‘When half the church holds back – whether by choice or because we have no choice – everybody loses and our mission suffers setbacks. Tragically, we are squandering the opportunity to display to an embattled world a gospel that causes both men and women to flourish…’
– Carolyn Curtis James, Half the Church: Recapturing God’s global vision for women (2011).
How we interpret Scripture matters. It affects our lives and how we view the world. For decades, the debate about complementarianism and egalitarianism in the church has raged on. People are still asking questions like are women ‘allowed’ to do this? Can a woman preach and lead in church? What does God’s design for marriage look like? Yet, quietly and confidently women and men are leading well together and participating in equal collaborative ministry where everyone is released to fulfil their God-given potential to transform lives and communities.
Two years ago, Sophia Network launched a resource called In the Image of God; a Bible study exploring and affirming an egalitarian view of God’s word. Today, Sophia Network reaffirms the belief that leadership is not determined by gender but by a gifting and calling of the Holy Spirit, and that God calls all of us to submit to one another.
We have commissioned this special web series – Gender in the New Testament – to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March 2014) and to enable us to get back to the heart of Scripture and explore theological issues, which are affecting all of us in our ministry.
Every week day morning in March, a new reflection on a key passage of Scripture will be uploaded onto the website. We will focus on a different theme each week including:
The Gender in the New Testament series deliberately features a range of different voices – women and men and UK and US based writers. The contributors have a range of diverse experiences; some are published authors and theologians but we also wanted to give you, the members of the Sophia Network community, an opportunity to have a voice on these issues. Many of our contributors are ministering hands-on in local churches navigating and subverting gender constraints in this context. The thoughts of the millennial (18-30s) generation are also included and some complementarians have been invited to contribute to help promote dialogue, debate, understanding and grace between us.
The voices featured are provocative and authentic; you will probably not agree with all of their interpretations and reflections.
Let’s continue talking, reflecting and walking on this journey together.
The heart of the Sophia Network remains to see women released into leadership as God calls them to and to work in equal partnership with men as God intended. We pray that the Gender in the New Testament series will provoke deeper reflection, engaged discussion and enlightened revelations.
We would love you to reflect, discuss and ultimately be enlightened with us! Let’s pray that God would reveal to us his heart for men and women.
(PS We are delighted to feature the amazing photography of Paige Larson in this series. Paige Andrea Larson is a film and digital photographer living in the United States. Photography is her reflection and opportunity to pause life for that one moment we will never get back. Her images seek to capture the unique beauty of her surroundings on a daily basis).
Dr Claire Rush is the Participation & Advocacy Co-ordinator for Girls' Brigade Ministries, International Vice-President of GB International (elect), and a trustee of Sophia Network. Claire writes here and you can follow her on twitter @drclairerush.