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Priscilla Papers

Louisa Woosley was the first Presbyterian woman to be ordained. Woosley’s life coincided with a time of increasing participation by female leadership in the Cumberland Presbyterian (CP) Church, the denomination to which she belonged.1 During the late 1800s, women in CP churches were serving as teachers and officers in the Sunday schools and contributed greatly to missions efforts and to church schools and colleges. In 1877, the appointment of women serving as trustees and deacons in churches was approved by the Pennsylvania Presbytery. This decision was rather low key and noncontroversial, unlike the issue of women as elders or ministers. Read more
M. Madeline Southard (1877–1967) is known among Methodists today for her pioneering work for ecclesiastical rights for women, particularly for the pivotal role she played in the 1920s in opening up ordination to women in the Methodist Church.1 Among religious historians, she is known for founding the International Association of Women Ministers (IAWM) in 1919, an interdenominational organization that, by the 1920s, included around 10 percent of female ministers in America, and which continues to this day.2 Southard also achieved a certain notoriety in her younger years, when she accompanied the infamous Carry Nation on one of her saloon-smashing crusades, and later when she traveled the country preaching and speaking on women’s rights, suffrage, and sexuality from a biblical perspective.3   Read more
Forefoot, arch, then ball are held steamy in the moist cloth,  held with both hands by a woman in Oregon caring for a homeless man,  now shaved and fed. Read more
Instead of giving yet another argument, let us consider the matter of strategy. I am both a jazz lover and evangelical egalitarian. As I was preparing a talk to the Denver chapter of Christians for Biblical Equality, it came to me that the approach to race taken by composer, big-band leader, and pianist Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899–1974) has much to teach egalitarians on how to shape a rhetoric that fits our difficult and often vexing cause. The man who was arguably America’s greatest composer and unarguably its superlative band leader may also be a model for many of us weary of the effort to show that women are, after all, fully human—with all the gifts, responsibilities, and woes that involves. Duke Ellington, the musical hero, may be, in addition, a rhetorical hero worthy of emulation by emissaries of egalitarianism.3 The argument is one of analogy. Although Duke Ellington did not directly take up the case of women’s rights, his approach to race exhibited virtues, values, and strategies that are felicitous for contemporary egalitarians.    Read more
She holds His shoes in her hands. They are worn shoes, but the only clothes not stolen by Romans and priests and elders and everyone else who always wanted a piece of Him. But they cannot have Read more
I look at it every now and then. We both held Him. I and a grave share that honor. Read more
Rape is a timeless and worldwide1 epidemic that violates the divine image and personhood of a human being and renders its victims voiceless, powerless,2 and fragmented from self, others, and God. Rape causes a desolate and disordered reality psychologically, relationally, and spiritually, often resulting in theological and “existential crisis.”3 Although this crisis impacts millions each year,4 rape has a history of silence, denial, and serious misperceptions.5 These misperceptions include blaming the victim and minimizing the multidimensional impact and trauma of rape. Healing requires breaking the silence, which many voices are doing today, including one particular community more than two thousand years old. Rather than silencing, denying, or minimizing rape, this community speaks relevantly and powerfully by voicing outrage against rape. Read more
Former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China said, “The speed of a fleet is judged not by the fastest ones in the front, but by the slowest ones trailing at the end.” This imagery, unintended though it was for the women’s movement, provides a vivid depiction of women and girls who are left behind. Though gender equality has seemingly made significant strides inside and outside the church in the past few decades, there remain many overwhelmingly horrid stories of women and girls whose lives are severely broken by extreme abuse and exploitation. In the biblical framework of creation-fall-redemption, and against the cultural backdrops of China and Cambodia, we look into God’s intention in restoring lives of these violated girls. Read more
As a boy, I lived on a small family fruit farm. When springtime came, grasses and weeds that coexisted between the rows of fruit trees were ripped and carved so that the soil could breathe and be prepared to support the trees for the coming season. As the weeds were turned over, an important cycle of life was encouraged. When the spring rains came, the enzymes did their work to break down the organic matter to support new growth. The parable of the sower is included in the three synoptic gospels of our Bible. The parable describes scattered seeds that fell on hardened paths, where the birds have a feast; or in shallow soil amid rocks, where, after a brief life, the plants shrivel for lack of moisture and nourishment; or some that fell among thorns, where life was short as the vines and dominant plants monopolized the moisture and nutrients, smothering the fragile plants. Each picture represents the life-giving word of God, which does not take root due to unwelcoming conditions. In the lives of the people I work with, as it is for all of us to some extent, God’s invitation to true wellness is unable to be fully realized due to various, often significant, hindrances. Read more
Ideas have consequences. This is particularly true in addressing domestic violence. Men who abuse hold ideas—or, as we will term them, beliefs—that support their abusive behaviors. And, like the verbal abuse and lethal neglect of Nabal in the biblical account of 1 Samuel 25 that nearly led to his own and the death of his servants and children, such behaviors have dire consequences for the men themselves and those who live with them: wives, aging parents, partners, and children. To understand the cycle of abuse and the beliefs that support it, we must first understand the details and reality of those living in abusive homes by defining terms, reviewing the types and frequency of abuse, and examining the beliefs of men who abuse as well as assessing the consequences of these beliefs—and the subsequent actions they engender—on their female partners and children who witness abuse. Finally, I will close with some basic tenets in challenging men who abuse and their belief systems. The standard in the domestic violence field is to address the issue using multidisciplinary teams or coordinated community responses. Read more

