Friday, 9 March 2012

Book Review: The Resignation of Eve: ‘What if Adam’s rib is no longer willing to be the church’s backbone?

The role of women in the church is a serious topic. There’s a lot of confusion writes Jim Henderson among both men and women about what the bible does or does not say about the role of women in the church. Women struggle (often in private) trying to determine whether their churches’ position on women’s roles are genuinely ideal or simply a reflection of dogmatic conditioning and cultural bias. Jim Henderson encourages the discussion of these issues without the need to ‘break up’ over every biblical disagreement. Jim believes that this attitude needs to begin with pastors. 

This book documents the stories of women’s responses to how they have been treated by the church. It mostly consists of interviews with or stories of women who have resigned themselves to their church situation, or resigned from church, or have re-signed themselves to a place where they are more valued and are able to use their gifts by engaging, influencing and leading. 

Resigned to their church -  Women who have come to terms with the fact that they are not ‘allowed’ to exercise all the gifts and abilities they’re capable of contributing in the church setting. Some say they are perfectly fine with this reality. 

Resigned from - How would you feel if you were capable of leading, thinking, guiding, shaping, and forming a spiritual community but where denied the opportunity to do so? This experience leads some women to walk away from the church, Christianity and in some cases God. On a side note, whilst agreeing that these limitations can contribute to a women walking away from church, yet if she walks entirely away from God, denying his existence till her death, then I would question whether she really did at first belong to Jesus. For Jesus says, ‘no one can snatch them away from my hands’ and Paul writes that ‘those whom God calls, he will also glorify.’

Re-Signed - This is the decision some women make, knowing the limitations, knowing the risks and knowing that things are not likely to change. Women who ‘re-sign’ don’t quit or accept things as they are; they lead, engage and influence. 

Jim Henderson notes that ‘the percentage of women Hollywood rewards for using their brains correlates closely with the percentage of women the church allows to be senior pastors’ pg 242. He concludes that ‘when you see these same patterns in diverse systems, it makes one wonder if what we are dealing with isn’t a gender issue at all. Maybe its more primal than that. Maybe it’s a power struggle’ pg 242. 

Jim Henderson wants to see equality in the roles offered to men and women in the church. Gender should not be an issue but if a woman has the gift to lead, the Church should not hinder her progress by limiting her role only to children’s church and woman ministries. Jim appeals to Pastor Cho’s example who has the world’s largest church in South Korea. Jim Henderson highlights that Cho’s church growth has largely been due to Cho’s early decision in his ministry to use woman in leadership. Out of 50,000 cell groups in Pastor Cho’s church, 47,00 (94 per cent) are women. A staggering statistic which has transformed (perhaps could be the reason) of the cultural revolution in South Korea in the 70s and 80s. 

Jim Henderson also appeals to Jesus’ choice of appearing first to a woman before he appeared to the disciples. A counter-cultural move and perhaps the church should exemplify this way in how Jesus released women from their bound shackled positions in society.

A book to read for all who are interested in women’s role in the church and it offers real life stories of women who have struggled with this issue. This book does not provide an exegesis or a biblical exposition for women’s role - it simply details and analyses real life experiences and statistics drawn from women whom the author interviewed and engaged with. 

A quick passing comment on the sub-title of the book is ask yourself or your church this question, 'What if all the women in your church decide not to turn up on Sunday. What activities will have to close or what would Sunday church look like?

Purchase the book here:


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