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Dr. Carla Sunberg  |  President


Read President Sunberg’s thoughts concerning ministry, the pastorate, theology, theological education and the Church. 

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Thursday
Nov102016

Lavish Generosity

Matt. 20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.  2 After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.  3 When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace;  4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.  5 When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.  6 And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’  7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’  8 When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’  9 When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.  10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.  11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner,  12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’  13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?  14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.  15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” 

There are many points to uncover in this parable of Jesus but at the end we discover that kingdom culture is not worldly culture. The ways in which the kingdom function do not make sense in the eyes of the world and God’s generosity toward humanity is beyond our comprehension.

No one in this parable is paid an unfair wage. The landowner pays everyone a generous amount of money for working. The reality is that none of them, even those who began to work at the beginning of the day, is worthy of the salary that they receive.

The different laborers, hired at varying times have been interpreted in numerous ways. This includes a focus on various people groups. Who are those who are invited into the kingdom? Some would argue that it’s a progression beginning with the Jews and ending with the Gentiles. Or, we might say that it’s the good church folks at the beginning and ends with those who have just been saved off the street.

In our human understanding of “fairness” we would think that those who have served longer in the kingdom should receive more. We find ourselves right there with the long-suffering laborers, but we fail to understand the lavish generosity of the wage. No matter when the laborers began their work that day, the wage was more than generous. It’s the lavish nature of the kingdom of God. Then Jesus reminds them of what he had said previously about those who would sit at the places of honor at the wedding feast. The last are first and the first last because the scales of the world are not the scales of the kingdom. Those who think they deserve more will get nothing and those who serve faithfully without power and honor in the world will receive a great reward. God’s grace is not bounded by human understanding and lavish generosity means that even being last in the kingdom is a generous gift.

It’s fun to give gifts to my family members. Watching packages be opened and the look of surprise is always a joy. We want the best for those whom we love and I’m sure that most of us have wished that we could lavish more on those within our circle.

I think that I’m learning a little bit more about this love as our little family expands. When it comes to planning Christmas gifts we now have a new member of our family. Mackenzie is our granddaughter and she will be about a year and a half at Christmas this year — an age where ripping paper and pretty lights will be fun for her and for us to watch. As I plan for Christmas I don’t plan gifts around how many years someone has been a part of our family. If that were the case, Chuck would get more and Mackenzie would get very little. Everyone else would get something somewhere in between. That sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? We give gifts because we love every single member of our family and we wouldn’t think of treating one different from another. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been a member of the family, they are ours and we want to love them with lavish generosity.

The grace of God reaches out to all of God’s children wanting them all to participate in the rewards of the kingdom. The sad part is that sometimes we play the role of the grumbling laborers and almost feel that we are begrudgingly engaged in kingdom work. It is work which comes with a great reward and when we fail to keep our eyes on the goal, we lose the joy that we have been given by God. At the same time, when we understand how great the reward, we are inspired to share the good news with others. 

I remember early in our days in Russia when I was doing some work at a polyclinic. Food was in rather short supply in the early 90s and in the middle of the day one of the doctors came and got me and dragged me by the hand outside. A truck had arrived with frozen chickens and everyone was lining up to get one or two. She wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss out on what was being offered that day. She loved and cared for me enough that she would take me by the hand to make sure I had an opportunity to get a chicken!

We have the opportunity to take others by the hand and lead them to the kingdom where they will receive the same reward as those who have been in the kingdom for a long time. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been in the kingdom, the reward is more generous than anything we deserve. Wouldn’t we want everyone to have the opportunity to experience the lavish generosity of our Father?

Some argue that the traditional days of evangelism are over. I’m concerned that somehow we may have lost our passion for others to get to know Christ. I don’t believe that we have an evangelism or church planting problem — I believe we have a personal spiritual problem. We enjoy hanging onto that which Christ has given us but we may suddenly find ourselves grumbling with those who have worked all day. Instead, we are to be a people who are so overcome with the love of Christ that it overflows into everything that we do in life. We are lavish in our generosity and love toward all of those who find themselves in need.

Life in the kingdom will never make sense to the world. Jesus invites us to live in the space where the last are first and the first are last and rest in the generosity of holy love which has been lavished on us.

Monday
Mar072016

LABELS

We live in a world of labels:

Rich.

