Some women want to have an active role in the Evangelical church, some have fled to other churches where their voices and contributions can be appreciated. Some have resigned themselves to fit into the mold of a church where women are not a dominant voice. The central part of this book are the interviews discussing the lives, traditional and nontraditional viewpoints, and experiences of many different women concerning the woman's role in the church and home life. What is a woman's influence in the different available church positions and are they being utilized with what they are capable of contributing?
What an eyeopener this book was to me. Not giving much thought before to a woman's role in the success/failure of a church, I now have a good understanding of the whys and viewpoints that make up some of the women in the churches population today. Also beneficial to me was what bloggers wrote at the end of each interview/chapter. They added greatly to the conversation and brought a whole new perspective to the material that was being presented. I did not know what to expect when I first started reading The Resignation of Eve and was surprised at how much I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book to others especially to those who feel their voice is surpressed when it comes to voicing concerns in the church.
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Review 2 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
When I picked up this book, I thought the premise would be that men need to step up in the Church. However, the author proceeds to show that we should encourage and promote women being leaders and pastors and teachers in our churches. This flies in the face of all that I read and understand in Scripture and I did not enjoy the book. Granted, it was written in a way that I still finished the whole book, hoping to find a representative of those with my belief system, those who take God's Word literally and trust Him when He says that man is the head of the woman just as Christ is the head of the Church. And also, I'm not sure why women would want to take these roles of leadership away from men, as we're told in Scripture that "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1) I really didn't enjoy the liberal bent of the book, but if you're in that camp, maybe you will...
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Review 3 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
The Resignation of Eve is a provocative and critical analysis of the treatment of women in today’s evangelical church. Directed primarily toward male pastors of evangelical churches, Jim Henderson rebukes leaders for failing to recognize and appreciate the contributions women make within the body of Christ. More philosophical than theological, Henderson’s narrative centers on personal interviews with women he places into three categories: those who are resigned to their church’s position on women; those who have resigned from the church because of the church’s position on women and those Henderson describes as “re-signed” or “re-engaged in their churches … leading and influencing despite opposition.”
While the book is a conversational, easy read, Henderson’s biases are obvious. For example, he tends to denigrate the women he interviewed who hold more conservative positions, in one case explaining away a woman’s beliefs by concluding her childhood experience in a broken home led to her need for “structure” within her family and within the church. At the same time, he seems more accepting of those who have walked away from the church, laying blame for their decisions at the feet of evangelical leaders while assigning no responsibility to the women for their attitude and actions.
A potential strength of the book is the random survey of women by the George Barna group. Unfortunately, the survey results play a lesser role in the narrative than the qualitative interviews. As a result, the research fails to add the dimension of objectivity required to offset Henderson’s biases.
On the other hand, Henderson’s description of Pastor David Cho’s work at Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, strengthens the book. Recounting Cho’s conversion to Christianity and the growth of Cho’s church to the largest congregation in the world, Henderson shares a particularly compelling quote from a conversation between Cho and Pastor Rick Warren on the role that women played in the development of Cho’s church in a traditionally patriarchal society. Cho said,
“In 1964, when I was almost total (sic) infected (with tuberculosis), I had the choice of one of two steps - to delegate my ministry to lay Christians or keep up the ministry. But when I tried to delegate my ministry to the men, they would all make excuses saying that they were too busy, or not trained, or "You receive a salary not me." So I had to use women.
In Korean society - for long periods of time -- women had no power or voice in the church, and I began to use women. This was a big risk - but I had no choice - it was a step out in faith, and I had no alternative. Then the women made a tremendous contribution to church growth! Now all the Korean churches - even Catholic -- have accepted women. When I come to Europe and America encouraging pastors to use women, I always receive a lot of opposition - especially in Europe.” http://tinyurl.com/davidcho
(Please note that the reviewer’s attempt to find the original source of the quote at pastors.com was unsuccessful).
Finally, Henderson’s book addresses an important and divisive issue. The Resignation of Eve raises the issue of women’s roles in a way that could lead to reasonable discussion among men and women within the evangelical community. Unfortunately, the lack of objectivity, theological argument and balance between qualitative and quantitative research prevent the book from becoming the authoritative commentary it could be.
