Priscilla Papers | CBE International

You are here

Priscilla Papers

It is no secret that the vast majority of the voices that speak to us from the days of the early church are male. Early church history is filled with stories of famous martyr-bishops such as Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. a.d. 107–8), Polycarp of Smyrna (d. ca. a.d. 156), and Cyprian of Carthage (d. a.d. 258). In addition to these un­forgettable personages, there is also no lack of male evangelists, apologists, and theologians whose views are readily available for anyone who has the time and desire to read them. As an early church historian, I would hardly dissuade anyone from taking up such a task. However, it saddens me that the stories of women, who surely must have made up at least fifty percent of the early church population, go largely untold. Read more
One of my spiritual mentors is a woman who lived six hundred years ago: Julian of Norwich. I admire her for the clarity of her descriptions of spiritual experience, her balanced and orthodox presentation of God as mother, and the divine comfort of her vi­sion of our sin and redemption. Read more
November 16 is the feast day of a remarkable woman: St. Marga­ret of Scotland. Margaret spent most of her early life in Hungary during her father’s exile. She returned to England with her family in 1056 or 1057, and, shortly after this her father died, leaving her brother as a possible heir to the childless Edward the Confessor. But, Edward died in January 1066, and then came the Norman Conquest. Her meeting with King Malcolm altered those plans and set Margaret on the course toward a career of queenship rather than the life of religious contemplation she seems to have wanted. Read more
How should women be involved in Kingdom ministries? Which specific ministries are to be opened to them? Should any remain closed? How shall we decide? Read more
There are evangelical, Bible-believing Christians on both sides of this issue. The difference between the two is not the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. Both would agree that the Bible is “the only perfect, supreme, infallible and sufficient standard of faith and practice.” The difference is in the area of hermeneutics—how to interpret the Bible and apply its message to life today. Another difference is the cultural background and life experience that the interpreter brings with him to the task of interpretation. No interpreter approaches Scripture totally free of presuppositions. When an issue becomes controversial, people tend to divide between those who are for and those who are against. When this happens, it becomes difficult to approach the Bible with an open mind. We are tempted to look for proof texts to support our views rather than being willing to examine our attitudes and views critically in the light of what the Bible teaches. As J. I. Packer himself argues in “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, we must be willing to subject our judgment to the written Word of God. Read more
Some time ago, J. I. Packer published a short piece in Christianity Today, titled “Let’s Stop Making Women Presbyters.”2 As the title suggests, this piece is a straightforward example of the age-old attempt to justify the treatment of women as second-class and substandard— an oppressive gesture, even if unintended as such. However, if Patricia Hill Collins is correct in saying that oppressive situations are inherently unstable, then it stands to reason that somewhere in Packer’s argument there will be instability or contradiction which undermines his argument. That is not to say that the contradiction will be obvious or easy to spot. Very possibly because they do not see themselves as oppressors, many apologists for oppression are very good at dissimulating, obscuring, or even ignoring the contradictory nature of their positions. Nevertheless, through a careful reading of Packer’s essay, I hope to point out and explain the way in which his argument betrays itself and comes undone. Read more
Packer: The authority of Scripture is at stake. No women in Scripture were presbyters. Therefore women ought not to be presbyters and ought not to be ordained. Response: This argument is inconsistent and begs the question. The argument equates “presbyter” with being ordained and with the exercise of authority. This is inconsistent with the introduction to Packer’s own article in which he affirms that Scripture does not prohibit women teaching. There is no direct reference to ordination in Scripture. Paul was not “ordained” in the sense referred to by Packer. Only in Timothy is there any mention of ordination and that is not the same as today’s notion of ordination. Packer agrees 1 Timothy 2 does not prohibit women as teachers and preachers in the church but also says that they should not be ordained. This is contradictory. “He wants to have his cake and eat it too.” Read more
On February 11, 1991, Christianity Today carried an article by J. I. Packer titled “Let’s Stop Making Women Presbyters.” In it Packer asserted that Protestants are abandoning the position traditionally held by Roman Catholics, Orthodox and evangelicals with respect to the ordination of women. Packer attributed the growing trend to five factors: Feminism has infiltrated the church. According to Packer, “feminist ideology demands equal rights everywhere, on the grounds that anything a man can do a woman can do as well if not better.” The socialization of women since World War I has permitted them to enter spheres previously open only to men. The New Testament passages on women speaking in church (1 Cor 14:34-35) and teaching men (1 Tim 2:11- 14) have proved “problematic” both in their interpretation and application. God apparently has blessed ministries led by women. Ordination with its incumbent status and privileges has provided a certain degree of “job-satisfaction” to females in professional ministry roles. Read more
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4–5, NASB) Read more
FROM THE CONCEPTION OF MANKIND IN THE     GARDEN OF EDEN UNTIL THIS PRESENT HOUR,   I WAS IN HIS PLAN. Read more

Pages

Book Review: Women Caught in Conflict

This book deals in depth with the rocky relationship between evangelicalism and feminism. The author believes it is no less than part of the "culture war" that replicates on a smaller scale what is going on in secular society.

