Blinding Influence of CULTURE
influenced the choosing of culture as the focus of this
newsletter? Certainly, the way those in Iraq and other
Islamic countries have viewed Operation Iraqi Freedom,
along with some reading. Culture is so natural to us we
don’t think about its influence until we are confronted
with those who see things so differently. However, it
is a powerful force. As such, we must see how culture
has influenced traditional church teaching in regard not
only to women, but also to biblical Christianity.
Schmidt defines culture as “society’s institutionalized
values, beliefs, norms knowledge and practices that are
learned through human interaction. It includes art,
morals, law, traditions–a way of life.”
Susan Hyatt says,
“Water is to fish as culture is to us; that is, it is
hidden, pervasive and coercive.” (2) Look around, and
you will see that acceptance by a culture does not mean
acceptance by God, which is certainly true in the case
intention was for men and women to share dominion as
equals. (3) After the fall, however, the biblical
record discloses an agrarian, patriarchal culture where
men ruled as God predicted they would in Gen. 3:16 as
Eve turned away from God and to her husband. (4) This
was the dominant culture for both the new and the old
the culture of the early Christian church is reflected
in that it was called The Way, indicating a
difference from the norm. Jesus’ treatment of women was
In both word and deed,
He condemned the custom that saw women as men’s
property, mere baby machines, un-equal both in value and
in standing with God. The early church followed His
lead. Women were a major factor in the young church’s
leadership and the rapid spread of Christianity, a fact
overwhelmingly supported by the New Testament.
Within a hundred years,
the decline had begun.
happened? Culture happened.
of cultural beliefs and practices are hard to overcome.
The agrarian, patriarchal view held that women were
physically and intellectually inferior, responsible for
the evil in the world and good only for the purpose of
producing male children who were needed in the field.
As the church moved from its early urban setting into
the countryside, these values returned to dominance.
the church had Jewish roots. The anti-feminine stance
of the early theologians was rooted in the negative
rabbinical view of women. The rabbis taught, “Let the
words of the Law be burned rather than committed to
women. . .” and they prayed daily “praised be God that
created me not a woman. . .” They believed that “the
voice of a woman is shameful,” and "From woman a beginning of
sin; and because of her all die" (5)
Rome ruled, Greek culture was highly influential and it
was no friend of women. Greek philosophy had a
prominent place in the educational background of the
church fathers. The thinking of early theologians was
more like Aristotle than Jesus and Paul. Aristotle
described women as "deformed males" while his pupil,
Socrates, stated that "woman is halfway between a man
and an animal." Tertullian called women “the Devil’s
gateway,” and Augustine and Chrysostom believed that
women did not possess the image of God. “Woman is
defective and misbegotten. . .” wrote Thomas Aquinas,
putting a sexist slant to Christian theology that
continues to taint biblical translation and
interpretation to this day. (6)
with His radical views about women, Jesus’ teaching came
against a broad range of cultural tradition by rejecting
Sabbath legalism, confronting the male role in adultery,
and advocating servanthood over position. Jesus
exposed those who used the law to avoid honoring
parents, and He put the “sword” to anything that came
before loving Him. After the first century or two,
these teachings also fell victim to the fallen nature of
man and dominant cultural views.
behavior doesn’t become institutionalized, it eventually
dies or is taken over by previous behavior. (7) That is
why the coalition is trying to officially change
the governmental form in Iraq. Christianity had already
strayed from The Way before Constantine made it
the religion of the empire. Unfortunately, the
structure of the Spirit guided early church, following
the teaching of Jesus and characterized by servanthood
and equality, was replaced by a culturally acceptable
form based on the secular Roman government featuring
hierarchy and male dominance.
institutionalization was bad. In Greco-Roman culture
human life was cheap, infanticide widespread, and infant
abandonment and abortion common. In addition, most
emperors killed people at will with impunity. The Roman
populace relished seeing humans brutally mauled and
killed in gladiator shows. Suicide was advocated by
their philosophers and practiced by the people. These
perverted beliefs were changed as Christianity’s high
view of human life became pervasive in Western culture.
Today, secular-minded individuals, even proponents of
abortion, accept a sanctified view of human life.
