12 Apr 2016

C. R. Nichol’s God’s Woman: Gospel Advocate Writer Says Women can Pray and Teach … in Church!

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, A Gathered People, Books, C. R. Nichol, Church History, Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Paul, Restoration History, Unity, Women


The year 1938 was memorable by all counts.  Alabama tragically lost the Rose Bowl to the California Golden Bears.  Neville Chamberlain let Hitler occupy Czechoslovakia. Orson Wells sent many into a panic with his broadcast of H. G. Wells novel, The War of the Worlds. Oil was discovered in what is now Saudi Arabia. The minimum wage was created in the Fair Labor Act.  African-American Joe Louis defeated the Nazi, Max Schmeling in the epic boxing rematch.

While all these world events were going on Charles Ready Nichols was placing his name on a long forgotten book called, God’s Woman: The Place of Women in the Social and Religious Life as Revealed in the Bible.  The book “frankly treats … the subject of woman’s role in the home, congregation, business and social world” as his biographer describes it. There had never been a book quite like God’s Woman in the history of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Many in the brotherhood simply did not, and still do not, quite know what to do with the book.

Who was C. R. Nichol?

C. R. Nichol (1876-1961) was no minor player in 1938. Indeed in 1938, Nichol was one of the most prominent names in the Churches of Christ. Nichol had been the President of Thorp Spring Christian College. He was widely viewed as one of the most powerful debaters (well over a hundred to his credit) and evangelists (according to Preachers of Today, 1959, Nichol had baptized a whopping 30,000 people). He would serve as Professor of Bible at both Harding College and Pepperdine College and delivered the keynote at the 1943 Pepperdine College Bible Lectures. He was, along with R. L. Whiteside, an important mentor to Foy Wallace Jr and Cled Wallace. He, and Whiteside, were at the forefront of the war waged against R. H. Boll and published A Review of R. H. Boll.  When Wallace became editor of the Gospel Advocate in 1930 both Nichol and Whiteside were brought on as regular columnists.  When Wallace began the Bible Banner, Nichol was again in the mix.  Nichol was perhaps most famous for coauthoring with R. L. Whiteside some of the most important books in the twentieth century for CofCs, Sound Doctrine vols 1-5. He also produced Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia and a host of other books.  Sound Doctrine and the Pocket Encyclopedia were in the possession of nearly every preacher and most church members. They were used in college classes and even in cross cultural evangelism (George Benson had Sound Doctrine translated into Chinese in the 1930s). Nichol was the very picture of conservative.

Nichol was a major leader in the Churches of Christ. Theologically he was part of the Texas Tradition associated with the Firm Foundation, Austin McGary, R. L. Whiteside and eventually became the dominant orientation within the Churches of Christ by the 1930s.  The tradition opposed historic Gospel Advocate positions like special providence, recognizing those immersed in other fellowships as Christians (demanding rebaptism), more limited view of the indwelling of the Spirit (thru “the word”) and later rejected the ministry of K. C. Moser. But Nichol, like a number of other thought leaders in the TT believed the GA was far too restrictive in its views on women. Among these other leaders were Joe S. Warlick and J. W. Chism.

My copy of Nichol's Pocket Bible Encyclopedia

My copy of Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia

Nichol’s conservative credentials are impeccable. He can never be labeled liberal, accused of denying the authority or inerrancy of the Bible, or wanting to fit with culture.

So what happened when Nichol decided to go to the Bible, like the Bereans, and discover the Bible doctrine of women. He discovered what a lot of men have learned when they approach the subject with an open mind: women are daughters, wives, queens, leaders, prophets, deacons and even teachers.  He concluded, ironically, that modern disciples had followed culture in restricting female disciples where the Bible (and thus God) clearly empowered them.

God’s Woman

God’s Woman is a 183 page book divided into twelve chapters designed for Bible class or personal study. Each chapter is followed by a series of questions to facilitate interaction with the content of the book. The chapters are:

  1. Some Women of the Bible
  2. Women to Work
  3. The Dress of Women
  4. Custom
  5. Subjection
  6. Subjection in the Home
  7. Some Examples of Subjection
  8. I Cor. 11: 4, 5
  9. I Cor. 14: 34, 35
  10. I Tim. 2: 8-14
  11. The Deaconess
  12. Teaching

I first came across God’s Woman in the late 1990s while doing research for my R. L. Whiteside thesis. I was unprepared for what I read. It is clear from the beginning of the book that Nichol is hardly a feminist, much less an egalitarian.  But he takes the biblical text with the utmost seriousness and embraces what is there.  What he finds in Scripture, he simply cannot reconcile with the prevailing practice in the churches. Not that women were doing too much but just the opposite, churches were keeping them from doing what God allows and equips for.