I received an electronic copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
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Review 4 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
The overall focus of the book centered on the topic of whether women should be lead pastors or not. Jim stays mostly away from letting this book be about a biblical study or theological debate on the issue of the role of women in ministry. He goes about it by simply sharing story after story after story of women talking about what this issue has done for them in regards to them being in the ministry, if at all (the book is 282 pages with results from a Barna Group Survey on “Woman and the Church”).
What I enjoyed about this book was the wide spectrum of stories shared by women with differing views. There were cases of women who left the church and wanted nothing to do with it, and there were cases of women who were upset about the church, but were not willing to let that stop them from being an influential part in advancing the Kingdom of God through the local church.
Although I enjoyed reading these stories, it became somewhat monotonous of hearing how these woman had hurtful experiences of men or were inspired by women while growing up. While I’m not minimizing their awful experiences or taking light of their influences (as my mother showed faithfulness to me), it would be cautious for all of us to understand that the Bible, not our pasts, must guide our beliefs. This is not an easy thing to do. Even men hurt by women of their past could be living out of those hurts while being pastors. The church should not be driven merely out of empiricism or pragmatism. Jim calls attention to these things as well.
“I’ve no doubt that Rose’s passionate commitment to a more traditional interpretation of submission is authentic. At the same time, none of us escape the influence of our past. When you consider her confusing childhood…it’s easy to understand why Rose is grateful for the structure and security submission has provided for her” (p. 35)
“My mom, my sister, and my wife are all leaders, and even my first pastor was a woman. So compared to many men, I’m decidedly pro-women” (p. 177).
“I found it appealing largely because I love anything subversive- especially when it’s done in the name of God” (p. 130).
It also became monotonous about how most of these women wanted to be preachers on the stage, but because of church policy, they were denied the privilege; and therefore leaving them shortened on using the gift God gave them. It makes it as though men are the sole problem that they can’t teach, encourage, serve, give to the needy, lead, or cheerfully show mercy (Romans 12). It also makes it as though men are driven by their love of power, than them living out a sincere desire to obey God in how they have interpreted the Scriptures. Or maybe Jim is calling out both men and women in their love for power? It’s certainly been a struggle between man and woman since the entrance of sin and judgment in Genesis 3.
“Perhaps we can start by trying to understand some of the underlying forces- specifically our [men and women] views of sin and power- that have a more profound impact on our beliefs than we generally realize” (p. 257).
In one sense, it marks another category of people who are leaving the church as we know it. We know men left the church long ago. We’ve learned that young people have left the church in the last decade. And we’ve learned that America is far from a Christian nation it once was thought to be. Seeing that the “median age of women who attend, volunteer in, and give money to churches is somewhere between fifty-six and fifty-nine years old” (p. 248), we wonder if there is hope for the future of the church.
These stories are meant to help open the eyes of pastors, leaders, and women about what women are feeling and perceiving about the church. Hopefully, pastors, leaders, and women can also see that there is hope to continue this dialogue and partnership. Prayerfully, we can continue to explore this issue biblical and sensitively together for the sake of the church and the souls of the world. No matter where, how, or if you draw the line for woman in the ministry, it’s evident that we can’t do it without each other.
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Review 5 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that the book fails to take into account other trends affecting church attendance. While increases in women's education are a factor, I think it's mainly a factor in women's postponing marriage and just generally feeling out of place at church due to being single.
Singles are far more excluded in the church than women are overall (singles of both genders). Since over 50% of Americans are single, and nearly 50% of all American women over 35 have not had children (yet), it stands to reason that churches that cater to very traditional families and traditional early marriage patterns would see a significant drop in female attendance.
