She Can Teach!

A man named Pete tells the story of his uber-gifted mother who could teach, her womens Bible study classes were exploding in interest and size, she was asked to teach a “mixed” audience and when she began a few men got up and walked out, but her husband leaned over and said, “Preach the Word, honey..” because there are lots of people here eager to hear you speak.

The book is called She Can Teach: Empowering Women to Teach the Scriptures Effectively, by Jackie Roese, the first female teaching pastor at Irving Bible Church.

She begins with the ghosts — the ghosts that tell women and men that women are different and not suited or fitted or don’t have the disposition to be teachers, that ultimately the image of God in women is not quite the same as the image of God in men, the ghost that makes a woman fearful to affirm herself and assert herself enough for her voice to be heard — because young girls and women absorb the view that aggression and ambition and assertion are male qualities and unbecoming of a woman. The ghost of “role-ism” and the complementarian-egalitarian debate, with both sides using propaganda: oppression language, slippery slope language. (Her stories are simultaneously insightful and deadly.)

Another ghost: confidence in one’s calling. With role-ism and criticism flying around, not least on the web, women’s confidence can be shaken. (The Spirit, too, can be quenched.) Women are to learn (1 Tim 2:11); to teach (Titus 2:3-5); Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him and led to Paul’s teaching on Scripture’s power (2 Tim 3:16-17). There’s no meaningful substantive distinction between preach and teach (2 Tim 4:1-5).

Jackie affirms a “female voice,” though I don’t think she overgeneralizes or stereotypes. She focuses on “connectedness” and “relationships.” She builds on the work of Carol Noren (The Woman in the Pulpit). Women see things in texts that men don’t — or women tend to see what men tend not to see. She talks about how in her church in a study on Carolyn Custis James’ book on Ruth the men saw things through her book they had not seen in their previous readings of Ruth. (We can beat this one up; I think she’s right.) Female language tends to create community while male language tends toward contests. One reason, then, males struggle with female voices is because they are not male voices!

Do we realize how centuries of male voices from the pulpit create a world in which a male voice is what one expects to hear? (That does not make it right.)

The rest of Jackie’s book is an adaptation of her mentor, Haddon Robinson, for women (and men) who need to learn some skills for preaching — like finding the big idea (something I valued so much when I read Haddon’s book long, long time ago) and building the message and being creative and leaning on the Spirit and (mostly for women) what to wear.

The Pete at the top of his post is a pastor named Pete Briscoe, his father who encouraged his mother is Stuart and his mother is Jill Briscoe. Their story is the story. Their story resisted is why we need Jackie Roese’s book.

The next post, this morning, is by RJS and she’s a teacher/professor and her posts are ways of teaching the church.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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