Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 09:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy. Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, gen. eds. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2004.

This book is another egalitarian contribution to the ongoing debate over the role of women in the church and the home. It is a collection of serious essays by renowned scholars meant to stack up against texts that defend the complementarian position such as Piper and Grudem’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The editors hope to foster a dialogue that will draw in their detractors. Unfortunately, the choice to call themselves “complementarians”—the term established years ago by Piper and Grudem and others to describe their position—and label their opponents “patriarchalists” or “hierarchicalists” will not increase the congeniality of the conversation.

The book is divided into five sections with a total of twenty-nine chapters. Part one, “Setting the Stage (The Historical Backdrop),” offers three essays meant to provide a historical framework for the contemporary debate. Part two, “Looking to Scripture (The Biblical Texts),” presents ten essays which seek to make the biblical case for egalitarianism. Part three, “Thinking it Through (Logical and Theological Perspectives),” gives six essays to claim the theological and logical high ground for egalitarians. Part four, “Addressing the Issues (Hermeneutical and Cultural Perspectives),” contains five essays which set forth egalitarian hermeneutics and their application to societal issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Part five, “Living it Out (Practical Applications),” rounds out the book with five essays on “working out the principles of biblical equality in the church, in marriage and in our personal lives” (p. 19).

A thorough review of this formidable book (528 pp.) would require much more than these few paragraphs; hence, only three brief observations will follow. First, the essays in part two on the biblical texts do not plow much new ground. After reading the egalitarian interpretations of classic key passages (e.g., 1 Cor 11:2–16; Eph 5:21–33; Col 3:18–19; 1 Tim 2:11–15; 1 Pet 3:1–7), one is left pondering their plausibility. Clark Pinnock put it best when commenting on Colossians 3:18 and similar texts:

The issue is not just whether there is a way to make verses such as “wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (

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