Poor.

Generous.

Difficult.

Employed.

Unemployed.

Friendly.

Contentious.

Conservative.

Liberal.

No sooner do we encounter someone or something that we want to slap on a few labels, maybe even stereotyping and determining how we will respond from here on out.  It’s our culture – it’s what we do – but is it really what we ought to do when we are a part of God’s church? 

Probably the most divisive labels I have heard used regarding the church are “conservative” and “liberal.” If you do a simple Google search of the words “conservative” and “liberal” you will find that they have both been co-opted by politics. The original root of the word liberal actually comes from someone having a generous spirit and being broad-minded,[1] and the word conservative relates to conserving traditions, (views, conditions, or institutions) and marked by “moderation or caution.”[2] As the words have become incorporated into our political language, so they have also been linked to religion; and as a result we are ready to jump on the labeling bandwagon and immediately try to determine whether a church or an organization falls into a particular category. 

I would like to suggest that when the church, or a church-based organization, is living into the mission of God, they will find themselves strapped with both labels. That is because the current understanding of these labels has come to us from the world of the secular, and they have become polarizing. We have marginalized the work of the church because it hasn’t always fit into the political categories of liberal or conservative. The reality is that life in the kingdom may at times be viewed liberal, and at other times conservative, because it is missional. It’s just different! Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, and he was quite adamant that this was not a political solution to the world. People have tried to label NTS and, depending on who is doing the labeling, we often find ourselves called everything along the conservative to liberal spectrum. I can live with that because I believe that is exactly where we find the kingdom and the mission of God. NTS missions professor David Wesley reminds us, “Mission is the very nature of the church, seeking first God and his kingdom. It flows directly from God. A living relationship with the God of mission distinguishes the church as a living organism, as opposed to a mechanistic (and secular) organization.”[3] It is this living organism which refuses to be defined by secular labels because the kingdom of heaven is not the kingdom of this world. 

In a time of political polarization, Christians need to be especially cautious because our labels can soon become divisive. Our theological fathers, John and Charles Wesley, were careful to lead people into the via Media; a middle way which some may say is a label in and of itself, but it’s not one that the religious or the political world is embracing. Peacemakers are those who are willing to join hands with others who are living life within the kingdom, and this seems to be somewhere in the middle ground. Unfortunately, when you live within the tension of that middle space you can be shot at from both sides—but isn’t that what happened to Christ? The secular and the religious world had a hard time understanding him because they couldn’t comprehend his kingdom.   

In the fourth century, things began to change for Christianity as the church began to find favor with the political regime. Sadly, the church then became enticed by the idea of power. Politics has always been about power. Labels are power. If I can plant a little seed of doubt about you or your motives by using a label, I may just transfer some of your power to me. 

I would like to suggest that this is not kingdom, nor missional living. The missional church and Seminary is one that is centered and defined by the Missio Dei (mission of God), seeking to be recreated in the image of God so as to be holy in heart and life. The missional church and Seminary lives the cruciform life through incarnational presence and self-emptying service for the sake of the world. Jesus’ death on the cross was the culmination of his self-sacrifice, the release of his power for the sake of the lost. Labeling for the sake of power becomes the antithesis of the work of Christ. 

Maybe we need to stop spending time on the labels and focus on the missional life in the kingdom. 


[1] Cited 2 March, 2016. Online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberal

[2] Cited 2 March, 2016. Online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservative

[3] Schwanz, Keith (2010-03-01). Missio Dei: A Wesleyan Understanding (p. 21). Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

 

Friday
Feb052016

CLERGY, MINISTERING TO THE WHOLE CHURCH OF THE 21st CENTURY

What does it mean to be called to the ministry? I think that’s a question that a number of people are asking themselves these days. Dan Aleshire, executive director for the Association of Theological Schools recently commented that the days are gone when the winds of culture and society would simply blow people into our churches and fill the pews. As a result, those who have a call to ministry may not find themselves serving in a traditional setting. Instead, we discover clergy who feel called to coffee shops, bakeries, hospitals, schools, community and international development, chaplaincy, and the local church. If this is the case, then how does a Seminary help to prepare clergy for the 21st century who serve the whole church?

While there is great diversity in the context of ministry these days, there are also features which are relevant to all who are called. It is those common features which must be the focus of theological education and preparation for those who will minister.  

