August 6, 2012

Robin Gallaher Branch, in Biblical Archaeology Review, has an article about Judith, whom I consider a friend of Junia — a woman of enormous capacity who is largely unknown. I clip the beginning of the article, then Robin’s eleven points, but you will have to go to the BAR site or magazine to get the details for each point.

The Book of Judith—considered canonical by Roman Catholics, Apocrypha Literature by Protestants, and non-canon by Jews—tells the story of the ignominious defeat of the Assyrians, an army bent on world domination, by the hand of a Hebrew woman (Judith 13:14).

Indeed her beheading of Holofernes, the invading Assyrian general—in his own tent, with his own sword, and surrounded by his own heretofore victorious army, no less!—marks her as a political savior in Israel on a par with David.

Consider these characteristics:

1. Judith commands, plans, leads.
2. Judith is verbose.
3. Judith strategizes.
4. Judith knows her power over men.
5. Judith acts for the common good.
6. Judith displays extraordinary courage.
7. Judith and her maid.
8. Judith’s heritage. (more…)

August 3, 2012

The women who are mentioned in the New Testament, not to mention the many, many names of women in the Old Testament whose names are mostly unknown to Christians today, are often scratches on the surface of a deeper story. Patient reading of such texts often yields considerable information, and I have made the case that there’s much to see in Paul’s mentioning of Junia in Romans 16:7 (see Junia is Not Alone).

Two more women, whom I am calling Junia’s friends since they join her in being ignored in Christian churches, are Philippi’s Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3). Here are Paul’s words, and I’ll offer a few brief observations.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers,whose names are in the book of life.

1. To mention the names of these two women, whose names mean “Success” and “Lucky,”  probably suggests they are close friends of Paul’s; they are at odds with one another “in the Lord” (seemingly ministry concerns); this is not confrontation of problematic women (which is a chauvinistic stereotype) but a plea by Paul to some of his friends. (more…)

March 10, 2012

Loved this story from Alice’s daughter (Hannah).

Witnessing my mother’s struggles within the church institution deeply impacted my understanding and experience of Christianity. At times in my life I have wanted to sever ties with the tradition completely and avoid being associated with such an oppressive narrative. My mother’s passion for institutional change has, however, kept me from doing so. Instead, it has allowed me to experience Christian faith from the eyes of the oppressed and to be inspired to action by the emancipatory message and radical relationships of Jesus.

Mom, thank you for making the intentional choice to work within your community and the church to push against the status quo, providing an opportunity for repressed communities to renew their voices. I continue with you so that people will not just like you, but will respect you, carry forward your work, and magnify the choir of women’s voices fighting for their just space (in religious and non-religious institutions) across our world.

 

February 20, 2012

I take the title of this post from the little e-book I wrote, Junia is Not Alone. Here is the kind of evidence that needs to be repeated and expanded more and more. Thanks to Sandra Glahn for this fine sketch:

Often evangelicals teach that women were content with their lot in life until Betty Friedan came along and started the feminist movement. Yet this version of history is inaccurate. And if we believe Jesus is the Truth, we need to tell the story as it actually happened….

Because Protestants do not celebrate saints’ days, we miss out on learning about many great women in Christian history.

Take for example the one whose “day” falls on November 17.Hilda, Abbess of Whitby (born AD 614), led a large community of men and women studying for God’s service, five of whom went on to become bishops. She brought the gospel to ordinary people, but kings and scholars also sought her counsel. She was a missionary, teacher and educator, and her abbey became one of the great religious centers of North Eastern England. Hilda is one of many such women in history. (more…)

December 2, 2011

I’ve got a new e-book available, and it’s called Junia is Not Alone.

It’s cheap: only $2.99. It’s so new at Amazon there’s no cover on the Amazon page yet. The cover is now posted at Amazon.

This is my first adventure into the e-book world, and so this is an exciting day. The book is published through Patheos Press, the host of my blog.

What’s  Junia is Not Alone about?

It’s about Junia from Romans 16:7. It tells the story of Junia in the history of the Bible, and it shows how her story mirrors the story of women in the Bible, in the history of the church, and in our current world where many women are finding their voice.

Take a look at it and help us spread the word about this book.

If you’re unfamiliar with ebooks, they’re quite easy to read — for instance, you can download a FREE Kindle reading app to your PC, Mac, tablet, or smartphone.