I was raised Methodist, so there weren't many obstacles to women holding positions of leadership in my church. My grandmother's church also had a female senior minister, back in the 1980s and 1990s, so it wasn't an issue, and certainly not the reason I stopped attending church myself around 1995-ish. I had finished college, and if you aren't married by the time you finish college, it seems like the church has no place for you. My church was fairly large, and they had very active youth and college groups, but the singles group was sort of weak, and men in the group tended to be a little creepy (a case of the odds being good, but the goods being very odd! LOL). I was uncomfortable attending the singles Sunday school class because I was always on my guard lest one of the creepies latch onto me and give everyone the impression we were "together". For some reason, that was never a problem in college, but once you graduate to the singles group, look out. There wasn't an alternative to the singles group. I think churches need to deal with that. Also, around that time my church also started some sort of ministry to homosexuals, to I guess help them become straight (if that's even possible!), so I was leery of attending the singles group because I didn't want to be 'fixed up' with a gay man who was in denial about his sexuality. The singles group met in a room in the basement, away from the other adult Sunday school classes, which felt a little degrading, although I'm sure it wasn't meant to be, it felt that way. It got to the point where I just felt so uncomfortable even sitting alone through church services, that I just gave up and quit.
So, I wouldn't say that leadership obstacles are keeping women away from the church so much as the church hasn't, structurally, kept up with women's changing roles in society at large. We don't get married right out of high school or college any more. That gap is a very big gap, and it's not being serviced very well by even the most mainline liberal protestant churches like mine.
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Review 6 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
I was given “The Resignation of Eve” in order to write a review. I anticipated the delivery of the book in hopes to find fresh thinking and find new ideas on how to energize women into serving in various ministries. I gained this hope through the promotional materials surrounding this title. I have never been more disappointed in a book. I struggled through reading the entire book hoping to find some additional insight to the beginning premise by Jim Henderson. Basically, the only point for women to return or remain in church is to allow women to be equally measured with and for, all roles within the church structure.
The content of the book comes from multiple interviews with women who have had varying experiences in their church life. These experiences fit into three categories of resignation: women who resigned to, resigned from, and re-signed to the church. These stories are unfortunately ended with Henderson having the final take on their statements. So in a sense, echoing the very fact that his premise is against – men having final say over women.
The text includes statistical data gained through research and blog postings, sprinkling it in-between sections of the book. Barna Group was also hired to gain research data on this topic for Henderson to utilize in his writings. This research is presented at the end of the text.
A few issue I find with Henderson’s work: 1. He equates roles of women in politics and business with the role of women in the church. While many of his interviewees become flustered with answering questions on the topic or formulating a position, the sheer fact is that politics and business are not held to church rule and shouldn’t be measured thusly. 2. Many times Henderson raises issue with the requirement of women being submissive to men in the church, again applying the rule of submission to politics and business, he suggest as a valid argument: if you agree with submission and find the lack thereof a sin, but you are ok with women’s roles in business and politics, why not sin within the church setting as well. Basically, sin and sin again, why not? – as his argument. 3. Many of his interviewee’s life experiences are hard to read through without reacting emotionally to their predicaments of physical abuse and mental abuse. I agree these instances are wrong and should be righted; however, equal roles within the church are not the answer. I believe complementary roles are the answer.
Basically, Henderson is asking us to withdraw from scriptural authority because of the examples given of men’s misuse of leadership, power, and authority towards women with a little modern culture adjustments thrown in for flavoring. My take for a solution gained from reading his text has little to do with women and their need for equality within the church order; but more to do with men fixing their bad judgment and behavior.
My caveat: I have no issues with submission to God. I have no issue with submission to my husband. I have no issue with the roles I am able to perform within my church; a church that doesn’t allow women to preach, become elders or deacons. My reasoning for this is that my opinions and knowledge are respected. I serve on many committees within the church structure. I am not fearful to walk into a pastor’s office for a meeting, to raise issue, or pass on a comment. My opinion is respected, as it should be. Male and females working together in total complementary roles to further God’s glory.
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Review 7 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
I think every church in the United States should read, study, and consider the timely message of Jim Henderson’s latest work, The Resignation of Eve.
I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Jim Henderson (and the Barna research group) for providing a platform to engage the topic of “women in the church” from the perspective of women. Thank you for sharing the stories of so many women who have struggled against, wrestled with, coasted under, or challenged the status quo. Most importantly, thank you for using your influence and position to promote egalitarian cooperation, affirmation and partnership within the church and among the body of Christ.
