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Christians for Biblical Equality

Book Review

Kevin Giles delights in Australia and its ideal of being an egalitarian nation. This ideal is not always present and for Kevin the subordination of women, as taught in certain Christian communities in Australia, is one such exception.  A deeply offensive one.

The teaching of the subordination of women upsets Kevin Giles deeply. He has advocated for equality between men and women for over 40 years. He has preached, spoken at conferences and written numerous books. He has at least 4 reasons for opposing the notion of women’s subordination.

An outsider's response to an insider's defence of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney given by  Michael P. Jensen in his book, ' Sydney Anglicanism: An Apology', (Eugene, Or.:  Wipf and Stock, 2012).
Kevin Giles

(I encourage those who get this paper to buy Michaels' book and read it carefully before reading my response and when they read my work that they check carefully my quotes of what Michael says.)
A book defending the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, written by a true blue Sydney evangelical Anglican, is well overdue after a number of books written by critics who have majored on what they think are the more negative aspects of the diocese. Few could be better placed to do this than Michael Jensen. He has lived most of his life in the diocese; he is the son of the Archbishop of Sydney, and therefore free to say things no one else could say without crippling censure or marginalisation; he is a lecturer at Moore Theological College, the flag ship of the diocese, and he is a scholar, holding a doctorate from Oxford University.

Before turning to what Michael says,[i] I need to make it clear that when I speak of “Sydney Anglicans” or “Sydney”, like him, I am speaking collectively of those who endorse the prevailing doctrines and practices of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, and in particular of those who hold power in the diocese. I am well aware that there are many dissenting voices, and on some matters, Michael Jensen is one of these.

The passing of Mary Daly last week brought back memories of my graduate class in Feminism and Christianity. In 1984, I was in a class of about 20 women, all of whom were post-Christian (as they defined themselves). They were convinced that Christianity, and even Christ, had nothing good to say to them as women. I hoped at that time I might have the opportunity to present the early church and the New Testament with historical sensitivity. That goal takes shape as my new book, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians.

Daly's famous work, Beyond God the Father (1973), questioned basic Christian credal convictions. Over the next several decades, her work launched discussions in support of and against her conclusions. The arguments generated about the role of women in the ancient world and in the modern church have become perhaps even more heated. I find at least two basic sorts of works on women in the New Testament. One type of work is highly critical of the historical claims of the New Testament, and may dispute the very existence of a biblical figure such as Lydia. Other works swing to the opposite extreme by reading the biblical text and other contemporary texts through a naïve historical lens. This group does not wrestle with the challenges that the ancient sources present; they fail to interpret carefully the texts' rhetoric and to distinguish between prescriptive and descriptive statements.

 

The recent Pulitzer Prize winning book, Half the Sky, suggests that ideas have profound consequences. The idea that females are less valuable than males has not only led to an indifference to their abuse and suffering worldwide, but gender prejudice has itself fueled the global abuse of girls and women. Yet there is a redemptive, irrepressible truth this book points to. It’s called the “Girl Effect.” What does this mean?

The “Girl Effect” is a phenomenon noted by relief organizations that when you educate a female, or invest in her business, she in turns shares the benefits with her family and wider community. Some organizations are now suggesting that the most powerful means of growing a community’s welfare is by investing in the lives of its females. Scripture tells us that woman was created to be a strong helper, or in Hebrew, ezer (Genesis 2:18). The “Girl Effect” noted at the creation of woman is a truth often overlooked.

Mimi Haddad

President CBE International

Man And Woman, One In Christ  (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2009)

This book is a careful exegetical examination of Paul's teachings regarding women and their standing and ministries in the church and home. It is the condensation of 35 years of research on this topic and is full of insights that shed new light on a host of issues and correct many misconceptions. This work rigorously analyzes both the text of Paul's statements and the meaning of the text through penetrating exegetical study. It affirms the complete reliability of all of Paul's teaching.

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