Established Christianity birthed free societies where no
one is above the law. Other innovations include the
first hospitals, charity that expected nothing in
return, dignity for physical labor and universal
education. While we seldom hear it spoken today, faith
was the motive leading most westerners who gave us great
art, literature, music, science and social movements.
Christianity has had a worldwide effect, even in
non-Christian nations. During WWII, a soldier on a
Pacific island met a native carrying a Bible. The
soldier said, “We educated people no longer put much
faith in that book.” The native replied, “Well, it’s a
good thing we do, or you would be eaten by my people
today.” (8) Seriously, India has banned wife burning,
China no longer practices foot binding, and nowhere is
it legal to sacrifice children to idols or to have
slaves. Christ’s gospel is revolutionary. In the first
century, without modern means of communication,
Christianity spread and took root. Why? Because early
Christians lived their beliefs, even unto martyrdom.
Their culture was not of the world but of the Kingdom of
last 2000 years, God has kept truth alive in
individuals, small groups and revivals. With the
Reformation, God began and continues what I believe is a
final move toward the “restoration of all things.” (9)
However it has only been since the industrial revolution
transformed us into an urban society that a consistent
improvement in women’s status has come forth. The
economics of city living favor small families, and an
educated workforce is valued over physical strength.
Urban-technological culture has become our ally.
does this have to do with you and me and our lives as
Christians in today’s world?
We can no
longer be silent. Jesus advocated cultural change. He
commanded us as His people--the church--to go into all
the world and preach the gospel. That gospel brings
change. We must seek revival with no place for
compromise. Only revival restores the “Jesus kind” of
life to the church. Syncretism, attempting to reconcile
with the system, gives pre-eminence to human control,
human-centered religion, and human culture rooted in the
citizens of the heavenly Kingdom, do we live by Kingdom
culture? Are we practicing politically correct behavior
or accepting cultural values that are not acceptable to
God? Will we search the scripture, deepen our
relationship with Christ and ask the Spirit to let us
see through God’s eyes? Are we willing to repent of any
offence and ask the Lord to change not only our thoughts
and actions but also our hearts regardless of the cost?
Let us ask God for His judgment of post-modern culture
to begin with us. Then, we can go out as His people, a
light that overcomes the darkness.
I have always
thought that those who came to this website cared deeply
about living their lives in accordance with God and His
Word. Our search was not for a theology that
favored women but for one that is consistent with the
teaching, practices and mind of Christ. We believe
that the Bible accurately interpreted in terms of the
author’s original intent teaches equality. (11) Are we
able to “give a reason for the hope that is in us.” (12)
Will we risk it by reaching out to feminists and others
who have rejected or never heard the truth? Can we
live in such a way that the Jews are brought to jealousy
and the lost look at us and want what we have? God
is still saying, “whom shall I send and who will go for
Us?” Can we respond, “Here am I; send me.” (13)
Alvin J., Veiled and Silenced (Macon:
Mercer Press, 1989) 4.
(2) Hyatt, Susan, Culture, Women and Revival,
unpublished paper, 2002.
(3) See Genesis 1 and 2.
(4) Bushnell, Katharen, God's Word to Women,
Susan, In the Spirit We're Equal,
(Dallas: Hyatt International Ministries, 1998),
Anton C., ed, Basic Writings of St. Thomas
Aquinas, (New York, Random House, 1948), 880.
Cited by James Helfley, What's So Great About
the Bible (Elgin. David C. Cook, 1966), 76.
(9) Acts 3:21
Culture, Women and Revival, 2.
(11) Ibid. 1.
(12) 1 Peter
11:11; Isaiah 6:8.
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Kathryn Riss is the conclusion of her book by the same
name. The "serpent's seed"
has attacked God's daughters long enough. It's time for
the truth to set them free! We hope that you will be so
refreshed, challenged and inspired by this
thought-provoking article that you will want the get the
We are Witnesses to
a Mystery by Ruth Hoppin The first chapter
and a paragraph from the ending of the book entitled
"Charge to the Jury," is taken from Priscilla's
Letter, Finding the Author of the Epistle to the
Hebrews which is written as a fascinating trial
where the evidence is laid out before a jury. The book
was taken out of print after only a few months of
availability. Circumstances suggest deliberate
suppression due to the influence of those who regard the
concept of female authorship of the Epistle to the
Hebrews intolerable. Fascinating!
