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Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism Paperback – November 30, 2012
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"In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, twenty-two men and women commit their talents to produce the most thorough response yet to evangelical feminism. All who are concerned with the fundamental question of the proper relationship between men and women in home, church, and society will want to read this important book."
—Association of Theological BooksellersAssociation of Theological Booksellers
"The best book in print today on this subject. A very important contribution in an age that needs to know."
—Christian Literature WorldChristian Literature World
"Piper and Grudem have achieved a commendable breadth of subject area supported by clear, specific, and precise treatment-all of which consistently make the case for 'biblically balanced male leadership' in home, church, and society."
—Michael G. Maudlin, Discipleship Journal
"Without a doubt this is the most impressive and comprehensive statement of a conservative evangelical understanding of these issues to be published to date. No one seriously involved in seeking a responsible Christian engagement with such concerns can afford to ignore this magisterial undertaking."
—Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture
"A trumpet-call to the church at large to wake up to the issue. Yet for a book that pulls no punches, it remains reasoned and courteous. It also sets an excellent model in the principles of biblical debate."
—Graham Keith, Banner of Truth Trust
"This significant contribution to the ongoing debates over roles and liberties consciously seeks to be governed by Scripture rather than by contemporary culture. Headship by men is a responsibility from God, not a privilege for their own advantage. Much of the confusion of our day is laid at the feet of men who have failed in their role by being either domineering or domesticated. Here is strong medicine for healthy balance with full respect for women and men in their intended roles."
—William Smallman, The Baptist Bulletin
About the Author
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for thirty-three years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than fifty books, including Desiring God; Don’t Waste Your Life; This Momentary Marriage; A Peculiar Glory; and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
Wayne Grudem (PhD, University of Cambridge; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible, and has published over 20 books.
Ligon Duncan (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the chancellor & CEO and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously served as the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, for seventeen years. He is a cofounder of Together for the Gospel, a senior fellow of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and was the president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals from 2004-2012. Duncan has edited, written, or contributed to numerous books. Ligon and his wife, Anne, have two children and live in Jackson, Mississippi.
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. is the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including the Preaching the Word commentary on Isaiah, as well as a contributor to the ESV Study Bible. He and his wife, Jani, have four children.
Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is a cofounder of the Gospel Coalition and has written or edited nearly 120 books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.
John M. Frame (DD, Belhaven College) is J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He has published many books, including The Doctrine of God and Systematic Theology.
Vern S. Poythress (PhD, Harvard University; ThD, University of Stellenbosch) is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has taught for nearly four decades. In addition to earning six academic degrees, he is the author of numerous books and articles on biblical interpretation, language, and science.
Dorothy Kelley Patterson (DTheol, University of South Africa) is professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where her husband, Paige Patterson, is the president. She is the author of many books, an active homemaker, a frequent speaker and Bible teacher at women’s conferences, and a mother and grandmother.
Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was a popular speaker and the author of many books, including Through Gates of Splendor, Let me Be a Woman, Passion and Purity, and Shadow of the Almighty. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while serving as a missionary in Ecuador.
Dee Jepsen is chairman of the board at Regent University (formerly CBN University). She was formerly public liaison to President Reagan for women’s organizations. She has authored three books, including Women Beyond Equal Rights. She is married to former Iowa senator Roger Jepsen. They have six children and eight grandchildren.
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However well-meaning these authors may be (I'm really not sure what their agenda is), I can't imagine what they see to be healthy or beneficial about encouraging women to never attempt to be in the position that they are. Christ is higher than all of us, but He pulled people up beside Him instead of shoving them down. He also elevated women as well as men, and yet these authors are trying to say that women were created only to be "helpers" just because we have wombs? How does that make us inferior leaders to men? If you want proof to overthrow these authors' claims, simply read the Bible! In the Bible, it was women who Christ first revealed Himself to after His resurrection and women who He entrusted with the news of His resurrection. The Apostle Paul even asked women to pray and prophesy in his church.
With this knowledge, no one can accurately claim that God meant for men to be teachers and women to be silent; that idea is simply, blatantly untrue. God designed men and women to co-exist and rule Eden in equality; it was not until after the Fall that man, not God, designed a flawed hierarchy of men over women.
Of course, we can't forget the women writers in this book whom Piper and Grudem graciously allowed to share their experiences in order to back up the complimentarian viewpoint. One woman's story in particular made it clear how cut and dry these people think women's roles are. This woman shared a story about a time she spent with some tribal people. She explained that it was understood among everyone there that women cooked, made bungalows, toiled, etc, and no one had a problem with this. The clincher for me, though, was when she said that, when she lifted a spear at one point and pretended to throw it, the men of the tribe nearly died laughing. "Women have nothing to do with spears," she explained. "These responsibilities (men's and women's) were not up for grabs, not interchangeable, not equal." She admits that the roles of these men and women are not equal and seems to praise the fact that no one questions them! And this is the role model we, as Christians, should take? That of pagan natives, who believe that women don't question anything and who find the very idea of women fighting to be laughable? No thanks, I prefer God's design: that of fighting women, who do know how to defend themselves and to question those who attempt to define their roles and nature to them.
