I have a confession to make.  I am not fond of women’s ministry programs.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my sisters in Christ and enjoy fellowshipping with them.  But programs that involve some type of teaching, such as workshops or conferences, generally don’t appeal to me.  Why?  In my experience, gatherings to hear teaching have been little more than encouragement sessions to make us feel better about being “God’s women”.  Unfortunately, I find the same thing on women’s blogs, even ones that have been advertised as a place for serious thinkers.  There are a few exceptions, but generally, I find them lacking in rich theological substance.

Now I will be the first to admit, that women are more geared emotionally.  Generally, and of course there are exceptions.  We seem to need some type of emotional connection to things to extract value.  Therefore, the tendency will be to look for some type of emotional appeasement when it comes to Christian education.  That is not to say that there is not Biblically based teaching or even, expository or inductive teaching.  But it has to feel good for us, if we’re honest.

This is precisely why I think women should study theology.  Instruction in theology proper will force an objectivity that I think might be not otherwise be present, as Christian women strive to grow in their Christian walk.  Theology will provoke us to evaluate how we think about God, His plan and our Christian faith.  Charles Ryrie indicates that theology is how we think about God.  In this way, everyone is a theologian.  So studying theology should challenge us to examine how we are even approaching the Bible.  What is our hermeneutic, historical-grammatical-canonical or reader response subjectivism? Are we studying the Bible to make ourselves feel better or studying to understand the revelation of God?  A study in theology should pry us from the former, while clarifying the latter.  Moreover, it will encourage us to examine the presuppositions that we bring into reading the Bible and reduce responses to seemingly affronts to womanhood or our sensibilities.

I desire for my fellow sisters in Christ to understand God’s plan and program.  I desire for my sisters to study the Bible with as much objectivity as possible, to learn what He has communicated to us.  I personally fear that too much of the highly marketed teaching out there, is not properly equipping women to grow in grace and the true knowledge of Jesus Christ, as Peter puts in 2 Peter 3:18.  It makes us feel good about being women.  But is it enough?

I am especially concerned because I think that women are more likely to be susceptible to distorted doctrine and unscrupulous teachers.  Paul says this to Timothy,

“In the last days, difficult times will come.  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

I think we do see some of this.  All you have to do is turn on the TV, and see this in action under the guise of blessing and favor from God – glorified greed and self-focused teaching.  That’s just the popular version that most likely is a small representative of un-televised, like minded ministries.  Let’s not be fooled, such type of people can even exist in Biblically solid, doctrinally sound churches.  Church discipline has been replaced with “programs”, making it easier for preying men with unholy motives and deceptive leanings to move amongst the congregations undetected.

Because Paul goes on to say that “from among them are those who will enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7).  This describes the type of woman who does not have a good grip on her theology and understanding why she believes what she believes.  This describes a woman who is interested in subjective, emotionally charged teaching rather than systematic teaching rooted in Biblical truth derived from sound hermeneutics centered in God’s revelation.  This describes the type of woman who goes to “conferences” but does not really understand the basis of her faith, lacks discernment and therefore is easily scoped up in disorienting schemes by teachers who proclaim “Biblical” truth.  This is the type of woman that wants to feel good about her theology but can open herself up to false teaching and unscrupulous men, primarily because there is a void that the “true knowledge of Jesus Christ” is meant to fill and challenge her sinful pulls.

I am not saying that all women’s minstries lack substance or that there are not serious women leaders out there, instructing women in God’s truths.  But I am saying that the very nature of women, in general, lends itself to want “feel good” theology and therefore must be countered with more objective learning.  I think our commitment to Christ is worthy of learning as best we can, the great salvation that has been handed to us and God’s communication to us through His written word. God forbid, we be the woman that Paul describes that become subject to distorted teaching, unprincipled men and unholy motives leading us dark and troubled path, always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I don’t expect for most women to share in my unusual interest in theology and exegesis (or so I’ve been told).  But I would hope to garner some interest in studying theology, to encourage greater thinking about what God has so graciously condescended to reveal to us and to hopefully avoid the pitfalls of needing emotionally charged learning that may never lead us to where we need to go.

    81 replies to "Why I Think Women Need to Study Theology"

    • Bruce Russell


      Thanks for the reflective post. Women, as well as men and girls and boys need a solid theological framework so that their house is built on the rock and can endure the trials and temptations that are sure to come.

