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As Christian women confront the complex (and often negative) baggage carried by the word "feminist" today, these women can often feel ill-equipped to sort out the many social and theological issues regarding women's roles.

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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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Groothuis clearly defines and describes Evangelical Feminism in contrast to other forms of feminism and in distinction from "traditionalism." Two other areas treated in the book make significant contributions from my point of view. One is the historical evidence that the church has accepted in its view of the role of women from the culture, rather than constructing a truly biblical view. The second is the role that Satan plays in restricting women's use of their Spirit­given gifts in ministry to the church and to the world.

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At its yearly convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America passed a statement opposing abortion, pornography, homosexuality — and female pastors. For Southern Baptist leaders, these issues hang together. They assume that on their side of the culture war, Christians must oppose these practices as a piece. 

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As I bowed my head to pray, I remember feeling disappointed that the pastor’s wife was praying with me instead of the pastor. Although she was a godly woman, I thought that somehow if he led me in prayer it would count more than his wife’s prayers. I wished that I could sneak away and join the children who got to pray with the pastor.

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Egalitarians essentially face the same challenge encountered by the abolitionists and suffragists. Not only did they have to argue that the existing social structure was inferior and unbiblical, but they had to actually show that the new idea was superior and more closely aligned with Scripture.

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Karen teaches adult education in her church. Her classes are exciting. Despite her denomination’s support of gift-based roles for men and women, she is frequently questioned and criticized by a few who challenge — not the fruits of her labor, but whether women should even be fruitful. The more she tries to persuade her critics, the more weighed down she feels.

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When I was five, my grandfather gave me a fishing rod. I practiced casting my line for hours in our long, skinny back yard using a rubber practice sinker. When a friend offered to take me fishing, I caught my first fish: a round, orange and yellow sunfish called a pumpkinseed. I admired its beautiful colors, then carefully smoothed down the spiny dorsal fin and removed the hook. As the pumpkinseed swam away, I wondered if it knew a few moments earlier I’d held its life in my hands.

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As I walked out the church door that late summer Sunday morning, my heart was crushed and the tears flowed. This had been a special place where I had grown in my relationship to Christ, developed valued friendships and committed myself to serve. How did it come to this?

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Woman in the Pulpit exposes the myriad ways in which Christians read the Bible inconsistently. "A practice prohibited in one sentence and regulated in another, by the same author, shows either variability in opinion, or else an intended limitation in the original prohibition."

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