No matter where one serves, a minister needs to know why he or she is serving. When my husband was young his father told him, “If you’re called to be a pastor it’s the best job in the world. If you’re not called, it’s the worst job in the world.” The why question must be related to a call from God and not a call from family or friends, or because one thinks it would feel good to help needy people. Throughout all of history God has been in the business of calling individuals to vocational ministry. God called the Levites who began serving at the tabernacle when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. That was their context. They prepared daily sacrifices and cared for a portable place of worship, but they knew that this was their calling. Today the calling carries into a new context where God continues to use his servants.

No matter where one serves, a minister needs to know what he or she believes theologically. Since her inception the Church of the Nazarene has existed within the stream of the Wesleyan/Holiness movement. This movement has filled a distinctive role within the body of Christ, challenging believers to a deeper walk with the Lord, resulting in a life of holiness. Our theological beliefs create the blueprint for all of ministry. Whether serving coffee in a café or preaching in a pulpit, our Wesleyan theology informs the ways in which we minister.

No matter where one serves, a minister needs to live as an authentic servant leader. The Apostle Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1Cor. 11:1) He knew that the people whom he served would be watching the way in which he lived every single day of his life. He could have never preached or taught about a life of faithful service if he weren’t willing to live that way himself. The daily life of a minister may say more about their ministry than what is preached from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Effective ministers throughout the centuries have been those who have been willing to serve others with an attitude of humility.

No matter where one serves, a minister needs to have a passion for knowing Christ. Too many people have struggled in ministry because they have failed to make knowing Christ a priority. The goal of the Christian life is to become more and more like Christ. Time must be set-aside for prayer, scripture reading and study. This intentionality and self-discipline has formed the ministers of the past and will continue to shape and form effective ministers in this century.

No matter where one serves, the more the minister knows Christ, the more his or her heart will break for those who are lost and suffering. Passion for the lost grows out of love for Christ. If the motivation for ministry comes from the latest program it will eventually lose its energy. Far too many ministers have found themselves burned out by their dependence on their own merits rather than relying on the passion which comes from Christ. When one truly becomes united with Christ, then the burdens of Christ become personal. Christ died for the lost and when this becomes a living reality within the heart of a minister, there will be an overwhelming desire to reach out and touch a very broken world with the good news of Jesus Christ.

The context in which the church is ministering is rapidly changing and this is creating numerous challenges. The whole church is now being found in the sanctuary and in the coffee shop around the corner. Ministers are needed to serve in a variety of capacities and the church and Seminary must be ready to support them in these new settings. At the same time, we must continue to nurture the core and fundamental needs which remain unchangeable. The principles of clergy preparation remain timeless as God continues to call, and the Seminary continues to prepare faithful and effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Thursday
Dec032015

THE BEST TOOLS

If you have ever held a garage sale you will discover the vast number of individuals who are looking for that “bargain” when someone has decided to sell all of their tools. People get excited about saws and wrenches and finding a great deal! The point is, the more proper tools you have the more efficiently you can do your work. Or, at least this is the excuse that many husbands use when they arrive home with the latest power tool!

Recently I was speaking with a retired District Superintendent who shared with me his observation of ministers with whom he had worked. He said that he didn’t have any direct data, but it appeared to him that NTS graduates seemed to have a longer tenure in the pastorate because somehow they were able to adjust to changes which inevitably occur over time. This prompted me to check in with the research department of the Church of the Nazarene to see if there may be data which could corroborate this assumption and sure enough, an NTS graduate who is currently pastoring serves, on average, two years longer than someone who has not attended Seminary. This brings us back to the issue of tools. Could it be that just as it comes to fixing cars and projects around the house, the better the tools a pastor has in his or her tool box the more complex issues he or she is able to confront?

There are numerous pathways to ministry and to ordination in the church and God uses all of these in the kingdom. At the same time there are those who are asking whether there remains a need for a Seminary education, or whether there could be faster and/or cheaper ways for people to get into the ministry. We should never continue to do things the way we’ve always done them simply for tradition’s sake! At the same time, being a historical theologian, I am amazed at what we can learn from history. Historically, when the church has been at a major crossroads she has needed a clergy with the ability to utilize a full tool-box to respond to the seismic changes in the world around them.

