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on October 2, 2012
Throughout the history of Christianity, certain comments found in the letters of Paul have justified church leaders in keeping women in a subordinate role within the church. Yet, from the first century on, there have been periodic movements within Christianity in which women filled leadership roles. With the secular movement to gender equality exerting pressure on the church to give women more of a voice within the church, conscientious Christians have queried what, exactly, the Bible does say on this issue. Bilezikian's approach was to search the entire Bible, with a study group of intelligent, committed Christians at his church. They took three years and examined every passage that could possibly impact the status of women in the church. They evaluated each passage in as honest and open a way as they could. They began this study simply as a matter of duty; they knew perfectly well that the Bible forbids female leadership in the church, but they wanted to be able to say they had examined the Scriptures on the subject and knew whereof they spoke. They ended the study by calling a woman to fill one of their ministry positions! I would challenge everyone who believes, as Bilezikian did, that they already know what the Bible says on the subject, to read this book. And to those who are open-minded, or even biased in favour of women in the pulpit, I would urge this book as a great Bible study. Many books have been written on the subject since Bilezikian and his church did this study, but his is a classic.
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on June 27, 2001
I believe the author wanted the Bible to say that it is ok to have women as clergymen, and for women and men to have equal roles in marriage. It was with this objective that the author interpreted the Bible such that it would fit in with his pre-conceived bias. There are no Biblical passages that really explain and promote his basic views that the saying of God to Eve: "Your desire shall be towards your husband, and he shall rule over you." had Satan's backing, or that this was contrary to the original plan in creation. It's funny how the author believes that Adam gave Eve the prohibition concerning the forbidden fruit, but that he also believes that God never intended for men to lead or have guidance over women. In other words, the author condradicts himself. There is no passage he can show where St. Paul was trying to promote equality between the sexes for administrative positions in the church. On the contrary, the New Testament promotes the idea that there ARE differences between the sexes, and that Christians are in danger of repeating the bad example of Adam and Eve by allowing women to have positions of authority. In summary, this book has illogical conclusions, unsupported propositions (as other critics have charged), and leads people to interpret the Bible in such a way that the points the New Testament writers were trying to get across are explained away and are made irrelevant.
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on April 16, 2000
Gilbert Bilezikian is a professor at Wheaton College and, as I understand it, one of the leading pro-female voices among conservative "bible-believing" Christians. ("Bible-believing" is in quotes because I dispute the implication of this phrase that non-fundamentalists are not bible-believing.)
Your appreciation of this book will almost undoubtedly rest first and foremost with the bias that you bring with you. If, like me, you were brought up in a fundamentalist church and learnt your bible, and saw massive contradictions between what the bible said and what the church interpreted it as saying, this is the book for you. How do the concepts of rulership-over and command leadership square with Paul's statement that no one individual should take priority over others in the church? Why were there women preachers and teachers in Paul's church if he was opposed to them? Why did Paul tell women to be quiet in one letter and then say "there is neither male nor female" in another? This book answers these questions and makes sense of all these questions. Quite apart from the issue of the role of women in the church, the book is also a beautiful biblical exposition of how God intends all human beings to live together in His name.
The book only misses out on five stars because it could have been edited and laid out a bit better. Close to one-third of the book is footnotes, but the visual lay-out of the entire book is poor and it's difficult to refer back to key ideas easily. Take good notes!