Helen Barrett Montgomery's
Centenary Translation of the New
Testament-Characteristics and Influences
by Dr. Sharyn
Dowd. The purpose of this article is to call attention
to Helen Barrett Montgomery's translation of the New
Testament into contemporary English, published in 1924.
While Montgomery credits many male sources other
interpretations which appear to have been borrowed from
Katharine Bushnell are not credited. This paper
examines the evidence that Katharine Bushnell was a
probable source. Dr. Dowd’s notes will be of particular
interest to those doing research on women’s issues.
Woman's Place by Bernadine Tillman This article is the
introduction and first chapter of the book A Woman's
Place which contains incites and experiences from
two years of a Bible study based on God's Word to
Women. This book confronts abuse, offers a fresh
bold view and is a testimony to God's faithfulness to
those who seek truth. How
Intercessor for GWTW
Vickie was the last intercessors to come to us.
She has written a beautiful testimony that is
too long to put here. For the full testimony go
to the web address under the picture.
As a child, I was
raised Catholic and tried to love God and to find Him.
The church's teaching to children in the late forties or
so was to present God as a punishing Father who knew
everything you thought and did. You did not escape
punishment except by confessing sins to the priest who
represented God on earth. My early years were plagued
with nightmares in which the world was coming to an end
by earthquakes and floods. I would awake screaming
because I could not find the priest to tell him my sins
so I could see God. I became afraid to leave church
after my confession because I was afraid I would sin.
years were fraught with rebellion, anger and rage. This
anger I directed at God because my parents were also
abusive. I felt God hated me. When I was sixteen, I
became so full of rage at my rejection that I took a
baseball bat to church and climbed up on the altar and
began smashing the statues and screaming at God that I
hated Him too. That is when I spent time in a
psychiatric hospital. I learned after that to hide my
feelings and buried them so as not to ever go there
At age 26, I
found myself going into a depression. I was alone with a
little child, and my husband was gone. I was inadequate
for the role I had to play. I sought help and after
four years of therapy I felt new and whole but my
relationship with God had not changed.
marital problems closed in two Spirit filled neighbors
reached out to me and took me to meetings at Gonzaga
University where I heard John Sanford. . I was too
timid to refuse to go. I was seated and those around me
began to pray some in funny languages. They told me to
pray too, so I prayed the Hail Mary prayer of my
childhood, the only prayer I could remember. I wanted to
run out and go home.
That night Jesus spoke to me, led me to experience my
childhood fear and then let me experience something of
heaven. I knew I was different and had encountered God.
I knew Jesus was real and loved me, and I knew my life
had changed forever.
John Sanford prophesied an open heaven over my ministry
and a piece of his mantle of healing fell on me. After
we moved to Texas in the late 60s, Agnes Sanford came
there to teach. When she laid hands on me, I fell to the
floor with such a thud that the floor shook. She looked
at me straight in the eyes and said to me, "You have it,
don't you?” I knew what she meant.
met Barbara Collins during this time. I attended a
Bible study she taught. I wanted to get inside her brain
and figure out where she got the words she taught us.
How could she make this Word come alive?
left Texas for Connecticut in the early ‘70’s and on
fire again. Connecticut was not ready for the radical
prayers I began to pray over others. When I again faced
the backlash of rejection and those terribly condemning
words about the devil, I left the church for a season of
intimacy with Jesus.
later I found a Vineyard Fellowship and over time took a
leadership position. I began to notice women who for
one reason or another were always on the fringe - on the
outside looking in. The Lord put a special love in my
heart for them, and I invited them to my home for
fellowship and prayer. Others also came, and some
brought friends from other churches. We drop our
denominations at the door and pick up the standard of
the Holy Spirit and move forward by God's grace. He has
also led me to minister to elderly women who attend a
day care center in the building where I work.
God's doing, I have found my teacher Barbara after many
years. I am honored and humbled to pray for you all. I
find myself wanting to be in prayer all the time. I am
proud to walk alongside of you as we pray in the kingdom
of our God here on earth. My heart is overwhelmed with
joy at the thought of our oneness and unity; something
only He can do. Do you see Him standing in Heaven, our
Jesus, as we come home hand-in-hand and
shoulder-to-shoulder without a break in our ranks? Oh,
how He is applauding, His heart full because we are His
and He is ours!