My well worn Sound Doctrine, vol 1. Dad gave me the whole set for graduation.

My well worn Sound Doctrine, vol 1. Dad gave me the whole set for graduation.

Women in General

Nichol took head on the prevailing notion (still held by some) that women were constitutionally or innately inferior to men intellectually.  This view had been around for a long time but in the late 19th and early 20th century it was vigorously promoted in reaction to the Suffrage Movement.

Women were not supposed to work outside the home. Women were not supposed to ride bicycles, or vote. Women were weaker therefore intellectual pygmies.  All of these it was decided were violations of 1 Corinthians 14.34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

Nichol conceded that though most women were physically weaker than men “that does not argue she is his inferior in mental ability” (p.43). Women in fact were not less rational than men.  With a not so subtle swipe at male sexism, Nichol says that men by “devoting ourselves to a reasonable amount of reading” can discover that women have matched men’s intellectual ability in every field of endeavor.  He drops the names Elizabeth & Victoria; Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Shumann-Heink, Maud Adams … he even quips that “When a woman has turned into the paths of sin and crime she has become as depraved as man!” (p.45).  But it is “known that she [women] is not a whit behind man in any branch she elects to teach. Numbers of women are outstanding in scientific research and prove themselves to be men’s equals when they give themselves to such work.” Women have mastered every field from leading nations and armies to the arts and sciences.

Creationally women and men are equal according to Nichol. Prejudice, the result of cultural conditioning, had taught many men that women were mentally and psychologically inferior to men. This cultural prejudice had been overlain on the biblical material and led many within the church to assume unbiblical attitudes and restrictions toward women in Nichol’s view. Nichol did not believe that men and women were the same. There were differences between the two sexes he believed but that these differences were complimentary and neither inferior or superior.

Women in Teaching and Leadership Roles

Surveying Old Testament women, Nichol devotes four pages to Huldah (pp. 27-30), one of the most important prophets in the Bible period but so frequently not even recognized in restoration circles. Relating how this female prophet’s ministry was certainly not limited to other women but she instructed the most powerful men of her day. Nichol goes out of his way to stress that Huldah taught men and did so with the authority of the Holy Spirit. Anticipating the charge that Huldah is “the Old Testament” (the easy way to get rid of parts of the Bible that do not fit a sectarian agenda), he writes,

Sex relationship was the same in the days of Huldah that it was in the days of the apostles. Huldah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach a group {=assembly} of men, and she did teach them without violating the law of Jehovah. Though we do not have inspired men and women today, it does not follow that a group of men may not be taught by a man, or a woman” (p. 28).

It is important to wrestle with the fact that the prophet Jeremiah was ministering at the time of Huldah. In fact Jeremiah had been preaching for at least five years by this time, according to Nichol (p.29).  Why is it that Josiah sent the High Priest and other men to Huldah instead of Jeremiah?

When the king was disturbed by the contents of the “book of the law” (i.e. the Bible in Josiah’s day) and wanted to know what it meant, Josiah and his men “did not seek Jeremiah” (p.30).

They knew the prophetess Huldah was in the city, that she was a mature woman, and they elected, or the king commanded them to go to her for instructions. Huldah, the prophetess, was inspired by Jehovah to teach the high priest, the men with him, and through them the king. By Jehovah’s approval she taught them, for God inspired her to do the teaching. This woman, Huldah, taught a group of men without usurping authority over them, and women can teach men today without refusing to be in subjection to men!” (p. 30).

Huldah is clearly important to Nichol and rightly so. Her story is told in both Kings and Chronicles while most of the more well known prophets are not mentioned at all or simply named. Huldah, not Jeremiah, was the the Spiritual fountain of the Josiahian “restoration movement.”

