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Men & Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadship
Inter-varsity Press / 2003 / Paperback
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Evangelicals stand divided in their view of women in the church. On one side stand complementarians, arguing the full worth of women but assigning them to differing roles, especially within the church. On the other side stand egalitarians, arguing that the full worth of women demands their equal treatment and access to leadership roles. Is there a way to mend the breach and build consensus? Sarah Sumner thinks there is. Avoiding the pitfalls of radical feminism and reactionary conservatism, she traces a new path through the thicket of issues--biblical, theological, psychological and practical--to establish and affirm common ground. Leadership and authority are not the only issues. How we view and treat one another as men and women within the body of Christ are vitally important, and they set the context for our discussion of leadership. This is a book for all who want a fresh and hope-filled look at a persistent problem.
Evangelicals stand divided in their view of women in the church. On one side stand complementarians, arguing the full worth of women but assigning them to differing roles. On the other side stand egalitarians, arguing that the full worth of women demands their equal treatment and access to leadership roles. Is there a way to mend the breach and build consensus? Sarah Sumner thinks there is. Avoiding the pitfalls of both radical feminism and reactionary conservatism, she traces a new path through the issues--biblical, theological, psychological and practical--to establish and affirm common ground. Arguing that men and women are both equal and distinct, Sumner encourages us to find ways to honor and benefit from the leadership gifts of both. Men and Women in the Church is a book for all who want a fresh and hope-filled look at a persistent problem.
Sarah Sumner (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is dean of the A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary in Redding, California. She is also an author and speaker who travels both nationally and internationally to address church congregations and institutions of Christian higher education. In addition, she is a consultant who addresses businesses and nonprofits on the subject of leadership and organizational health. Dr. Sumner is the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Her formal training includes a B.A. from Baylor in Education, an M.A. in Theology from Wheaton College, an M.Div equivalent from Trinity, and an M.B.A. from Azusa Pacific University. For nine years Sumner served as a core teaching pastor at New Song Church in San Dimas, California. For almost thirteen years she worked primarily as a faculty member in the Graduate School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University.
"I have felt deep need for someone to enter the discussion of gender and leadership in the church and provide some fresh perspectives and new approaches. Dr. Sumner has listened well. Her work is done in the context both of careful scholarship and of personal experience within the evangelical community. And, I believe, she provides an important contribution to the life of the church."
"Sarah Sumner's practical approach to Scripture offers the church new hope for unity and growth."
"With courage and honesty, Dr. Sumner explores the biblical and cultural assumptions behind evangelicals' disagreements over gender and leadership. This book cuts to the heart of Christian anxieties about sexuality and the church. It gives new hope to women and men who have felt torn between their support for women's ministries and their adherence to scriptural norms. I recommend it very highly."
"This is a deep and important book, with a significance far beyond what the title alone would suggest. . . . I strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about the conduct of visible church life to study this book carefully. It provides a rich discussion of all the major issues concerning gender and leadership in the church, and often brilliantly engages the major voices already on the field."
"Dr. Sumner's book is like a fresh breeze from the New Testament, moving clouds of bias and freeing us to look again at the valuable ministry for women in the kingdom of God."
"Every once in a while someone enters into a theological skirmish and lifts it to a level where rays of biblical sunshine reveal a whole new way of looking at the issue. Honest male readers will repent--at least, I did--of some thoughts. So will honest female readers. And we'll humbly and joyfully explore the new dimension Sarah has helped us see."
"Sarah's solid biblical approach clarified several issues for me personally. Men & Women in the Church is the 'talking point' book on this subject for this generation."
"This book is a tribute to Sarah Sumner's academic devotion and puts to good use her theological training. Her analysis is fresh and much on the mark. Helga and I are praying that her ministry will have a great and holy impact."
"Sarah Sumner's book has the promise to break the divisive deadlock between egalitarians and complementarians that continues to hinder the effectiveness of the church. Sumner's clear, carefully argued message challenges all of us regardless of our position. A must-read for Christian leaders and potential leaders."
"This landmark book by theologian Dr. Sarah Sumner is long overdue. I predict this book will engender helpful discussions among concerned Christian leaders for decades to come."
"I've met with hundreds of female students, youth workers and pastors desperate for a balanced biblical view on women in leadership. Finally, we have one."
"Dr. Sumner's Men & Women in the Church is one of the most carefully and sensitively written and argued works available on a topic of vital concern for the churches, their leaders and their people in this new millennium. Even among readers who have already taken definite stands, egalitarians can learn modesty, complementarians moderation."
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