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Philip’s Daughters

Philip’s DaughtersEstrelda Alexander and Amos Yong, eds., Philip’s Daughters: Women in Pentecostal-Charismatic Leadership, Princeton Theological Monograph Series (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2009), 251 pages, ISBN 9781556358326.

Looking for a historical, biblical, theological, and even philosophical discussion about Pentecostal Charismatic (PC) women in ministry? This collection of twelve essays that resulted from a series of colloquia in 2006-2007 at Regent University is your book. It has a consistent theme from the opening survey by co-editor Alexander and running through the six historical essays and six biblical and theological essays: Pentecostalism has a dialectic or paradox or tension point between its understanding of Spirit empowerment and its application to the callings of women. Does the prophecy of Joel, repeated by Peter in Acts 2, give women equal authority in the Church? Are there sociological and pragmatic barriers that have limited women’s role and status as ministers? Have PC churches lost their original vision of a gender-equal empowerment? Where did early Pentecostals get their ideas about gender equality? What is the history of women in ministry in the three largest Pentecostal bodies in the USA Assemblies of God (AG), the Church of God (COG), and the Church of God in Christ (COGIC)? What about Canadian Pentecostals? Or Hispanic Pentecostalism? Or Asian Pentecostals? These and many other questions are taken up by the writers who represent a broad spectrum of classical Pentecostal and charismatic academicians. Here are a few highlights.

Janet Everts Powers’ “Pentecostalism 101: Your Daughters Shall Prophesy” is a prophetic call to the PC world to recapture the prophetic empowerment of Spirit baptism for ministry and not simply for an emotional experience. Men and women receive a divine unction that qualifies them to speak for God to His people. Powers credits the 19th century Methodist Phoebe Palmer for bequeathing this understanding of the Spirit to 20th century Pentecostals. She offers a challenging rebuttal to the evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem’s definition of prophetic gifts.

Cheryl Bridges Johns’ “Spirited Vestments: Or Why the Anointing Is Not Enough” critiques the limitations for full ministerial authority to women among PC denominations. Her essay probes classical understanding of theology proper in her description of God’s character and person and its implications for women in ministry. Johns’ solution is to rethink this understanding in terms of a relational model of equality rather than a hierarchical one of subordinationalism.

Gastón Espinosa’s “‘Third Class Soldiers’: A History of Hispanic Pentecostal Clergywomen in the Assemblies of God” surveys a history of both the impact of women among Hispanic ministries as well as the gender barriers they faced. He quotes one married woman ministry, “We’ve got a voice, but we also know our place” (p. 109).

Frederick L. Ware’s title summaries well his contribution and that of many of the writers in this book, “Spiritual Egalitarianism, Ecclesial Pragmatism, and the Status of Women in Ordained Ministry.”  He is optimistic that more doors are opening today for full recognition of women in PC ministry.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Winter 2010

About the Author: Malcolm R. Brubaker, Th.M. (Westminster Theological Seminary), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), B.A. (Evangel College), is Professor of Bible at Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, PA, extension faculty for Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at VFCC, and a Ph.D. candidate at Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA). Malcolm has experience serving as a pastor and is the author of numerous articles and papers on biblical theology and homiletics, including the Ezekiel (1999) commentary for the Complete Biblical Library (World Library Press).

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