Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
PP 12:2 (Spring 1998) p. 10
Shattering Our Assumptions. By Miriam Neff and Debra Klingsporn, Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1996
Reviewed by Frances F. Hiebert, missiologist and frequent contributor to Priscilla Papers
Shattering Our Assumptions began as a research project carried out by Miriam Neff, who surveyed 1,200 Christian women in diverse churches across the country. The questionnaire was designed to find out what Christian women think about the role of women in the home, church, and society. The book also draws on research conducted by Christianity Today, Inc., surveying readers of Today’s Christian Woman.
Neff and another author, Debra Klingsporn, collaborated in writing the book itself. Both women are committed Christians, active in their churches and communities. Both are professional women, writers, wives, and mothers.
The purpose of the book is to give perspective on the rapidly changing and diverse roles for Christian women. It addresses both cultural stereotypes and traditional Christian assumptions. The authors, however, come to their subject from different vantage points.
Miriam Neff is a counselor in a large urban high school, host of a national radio broadcast, and speaker at women’s conferences and retreats. Debra Klingsporn is an independent writer and marketing communications consultant with a prior experience of fifteen years in the publishing industry. Debra is married to a senior staff minister and struggles with the “blurred boundaries” of being a work-at-home mom with two daughters and the usual demands of living in suburbia.
An interesting feature of the book is that when Scripture is quoted and it is appropriate to the text, male nouns and pronouns are changed to feminine gender. Neff explained that 25 years ago, on her own, she began doing research on gender words in Scripture—before she knew anything about feminism or what the church considered appropriate roles for women. Her purpose was simply to find how God wanted her to live as a Christian disciple and so she researched each word related to gender in the passage she was studying to see if the instruction, lesson, or promise applied to her as a woman. If it did, she would read the text using female nouns and pronouns.
The authors have continued the practice of using feminine pronouns and gender-accurate language when quoting from Scripture in the book so that women will feel the personal meeting with God that God intends for all who seek him. As with other personal convictions advanced in the book, the authors do not advance highly technical theological arguments to substantiate this practice.
Assuming that all of Scripture applies to all the...
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