Book Review: “Dismantling The Dualisms For American Pentecostal Women In Ministry: A Feminist-Pneumatological Approach” By Lisa Stephenson (Brill, 2012) -- By: Woodrow E. Walton

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 27:2 (Spring 2013)
Article: Book Review: “Dismantling The Dualisms For American Pentecostal Women In Ministry: A Feminist-Pneumatological Approach” By Lisa Stephenson (Brill, 2012)
Author: Woodrow E. Walton


Book Review: “Dismantling The Dualisms For American Pentecostal Women In Ministry: A Feminist-Pneumatological Approach” By Lisa Stephenson (Brill, 2012)

Woodrow E. Walton

Woodrow E. Walton is an ordained Assemblies of God minister. Over a ministry of more than 53 years, he has served as pastor and educator (professor and dean), evangelist, prison and healthcare minister, and has served in mission programs in Africa. He is a writer and conference speaker and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society. He lives with his wife, Joy, in Shattuck, Oklahoma.

Lisa Stephenson relates the purpose of her book in her concluding chapter rather than in her introduction. Her purpose is to address the theological tenets “that have sustained and justified the subjugation of women in ministry within Pentecostalism . . .” (191). She writes as a Pentecostal (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee) to Pentecostals and relies heavily upon Pentecostal scholars such as Gordon Fee, Cecil M. Robeck Jr., Roger Stronstad, Veli-Matti Karkkainnen, and Edith Blumhofer. Wisely, she goes beyond them to rely on Linda L. Belville, Bernhard W. Anderson, Yves Congar, Rebecca Groothius, Hans Conzelmann, Ronald W. Pierce, and James D. G. Dunn, who have written extensively on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and biblical equality.

From the Pentecostal perspective of Luke-Acts, Stephenson argues for the eradication of men being favored over women within ecclesial structures. She brings into her argument concepts of gender and ecclesiology forwarded by liberal feminist Christian writers Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Rosemary Radford Reuther, and Letty M. Russell. The impression is left upon this reviewer that Stephenson is more in step with Letty M. Russell. On page 151 of Dismantling the Dualisms, she identifies problems within Fiorenza’s paradigm of “a discipleship of equals” and Reuter’s “Exodus-community” and “Women-Church” (174-75). While seeing merits in both Fiorenza and Reuther, she chooses Russell’s “household of freedom.”

Stephenson, who received her PhD from Marquette University, argues well for an egalitarian relationship between men and women in full-time ministry. She leaves hints of an egalitarian sentiment up to page 57, where she first openly espouses her position. From that point on to the end of the book, the equality of men and women in ministry is very apparent.

Stephenson heavily footnotes her work. Nearly every page carries well-done citations displaying extensive breadth of research. She also exhibits care in her dealing with women in ministry as they appeared in the early years of the Pentecostal movement and became the topic of debate within the four Pentecostal denominations she examines: the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee; the Church of God in Christ; t...

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