Reviewing Half the Church (Todd Miles)

This is a guest post by Todd Miles, Associate Professor of Theology at Western Seminary. Todd has a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and now serves as an elder at Hinson Church in Portland, OR.

Many thanks to Zondervan for providing a review copy of Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James (2011).

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Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, by Carolyn Custis James, is a book written by a woman for women, calling them to bless the church and ultimately the world through the exercise of their gifts. As a man, a good case could be made that I have no business reading the book, let alone reviewing it. However, I was asked to review the book from a complementarian perspective. It is a book of significance in the evangelical church, so it needs to be evaluated.

Summary

First, a summary of the contents: The book is driven by two issues that are of chief concern to James. First, she grieves the loss to the church and to men when half the church effectively disappears through Anorexic spiritual diet or stymied roles (19). Second, James is dismayed over the plight of women in other countries and is outraged that the church is not the loudest voice decrying the atrocities committed against women around the world (21). These two issues lead to three significant questions whose answers comprise the rest of the book. She wants to know what message the church has for women of the 21st century, what will the church do about the rampant suffering of the world, and what messages are we sending to the world in the way that we mobilize and treat our own daughters (41). It is her desire to write a book that takes seriously the plight of women who live in states of horrific oppression, while simultaneously calling women of the evangelical church to Kingdom action. In so doing, she urges women to participate in the full-orbed gospel of both gospel proclamation and mercy/social justice (25).

Much of the book is given to alerting the reader to atrocities committed against women around the world, such as abuse, sex-trafficing, torture, and various kinds of murder (e.g., female infanticide and so-called honor killings). But James is concerned that the evangelical Church is sending the wrong message to the watching world and to those women who are suffering. Though the time is right for “believers to embody a gospel culture where both halves of the church are thriving because following Jesus produces a climate of honor, value, and love, and we are serving God together as he intended from the beginning. Yet instead of casting a powerful gospel vision that both validates and mobilizes women, the church’s message for women is mixed at best; guarded, negative, and small at worst. Everywhere we go, a line has been drawn establishing parameters for how much or how little we are permitted to do within the church (48).

To remedy this, James correctly turns to the Bible. First, from Genesis 1, she teaches that men and women are fully and equally created imago Dei (57-72). James rightly notes the glory of being an image bearer, along with the awesome responsibility that the doctrine entails. From the creation of man and woman in the image of God, she contends that Adam and Eve were born into conflict and resistance (before the fall) where both are called to be leaders in the tasks presented to them by God (73-78). James finds evidence for female leadership in the narrative of Ruth and Naomi (80-98).

Second, James turns to Genesis 2, where it is written that Eve was created as a helper fit (ezer kenegdo) for Adam. James notes that there are many places in Scripture where God is described as an ezer, often with military connotations. James then concludes that God created his daughters to be ezer-warriors with our brothers (113). She then unpacks the paradigm shifting implications (for both women and men) of women being ezer-warriors (111-118, 123-133), particularly given the dangers in our current cultural context of magnifying submissiveness, surrender, and meekness as important attributes for women (120-123).

Third, James turns to what she calls the blessed alliance that the Bible presents as the model for male and female roles and relationships (135-143). Examples of the blessed alliance are found in Esther and Mordecai, and then in Mary and Joseph (143-150).

Having turned to the Bible for instruction and examples of how women and men are to relate in the mission of the Kingdom, James then explains where we ought not to turn in the Bible for such instruction: the passages over which complementarians and egalitarians debate (153-61). James believes that biblical texts such as 1 Tim 2:11-15 are so difficult to understand that it would be wise to turn to clearer texts that are not the subject of debate for guidance on the issue of men’s and women’s roles in the Church and home. It is frustrating to James that the Church quarrels over these texts while women in the world are suffering injustice and atrocities (161-165). Turning to the example of Jesus, James suggests that Evangelicals should be less concerned with issues of authority and more concerned with issues of justice (166-173).

Finally, James concludes her book with a call to women to rise up and actively participate in the mission of the Kingdom, proclaiming the gospel and advocating for women around the world who are suffering (175-194). The Church must empower and utilize its other half by mobilizing an army of ezer-warriors.