Book Review: A Cord of Three Strands

This book, written by a woman on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, makes a distinct contribution to the current literature on biblical teachings about men and women in the marriage relationship and as co-workers in the service of Christ. The title is taken from Ecclesiastes 4:12: "A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." The three strands, in Wright's book, refers to man, woman and God.

The book is divided into two sections: the first discusses the marriage relationship; the second concerns how men and women can and should work together in Christian service.

Book Review: John Stackhouse Jr.'s Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender

Finally Feminist is designed to speak to both sides of the gender debate within the evangelical church. Stackhouse attempts to affirm both sides with "a single, coherent paradigm that amounts finally to a Christian feminism" (10). The book grew out of a series of lectures given while the author was a visiting scholar at Taylor University (Indiana) and Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia. Only 144 pages, the book's discussion of gender is limited to the status and roles of women and men in church and family.

Book Review: Del Birkey's The Fall of Patriarchy

Del Birkey, an independent scholar and author of The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1988), has written a passionate, wide-ranging, and interesting book on the harmful power of patriarchy and its critique by Jesus and the apostles, representing the biblical truth of gender equality. Birkey published an article on patriarchy in the Spring 2000 issue of Priscilla Papers, which he says was the beginning of his work on this topic.

Book Review: Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation

Biblical feminists will be interested in a chapter co-authored by Helen V. Stehlin which appears in James Davison Hunter's new book (1987) Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation (University of Chicago Press). The chapter is entitled "Family: Toward Androgyny." Hunter's sociological study of evangelical college and seminary students surveys current attitudes regarding world, morality, self, theology, politics, and the family.

Book Review: Kari Torjesen Malcom's Building Your Family to Last

In July 2006, I welcomed the reprinting of this marriage classic. Kari Torjesen Malcolm is an expert on the subject of marriage and family. Born of a Norwegian missionary couple in China, Malcolm later served as a missionary to the Philippines for fifteen years with her husband and two children. Building Your Family to Last was written to help individuals build lasting families by putting Christ first in their lives (9). Christian married couples and single readers alike will find her message relevant, precise, provocative, and biblical.

Book Review: Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis's Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Heirarchy

The editors of this large volume of 515 pages have put together twenty-nine essays arranged under five headings: Setting the Stage (the Historical Backdrop); Looking to Scripture (the Biblical Texts); Thinking It Through (Logical and Theological Perspectives); Addressing the Issues (Hermeneutical and Cultural Perspectives); Living It Out (Practical Applications). All are scholarly presentations that are well documented and compellingly written by more than twenty contributors, three by contributing editor Gordon Fee.

Book Review: Steven R. Tracy's Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse

Dr. Steven Tracy is the vice president of academic affairs and associate professor of theology and ethics at Phoenix Seminary. He and his wife founded the Door of Hope ministry, which provides training and resources for abuse healing ministry. Drawing upon his fifteen years of pastoral and counseling experience, the author uses illustrations from real cases and the Bible to provide practical advice on how to minister to abuse survivors.

Book Review: Marriage Made in Eden

Alice Mathews and M. Gay Hubbard write an extraordinary book about Christian marriage and family. The book's purpose is to explore God's perspective on marriage, an ancient view, for a postmodern world. Marriage Made in Eden is bursting with rich historical, cultural, sociological and biblical background on marriage. But the authors' unique contribution in advocating for strong, enduring Christian marriage is their belief that God's purpose for marriage is both to transform us as the people of God and to use us to witness God's amazing love and power to an unbelieving world.

Book Review: Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and Pauline Communities

I was very pleased to be asked to review Bruce Winter's book on women in first century Roman society and the Pauline churches. Bruce and I studied together at Moore Theological College in Sydney in the mid-1960s. He went on to complete a doctorate at Macquarie University, Sydney, and is now the warden at Tyndale House Cambridge. Bruce's scholarship shines through in this work. He is completely conversant with Greek and Latin texts from the first century and makes excellent use of them.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Priscilla Papers