 

November 18, 2019

Andrew Bartlett, in his new book Men and Women in Christ, sketches the six most common pillars on which the argument against women leaders rests. (#ad)

Formerly, the view that women may not fulfil these leadership roles rested on a belief that women were in a subordinate position and inherently unfit for leadership, either because this was how God created them or because of the fall. This belief is no longer regarded as consistent with Scripture… While there are differences between individual evangelical complementarian scholars, broadly speaking the restriction on women’s leadership now appears to rest on one of more of six pillars.

  1. the restriction on women’s speaking in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35;
  2. Paul’s restriction on women in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, in particular verse 12;
  3. Jesus’ choice of twelve male apostles;
  4. only men were permitted to be Old Testament priests of the Lord;
  5. a view of male headship derived from Genesis 2, interpreted in the light of certain New Testament texts, especially 1 Corinthians 11:3;
  6. the qualifications for elders set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.

Barrett concludes that these pillars are flimsy. One can examine the scholarship on #s 1 and 2 and quickly learn that Paul’s own practices and the Bible’s own witness to women in leadership and speaking and prophesying require — if consistency is desired — that these are not general statements but specific ones. The male apostles one doesn’t prove anything; Jesus didn’t say “only” males can be apostles but also an apostle is not the sole or even primary model for determining church leaders like elders/bishops/deacons. Yea, indeed, if Junia was an apostle… what then for elders if one wants to use this argument about only-male-apostles?

The priest argument, I will say, really falls flat for me and always has. NT pastors/elders are not called “priests” and that means that priestly role, and they weren’t the only teachers in Israel, is not the paradigm for the elder/bishop/deacon.

The connection of women and elders says nothing about women and teaching, as women and teaching says nothing about women and elders. Women were leaders at some level — they were well known for their place in the early churches — but what “functions” or “offices” they performed is neither stated nor denied. Silence proves nothing.

There are no named females as elders. Nor are any males named as elders.

If the church wanted to say “women can’t be elders or deacons or bishops” it could have said so. It never did.

October 29, 2019

On October 23, 2019

Welcomed with handclapping and glee, the demeaning of women and people of color was celebrated on the platform and by attendees at the recent Truth Matters Conference. Leading the way was John MacArthur, a mega-church pastor, radio personality, and seminary teacher. His diatribe against women began as MacArthur offered two words that came to mind when he thought of Beth Moore. With impunity he said, “Go home!” His remarks provoked not silence from the audience but laughter and applause. The African American theologian, professor, and author, Dr. Voddie Baucham, was also criticized. In explaining Baucham’s absence on the panel, the moderator said he was too exhausted to participate, that “he’s not here because… he’s weak, is what it is. He’s weak.” Again, the audience laughed. It is deeply worrisome that bullying remarks from prominent Christians toward women and people of color would inspire amusement rather than remorse. Their reaction reflects a racist and patriarchal legacy too much a part of church life in America—a tradition that has denigrated the gospel for centuries.

While comments that belittled women and people of color were encouraged at the opening of MacArthur’s panel, there was more verbal abuse to come. Pastor Phil Johnson followed MacArthur’s lead by denouncing Beth Moore as a narcissist. Why? Because she said she attempts to see herself in the biblical text. To position ourselves as the subject of Scripture’s teachings means, of course, that we sit under the authority of Scripture. We allow God’s Word to shape and mold our lives. To see ourselves in the text is a discipline that has formed Christian life and service throughout history. Rather than vilify her words, it would have been charitable if Johnson had made an effort to understand her meaning. As a leader, we would hope Johnson would extend her the benefit of doubt, a courtesy that was strikingly absent.

Far from being a narcissist, Beth Moore’s candid vulnerability as an abuse survivor, coupled with her empathy for other survivors, proved a decisive force that challenged the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to examine their own #MeToo scandals. Her courage, humility, and wisdom explain why millions benefit from her leadership and credit her for nurturing their spiritual life. Moore’s character and her partnership with abused women should have earned her respect, but instead they provoked derision from MacArthur and Johnson. While both men sought to demean strong women by calling them feminists and malign their motives as lusting for power, the truth is Beth Moore has never, to my knowledge, defended women’s ordination.