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on May 25, 1999
I highly recommend this book to anyone in the gender roles debate, simply because it is the manifesto for the egalitarian perspective. However, Bilezikian's conclusions are intellectually and biblically unfounded, and simply demonstrate his "skillful" ability to dance around the plain sense of the scriptures. His argument is built upon a premise that there were no roles prior to the fall, which can be refuted in Adam's naming of Eve (a task of one in authority). Also, his use of Gal 3:28 in supporting the egalitarian perspective is almost insulting to any reader who can plainly see that Paul is speaking to the wonderful access that all people have to the truth of Jesus Christ, and not speaking to men's and women's roles. To see what Paul thought about men's and women's roles, one should examine those passages that were intended to instruct on men's and women's roles, e.g. Eph 5:22-33, 1 Tim 2:9-15 (also based on pre-fall theology), Col 3:18-19, and others. For a scholarly, historical, sociological, and biblical view see Stephen B. Clark's "Man and Woman in Christ: An Examination of the Roles of Men and Women in Light of Scripture and the Social Sciences" or Andreas J. Kostenberger's "Women in the Church : A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-15". It is also interesting to note that the Church's departure from the traditional perspective of male headship is on the heals of our culture's debate over men's and women's roles. Why weren't these "liberating plain truths" seen before?
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on November 20, 1999
Dr. Bilezikian looks at all the passages of Scripture that deal with the issue of Women's roles. Starting with creation and the desired relationship men and women were intended to have. The results of the fall to that relationship. How Jesus and the New Testament Church are intended to restore the created order.
Not only through the examination of the texts but through confronting actual current interpertations of those texts, Bilezikian provides a challenging and indicting examination of the current belief held by many conservative or fundemental Christians. Bilezikian remains Faithful to the orthodox Christian Faith and unwavering in the belief of the Authority of scripture, which make his book a must read no matter what you believe concerning this issue.
But be forwarned this will challenge your beliefs and may cause you to change your outlook or confirm what in your heart you have known to be true.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Bilezikian gives very thorough biblical background to the history of famous and lesser-known women in the Hebrew Bible. He writes a very methodical book beginning with God's creation design, through the Fall, the Old Covenant, and into God's new covenant with mankind through his gift of Jesus Christ, his son. The thing that I liked most about this book was the format that Bilezikian uses. I like the way he will focus on one verse at a time, and then give mini-lessons that pertain to the context, content, and interpretation of the verse in relation to the bigger picture. After hearing so much about some people's beliefs of the place of a woman in the church and family, it was very good to hear a more egalitarian belief with biblical references and scripture to back it up. I would highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with issues of women's place in today's society.
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on November 17, 1998
Dr. B does an excellent job helping the reader understand the balance and intention of the Scriptures regarding leadership in the church. In no way is this a "liberal" approach. It is accurate and supported by a growing number of skilled evangelical scholars. I strongly encourage people to use this book to help them wrestle with what the Scripture really says about gender and leadership. You may be surprised to see that God's choice of leaders is based more on our calling and gift-mix than it is merely based on gender as some who have us believe. Even if you would disagree with Dr. B at the conclusion of reading this book, it is still valuable in helping further the dialog about understanding God's choices and calling for leadership.
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on May 18, 2001
This book convincingly demonstrates that God NEVER INTENDED gender-specific roles in the family or church. Bilezikian righty spends a lot of space explaining how God created women and men to be equal in authority and opportunities, and how human sin changed that. He also illustrates how God used many, many women of the Bible in exactly the same way men were used. I especially appreciated his sections on the high visibility of women in Jesus' ministry and in the New Testament church.
Especially if you believe that women and men have God-given roles, and consequently that women are excluded from some, then you should read this book. It's pervasive use of Scripture is it's strongest asset.
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on December 30, 1998
I didn't realize when I read this book years ago what an impact it would have on my own life. I have changed my view of women in Christianity, women in the church, and women in relation to God.
Dr. B. is thorough, meticulous, and accurate in his explanation of women in Christianity: the curse of the Fall is not the end of the story--just as Christ's redemption effected mankind's salvation, it also effected women's salvation from the curse. What freedom!
An amazing book from an amazing author!
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on June 25, 2001
I do not lend this text as it will be permanently placed and available in my personal library. It is one of my highest reccommended books on the role of women. A complete scriptural guide with contrasting arguments, complete biography, appendix etc. This is college text material with a corresponding user friendly explaination. This truly is the very best book I have read on the subject. I believe it is part of the resources that God is using to launch me into ministry! This is credible and scriptural.
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