When Life and Beliefs Collide
In Praise of When Life and Beliefs Collide.Sooner or later, life's difficulties bring every Christian woman to God's doorstep with questions too personal to ignore. "Why does God let me go through such painful circumstances?" "Why does he seem indifferent...
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In Praise of When Life and Beliefs Collide.Sooner or later, life's difficulties bring every Christian woman to God's doorstep with questions too personal to ignore. "Why does God let me go through such painful circumstances?" "Why does he seem indifferent to my prayers?" We're tired of spiritual pie in the sky. We want authentic, God-as-he-really-is faith--the kind that holds us together when our world is falling apart and equips us to offer strength and hope to others.When Life and Beliefs Collide raises a long-overdue call for us to think seriously about what we believe about God. With passion, brilliance, and eloquence, Carolyn Custis James weaves stories of contemporary women with episodes from the life of Mary of Bethany to illustrate the practical benefits of knowing God deeply. Examining the misperceptions and abuses that discourage women from pursuing a deeper understanding of God, this insightful book demonstrates how practical and down to earth knowing God can be."This outst
Carolyn Custis James (MA., Biblical Studies) travels extensively as a popular speaker for women's conferences, churches, colleges, seminaries, and other Christian organizations. Her ministry organization, Whitby Forum, promotes thoughtful biblical discussion to help men and women serve God together. She is a consulting editor for Zondervan's Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament and author of When Life and Beliefs Collide; The Gospel of Ruth; Lost Women of the Bible and most recently Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women. Carolyn lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband and daughter.
1 IN THE SCHOOL OF RABBI JESUS Mary Learns at Jesus' Feet LUKE 10:38--42 THE DIFFICULTY THAT CONFRONTED ME FROM THE OUTSET IN MY search to find a great woman theologian was that I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking for. I found myself in the same predicament as people in airports who hold placards bearing the names of individuals they've never met. They scan the sea of faces streaming off the plane, looking for the passenger who with a single look will identify themselves as the owner of the name. In the meantime, expectations run unchecked and hope and dread alternate until one traveler steps forward to end all speculation. At first I had all sorts of mental images of what a great woman theologian would be like, images drawn from my misconceptions of what it means to be a theologian. For starters, I confined my search to the realm of the professional academic. Undoubtedly, a great woman theologian would be a scholar, intelligent, highly educated, and slightly intimidating with her deep knowledge. Although she would probably never be shortlisted for the Ten Most Admired Women of the Year award, she would nevertheless be admired---not because women would ever want to be like her but because of her impressive academic pedigree. My hope was that in time, theology, just like other fields now open to women, would see women rise to the top and stand shoulder to shoulder with theological giants like John Calvin and Martin Luther. What I didn't realize was that it had already happened, not just once but countless times, and that far from being nonexistent, great women theologians were actually quite common. The women I was about to discover would change my view of what it means to be a theologian. Contrary to my expectations, they would not be academics or scholars but ordinary women--- wives, mothers, singles, young and old, and from every walk of life. Their legacies are not bound in thick volumes of systematic theologies or hidden in the tattered remains of lecture notes they have left behind but are wrapped in the simple stories of their lives. These women taught me what true theology is all about. They fearlessly employed their minds to pursue a deeper understanding of God's character and ways. The results of their efforts were visible in both the everyday and extraordinary moments of their lives. Their hearts were strong for God, and they drew courage, wisdom, and determination in the face of overwhelming adversity from the certainty that God is on his throne and that he is good. Most of their words have been lost or long forgotten. But among the few that survive are some of the most eloquent and profound statements ever spoken concerning God's unfailing love for his people. Their stories supply convincing evidence that there have always been and still are great women theologians. What is more, these women not only measured up to the high standard set by great male theologians; many times they surpassed it. But for me one woman stands out from all the rest. I have learned more about what it means to be a theologian from her than from any other theologian, male or female. For those of us who are visual learners, her story is particularly useful because she shows us how theology looks in a woman's life from the earliest stages to the moment when she emerges as a mature theologian. She was a thinking woman, to be sure, who hungered for God and didn't give up even when knowing him wasn't all that easy. The effect of theology on her life raised a stir back then and still has people talking about it today. For me, her story demonstrated, in terms I could understand, how knowing God benefits a woman's life and opened my eyes to new possibilities of ministry. Somehow our need for theology makes more sense when we see the difference it makes for someone else. What is more, the physical presence of Jesus in her story exposes us to his perspective on the subject of women and theology and underscores the seriousness of the matter for all of us. But to be honest, what intrigued me most about her and influenced my preference for her over all the others was the fact that she was not simply one of many great women theologians. As I studied her life to understand what kind of theologian she was, I was stunned and not a little gratified to realize I had not simply discovered yet another great woman theologian. She was, I am firmly convinced, also the first great New Testament theologian. We know her as Mary of Bethany.