A Man’s Relationship with Jesus -- By: Stephen B. Clark

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 004:2 (Winter 2000)
Article: A Man’s Relationship with Jesus
Author: Stephen B. Clark


A Man’s Relationship with Jesus

Stephen B. Clark

A Review Of Leon J. Podles, The Church Impotent: The Feminization Of Christianity

Editor’s Note: The following review is written by long-time CBMW friend and Roman Catholic lay leader, Steven B. Clark. Podles’s work has also been reviewed recently by First Things . We hope to carry another review of Podles in a future issue of JBMW, this time done by someone on our own side of the Reformation.

As a reformed pastor who believes that one of the gravest errors of the evangelical movement in the twentieth century is the abandonment of the doctrine of the Church, I am delighted to read Clark’s comments concerning the displacement of the corporate by the individual in the contemporary church’s application of Scripture’s bridal imagery. This is a much-needed corrective to the individualistic hermeneutic rife within evangelical devotional writing and spirituality. Other parts of Clark’s review draw me up short, though. For instance, Clark’s tepid critique of Roman Catholic devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, says almost nothing that I would want to say about this great divide within Christendom.

To be fair, though, Clark is a Roman Catholic reviewing a ground-breaking work by another Roman Catholic, and Clark’s familiarity with the history of spirituality in the medieval period places him in a strong position from which to critique Podles’s thesis. I trust the reader will be challenged, as I was, by both Clark and Podles (pronounced like ‘models’).

We live in a time of societal confusion about sexual roles and sexual identity. The dominant concern, fueled by the modern feminist movement, has been with women and their confusions and “issues.” More and more people, however, are noticing that not is all well with men and perhaps men might be suffering more. Some are also noticing the failure of the Church to be of help to men, or even to attract them. That failure may be rooted in the feminization of the Church, a phenomenon that long antedated feminism.

The Problem of Male Absence

In The Church Impotent, Leon Podles gives us one of the first Christian discussions of the feminization of the Church. This is not a book that gives a detailed exegesis of biblical passages telling us what it means to be men and women. Nor is it the place to go for guidance about the role relationships of men and women in the home and in the Church. It is, however, almost the only place to go for a discussion of the origins and consequences of the feminization of Christianity.

One of the greatest merits of Podles’s book is his willingness to discuss obvious facts that few others want to mention. The Western Christian churche...

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