Ep 1: Why Church History Matters for Christian Women Today

In our very first episode of “Women of the Church,” we (Ashley and Mandy) introduce ourselves. Then we discuss that one of the most significant problems facing Christian women today is that we know nothing about church history. As a result, we do not have a complete understanding of how God has used ordinary people for his glory beyond biblical times. We then talk about how this podcast hopes to address this problem by exploring the ways that Christian women have been Gospel influencers throughout history in the home, the church, and society. While the Christian women that we want to discuss were remarkable, they were not without sin. We plan to portray them as the adage goes, warts and all because these women are never meant to be a stand-in for the savior. Instead, these Christian women point us, in their beauty and their imperfection, to our universal need for a savior.  In each episode featuring a woman from church history, we want to emphasize that what ultimately unites all Christian women across time is that we are image-bearers and we all desperately need the Gospel.

Questions 

After Ashley and Mandy Introduce themselves:

1.    How did we meet?

2.    What is a central problem for Christian women today?

3.    To understand church history, isn’t it enough to read the Bible?

4.   Why not focus on Christian men and Christian women on this podcast?

5.   What will this first season of this podcast look like? 

Scripture References (ESV)

Deuteronomy 7: 6-11, 17-19; Psalm 66:5-7; Acts 7:2-53; Matthew 10:29; Genesis 1: 26-28; Romans 3:23

Featured Women of the Church   

Katharina von Bora/Luther (1499-1552): Moved by the writings of Martin Luther, this nun ran away from her convent and went on to marry the Protestant reformer. She eventually had six children and supported Luther’s ministry in countless ways. Even during her painful death, she said, "I will stick to Christ as a burr to cloth."

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784): Featured British abolitionist for Season One of “Women of the Church.” With the publication of her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in 1773, she “became the first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in the English language, marking the beginning of an African-American literary tradition” (Gates 31). In her poems, Phillis articulated the truth that God made all humanity, regardless of class, gender, or race, in his image. 

Jane Austen (1775-1817): Featured British abolitionist for Season One of “Women of the Church.” She is one of the most celebrated English novelists of all time. Today, devotees of Austen lovingly call themselves “Janeites.” However, a lot of people don’t know that she was a devout Protestant and grew up surrounded by clergymen.

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845): Featured British abolitionist for Season One of “Women of the Church.” Queen Victoria (1819-1901) supported this Quaker’s philanthropic work, which included prison reform. Due to her contribution to society, the Bank of England featured her on the five-pound note for over a decade. 

Quoteworthy

Regarding Deuteronomy 7: 6-11, 17-19:  “Just as is the case today. Moses understood how easily human beings forget. We consistently need reminders of who God is and what he has done. This history he recounts was never about how faithful, mighty, or wonderful Israel was but how faithful, mighty, and wonderful God is.”

“The Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and a beautiful, incredible historical record. A Christian understanding of history starts with the Bible. Our understanding of theology (or how we think about God) is deeply connected to the way we understand history. If we don’t believe God intervenes in the course of human history, then what kind of lies are we believing about God? We might not always understand why certain events play out the way that they do in human history but we can trust that God’s providential love for his people applies to all of church history.”

 “Every woman who has ever lived needs the Gospel. As Romans 3:23 says, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Even the most pious, devout churchgoing woman needs Jesus Christ. When we view women throughout church history in light of scriptural truth, the focus becomes less on how we don’t measure up to these types (the mother, the martyr, and the missionary) and more about our need for a savior.”

 Dates to Remember

March 25, 1807: British Parliament abolishes the transatlantic slave trade.

July 26, 1833: British Parliament passes the Abolition of Slavery Act.

 August 1, 1838: Nearly 800,000 black men, women, and children in the West Indies are officially free. 

Terms to Know 

Torah: First five books of the Bible (“Torah”).

Historical literacy: Having not only a greater knowledge of the past but also how “the ideas, beliefs, and values of people in the past influenced their decision making” (Lee 46). 

Inerrant: Means that something, usually a text, is “without error” (Taylor).

Infallible: Means that the text is not only “without error” but “incapable of error” (Taylor).  

Image bearer: “God created us to be physical beings to represent his character, his likeness, and his government” (Sanchez).“ Both men and women have been created in the image of God and are entitled to the privileges and held accountable to the responsibilities that come with reflecting our Creator” (The Village Church).

 abolition: The act of abolishing; the legal prohibition and ending of slavery (“abolition”).

 British abolitionist:  “Before 1807, this meant a person campaigning for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade”; “After 1807, abolitionist came to mean a person who wanted existing slaves emancipated” (British Library).

 Great Britain: By the year 1801, this would have included England but also all of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The British Empire would have included not just Great Britain but also all the nation’s colonies, territories, etc. overseas. 

Scripture Memory

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:11)

Ashley’s Sources 

Journeywomen Podcast, Church History with Dr. Michael Haykin

Timothy Larsen, "Why is history important for Christian leadership?"

The Two Best Introductions for Christians Studying History: A Joint Interview

Lee, P. J. “Putting Principles Into Practice: Understanding History.”  In How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom.Edited by M. S. Donovan and J. D. Bransford, National Academies Press, 2005, 31-77.

The Bible Project, Torah Series.

The Bible Project, Introduction to Deuteronomy

Justin Taylor, What Does “Inerrancy” Mean?

Derusha, Michelle. Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk.

Help Me Teach the Bible with Nancy Guthrie: Juan Sanchez on Image, Identity, and Idolatry

The Role of Women at the Village Church.

 Wilkin, Jen. God of Creation: A Study of Genesis 1-11.

 “Abolition,” Merriam Webster Dictionary.

British Library, Campaign for Abolition.

 Gates, Henry Louis. The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America’s First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers. Basic Civitas Books, 2010.

KVB Portrait Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharina_von_Bora#/media/File:Katharina-v-Bora-1526.jpg

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