Even so, the idea that the Bible affirms female leaders was not a product of secular feminism, nor a lust for power, as MacArthur and Johnson state. Instead, Christians have recognized for centuries that preaching and spiritual authority are based on character and giftedness, not on gender or race. But what troubles me most about the comments made by MacArthur and his panel is not their failure to charitably and ably defend male-only leaders. It is their egregious contempt for #MeToo survivors and blatant, brazen abuse of women and people of color which they and their audience view as entertainment.

Racism and sexism intensify as MacArthur accuses feminists of advancing critical theories of intersectionality and diversity. In MacArthur’s view, it is the fault of power-hungry feminists that a capitulated SBC now admits there should never be another Bible translation team that fails to include a Latino, an African American, and a woman. MacArthur chided this thinking with his retort, “How about someone who knows Greek and Hebrew?” The crowd erupted in a loud bout of laughter and applause.

The assumption implicit in MacArthur’s response is that Bible teams can prioritize racial and gender diversity only by compromising scholarly competence in the biblical languages. This is absurd. Worse, this is racism and patriarchy—twin demons inextricably part of America’s earliest and deadliest failings. It is “Christian” rhetoric distorted for harm. The truth is, studies show diverse teams are not only more ethical, they also outperform their competitors. For this reason, businesses and NGOs prioritize diversity. Yet the church does not, despite Paul’s teachings (Gal. 3:26-29) and practices (Rom. 16).

What is more, women have driven translations of Scripture since the fourth century: Paula (347- 404) and Jerome (347- 420) who, with other women, produced the unparalleled Latin Vulgate translation; India’s Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922) who translated Scripture from Greek and Hebrew into Marathi; and Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934) who was the first woman to translate and publish the Greek New Testament in English. Barrett Montgomery was also the first woman to lead an American denomination—the Northern Baptist Convention. She is credited for pioneering tools for readers like subject headings, paragraphs, and footnotes for pertinent background information, making her New Testament translation a prototype Bible for those that would follow. Barrett Montgomery relied heavily on the work of Katherine Bushnell’s God’s Word to Women.

A medical doctor, missionary, anti-trafficking activist, and biblical scholar, Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946) exposed flawed Bible translations that devalued women and fueled their exploitation. Her concern for inferior translations grew as she continued to work with trafficked girls and women. She believed their fate was a result of cultural devaluation that better translations of Scripture could have corrected.

Bushnell linked arms with the prominent British evangelical and social activist, Josephine Butler (1828-1906). Together they challenged the systemic complicity of Christian leaders and inferior translations of Scripture that propped up policies and practices exploiting females and people of color. It was women leaders, like Ramabai, Bushnell, and Beth Moore, who challenged the abuse of girls and women by powerful men, even leaders in the church.

Despite opposition from political and religious leaders, these women held the course and remained faithful to their call, fearless in following Christ. They were not misguided by secular culture and most certainly denounced the church’s failed leaders and their flawed teachings. Consistently they challenged the dual demons of racism and patriarchy, realizing that to “pluck the mask of the pharisee, is not to raise an impious hand to the crown of thorns,” as Charlotte Brontë wrote.

While MacArthur et al. seek to marginalize the influence of women and people of color by defining their leadership as “feminist” or “weak,” Scripture supports their spiritual authority not because of gender or race, but because their character is aligned with the teachings of the Bible. To demean women as beguiled by a liberalism that cultivates inferior biblical scholars who are also people of color is racist and incompatible with the obligations of Christian charity and leadership.

Be clear on this: God will expose demons that work together to amass power in the hands of an abusive few. Our Lord included the Samaritan and Syrophoenician women as disciples just as the Apostle Paul asked Philemon to welcome Onesimus as a brother. Junia, a woman, was prominent among the apostles just as Onesimus became bishop of Ephesus. Against these the gates of hell will never triumph. The twin demons of racism and patriarchy will be defeated. The birth of Christ’s church was celebrated at Pentecost through many tribes and tongues, by old and young, by male and female. The bride of Christ remains glorious and vibrant through its ethnic and racial diversity and because of women leaders God has gifted and called. May we honor, rather than demean, their leadership and imitate their faith because truth matters!

