Women Continue to Shape the Christian Faith

Women Continue to Shape the Christian Faith October 21, 2023

(Courtesy of Pixaby / Blessings Captured)

Controversy surrounds the idea of women teaching and preaching the gospel even in the 21st century, but I’m here to say that women played an important role in the early church and women continue to shape the Christian faith today. You may read my post about women in the early church here.

Christians recognize Christ as the greatest teacher to ever walk the earth. I would rank the Apostle Paul second despite misgivings about some of his teachings.

And as a Methodist, I recognize the contributions of John Wesley, the preacher/teacher who founded Methodism, and his mother, Susanna, who homeschooled her 10 children and instilled strong Christian beliefs in them.

Susanna was a remarkable woman. Despite caring for her large brood, running a household and managing a small farm in the absence of her husband, she dedicated part of every day to studying the Bible and praying.

I have great admiration for Susanna Wesley and wrote an article about her for Patheos earlier this year. Through her sons John and Charles, also a leader of Methodism, she continues to influence modern Christianity. Read the post by clicking here.

For the most part, I’m quite leery of modern Christian teachers because many of them have aligned themselves with far-right political movements.

Christ was not political, and I believe with every fiber of my being that his church should not involve itself in politics, either. But two modern women stand out to me as teachers and preachers, though I have some reservations. They are Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.

These women continue to shape the Christian faith in the 21st century.

Women Continue to Shape the Christian Faith

Beth Moore

Author and motivational speaker Beth Moore undoubtedly has influenced many Christian women through her teachings. I include her because of her brave stance against Donald Trump, who has admitted to sexually assaulting several women yet continues to receive support from the Southern Baptist Convention.

More on that story shortly.

Moore’s ministry had a small beginning. She was a dedicated evangelical Southern Baptist who began giving devotionals at aerobics classes in the 1980s.

She also began accepting invitations to speak at women’s luncheons and study groups, became a best-selling author and Bible teacher, and was called a “superstar” in the Southern Baptist Convention for many years.

Millions of American women were drawn to her teachings, and she taught thousands of women in stadium-style Bible studies nationwide.

“Moore’s audience seemed to be starved for a teacher who understood their lives,” according to The Atlantic. But in sharing the gospel, Moore encouraged women to be deferential to men, which I believe is an unacceptable and outdated way of thinking. A woman’s relationship with God should be one-on-one, not a triangle.

A New Direction

Moore’s life changed several years ago when a 2005 tape surfaced in which Donald Trump bragged to Access Hollywood about sexually assaulting women. Words such as “fondling” and “groping” were used to describe Trump’s actions, but the word “assault” best describes what he did.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Moore thought Trump’s disgusting actions and words were borderline criminal, according to NPR.

She expected Southern Baptist leaders to share her outrage, and when they continued to support Trump, she said, “The disorientation of this was staggering. Just staggering.”

Even so, Moore understands evangelicals’ support of the disgraced Republican leader. Trump promised to appoint anti-abortion judges throughout the judicial system, and evangelicals were and are unreasonably committed to the cause.

In fact, there does not seem to be any issue that’s more important to them. But sadly, many lose interest once the woman gives birth.

Heaven Forbid!

Let’s get back to Trump….

“He became the banner, the poster child for the great white hope of evangelism, the salvation of the church in America. Nothing could have prepared me for that,” Moore has said.

Despite her conservative credentials, Moore made an admirable and life-changing decision. She decided to walk away from the Southern Baptist Convention.

She wrote, in regard to Trump, “Wake up, Sleepers, to what women have dealt with all along in environments of gross entitlement & power.”

Moore also rallied against allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by Southern Baptist leaders, which surfaced in 2016. She wrote and posted a letter in which she outlined “her concerns about the deference she was expected to show male leaders, going as far as wearing flats instead of heels when she was serving alongside a man who was shorter than she was.”

Presumably, she felt that no man wanted to look up to a woman. If men are that sensitive, then perhaps they need to wear lifts in their shoes rather than expect women to wear flats.

Moore also began to speak about her own childhood abuse and then committed an unpardonable “sin” in the eyes of many devout Baptists. She announced on Twitter that she would preach a Mother’s Day sermon in a church in 2019. A woman standing behind a pulpit and preaching a sermon! Heaven forbid!

Equal in God’s Eyes

Forgive my anger, but I strongly believe men and women are equal in the eyes of God, and there’s no reason why a woman cannot preach a sermon from the pulpit.

“The tweet immediately sparked a national debate among Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders over whether women should be allowed to preach in church,” according to Religion News.

Thankfully, my denomination allows female pastors, and I have learned a great deal from the good ones over the years. The female pastor who currently leads my church is one of the best.

A Liberal? Hardly

At any rate, conservatives heaped criticism on Moore, calling her “liberal” and “woke” for her views. They even labeled her a heretic for opposing Trump.

She also took a stand against sexism and criticized white nationalism. And she came to feel she was no longer welcome in the Southern Baptist Convention and left it.

“I am still a Baptist,” she said, “but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists. I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.”

She suffered because of her decision. Book sales plunged as did sales of tickets to her events. And her Living Proof Ministries lost nearly $2 million in 2017-2019.

Religion News quoted Kate Bowler, a historian at the Duke Divinity School, as saying Moore’s departure from the organization was “a significant loss for the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Bowler added, “Ms. Moore is a deeply trusted voice across the liberal-conservative divide, and has always been able to communicate a deep faithfulness to her tradition without having to follow the Southern Baptist’s scramble to make Trump spiritually respectable” (which he definitely is not.)

And as the Southern Baptist Convention became embroiled with debates about critical race theory, politics and Christian nationalism, Moore realized that the organization was “not in step with the gospel.”

I include Beth Moore in this post because of her courage and influence rather than some of her conservative teachings. To learn more, go to the Living Proof Ministries website by clicking here.

Priscilla Shirer

The daughter of a non-denominational minister, Priscilla Shirer is a Christian author and speaker who co-founded Going Beyond Ministries with her husband.

She began speaking to small women’s Bible study groups while interning at a Christian radio station during college. Upon undergraduate graduation, she earned a master’s degree in Bible studies from Dallas Theological Seminary.

A Dynamic Speaker, Filled with Fire

In addition to writing books and developing Bible studies, Shirer speaks at churches and events worldwide and sometimes shares the stage with Beth Moore.

I have heard Shirer speak, though not in person, and she is dynamic and filled with fire. Her sermon on discerning the voice of God — which is exactly what it was — especially resonated with me, as I’ve sometimes found it difficult to understand what God wants.

Her audiences are mainly female, though her messages should resonate with men as well.

Shirer was one of four women recognized by God’s Leading Ladies Life Enrichment Program in Dallas in 2016.


My older daughter, who is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met, attended one of her presentations and described her as “amazing” and “spirit-filled.”

You may learn more about this woman of God, her beliefs and her ministry by clicking here.

My Thoughts

Women enrich today’s Christian church as they have done from the beginning. (See my last post, “The Almost Forgotten History of Early Christian Women.”)

Christ intended for his followers to be as one in fellowship with God —  just as Christ brought the sexes together during his earthly ministry.

But the 21st century church is struggling. Membership and attendance are falling at an alarming rate, as people have seemingly lost interest in Christianity.

One reason is that in some faith traditions, half of the church population isn’t allowed to speak. The discord we’re creating is quite damaging to the faith and the religion.

If we have any doubts about how we should behave as Christians, we need only look at Christ’s example in the Bible.

If you want to test the waters and learn something from two Christian women who are taking our faith into the future, check out Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer.


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