A wise friend of mine on another site was speaking of the ridiculous hyper-patriarchal design and how it always attempts to influence men to be dominant and women to be passive and reactive rather than proactive. Here are her words:
"The "men don't submit" principle inherent in patriarchy is based, once again, on an immature obsession with sex differences and, perhaps, an insecurity with one's own sexual adequacy. (MY hypothesis.)
Men and women are different. (What a "duh" level concept!) So far, so good.
But in patriarchy, men being different from women must be absolute. That's why they invent long, complicated, legalistic lists of what men are like and what women are like, and why they're polar opposite lists.
So if it's a virtue for women to be submissive, then it's anathema for men to be submissive.
That's why virtually all the fruit of the Spirit wind up on the "pink" lists and why you have boorish, arrogant traits being commended for the boys. I suspect it's also why they're making such a business of accusations of "feminizing men/boys" in church, schools, society in general, etc. When reasonable people expect both boys and girls, men and women, to be courteous, humble, respectful, loving, kind, and other "feminine" things that are actually signs of civilized human beings, these wingnuts think that it's an outrageous demand, that we're "stifling" our boys and "emasculating" our men."
Please don't be misled by this book; it attempts to do something much more than provide relief from the Feminist movement. Imbalance of power in either sex is bad; radical feminism is one end of the spectrum and books like this are the other. Either way, equality and harmony are lost. The only way this book could possibly be useful in a healthy way to any person would be if it were used as either a reference to old-fashioned thinking or a guide on how NOT to treat and regard women. As a Godly woman, I have every intention of being a servant to Christ and no intention of doing so beneath men.
I will not worship a God that does not make women an equal in this world. I think that men and women both bring equal value to the world and are neither subject to one another. This book made me ill. Who wants to bring children into such a horrible world where 50% of them will be told - sorry you don't have a penis so you can't do that. Horrible. Just horrible.
That even the “housewife in her backyard” must be submissive when giving directions to a COMPLETE STRANGER so “that neither of them feels their mature femininity or masculinity compromised.” (p. 50) That doesn't make any sense at all! Why is this book TEACHING women to be submissive and obedient to a COMPLETE STRANGER? Where's that verse in the Bible?
Piper continues teaching that in their careers—women must avoid any jobs that give them too much direct influence over men in a work environment because that would “OFFEND a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership and thus controvert God’s created order.” (p. 51)
Wait a minute—Piper just said that men being “offended” proves that women are disobeying God! Really? Jesus actually warned us that the real problem is “when all men shall speak well of you—for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)
According to Jesus—we should be concerned if no one ever gets offended with us because that’s a symptom of being a people pleaser. Like Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NIV)
Going back to Piper’s words, what exactly does it mean for ALL male co-workers to “sense” their “leadership” of ALL their female co-workers? Do they just feel they are “responsible” to make decisions for their female co-workers regardless of their education, experience, and skill level? Where’s that verse in the Bible?
What about all the Scriptures on sluggards? If a male co-worker chooses to be a sluggard, does “God’s order” still require all of his female co-workers to follow his “leadership?”
By now you’ve already figured out that Piper is taking Bible verses on marriage completely out of context. Obviously there’s a huge difference between verses that apply to the intimate relationship of marriage and verses that apply to the professional work environment.
Yet Piper still teaches that women must “think through whether the responsibilities of ANY given JOB allow her to uphold God’s created order of mature masculinity and femininity.” (p. 51)
“A woman may design the traffic pattern of a city’s streets and thus exert a kind of influence over all male drivers. But this influence will be non-personal and therefore not necessarily an OFFENSE against God’s order. Similarly, the drawings and specifications of a woman architect may guide the behavior of contractors and laborers but it may be so non-personal that the feminine-masculine dynamic of the relationship is negligible.” (p. 51)
“The God-given sense of responsibility for leadership in a mature man will not generally allow him to flourish long under personal, directive leadership of a female superior.” (p. 52)
Where’s that verse in the Bible? How could Piper possibly justify that?
Let’s follow his logic for a moment—
Piper is saying that men should feel OFFENDED if they have to take instructions too directly from a female co-worker because women must prove their femininity in the workplace by submitting to ALL their male colleagues.
Now there’s several layers to this—Piper is also saying that the ONLY way women can obey God’s will is by submitting to the feelings of every male co-worker. That if women can’t be good enough people pleasers then they are disobeying God.
