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Archive for June 26th, 2008

Yesterday, Carolyn Custis James’ book When Life and Beliefs Collide arrived in my mailbox.  I’m only about 50 pages in and I can already tell that this is an incredible book.  James’ premise is that the world needs women to be theologians and that women are, indeed, called by God to love and study theology.  Theology simply means “the study of God” or, as she puts it “to know God.”

James starts off by describing her first few days as a student at Dallas Theological Seminary.  In fact, she was one of the first female students admitted to the school.  Being bitter about female students having been admitted to the school, one of her professors boasted that there had never been any real women theologians.  Of course, this troubled James to the core.  She wondered if this were true and set herself to study.  What she found astonished her.

The Bible is replete with examples of female theologians.  They may not be of the academic variety, but they are there and they are passionate about knowing God and learning about Him.  James goes on to tell the story of Mary of Bethany.  She weaves Mary’s tales throughout the book to demonstrate how Mary qualifies as a theologian and then how theology mattered in Mary’s life as she lost her brother and then her Lord.

So, why the lack of female theologians?  What do women have against theology?  James describes a number of reasons why women hesitate to study theology:

1. Women think theology is for men.  This one really breaks my heart.  Some believe that women simply are not intellectually equipped to study theology.  Women are supposed to be “simple” creatures after all, right?  The other major idea that falls into this category is “the conviction that deep knowledge conflicts with the biblical idea of wifely submission; a thinking woman will find it difficult to submit to her husband and to church leaders.  Consequently, the safest and most sensible path, according to some, is for women to leave theology to the men” (pg. 46).

Men and women are both called to know God.  And how do we come to know Him?  We study Him.  We study THEOLOGY!  “This is not a gender issue.  It is not a matter of aptitude, instinct, or intelligence.  It is about what is means to be a Christian” (pg. 47).

More choice quotes:

“[In the Bible, the women] are admired for their depth of theological wisdom and their strong convictions.  Women in the Bible did not need anyone to carry them.  Their theology strengthened them to get under the burden along with the men and contribute in significant ways to the task at hand.  Contrary to current fears, these wise women did not demean, weaken, or overthrow the men.  They empowered, strengthened, and urged them on to greater faithfulness and were better equipped to do so because of their grasp of God’s character and ways” (pg. 49).

2. Theology is Bad For the Soul- “Many women share this grim conclusion.  Arrogance and pride are the pitfalls that concern us- individuals who know a lot, grow puffed up, and look down their noses at Christians who know less” (pg. 53).  I’ve heard a lot of this coming from churches that are “against doctrine” because they think its man-made and that people get too wrapped up in the “head knowledge”, while forgetting the “heart knowledge.”  Sometimes, theology can be misused and people who know it can use it to abuse.

3. Theology is for Professionals- Oooooh, does this one get under my skin.  Theology is for EVERYONE, not just pastors and smart people!  James contends that churches often discourage women from learning about theology because they do not qualify for leadership.  “This leaves the vast majority of Christians without an incentive to know God at the deepest level.  Women’s ordination may be a much debated subject; the question of a woman’s need for theology should never be debated.”

Have you found yourself hesitant to study theology?  Do you think theology is for men?  What is your relationship to the “dreaded T-Word?”

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A Very Wise Woman Once Said…

“Again, it is NOT back biting or gossip to publicly examine the teachings (false) of others. Both Stacy and Lydia have placed themselves in the sphere of teacher and in doing so, invited the scrutiny. Whining about being examined in this way is ridiculous. And attempting to mislead others by pointing the proverbial gossip finger does not demonstrate Christian decorum OR deportment.”

-Karen Campbell

*Added 3/5/09*

Anyone who is visiting this site from the link at  http://www.fstdt.net/ should be aware that this is NOT Lydia Sherman’s blog, nor is this post in any way related to the quotes shared at that site.  This site actually speaks out against teachings like hers.  See the side bar for applicable blog posts like “Dear Lady Lydia”

Please, if you’ve come here to insult Lady Lydia, you’re in the wrong place and your comments will not be approved.  Visit Lady Lydia at her blog here

Thank you,

The Whitewashed Feminists

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