      The typical female emotional makeup I believe is actually an advantage in many ways if it is harnessed in a personal way to the greatest story ever told.

      Boys and girls at a young age need to listen to the Old Testament scriptures like they are actually part of the story because in truth, they are a vital part of the Old Testament mystery where clues everywhere point to the coming Messiah. Along the way the obtain a love of goodness and truth and a hatred of sin, lust and perversion.

      This is the soil from which a profound theological grounding can grow.



    • mbaker


      In a comment above you mentioned your spiritual formation classes.

      Could you tell us what all that entails theologically? I am interested because I’m wondering if it’s something that could or should be taught in congregations as well, to an audience of both men and women.

      In your opinion, do you think would it help to get lay women more interested in a deeper level of theology?


    • Lisa Robinson

      Bonnie, thanks for that very well articulated response. I am not necessarily saying that women are more emotional, but geared to require a more emotional connection to things then men. That’s not bad but different, as you point out. Nor am I am saying that neither sex can be vulnerable to distorted teaching – they will and probably for different reasons. Specific to the text I cited in 2 Timothy, it does draw out the type of woman that would be vulnerable to false teaching and this is what I focused on.

      You know its interesting, a friend and fellow classmate told me yesterday that I should write from the heart and approach the Biblical text with more emotion than intellectually. This suggests that I cannot be emotionally impacted by the text unless I approach it that way. This is the problem and as I indicated earlier, creates a dichotomy between knowledge and emotions that pits one against the other. Why would I do that? I want to first understand what the text says, then what the text means. That ought to produce an array of emotions if we truly want a connection to God.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Mbaker, its a 4 -semester curriculum that focuses on spiritual growth in the context of community. Each semester is a different theme: 1) identity; 2) community (focus on life story) 3) integrity; and 4) service. It’s kind of like a small group and we work through the weekly curriculum and do various exercises, like writing your own screwtape letter (OUCH!) – we are on integrity this semester and that was a very convicting exercise 🙁

    • mbaker

      Sounds interesting, Lisa. Is this something offered through the online theology program?

      I’m trying to think of things that would close the gap between what some women consider over intellectualizing the Bible, or over personalizing it to the point they lose context. In my area that’s a real problem, and unfortunately the schism between the two is becoming wider.

      Any specific suggestions for studies?

    • mbaker

      BTW, we did the Beth Moore studies on the book of Daniel and also “The Patriarchs”. They were in depth, as far as women’s studies go, but still required a lot of extra expense for the DVD’s, books and workbooks, which they couldn’t be completed without. While they are more reasonably priced, I find the individual studies available on the NT books, (at least the ones available in the Christian book stores), a little too much on the light side.

      However, in this struggling economy where we have several families in our church out of work, not too many folks can afford Beth Moore type prices.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Michael T,

      Your statement in #20 not only lacks tact, but also shows deficient reasoning skills. You fail to note that your objection cuts both ways. Simply because someone is right about X doesn’t make them right about Y.

      Substitute “Trinity” for “X” and “Egalitarianism” for “Y”.

      Substitute “F.F. Bruce, Scot McKnight, and Ben Witherington III” for “someone”. This rebuts Eric W’s argument in #17. Which was the point of my #19.


    • Lisa Robinson

      Mbaker, I don’t know if that curriculum is available outside of DTS. I’ll have to look into that. In terms of other curriculum, to be honest, I don’t know. I do think TTP is more in line with what I was thinking. But you’re right, there should be something more oriented towards Bible study/small group.

      I will have to check out the Beth Moore series on Daniel and the Patriarchs. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of hers but those sound interesting.

    • EricW

      I guess mentioning those scholars’ names “might” be considered an “argument” of sorts (i.e., since there are reputable and knowledgeable and able Evangelical scholars who see the NT as supporting the so-called “egalitarian” position, the position is defensible; Gordon Fee’s name should be added), but I wasn’t so much arguing for something in #17 as stating something. My posts #10 and #12 are more of an argument for my position than #17 is.

