Book Review: The Making of Biblical Womanhood

My Rating – If you are looking for something

Level – quick, easy read; relatively short (just over 200)

Summary

The book is broken into eight chapters – The Beginning of Patriarchy; What if Biblical Womanhood Doesn’t Come from Paul?; Out Selective Medieval Memory; The Cost of the Reformation for Evangelical Women; Writing Women Out of the English Bible; Sanctifying Subordination; Making Biblical Womanhood Gospel Truth; Isn’t it Time to Set Women Free? – plus an introduction that is a tough read if you’ve ever experienced church loss. 

The chapters are broadly congruent with the name, though there is overlap with each, and personal narrative as well. The first two chapters focus on early church context/history. The medieval (her specialty) is interesting as is the Reformation impact on women. The next two constitute the issues of the ‘Biblical Manhood/Womanhood’ movement and the final chapter is really more of a conclusion/call to action. 

My Thoughts

This book is incredibly popular and mostly well received (many of the negative reviews come from hardline complementarians), but honestly, I’m not sure why. The book could have been three different, more fully fleshed out books. Perhaps the issue is more editorial than Barr’s. The three parts are her personal story (and that of her husband’s, a Southern Baptist (SBC) pastor who changed on women’s ordination and was forced out of the church), what I’ll call historical/theological developments, and issues with the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). 

Her personal narrative is hard, it is always brutal to be fired/forced out/leave a church community under negative circumstances. The loss of community can be devastating and happens far more than we’d like to admit and too often people impact do not return to any church. It is truly unfortunate that she could not leave on friendly terms and was basically shunned, this is one of the damaging impact of the CBMW, making women’s ordination a first order theological issue. That being said, and this is an unpopular opinion, they are the ones that changed their view and could no longer subscribe to their church’s confession; the SBC uses Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M). While there should have been an amicable leaving of the church, I’m not sure what they expected to happen. This reminds me of those occasional news stories where someone sues a Catholic school for being fired for not agree with Catholic doctrine. I understand the urge to reform the church, but this is not a new issue, instead it is one that has been forefront in the SBC since before the conservative takeover. I have experienced the pain of lost community, but if your convictions change and are against your church, it is time to find a new church. It is with no sense of irony that she writes as an employee at Baylor. One of the departments at Baylor is  Truett Seminary, which is affiliated with the Texas Baptist Convention and the World Baptist Alliance, both of which supports the ordination of women. 

Which leads me to my next point, her Biblical/theological arguments for could use some work. There are number of fairly known ones that people use, include the Baptist groups above, and a few that require serious discussion and consideration. She did not use these; and I’m not sure why. Similar, while her discussion of medieval history or the history of women in the church was interesting, I don’t feel it made the point she think it made. I don’t think there is anyone who denies that there were women who preached/prophesied/had a following, I think there are just those who argue that they shouldn’t, and since most of her examples were condemned as heretics, this didn’t make a strong argument for her point. The idea that getting rid of monasteries/convents took away religious opportunities is an interesting and compelling one.

Finally, chapters six and seven cover some of the damage that has been done by groups like the CBMW who elevate ‘complementarianism’ to the Gospel. I think most of her critiques/conclusions are good, except she seems to be making the mistake of equating ‘Calvinism’ with CBMW. I guess because they are broadly reformedish (or at least ‘Calvinist’ in soteriology). In the Presbyterian strain of American churches, the largest, third and fourth largest of the five denominations ordain women as elders; in the Reformed grouping of churches, two of the three (with the largest included) ordain women as elders. In one critique, she is surprised that John Calvin writes on one theological topic the way he does, solely because she assumed he would disagree, I guess do to her misunderstanding of the various strains of reformed churches. I don’t want to digress too much, but this is a common problem when someone you disagree with says something basic and you find yourself ‘surprised to agree’, as if everyone involved didn’t at least agree on the basics of the Gospel. Similarly, she seems to confuse Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) with Arianism. ESS is wrong, but more aptly described as unorthodox or heterodox than full on heresy, such as Arianism. Now, Grudem is wrong to support ESS (as are a few of the other presidents of CBMW), but I do think a distinction between ESS and modalism needs to be made. Criticism is valid, as one author (I forgot who) pointed out that if you have to change our view of the Trinity to support your view of women, your view of women may be wrong. 

Overall, it really depends on what you are looking for in this book. It is great as a personal narrative, but somewhat surprising in the theological category, especially with her department being adjacent to a seminary. If you want strong arguments for women ordinations I’d recommend Michael Bird’s book on the subject, or the compilations book ‘How I changed my mind on Women’s Ordination’, or go read the scriptural proofs as put forward by any of the denominations that ordain women. I much more coherent and pointed critique of the CMBW would be Aimee Byrd’s ‘Recovering From Biblical Womanhood’, which is excellent. I’d certainly say if you are pastor/leader in your church, regardless of the position you take, you may want to read this due to it’s popularity. This book has enters the discussion often on the topic of women, so that it interest you, you would put it on your list. 

Modern Cloister: Christ Alone

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?

Modern Cloister: Faith Alone

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?

Modern Cloister: Grace Alone

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?

Modern Cloister: Scripture Alone

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?

If you haven’t listened to the into episode, please listen there first. We try to get a chunk of history out of the way, so we don’t have to cover it on each episode. I think it does a pretty nice job of giving the historical setting and helping the listener understand the need for the Reformation. You can find in the intro here.