Your sister, Vickie Manfredi
Too Good to Throw Out
While I was
researching for the article on culture I came across
lots of things that I couldn't use, but that were just
too good to keep to myself. So here are a few of them.
In recent years have we learned that culture is not the
same as human nature.
“Only symboling, planning and foresight, awareness of
birth and death, blushing, and creating values, while
tempered by culture, are unique to human beings and are
the only things that can be considered as ‘human
“holiday” originated with Christians in England, and as
many know, it once meant “holy day.
people now recoil at the inhuman features of the
gladiatorial shows because they have absorbed
Christianity’s view of sacredness of human life and
rejected the pagan philosophy of Stoicism that was so
prevalent among the Romans. Stoicism had no compassion
for the weak and the oppressed. This view of human
beings sheds considerable light on why abortion,
infanticide, child abandonment and delight in seeing
helpless gladiators mangled to death were such an
integral part of Roman culture.” (3)
Death with Dignity Act (assisted-suicide law) is not
only a rejection of Christianity’s historic opposition
to suicide but also a repudiation of its doctrine that
human life is sacred and only to be terminated by God,
who gave it in the first place. (4)
Historically women have been looked on as evil,
inferior, unclean and unequal that has resulted in them
being veiled, ruled, silenced, used, and abused. (5) The
following quotes illustrate these facts.
A. D., monks murdered Hypatian and then burned
her flesh as they tore it from her bones because she, as
a mathematician and philosopher, contradicted the church
historian, Cyril’s, beliefs about women. (6)
that women have long been looked on as property. But,
did you know they were shown like cattle and that the
church supported the buying of wives? “Germans sold
their wives to conquering Romans.” From an English play
in 1732: “Your person is mine. I bought it lawfully in
the church.” Found in an ad “can sow, reap, hold a
plow, and drive a team…she is damned hard mouthed and
headstrong…Her husband parts with her because she is too
much for him.” Wives were led around by a halter before
a sale to draw a crowd. A baptism record from Essex
records a baby girl as, “by a bought [purchased] Wife
delivered to him [the husband] in a Halter.” In fact,
selling and buying wives in some scattered instances
continued into the twentieth century. Our custom of the
father giving the bride away has its roots in the
patriarchal concept of women being man’s property. You
can only give away that which you own. (7)
least a 1,000 years in the Christian church—from
Tertullian to Thomas Aquinas—the passages in 1 Cor. 14
and 1 Tim. 2 meant that women could not sing or pray
audibly among men.” (8)
Oberlin was the first college to admit women, it did so
to provide ministers with intelligent and cultivated
wives. Women were not permitted to take courses in
public speaking and men read women’s graduation essays
for them. In the 1840s when Catherine Beecher toured
promoting female education, her brother read her
speeches while she sat behind him. When Susan B.
Anthony was allowed to address the New York State
Teachers Convention in1853, the delegates were shocked.
opposed to women's suffrage quoted 1 Corinthians 11:3.
women’s suffrage. This scripture was given as a reason
that Christian women could not be allowed to vote since
women would be ruling over men. The same passage was
used to keep women from voting in congregational matters
and is still used by some denominations. (10)
concept that women are unclean kept women from
ministering at the altar until very recently. As
recently as 1970, the Catholic Church barred women
lectors from the sanctuary during their menstrual
on the Cathedral of Worms in West Germany portrays the
medieval concept of woman. The statue is of Frau
Welt (worldly woman). Her nude body portrays beauty
from the front, but her back is covered with ulcers,
scorpions, and worms. Where is the statue of the
worldly man? (12)
1) Alvin J. Schmidt, Veiled
and Silenced (Macon: Mercer Press. 1989) 10-11.
2) Interview of Alvin Schmidt
3) Alvin J. Schmidt, (The Sanctification of Human
4) S. Hyatt, Culture Women & Revival
(unpublished paper) 2.
5) Veiled and Silenced,
6) Ibid. 125-128.
8) Ibid. 155.
10) Ibid. 97-102.