Where's that verse in the Bible? This book is placing an impossible burden on women by demanding that we focus on taking responsibility for everyone else's feelings and become people pleasers. Yet the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:10 that "if I were still trying to please man I would not be a servant of Christ." Corrie Ten Boom was a powerful example of a "servant of Christ" who accomplished great things because she didn't focus on pleasing people. Another great example is the missionary Amy Carmichael who reached many people for the Lord and rescued many children who had been sold into prostitution. When Amy Carmichael was fighting human trafficking in India, should she have followed the teaching in this book by focusing on whether she was being submissive enough to the local temple priests who were male? Weren't they the ones who were forcing small children to do horrible things? Amy stood her ground against them until India passed laws against temple prostitution. But according to this book, its more important for Amy to have been focused on being submissive in all interaction with men, than the bigger picture of rescuing children! That's not the Christianity that we know, but that's exactly what this book teaches.
Remember that Jesus got upset at the Pharisees for being so focused on keeping religious rules by tithing from the plants in their gardens while missing the bigger picture of "justice and mercy." (Matthew 23:23) Does Jesus care more about "justice and mercy" than we do?
Being a Christian is already hard enough without all the ways this book tries to make it more difficult for you. Let's try applying the teachings of this book to real life. What would have happened if Angelina and Sarah Grimke had read this book? Since this book has some very harsh words for what the Grimke sisters pioneered, lets take a look at the real history. The Grimke sisters were born in the 1800's to one of the most powerful slaveowning families in South Carolina. They grew up on the plantation being taught that slavery was the will of God. Fortunately, they read the Bible for themselves and realized how much God hated slavery. They would spend the rest of their lives fighting that evil in America. At the time it was considered unthinkable for American women to speak in church. When Angelina and Sarah traveled around the country telling their story, pulpits were closed to them because they were women. Pastors preached sermons about how women were supposed to be silent in church. This forced Angelina and Sarah to both write their own books defending their Biblical right to "teach" men about how much God hated slavery. That's how the feminist movement began in America. It was born out of Bible believing church ladies standing up for justice.
On the other hand the co-author of this book, John Piper, actually teaches that its a sin for a woman to teach from the pulpit because the sight of her behind the pulpit would offend the masculinity of the men in the audience! That was an argument used in the 1800's to keep Angelina and Sarah out of the pulpit because they were making such a huge difference in America.
On page 330-331 this book slams the work of the Grimke sisters by saying "the feminist viewpoint is destructive" and they label it as "faulty analysis." But they never define what the "feminist viewpoint" is. In the 1830's Sarah Grimke wrote the original feminist viewpoint that the foundation of women's rights is obedience to God's command. Because we are responsible to obey God, we are responsible to make our own choices in life, instead of having other people make them for us. And Sarah emphasized that southern women had a responsibility to speak out against slavery----she wrote about how hard it was for women to "rise above the pressure of circumstances that combine to crush her" when she felt lead to speak out against injustice. "Nothing can strengthen her to be a preacher of righteousness but a call from Jehovah himself. And when the voice of God penetrates the deep recess of her heart and commands her to go and speak she exclaims 'God I cannot speak for I am a woman.'" (see Jeremiah 1:6) Sarah continued "I have known many women who have not dared to open their lips but rather disobeyed God rather than enduring heartless ridicule."
Yet Sarah also described the strength God had given her to face all of this opposition. She wrote "the motto of woman when working to transform society should be Psalm 27:1." (The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?). Sarah also wrote how God had spoken to her through the words of Christ calling us to "let our light shine before men" NOT hide that light under a bushel. (Matthew 5:16) And to "cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice, show My people their transgression." (Isaiah 58:1)
Without the work of the Angelina and Sarah Grimke, women would not be able to have a personal bank account, own a house, receive an inheritance, go to college, work a job, or even drive a car. The system of patriarchy in America at that time completely denied women the ability to make any personal decisions in their own life until the feminist movement won those freedoms. Yet this book seeks to return to that system of oppression by accusing the pioneers like the Grimke sisters for "disregard for the real needs of women." Isn't having the ability to make your own personal decisions a "real need"?
Going back to history----when Angelina and Sarah were traveling and sharing their testimony, there were several times that their meetings were disrupted by angry mobs. One time after Angelina's speech, the mob outside grew so upset that they literally burned down the entire building simply because she called slavery a sin. Should she have been more concerned about not offending the men trying to burn down the building or preaching the truth?
That was a hundred years ago. Now Christians still get upset when women try to serve God. Heaven forbid they should preach from the pulpit. When Elizabeth Elliott spoke in chapel at a Christian college they moved the pulpit so she could speak without "teaching" any of the men in the audience. Apparently it wasn't a sin as long as there was no pulpit in front of her. But then again maybe the Apostle Paul dragged a pulpit around with him because he was only "teaching" when there was a pulpit!
