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Priscilla Papers

Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Christians of Rome, we gain a rare glimpse of a behind-the-scenes participant in Paul’s letter-writing ministry. Romans 16:22 says, “I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord” (NRSV). Tertius was Paul’s amanuensis, the person who penned the letter which Paul spoke aloud. His job was to prepare Paul’s words to be read and heard. Read more
Liz Gentry
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
Rooted in my kitchen chair, your eyes blue flashing fire, leaping from soul, flare where burn flames hottest. Read more
From beginning to end, the story of Ruth captures the attention of the reader. Though a story of the ebb and flow of ancient human existence—famine and death, gleaning and feasting—the story and the character of Ruth have transcended these ordinary occurrences. Ruth contains many elements that make for good story—tragedy, conflict, romance, and redemption to name a few. This gripping story causes “the emotions of the reader to fluctuate between hope and despair until the very end when what began with multiple tragedies comes to a triumphant and happy conclusion.” Perhaps the evocative nature of the story contributes to the vastly different uses of this book and the character of Ruth. Dante calls her the “gleaner-maid, meek ancestress” of David; Bunyan casts her as Christina’s youthful companion Mercy; and Milton uses Ruth as the paradigm for a virtuous young lady. Indeed, the book of Ruth continues to be one of the most beloved among the OT scriptures. In four short chapters, the author draws the reader into the ancient Israelite experience and tells a delightful story of faithfulness and redemption. When compared with OT literature containing harsh denunciations and warnings for the Israelites regarding their conduct, Ruth’s simple tale describing a time when Israelite society functioned as God intended is refreshing. Read more
To a young boy living in Paris during the German occupation, every day was a struggle for survival. Because of the scarcity of food, hunger had become a relentless torment. Almost daily, older people in our neighborhood were reported to have died of deprivation. The lack of fuel to heat homes and schools rendered lethal the exceptionally harsh winters of 1941 and 1942. Adults went about gaunt and listless. Children did not learn to play, to run, and to laugh. Tall strangers in green uniforms paraded around under the display of their twisted, satanic cross. Their heavy steel helmets, the daggers hanging from their wide black leather belts, their rough voices, and their hard faces struck terror into the depths of our beings. Pervasive fear, gnawing want, and hopelessness permeated every aspect of our existence.   Read more
Who has authority and who does not? This question drives many debates in the church today, and the conclusions drawn from it determine how people can function. But very rarely do we ask the question, what is authority? We propose a reframing of authority that defines how we function as a Christ-centered community. Being a Christ-centered community should be our primary concern, and, from this pursuit, our understanding of authority should arise. This article seeks to examine new-covenant believer (NCB) interpersonal authority, questioning the appropriateness of individuals exercising authority over fellow disciples of Jesus.1 We contend that we must primarily emphasize how to mature as members of Christ’s communal body and how to exhort others toward maturity, so that we, as a Christ-centered community, might fully express who Jesus is to the world. This maturity is dependent on a proper understanding of the authority of God, not on the authority of one person over another. By seeing authority in this way, we shift emphasis from office and position to maturity and gifting. And, since maturity in Christ is the goal of all believers, and all have gifts from the Spirit, these qualifications should dictate function. One practical way this understanding of authority can be applied is to the issue of women in leadership within the church. This article will attempt to reflect Scripture’s emphasis on community, then survey Scripture’s lack of emphasis on NCB interpersonal authority, and, finally, close with practical implications of what such a reorientation would mean for the body of Christ and, consequently, the issue of women in church leadership. Read more

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Book Review: Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life

Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life, by Oregon State University sociology professor Sally K. Gallagher, is a detailed study of evangelical attitudes toward gender and the family. Although many CBE members will be familiar with the basic issues summarized in part I of the book, there remains much to be learned from part II, where Gallagher reviews and interprets results from a major survey of American evangelicals.

Book Review: A Theology of Women: Men and Women in the Church

Sarah Sumner writes an apologetic that is especially helpful to dissatisfied complementarians who do not want to see themselves as "feminists." She wants the Christian community to function as the family of God, where women are mothers in the church and men are fathers in the church, both fulfilling their design to usher in God's reign.

Book Review: How Religious Women View Feminism: God Gave Us the Right

In this carefully done ethnographic study, religion professor Christel Manning offers an intriguing assessment of the lives and beliefs of women in conservative religious traditions today. Manning surveys and assesses responses to feminist social values and the secular feminist movement by women in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, a charismatic evangelical church, and a Catholic parish with a fairly large conservative constituency.

Book Review: God As Mother: A Translator's Challenge: The Bible in Cross Cultural Perspective

Jacob A. Loewen's recent book The Bible in Cross-Cultural Perspective covers a multitude of subjects—heaven, earth, the afterlife, the spirit world, exorcism, among them. Of particular interest to Priscilla Papers readers is chapter 9, "Images of God: Male, Female, or Both" (pp. 109-16). It is packed with wonderful information regarding inclusive language. Here are excerpts:

Book Review: A Hero from Yesterday: Phoebe Palmer's The Promise of the Father

I wish I had encountered Phoebe Palmer (1807-74) about 25 years ago when wrestling with the issue of the role of women in the church loomed heavily on my heart and mind, and had surfaced in our church as well. Palmer's underlying thesis is that the promise of the Father to pour out his Spirit on all flesh, male and female, and that sons and daughters would prophesy, relates to the role of women in the church today.

Book Review: Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15

After a woman pastor, who had preached in college chapel, spoke in my Women in the Bible class, two women students challenged her right to preach by asking, "But how can you be a pastor and lead men in light of 1Timothy 2:9-15?" The pastor responded, "You know, God called me to preach and I started preaching before anyone ever called my attention to 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

Book Review: God's Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission

God's Daughters is an ethnographic analysis of Women's Aglow Fellowship, a 30-year-old women's organization that originally developed out of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. Women's Aglow is the largest interdenominational women's mission organization in the world. Dr. Griffith's book, based on her 1995 Harvard Ph.D. thesis, is built on her observer-participant findings. The analysis is warm and respectful and is built on a genuine liking the author developed for these praying women.

Book Review: Dismantling the Dualisms for American Pentecostal Women in Ministry: A Feminist-Pneumatological Approach

Lisa Stephenson relates the purpose of her book in her concluding chapter rather than in her introduction. Her purpose is to address the theological tenets "that have sustained and justified the subjugation of women in ministry within Pentecostalism ..." (191). She writes as a Pentecostal (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee) to Pentecostals and relies heavily upon Pentecostal scholars such as Gordon Fee, Cecil M. Robeck Jr., Roger Stronstad, Veli-Matti Karkkainnen, and Edith Blumhofer. Wisely, she goes beyond them to rely on Linda L. Belville, Bernhard W.

Book Review: Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues, by N.T. Wright

N. T. (Tom) Wright is an esteemed scholar and prolific author whose work is no stranger to readers of Priscilla Papers. His article, “The Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church,”1 was one of the first I read on the topic and served as a launching point for my subsequent research and writing. Consequently, I am pleased to provide a review of his recent book, Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues.

Book Review: Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Young Clergywomen of Color, by Mihee Kim-Kort

The recently published book, Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Young Clergywomen of Color, poignantly opens up a whole new world for those of us who still see through the eyes of the dominant culture. The title’s Clergywomen of Color gives a small taste of the experiences these women have faced and continue to face.

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