A Review Of Michelle Lee-Barnewall. “Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective To The Evangelical Gender Debate.” Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. 240 Pp. $24.99. -- By: Candi Finch

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 21:2 (Fall 2016)
Article: A Review Of Michelle Lee-Barnewall. “Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective To The Evangelical Gender Debate.” Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. 240 Pp. $24.99.
Author: Candi Finch


A Review Of Michelle Lee-Barnewall. “Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective To The Evangelical Gender Debate.” Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. 240 Pp. $24.99.

Candi Finch

Assistant Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

An Irenic Approach

During the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson served as a major in the Tennessee militia. At a key moment in the battle, the morale of his troops appeared to be at an all-time low. Tensions ran high, and the soldiers under Jackson’s command were arguing, talking bad about each other, and fighting amongst themselves. Jackson pulled the troops together and said, “Gentlemen! Let’s remember that the enemy is over there!” He encouraged his troops to keep a proper perspective about their real enemy and not turn on each other.

In discussions about gender roles in the church, the level of vitriol and heated rhetoric among believers can be disheartening. Both complementarians and egalitarians can fall prey to the mistake of Jackson’s soldiers, viewing each other as enemies on the so-called theological battlefield, instead of remembering that the battle is not and should not be against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12). This issue of what the Bible teaches about gender is deeply personal for many women and men, and it can be hard even to have a discussion about gender roles with someone who holds a different position because both sides can end up talking past each other and offering the worst or most extreme examples of each belief system as the stereotype. That is not helpful. And, it does not honor the Lord.

Entering into this theological fray, Michelle Lee-Barnewall, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, has offered what she calls a kingdom corrective to the evangelical gender debate in her new book Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian. She states,

I am proposing that we may find a better solution by going back to the biblical text to see, not which of the two current position—complementarian or egalitarian—is

correct, but rather whether there might be a different way to configure the issue itself. Thus I would like to reexamine the context of gender in Scripture rather than defend one particular view. (1)

Approaching the debate with an irenic tone is laudable and quite refreshing. Unfortunately, Lee- Barnewall does not actually provide clarity or even a “better solution” to the discussion about gender roles when she goes back to the biblical text. In...

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