The Apostle Paul speaks of his own upbringing at the feet of Gamaliel, and that he was “educated strictly according to our ancestral law.”[1] Paul had one of the finest educations of his day for Gamaliel was schooled in philosophy and theology. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and his influence so great that he is “one of only seven Jewish scholars who have been honored by the title ‘Rabban.’” [2] Paul goes on to use his education tool box to become the greatest missionary the world has ever seen. His life and writings comprise half of the New Testament and influence all of Christianity to this very day.

Basil of Caesarea was a minister and theologian in the fourth century. He lived during the first century in which Christianity found itself free to worship without the threat of punishment from the government authorities. This time of cultural shift was difficult to navigate for no one had experienced Christianity in this context. Basil was educated at home in the Scriptures and then studied Rhetoric in Caesarea. After this he traveled to Athens to study at the great school of the philosophers. In reality, he had the finest education one could receive in day. For Basil there was no separation between the study of theology and his life in service to God for they were one and the same. His voice in the doctrinal debates of the 4th century, those between the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, continues to shape Christianity to this day. He was able to employ everything that he had learned and experienced in life as tools to help Christianity forge a new future in the midst of radical change.

In less than two years we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The world was changing rapidly during this period of the Renaissance, including major shifts in political power. The role of the Roman Catholic Church was being tested in ways she had never quite imagined. Enter a man by the name of Martin Luther, an ordained priest who had taken years to study for the ministry. He had two bachelor’s degrees as well as a Doctorate in Theology. He served on the theology faculty of the University of Wittenberg. Reaching into his toolbox he translated the Bible into the German vernacular which became transformational in the lives of generations to come. He was able to use his mind and tools to adapt and minister in new and different ways.

John Wesley was an Anglican minister who studied at Oxford. He earned both the bachelor and master’s degrees, taught Greek and lectured on the New Testament. Of course there is much more to Wesley’s life and many experiences which followed his formal education which led him to eventually co-found the Methodist movement along with his brother Charles.  Wesley believed that his Methodists needed to be well-educated on a variety of topics therefore he, himself wrote numerous books and encouraged all his Methodists to be well-read. So that they could be well-read he was a proponent of Sunday School, a place where low-income children could learn to read and write. As a result of a creative imagination and a box full of tools Wesley was able to have a major impact on Christianity and society as a whole within a politically hot environment of cultural change.

 Any of this sound familiar? Just read the headlines on a regular basis and we realize that we are living in an era of major shifts in society and Christianity: 

Mainline Protestants make up shrinking number of U.S. adults[3]

Demise of Christianity: 1,000 churches could shut across Britain as congregations shrink[4]

Christianity Has Only Itself to Blame for Its Demise[5]

While these may be the headlines, they provide a glimpse into a new future that will not look like the past. Just as the great leaders of history utilized all the tools and resources at their disposal to transition through times of great change, we too have that opportunity. Os Guinness suggests that we are entering a “Grand Age of Apologetics.” He comments that the era of “Christian consensus” is coming to a close and as a result “we have a fresh opportunity to make the gospel appealing.”[6] This requires an ability to communicate truths at a depth that reach to the very heart of the people to whom we want to minister. Os reminds us that Jesus didn’t use the same techniques over and over again, but spoke directly to the needs of each individual. This requires discernment and an ability to adapt, utilizing different tools in each setting. 

Not everyone will have the ability to attend Seminary; but if it is at all an option, it is one which ought to be explored. Phineas Bresee once said, “If I knew that I had but ten years to live and serve, I would take five years for preparation, and do more in the remaining five than in the whole ten years.”[7] We need those who will take the time to fill up their tool boxes, not just with the tools, but with the capacity to think about how to use those tools and then work beside a master craftsman until the tool and the person become one. We need those who will be able to lead us through the storms which lie ahead and will carry us through without losing our faith or theological underpinnings. Sometimes you simply have to invest in the best tools possible and combine those with the work of the Holy Spirit and then move out in faith into uncharted waters to lead us through, safely to the other side. It’s been done before and it can be done again. The Church needs those who are willing to sacrificially give of their time to study, seek the face of God and lead us as a holiness church into the future.