What you will not find in The Resignation of Eve: theological banter dissecting the pro’s or con’s surrounding the debate of the role(s) of women in the church or a biblical exegesis affirming or critiquing the role of women in the church. To my surprise, but the author’s credit, Henderson avoids that road. In doing so, the reader is able to focus on the stories of the many women interviewed by the author, allowing the reader a space to offer their undivided attention.
What you can expect to gain from The Resignation of Eve:
(1) A candid look at how traditional, conventional, complementarian views of women in the church harm women, stifle church growth, and damage the witness and effectiveness of the church body as a whole.
(2) The opportunity to engage and wrestle with the topic personally through thoughtful conversations (and a full study guide).
(3) A challenge to the Church to consider the emotional and psychological effects of the message(s) communicated to women, be it via direct discourse or non-verbal cues, regarding their perceived and actual place in church polity, leadership, pastorate, and staff.
Whether the church cares to admit to admit it or not, she is in crisis. Young people, ages 18-30 are leaving the church in staggering numbers. Second to this demographic, women are leaving the church in large numbers as well. According to Barna research, church avoidance by women rose from 18% to 30% in the period between 1991 and 2003. In 2005 the number of unchurched women jumped to 38%! (pg xix) What would your church look like if 38% of the church up and left?
If the Church doesn’t take note and begin partnering with women in ways that validate, affirm, integrate and appoint women into all levels of church life, women will continue to leave the church. Jim Henderson’s book, The Resignation of Eve, is an essential tool to help any church begin the process of implementing genuine dialogue, egalitarian partnership, and biblical reconciliation.
I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.
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Review 8 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
Is The Christian Church Driving Women Away?
Date:January 5, 2012
Location:Baton Rouge, LA
Rarely do I read a book and feel from page one that the author started with a hypothesis, then worked his statistics and stories to make that hypothesis true. Yet, such seems to be the case with Jim Henderson's newest The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam's Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church's Backbone?.
Henderson believes women are leaving the church in droves for one reason--inequality, because there is a glass ceiling in leadership which prohibits them from becoming pastors or elders in the church, because women feel they are undervalued and unappreciated.
In the preface, George Barna of the Barna Research Group says, "I don't know if I agree with all of Jim's conclusions..." That's a nice way of saying it. From the Author's Note at the start of the book, Henderson appears to twist statistics to suit his hypothesis, playing on the reader's fear that women--and only women--are leaving the church in droves, so we Christians should change our ways or there will be no one to serve in the future kingdom.
The problem is Henderson conveniently leaves out any statistics about men and their rising absence from the church pew. A quick search of Barna's website shows men and women both leaving the church. Granted, the 18% increase in "unchurched" women is much higher than men's 9% increase; yet, Henderson doesn't even mention males, as if their church attendance/participating is stable when women's are plummeting. He also cites a 2005 Gallup study showing 38% of women are unchurched but fails to mention that same study showed 49% of men were also unchurched.
Again, Henderson cites Steve Smith's "Study Tracks Church Attendance Trends" to bolster his claim that women have shifted away from the church over the past two decades; what he fails to mention is that Smith believes this shift is not caused by a power-struggle between the have's (men) and the have not's (women) but because of increase in women's level of education.
Henderson even commissioned Barna to do quantitative research of women; yet, when Barna's research finds that "few [women] seem frustrated about their opportunities to lead in the church," Henderson dismisses the study, implying that women are really frustrated but just don't know it because they're so culturally brainwashed by the male-driven church...or if they're not frustrated, it's only because they've already disengaged or moved to a more free church.
But Henderson doesn't like statistics. As he says "stories are the new statistics" (11). And so, the bulk of his book is composed of stories of women and their experiences.
In the first few chapters where Henderson chronicles the lives of women who don't feel there is a problem with women not leading in the church, have never really thought about it, or merely live with the inequalities for the sake of their husband/children/church unity. Henderson's disapproval of these women's attitudes literally oozes through the narrative, making him almost too condescending to read. Yet, in the later chapters detailing women who are in positions of church leadership or who have left the church for secular leadership roles of Christ-like service, Henderson actually gushes over them, calling one of the women a "hero" and throwing around words like "intelligence" and "wisdom" to describe them.