Female Deacons

The New Testament and the “pattern” of the New Testament church, according to C. R. Nichol included female deacons as well as male deacons.  “The student of the New Testament” church, Nichol’s notes, “often inquires ‘In the days of the apostles there were women in the church called ‘deaconesses,’ why is it that we do not have such women in the church today?‘” (p.159).  The answer is that the twentieth century church has read female deacons out of the pattern! The only named deacon in the entire New Testament was, we learn, the honored carrier of Paul’s most sublime letter to the Romans, the female deacon Phoebe. Both Romans 16.1-2 and 1 Timothy 3.11 provide the details about women deacons.

In discussing 1 Timothy 3.11, Nichol’s notes that the context makes it clear that women under consideration are not wives of elders but deacons themselves.  He notes,

To me it seems absurd to contend that Paul when discussing the qualifications of a deacon would turn aside abruptly and mention the character of the deacon’s wife; but makes no reference to the character of the bishop’s wife, when in the same connection he had discussed the qualifications of the bishop. … In truth verse eleven in the passage does not have reference to the wife of a deacon” (p. 161).1

Female deacons were essential not so much to have a “Twentieth Century Church” but to have “the church of the first century, the New Testament church” to function “in the twentieth century” (p.166).

C. R. Nichol as President of Thorp Spring in 1916 in the Firm Foundation

C. R. Nichol as President of Thorp Spring in 1916 in the Firm Foundation

1 Corinthians 11.4, 5

In 1926, Nichol’s fulfilled the dream of a lifetime. He spent three months exploring the land of Jesus and the Prophets. He published a book, Bible Notes on the Holy Land, as a result of his journey.  The experience of the middle eastern culture opened Nichol’s eyes to ways his own culture shaped his own reading of the Bible, especially on women. He mentions his trip to the Holy Land numerous times throughout God’s Woman.  It provided him insight, he believed, into the culture surrounding some Pauline passages on women (read about his pilgrimage in Maude Jones Underwood, C. R. Nichol, Preacher of Righteousness, pp.75-78).

C. R. Nichol devotes three entire chapters to not only the traditional restrictive passages of 1 Corinthians 14.34-35 and 1 Timothy 2.8-14 but to the often ignored as if it does not exist 1 Corinthians 11.4-5.  He begins this chapter by noting it is a “blessed privilege the child of God” has of praying to the Father.  This is a privilege that is not restricted to one superior sex.  The author of God’s Woman states frankly, “I would have you note carefully that Paul recognized the fact that men, as well as women were to ‘pray’ and ‘prophesy.‘”(p.119).  Paul’s interest is in proper decorum and not in which sex gets to do it.

In Nichol’s understanding both men and women were “to” pray and prophesy.  That is both are directed by the apostle to engage in these activities. “Paul is not presenting a hypothetical case.”  Those that had dismissed Paul’s directive by arguing that 1 Corinthians 11 describes a private meeting rather than the public meeting of the church are simply mistaken. Or those that insist the sisters were really praying “silently” while men led the prayers are guilty of eisegesis.  His words are worth quoting,

I can understand how a woman can pray while in an audience, and not be heard by any one in the assembly. Hannah prayed a silent prayer – her lips were seen to move, but the people did not hear what she said (I Sam. 1). but Paul says some of the women prophesied. The object of prophesying is to instruct. ‘He that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation and consolation. *** He that prophesieth edifieth the church’ (I Cor. 14:1-4). Since the purpose of prophesying was to EDIFY, and women in the church at Corinth did prophesy, it must follow that they not only spoke in words that could be heard, but words that were understood, else there would be no edifying.”

Some asserted that Paul gave the right of prayer and prophecy to women in chapter 11 but then revoked it in chapter 14. Nichol’s response to that point of view is blunt. “It seems to me that such a position would be disgusting to a man of reverence, if he knows the truth about the knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Paul was giving utterance to the words of the Holy Spirit in I Cor. 11: 4,5. The Holy Spirit did not reverse himself within a few minutes and make a statement in I Cor. 14:34,35 contradicting what he had said in I Cor. 11: 4,5.”

The “silence” Paul mentions in 1 Cor 14, Nichol’s insists 1) is not on the grounds that is was “public,” and 2) “be very sure you get into your heart the fact that the ‘silence’ enjoined DID NOT INTERFERE with women prophesying” (p. 124, my emphasis).