Areas of Agreement

Let me begin my critique of the book by highlighting four areas of agreement with James. First, it is evident that Carolyn Custis James is a sister in Christ who cares deeply about the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite our differences, we are co-laborers in the Kingdom of Christ. Second, in Half the Church, James calls attention to the atrocities committed against women in other nations. She rightly rebukes the church for its ignorance and silence concerning the horrific plight of far too many around the world. Third, James correctly calls for the church to engage in both the word and deed of the Kingdom, commanded by Jesus, and then modeled by Jesus and his apostles. Too often the church swings from the extremes of proclamation only to mercy/social justice only. Such is a distortion of the Kingdom and the gospel that announces it. Finally, James is right to want to get every woman involved in the ministry of the gospel. She appropriately grieves over the anorexic spiritual diet of many Christian women.

Areas of Critique

As an elder in a local church, I can deeply appreciate these emphases. Unfortunately, the book is flawed at too many levels for me to endorse it. Hermeneutical errors, biblical-theological errors, exegetical errors, and logical errors abound. These errors are not peripheral to her main points but in every case exist precisely where her arguments are being made. For the reasons outlined below, I could not in good conscience recommend the book to anybody.

James understands Adam and Eve to be co-laborers in a context of conflict and resistance even before the fall, necessitating a strong co-leader for Adam. But Scripture attributes the conflict of the biblical drama to sin, narrated in the account of the fall in Genesis 3. There is no hint in the narrative or in subsequent biblical testimony to the kind of conflict that would necessitate a co-leader and warrior for Adam. Adam is alone, so God creates one who is like him, but is not the same as him, as a “helper suitable for him,” and in so doing creates the institution of marriage. James ignores the biblical-theological categories of fall and redemption, attributing that which the Scriptures blame on the sinful rebellion of Adam and Eve to creation itself. Contrary to James’s analysis, Adam was called to “work and keep” the garden before the creation of Eve (Gen 2:15), and this is language more in keeping with a biblical priest than a biblical warrior. Further, even if the mandate to work and keep were passed on to Eve (which I suspect it was), does this entail that their respective roles in working and keeping were identical?

James’s evaluation of the Hebrew word ezer is more problematic. Recall that James established that God had created a warrior-ezer for Adam because other biblical uses of the word ezer carry military implications. But words have meaning in specific contexts and to find a meaning of a word in one text and then transfer that meaning in wholesale fashion to another text is illegitimate. By the time James is done, her call for an army of warriors with ezer-spirit permeates the book. Gone, all in the name of a word study, is any notion of marriage in the understanding of a helper fit for him, even though the context of that specific text (Gen 2:18) is marriage itself. Gone is the important and faith-filled reality that Adam named his wife Eve (contra James’s assertion in 100-101), “the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20), his statement of faith that God would save them one day through the offspring of his wife (Gen 3:15).

James calls for a blessed alliance between women and men. But she refuses to interact with the biblical texts that speak directly to how men and women are to relate in the context of the church and marriage (in fact, James implies that the Bible does not contain instructions for building a blessed alliance in our churches and homes [146]). She simply dismisses those texts as too difficult to understand, claiming that doctrines should be based on clear texts, not disputed texts. That sounds a bit like cooking the books to me. If one eliminates all the many biblical texts that speak to differentiation of roles in the church and home, then of course there would be no call or reason for wives to submit to their husbands, or for the office of elder to be reserved for men. But are those texts too difficult to understand? Is “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” or “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” impossible to interpret? I will grant that application will take wisdom and discernment. But disliking the implications of a verse is not the same thing as not being able to interpret the verse. If dispute over meaning were grounds for eliminating biblical texts, we would have no word from God at all. Further, dismissing the debate by arguing that while the church quarrels “millions of little girls are being sold as sex slaves in vast regions of the Majority Word . . . and human trafficking is happening locally, right under our noses” (161) is both a red herring and an appeal to emotion, and is neither suitable nor helpful for real Christian discourse, nor does it help those being victimized.

On the same topic, James feels that the egalitarian world is repelled over the debates concerning men’s and women’s roles in the church and home, because women who have experienced great gains in the academy and workforce are called to submit in the church (48-49, 159). But what kind of argument is this? Of course our fallen world will look at the church, which calls for women to submit to the sacrificial leadership of their husbands, as hopelessly bizarre. Acceptance or rejection by the world is not an argument in any way for the legitimacy of a doctrine.