October 21, 2019

In his recent article at RNS, veteran reporter Bob Smietana summarized John MacArthur’s recent conference in which he took aim at the Southern Baptists and at Beth Moore:

(RNS) — Evangelical pastor John MacArthur, speaking at a celebration of his  50th year in pulpit ministry this week, weighed in on an ongoing debate in the Southern Baptist Convention over women preachers, claiming the nation’s largest Protestant denomination has lost faith in authority of the Bible.

He claimed the SBC had taken a “headlong plunge” toward allowing women preachers at its annual meeting this summer.

That, he said, was a sign the denomination no longer believed in biblical authority.

“When you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority,” said MacArthur.

The most controversial moment went like this:

Asked to respond to the phrase “Beth Moore,” the name of a well-known Southern Baptist Bible teacher, MacArthur replied, “Go home.”

I hear that statement as “a woman’s place is in the home” and “women aren’t to teach” because a man’s place is in the pulpit and behind the teaching lectern. Women he says, “are not allowed to preach.”

It can be said that his position is, in fact, the one that may well be denying the authority of Scripture. Here’s a list of names to think about:

Miriam, who interpreted the exodus itself in glowing poetic terms.

Deborah, who ran the whole of Israel in all its branches, and not a little of it was speaking and exhorting and teaching and prophesying.

Esther, who saved the nation as a leader who in some sense redeemed the nation from disaster.

Huldah, who was chosen above other (male) prophets.

Mary, who handed to us a prophecy-shaped song about her Son and what he would accomplish.

Priscilla, who taught Apollos.

The daughters of Philip, who prophesied the words of God.

Phoebe, who (probably) read and interpreted Romans to the house churches there.

Nympha, who may well have been a house-church leader (at some level).

Junia, who was a great apostle (church-planting, evangelizing, church-instructing, discipling, etc).

Euodia and Syntyche, “who struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers.”

We can quibble about who was doing precisely what, but what we can’t quibble on is that these women used their voices to utter words from God for the people of God in the locations where the people of God heard the word of God. That’s called preaching, that’s called teaching, that’s called God using their voices to speak the words of God for the people of God.

To deny a woman to preach is to deny what the Bible teaches. To tell a woman to go home is to tell a woman not to do what the Bible teaches would could do.

We could easily list hundreds of women who are using their voice to speak words of God, at home and not at home but often in the church, God’s home for all of us.

 

 

September 24, 2019

How can you be a Christian?

In my experience there are three big subtexts to this question these days, science, women, and sexuality. Other questions are important as well … but these are the showstoppers.

How can you be a Christian when it is antiscience, oppresses women, and is homophobic?

Rebecca McLaughlin addresses these as seven, eight, and nine in her book Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion. Last week we looked at the first of these – hasn’t science disproved Christianity?

The short answer to the second question doesn’t Christianity denigrate women? is a resounding no. Christianity might not go as far as some in our culture today would like, but it certainly does not denigrate women. Women play important roles in many places throughout Scripture. I’ve highlighted a wide selection of these in several posts – most recently A Look at Biblical Womanhood and Women of the New Testament.

Rebecca emphasizes the way women are portrayed in the Gospels to make the point.

The portrayal of women in the Gospels – particularly in Luke’s Gospel – is stunningly countercultural. Luke constantly pairs men with women, and when he compares the two, it is almost always in the woman’s favor. Before Jesus’ birth, two people are visited by the angel Gabriel and told they are going to become parents. One is Zechariah who becomes John the Baptist’s father. The other is Jesus’ mother Mary. Both ask Gabriel how this can be. But while Zechariah is punished with months of dumbness for his unbelief, Mary is only commended. (p. 136)

The pairings continue – with Simeon and Anna, the lost coin and the lost sheep, the parable of the persistent widow followed by the pharisee and the tax collector. The Twelve were all male – but for the most part the segregation stops there. Women were with Jesus and involved in his ministry from beginning to end, at the cross, the first at the empty tomb. And turning to Acts, they were with the apostles in Jerusalem where … They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (1:14)

Many of the first converts in Acts or mentioned in Paul’s letters are women, important for the prominent roles they play … Junia, Lydia, Priscilla among them.

There is a reason why women are heavily represented in the church today and throughout history. For all the human failings that crop up from time to time, women acknowledged as equal before God. “Jesus’s valuing of women in unmistakable. In a culture in which women were devalues and often exploited, it underscores their equal status before God and his desire for personal relationship with them.” (p. 138)

Paul puts it succinctly in Gal. 3:26-29: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

This is powerful stuff.

