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Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family 3rd Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801031533
ISBN-10: 0801031532
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

In this engaging biblical and theological study, Gilbert Bilezikian offers an accessible examination of the key texts of Scripture pertinent to understanding female roles. Beyond Sex Roles affirms full equality of the sexes in family and church, advocating an interpretive method that sees God's revelation of himself and his will as progressive. Using a creation-fall-redemption hermeneutical model, this book helps readers develop a coherent method of interpretation for understanding the roles of women in church and family.

The book's study-guide format is designed for either individual investigation or group work. Bilezikian deliberately avoids using scholarly jargon and complex argumentation in the main text of the book to encourage readers to interact with the biblical research. The aim is for non-specialized readers to be able to follow his discussion step-by-step, evaluate arguments, consider alternative views, and arrive at independent conclusions.

"Because Bilezikian presents his thesis with an obvious and unqualified submission to the Word of Scripture, his work is profoundly significant."--Hendrik Hart, Calvin Theological Journal

"Although some will disagree with Bilezikian's conclusions, Beyond Sex Roles provides much food for thought to men and women concerned with being obedient to God in how they conduct their relationships."--Today's Christian Woman

About the Author

Gilbert Bilezikian (Th.D., Boston University) is professor of biblical studies emeritus at Wheaton College. He is a charter member and elder at Willow Creek Community Church and the author of a number of books, including Community 101.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 3 edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801031532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801031533
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Pamela B. Garrud on April 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gilbert Bilezikian is a professor at Wheaton College and, as I understand it, one of the leading pro-female voices among conservative "bible-believing" Christians. ("Bible-believing" is in quotes because I dispute the implication of this phrase that non-fundamentalists are not bible-believing.)
Your appreciation of this book will almost undoubtedly rest first and foremost with the bias that you bring with you. If, like me, you were brought up in a fundamentalist church and learnt your bible, and saw massive contradictions between what the bible said and what the church interpreted it as saying, this is the book for you. How do the concepts of rulership-over and command leadership square with Paul's statement that no one individual should take priority over others in the church? Why were there women preachers and teachers in Paul's church if he was opposed to them? Why did Paul tell women to be quiet in one letter and then say "there is neither male nor female" in another? This book answers these questions and makes sense of all these questions. Quite apart from the issue of the role of women in the church, the book is also a beautiful biblical exposition of how God intends all human beings to live together in His name.
The book only misses out on five stars because it could have been edited and laid out a bit better. Close to one-third of the book is footnotes, but the visual lay-out of the entire book is poor and it's difficult to refer back to key ideas easily. Take good notes!
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Reading this book was one of the STRANGEST experiences I have ever had as a born again Christian evangelical. I started out reading this book being a man who was taught to believe in benign patriarchy, breaking ties and such.

I tossed out easily 2/3 of what the book said as not making much sense, at least to me where I was at at the time. But the remaining 1/3 I could not answer and it stewed in me. After wrestling with this 1/3 for a few weeks and praying a lot, it was like scales fell off my eyes and I jumped the fence and became a Biblical egalitarian. So my recommendation is to NOT stop reading this book, just because you come to something to disagree with, keep reading it and note the points you do NOT yet have answers for.
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The argument in the 21 century church about keeping a woman in her (lesser) place is much like the pro-slavery argument in the church of 1850. The pro-slavery forces had seemingly irrefutable scriptural "proof texts"on which to base their claim. The argument was eventually settled when people began to look at the entire context of the Bible, and view those isolated "proof texts" through that greater lens. For all intents and purposes, Christians no longer seriously argue in favor of putting human beings in slavery. It's a dead issue.

This book takes the same approach with the question of a woman's place in the church and the home. Bilezikian begins with the Bible as a simple outline: Creation- Fall- Redemption. He then begins tracing the history of mankind in Genesis 1-3, building an air-tight case that men and women were equal prior to the fall, with neither one in authority over the other. The fall introduced male rule over women, not as a punishment, but as an effect. And he effectively makes the case that redemption restores God's original will and order.

From this solid foundation, every other scriptural reference relating to the women's issue is examined and discussed. By the time the patriarchal "proof texts" are covered, they can be understood through the lens of the overarching themes of the greater Biblical context, rendering them powerless to keep women in bondage as second class Christians. Bilezikian makes great sense of all of it.

The extensive scripture index gives reference to 20 Old Testament books, and all books from the New Testament except 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. And the book ends with a summary section, and a question and answer session.

It is thorough, filled with scripture, and an excellent teaching tool and reference.
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Format: Paperback
Bilezekian has written a charitable, fair-minded examination of key biblical texts dealing with the relationship of men and women both in marriage and within the church. Contrary to the reviews of others, he does not focus on Genesis alone. Rather, he progresses from Genesis and the Old Testament writings generally to the New Testament in which he focuses on Jesus' engagement with women, followed by the role of women in early Christian communities as documented in the rest of the New Testament.

There are three basic ways to engage the Bible's teachings on men and women:

1) Ignore the Bible completely. This won't work for Christians who want to take the Bible seriously (and conservative fundamentalists are NOT the only Christians to take the Bible seriously).

2) Complementarian: men and women are equal but have different roles in church and marriage, namely, men are the leaders of their families, women submit to husbands, and are the only legitimate spiritual leaders in the church. Represented by folks like John Piper and Mark Driscoll.

3) Egalitarian: men and women are equal and have shared roles in church and marriage. Men are not the leaders in families; rather, husbands and wives mutually submit to one another. In the church, men and women may both function as spiritual leaders. Represented not only by Bilezekian but also Ben Witherington III and Scot McKnight.

There are some unfortunate trends in reviews (especially Amazon reviews) of this book. First, some reviewers essentially say, "He disagrees with my complementarian position, so he must be wrong." That's not an argument; it's a circle of illogic. Second, some reviewers simply quote the contested passages as if that settles things. Read "the plain sense" of Scripture, they say.
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