One last significant hermeneutical flaw: James believes that a key to understanding the Ancient Near East and Greco Roman contexts in which the Bible was written is to look at today’s Middle East (32). They do share commonality in that they could each be described as patriarchal, but is it legitimate to compare the contemporary Muslim culture of the Middle East with the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures of the Old and New Testaments? For example, did Mary really face the threat of an honor killing? The biblical texts do not indicate so. When such erroneous cultural assumptions are made, the result in Half the Church is a distortion of the biblical narratives. Honestly, as I read James’s retelling of the stories, I almost came to dislike Joseph and Boaz for being dangerous patriarchalists. Never mind that the biblical texts describe Joseph and Boaz as just and worthy, respectively. In general, James’s interpretation of the biblical narratives, particularly when she seeks to find examples of female leadership over men (e.g., Ruth and Naomi over Boaz, Mary over Joseph, Esther over Mordecai), are creative, but faithful to neither the immediate context nor the biblical-theological storyline.

Finally, as a husband, father of a daughter (and five sons), and elder over a church at least half-full of women, I must comment on the tone of the book. The language throughout is prejudicial against those who see marriage and motherhood as of the essence of femininity, and against those who see submissiveness as a legitimate biblical virtue to be sought after. For example, women who lovingly submit to the sacrificial and loving leadership of their husbands are described as bringing less of themselves to the task at hand, not bringing their full selves to the partnership (158). Parents who teach their daughters to submit in this day and age might be setting them up for physical abuse (120-122). Perhaps most frustrating were claims that differentiation of men’s and women’s roles in the church and home are not qualitatively different than, and could lead to, the atrocities of violence and abuse committed against women in the world. These claims were explicitly made (e.g., 110). They were perhaps more effectively implicitly made on the numerous occasions when chapters that expressed concern for women in the church began and ended with stories of horrific abuse from around the world. This is an effective literary strategy, but it is irresponsible, logically flawed, and misleading.

James is right to call attention to the plight of victimized women around the world, but her biblical arguments are so poor that she has done little to rectify the meager spiritual diet she so decries. The women of the church need better than this.

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on April 20, 2011, in Anthropology, The Church and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the review. It sounds like both you and Harper basically conclude that the book is weak and not the best instrument for advocating for the issues James addresses: (a) increased roles for women in the church, (b) the church working against social injustice committed against women.

    Since this book doesn’t do it, as far as (a) is concerned anyway, what has been the best book you have read that has argued for the egalitarian position?

    • This will not be a big surprise, but I have not read any convincing arguments from Scripture for the egalitarian position. If I were going to advocate for egalitarianism, I would probably try to argue from experience (examples of women gifted in leadership and teaching).

      The best (clearest) explanations of the egalitarian position are probably contained in the essays by Linda Belleville and Craig Keener, published in Zondervan’s “Two Views of Women in Ministry.” I have great respect for Keener as a scholar. IVP’s “Discovering Biblical Equality” is really the most robust work on egalitarianism, written to counter “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”

    • I’d agree with Todd that Discovering Biblical Equality is among the better egalitarian resources out there. Because it tries to cover the whole range of issues involved in the debates, the articles are necessarily shorter than necessary. But, most of them are still well done and worth reading. I’d say the same about Philip Payne’s Man and Woman, One in Christ. He focuses exclusively on discussing particular passages, so he can go into a bit more detail, but it still doesn’t engage all the research like a more in-depth study would.

      Personally, I like Stackhouse’s Finally Feminist. Not everyone finds his pragmatic approach to the question convincing (or even interesting), but I thought it was well worth reading.

      Like many complex issues, though, most of the better resources are more focused studies on particular parts of the discussion (e.g., historical studies, exegetical studies, etc.).

  2. Thanks for the review todd!

  3. Hello Todd,

    It’s a beautiful campus you have up in Portland! A little oasis tucked into the city there.

    I hope you won’t mind if I make a few comments about Mrs. James’ book.

    First, Mrs. James is in error when she repeats Jim Wallis’ fantasy that “America joined the world on 9/11”. While Baroness Caroline Cox is not herself an American (she is the former Deputy Speaker of the British House of Lords), she has many supporters and co-workers in this country who have been with her since at least the mid-1990s. There is also World Vision, Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors to name just three organizations which have all had and I believe still do have programs targetting the specific forms of injustice women suffer. My own introduction to the plight of women happened well over 30 years ago when I was “introduced” to a Aida Skripnikova who was imprisioned in the old Soviet Union because she was a Christian – I wore a bracelet bearing her name which was much like the bracelets commemorating VietNam MIA/POWs. Christians have also been involved in the Protection Project (affiliated with the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies), the organization’s original aim was to put together a legal framework detailing and strengthening the anti-trafficking laws around the world (their remit has since expanded). In addition, Christians were instrumental in creating and ensuring the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which passed Congress in 2000.

