No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of GodAimee ByrdP & R Publishing / 2016 / Trade Paperback$11.99 Retail:4.5 Stars Out Of 5 3 Reviews
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acerda5 Stars Out Of 5A Must Read for all ChristiansFebruary 19, 2017acerdaQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In 2 Timothy 3, Paul warns Timothy that there will be some people who are toxic in their handling of scripture and relationships. He gives Timothy a long list of character traits and says that these people have an appearance of godliness but deny its power. He goes on to say that among these types of people are those who creep into households (implies bad intentions) with the intent of capturing weak women (2 Timothy 3:6). Paul urges Timothy to avoid this type of person. In her new book, No Little Women, Aimee Byrd takes Paul's warning and focuses her attention not upon the intruders, but on these "weak women" who are always learning but never arriving at truth. Here Byrd uses a literal meaning of gynaikaria and translates the phrase as little women. As Byrd points out, this phrase is meant as a negative term and Paul uses it to emphasize the contemptuous nature of their being taken by false teaching. Paul is speaking bluntly here not because he has a low view of women, but because he understands that women are capable of so much more than these little women demonstrate by being taken captive so easily by those who oppose the truth.
This tendency to fall prey to false teaching is not found exclusively in women; that much is obvious. However, as an author, Byrd has a profound burden for Christian women who have replaced the need for a biblical knowledge of God with any of the myriad of options offered at popular women's conferences. Many times these are not bad things in themselves, but are being packaged in very poor theology. The sad reality is that the conferences and teachings are hitting on a real need that women have, but rather than pointing the women to Christ and his all-sufficient grace, women are being encouraged to look within themselves to find meaning and fulfillment.
Byrd starts off by establishing the value of women in God's economy using John McKinley's rendering of ezer and its substantive, kenegdo as "necessary ally". This, I believe, is the better translation since (as Byrd points out) the phrase "suitable helper" has a different connotation today than the text suggests. Not only is it a better translation but gets tot he heart of the male/female distinction -- and this is important to understand throughout the rest of the book. Women are not merely helpers as we commonly think of the word today, they are our counterpart and together the totality of the image of God is made manifest within the human race.
Right about now I am confident that some might be getting nervous and are beginning to think that Aimee Byrd and the good folks over at P&R have gone the way of Anne Eggebroten but this is not the case. Keep in mind that this is P&R; one of the more trusted names in Christian publishing. Rather than falling into the complementarianism of Piper or the egalitarianism of Bilezikian,, Byrd takes more of a middle ground insisting that there are roles to be respected in marriage and in church while at the same time insisting that women can and ought to take theological training seriously and that women are not bound to submit to every man. Additionally, Byrd insists (contrary to Piper) that women shouldn't find their identity in submitting to men.
"I am not constantly looking for male leadership in my life. I am a married woman and a member of a church, and I understand the order needed in a household , but male leadership does not define my femininity. I'm not looking to my male neighbors, coworkers or mail carriers to nurture their leadership. This kind of teaching perpetuates a constant authority/submission dynamic between men and women that can be very harmful. And because of it, there have been even stranger applications, such as why it would be okay for a man to ask directions from a housewife in her backyard if he were lost."
This type of clear thinking on the issue is important for us to understand. Nowhere in scripture are we told that a woman must submit to every man and nowhere are we told that men cannot learn from women. Quite frankly, I applaud Byrd's work here. A wrong view of gender is harmful to women, marriages, the church, and the whole of society and we have seen the results in the myriad of books, conferences, and bible studies targeted at women that have the result of keeping women ignorant of meaningful theology. Byrd does not treat this topic lightly and it is to her glory. Speaking of Christian Best Sellers lists, Byrd says
"The best sellers list is often dominated by women authors, which in itself isn't a bad thing-- but just about all the books on the list are filled with theological error. And the ones marketed especially to women appeal to the emotions and sentimentality of the reader while subverting the faithful teaching of scripture."
Byrd places the blame with the women who read them, their churches, the bookstores, and the publishing companies. She doesn't shy away from naming names either and calls out the women as those who teach error. The answer to all of this Byrd asserts is for churches to minister to every member by word and sacrament. This is how both men and women grow in all faithfulness.
No Little Women is a call for women to grow in discernment by reading books that are faithful to historic Christianity. It's also a call to churches to embrace a robust women's ministry which allows women the freedom to pursue academic and biblical excellence rather than brushing them off into the corner with a theologically weak women's bible study while hoping that they are kept quiet long enough for the men to do the vigorous study. This is a refreshing perspective and one that I have come to appreciate. I wish that all men would know the joy of having late night theological discussions with their wives as I have been able to enjoy with my wife all these years. Men ought not be afraid of an intelligent and capable woman and I can attest to the fact that having a theologically astute wife has caused me to grow and to be stretched in ways that I never would have imagined before encountering her.