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Book Review: The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls

The media has in recent years given increasing attention to global violence toward women and girls. In 2012, the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) went to Saving Face, which focuses upon survivors of acid attacks in Pakistan. In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager, became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her activism on behalf of young people (especially girls) denied access to education. Another past Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former US President Jimmy Carter, has also committed himself to activism on behalf of subjugated women.

An Extended Review of One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life

Wayne Grudem says that for twenty-five years he has believed that how the Trinity is understood “may well turn out to be the most decisive factor in finally deciding” the bitter debate between evangelicals about the status and ministry of women.1 This is encouraging to hear, because Grudem and many of his fellow complementarians have got the doctrine of the Trinity completely wrong.

Book Review: Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood

Nate Pyle is a pastor in Fishers, Indiana. His recent book, Man Enough, tackles the question of biblical gender roles from a fresh perspective. His offering is the latest in the recent influx of gender studies in the “spiritual memoir” genre. While authors like Rachel Held Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood, 2012) or Sarah Bessey (Jesus Feminist, 2013) have provided important insights on the ongoing complementarian versus egalitarian debate, they have commented largely on how this debate has affected women.

Finding Their Voices: Sermons by Women in the Churches of Christ

D’Esta Love is no stranger to writing and editing; as co-editor of the Pepperdine University based ministry journal, Leaven, she has often encouraged the ministry of other women.1 She is also no stranger to “finding her voice.” In the introduction to Finding Their Voices, Love reflects on the number of years she waited for the opportunity to preach in her own heritage, in a Church of Christ (she was seventy years old).

Wild at Heart: Essential Reading or “Junk Food of the Soul”?

It seems a discussion of masculinity can scarcely commence at Gordon College without mention of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, a book enthusiastically endorsed by Christians nationwide. Many would agree with writer Charles Swindoll, who calls Wild at Heart “the best, most insightful book I have read in at least the last five years” (Eldredge, i). Eldredge’s immense popularity, however, must not be allowed to disguise the fact that his suggestions are often incongruent with the teachings of Jesus.

Book Review: Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women

I have read nothing quite like Elaine Storkey’s book, Scars Across Humanity. It tells the story of violence against women in today’s world. The book is very well researched and accessible; moreover, it is spine-chilling. As I sat with the book in hand after reading it I felt both pleased that someone had so powerfully told this awful story and depressed by what I had read.

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