    In other words, the time span between Amy Carmichael and Carolyn James is not a great black whole in which the Evangelical church, particularly in America, forgot the rest of the world.

    If James wants to claim we should have done more, she’s not saying anything we don’t already know – all of us involved in this area wish we could do more and wish the plight of women got more attention from the rest of the church. But she insults us when she writes and speaks as if we weren’t around long before she jumped on the bandwagon.

    Second, I find it odd that Mrs. James chose to echo the title of the Kristof book, “Half the Sky”, in naming her own book. She consistently calls, “Women hold up half the sky” a Chinese Proverb. It is not. It is a Maoism. Since China’s one-child policy with it’s brutal treatment of women and its resultant disproportionate victimization of girl babies (before and after birth), is a direct descendant of Mao’s policies, I hardly think it an appropriate thought to echo in the title of her book.

    Oh, and by the way – Mao coined that saying after the brutal 1949 Communist revolution which essentially forced women out of their homes and into factories – it was only then that Mao believed women held up half the sy.

    Last, although Mrs. James may be reluctant to label herself an Egalitarian, such reticence is more than a little dishonest since she spoke at the CBE conference in 2003. You have to sign on to their statement in order to speak at one of their conferences.

    Rant off,

    Kamilla

    • Thanks for the post Kamilla,
      I loved this line from your post:
      “In other words, the time span between Amy Carmichael and Carolyn James is not a great black (hole) in which the Evangelical church, particularly in America, forgot the rest of the world.”

      In our haste to correct the extremes of some, we often caricature and forget those who have been faithful. You rightly called attention to that.

      Keep writing!

      Todd

  4. (don’t you just hate spellcheckers sometimes? hole/whole My iPhone email program keeps trying to chang my name, I have to keep an eye it)

    Thank you, Todd. I should have said how I found your website – it was during a google search for reviews of the book. I have already reviewed the Kristof book on my own blog and am preparing a more extensive article looking at both “Half the Sky” and “Half the Church”.

    Kamilla

  5. I just got this book in the mail today and plan to start it tonight. As a seminary graduate, I hope that your critique of James’s hermeneutic is exaggerated. But if it’s not, I will be disappointed that her book may seem to actually detract from the struggle for women’s equality in the church. Providentially, there is an abundance of sound theological, biblically-argued scholarship that speaks to the “difficult” passages and fails to find men to be women’s hierarchical superiors nor excludes them from teaching and holding office in the church. A point on which we will obviously have to agree to disagree.

    It’s unfortunate that you seem to believe that the curse was prescriptive rather than descriptive. As believers, we strive to live above the curse, not within it. The term “ezer” never implies inferior rank nor subordinate. This surely cannot be since the other times it is used it refers to God.

    I have a hard time taking seriously anyone who claims that marriage and motherhood are “the essence of femininity” when the bible doesn’t support that assertion. God clearly calls all of his followers to his service. There are millions of single, widowed, and/or childless women who would be incredibly disappointed to find out that they have failed in “femininity” as you define it. Every believer’s highest calling is to the gospel, whether male or female, and to whatever work s/he has been gifted to do. Motherhood AND fatherhood may or may not be a very important part of that, but it is surely not the “essence” of a woman or man.