But then we come to marriage. Here Rebecca and I part ways, slightly. This isn’t surprising in a book published by Crossway and TGC. She looks at Ephesians 5:21-33 (below) and focuses on the metaphor. “Ultimately, my marriage isn’t about me and my husband any more than Romeo and Juliet is about the actors playing the title roles.” (p. 140) and later “Ephesians 5 grounds our roles in marriage not on gendered psychology but on Christ-centered theology.” (p. 141) Here is the point as I paraphrase it – when we play our proper roles in marriage we are enacting the metaphor and mirroring God to the world. Women submit as to God and husbands love as Christ.

But read the passage below. Is this really about enacting a metaphor? I would suggest that the first line interprets the whole. It is about mutual submission in a partnership before God that revolutionizes relationships. Paul uses a metaphor that illustrates the truly revolutionary nature of our relationships in Christ. Throughout history, husbands have generally been the ones with power and have often exercised it for their own benefit and women have often resorted to nagging and subterfuge (a kind of revolt) to assert and strengthen their own positions. I rather expect that this was as true in the first century Greek and Roman world as at any other time in history. But in the Christian message this should all go out the window along with many other human failings. Positions of power should be exercised on behalf of the others involved, and this includes the husband’s role toward the wife. The socially acceptable practice of women gossiping about and undermining their husbands is no better than practice of autocratic authority.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. … However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

No mere human truly stands in the place of Christ. But we are all called to follow his lead. Marriage isn’t about authority and submission. When the topper question is “who gets the last word?” the focus is entirely wrong.

But on this Rebecca and I both agree. The command to follow Christ does not denigrate women, in fact it empowers and promotes women in ways that are more often than not revolutionary in the surrounding culture.

Much more could be said. Rebecca has a discussion of abortion and sexual freedom, both issues where Christianity is said to denigrate women. And she does not really touch on the questions surrounding women in ministry. But this is a good start.

Does Christianity denigrate women?

What do you think of the marriage metaphor?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

August 13, 2019

Lucy Peppiatt, Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women: Fresh Perspectives on Disputed Texts.

Now available!

I get asked lots of questions about the Bible, but perhaps my favorite went like this: What in the Bible would you tell my church to think about if the leaders are considering more freedom for women in the church’s ministry? I’ll keep it to seven, and I’ll make it seven questions to ponder as you ponder what God is calling women to do in the church.

What did women actually do in the Bible (besides cook and tend to the little ones and farm and carry wood and make clothing, etc)? Anyone asking this question needs to begin with someone like Miriam in Exodus and then spend sometime with that uber-tough Deborah and then take a hard long look at Huldah. How would you describe what they did? They sang, they led, they ran the nation, they led the military machine, and they spoke for God to the people of God. What else? That Proverbs 31 woman, as my friend Alice Mathews said to me recently, has more to say than most bother to hear. Then jump into the New Testament and ask what Mary did, and what Prisca/Priscilla did, and what Junia did, and what about those women leaders in Philippi, Euodia and Syntyche? What did they do? One nurtured the Messiah, one taught the gospel to a male leader, one was nothing less than an “apostle” and the others were co-workers with Paul. Which is about a strong of an affirmation as one can get from Paul. Too often, too many, for too long have gone to the so-called submission passages not realizing they were creating more than a little contradiction in the very man who was working with these women in his mission. Paul knew what these women were doing when he wrote 1 Timothy 2 and he therefore didn’t mean they couldn’t do what’s said about their doings.

Who are the major named women in the Bible? Once I spent some time with college students over coffee talking about two women, Junia and Phoebe. I went on as professors are wont to do, perhaps a bit too long but I was pumped. Near the end a female student was surprisingly irritated, and I thought it was with what I was saying, only to learn that she was nothing less than ticked off with her church. Why? Her words, not mine: “Why have I never heard about these women in my so-called ‘Bible-preaching’ church?” Exactly, I muttered to myself. “Why?” Far more know about the altogether unimportant names Methusaleh or Ehud than know of Phoebe or the daughters of Philip. Each church needs today a series called Women of the Bible.

