Liberating Truth, The: How Jesus Empowers Women Paperback – Aug 1 2011
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About the Author
Danielle Strickland is a Major in The Salvation Army. Outspoken and vivid, she is widely appreciated as a speaker. She and her husband have two young children.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
By Danielle Strickland
Review by Clint Walker
Over the last few years, I have been amassing a several books just on the issue of equality for women in the church. I live in a community where my commitment to Biblical equality is not always well-received, and I need to be well-versed in why I believe what I believe about women's equality in and out of the church. Recently I was able to add The Liberating Truth by Danielle Strickland to this section of my library. It is a great edition.
Danielle Strickland is a skillful and passionate writer. She is an officer in the Salvation Army, and has spent much of her ministry reaching out to women in an intercultural and global manner. She communicates several cases of gender injustice that most of us should be shocked by, and shares anecdotes on how she brings Jesus into those extreme situations with her.
Her global observations about the oppression of women make Strickland keenly aware that oppression of women is a huge global problem. As she sees these situations, she finds clear hearings for the good news of Jesus, and how his gospel is a call of good news and equality for women.
Unfortunately, she is also able to notice that there are many anti-gospel messages in Christian circles. One of those anti-gospel messages are the messages that women are to be meek and subservient, supporting their men in their dreams but never submitting to the callings God may have put on their own hearts to preach and to lead. She challenges these anti-egalitarian viewpoints Biblically.
Throughout The Liberating Truth, Strickland tells many interesting stories about experiences she had while she was in the ministry. She writes captivatingly, and with true passion. The Liberating Truth is a tour de force in what God calls the church to be, and what God calls the church to do in relation to this call. An excellent book that I will return to again and again.
The book is at its best when Major Strickland offers legitimate points from scripture about Jesus' valuing of women, the existence of female disciples, and the large role of women in the early gospel movement. It sinks to its lowest points when she nods approvingly at the ritual abasement of men, and when she intimates that any who disagree with her interpretation of scripture either cannot use proper exegetical and contextual tools, or are hiding a nefarious agenda to keep women oppressed. Having been a pastor, I have known and know many people, male and female, who hold graduate level degrees in Theology or Biblical Studies who hold differing opinions from Major Strickland. They are quite competent in biblical exegesis and interpretation, and have as strong a passion for God and the gospel as the author of this book. The accusations of lacking intellectual rigor or being a tool of the enemy are sloppy, and detract from the valid points in this work.
The book does not really say anything new, and the author's points range from solid to very shaky; a bit of knowledge of koine Greek and New Testament history quickly sorts them out. The author says at one point that she is tired of having this conversation, and it shows in places. There are many works that simply deal with these issues much more in-depth and comprehensively.
Does the church impoverish itself by keeping women out of leadership roles? What is the proper way to obey the scriptures and live out Jesus' commands? This is a conversation worth having, and that continues in the Christian church. I didn't find that this book added much to that discussion, and had things in it that would keep me from recommending it to others.
Throughout the book, she attempts to prove, through scripture, quotes from other authors and personal musings, that women are equal to men in the calling to serve. She says on page 73 . . . "It's obvious that biological differences exist. And much work has been done on possible emotional and spiritual differences between the genders. The real point is not that there is no difference, but that there is no equality distinction and there are no limitations in using our gifts in and for God's kingdom." And that's where my appreciation with her ideas stopped. If you know me at all, you know my favorite bible study teacher is Beth Moore - a strong, blessed, called, passionate woman of God. And I am passionate about MOPS. A ministry run entirely by strong, blessed, gifted called women. And pastor's wives? I think pastor's wives are called just as strongly as the pastor themselves to the job they will have in the church they are called to serve. My problem is not in the fact that Jesus empowers women.
As the book continued, I felt she portrayed Jesus and the bible as a liberal women's rights advocate manual (even naming one chapter "Jesus the Feminist"). Now please don't misunderstand me . . . Jesus was an advocate for many people and shook things up by honoring and calling "the least of these" including women during his time on earth. And I agree that God has an amazing plan for women in His kingdom and gives us the same Holy Spirit and the same distribution of gifts . . . it's just that I don't personally view the scriptures to lay out a clear agenda to put women on a pedestal demanding their equality.