    • Thanks for the response Robyn,
      We will have to agree to disagree on the quality of the scholarship that finds no basis for differentiation of roles in the Scriptures.
      A couple comments on your post: First, I did not say that the word “ezer” implies inferior rank or subordination. That would be to make the same mistake that James makes and one of which I was justly critical. In the context of Genesis 2 however, the term is smack dab in the middle of the institution of marriage and it would be an extreme case of special pleading to argue that the term, in that context, has nothing to do with being a wife. Further, “inferior” and “subordinate” were not words that I used, so it is not helpful nor legitimate to attribute them to me. I would never describe my wife or daughter as inferior, nor would I choose to use the loaded term “subordinate” either, anymore than I would describe Jesus Christ as inferior to God the Father. You might think that is what I am implying or that is what my position entails, but that is something that needs to be argued, not simply asserted.
      Second, I said that being a wife and mother was “of the essence of femininity.” I think I am squarely in the middle of the biblical testimony on that one, given the Genesis 2 narrative, just to name one foundational passage. Eve was created to be the wife of Adam. I am not sure how that can be argued otherwise. Regarding the “millions of single, widowed, and/or childless women,” my heart breaks for them. Granted, some have been uniquely gifted with singleness, but most have not, at least in my experience. I cannot think of any who are childless or widowed by choice. We live in a fallen, broken, and cursed world.
      Finally, are you saying that the God did not lay the curse upon humanity and creation? I would interpret, “I will put enmity . . . I will surely multiply your pain . . . Cursed is the ground because of you . . .” as clearly teaching that God was cursing the sin of Adam and Eve (cf. Rom 8:20). You might have to help me with that one.
      Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!
      Todd

  6. I just wanted to come back and say that I really appreciate that you acknowledge James as a sister in Christ. There are some who reject anyone who has “egalitarian” beliefs as a heretic. So, thank you for your graciousness.

  7. Robyn,

    As one who has been mischaracterized as to my use of the “h” word, I hope you won’t mind if I respond. If the affinity between my own alma mater, Denver Seminary and the school of our hosts here, Western, holds – I doubt that they will be comfortable with my use of the term but then, I’m not the one who brought it up. To our hosts: I won’t sidetrack this discussion and continue a debate on heresy, I will simply leave it at this:

    The essence of heresy is to inflate the importance of one truth at the expense or diminution of another. What “Egalitarians” consistently do, in fact it is their core objective, is inflate the importance of our equality (something which patriarchalists do not and never have denied) at the expense of the created order, that there is a place for and an importance to male primacy and that God, by sovereign decree, established the headship of the man over the woman. Egalitarianism, more appropriately called religious feminism, denies the paradox at the heart of Christian anthropology. By doing so it endangers the Gospel and is rightly termed a heresy.

    And, when one teaches heresy, one is appropriately said to be a heretic. Whether the heretic has removed himself entirely from the fold is a different judgment altogether and one which we who do not blush to use the word happily recognize as the province of the Almighty.

    Now before you respond, let me say two more things. First, that you cannot fool me with any re-definitions of “Egalitarianism”. I used to be one and I remember the secret handshake – I know it from the inside out. Second, don’t even think about playing the Aquinas gambit. It’s been tried and thoroughly demolished.

    Kamilla

  8. @Todd: I’m curious how you would apply the idea that marriage is part of the essence of femininity (and presumably masculinity) to the humanity of Christ. Would that not entail the conclusion that Jesus’ own humanity was somehow incomplete or insufficiently realized because he was never married?

    • I would not presume that marriage is part of the essence of masculinity in the same way that being a wife and mother is of the essence of biblical femininity. The creation of the man was not equivalent in every respect to the creation of the woman. 1 Corinthians 11:9 clearly indicates this inequivalence.
      I would also deny that not being able to live out or choosing not to live out the implications of femininity or masculinity diminishes personhood or the essence of humanity.

  9. @Kamilla: You’re right that I don’t want to sidetrack this conversation with a discussion on the nature of heresy. But, I would disagree (rather strongly) with your conclusion that egalitarianism is heretical. Although I agree that we should reserve the label “heresy” to those things that directly relate to the Gospel, I would not agree that egalitarianism/complementarianism is one of those. (The “directly” in that sentence is important. I do agree that this discussion is related to the Gospel, as most theological discussions are. Just not in the direct way that places this discussion in the context of heresy.) So, I’d prefer that we avoid heresy-language in this discussion.

  10. @Todd – You seem to be equivocating a bit here. You say that marriage is not part of the essence of masculinity “in the way that” it is for femininity. Fine, but if it is part of the essence of masculinity in some way, then the precise nature of this essential aspect needs to be explored and addressed, along with the implications for singleness. Or, are you really saying that you think marriage is not essential for masculinity at all, even though it is for femininity.

    And, I wouldn’t say that your position entails that single people are less human or lesser persons, but it would seem to suggest that they are expressing their humanity less fully. If marriage is part of the essential nature of being human, then how could singleness not be a less complete expression of our essential human nature?

