Review: Partners in Christ

26267453John G. Stackhouse Jr. is Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Faculty Development at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Stackhouse received his M.A. from Wheaton College and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He is probably most well-known in the United States for his contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the nature of Hell, namely through his work with Rethinking Hell. Stackhouse has published more than a few peer-reviewed articles on a variety of subjects, and authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited numerous books—one of the most recent of which is a revised, expanded, and newly named edition of his influential work Finally Feminist.

Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for Egalitarianism evenhandedly explores the contours of the evangelical gender debate. As the title and subtitle suggest, Stackhouse advocates for an egalitarian position of biblical gender equality. However, Stackhouse’s approach therein gazes past the polemic tenor typically associated with the debate to provide a hermeneutical basis for recognizing the issues amid a diverse corpus of writings. For Stackhouse, the cultural movement towards egalitarianism seems to become a resting place for his argument. Certainly, he is more nuanced in his presentation, but much of his presuppositions as he approaches the subject appear to be rooted here. He covers almost all the standard objections to the egalitarian position as he builds his case. However, strangely enough, he doesn’t seem to interact much with the claims that Paul grounds his argument in creation rather than culture.

There is much to be praised about this book. First, and probably foremost, the reader will truly appreciate the level of honesty that Stackhouse brings to the discussion—even affirming both sides of the debate at points. Second, Stackhouse does well to identify the so-called “pattern of doubleness” throughout the biblical narrative. This “pattern of doubleness” usually involves “a complex interweaving of both the standard privileging of men and of the affirmation of men and women as equal to each other” (p. 81). It affords a Stackhouse the ability to honestly examine the cultural limitations of the biblical text, while at the same time illuminate the equality underlying the biblical authors. Third, Stackhouse is a gifted communicator and his work on this subject is clearly established and well-executed. It’s an evenhanded and enjoyable read that is sure to be recommended for years to come.

Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for Egalitarianism by John G. Stackhouse Jr. is a truly exciting treatment of an age-old debate. The reader will get what they expect and so much more. This book should be engaged from either side of the discussion as a model of intellectual honesty. If you are interested or engaged in the gender equality debate, please don’t pass this book up. It comes highly recommended from this complementarian!                    

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Review: Discovering Biblical Equality

689390The role of women in ministry has been a debated topic within evangelical circles for over a century. Numerous books and articles have been written on both sides of the issue—some more helpful than others. Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementary Without Hierarchy edited by Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, and Gordon D. Fee is unquestionably one of the most accommodating defenses of biblical equality or egalitarianism one the market today.

Discovering Biblical Equality is a collaborative effort of some of the most well-known and respected biblical scholars and theologians associated with the egalitarian position, including the likes of Richard Hess, Gordon Fee, Craig Keener, I. Howard Marshall, and much more. Divided into five major sections, Discovering Biblical Equality addresses historical, biblical, theological, cultural, and practical issues related to the ongoing debate. Each of the major sections includes several articles on various topics or sub-issues, and each is aligned with appropriate contributors for the specific matter addressed. Like nearly all multi-authored works, some articles are more helpful than others. However, Discovering Biblical Equality is well-rounded in its choice of topics and contributors, and thus, fairs better than similar multi-authored works.

As someone who identifies as a complementarian (the position that this book is arguing against), I found myself in fundamental disagreement with almost every article (which was expected before engaging with it). However, I was thoroughly impressed with the level of interaction with the other side that is present in this volume. A number of articles stood out, including Craig Keener’s treatment of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Richard Hess’ treatment of Genesis 1-3, Linda Belleville’s treatment of 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Kevin Giles’ treatment on the subordination of Christ and the subordination of women, and Gordon Fee’s treatment on hermeneutics and the gender debate. That said, from what I can tell, nearly everything in this book has been addressed from the complementarian side prior to its publication (see Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem).

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementary without Hierarchy edited by Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, and Gordon D. Fee is a worthwhile investment for anyone interested in the gender debate. The editors have brought together the best in the field to tackle the most pressing questions driving the discussion. While it may not be groundbreaking by way of new argumentation or evidence, Discovering Biblical Equality is clearly established as the best introductory work from an egalitarian perspective. It comes highly recommended!     

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.