This review was written by Jonathan Griffiths and last updated on April 30, 2015
Who it's for
pastors, church leaders, women in ministry
- Price: $5.99
- Publisher: Commended to the Word
- Format: 118 pages, softcover and e-book
How to get it
I’m at 30,000 feet, somewhere over the Atlantic between England and the U.S., as I write this. From up here, there is less detail and nuance. The scope is broad, but the focus is vastly reduced.
For those outside the church, arguments over such things as eschatology, soteriology and epistemology are fine details of a land they are looking down on from a great height. The matter of gender in regard to leadership in the church is another of these localized details that get missed by those outside the church. Sadly, all that is often known is that various clans within the tribe war with one another over this point.
For those who are part of the church, qualifications of leadership positions is a matter we seek to settle by the Scriptures, and that is why it matters so very much. I have personally wrestled with this topic. Coming into Foursquare, I had no contention over gender. As I studied more of Scripture, I had a hard time reconciling passages such as 1 Tim. 3, which seem so very explicit with regard to male-only eldership.
I know I’m not alone in my struggles, and I want to recommend Daniel A. Brown’s book, The Problem With the Problem With Women in Ministry Leadership, featuring contributions from Jennifer A. Manginelli and Kelly C. Tshibaka, as a place of Scriptural grounding and freedom for the Foursquare position of egalitarian leadership in the church.
Many previous arguments I have read focus on cultural change (the world is a different place now) or obscure exegesis based on the presence of female prophets (which must fail as an argument unless all prophets are pastors).
In this book, however, after a brief introduction from Daniel and a gracious but firm opening chapter from Kelly, Daniel goes after the difficult texts, working within the framework of Paul’s writings (primarily) to deliver a cohesive and powerful exegetical overview of the most confronted texts when considering an egalitarian position. He builds on a logical case of redemptive order, showing precedent in Old Testament and New Testament writings, and exercising the full weight of his scholarship, yet somehow retaining his familiar and readable style.
Having carefully examined 1 Cor., Eph. and 1 Tim., the author hands things over to Jennifer for a gracious chapter that calls for peace, love and charity toward one another wherever we may stand on this important topic. If our stance is founded purely on our preferences, then it is high time we let the divisions go; but insofar as our views are founded on Scriptural principles, we must live with grace toward one another where we find our consciences in opposition over our interpretation of God’s Word.
Ultimately, for all my brothers and sisters in Foursquare who are wrestling with the problem with women in ministry leadership, I urge you to read this important work. You will be blessed and strengthened, and I hope that, having read it, you will likewise find yourself asking, “What problem?”
Reviewed by: Jonathan Griffiths, lead pastor of Cornerstone Worship Center (Nampa Foursquare Church) in Nampa, Idaho