Nichol’s believes that it is an incontrovertible fact that not only were women both praying in the assembly and prophesying in the assembly at Corinth but that Paul directs them both men and women to do so.

Nichol baptized 30,000 people in his long ministry

Nichol baptized 30,000 people in his long ministry

1 Corinthians 14: 34, 35

C. R. Nichol’s exegesis and interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14: 34 and 35 is fascinating. He begins by pointing out a truism accepted by all, not all commands in the Bible are commands in particular to “us.” For example the command to build the ark are still commands just not for us. The command to keep the Sabbath day is still a command, just not to us. The conditions and circumstances under which the command was given make it clear they were not for all times and all places.  The command for women to keep “silence” in 1 Corinthians 14: 34, 35 is one such command.

Nichol’s notes that the condition and circumstance that generated the command, that is contention over spiritual gifts, is no longer present in the church. Therefore the command, like the conditions that brought the command, is now in the same category as many commands in the Bible. Because the chaos and division surrounding the Corinthian church are gone, the command regulating that situation has now gone.

It is a mistake, Nichol’s argues, to think that the command by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 is directed at women because they were women.  Rather “silence” is directed to a number of members of the church of God in Corinth.  Tongue speakers (no gender) were to be silent if there was no interpreter of the tongue (same Greek word too, though Nichol does not note this). The prophets, as we already know that some of the prophets were in fact women, were to be silent while another spoke (likewise same Greek word).  In each of these cases the one being told to be “silent” was interrupting another already speaking or causing chaos.  Silence was not some universal proscription but conditional

The foregoing brings to the fact that there were two possible conditions under which men were ‘to keep silence’ in the church at Corinth: There was to be no speaking in tongues, unless there was some one present to interpret; and second, if a man was speaking (teaching), and a revelation was given to another in the audience, then the speaker was to ‘keep silence.’” (p. 136).

But Paul mentions women along with tongue speakers and prophets, what did this mean? Whatever it meant it did not meant what women were already told to do: women were told to pray, to prophesy and to sing.  Here we learn that Nichol does not think 14.34 ,35 is a regular Lord’s day assembly.  In the end, whatever is meant by these verses Paul cannot contradict himself and the conditions that demanded such apostolic injunctions do not exist today.  Thus 11: 4, 5 is the universal directive and 14: 34, 35 is so conditioned by the problem in Corinth that it simply is in the same category as keep the Sabbath … not for us.

The conditions which existed in the church at Corinth at the time this letter was written, and the conditions under which women were required to ‘keep silence’ exist in no place on earth today.” (p. 140).

1 Timothy 2: 8-15

Nichol’s challenges the prevailing culture head on in his exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:8-15.  He writes, with emphasis, “I INSIST THAT YOU DO NOT READ INTO THE PASSAGE THAT WHICH IS NOT THERE” (p. 149).

Holding to the notion of the inerrancy of Scripture therefore neither Paul nor Scripture can actually contradict itself, Nichol’s reminds the reader that according to the Spirit given text that women have in fact taught men.  Those who insist that 1 Timothy 2 is a prohibition of women teaching “a man” have rejected plain statements in other parts of the Bible and have read into Paul what is not there.  “I insist THERE IS NOT A PROHIBITION found in 1 Tim. 2:12 against a woman teaching a man!

In fact, Nichol’s notes, that women teachers in the “Christian dispensation” is a “matter of prophesy (Joel 2:28-30; Acts 2:17).” For those that asserted that Jesus had not made a woman an apostle he responded, “Had it occurred to you in this connection that there was not a Gentile in the group of the seventy, nor was there a Gentile in the school of the apostles!” (p. 151).  Does this mean that Gentiles are excluded from teaching and bearing witness to Jesus?

Those that insisted women could teach “secular” matters but not religious matters, Nichol answers rather forthrightly.

May a sister teach one of the groups, in the meeting house on Sunday morning, in what is usually called the ‘Sunday School?’ Yes! Women are not free to teach all literary subjects five days in the week, and then forbidden to teach the most important subject in the world – the Bible, on Sunday. But whom may she teach? She may teach anyone who becomes a member of the group she instructs; anyone who seeks instructions at her hand. Are there no restrictions touching the occasions when she may teach? Yes. She is not allowed to usurp authority over a man on any occasion nor under any circumstances. Her teaching then must be such, and under such circumstances, that she does not fail to be in subjection to men.” (p. 48).

