This book features a number of autobiographical accounts as to how various persons have come to change their minds about women in leadership. Well-known evangelical leaders - individuals and couples, males and females, from a broad range of denominational affiliations and ethnic diversity - share their surprising journeys from a more-or-less restrictive view to an open inclusive view that recognizes a full shared partnership of leadership in the home and in the ministries of the church based on gifts, not gender.
This book offers a positive vision for the future of women and men together as partners of equal worth without competitiveness in the work of equipping this and the next generation of Christian disciples for "the work of ministry" and service in the Kingdom of God.
©2010 Zondervan (P)2010 Zondervan
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
I first heard of this book when John Armstrong blogged about it (he wrote the first chapter.) It has taken me five months to get around to reading it, but I very enthusiastically encourage you to listen to these stories no matter what your position.
Of course it is a bit repetitive (there are 22 chapters by 26 separate people, several couples jointly wrote chapters.) But I think it is repetitive in a good way, because there are many people that have similar stories about how they have come to understand that women in church leadership is a good and appropriate direction for the church as a whole.
I found it interesting to see commonalities. There were more men than women that wrote chapters (a later chapter expressed the importance of men calling other men to a more egalitarian understanding). And many, but not all men, were prompted toward inspecting their own beliefs because someone close to them was being hindered from a clear calling because of church restrictions. For most women, it was their own ministry that was being hindered and there was often pain because of restrictions on ministry that was counter to their understanding of God’s direction.
Most, but not all, spoke of long periods of intense bible study and research because of several difficult passages in the New Testament. If you have primarily, biblical opposition to women in leadership, this book has a very good summary of the different ways that many have come to a different understanding without a lower view of scripture. But some were honest and said that it was not primarily scriptural reasons, but cultural reasons that were the basis for their opposition to women in leadership.
Like many good Christian books, one of the things that is striking is the humility that many of the writer’s exhibited. It is difficult to write about how you believe that you were once wrong. (Originally this was a longer review on my blog bookwi.se)
I would recommend the book to a person who is just beginning to explore what the Bible teaches on the role of women in the church or a person who is open to learning more about interpreting the Bible. It may or may not be encouraging to women who are in ministry.
Favorite chapter title: "The Gospel does not change but our perception of it may need revision."
Not all the authors are "household names." It would have been very helpful if the brief bios that appear at the beginning of each chapter of the print version had been included in the narration. It also would have improved the narration if the chapters or sections written by women had been read by a female narrator and those by men by a male narrator. This would have added in particular to the chapters written by spouses.
The transparent concern of the book's contributors to learn and follow truth rather than blindly to defend a received dogmatic position.
Not really. He read as if all the contributors were the same. But for a book in which the "characters" are different authors, the question is not especially relevant.
Extreme? No. I already agreed on the "destination," so I naturally nodded at aspects of the authors' journeys—and occasionally shook my head in wonder at the beginning points a few of them described. Our received culture (or "Christian" tradition) does, indeed, "grind the lenses through which we see the world," and I think this book valuably reflects how some prominent "evangelicals" discovered that the lenses they had been handed distorted rather than focused.
The contributions naturally vary in quality and are somewhat repetitive, but they carry the weight of honest reflection and search for what is true and relevant. My primary hesitation was with the narration, which at times sounded as if the book's title were "why you should change your mind ..." rather than "how I changed my mind ...." No doubt, all of the contributors would commend their view to readers/listeners who still exclude women from Christian ministry/leadership merely on the grounds that they are female, but the strength of each writer's witness is in the stories, from which I think the reader's falsely soupy tone of persuasion often detracts. Despite that negative, the audiobook is very much worth a listen by anyone who still wrestles with (or confronts) Christian gender exclusion.
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