    • Bonnie

      tamara #48, your first paragraph makes a very important but generally neglected point. After flags are planted on hills (or seats on tractors), various attempts are made to explain how these theological distinctions play out in real life, resulting in contradictions or impossible/ridiculous scenarios such as those in Dan’s #39. You’d think this would tip them off that something is wrong with the theology.


      I am not necessarily saying that women are more emotional, but geared to require a more emotional connection to things then men.

      Perhaps. But I’m skeptical :-). I think that modern cultural expectations may cause this to appear to be true. Women are allowed to be more overt about their emotional connections, and expected to express these connections differently, in many cases. But this doesn’t mean their connections are in truth more emotional, either to people or things. Perhaps men and women are connected emotionally to different things, or to some things differently–I’m not saying there are no differences. But what are the actual differences, that is the question 🙂

      I agree with you about the mistaken notion that pursuit of true knowledge of God–true theology–precludes emotional connection to Him. Why would anyone want to give themselves emotionally to something that wasn’t worthy, or true, anyway? Emotion and intellect can’t be separated, and the fact that many think (or feel) they are shows a flaw in our modern understanding, I think.

    • Wilson Hines

      I sent this link to my wife to read and she just couldn’t say “amen” enough! We had a good conversation about this and to be fair, we talk along these lines allot.
      She is in the middle of a B.S. degree in nursing and intends on getting the masters in nursing, and eventually would like to teach at a Bible college nursing program and work with missions. I think she’d make a good MTh candidate, too 🙂

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Eric W.: “the [egalitarian] position is defensible.”

      No, it’s not.

    • EricW

      1 Corinthians 14:38.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Joshua Allen, #28: “I agree with everything, although I might emphasize that men today have become pretty feminized, and are often guilty of the same weaknesses as the women in Paul’s time.

      Yep. I agree. You can thank egalitarianism to some degree for that.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “Gordon Fee’s name should be added”

      Let’s also add seminary president Katherine Hancock Ragsdale to your list of egalitarians too.

    • EricW

      Let’s also add seminary president Katherine Hancock Ragsdale to your list of egalitarians too.

      While one might naturally expect women to counted among egalitarian theologians, the greater significance to me is the male theologians and scholars who find that the Scriptures, when understood in their original languages, cultures and contexts, support an egalitarian understanding re: church life and practice. Hence I restricted my listing of names to men.

      This is not unlike the significance of Whites who supported freeing the Black slaves vis-a-vis a default expection that many or most Blacks would be in favor of abolition.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      The greater significance to me is what Joshua Allen said in #28:

      “I agree with everything, although I might emphasize that men today have become pretty feminized, and are often guilty of the same weaknesses as the women in Paul’s time.”

    • Lisa Robinson

      Guys, let’s not turn this into an egal/comp debate. There are more appropriate posts for that.

    • tamara

      As there seems to be some small discussion surrounding this, I just want to be clear: I am not suggesting that knowledge of God and being ‘in touch’ with one’s feminine emotions are in any way mutually exclusive. My own personal experience… (and as I stated, my field of study was not theology, but a multi-disciplinary field of Near Eastern culture, religion, languages, archaelogy, etc.. ‘text criticism’ in a secular university setting…).. was that for a season, while engaged in serious study of the Bible, with the fundamental intention all the while being to grow in knowledge of God and His word, my Bible became a textbook to me and I was personally unable to read it ‘devotionally’ (which for me, tapped the emotional connection – not to God, but to my Bible). Excuse the run-on sentence. I could not just read a verse like, ‘A bruised reed He will not break’, and take that for MYSELF. I was constantly running everything through the filter. Who said it? To whom? Did they REALLY say that, or was that attributed to them, but written by someone else with an agenda? What was the agenda? And on and on… There was a definate loss for me, for a time, that absolutely was replaced with something better, but that was not immediate. It required a significant amount of courage, faith and simple pressing on.