Paul does not tell women to be “silent” in 1 Timothy 2.  Rather he tells them to “learn in ‘quietness.'” Quietness does not mean silence at all but loud, rude or “boisterous speaking” (p.147).  Nichols points out that the King James Version is grossly misleading in this text that so many depend on the KJV to silence women!

“Reading the passage with the desire to learn the truth,” Nichol’s tells us, we cannot but see that the it is not merely teaching that Paul is forbidding of these women. Rather it is being “OVER A MAN.” The woman is sort of like a modern Secretary of State in this situation.  When the Secretary comes in and teaches the President, imparts information to him (or her), the Secretary must not assume a position OVER the President. The Secretary is not forbidden to teach or share but there is a manner that is assumed.  The President is still the President. As long as the woman operates within the sphere of the eldership she has not “usurped” any authority anywhere.  Teaching and “usurping” are not the same.

If a woman teaches a Sunday School class, at the solicitation of the elders in the church of Christ, she does not usurp authority over man.” (p. 154).


C. R. Nichol is not a feminist.  He is an advocate for women as he feels compelled by the Bible. He believes the Scripture presents the divine order of God, Christ, Man, Women.  This is the model of “subjection.”  Nichol spends three chapters trying to explicate his understanding of biblical subjection.  With the Father and Son as the model, Nichol holds that subjection is not an inherently negative idea. Both men and women have duties and obligations to one another both in and out of marriage. He also recognizes that many men simply do not understand what subjection mean or being “head” means.  So he states plainly: “THE HUSBAND IS NOT THE BOSS … [I]t should not be concluded that the wife is to do all the work, while the husband plays the role of ‘boss.‘” (p. 93).

Subjection does not imply that women have no jobs. No voice. No mind of their own. Subjection does not mean women do not pray audibly in the assembly.  Subjection does not mean that women do not teach men in church. Subjection means, and this is not limited to women, one does not become a tyrant, assume an arrogant posture toward another.

What are we to do with God's Woman? and C. R. Nichol? What if he was right?

What are we to do with God’s Woman? and C. R. Nichol? What if he was right?

What are We to Do with C. R. Nichol?

C. R. Nichol’s biographer, who devotes only a few page to God’s Woman, says “every member of the church should acquaint himself with the truths taught in this book. Especially, is it needful that we give more earnest heed to what the Bible teaches in regard … to women, not the theories of man, but Bible truths.”

Though Nichol’s book was published in 1938, I can safely say that growing up in North Alabama in the 1980s, I never once heard of it.

My question is “What are we to do with Nichol?”  It is pretty hard to say that he is a Bible denying liberal.  It is hard to say that he simply was trying to make the church popular.

What are we to do with Nichol? Foy Wallace Jr, a man who blasted most everyone, never dreamed that Nichol was a liberal. He did not disfellowship him for his views.  No one claimed that he did not accept the authority of Scripture.  People still called Nichol to preach, to debate, to be the champion of orthodoxy among “us.” He remained a faithful Gospel preacher in the eyes of everyone.

What are we to do with Nichol? If brethren did NOT divide over then why must we now? Can we recognize that we have nothing but utterly godly motives and reach a conclusion that is at odds with the prevailing “church culture?”  If Nichol was honest and reached such conclusions then why cannot we extend the same grace today?

What are we to do with Nichol? Is it possible that Nichol is correct and that the prevailing views in twentieth century Churches of Christ regarding women are in fact the product of culture and utterly at odds with Scripture?

Before you dismiss that idea I suggest that we look at the contemporary views on African Americans that so many believed and taught were the Bible itself but we now can plainly see were the product of racist culture.   We are hard pressed to show that Nichol was selling out to feminism or anything else in God’s Woman.

What if Nichol did indeed simply go to the Bible and decide to look at the whole canon and listen to Paul and found that he had imposed restrictions that Paul never dreamed of?

There are some restrictions, Nichols notes, but they are very few indeed.  Far fewer than most believe and practice.  To restrict where God has not and to prohibit what God has not is in actuality a departure of the “pattern.”

