Author: Carolyn Custis James
Hardcover: 208 pages
First off, I would like to thank the folks over at Zondervan for asking me to be a part of this blog tour and for providing an extra copy of the book to give away. Here are the details of the giveaway.
Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life. This all but shuts women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority World demands a Christian response, a holistic embrace of all that God calls women and men to be in his world. (Back cover)
James utilizes the creation account in Genesis 1 as her model for empowerment. Men and women, according to James, were both created in God’s image and were both called “to be fruitful and multiply and to rule and subdue the whole earth.” Both were equal and tasked with the same responsibilities. When looking at the creation account in Genesis 2, James points out that it is not out of sync with Genesis 1. That the would translated as ‘helper’ (ezer) carries the weight of ‘strong helper’ (as opposed to the common translation ‘suitable helper’). According to James, ezer is used 16 times in reference to “God as Israel’s helper”. (112) That should make one stop and think. Ezer is used twice in relation to women and 16 times in relation to God.
My one issue with the book was as James was discussing one of the great debates in the church today, the complementarian/egalitarian debate and the issues surrounding the ordination of women. The main issue I had was, despite her previous empowering of women, James fails to make public her stance on the subject of women’s ordination. To me, this undercuts her argument to this point. It appears as if she is only concerned with injustices committed in some far away land, but is unwilling to take a stand on injustices committed closer to home. Where’s the good news for the woman in South who was told she would be a great fit for pastor, if she was a man? Where’s the good news for the woman from the conservative church who has her sense of call beaten and kicked around because only men are ordained?
Taken as a whole, I was fascinated by this book. I can’t say I enjoyed the book because the stories James shares elicited strong, negative emotions. As I read the stories that she shares about the horrendous acts committed against women around the world; acts like sex trafficking abuse, I found myself shocked to the point of being speechless at these heinous acts. As I read these stories, I felt a sickening feeling in my stomach grow. It is a feeling that I have not felt since I read The Blue Notebook a few years ago. But the message of the book is not one of hopelessness, it is one of hope and that is where James shines. These stories, while bleak, can be stories of empowerment, of how women have broken the chains of oppressiveness around the world, how they have beaten the odds to reclaim their identity. That is the message James wants to share with us.
I received this book free from Zondervan as a part of the Half the Church Blog Tour. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”