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Priscilla Papers

Etienne Gilson spoke of medieval theology as an attempt to build great “cathedrals of the mind,” mental constructions meant to bring glory to God and to inspire worship as soaring stone cathedrals across Europe have since the same time period. Like any architectural achievement, these mental cathedrals brought together the many pieces of Christian doctrine into coherent and often beautiful structures of thought, building idea upon idea until great theological and philosophical systems emerged from scriptural foundations. This architectural analogy implies something important—it is rarely possible to shift the ground floor of a building without the entirety of the construct tumbling down. Only with great caution and preparation, whereby new supports are carefully constructed before the old are removed, can such a change go smoothly. Unfortunately, evangelical theology finds itself today in a situation where a great shift in a foundational doctrine of Christian theology has occurred—in the doctrine of the Trinity. This shift threatens several important Christian teachings and compromises the basic orientation of Christian ethics. As complementarian theologians increasingly speak of the eternal functional subordination of the Son (hereafter EFS), they move a central pillar of the cathedral of Christian doctrine, unaware that such a change could bring down the entire edifice of Christian theology. Read more
At the intersection of socioeconomics, ethnicity, and gender lurks one of the most insidious forms of violence against girls and women: sex trafficking. What theological insights should inform Christian ministry to victims and survivors of sex trafficking? Female theologians who are well-acquainted with histories of multiple forms of oppression should inform Christian practice. Therefore, mujerista (Spanish for “womanist”) and womanist scholars ought to be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, many evangelicals and other Christians whose praxis has primarily been informed by white, Western, male theological perspectives, are hesitant to consider theologies by and for women of color. This is a mistake. Whether or not a person fully embraces all the theological points of womanist and mujerista theologies, these contextualized liberation theologies contain powerful and poignant biblical truths that are particularly relevant to today’s victims and survivors of sex trafficking. This paper will first highlight relevant definitions and themes in mujerista and womanist theologies, then examine the implications for ministry among today’s sex trafficking victims and survivors Read more
Thomas Jefferson. Napoléon Bonaparte. Ludwig van Beethoven. Jane Austen. Darwin and Dickens. Wordsworth and Whitman. Lincoln and Lee. Crazy Horse and Custer. Karl and Groucho. By now you have discerned the topic—the nineteenth century. The War of 1812. The American Civil War. The Crimean War. The Industrial Revolution. The Victorian Era. The Gilded Age. First-Wave Feminism. The list could go on indefinitely. Sacagawea. Marie Curie. Clara Barton. Adoniram and Ann Judson. Indeed, someone should write a nineteenth-century companion to Billy Joel’s rapid-fire summary of the twentieth century, “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Read more
On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, Alvera Mickelsen was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus. Our beloved leader, mentor, mother, and friend died at the age of ninety-seven. A founder of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), she was CBE’s first board chair in 1987, worked with grassroots CBE chapters, and served for years as a CBE board member. She authored accessible books that remain bestsellers not only in CBE’s community, but around the world. Read more
Since the beginning of the feminist movement over a century ago, historians have debated the role religion played in the lives of the great British women’s rights leaders. Olive Anderson dismissed any agency religious experience gave to these women, contending that it “contributed nothing to the spread of feminist ideas.” Gail Malmgreen described their spirituality as a “central paradox” that historians struggle to keep in context while discussing their subjects’ lives and work. She went on to point out that religion is a neglected part of feminist history, yet historically there is a direct connection between faith and political activism within the feminist movement. In response to these works and others, Helen Mathers made a simple yet profound point: many of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century feminist leaders were devout Christians who drew upon faith as their main source of inspiration and strength, so a study of their beliefs is crucial to understanding their lives. Josephine Butler was one of these leaders. Read more
Alexander Campbell is arguably the most influential leader in the history of the American Restoration Movement, which emerged from the Second Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century and sought to reunite Christians by rejecting human creeds, breaking ties with denominations, and rediscovering the essential core Christian beliefs and practices in the Bible alone. Some four million people in a handful of Christian groups today find roots in this movement, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, the a capella Churches of Christ, and the International Churches of Christ. The earliest major document in this movement was the “Declaration and Address,” written by Alexander’s father, Thomas Campbell. In that work the senior Campbell denounced denominationalism as a great evil which divides the body of Christ. In 1832, the group led by the Campbells merged with a similar movement in Kentucky that began under the leadership of an American-born Presbyterian named Barton W. Stone. Thus the terms Restoration Movement and Stone-Campbell Movement have come to be used interchangeably. Read more
