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15 Books for Seekers and New Egalitarians

On September 20, 2018

Are you new to egalitarianism or rethinking your assumptions and beliefs about gender roles, authority, feminism, and the Bible? Or do you know someone who is open to reexamining these issues?

There’s a lot of information out there—a lot of books, a lot of blogs, a lot of articles, and a lot of podcasts. It can all feel very overwhelming and it’s impossible to know where to start. Those of us who changed our minds on the issues of gender equality and women’s leadership in the church know it’s a tough but worthwhile process. That journey is made a lot easier with some guidance. With that in mind, here are fifteen books we recommend for searchers:

1. The Blue Parakeet (Second Edition) by Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight’s work is a staple ingredient for anyone reevaluating their theology surrounding gender roles, authority, and how to read the Bible. McKnight is a well-respected theologian who regularly writes and shares work related to gender issues in the church.

2. Vindicating the Vixens by Sandra Glahn

Sandra Glahn offers a brand new look at many of the Bible women we’ve historically labelled as “bad girls” and offers a more redemptive scholarly treatment of the stories we’ve grown used to hearing and reading a certain way.

3. Unveiling Paul’s Women: Making Sense of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 by Lucy Peppiatt

A lot of people base their theology of gender in part on I Corinthians 11:2-16. This passage can be a powerful flashpoint in reevaluating how Paul saw women and what that means for the church. Lucy Peppiatt takes us deeper into the relationship between the subordination of women in Christian worship practices, church structures, leadership, marriages, and male-female relationships and our approach to this challenging portion of Scripture.

4. Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy Edited by Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

This text is a foundational book in egalitarian theology. Any Christian reevaluating their theology of gender should read and engage with it. Academic in style, it highlights the work of twenty-six prominent evangelical egalitarian scholars including CBE’s president, Dr. Mimi Haddad.  

5. Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle

Many men feel frustrated by evangelical emphasis on strict gender roles and narrow prescriptions for masculinity. For men who feel trapped by traditional roles and cultural models for manhood, Pyle offers a Jesus-rooted alternative.

6. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Heroines of the Faith by Michelle DeRusha

Many women have been leaders and reformers throughout church history but we aren’t usually taught about their influence or accomplishments. In reevaluating our position on women in leadership, we can look to history for examples of brave women who “stepped out in faith.” In observing the lives and faith of women like Teresa of Avila, Harriet Tubman, and Anne Hutchinson, we can safely say: when she leads, God moves.

7. Liberating Tradition: Women’s Identity and Vocation in Christian Perspective by Kristina LaCelle-Peterson

This book is a strong biblical indictment of patriarchy and gender roles. It offers a liberating application of Scripture to issues women face in marriage, church, and in the formation of their identities and body image. This book declares the worth of women before God with no confusion, hesitation, or qualification.

8. A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism by Kristin Kobes Du Mez

Feminism isn’t a new phenomenon in the church. In the nineteenth century, reformer and theologian Katharine Bushnell reexamined gender roles in the church and marriage and offered a radical yet biblically-rooted view of the dangers of patriarchy and the truth of biblical gender equality. Kobez Du Mez takes us back through history and reminds us that feminism was and is part of our evangelical heritage.

9. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Though “feminist” isn’t always a popular label in the church, Sarah Bessey offers subversive take on what feminism can and does offer the church. Bessey takes a charming, warm tone with readers, inviting us to sit down with her at a campfire and learn about feminism; freedom; and how we can love Jesus, use our gifts, and be women. This is the perfect resource for anyone who is new to the issue and interested in reading a popular approach.

10. A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on the Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master by Rachel Held Evans

This book is perfect for anyone who prefers story-telling and personal narrative as a way of tackling tough issues. Rachel Held Evans takes us with her on a year-long journey into what it means to be a “biblical woman.” Held Evans entertains with hilarious commentary on some of the more extreme prescriptions for womanhood (calling her husband “master” and praising him at the city gates) but she also offers serious and profound insight on the inconsistencies in how we interpret and apply Scripture. Ultimately, she leads the reader toward a richer and more complex understanding of womanhood.

11. Partners in Christ by John G. Stackhouse

Stackhouse examines what the Bible says about men and women, tackling spots where the Bible appears to contradict itself and encouraging readers to treat Scripture as one account. Why does the Bible say women should keep silent in church? Why does it also say men and women are equal? Why does it encourage women to pray and prophesy? Stackhouse encourages us to consider these opposing statements carefully, erasing none of what the Bible says.

12. Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women by Tara Beth Leach

A new author on the scene, Tara Beth Leach offers a powerful vision for a church that empowers women to use their gifts as leaders and preachers. With care and style, Leach urges women to find their place at the table and offers practical help in that vein. This is a great resource for women who feel called to lead in the church or who are simply fighting for a space to use their gifts freely.

13. Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife by Ruth Tucker

It doesn’t get much more practical than this. Ruth Tucker recounts how her husband used Scripture to justify his abuse and violence. Alongside her own story, Tucker shares the stories of other women who have been abused in a Christian context to demonstrate the danger of theology that grants authority over women to men. Tucker makes a practical but biblical case for mutuality in marriage.

14. Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ by Cynthia Westfall

An academic resource by a respected scholar, Paul and Gender reexamines the Pauline passages and highlights the issues with many interpretations. Westfall argues for a canonical treatment that calls into question assumptions about what Paul believed about male and female roles in the church. This is a great academic text for anyone who wants a more critical look at Paul.

15. Ten Lies the Church Tells Women by J. Lee Grady

This book makes the case that God never intended to restrain women from using their gifts freely. Grady believes the church has told women damaging lies. In this book, he attempts to set the record straight about what the gospel really means for women.

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