    Also, if marriage is essential, do you see it as continuing in the eschaton?

    • In Matt. 22:30 Jesus taught that in the eschaton there will not be marriage between man & woman (and that past marriages are no longer binding – sorry to our LDS friends!).

      But if marriage is essential, in some way, to being male and/or female, then are we less than human after the renewal of all things? How can that be? The movement of redemptive history is one of God intensifying and “thickening” reality, so to speak. And that would include our humanity.

      Here is one possible approach: In our current epoch of redemptive history, between the two advents of Christ, there is a real sense in which all who are in Christ are already “engaged” to the Lord, and will be “married” at the Second Coming (cf. Rev 19) – hence there is no need for marriage as it presently exists in the eschaton. So, Todd could argue – “Yes, marriage is essential to being human, but all of us will be Married in the eschaton (capital “M” since man-woman marriage now is only a shadow of the fullness in Christ – a fullness we now experience by faith, but will experience by sight later.) We won’t lose anything of our humanity, but only gain more (so to speak).

      • That’s certainly an option, though it defines “marriage” in a very different way than how it is normally used. If we said that there was a fundamental relationality that is an essential aspect of human nature, often (though not always) expressed in marriage, and ultimately grounded and fully realized in Christ, I’d be much happier. Even in this expanded sense, though, I still wouldn’t say that “marriage” is essential for being human because of how most people will understand that assertion.

  11. First I thought you were Barthian, now I think your a Thomist. Pick one!:-)

    For sure. What I am suggesting (not necessarily endorsing, just bumping my gums a little) is a possible framing of marriage that situates it more narrowly (i.e. it is a particularly Christian explanation) and not rooting it in a definition that is commonly accessible to “most people,” though there would be some overlap.

    The thing, though, is that the Bible doesn’t talk about a “fundamental relationality.” We conclude that there is maybe something like that from looking at concrete things like “marriage” and “friendship” and “church.” And “marriage” is a privileged metaphor (cf. Rev. 19, Ephesians 5, etc.) for talking about these other kinds of relationships.

    • I’m a theological mutt, you know that!

      It’s true that the Bible doesn’t talk about a fundamental relationality, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good way of expressing a concept that seems to lie behind or tie together the concrete particulars that you mention. And, I think it’s the most adequate way of understanding why Adam was seen to be lacking in his individuality and why God’s plan always involves imaging himself through a community (humanity, Israel, Church). So, rather than seeing marriage as a privileged metaphor for talking about these other relationships (which suggests that marriage is more essential than these others), I’d say that marriage is a privileged metaphor for talking about relationality, but that these other relationships are also valid and essential expressions of that same relationality. Indeed, if I were going to privilege one kind of relationality (other than divine/human), it would be the “in Christ” ecclesial relations that constitute the Church and the eschatological community. That seems far more basic for understanding the “essence” of humanity than marriage, as important as that latter relationship might be.

  12. I am not priviledged to have higher learning education the rest of you have. I do respect the conclusions of all who have given them here. And, in fact, I have to agree that I was disatisfied with the authors willingness to take a stand on some issues. If anything she oversimplifed the male/female relationship without taking into account some clearly defined role differences set down in scripture. But while we may take great exception to James in the way she presents her subject, I believe she has brought into the open a truth that there are women in the church as well as outside the church who are suffering abuse.

    It is also evident in many churches, as Mrs James says, that there is a guarded and sometimes overreaching line that is drawn to define what women can and cannot do in the church. The question is, is it cultural or is it Biblical for a woman to abandon what seems to be God given gifts to the bidding of those who would decide for her when there is no clearly defined scripture to the point.

    I believe Mrs. James is right to make note of the fact that rarely is the significance and importance of the women of the Bible heralded in the church. Much could be learned by studying these women. Their stories were put into God’s word for a reason. They should be teaching points for women. But we should take great care not manipulate to our preconcieved thinking what truths these woman are, through God’s grace, portraying to us.

    In our zeal to find “Half The Church” to be seriously flawed in many ways, let us not miss the point. Clearly this writing was a cry for mercy and justice for women and young girls who have been burdened beyond what they are able to bear. It cannot be dismissed.

  1. Pingback: Elsewhere (04.20.2011) | Near Emmaus

  2. Pingback: Half the Church Winner « scientia et sapientia

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