So who should read this book? Women for certain.. but also men and especially men who are pastors and elders of their church. I would also commend No Little Women to my sons and certainly to my daughters. I can't think of a single person who wold not benefit from reading No Little Women and I hope that all the marvelous women in my life have a chance to pick it up and read it.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from P&R Publishing in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Chris4 Stars Out Of 5A worthwhile resource for any ministry leaderJanuary 16, 2017ChrisQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Within the evangelical church, often one of the weakest areas in the life of the church is womens ministry. From the terrible books and curriculum for women available at Christian bookstores to the outsourcing of womens discipleship to parachurch groups and popular bloggers, womens ministry often suffers from a lack of robust theological training and equipping in discernment. This is Aimee Byrds concern as well.
Women, just as much as men, need training in theology to help them better fulfill what God has called them to. In fact, the health of our churches requires both men AND women to be trained in sound doctrine to form the kind of character and affections Christians should have. And for Byrd, she sees theology as confessional (which both unites and separates), as essential for discipleship, and as covenantal (we are not individualistic theologians, for we belong to a body), among other things. While providing some helpful correctives to some of the discussion on gender roles, Byrd also wisely notes how women are thirsty to learn and need more than just womens resources. She urges pastors to help with this charge and to see that women need to have the same theological standards as the men in the church.
I would commend this volume to both women and any sort of church ministry leader as a helpful resource to understand how better equip the women in your church to understand and cherish the need for sound doctrine.
IVLeagueCabot, ARAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5For church staff, Womens Ministry leaders, and laywomen alike.January 9, 2017IVLeagueCabot, ARAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This book will be a tough pill to swallow for some, yet what Aimee Bryd has to say in No Little Women needs to be addressed. To summarize, women should aspire to be good theologians with the aid of the church. By addressing women and church leadership individually and as a whole, she opens the door for much needed dialogue and reform. Indeed without change I fear women will become more and more disillusioned with the church and continue, perhaps in greater numbers, to fall victim to false teachers and weak theology.
Byrd covers a multitude of topics in 278 pages, yet I found her arguments to be thoroughly fleshed out and followed through to their end. Her Questions for Reflection and Discussion at the end of each chapter are some Ive pondered myself, while others Id like to see addressed by my own church. Of the many topics she broaches the following resonated the strongest with me:
Women should be recognized as competent allies (cobelligerents; important to the spiritual health of the church and home)
Its up to church officers to equip competent, theologically minded, thinking women
If there is a clear mission for the womens initiatives in your church, then the officers of the church should have a plan for equipping qualified womens leaders
Bible study curriculum needs pastoral oversight
Poor doctrine that has seeped into the church needs to be addressed by leadership
Discipling is the role of the church
A distinction needs to be made between the ministry of the Word and other ministries within the church
Women need to be taught to discern truth in what they read and hear
I felt a commonality with the author despite our differences in theological training and denominational backgrounds. When I mentioned how this book may be a tough pill for some to swallow, I had a few reasons in mind. First, Byrd has doctrinal differences with churches who ordaining female ministers and those who claim to receive direct revelations from God. Additionally, you may not agree with how she defines the role of parachurch ministries. I cringed at the mention of an international Bible Study ministry which has helped me grow immensely in my faith, bible literacy, and prayer life. The point she is trying to drive home is that the primary place where discipleship should be taking place is in the local church. Finally, in chapter 9, an eye-opening chapter titled Honing and Testing our Discernment Skills, the author challenges readers to (re)examine the writings of several prominent Christian authors, including Beth Moore, Pricilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Rachel Held Evans, Ann Voskamp, and Jen Hatmaker among others. I refuse to take offense on behalf of these authors, some of whom Ive read and enjoyed, but those who have deep loyalties to Christian celebrities may. For me, Byrds exercise prompts me to be more vigilant in the future.
No Little Women is a call to action! For women, its to request theological training equal to (as deep as) our male cobelligerents, and not settle for teachings that appeal to our emotions and sentimentality while subverting Scripture. As for the church, Byrd asks church officers to remain involved and in-tune with the women of their congregationshepherding, training competent leaders, and dispelling false ideas as they arise. I recommend this book to members of church staff, Womens Ministry leaders, and laywomen alike.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from P&R Publishing for this review. All opinions are my own.
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