      So while I am infinately glad I learned, among other things, to read the Bible in its original languages, and I’m glad for the journey my soul took as I learned to see the Bible with new eyes, it is true for me that for a time, pursuit of knowledge meant that I had to sacrifice my attachment to my emotional experience with the text. This is just honest. Whether it ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be this way, this was my experience. It was frightening, and lonely, and I simply wondered if this were an experience unique to myself, or if perhaps this could represent an experience that is perhaps not altogether uncommon for women, because our relationships with God tend to be more generally about attachment than about occupation? And perhaps the study of theology by its nature offers more emotional undergirding, and this is why you don’t seem to understand what I am speaking of? Most women I know simply do not have the time or energy to have their faith journey disrupted in such a way… Without the inner passion to pursue truth for truth’s sake, it is alot to bring upon yourself, even if it is the right, noble and wise thing to do. I don’t know how much a person can ‘dabble’ in these things, either… You know what they say about a little knowledge…

      All this to say, I do not see knowledge and emotion as being opposing forces in our pursuit of knowledge of the Holy. Obviously not. One cannot read the Bible without realizing that God is a very passionate, emotion filled Being. I only suggest that for women there is a temptation toward being satisfied with, or sometimes even preferring, sentimental attachments to…

    • Bonnie


      Thank you for further sharing about your experience. I do think it takes courage, and faith, to press beyond one’s ‘comfort zone’ of sentimental piety in order to gain a truer faith, and for many women this may be a ‘cost’ they are unwilling to pay. I’m fairly certain your experience was not unique. But I am not sure how much more prevalent this is among women. Not all are sentimental, just as not all men are non-sentimental (don’t know percentages). I think men hide sentimentality or couch it in different terms; they run up against much greater cultural resistance.

      On men being more inclined to view faith as occupation, that could be. Yet if this view is based upon superficiality, or an emotionally gratifying misunderstanding of what the true occupation of faith is, then it’s not that much different from a woman being attached to her own emotional attachment to God.

      If knowledge and emotional connection are not mutually exclusive, then neither should reading the Bible critically as well as devotionally be. I realize it can be very difficult to read it both ways at the same time, but this could be for several reasons: (1) not being taught how to approach the Bible properly, (2) treating the Bible itself as if it were God, (2) treating the Bible as if were not the living Word of God, (3) reading portions of the text as if they were prophetic for us specifically, individually, when they may not be, and (4) making an idol of either knowledge or our own emotional doings. I’m sure there are other reasons.

      I do think that full apprehension of Biblical text can take a very long time, especially the more obscure parts; some we may never fully understand. And we all have varying degrees of maturity in different areas – we are all “works in progress,” as they say. I’m sure we’ve all had our “desert” times, and scary times, along the way; I certainly have. (BTW, I’m envious of those who get to study Bible or theology at the university level; I’m a middle-aged mom of 3 with a BM in music who may never get that opportunity…)

    • Sue

      Perhaps those who complain about the low level of “women’s groups” are comparing apples and oranges. That is, perhaps you are comparing the informal bookclub approach of a women’s group to the serious seminary study which seems more the male domain.

      I have been turned off by lots of women’s groups. But I have learned that men aren’t much different. Okay, different topics, but really, often descending to fart jokes.

      I find that in general women are just as focused, just as intellectual and academic as the best of men. The one simple reason that few women follow an M. Th. is that it is very expensive to invest in studies that cannot lead to paid employment.

      I don’t think it is helpful for women to distance themselves from their own sex. I am proud to be a women and to think with and learn from other women.

    • Lisa Robinson

      “I find that in general women are just as focused, just as intellectual and academic as the best of men. The one simple reason that few women follow an M. Th. is that it is very expensive to invest in studies that cannot lead to paid employment.”

      Not sure this can be supported. What evidence exists that indicates women with ThM degrees don’t get jobs?

    • Sue

      It depends on where you might expect to work I guess. Would a Th. M. not normally go on to a doctorate? Aren’t there seminaries which do not welcome women on their faculty? I do know that women with an M. Div. have a harder time getting hired.

      I have to admit that I don’t really know for sure – but what do you want to do with your degree? I am following with interest. I had to put my program on hold at the moment for a variety of reasons. (Fortunately I enjoy the job I have right now.)

      I also know that many women want to be chaplains or work in a hospital. I know that this seems like it fits a woman’s temperment, but the women I know often simply feel that they are more likely to get this kind of job.

      What do you think?

    • Lisa Robinson

      Sue, I think that determining the percentage of successful post-ThM employment for women deserves more than just mere speculation and sweeping generalizations. There are some seminaries/Bible Colleges that will not let women on teaching staff, there are some where women are on staff but cannot teach certain topics, and then there are many that are wide open. It depends on the doctrinal orientation, too. Southern Baptists tend to be the most restrictive and Pentacostals/Charismatics tend to be more open. Then there’s everything in between. You might be interested in checking out the female scholars mentioned in my post entitled Women, Scholarship and Authentic Agendas.