 


[1] Acts 22:3

[2] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 838). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] Pew Research, May 18, 2015. Cited December 3, 2015. Online: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/18/mainline-protestants-make-up-shrinking-number-of-u-s-adults/

[4] Express, August 1, 2015. Cited December 3, 2015. Online: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/595398/Demise-Christianity-1000-churches-shut-across-Britain-congregations-shrink.

[5] Huffington Post, June 9, 2015. Cited December 3, 2015. Online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/byron-williams/christianity-has-only-itself-to-blame-for-its-demise_b_7546058.html.

[6] Os Guinness, “Welcome to the ‘Grand Age of Apologetics.’” An interview by Tim Stafford in Christianity Today, July 23, 2015. Cited December 3, 2015. Online: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/july-web-only/os-guinness-interview-welcome-grand-age-apologetics.html.

[7] Brickley, Donald P. Man of the Morning: The Life and Work of Phineas F. Bresee. (Kansas City MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1960), 21. 

Wednesday
Sep092015

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLACE

The new virtual, or digital, world provides us with opportunities for study in a variety of ways. We can be anywhere in the world and still connect into a classroom and participate in ways that would have only existed in our imagination just a few decades ago. NTS offers numerous innovate ways to study through the use of technology. We have purely online programs, video-conference and 1-week intensive courses at campuses around the country, making the NTS experience within reach of anyone. And yet, there is something significant about having a place to call “home.” No matter how many satellites we send off into space they still have to orbit their home – and no matter how many new forms of teaching we adopt, there is still something about the DNA of the “home” from which the teaching originates.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

THE COST BENEFIT OF THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION

Recently, I was talking with a minister who shared with me that he wanted to do his doctoral work at NTS, but that he couldn’t because (he believed) it was simply not affordable.  He told me that he had completed his Master’s degree at another Seminary because it was closer to home, and presumably cheaper. When he told me the cost of degree, I told him that it was nearly twice the cost of the MDiv at NTS. Then I told him the total cost of the Doctor of Ministry degree at NTS and he was stunned at the affordability. 

The cost of all forms of higher education is a frequent topic of conversation these days. This is especially true for those who have a call to ministry. Insurmountable debt can become a barrier to pastoral ministry and therefore it becomes wise to ask questions about the program into which you will be entering and compare the information.

Nazarene Theological Seminary is subsidized by the Church of the Nazarene  and all students realize these benefits with a very competitive tuition rate. Among comparable seminaries, NTS is the best value. Our hourly rate is less than most of our competitors. Not only is our regular rate competitive, but we offer numerous scholarships. Our average scholarship rate is 22%.

Most of the educational debt that students incur comes from their undergraduate education. Even bearing this in mind, one-third of all NTS graduates complete their education with no debt. Another third will graduate with a manageable amount of debt, but unfortunately another third will leave with a combined undergraduate and graduate debt that is quite substantial.

NTS is committed to helping those students entering NTS with large debt. Through our Center for Pastoral Leadership (CPL), we are providing financial tutorials as well as an on-site financial advisor to help with issues of personal financial management. These services are made possible by a grant from the Lilly Foundation to help our students keep educational debt at a minimum and help facilitate them in ministry.

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE

Nazarene Theological Seminary has been in the business of preparing kingdom leaders for 70 years. When the doors of the Seminary were first opened, tuition was provided by the denomination. As we embark on the next 70 years we would like to do all that we can to reduce the cost and eventually provide for most or even all of our students’ tuition costs. For this to happen, we have begun a new endowment: “Future Pastors and Leaders Scholarship Fund.” Our goal for this fund is $10 million. To date we have $1.4 million and are looking for those who will help us invest in our future kingdom leaders.

In the next 10-15 years, 40% of all pastors of all denominations in the United States will retire. We must be intentional about helping to raise up and support the next generation of pastors and leaders. If you would like to help us make a difference and participate in this fund, please feel free to contact me at CSunberg@nts.edu

Wednesday
Mar052014

"Reclaiming Eve" Forum Follow-Up

What a privilege it was to share with the NTS family about Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God. In a forum with faculty, staff and students, healthy discussion ensued. What you read below is in response to that conversation. 

WHY DOES EVE NEED TO BE RECLAIMED?