That's the glaring double standard in this book. On page 451 they emphasize that "God in His wisdom has said that one of qualifications for TEACHING and governing over a church is TO BE A MAN." (where is that verse in the Bible?)
But on page 394-399, they allow a woman to "teach the church" because she is Elizabeth Elliott. She teaches on page 398 that the role of every woman is "surrendering her will." Now think about that for a moment. Elizabeth Elliott is teaching that women are to have no will of their own, no ability to make personal choices to serve God or pursue your God-given destiny, but that the "essence of femininity" is "to receive" what others decide for our lives but not be able to make our own personal decisions. She even says that this applies to both single and married women (page 398).
Hang on a second. Jesus said in Revelations 2:23 that every one of us would be judged for our personal choices in life-------what we chose to do with what God gave us. How could God hold us accountable if we are not allowed to make our own personal choices? Did Jesus say that we would be judged for the decisions that other people made for our lives or our own personal choices?
Why is it so easy that believe that God spoke to Balaam through his donkey, but God would never speak to the church through a woman? Why do we believe that the highest role of a mother is to teach her little children who are too young to discern between right and wrong, but God would never call a woman to teach grown men in the church who are mature enough to easily discern truth from error?
There is plenty of Biblical support for women having leadership roles and speaking in the church. First of all, the Apostle Paul never limited the pastoral ministry to men. Look at all the verses in the Bible about pastors in the church and you will find NO MALE OR FEMALE pronouns in the Greek. Some people try to say that since 1 Timothy 3:2 gives a qualification of being "husband of one wife" that pastors must be male. The problem with that logic is that it would disqualify both Jesus and the Apostle Paul from leadership since they never married! Paul was addressing the cultural custom of polygamy and rampant immorality of his time. Besides, the original Greek in Titus 2:2-3 refers to female leadership in the church----but the Bible translators couldn't accept what they were reading so they twisted the verse to sound like it was discussing the wives of the pastors. That's not what the Apostle Paul wrote!
In fact Paul told the early church to help the female church deacon named Phoebe with the work she was doing for God. (Romans 16:1-2). He also wrote about how much he appreciated the female Apostle named Junia (Romans 16:7). But since this book can't accept women being Apostles in the Bible they try to change the gender of Junia! On page 79-81 they write that they think Junia was a man----and then they try to make her accomplishments insignificant just in case she was a woman! However on page 80 they admit that the early church father John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.) clearly referred to Junia as a courageous woman.
Read the Apostle Paul in the original Greek NT and you will find that he supported women's rights-----he advocated for women to receive an education in a time when they were denied education. So when Paul suggests that they "learn in silence" (1 Tim 2:11) first of all this was pro-women because Paul was opening a door to female education and secondly, that word translated "silent" is the same Greek word in the verse about earning your bread in "quietness." (2 Thess 3:12) If Paul was telling you to earn a living working your job in complete silence then you can say that women are to be totally silent in the church.
If you'd like more Scripture on the subject consider this---the Apostle Paul actually answered the question of whether women should be silent in the church in 1 Cor 14:36-40. When the Corinthian church asked that question, Paul responded "WHAT? Did the Word of God come only to you?" In other words, Paul told them that they didn't have a monopoly on speaking in church but that everyone (including the women) should "covet to prophesy" as long as "everything was done in order." Then in 1 Cor 14:26 and 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul specifically ALLOWS women to teach in church. He just doesn't want them teaching false doctrine (see the research on 1 Tim 2:12 in the original Greek in the book Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:12 or the book Anatomy of a Prohibition.) There's a lot of Biblical foundation for women's involvement in the church if you take the time to find it.
Reading through this book, it was funny how the authors will say that certain verses "hint" or "suggest" their opinion! Well--that's a creative way of saying that they can't find verses to prove your point so they have to make certain verses "hint" their point!
And then there's the chapter in this book that says that since men and women are biologically different, women must be inferior to men. We haven't found that verse in the Bible yet. In fact that's the exact philosophy that Thomas Jefferson tried to use to justify slavery when he was confronted on the fact that he had written the Declaration of Independence while holding other human beings in bondage. Jefferson wrote the book, Notes on Virginia, trying to justify that when two people are biologically different, one should be controlled by the other. Yet even Jefferson knew that he was wrong. He wrote in that book that he knew slavery would bring God's judgement on America---Abraham Lincoln would quote that comment from Jefferson during the Lincoln/Douglas debates when America was on the verge of Civil War. Yet somehow these theologians have forgotten that history and are back to using the same proslavery philosophy to justify putting women in the bondage of legalism.
There's so many more crazy things in this book we could point out but its just better for you to read the Bible for yourself and form your own conclusions. We all need to stick to what the Bible actually says and stop letting religious sounding books keep us from fulfilling our God given destinies. Its much better to follow the footsteps of Christ than the footsteps of Christians.