Review of Two Views on Women in Ministry -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 06:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: Review of Two Views on Women in Ministry
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Review of Two Views on Women in Ministry

Thomas R. Schreiner

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Review of Two Views on Women in Ministry, edited by James R. Beck and Craig L. Blomberg. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.


As one of the contributors to this book on women in ministry, I am indulging in the pleasure of responding to the other writers in the book. Many books that present four or five views on controversial issues permit the authors to respond to the arguments of the other contributors. Beck and Blomberg chose not to include this feature. Instead as editors they provide an introduction and a conclusion, comment on both the egalitarian and complementarian essays, and include an appendix by Blomberg. The editors are egalitarian (Beck) and complementarian (Blomberg), and I believe they were fair and equitable in their assessment of the various views and essays. They did choose to use the word “hierarchicalist” in describing the complementarian view, and yet, they titled the historic position as “complementarian” on the cover of the book and in the section introducing the complementarian essays.

I want to begin by making some comments on the book as a whole. The editors chose to include two egalitarians and two complementarians. Craig Keener and Linda Belleville are the egalitarian contributors, and Ann Bowman and I wrote from the complementarian point of view. Including both a male and female to represent both positions gives the book a distinctive twist, guarding against any notion of an androcentric bias. On the other hand, if only two views were included the contributors could have developed their arguments in more detail. The essays by Keener and Belleville overlap significantly, and perhaps readers would have been served better by one essay from each side. After all, we know that people read less and less today, and the length of the book may scare off some interested in the topic.

I agree with Beck and Blomberg that all of the essays are written with an irenic spirit. Further, they rightly maintain that neither side should be labeled heretical. The issue of women in ministry is important and emotions often run high. Pointed and spirited debate is fitting and even helpful. Nevertheless, we should avoid using the word “heresy” when debating the issue with evangelicals who cherish the inspiration and inerrancy of the scriptures. The debate over women in ministry does not address a non-negotiable issue, such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, justification by faith alone, the personal and bodily return of Christ, etc. We must not confuse matters and treat the controversy as if the gospel itself is at s...

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