought the power of the Holy Spirit to quicken, empower, and revive personal and corporate ministry. In prayer this congregation asks for an out pouring of the Holy Spirit, but with an unspoken proviso, that God honor their gender bias: God may pour out His Spirit, but men alone may exhibit the Spirit’s empowering. Yet nothing seems further from the tenor of revival and the passage in Acts where the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on Gentiles, but also on women. Read more
As a woman preparing to seek ordination to the pastoral office in the Presbyterian Church (USA) I find myself encountering skepticism — a skepticism about my real identity. In light of my gender and career objective, some people immediately assume that I am a radical feminist. Others are not sure, so they conduct a stakeout, patiently waiting to see what I’ll say or do. It seems as if people are listening to every nuance of what I say, trying to uncover a feminist agenda. I feel scrutinized. Read more
Accompanied by her chaperone, sixteen year old Clare would sneak off, without the knowledge of her parents, in order to hear the preaching of St. Francis. What attracted this young, wealthy beauty to the teaching of Francis? Why would she exchange the pleasures of a landed and aristocratic inheritance for the shorn hair, sackcloth, barefooted, celibate seclusion of the female Franciscans? Read more
As an elder in the church, how do you handle being in authority over others in the church, but being in submission to your husband at home? Doesn’t this create an enormous conflict? Read more
Feminism is supposed to be good news for women; but does that mean it is automatically bad news for men? Many people assume that it is. What is given to women must necessarily be taken away from men. This is the old “slice of the pie” or “limited good” theory. There are only so many pieces in a pie and therefore a limited number of people may be served. And when people believe that theory, battle lines are drawn. In this case, if women are to get more of whatever share of the pie men have traditionally been given, men will lose something. Read more

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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).

Book Review: Women and Men: Gender in the Church

This book emerges out of a rich Mennonite heritage that rather consistently deals with major social issues as they relate to biblical faith. Carol Penner's panel of authors, representing various segments of the North American Mennonite scene, have produced a very usable book suited both for adult Bible study home groups and for adult Sunday School classes. The authors are all egalitarian in their approach to Scripture and practice.

Book Review: What Does She Want From Me Anyway? Honest Answers to the Questions Men Ask About Women

In an ideal world we would not need a book like this. Husbands would frequently fulfill one of their basic marital duties by sitting down and listening to their wives. Wives would be able to express their needs, wishes, and desires with clarity, and husbands would be committed to working on solutions. Likewise, wives would be eager to sit down and listen to their husbands to provide a similar function for them. But we do not live in an ideal world and apparently there are countless husbands who have no idea how to function in their marriages.

Book Review: Mae Elise Cannon's Social Justice Handbook

As the director of finance and planning services for a community action agency, I spend my working hours "engaging the community to end poverty." Yet, it is my belief that the Bible calls upon the Christian community to be associated with the economically vulnerable and, as part of church life and discipleship, to seek to address the issues of poverty. It is my passion to connect Christians to those affected by poverty and to help the Christian community to think about the ways they can engage the issues of social justice.

Book Review: Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is intended for a broad readership with the aim of uniting those who might otherwise be divided because of their religious and political convictions. The authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism on an earlier project. They use their expertise to cast a light on the global sex trafficking industry of young women.

Book Review: Wayne Grudem's Evangelical Feminism

Evangelical Feminism is written to further a cause that has consumed the author's working life: the permanent subordination of women as God's ideal. It judges all fellow evangelicals who disagree on this matter to be "theological liberals," or implicit liberals. The fundamental seismic fault in the author's thinking is that he cannot differentiate between the interpretation of Scripture and Scripture itself.

Book Review: Carolyn Custis James's Half the Church

Carolyn Custis James is an established author; she has three previously published books, When Life and Beliefs Collide, Lost Women of the Bible, and The Gospel of Ruth. She holds an MA in biblical studies and is the founder and president of Synergy Women's Network. In this, her fourth book, Half the Church, James writes with passion and intensity to encourage women to fulfill God's call on their lives.

Book Review: Nancy Hedberg's Women, Men, and the Trinity

This very accessible book is an excellent place to start one's exploration into what has come to be called the "New Subordinationism" in current evangelical discussions of the Trinity. Author Nancy Hedberg, who is vice president for student life at Corban University in Salem, Oregon, is accustomed to communicating with young college students and brings that clarity over to her discussion of theology. She is a philosophical thinker who is gifted in understanding what an author is communicating as well as in relaying an accurate description of that position to readers.

Book Review: Submission within the Godhead and the Church in the Epistle to the Philippians

This volume by Sydney Park started life as a doctoral dissertation in New Testament studies. The style of the work is very academic, and the price of the hardback means very few, if any, nonspecialists will read it. This review will be devoted primarily to explaining the author's main argument, but I will indulge in just one critical comment toward the end.

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