Editor's Reflections | Autumn 2016 (30.4) | CBE International

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Editor's Reflections | Autumn 2016 (30.4)

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.”

This issue of Priscilla Papers assesses the contributions of a handful of nineteenth-century leaders. We begin with Josephine Butler, an English political activist, social reformer, and feminist. Author Asa James Swan demonstrates that Butler, like many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century feminist leaders, was a devout Christian who drew upon faith as her main source of inspiration and strength.

Next we turn to a study of Alexander Campbell by Lesly Massey. This Christian leader from the Second Great Awakening is a case study in ambivalence. As he anticipated Christ’s millennial kingdom, he promoted women as “the great agent in this grandest of all human enterprises . . . an effort to advance society to the access of its most glorious destiny on earth.” Yet he forbade women from various positions of church leadership.

Our third article, by Hannah Nation, won the 2016 CBE student paper competition and, as a result, was part of CBE’s conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September. The article lays bare certain motives of the nineteenth-century missionary movement and urges us to be driven by the liberating power of the Bible rather than by cultural imperialism.

CBE president Mimi Haddad has contributed a review of the book, A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism, by Kristin Kobes Du Mez of Calvin College (Oxford University Press, 2015). Mimi is herself an expert on Bushnell and is thus well-suited to write this important review. Bushnell’s book, God’s Word to Women, began as a series of essays which were first bound together in 1916. Thus this review serves as a recognition of the centennial of her especially influential scholarship.

Though focused on the nineteenth century, this issue begins and ends in the twentieth. Two reviews close the issue. The first is by Kevin Giles, who earnestly recommends Elaine Storkey’s book, Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women (SPCK, 2015). The second, by Acadia Divinity College student Taylor James Murray, considers Nate Pyle’s book, Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood (Zondervan, 2015). Finally, as you may have noticed already, across the page from this editorial you will find a tribute to Alvera Mickelsen, a founder of CBE and a prominent egalitarian leader for much of the twentieth century.

My work on this issue of Priscilla Papers has been a humbling reminder that we too will be evaluated by future generations. May the same be true for you.

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