Of the two women he describes resigning from the church because of their disillusionment with the hierarchy, one of the women is bipolar; her story is sad but seems to have nothing to do with women being denied leadership more than it screams of Christian lack of understanding of the disease and compassion. The other woman who left the church was in therapy before determining somehow that the church was squashing her self and keeping her from true freedom--not really the leadership equality argument issue either. Neither demonstrates the average woman is leaving the church because of leadership inequality.
Henderson admits that this entire debate boils down to how a person interprets Scripture concerning a woman's role in the church, whether Paul's words were meant to be a literal or cultural recommendation. I've lived several years at the brunt end of one denomination's attempt to make women's opinions no more important than the dust they came from. I'm also currently living in a denomination that does not allow women to be ordained pastors or elders.
Yet, unlike Henderson's self-assured stance, I know only that although the footing around the cross is equal, I'm willing to say "I'm not sure" Christ automatically offers all offices equally to all. And even if He does offer universal freedom for the full equality Henderson desires, I'm concerned about something Henderson just dismisses in his mad thrust for women's equality in the church--women leaders being a stumbling block to men.
Just because we can do something freely in Christ doesn't mean we always should.
Henderson's concludes by looking in the secular world and seeing the same problem he sees in the church--women being denied the highest positions of authority, women being undervalued (underpaid), etc. Yet, of this comparison, he says, "When you see these same patterns in diverse systems, it makes one wonder if what we're dealing with isn't a gender issue at all. Maybe it's more primal than that. Maybe it's a power struggle. Those who have it (men) don't want to give it up to those who lack it (women)" (242).
I say maybe it's neither. Maybe, instead, it's God's design from the garden permeating all creation--secular and spiritual--thousands of years later...even after the feminist movements and legal mandates against gender discrimination.
Although several passages resonate with this overworked / undervalued woman, Henderson's attempt to blame all of women's problems with the church on leadership inequality is so blatantly influenced by his own family's experiences that he fails to note how this bias makes his argument horribly simplistic in that it ignores other societal causes behind the statistics and ignores men's comparable church drop offs.
Maybe the Barna statistics are really accurate and the problem isn't that the majority of women feel oppressed by the church. Instead, perhaps the drop in women's involvement in church is because more educated women have become too rational for faith. Or maybe it's that women have become primary or important secondary breadwinners like their spouses so that they don't have time for the church. This book surely doesn't consider these options.
*I am obviously not paid by Tyndale to provide a positive or negative review of its books. I am graciously provided with a complementary copy for review.
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Review 9 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
Jim Henderson likes to pose a question---what would happen if all the women in your church stayed home one Sunday?
I know what we'd see at my church. A half-empty sanctuary, a miniscule choir, perhaps one nursery worker, and almost no elementary age Sunday School teachers.
It'd be ugly.
In his book, Henderson proposes that women are leaving the church---not all at once, but over time. They are choosing to invest their gifts and talents in other arenas that don't restrict their leadership or teaching.
The book divides the women he interviewed into three categories: those resigned to the way the church restricts women, those who resigned from church altogether to serve elsewhere, and those who re-signed into church involvement by finding or founding new churches and opportunities. It's a catchy structure, but obviously it implies from the beginning that women may trick themselves to being happy in church (or resign themselves to it), but none of them are truly comfortable there.
The book is interesting, challenging, and thought-provoking. Of that, there's no doubt. He asks many difficult questions and only hints at potential answers for more egalitarian churches.
He highlights some discrepancies in the thinking and practices of many churches that say everyone can minister, but then encourage anyone who is female to find a husband and serve in the nursery or hospitality committees.
But there are some discrepancies in his book, too. Like the fact that he hired George Barna's organization to survey women about their access to church leadership. Barna's survey suggested overwhelmingly that women are content and happy and in agreement with their church's teaching about women in leadership.