Who are the women theologians you read today or who on your bookshelves? Of course, if one is a bean counter and one has been collecting books as long as I have – almost fifty years now – one will not have a 50-50 ratio but weekly I am sent books and more and more they are written by women, like my friend and scholar, Lucy Peppiatt. Others include Renita Weems, Haley Goranson Jacob, Morna Hooker, Amy Jill Levine, Lynn Cohick, Marianne Meye Thompson, Carolyn Osiek Ruth Felker Jones, Beverly Gaventa, Ruth Haley Barton, Margaret Macdonald, Nancy Ortberg, Alice Mathews, Amy Peeler, Nancy Beach, Cristena Cleveland… and I’m old enough to say this list has grown exponentially in my life time. There was a time, well, when not many women were in this “line of work” but that day has ended and their books ought to be on any respectable thinker’s shelves.

Who are the women preachers you listen to today? A friend of mine once told me she was preaching at a church where no woman had ever preached. After a few times preaching an old man came up to her and informed her that, while he was formerly against women preaching, after listening to her he became convinced that women not only could preach but ought to be preaching. I often ask my friends who are podcast listeners, “Which women are you listening to?” Fleming Rutledge? Mandy Smith? Barbara Brown Taylor? Tara Beth Leach? I know for me it was reading Morna Hooker as a PhD student that shook me out of lethargy about women as Bible teachers and theologians. I have heard others say it was listening to Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, that made it clear women not only can preach but ought to preach. Speaking of authors and preachers, Lucy Peppiatt, though not as well known in the USA as she is in England, is both a wonderful theologian-author but also a dynamic teacher-preacher. Read her and listen to her.

Who are the influential moms in your church? When the “roll is called up yonder” and those on the list tell their stories about how they came to faith, the #1 adder-to-the-list will be moms. My mother told me about Jesus as a child, and in your church are moms singing to their babies, telling their children the gospel, and guiding the next generation into discipleship behind Jesus. This truth must be told: if we relied totally on males … I’ll not complete that sentence, but I will say this unabashedly: moms are the #1 reason why the church has grown and is growing. Anyone who thinks women can’t teach, preach, or instruct others in the faith needs to take a long look at the moms in church and then apologize for foolishness. Moms are evangelists, catechists, teachers and preachers – from the house to the church.

Which texts in the New Testament need to be explored the most in their historical context? I became aware of the careful theological and biblical work of Lucy Peppiatt when I read a small book of hers about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. In that book Lucy made it abundantly clear that not only were there a bewildering list of possible interpretations of vexing expressions like headcoverings and what “head” means, but the interpretations many were suggesting were flat-out contradictions of either the Bible itself or of one another. She offered a different question – What if the problem isn’t the women but the men? – and a different solution – some of these lines that don’t fit our theology don’t fit into the Bible because they were the words of Paul’s opponents being quoted. She had me there, and I have followed her work ever since. This book will introduce you not only to her reading of 1 Corinthians 11 (and 14 by the way) but also to her approach to many issues. I am so grateful to Lucy for this wonderful packaging of all her best ideas about women in the Bible and church. She’s probably got more so take this as a sampling.

What about Mary? One time my mother asked me what I was studying and I told her I was studying about Mary. She said out of her Baptist orientation, “Why, she’s so Catholic?!” Welp, I took a big gulp and reminded her that she was the mother of Jesus and that she’s all over the Gospel pages. So often that she’s mentioned only slightly less than Peter. I’m on a crusade to get so-called Bible believers to believe just what the Bible says about Mary. Fact is she’s a powerful young woman, a powerful mother, and a powerful mover and shaker in the Gospels themselves. Who else gets in Jesus’ face to inform him that the wine has run out, that he’s going to get himself in trouble if he keeps offending the religious leaders, who else is present when Jesus, surrounded by an angry mob, is crucified? Who else is talked to from the cross other than Mary? Did you even know Mary’s got to be in the descriptions of the woman in Revelation 12? Protestants are blinded to Mary, so I urge them to open their eyes and watch Mary in the New Testament. When done, they’ll have a better understanding of what God calls women to do.

Those are the seven questions I’d want folks to consider when they ponder anew women in ministry. The simple answer is, and one that hums on every page in this wonderful book, that women can do whatever God calls them to do, whatever the Spirit empowers them to do, and whatever following Jesus leads them to do.

I know this because Lucy’s one of them!

NB: This post is my foreword to Lucy’s wonderful book.


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