Looking For More In The Wrong Places -- By: Candi Finch
JBMW 14:1 (Spring 2009) p. 81
Looking For More In The Wrong Places
A Review of Ruth Haley Barton, Longing for More: A Woman’s Path to Transformation in Christ. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2007.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas
As a wife, mother, and teacher, Ruth Haley Barton understands the struggles many Christian women face through the different seasons of life, and it is her own experiences in her family and in ministry that seem to drive her passion to help women find their own “transformation” in Christ (i.e., Barton became dissatisfied with her role as “only” a wife  and also with a complementarian understanding of a woman’s role in the church [64-65]). Barton is cofounder and president of The Transforming Center, a ministry devoted to “caring for the souls of pastors.” She is also the author of several books including Sacred Rhythms, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, and Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. Her present work, Longing for More, was previously published by Waterbrook as The Truths That Free Us.
Barton’s book is divided into eleven chapters and is followed by two appendices, one on 1 Timothy 2 and one on adapting the book for a group study. The book is geared for a popular level audience. The first four chapters serve as background and exhortation to show women why they need transformation in Christ. Chapters five through ten look at six areas where women may need to experience transformation (overcoming materialism, in marriage, embracing biblical sexuality, embracing the transformations of motherhood, dealing with adversity, and relating to fellow Christian women). The final chapter serves as a conclusion to show what can happen if women are willing to experience transformation.
As one reads her work, a person may think it reminiscent of Betty Friedan’s “problem without a name” in The Feminine Mystique in which women surveyed their lives and said that there had to be more to life than what they were experiencing. Barton echoes this sentiment. As a wife and mother, she began to feel that her identity had become too wrapped up in those labels. Unlike Friedan, though, Barton points readers to Christ to experience a fuller life.
One of the strengths of the work is Barton’s transparency about her own struggles and hardships. Women reading the work will appreciate hearing her testimony and her references to biblical women who have experienced similar troubles. Unfortunately, Barton’s solutions at points are based more on personal experiences and preferences than scriptural principles. It is dangerous because Barton re...
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