An End to This Strife: The Politics of Gender in African American Churches

An End to This Strife: The Politics of Gender in African American Churches

An End to This Strife: The Politics of Gender in African American Churches

An End to This Strife: The Politics of Gender in African American Churches

Synopsis

"In this call to African American churches, Demetrius Williams points to the next stage in their historic march to freedom: overcoming sexism in the church." "Williams demonstrates how the Bible - and especially the liberating message and ministry of Jesus, which broke through the taboos and social barriers of his day - have been powerfully exerted by black churches to confront society's racism and class injustice. Now, he argues, that ancient vision and proud legacy must be employed again to address the inequities of women in the Christian churches themselves." "A model for how biblical studies can illuminate and inform the contemporary scene, Williams's work will help all Christian churches to renew themselves in light of the biblical message and to reaffirm the equality of all people before God." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

It is truly amazing how quickly time flies. More than fifteen years ago I had an encounter, which I discuss in more detail in the introduction, that gave rise to the topic of this book. It began as a Harvard Divinity School Master of Divinity thesis entitled, “The Politics of Gender in African American Churches: Women in the Preaching and Pastoral Ministries,” which was completed in May 1990. My fortuitous enrollment in two courses in the fall of 1988 and the fall of 1989—Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s “Gospel Stories of Women” and Vincent L. Wimbush’s “The Bible and African Americans”— significantly shaped the approach and content of the thesis, the present book, and the direction of my scholarly work. Schüssler Fiorenza’s course and writings offered a historical reconstruction for understanding not only women’s ministry in the Jesus movement and in Pauline churches but also how the egalitarian tradition in the church was domesticated and deradicalized toward the end of the first century in response to conservative trends in the early church. Wimbush’s course and his writings introduced me to African American biblical hermeneutics—a signal experience in shaping my career choices. It was at this time, during the final year of the M.Div. degree, that I was trying to decide if my next academic pursuit would be a doctorate in theology focusing on black/liberation theology or a doctorate in New Testament and Christian origins. Before taking Wimbush’s course, I thought that black theology was the most viable means of addressing the situation of African American people from an academically informed theological perspective. But Wimbush’s course and writings exposed me to the possible contributions of New Testament studies—the area of my graduate training—for understanding and articulating the African American religious experience. Thus equipped with a feasible historical reconstruction of Christian origins and a practical interpretive perspective for engaging the African American religious tradition, I was able to make an initial formulation of this topic in the thesis. I had, however, much more to learn before a book-length study could be attempted.

In 1991 Fortress Press published Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation, which introduced African American biblical hermeneutics to the general public. It was in this volume that I read Clarice Martin’s “The Haustafeln (Household Codes) in African American Biblical Interpretation: ‘Free Slaves’ and ‘Submissive Wives,’” which exposed the limitations of . . .

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