Book Review: Beyond Sex Roles -- By: Glen G. Scorgie
Book Review: Beyond Sex Roles
GLEN G. SCORGIE (Ph.D., University of St. Andrews) is professor of theology at Bethel Seminary San Diego. He also assists with preaching and teaching at Chinese Bible Church of San Diego since 1997. He is the author of The Journey Back to Eden: Restoring the Creator’s Design for Women and Men (Zondervan, 2005).
Perhaps the best way to appreciate the significance of Beyond Sex Roles, now re-published in a third edition, is to recall the historical context of the mid-1980s in which it was first written. The modern biblical equality movement was still in its infancy. Some Christian writers were already arguing for gender equality and mutuality in the 1970s and early 1980s, but not all of them grounded their arguments in a high view of Scripture. Helpful exceptions included Patricia Gundry, Margaret Howe, Mary Evans, and Aída Besançon Spencer, but the list was not long and it did not include many men.
Naturally there was “push back” from the defenders of traditional Christian patriarchy, and that resistance included a book published in 1981 by James B. Hurley, now professor of marriage and family therapy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He had just earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge University for his close reading of the biblical text on this topic. Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective, the fruit of his research, was selected as a Gold Medallion Book of the Year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Hurley argued that benevolent male authority is God’s will for male-female relationships.
This is where Gilbert Bilezikian—gifted scholar and communicator, native of France, long-time Wheaton professor of theology, and a founding leader of Willow Creek Community Church—came in. He recognized Hurley as a worthy opponent, and, if you’ll pardon an insider pun, decided to go “head” to “head” with him. In Beyond Sex Roles (first edition, 1985), Bilezikian reverently explored the same passages of Scripture as Hurley had, and offered a meticulously-supported “second opinion” on its true meaning and intent.
Reading Bilezikian in one hand and Hurley in the other is like having a ring-side seat while two heavyweights duke it out. There are no cheap shots or sneers in Bilezikian’s rebuttal, but there’s plenty of Gallic passion, and more than a little bracing wit and candor. He describes an anonymous former colleague, for example, as “a pompous and bombastic man” who managed to survive because his duties were fulfilled by an unsung female assistant “gifted with genius-level intelligence and a phenomenal capacity for hard work” (p. 9). Many can identify...
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