God’s Woman is not only allowed but called to be:

  1. a deacon
  2. to pray
  3. to prophesy
  4. to teach as she is knowledgeable and gifted
  5. she is not to “usurp” or domineer

I nominate C. R. Nichol’s God’s Woman to be reprinted by the Gospel Advocate for its dedication to sound doctrine and the NT Pattern for the church.

I will bring this blog to a close and let Charles Ready Nichol have the last word.

Though there are some restrictions thrown around women in their work of teaching, no man has the right to deny her their right to teach save as the Lord has circumscribed her activities as a teacher.


13 Responses to “C. R. Nichol’s God’s Woman: Gospel Advocate Writer Says Women can Pray and Teach … in Church!”

  1. Andrew Swango Says:

    I still don’t know what this “Texas Tradition” is. Will you make a post about it? I’ve tried Googling it, which doesn’t help because of all the hits, haha.

    Also, I would like to know how women can be in subjection to men (which Nichol supports) while also being a preacher to men (which Nichol supports). That is, where is the line when women cross over from being in subjection to being in domination? What does subjection look like? What does domination look like?

    Thank you so very, very much for sharing Nichol’s views. These are some of the best arguments I have ever heard in favor of women teaching men in the assembly. While I can understand Nichol’s arguments and see how he came to the conclusions he did, just as he accused his opponent, I will accuse him of eisegesis. His arguments make sense, but they are not truth and they contradict other phrases Paul has written as well as the context.

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      Andrew I appreciate your comment. I will perhaps try to make a “Texas Tradition” post.

      I did my best to let Nichol present his own case on this matter. I think his overall conclusion is quite convincing and correct.

      You say that he contradicts other phrases of Paul but I do not think so. In fact there are a number of arguments that can be made straight from Paul that Nichol never got around to making.

      But the book is a remarkable book and long before there was some kind of feminist pressure. From Nichol’s POV it was modern sexist culture that had been baptized by males in the church.

      So I put Nichol alongside Selina Moore Holman and many others who have provided outstanding models of exegesis of the text. Shalom and blessings

  2. Dwight Says:

    This to me is problematic in that we are accepting the “exception makes the rule” concept. While I agree many some had prominent roles in the Bible, it hardly counts as many, at least in the terms of leadership. Yes, there were prophetesses, but not on the scale of the prophets and this goes on down the line. Jesus was a male, the apostles were male, the elders of the Jews were males, the Kings chosen were male, etc.
    The thrust of the scriptures is pro-male in regards to positions of leadership roles.
    True there was Phoebe who is called a deaconess and had much authority, which we grossly overlook, but still the thrust of the scriptures when looking at qualifications argue for a man (deacon) who is married and it is his wife that plays a part, but the authority still is with the deacon overall.
    The elders have to be married, but their role isn’t to directly have authority in service, as the deacons do and as the deaconesses should.
    The elders in Jewish society were males, unless I have missed something, and were to be in Christian society as well.
    The men largely had the access to the scriptures that were read in the synagogues and Temple, which the men went to.
    Now having said this I believe that we often downplay the roles of the servant and promote the role of the pulpit, which should not be the case. It is not more important to speak the word of God, than to live it and many women do a better job of living it than men do. They show more compassion and love and are often less judgmental. The pulpit might look like something to be desired, but God desires those who help others, even when they aren’t front and center. I know many women who do more personal serving than any deacon I know. We have a very backwards way of designating importance and glory today.

  3. Bobby Valentine Says:

    Andrew always good to have your comments.

    Paragraph 1: I suggest you are simply wrong. The biblical historians hardly mention any of the MALE prophets. Kings mentions Elijah, Elisha and Huldah … that is any that are given any “space.” That is a full 33% of prophetic space given to a woman prophet.

    Chronicles does not mention Elijah or Elisha AT ALL!!! but devotes and entire chapter to Huldah!! A few other male prophets have their names mentioned brother but that is it.

    And then you make an argument from silence! Very dangerous

    Paragraph #2: I would say the just the opposite is true. The prophets promise that women as well as men will be teachers or prophets.

    The rest of your comment, I confess, proves nothing at all brother.

  4. Craig Beard Says:

    I take it GA holds the copyright on God’s Woman? Or can it be scanned into a PDF and posted somewhere like the Restoration Movement site at ACU?

