Saturday, July 05, 2008

Discovering Biblical Equality

I have been asked for some resources. This is the only major work on men and women in the church that I own. Therefore it is the only one that I can recommend without reserve.

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy
by Ronald W. Pierce (Editor), Rebecca Merrill Groothuis (Editor), Gordon D. Fee (Editor)

Here are two good reviews.

M. Aley (hmm - do we know her? thanks Molly)

I found this book *incredibly* helpful as I sought to understand the Scriptures that referred to gender. Having grown up and then attended a Bible College in highly complementarian/patriarchal camps, when I began asking questions about whether or not the "males-rule-females-submit" theology was sound, I wasn't sure where to go for help. (All my life, I'd only been taught the Scriptures in one particular way. Yet as I studied the Scriptures on gender for myself, I began to see something quite different)...

I ended up ordering about 10-12 books explaining egalitarian views, and while some were good, I found *this* book to be wonderful. The chapters handled Bible passages and complementarian/patriarchal arguments with clarity and, always, with a deep scholarly bent. I think I appreciated the footnotes as much as the actual text, and many chapters ended up being "jumping off" points that introduced me to topics I would then study in more depth. In short, I can't recommend the book enough.

Even if a reader ends up disagreeing, he/she will at least gain an accurate understanding of Scriptural backing for why egalitarians don't see male hierarchy as God's ideal. I've heard comp's teach "what egal's believe" often, but rarely do they accurately portray egalitarian thought. Many of the things I'd been *told* egals believe were corrected as I read this book.

The book is not a "novel" but more like a textbook (ie, not for someone looking for a "light read," but rather for study), though I found the writing style to be engaging and highly interesting. If the study of gender and faith is one of interest, this is a book that is a "must-have" in your library.

Here is Adam's review

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis and Ronald Pierce have done the church an extraordinary favor editing this much needed volume that vanquishes the pitiful stereotypes of "evangelical feminism." Far from being sold out to cultural mores, the authors examine biblical and historical sources carefully examining their hermeneutics and philosophy showing the position of universal gender hierarchy to be erroneous and detrimental to the church.

The book's chapter "Equal in Being; Unequal in Role" is worth the money alone in that it delivers a devastating blow to the nonsensical paradigm of "complementarianism." Richard Hess also delivers a fine chapter on "innocence and equality before the fall." William Webb introduces the important "redemptive movement" hermeneutic that is beautifully applied by I. Howard Marshall, and Gordon Fee graces us with his exegetical gifts in delineating the right meaning of Galatians 3:26-28. Not only so, but the ethical chapters on homosexuality, abortion, and abuse are outstanding.

To be sure, there are some weaknesses. Linda Belleville's chapter on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is helpful at points, but doesn't fully deal with all the issues raised by Kostenberger et al. Giles' Trinitarian thinking is in the right direction, but is triumphalistic and ignores some important facts. However, the books is a winsome apology for the vision of "complementarity without hierarchy" that honors the humanity of both sexes sufficiently and harmoniously.


Doug Groothuis said...

Hello from the husband of Rebecca Merrill Groothuis.

Sadly, this book has not gotten the reviews and discussion it deserves. So, thank you for mentioning it.

I don't know of anyone who has come close to refuting Rebecca's philosophical argument against the traditionalist's "equal in being; unequal in function" construct used for bad hermeneutics and for subjugating women. Thomas Scheiner used the straw man fallacy against it. Dorothy Patterson didn't even understand and simply used ad hominem against Rebecca. And so it goes.

But the remnant remains.

Doug Groothuis

Lin said...

I just ordered the book. yes, it seems to be a well kept secret!

I am afraid the ad hominem attacks work. Seems everyone is afraid of being thought of as a liberal or feminist if they look at other scholarship.

Singing Owl said...

I have the original version, and I think it came out in a somewhat changed edition--and I sure hope they changed the font. It is hard to read, and has kept me from reading as much of this work as I'd like.