Since that doesn't agree with Henderson's opinion, he argues that qualitative data is more important than quantitative and focuses on the interviews he conducted one-on-one with women.
It's also of concern to me that while he clearly questions the Scriptural interpretation of others, he doesn't ever clearly explain his own interpretation of Scripture. It's as if there's a bias, but he won't clearly define or defend it.
Some of these women also complained about the church restricting their roles as leaders, but at least one of these women described similar struggles in an all-women's Bible Study. The woman being interviewed blatantly challenged and rebelled against any authority structure whatsoever and then was hurt when she lost access to leadership.
Also, it's hard to say whether the statistics he cites showing a downward trend in women's church attendance take into account how people are leaving the church regardless of gender. If he studied men or teens, wouldn't those statistics show a downward trend, as well. So, is this "epidemic" really about gender at all? Maybe it is. But I can't say that with certainty when I'm missing other sides of the story.
Overall, it's a book of questions and maybe starting discussions, perhaps even fueling arguments. It's not a book with answers.
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Review 10 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
The Resignation of Eve is wrapped up in a much broader debate over the role of men and women in the church. Henderson’s aim in writing is to serve as a voice that is trying to prevent a “break up” in the evangelical world over the issue of biblical manhood and womanhood (6). However, in the end, he proposes that the way to prevent that break up is to ascribe to his view and become an egalitarian (271-272).
Henderson argues in The Resignation of Eve that the church is oppressing women by preventing them from being able to serve in the church without restrictions as to how they should be able to serve (22). This oppression, concludes Henderson, is the reason why some women are deciding to leave the church (22). While the data certainly indicates that there is some drop off in attendance among women, Henderson does not demonstrate that the drop-off is specific only to women. He never compares the data to drop-off rates in men and drop off rates in churches as a whole. It would have been helpful to know if this was a problem specific only to women or if it was more of an indicator of an increased disinterest in the church from the society as a whole.
Regardless of the stats, the main problem with the book is that Henderson deals very superficially with some issues that demand more than just mere personal observations. Whether by oversight, or by intention, Henderson does not deal with several issues that lie at the heart of the discussion. His book focusses almost exclusively on a select few personal conversations he has had with women throughout the country. There is no reason given as to why his personal conversations with only a few women are satisfactory in diagnosing what he perceives as a major problem in churches. For this reason, I had a hard time taking the book seriously as a whole. I’m not against reading an opposing viewpoint. In fact, I often find it helpful to do so. The problem with The Resignation of Eve is that it relies too much on Henderson’s personal observations. He does not go through great lengths to back up his observations biblically, nor does he interact much at all with the opposing viewpoint. We are just suppose to trust him.
Aside from that, there are several other blaring and glaring weaknesses to the book. Though not comprehensive, hopefully pointing out a few of them will allow the reader to get a feel for the overall thrust of the book:
1. At times he seems unaware of the deeply rooted theological issues associated with the discussion. While he does argue that Christians are commanded to share power and therefore should have identical roles across the board for men and women, he neglects to address important issues of complimentarily and subordination in the trinity, creation, and in the role of marriage which by design is to reflect the joyful submission of the church to the headship of Christ.
2. Henderson uses research from Barna and conversations he personally has had with women throughout the country in order to build his case. However, the research from Barna indicated that women were by and large satisfied with their church’s position on women’s roles. This leads lead Henderson to downplay the research in favor of the evidence from his conversations he has had with individual women throughout the country (10-11). He doesn’t seem aware that the fact that he hand selected these conversations may alter his conclusions.
3. He categorizies these women into three groups: those who have “resigned to” their church’s teaching and have accepted that they will not be allowed to exercise all their gifts and abilities in a church setting, those who have “resigned from” the church out of frustration of the church’s view on women, and those who are “re-signing” their churches and are attempting to make changes in their church’s view on the role of women. In these categories, his bias is clearly displayed: women who are complementarian have settled for less than what they are capable; women who are egalitarian are “following in the footsteps of Jesus” (5). Never, does concede that these women who are “resigned to” their church’s teaching may not just be ignorant and passive, but are outrageously happy and confidently resolved not just in their church’s teaching, but also in the Scriptures establishment of clear patterns of church involvement for men and women.
