"We are to concentrate on the inner characteristics of a person, not on his or her gender." So states author Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, a biblical feminist whose new book, Equal To Serve, comes to grips with the controversial social issues of today.
This book makes a distinct contribution to the current literature on biblical teachings about men and women in marriage and as co-workers in the service of Christ. The three strands in Wright's book refers to man, woman, and God.
Martin provides us with an historical context for the issue of women's roles in the church. She begins by tracing the patterns of male authority in both Old and New Testaments. She also describe some of the more contemporary views on submission of women, and continues with a chapter on how we have actually made God in our image, especially our sexual image.
Subtitled "Women Called to Ministry," Dr. Spencer's book presents a new look at Scripture's description of women's roles. She writes, "Whole dimensions of God, ministry, education and theology are being obscured and ignored if women are not properly trained, then invited, even more so welcomed, to participate as significant and affirmed once they do lead."
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.
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.
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.
Women in the Church is a dangerous book which should not have been published because, while it appears to be scholarly, it actually teems with historical and theological errors and also emotional subjectivity. Alan G. Padgett has provided a critical rebuttal to Women in the Church in the Winter 1997 issue of Priscilla Papers.
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.