People within church congregations are asking theological questions on a daily basis.  Interestingly, they are often not aware how much theology influences biblical interpretation. I’ve been told, “I don’t want to hear what some person thinks, I just want to hear a sermon from the Bible.” However, every time someone preaches, they share their interpretation or view on Scripture, and this is influenced by theology. As a result, people are engaged in theological discourse—whether they know it or not.

This leads us to a discussion of Eve. Our attitudes toward Eve have been formed by the theology that has shaped our lives. The name Eve itself conjures up all kinds of images, most of them not good. She is remembered as a temptress who continues to live in all women who are cursed because of Eve’s behavior! Humanity’s relationship to God is altered, as is Eve’s relationship to Adam, and they are expelled from the garden.  

But now comes a theological question: Do we believe that humanity’s relationship to God can be restored as a result of the work of Christ? Yes! Isn’t that what Christ’s death on the cross has done for us? Isn’t that the understanding of the atonement … the “at-one-ment” that we can experience with God? Most all of Christianity celebrates this truth.

So here comes the second theological question: If we believe that humanity’s relationship with God can be restored, why do we not profess that the Adam-Eve relationship can be restored? You may think, “Of course, I do believe that!” But do you really? It is in Christian circles that I have heard a male-female relationship of subordination affirmed, and the rationale given is that this is how God ordained the relationship as Adam and Eve left the garden. 

This leads us to the fact that Eve needs to be reclaimed. Not the temptress Eve, but the original Eve; the one created in the image of God with the purpose of being an equal partner together with Adam in caring for this world. It is in reclaiming this original Eve that we discover God’s intention for every woman and God’s purpose for male-female relationships … the Blessed Alliance

WHY WRITE Reclaiming Eve?

Because people in the pew are asking theological questions, we need to respond by providing theological answers in accessible ways. While the academy is continually engaged in theological dialogue, laypeople are not often brought into that level of conversation. This is a sad commentary on both the academy and the condition of the church. In the early years of the holiness movement, laypersons were known to have large libraries of holiness literature that they read and studied with veracity. Not only do I believe that it’s time to Reclaim Eve, but it is also time for theologians and biblical scholars to write in such a way as to shape the theological landscape of the church. 

I am deeply grateful to my co-authors, Suzanne Burden (pictured far right) and Jamie Wright (pictured far left) for their commitment and willingness to go on the “Reclaiming Eve” journey with me. The three of us labored over this project for several years because as we studied and began to Reclaim Eve, we too began to grow. What we learned we want to share with others. 

From the early centuries of Christianity, theology was never intended to simply be an intellectual practice; it was to be the deeply personal expression and articulation of a growing faith. The Church Fathers wrote theology as they were wrestling with their own personal experiences with God.  We wrote Reclaiming Eve because even today we must continue to wrestle with our personal experiences and what they mean for us theologically. Inside the pages of Reclaiming Eve, we share in a very transparent way how we have been stretched. And that’s why we had to write the book.

WHAT IS OUR DESIRED OUTCOME?

One of our pastors present at our chapel forum asked whether I thought it would be possible to preach a sermon from what we find in Reclaiming Eve. I certainly hope so! Could it be that we have been silent for far too long because we don’t want to tread into theological waters? How can we not? As I said in the beginning, whenever we explain Scripture we are doing theology. 

The church should be willing to speak out about what she believes about the restoration of relationships between God and man, and humanity to humanity. Could that be why Jesus continually reminded his followers that they were to love God and love neighbor? By Reclaiming Eve, we reveal the depth of love of neighbor. By supporting God’s original intention for Eve, we unleash a whole new generation of women who are set free by the work of Christ. These women will link arms with their brothers as strong partners in the work before us in the kingdom. The synergistic energy will be a revelation of Jesus’ desire that the world look upon his followers and know that they are Christians by their love for one another.

We are heading into the Lenten season, and this week we will celebrate Freedom Sunday. All over the world, women are being bought and sold because they are simply viewed as commodities. Church, we must stand up and Reclaim Eve, the woman created in the very image of God. She is not a commodity to be on the marketplace. She is the crowning jewel of all creation. Let us be willing to embrace our theology and bring it to the people. Then, may we live out our theology and be willing to take action, as God’s sons and daughters are unleashed in service to him. 

Let’s see what God might be up to as we Reclaim Eve. Find the writing team at ReclaimingEve.org, and join in the conversation at #reclaimingeve and #neverendingprayer.