Review article: Women in the Church -- By: Mary Kassian

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 01:3 (Jun 1996)
Article: Review article: Women in the Church
Author: Mary Kassian


Review article: Women in the Church

Women in the Church: a Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry,
by Stanley Grenz with Denise Muir Kjesbo (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995)

Reviewed By

Mary Kassian

In this egalitarian book, Stanley Grenz and Denise Muir Kjesbo interact extensively with the complimentarian position, and indeed, they do better than most. The tone of the book is peaceful and non-combative. For this, I am grateful. But in spite of its irenic nature, the book still fails to accurately represent the complimentarian position. If I did not know better, I would be led to believe that complimentarians are exceedingly repressive and anti-woman.

For example, Grenz asserts that complimentarians “require that all women submit to all men solely on the basis of gender” (p. 153). He claims that complementarians “conclude that... men more completely reflect the divine image than do women” (p. 169). According to Grenz, in a pattern of complimentarity, “only the male voice is heard in planning and decision-making” (p.172), there is no freedom, reconciliation and equality (p.179), and the “door to women in ministry” is closed (p.184). Grenz says that complimentarity “promotes dominance” (p.179), and that those who hold such a view are “keen” to connect power and dominance with authority (p. 227).

These thinly veiled euphemisms stop just short of implying that complimentarians advocate oppression and abuse of women. They misrepresent the complimentarian position and do little to contribute to a fair, rational discussion of the question at hand.

In the first section of the book, Kjesbo spends a great deal of time tracing the involvement of selective women in church history. She concludes that in renewal movements, women are very involved in ministry and leadership. According to Kjesbo, transition within renewal movements from the charismatic to the credentialing phase generally leads to the loss of leadership for women.

Therefore, she implies, in order to keep the church in a state of renewal, women ought to be ordained as pastors. I found this line of reasoning strained. It is about as logical as arguing that because firefighters are always found at fires, firefighters are the ones responsible for starting fires. The conclusion simply does not follow the observation. In the following portion of the book, Grenz presents his scriptural arguments for an egalitarian position. In this section, he demonstrates a propensity to interpret the text based on his speculative reconstruction of culture. On page 126, for example, he points out that the metropolis of Ephesus had hundreds of hetaerai: highly educated women who were respected teachers of men. Thus, he concludes, Paul’s prohibition against women...

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