In this episode we dive into Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura), which arguably had the largest impact of any of the Solae. The ‘middle three’ (grace, faith, Christ) are inextricably linked and form a major theological point, but on the practical life of a Christian side, placing the Bible as the top source of authority was hugely impactful. It is also the first domino to fall of sorts, as then all arguments need to start from and end in the Bible. Of course, there has also been an overcorrection, where people think Bible Alone means only me and my Bible, which might have peaked about 200 years ago, when many new denominations/movements started that are essentially heresies from the early church that people quite studying. So, we try to make it clear that confessions, community, etc. are important and needed. I do feel (maybe I am just being hopeful) that there has been a recent renew of interest in early history and the writings of the church fathers.

As always comments or questions are always welcome below. Listen below, find us on YouTube and wherever podcasts are found, or listen on our home page at Modern Cloister.

Modern Cloister: What led to the Reformation?

We are excited to launch a new series on the Five Solas (I know that ‘s’ isn’t correct Latin, don’t @ me) of the Protestant Reformation. This episode is the kick off, then we’ll spend the next few months going through each of the five. Sola is Latin for ‘alone or only’, so you may have heard of Scripture Alone, or Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone to the Glory of God Alone. These are the five rallying cries that came out of the Reformation, and we feel that are as important right now as they have been in the last 500 years.

This short episode will be a brief overview of some of the situations that led us to the Reformation. Check back next week for Scripture Alone. I am hoping to have a book review related to the series up at some point soon. I also plan to get back to review some books, putting some Bible Study notes up, but honestly, I’m not too hopeful. We may attempt a book review Pod, so if that is something that sounds good, let us know. Any other comments or questions are always welcome below.

Listen below, find us on YouTube and wherever podcasts are found, or listen on our home page at Modern Cloister.

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?

Interview for Jesus and Gender

I am really happy about our first author interview. Mrs. MMT did a great job interviewing Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher about their new book Jesus and Gender, out now and available anywhere. I think it is an important book right now in the ‘gender wars’, calling everyone involved back to humility and Christ-likeness. It is also our first video cast, so I hope you enjoy. As always, comment below.

Modern Cloister – Interview with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher

Interview with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric SchumacherModern Cloister

In this episode, we sit down with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher, co-authors of the new book Jesus and Gender: Living as Sisters and Brothers in Christ (released April 2022) to discuss their new book and the state of gender discussions in the church.   ** About the book Much teaching on gender relations, roles, and rules binds the conscience beyond what Scripture actually teaches. Gender has become a battleground for power. But God created men and women not to compete for glory but to cooperate for his glory. In Jesus and Gender, Elyse and Eric paint a new vision for gender―Christ’s gentle and lowly heart. Drawing from Scripture and experience, Elyse and Eric show how Jesus’s example speaks to all areas of our lives as men and women, including vocation, marriage, parenting, friendships, and relating to each other as sisters and brothers in Christ. Real-life testimonies from a variety of Christians―including Christine Caine, Justin Holcomb, Karen Swallow Prior, and others―show a variety of men and women freed to pursue their gifts for God’s glory. Learn more about Jesus and Gender. About the authors Elyse Fitzpatrick is a nationally sought-after speaker and author. She holds a certificate in biblical counseling and has an MA in biblical counseling from Trinity Theological Seminary. She has authored 23 books and lives in California with her husband, Phil. Learn more about her at elysefitzpatrick.com.  Eric Schumacher is a pastor, songwriter, and author. He earned an MDiv in Biblical and Theological Studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eric and his wife, Jenny, have five children and live in Iowa. Learn more about him at emschumacher.com.

Playlist: Modern Cloister

Select an episode to play it in the audio player.

  1. Interview with Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher
  2. Reaction Episode: Rise and Fall of Mars Hill
  3. The Modern Cloister is ONE!
  4. Studying The Bible: Commentaries
  5. Studying The Bible: Study Bibles

Modern Cloister: Mars Hill Reaction Pod

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?

This has been a long time coming, but something we wanted to share. Most people have probably listened to the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast at this point, if you haven’t, go do it now. The pod mini-series is a broad work that isn’t just about Mars Hill, but uses events/people/mindsets there to discuss ongoing issues in the Evangelical work more broadly. We, unfortunately (like most people), have had issues with church leadership, not dissimilar than Mars Hill. We discuss a little of our story, as well as where we agree/disagree with some of the assessment/conclusions and hopefully offer some useful takeaways. Hope you enjoy the podcast and the episode below, feedback and comments are always welcome. Listen below, find us on YouTube and wherever podcasts are found, or listen on our home page at Modern Cloister.

Modern Cloister Anniversary

Modern Cloister podcast has turned one this past weekend. You can listen to our review of what we’ve taken a away from a year of podcasting, and our plans for the future. We will be back on an every other Sunday schedule for a while. Next up is a Mars Hill reaction pod, then a six part series on the five solas. Plenty of other ideas in the works, if life will let us get to them.

For MMT, I will hopefully be back in with book reviews soon, along with a few other post topic. I’ve started a new job in my real life, and that is taking quite a bit of bandwidth.

Hope you enjoy the podcast and the episode below, feedback and comments are always welcome. Listen below, find us on YouTube and wherever podcasts are found, or listen on our home page at Modern Cloister.

Solus Christus (Christ Alone) Modern Cloister

What do we mean when we talk about the doctrine of Christ Alone or "Solus Christus"? Join us as we explore this Sola, which centers on the fullness of Christ's work alone for salvation and His uniqueness as Savior. We also dive into how this belief shaped the thinking of the Reformers, how it influenced the history and development of the church, how it should impact us today as believers, and how it must be reclaimed for the sake of the gospel.  For a brief background on the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of the Reformation, which introduces the  Five Solas, we invite you to listen to our episode What led to the Reformation? Then, make sure to check out our conversation on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
  3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
  4. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
  5. What led to the Reformation?