      Also, it is not necessary for a woman with a ThM to obtain a doctorate degree for successful employment. It depends on what one wishes to do. Some women end up getting paid ministry leadership positions in churches or parachurch organizations, some work with mission organizations and participate in Bible translation, some go back into the seminaries and participate in admissions, student development and alumni placement. There are many other opportunitites as well. I know of a friend of a friend who is head of school at a prominent Christian school here in the Dallas area. She got her ThM from my institution a few years ago and has interned with Dan Wallace. I believe she is working on her PhD now and I hear she is brilliant.

      So to say that women opt not to pursue a ThM degree because of a lack of opportunities, I think is fallacious. As for me, I do hope to move on to doctoral studies, teach in a ministry training institution (most likely Bible College) and have an interest in teaching the Bible as an elective in secular high schools. Admittedly, my areas of concentration would preclude me from teaching in some (not all) institutions. But I don’t worry about what doors might be closed because I am most confident that as I tend to the working out my giftings in practical ways, God will open the doors to position me where He will get the most glory. Those opportunities know no bounds.

    • Rachel

      I definitely agree with your point. I also think that in many evangelical churches there is a lack of emphasis on educating women in terms of theology and apologetics. Often various theological discussions and endeavors in the church tend to naturally exclude women. They don’t do so outrightly, but often men rarely think to include a women in a theological discussion, and unfortunately, I think many of them assume a woman wouldn’t have anything productive to add. =[ This is an attitude that definitely needs to change.

    • […] Parchment and Pen » Why I Think Women Need to Study Theology. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Ten Reasons Why EVERY Christian Should Study Theology‘Another’ Five Reasons You Need to Study Theology […]

    • Devin F

      I believe that people should not study and practice the Word of God. Theology can be anything and I do not make a practice of making “the tradition of men into the commandment of God.”

      I would encourage all women out there to turn (repent) from their sins and belief (have hope and trust) that God will cleanse you completely and utterly clean (white as snow) as the scripture states: (1 John 1:9, 1 John 3:8-9, John 8:31-36, 1 Peter 4:1)

      Many times people IGNORE their place in the body of Christ. Men who aren’t called to be pastors become pastors for the sake of money, and I won’t name some bozo pastor who runs a mega church on the east coast. Whatever your place is then I would advise you to follow.

      A woman is not to have authority over a man or to be put in a position to teach (when speaking of the context of the church as whole). These are outlined by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy when advising this young Pastor on the “qualifications” of pastoral ministry. A women is not suited to be in the positions regardless of how you argue it. The same could be that the man is not suited to have children.

      People look at their position in the church and they get filled with envy and jealousy. This is the sinful lust at the core of a female pastor. Regardless of how you put it there is a right way and a wrong way. I encourage everyone who reads this and gets mad to REPENT of their sins and hope in Christ. For the gift of God is eternal life, and that life is so much better than the one that you will acquire through your own wrath. The wrath of man (or mankind) does NOT produce the righteousness of God. (James)

    • Lisa Robinson

      Devin, wouldn’t the call to repentance be applicable to both men and women? Just a thought.

      Also, you cited that envy and jealousy is at the core of a female pastor. Can we really know what is in a person’s heart? Maybe the female pastor has come to a different understanding of what scripture teaches with respect to demonstration of giftedness, which btw does not make distinctions between gender. I would say that is a separate issue from authority but should not be presented as women not having certain gifts (such as teaching). Afterall, there were women teachers in the early church who probably taught men. What do you do with that?

      Btw, I think if anyone were to get mad, it would not be because of the content of what you said but the way you said it. A little grace might be in order.

    • […] only woman who feels this way. I appreciated this post over on the Parchment and Pen blog entitled “Why I think women need to study theology.”  Thanks to the author Lisa Robinson for sharing her thoughts. I appreciate her point that […]

    • […] need more than this as well. In my post, I reference an article written by Lisa Robinson entitled “Why I think women need to study theology.”  She also shares her frustrations with women’s ministry, and I appreciate her emphasis that […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.