When the first American missionaries prepared to leave the shores of New England in 1812, Jonathan Allen, a respected minister of the gospel, delivered an exhortation to the women of the company. Speaking to them directly, he reminded the women that they were “now engaged in the best of causes,” specifically, the delivery of women in foreign lands from oppression. Allen proclaimed the call for American women to “enlighten” the minds of their foreign sisters and to “raise their character.” The American women were to “bring them from their cloisters” so that these subjugated foreign women might “enjoy the privileges of the children of God.” Ultimately, the work of American women in missions would teach women in the non-Western world that “they are not an inferior race of creatures; but stand upon a par with men.”   Read more
Sometimes reading the Bible is a walk in the park. Just as often, however, the Bible presents us with difficult terrain. To expand this metaphor, understanding some texts is like a 5K run. Others are like a 10K. Still others are more like a marathon. Everyone, from the ancient courier Pheidippides to the modern marathon record holder (currently Dennis Kimetto of Kenya), would agree that a marathon is a formidable test of strength and endurance, both physical and mental. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of people complete marathons each year, and like Bible interpreters, some finish with flying colors and others limp across the finish line. Going beyond the image of a marathon of interpretation, a few biblical texts, including some that teach about women, are like an ultramarathon—a course that is arduous even for the most competent biblical scholar. Read more
While it is now generally agreed that 1 Tim 2:8–15 is directed against the heresy that had taken hold within the Ephesian church, the key question is whether the passage is directed against the content of the heresy or is concerned to establish a process that will eventually see the victims corrected and the heresy expunged. If concerned with the content of the heresy, the instructions may be directed at restoring a hierarchical framework. If the passage is concerned with process, however, Paul’s demands are shaped by the particular nature of the heresy and its form of transmission in Ephesus. Read more
For better or worse, 2016 is another year for a United States presidential election. Beyond featuring the ever-increasing polarization in American politics, the election year also highlights how politicians will do just about anything to present themselves as the best candidate. One of the more common rhetorical appeals during election season is the appeal to the founding fathers. For example, Marco Rubio, formerly a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, when asked what limits he would place around the second amendment, said the following: “As few as possible. The Second Amendment, as I’ve said before, is not a suggestion. It is the constitutional right of every American to protect themselves and their families. . . . It is right after the defense of the freedom of speech for a reason, for clearly the founders of our nation understood and the framers of the Constitution understood that you cannot have life and you cannot have liberty and cannot pursue happiness if you are not safe.” Read more

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Book Review: Laceye Warner's Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice

The church's patriarchal past (and present) is notorious for hiding and diluting the work of women for the kingdom of God. Laceye C. Warner removes the shadow from the evangelistic work of seven women from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in her book Saving Women: Retrieving Evangelistic Theology and Practice. Dr. Warner is the associate dean for academic formation and associate professor of the practice of evangelism and Methodist studies at Duke Divinity School.

Book Review: Margaret English's Removing the Veil

Removing the Veil was written to affirm the place of women in God's economy. Author Margaret English gives special attention to the subject of women in ministry and maintains that women should be permitted full participation in ministry on an equal basis with men. The author draws from Scripture, her own personal testimony, and facts from church history as she presents evidence in support of equality in ministry. Anyone interested in the subject of women in ministry might read this book, but it was written with pentecostal/charismatic women in mind.

Book Review: Jackson Katz's The Macho Paradox

Violence against women is an ugly reality in our fallen world. And the more one studies this subject and the more one listens to women, the uglier it gets. This makes The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help a particularly welcome addition to the literature on male violence against women. Jackson Katz, a well-respected "anti-sexist male activist" and national leader in gender violence prevention, tackles this subject with candor, yet hope.

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:

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