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    Women: Time for an Update

    Women in Church History Last week a friend told me that in one of her seminary summer school classes a fellow student insisted the existence of Christian women in public ministry started with radical feminism. And the professor did not seem to realize what the student said was untrue.  I hear such statements often. Here’s one from a Christian blogger: “It was the feminist teachings of the past few decades that first spurred Christians to try to argue for [women in public ministry]. Like it or not, the two schools of thought are intertwined.”  Maybe we get the idea that radical feminism started it all because we don’t realize how…

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    Six Words That Changed My Life

    I am Sandra—daughter of Ann, of Velma, of Ella…all the way back to Eve. But the genetic line stops with me. Although I went to college, I had no intention of pursuing a career. I dated my high-school sweetheart, and I knew even in my freshman year that I would marry this guy. My main vocational goal was to be a mommy. It was my only aspiration.   When we married at ages 21 and 20, Gary and I wanted at least three children. It never dawned on me that we might face the prospect of no kids at all. If anything, I figured we’d have nineteen like Susannah Wesley and…

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    Supporting your Sisters in a “Go Home” Sub-Culture

    The evangelical space of the internet erupted last month when prominent pastor and theologian John MacArthur mocked author and speaker Beth Moore, telling an audience full of male pastors she should “go home” rather than use her gifts in the church. MacArthur later clarified his views on women in ministry in an hour-long sermon, stating “empowering women makes weak men,” and women serving in leadership positions are a “disgrace” and exude “flagrant disobedience.” The aim of this post is not to weigh in on the role of women in ministry except to point out that, despite MacArthur's dogmatism on the issue, arguments have been made on both sides of the complementarian/egalitarian spectrum by theologians who adhere…

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    Papers Relating to Women I Heard at ETS

    I spent the past week with a bunch of my theological colleagues at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Everybody who belongs to the ETS annually signs a statement affirming their belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. And at the national conference, presenters read papers, which they often publish afterward.  And I heard some interesting content. Here’s a sampling of some stuff to know:  Was it really all about the alcohol? My student Dani (she has guest-posted here in the past) presented for the first time. Her topic was the woman (named Abigail) whom Jonathan Edwards publicly excommunicated. This woman's name has been known for only the past…

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    Can a Woman Be a Pastor? Looking at the New Testament

    Recently someone raised this question: Were there any mentions in the New Testament of men/women who were actually titled “pastor”? I keep hearing arguments that there were no women pastors in the Bible, but I can’t find any men called “pastor” either. The observation that no one, male or female, is called “pastor” is absolutely correct. We don’t see “Pastor Paul” or “Pastor Mark” or “Pastor John” in the Bible. Or “Pastor Phoebe” for that matter. In the same way that no one person is ever referred to as the giver (imagine “Giver Aquila”), the exhorter (Exhorter Priscilla?), the evangelizer, the teacher, the mercy-shower…there is also no one in the New…

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    Complementarians on Women in Ministry: Diverse Images

      I read recently that when boards of directors have both male and female representation, they make better decisions. Doesn’t that sound consistent with Genesis 1:28? Not to everybody. Especially not those at the conservative end of the complementarian camp (and it is a very wide camp with a lot of difference inside). The word “complementarian” gets underlined in red in a Word doc, because it’s a word people made up. And they did so to emphasize that men and women are complementary. Some say “egalitarians [hereafter E’s] believe men and women have no gender differences and that complementarians [hereafter C’s] believe in the beautiful design of God for gender…

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    How Long, O Church?

    I recently attended a speaking competition in which men and women participated. After greeting the audience, the emcee recited a disclaimer regarding the women’s involvement. (Allow me to paraphrase.) “Attention: this situation involves uncertainty and risk. We deny responsibility for offense.” Did you catch it? Women are the risk. The shrapnel of sexism shot through me like the “Caution: Contents Hot” proviso; it affronts my intelligence. How long will we suffocate women with subtleties of sexism? The Church either stifles or silences women with “problem texts” that do not prohibit their leadership. We label female leaders as unorthodox or their ministries as uncharacteristic of the workings of God. Such disclaimers…

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    “She Was a Pretty Good Prophet…for a Woman”?

    A seminary-class grader once wrote this comment on an assignment turned in by the female who would go on to become his school's first female professor: "Your questions are really insightful for a woman."  Recently one of my female seminary students told of feeling she did not matter to God. She described seeing herself as the less-favored one as compared with men. She said she constantly grapples with questions, such as, ‘Does God really love women the way he loves men?’ ‘Does God see women as inferior to men?’ and ‘Why did God allow women to be treated so poorly?’” Some of her questions stem from how she has heard…