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Could it be that the complementarian notion of “biblical womanhood” (especially the claim that women’s distinct personhood makes no room for women as teachers and leaders of men) is a recent, Western perspective?

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In Phil 4:2–3, Paul exhorts two women, Euodia and Syntyche, to “pursue the same mindset in the Lord.” Unfortunately, he does not offer enough detail to confirm the exact nature of this request.

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There is considerable debate as to how we should understand the command that a bishop, elder, or deacon should be the husband of one wife. (I Timothy 2:2,12. Titus 1:6) Sometimes these verses are used to argue that only men may be deacons, elders, or bishops because only men have wives. Actually, women enrolled in the order to widows were required to have (or have had) only one husband.

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My advice: Buy this book. Read it slowly. Chew on its words. Digest its content. Let its truths tutor your mind, penetrate your soul, and motivate you toward embracing, modeling, and conveying a more humble, Christlike expression of power.

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Alan Johnson, emeritus professor of New Testament and Christian ethics at Wheaton College (Illinois), has put together autobiographical accounts of twenty-seven evangelical leaders, both men and women, from many denominations. 

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An unfortunate history of misinterpretation and abuse has surrounded 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. It has been taken out of context and used to suppress women’s involvement in the ministry of the church. The egalitarian interpretation, however, finally perceives this verse, not as a tool of oppression, but as one with a helpful cross-cultural message. 

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While this book does not explore new territory regarding the issue of women in ministry, it does serve a useful purpose: This is an ideal book to give your pastor, especially if he is straddling the fence on this issue. One pastor speaking to other pastors can have a powerful impact.

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The book's thirteen chapters deal with the many facets of concern that arise when we seek to examine the issue of gender and the church: the theology of gender, gender in the Bible, sex differences, homemaking vs. careers, masculinity and femininity, violence and gender, aging, singleness, racial ramifications of gender, and parenting concerns.

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The battle over women leaders and the church continues to rage unabated in evangelical circles. At the center of the tempest sits 1 Tim. 2:11-15. Despite a broad spectrum of biblical and extra-biblical texts that highlight female leaders, 1 Tim. 2:11-15 continues to be perceived and treated as the great divide in the debate. Indeed for some, how one interprets this passage has become a litmus test for the label “evangelical” and even for salvation.

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Part 1 of a 3-part series, presented here, focuses on the radical redefinition of authority Jesus taught and set in motion for his church; it considers the complementarians’ circuitous idea of gender authority.

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