New Paradigms Or Old Fissures? -- By: Jared M. Compton

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 14:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: New Paradigms Or Old Fissures?
Author: Jared M. Compton


New Paradigms Or Old Fissures?

A Review of Mark Husbands and Timothy Larsen, eds., Women, Ministry and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2007.

Jared M. Compton

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Illionois

This collection of essays on women in public ministry originated from papers read at the 2005 Wheaton Theology Conference and includes contributions from such notable evangelical scholars as Henri Blocher, Timothy George, and I. Howard Marshall. Together the essays seek to offer new ways of thinking about women and ministry and to do so with humility, nuance, and biblical fidelity. The collection is admittedly modest in scope. One will not find here a thorough expression of either of the traditional positions. There is, e.g., no essay on 1 Timothy 2 from a complementarian perspective (though see p. 10) or Gal 3:28 (to say nothing of Genesis 3) from either a complementarian or egalitarian perspective. Still, while not quite thorough or, for that matter, equally-representative, the collection is nevertheless far-ranging, including contributions from fields as diverse as sociology and pastoral theology. Moreover, the essays are nicely divided into five categories (see below), providing a helpful aid in navigating the various contours of this complex debate.

The book’s first section, “New Perspectives on the Biblical Evidence,” comprises three essays. The first, “Deborah: A Role Model for Christian Public Ministry,” written by Rebecca G. S. Idestrom, looks at Deborah from the book of Judges, a female prophet, judge (see esp. 22-23), and singer-songwriter, who stands out perhaps less for her gender than for her unambiguously positive leadership during a dark period in Israel’s history. Granted Idestrom’s point that “nothing within the biblical record indicates [Deborah’s qua female leadership] was a problem,” something more sophisticated than an argument from silence would be needed to extract an unqualified divine commendation of female leadership.

The second essay in this section, “What Women Can Do in Ministry: Full Participation within Biblical Boundaries,” written by James M. Hamilton, Jr., argues that God equips or gifts the body (irrespective of gender, 35) and that he instructs the body’s members in the use of their gifts. Thus, each member fully participates in ministry by using his or her God-given gift(s) in ways God determines, whether, e.g., according to the divine will expressed for those speaking in tongues (cf. 1 Cor 14:27-28<...

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