4. He argues that our culture has evolved beyond the oppressive concessions made by Scripture to accommodate the culture of the Ancient Near East and 1st Century Palestine. He compares these old views to Amerigo Vespucci’s first map of the Americas:
“The maps we use are subjective–they’re drawings of how explorers ‘see’ their world, city, or neighborhood. Their maps represent how they think we should see the world. Consequently, maps at times leave out details their creators simply didn’t know about… For two thousand year, Christianity has been working off the mental maps that were created by our own explorers (many of whom lived during the same era as Vespucii). Is it possible that, similar to Vespucci’s map, some of the maps we’ve inherited are also wrong–limited by the perceptions of their creators, including how God views women? (270).”
This betrays, I believe, the clarity with which the Scripture speaks on these issues. They are not mere culture accommodations, but are applications that stem from and established patterns laid out in creation itself (1 Timothy 2:13).
5. In a very short paragraph, Henderson provides the foundation for what he understands to be the biblical case for identical roles for men and women in the church:
“Christians who believe men and women have equal influence in the church have a pre-Fall paradigm, meaning men and women equally express the image of God. For them, gifts, not gender, determine who does what in the Kingdom. Those who hold a post-Fall paradigm believe that Eve reports to Adam. Due to our fallen nature, they believe we need to focus on order. Pre-Fall people are concerned more with freedom.”
He takes no time to explain how he sees his view as a “pre-fall” understanding of the role of men and women in the church, but just throws it out there while at the same time labeling those who he would disagree with as having a “post-fall” understanding. Complementarians have always pointed back to the garden to demonstrate God’s intended purpose in male/female roles, namely that Adam was created first then Eve, Eve was created from Adam, Eve is said to be Adam’s helper, and Adam provides a name for Eve.
In the end, I did not find this book to be a helpful resource for men, women and churches seeking to understand God’s intended purpose for the role of men and women in the church. It provides some insight into the egalitarian point of view, but even this is limited as the work focuses primarily on his interpretation of the data he has gathered from his personally selected conversations with women throughout the country. There is very little space devoted to bringing the bible to bare on the discussion. For this reason, I would not recommend this book as a valuable resource in understanding the issues more clearly.
***Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for the purposes of this review.
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Review 11 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
Jim pairs surveys results and with stories to share the many sides of the struggle between seeing women as equals with men versus women as a complement to men. As a seminary grad and former church communications director, I’ve done some study and personally experienced the issue that Jim presents. Being a former church employee (not a pastor), I could personally understand both sides of the issue. I could relate to the stories – on both sides.
The point of the book is not to come to a conclusion. That usually bothers me in a book. I want a nice neat package, finished off with a bow. The lack of a conclusion didn’t bother me when reading The Resignation of Eve. It probably helped that Jim was clear that a final conclusion was not his purpose. The role of woman in the church is such a complex issue and such a heated topic. It’s time that we lay down the hostility and anger over this issue and start listening with open hearts and minds.
I still haven’t come to my own conclusion. I believe in traditional roles of women in the home and have even chosen to homeschool my own children. I also believe in submission to my husband and the ways that I complement him. At the same time, I believe in equality of gifts – I, myself, have strong spiritual gifts of teaching and leadership along with administration. So, if I believe in equality of gifts, I feel that I must believe in equality opportunity for God to use the gifts and the gifted, regardless of gender, in whatever way He chooses. My husband and I operate with a lot equality in our home and marriage as well. This is one of those places where I just deal with the tension. I keep quiet at some times to not cause a stir, but I push the envelope at other times.
Thank you Jim for presenting the issue in a non-threatening way!
