Genre: Religious non-fiction
Review in a word: Unconvincing
Opening line: “I accept and embrace the Bible as the Word of God, inspired and without error. This was not always the case.”
I read this book wanting to give a fair shot to complementarianism. As Kathy Keller herself says, “I have no investment in being wrong. I do not desire to be deceived or to deceive. So by all means, let us look at the data again.” One of my complementarian friends asked me to hold this belief with open hands, and I try to do so. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that this short book (only 48 pages) really isn’t an in-depth explanation of complementarianism. I wanted Kathy to try to change my mind, but she really wasn’t able to in 48 pages.
But here’s something I did learn:
Complementarians and egalitarians have a lot in common—more than they realize.
Because there are societies, organizations, and many, many books dedicated to this debate, it gives the allusion that complementarians and egalitarians are almost different species. In fact, there are only a very few things they don’t have in common (albeit very important things). Here’s a run-down:
And even more than this, they have in common, of course, the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
So the good news is that I have a much more accurate view of complementarianism. The bad news is that I still wasn’t convinced (or maybe this is good news, depending on where you stand). I was interested by her explanation of 1 Corinthians 14:33b-38 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12, but I think there might be other plausible explanations as well. Again, I don’t feel that this book gave it a fair shot, so I’m going to read more, but here’s what didn’t convince me:
- Kathy says women aren’t restricted from publicly teaching men, but only publicly teaching men with authority, or in an authoritative way. This means that women cannot decide whether someone can join a church, or exercise church discipline. Those roles are reserved for elders only. But Kathy skirts the follow-up question: Why? She tries to say that it’s not for us to question God, but I think God invites our doubts and our questions. It’s part of having a relationship, as shown by many godly men and women in the Bible.
- Kathy says, “In the secular world, men and women can and must be treated as unisex, interchangeable neuters—citizens and workers.” This is a common argument against egalitarians and feminists, and it isn’t true. No one believes that men and women are actually the same. This is a straw man argument.
- There is no mention of the Kingdom of God anywhere. ANYWHERE. This deeply concerns me, because that’s kind of the whole point of Christian behavior. It should be our entire motivation. For an explanation of what I mean by “Kingdom of God,” please read N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope.
Recommend? No. I’m still looking for a better text on complementarianism.
What I’m Reading Next:
How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership. I’m reading this because I bought it recently, but it’s not a complementarian text. Next Monday the Literary Wives will also be reviewing Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon!
You might also like:
Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 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.”