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      That is a good question Craig. I honestly do not know the answer to it. The volume was initially printed by Eerdmans not GA but it was printed for Nichol’s own publishing. I know that a number of works that Nichol’s name was on, like Sound Doctrine, was reprinted in soft back either in the 1970s or 1980s. I have seen them. But I do not know who presently holds the copyright but it would be great to have the whole text available online no doubt.

  5. Norma Hill Says:

    I have a copy of this book, copy 1938, by Mrs. C. R. Nichol, Clifton, Texas.

    The book is dedicated “To my daughter, Ready.”

    I am 81 years old, and this book has been an important influence in my life. Glad someone is paying attention after all these years!

    • Bobby Valentine Says:

      delighted by your comment Norma Hill. Having a daughter can help you read the Bible no doubt. It did Nichol 🙂

      my copy of the book is a 1938 original too. I am so glad you have been blessed by it.

  6. Mitch Says:

    The Texas Tradition (Richard Hughes calls it “the Fighting Style” and the “Hard Style”) of Austin McGary on through Foy Wallace is one of the biggest curses to afflict the Churches of Christ. It is one of the sources of our sectarianism, patternism and denial of grace. I am amazed that Nichol could be a part of that and still write about a greater role for women.

  7. Clarence Campbell Says:

    C. R. Nichol God’s Women where can I locate a copy that does not cost $100?

  8. Chris Cotten Says:

    I’m a little late to the party, Bobby. Permit me, though, to make a couple of comments.

    First off, if I’m not mistaken, ACU Press still holds the rights to [i]God’s Woman[/i], so it would be difficult, at least in the short term, for GA to act upon your request for a reprint. (That said, if you’re looking for a newer edition, ACU Press has kept it in print. I have a newer copy, from the 80s I think, that I purchased, if I recall correctly, at the Gospel Advocate bookstore.)

    Secondly, regarding the reception of [i]God’s Woman[/i]: It was by all accounts very well-received at the time. There are glowing reviews in the ’38 and ’39 volumes of the Advocate from, among others, N. B. Hardeman. The Wallace brothers, Foy and Cled, also spoke highly of it. The chief critics of GW at the time also attest to its popularity.

    Now to the deeper issue. You stated that “I can safely say that growing up in North Alabama in the 1980s, I never once heard of it.” There is a reason for that: you grew up in the one part of the country where GW was not at all well-received. The most sustained criticism of GW came from John T. Lewis and other ministers in Birmingham and Alabama at large. Rex Turner’s journal [i]Sound Doctrine[/i], published out of Montgomery, carried Lewis’s review articles regarding GW over the course of several months, and later issued them in book form in 1942.

    It may surprise you, though, that Lewis’s critique of GW has almost nothing to do with the points you’ve made in this post. In his published review—and in his marginal notes in his personal copy of GW—Lewis says virtual nothing on the subject of deaconesses.

    The significance of Nichol’s book, for Lewis, lay in his use of the “cultural argument” to argue against the headcovering. That’s the target at which Lewis aims his fire. A blog comment isn’t the place to lay out all of the arguments. If you want to see them, I’d refer you to some other writing I’ve done on Lewis and GW. In short, Lewis would argue that Nichol surrenders to the direction of the culture at large in order to accommodate the felt need in the “brotherhood” for cultural respectability and acceptance.

    GW really is a landmark book. I enjoyed this post, and I look forward to what else you might have to say about it.

  9. Jennifer Says:

    I’ve been looking for a copy of this book — finally found a downloadable .pdf –but I found this first, and I’m glad I did.

    I did want to say to anyone who shares Andrew Swango’s question about submission that we only ask that particular question when we’re talking about women. We don’t ask it when we’re talking about servants and masters, or children and parents. No one suggests that the young men (or grown men, even) can’t serve in church when their parents are present, or that servants couldn’t participate in worship when their masters are present, because it might violate headship or submission or authority in some fashion. Do we really believe that in the early church, only male masters were allowed to speak aloud in worship? Only when it’s women does anybody see a potential issue there. In every other case, we simply accept that as long as whoever is speaking is in subjection to God and the elders, it’s not a violation of authority, submission or headship.

    I pray that the church eventually comes to a fuller and more Scriptural understanding on this issue. It is a great shame that as much as half of God’s work force is being held out of God’s field through a misapplication of His word!

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