In well over thirty years in debate with scholarly complementarians on the status and ministry of women and on the Trinity, I have been accused of rejecting the authority of the Bible, denying what the Bible clearly teaches on the man-woman and the divine Father-Son relationships, of being an “evangelical-feminist,” and even an Arian. While some theologians have been terribly uncharitable, I am delighted by the dignity of Matthew Barrett.
One cannot ignore the impact of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology upon conservative evangelicalism, especially as it relates to the evangelical gender debate. As co-founder of The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood1 and a significant face behind the complementarian-leaning English Standard Version, Grudem’s second edition (ST2 hereafter) merits a review in Priscilla Papers.
Essay collections have been important to the thriving of evangelical egalitarianism over the last few decades. A key example is Women, Authority, and the Bible (IVP, 1986), edited by Alvera Mickelsen, the first board chair of CBE International. This volume assembled the voices of more than twenty evangelical scholars and was instrumental in articulating the theological and biblical case for egalitarianism.
The saying goes that ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims. Kevin Giles, a retired Australian Anglican minister of over forty years and long-time champion of the egalitarian movement, believes this is certainly true of male-headship teachings. Answering his title question in the affirmative, Giles forcefully argues that “headship teaching can encourage and legitimate domestic abuse and it must be abandoned if domestic abuse is to be effectively countered in our churches” (2).
President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), Frances Elizabeth Willard (1839- 98) was one of the most influential women in the U.S. of her time. The WCTU, deemed one of the largest nineteenth-century women's organizations with 2 million members, had a three-pronged mission of abolition, suffrage, and temperance. Comprising an army of women, the WCTU had an outreach ministry to workers of many trades. Convert of a Methodist revival, Willard was a coworker of D. L. Moody.
Diane Langberg’s newest book, Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church, is an important, emotionally challenging, and convicting read. The book focuses on the dynamics of power—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In her introduction to Women in a Patriarchal World, Elaine Storkey reminds the reader of the important role that narrative theology has played in “both framing our doctrine and shaping our understanding of faith.” With this reminder she lets the reader know that this (narrative theology) will be the lens from which this collection of stories about women has been written and should be read. After the introduction, the book is separated into Old Testament and New Testament time periods.
The Book of Eden: Genesis 2–3 by Bruce C. E. Fleming (based on the work of Joy Fleming, PhD, PsyD), is an excellent addition to the field of biblical gender studies. Accustomed to 300+ page, in-depth works on the subject, I was happily surprised to see that a work that is just over one hundred pages can perfectly balance readability with a focused look at the original Hebrew. The Book of Eden goes far beyond an overview of what egalitarians already believe; it gives unique insights into aspects of Genesis 3:16 (the other life-changing 3:16 passage!
In The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, Beth Allison Barr shares her personal story of rejecting complementarian views on male headship and female submission. Growing up, Barr had internalized the complementarian notions of “biblical” womanhood from the teaching of evangelical influencers such as Bill Gothard, James Dobson, Pat Roberston, the LaHayes, and others. A variety of disturbing and hurtful interactions faced by Barr and her husband prompted a deep examination of the topic.
Rediscovering the Marys: Maria, Mariamne, Miriam, edited by Mary Ann Beavis and Ally Kateusz, consists of seventeen essays by different authors, divided into three sections: Revisiting Which Mary: Does Which Mary Matter?, Rediscovering the Marys in Mission and Leadership, and Recovering Receptions of the Marys in Literature, Art and Archaeology. The authors explore how the biblical Miriam, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene were portrayed in the early Christian era, also touching on Jewish and Muslim interpretations.