The role of women in the church is an ongoing concern among Christians, both in the West and in the developing world. The discussion usually falls into the broad views of complementary and egalitarian positions. The former view considers the role of women to be restricted at least in the one area of teaching authoritatively a whole congregation as an elder or pastor. The egalitarian view places no restrictions on the role of women anywhere, whether in or out of the church.
In Women in Ministry James B. De Young challenges both views. He proposes a paradigm representing a biblical world view that acknowledges the influence of biblical authority, culture, and the increasing actualizing of equality in Christ that the Gospel proclaims. He cites the observance of the Sabbath that was once universally authoritative - based in Creation - but no longer is as a parallel for developing an understanding of the role of women in the church. Where does his proposal lead? His conclusion is surprising.
Women in Ministry presents a refreshing, new paradigm, challenging and breaking through the theological logjam in which complementarians and egalitarians find themselves. Through careful research, diligent exegesis, and cultural, contextual application, James De Young brings a hopeful perspective to all who desire to break through cultural barriers to broader service to Christ. This thought-provoking work is worthy of everyone's study whose heart is to see the fullest extent of human resources put toward advancing God's kingdom.
SFM Consulting & Associates
With this short volume De Young offers an accessible treatment of the gender discussion as it relates to ministry. Moving beyond the traditional grammatical framework to worldview concerns, he highlights key interpretive issues such as the distinction between sin and violating 'traditions,' the notion of shame and Paul's referent(s) for 'law.' De Young's greatest strength is his eschatological insistence that the 'essential' reality of equality impact our present 'existential' relationships.
In Women in Ministry Professor James De Young provides readers with a concise treatment of the historical background and interpretation of the most important passages in the Pauline writings that relate to the role of women in the church. De Young avoids the difficulties of the complementarian and egalitarian approaches by distinguishing essential reality, in which women are fully equal to men, and existential reality, in which cultural settings may not always permit such equality (just as certain cultural settings may restrict men). De Young points the way to a new approach that will stimulate helpful and constructive dialogue. Women in Ministry is must-reading for anyone interested in this important topic.
-Craig A. Evans,
Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia
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