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.