Book Review: “Half The Church” By Carolyn Custis James (Zondervan, 2010) -- By: Cynthia Davis Lathrop

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 26:1 (Winter 2012)
Article: Book Review: “Half The Church” By Carolyn Custis James (Zondervan, 2010)
Author: Cynthia Davis Lathrop

Book Review: “Half The Church”
By Carolyn Custis James (Zondervan, 2010)

Cynthia Davis Lathrop is coeditor of Some Men Are our Heroes: Stories by Women about the Men Who Have Greatly Influenced their Lives (Wipf & Stock, 2010). She studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Boston.

Cynthia Davis Lathrop

Carolyn Custis James is an established author; she has three previously published books, When Life and Beliefs Collide, Lost Women of the Bible, and The Gospel of Ruth. She holds an MA in biblical studies and is the founder and president of Synergy Women’s Network. In this, her fourth book, Half the Church, James writes with passion and intensity to encourage women to fulfill God’s call on their lives. She says that women make up at least half the church; in fact, she says that women make up 80 percent of the church in China and about 90 percent in Japan (27). James encourages women to be an active force in the world by stepping out and using the gifts and abilities that God has given them. She also maintains that, if women are held back from fulfilling God’s call, the church suffers. Appealing to Paul’s metaphor of the church as the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-27), she contends that, if women are not allowed to function in ministry, then half the body of Christ will not be operational, and Jesus wants a vigorous and healthy body (187). To become the church fully, women and men must work together, cooperating in kingdom living and kingdom purposes, as God desires.

James has added a new dimension in her writing—the global dimension. After having been challenged by Kristof and WuDunn’s book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009), she now challenges women and men to action in justice issues: sex trafficking, female genocide, and more. Throughout the book, we are introduced to various young women in difficult and horrific circumstances. Is the gospel message universally applicable for women of all cultures (35)? Can it bring salvation, hope, and deliverance to women who suffer under oppression and injustice? James seeks to answer these questions through Scripture, biblical examples, and through the wisdom shared by justice workers, humanitarians, and in the examplary lives of missions workers past and present.

In chapters 2 through 5, James unpacks scriptural passages and concepts that prove God values both women and men. For example, in Genesis 1:26-28, the Lord identifies both the woman and the man as God’s image bearers. God also gives the same responsibilities to both and commands them to be fruitful and multiply and to rule and subdue the whole earth (<...

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