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Priscilla Papers

In the previous edition of Priscilla Papers, my article, “The Genesis of Equality,” outlined the prevailing view that the Bible’s opening chapters make substantial or essential equality of the two sexes the creation ideal, and that the subordination of women is entirely a consequence of the fall. I further noted that Pope John Paul II made this interpretation of Gen 1–3 binding on Roman Catholics. In this essay, I move on to discuss four key terms—“role,” “equality,” “difference,” and “complementary”—which “complementarians” consistently utilize to give a different interpretation of Gen 1–3 and of other biblical texts important to their cause. Again, I bring in the Roman Catholic voice to give a wider perspective. Read more
My perhaps-naïve assumption is that the editor’s introduction is the least-read part of any journal. As a result, I should briefly reiterate my first introduction from the autumn 2014 issue—in case you missed it. My name is Jeff Miller. My wife Dana and I live, work, and minister in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. I have become increasingly involved with CBE since attending their 2007 conference in Bangalore, India. My predecessor Bill Spencer and his editorial team of Aída Besançon Spencer and Deb Beatty Mel deserve sincere thanks for their decade of exemplary service. “Tertius” at the top of this page refers to Romans 16:22, where Paul’s amanuensis says, “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord” (NIV). I feel an affinity with Tertius; the work that associate editor Theresa Garbe and I do for Priscilla Papers is not terribly unlike the work Tertius did for Paul. Read more
It is common to view the entire debate between complementarianism and egalitarianism in terms of which side has more biblical support. Both sides of the debate have an explicitly high view of scripture that gives biblical texts a central place of authority. Exegetical theology, then, is naturally given a tremendous amount of weight—as are hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. Read more
Is the Bible divided on the issue of gender? Many highly respected evangelical scholars believe there is a tension in the Bible between affirmations of gender equality and gender roles. Can we arrive at a consistent biblical position without doing violence to the text? Need one sacrifice good exegesis at the altar of systematic theology? Surely, good exegesis and good systematic theology go hand in hand. I have prayerfully wrestled for forty-one years with the texts’ apparent contradictions on gender and can honestly say that the biblical texts themselves have transformed my understanding. From creation to new creation, the Bible’s message about gender in the church and marriage consistently affirms the equal standing of man and woman. Read more
The claim is often made that Christians who advance the shared leadership, authority, and ministry of men and women in the church and home do so only by circumventing the authority of scripture. Because of this claim, egalitarians are accused of theological liberalism. I was inspired to write this paper after an evangelical scholar confessed candidly to me that, though he was trained in a tradition that viewed egalitarian theology as pernicious, through a series of circumstances including a positive encounter with an egalitarian leader, he determined to study egalitarian theology more thoroughly. Cicero reminds us that a fair hearing of any position must include a full grasp of the historical context. This paper briefly considers historical material often overlooked by evangelicals in assessing the theological orthodoxy of egalitarians. Read more
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

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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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