I understand what she was trying to describe or debate and agree that there are many cultures who think it is okay to demean women and treat them as second class citizens . . . this is wrong. In no way am I trying to excuse that behavior or even began to say I understand what these women must go through each day just to be treated as a human being.To our amazing creator, all people are His children - man and woman, young and old, strong or weak. In our culture however, I think there is a common misconception of the word "submissive" and for a lot of people it is a bad thing representing weakness or lack of input in a relationship. I disagree. God clearly lays out His plan for women in the bible . . . and we are called to be a "help mate." There are a million ideas and philosophies out there and I don't want to engage anyone in a heated debate over a "non-salvation" issue . . . if you acknowledge that you are a sinner, ask for forgiveness, believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose again for your eternal salvation, if you ask Him into your heart, you are saved. Those are salvation issues. Whether or not you'd agree with Danielle Strickland that Jesus is a feminist or not is up to your own research and thought.
I'm not a theologian, but I don't necessarily agree with all of Strickland's interpretations of the Bible. I am a Southern Baptist, and we don't allow women in the pulpit based on some of the same scripture that she cited but interpreted differently. I'm also what she termed a "complementarian." I believe that men and women are equal in value but designed to serve different roles in the church and in marriage.
Nevertheless, I felt the author's frustration about not being able to preach or pastor in some places, as is her calling, because of some of these very same church views that I have spent the last twenty years building my life around. One book, however, passionate, is not going to change my mind, but it definitely left me with a lot to think about. There are denominations that accept women as pastors, and that's a good thing. Just because I'm uncomfortable with a woman pastor doesn't mean I'm right. It could just be that I'm clinging to what I've been taught because it's what I'm comfortable with.
I do believe she was right about Jesus. He believed in the rights of women. I hesitate to say, as the author did, that Jesus was a feminist. Not because he wasn't but because there are such negative connotations associated with that word today. But the Biblical evidence she presents is compelling. Jesus spent time with women; he talked with women; he taught women the Word at a time and in a culture where this was unheard of. He loved women and still does. Strickland says women are not princesses and what she meant was that we are strong and independent and not meant to be arm candy for some knight in shining armor. But, I believe that I AM a princess, a very empowered one, because Jesus is my King.
The Liberating Truth will make you rethink the roles of women. It will make you angry that women are still oppressed, even in the church. Strickland sometimes lets her frustrations override her arguments, but for the most part she uses clear evidence, biblical citations, experience, and undeniable Truth to make her points. And she does it well. As I said, she left me with a lot to think about. For more on this subject the author suggests the website (...)
I chose this book based on the title and the promise implied: truth, liberation and empowerment. In the back of my mind was the thought that it might have a feminist agenda, which I do back flips to avoid reading but I chose the book anyway.
As I read, Danielle's pain and frustration at situations experienced, personally and secondhand via the stories of women she encountered personally or read about was tangible. I can imagine that a life's work of research and instituting programs to empower women while encountering the same stories of abuse, abandonment or neglect over and over again would engender the need to do something, say something to alert society to the silent unanswered cries of women all over the world. Different women, different cultures, same abuse.
After reading, I can say there is truth in it with regards to abuse women suffer in and out of the church due to small minds, society turning a blind eye and inaccurate theology, however, I felt neither liberated nor empowered.
Despite that, there are some good points:
- The author's love for God is clear and prevalent
- The book is a quick read
- The first half of the book gives lots of interesting statistics
- The back of the book gives brief biographies of many fascinating women
- This book is a good conversation starter referencing how we apply God's principles in today's society
I gave this book 2-1/2 out of 5 stars
Since I disagree with much of the theology, I would be hesitant to recommend this book to others, especially a young Christian who has not had time be discipled.
NOTE: This book was received from the Publisher, Kregel Publications, free of charge in exchange for an honest review.