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Review 12 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
I have mixed feelings about this book, while I thought the author presented some challenging ideas within his book, I feel that the whole premise of the book (that women are leaving the church due to lack of influence or feelings of being overworked) doesn't quite fit the reality (that I've seen at least). I'm not sure which denomination the author was studying (I can't recall if he mentioned that the numbers reflected an inter-denominational survey, etc...) but in my experience women have a great deal of influence within the church, as well as they tend to (at least in the circles I've seen) dominate the leadership roles for the most part. I however live in Canada, so perhaps it is different here? I do though appreciate that the author points out that many women are feeling under appreciated, and actually do agree with him on this point. In my experience a lot of ministries (that are not solely men focused) have a majority of female leadership, who do tend to get over worked/under appreciated. (especially since in my experience (my husband is a pastor) there are fewer willing volunteers so when you get one, they tend to get a lot of work thrown at them!) I think too that the author and I might differ on some doctrinal issues which is perhaps why I didn't agree with the book, I'm more of a traditional mind set, so the whole quietly working behind the scenes works well with me! All in all though, I do have to give this book a thumbs up, it did challenge me to consider why I hold certain views towards not only women in the church, but also leadership. Plus it caused me to look deeper into the Bible to see what it had to say about my role, and the role of my gender. Also I appreciated that the author, while he presented his views straightforwardly, didn't belittle those with other views. (that's sometimes hard to find in books such as these!) So this does get a recommendation from me, if nothing else it will challenge you to consider why you hold the beliefs that you do!
This book was provided to me by Tyndale for reviewing purposes.
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Review 13 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
As I began reading the book, I got angry. I disagreed with the premise to the book. However, as I continued to read, I was challenged. The author asked the reader to ponder how you got to your beliefs about the role of women in the church instead of trying to defend these beliefs. So I continued to read and was challenged.
I'm not sure I understand the argument that women are not allowed to lead in church. In a Barna survey quoted on page 136, 81% of women agree that their church provides women with the same degree of leadership opportunities that Jesus would give them. So the majority women believe that the church does reflect the teachings of Jesus in regard to the roles women play in the church.
Another theme that Henderson repeats throughout the book is that pastors are threatened by women with the gift of leadership and often prevent women from using that gift in a leadership role. I wonder how many of these pastors would be threatened by men in the church trying to exert their gift of leadership in a way that challenges the pastor's authority. A pastor, as the shepherd to a flock, has to be protective and careful with anyone who wants to challenge authority.
The premise is flawed that "women today are not given access to day to as much influence as they're capable of in the church" (p. xx). Women are given access to every level within the church. So I am left to wonder, are women really leaving the church in large numbers as the book purports?
Tyndale House has provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for this review which I freely give.
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Review 14 for The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone? - eBook
I have to admit, I didn’t always realize that there was a gender issue in church. I actually attend a church and am a member of a denomination that has had women pastors as long as I can remember, and even as far back as twenty years ago, one of the local ministers my dad had preach on occasion was a woman who found the Lord late in life, and felt led to ministry. She eventually moved, with her husband and children to Denver, Colorado for Bible College, and became an ordained minister. She serves as a senior pastor today. Our church also has had women in senior leadership positions throughout its history.
Indeed, my dad also licensed my sister to minister in California, and I am actually two Sunday night sermons into recognizing my own call to preach. I don’t even know if I realized that there was so much restriction on women until I heard a story about Beth Moore, who taught a mixed Sunday School class at her church. She was receiving much criticism from people who didn’t think she should do that. I still don’t understand why a woman who has an obvious gift for explaining scripture should be compelled to restrict her teaching to one gender. What God has called someone to do should be supported and respected – regardless of her sex.
As I read Jim’s book I started to realize something. It is when we get caught up in gender identification – so certain of our perspective as one sex or the other that we begin to change our focus from following Christ to idolizing our gender. Sometimes that means we are too concerned with whether or not opportunities to serve are available or permissible (on either side of the debate) than whether or not we further the kingdom. I think Jim’s book is good fodder for discussion.
I’m blessed to go to a church that allows me to grow in the ways that are beneficial to the kingdom – not primarily what’s best for me, not primarily what’s comfortable for the congregation, but what is best for God’s Word to be proclaimed. I’ve read scripture, I’ve read books, and I consider myself reasonably intelligent, and what I see in the Word is that God never limits himself to what is acceptable and comfortable, He always uses those who are willing and sometimes even those who are less than able. God calls whom he calls. And she who hears his voice had best do what God asks.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255