L-R: Jacobs, Fredrickson, Clements, Martínez
A panel discussion on “Reading the Bible in a Gendered World” drew a diverse crowd to Travis Auditorium on Monday, April 16. Participants from across the spectrum of Fuller’s community gathered to listen and respond. Focusing on biblical views of women in ministry apparent in both belief and practice, the discussion’s panelists approached the subject from perspectives unique to their fields of study.
The panel was made up of Fuller faculty members Mignon Jacobs, associate professor of Hebrew Bible; Kurt Fredrickson, associate dean for Doctor of Ministry and Continuing Education and assistant professor of pastoral ministry; Mari Clements, associate professor of psychology and chair of the department of clinical psychology; and Juan Martínez, associate provost for diversity and international programs and associate professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership.
Jacobs began with her presentation, “Reading the Bible in a Gendered World,” providing an overview of what is at stake when readers begin to consider the gendered contexts from which both traditional and modern biblical interpretations are made. Ezekiel 16 was employed as a practical example of how negative traits are associated with femininity—with Israel’s unfaithfulness being compared to an adulterous woman, while the positive traits of Israel, even in this same passage, are denied a similar correlation with womanhood.
Touching on another area crucial to the discussion, Fredrickson offered words on “Encouraging the Ministry of Women in the Church.” He began by stating Scripture’s complete affirmation of women in all areas of ministry; then described ways congregations he has observed both empower and impede women in their ministerial callings, including examples of practical and replicable actions that some have taken to encourage women called to serve.
Bringing her experience with psychology to the forum, Clements addressed the subject of “Family and Work: The Intersection of Gender and Religion.” She presented a variety of research—which often had unexpected results—on the impact of religion on families. This impact was found both on how families function and on how they view gender roles in and out of the home. While active participation in religion is shown to have a protective factor for the longevity of marriage, views of women’s equality in roles in the home and workplace are still lagging in many religious groups.
Martínez concluded the presentation with some thoughts on “Gender, Bible Reading, and Ministry.” He discussed issues that are particular to Latino Pentecostal congregations but representative of what many other churches face. For example, creativity is required when a congregation desires to affirm women in roles that are otherwise unacceptable in the greater surrounding culture. When appropriated well, titles and tasks can allow women to respond to the calling to pastoral ministry while remaining culturally relevant; this is a consideration many congregations around the globe must make.
A time for questions and answers followed the panel discussion. The event was organized and sponsored by the CATS Women’s Association, a student group comprised of women enrolled in Fuller’s Center for Advanced Theological Studies
. Nicole Weldon graduated in December 2011 with a Master of Arts in Theology, with an emphasis on Theology and the Arts.