Book Critique: Two Views on Women in Ministry
The revised edition of Beck James’ book, Two Views on Women in Ministry presents an opportunity for individuals and various religious faithful to argue out their points are based in the two divergent views presented by two pairs of writers. The book enables the readers to interact with the responses given by the four contributors. It enables the reader to get exposed to a debate style format to arouse their diverse perspectives concerning the thorny debate. The contributors have a reputable academic background that makes them an authority in the debate. Each of them holds a Ph.D., and serves in respectable Universities as professors. The book presents two contrasting views. These include the Egalitarian perspective and the Complementarian perspective.
The Egalitarian contributors in the book are Linda L. Belleville and Craig S. Keener. They strongly advocate for the view that women should be granted an opportunity to serve the religious duties. Such view is swiftly contradicted by the Complementarians like Craig L. Blomberg and Thomas R. Schreiner, who argue that such responsibilities should be a reserve of men in the church context. In the process of an intensive debate, references are made to various scripture in the Bible. Some of the scriptures alluded to include: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, which illustrates that women are commanded to be silent in the church; 1Timothy 2:11-15, which deny women a chance to have authority beyond that of a man and to teach as well as 1 Cor 11:2-16. At the end of this critique, I will seek to show that however limited it may be as may be realized by evaluating the two contradicting views, women have a role in ministry.
The edited version of Beck’s book Two Views on Women in Ministry shows great interest to describe the prevailing differences between the two divergent views namely: the egalitarian view and the traditional complementarian view on wome in ministry. The egalitarian perspective views women to have equal biblical rights and privileges to take up roles in church ministry just as men do. On the other hand, the complementarian perspective also referred to as the traditional view; presents the notion that men have authority over women both at home and in the church with respect to matters of church leadership. Beck explains the reasons behind the development of the latest edition of his book. First is the need to have up to date theological literature that reflects the evolving debate. He also saw the need to respond to the ongoing theological debate over issues concerning the role of women in church. Finally, there was a need to establish mutual respect in the process of the debate. Only New Testament scholars are chosen to take part against theologians because a large percentage of theological issues that affect women in ministry are rooted in the New Testament context.
The book’s first essay is written by Linda Belleville who argues in support of the egalitarian perspective. The scholar first acknowledges the conflict about the discussion which has been ongoing for long in the church. Belleville supports the egalitarian perspective by alluding to many changes concerning gender equality that have occurred in the secular world. It poses a transitional question about the reason behind the reluctance to have such changes embraced in most evangelical denominations today. Belleville suggests that the underlying problem has more to do with biblical teachings on hierarchical structures in male and female relationship than just an argument of gender.
The second author is Craig L. Blomberg who is the first to present in support of the complementarian perspective. This presenter emphasizes the fact that some apply emotions to the issue and forget to respect the teachings of the scripture.
The third author to present his essay is Craig S. Keener. He is the seccond to present in favor of the egalitarian perspective. Keener addresses his approach to the subject by mentioning that under normal circumstances, the Bible permits women ministry and only prohibits it under exceptional situations. He goes further to state that women ministry should be allowed under most circumstances. Keener approaches the debate by making references to women Old Testament characters making his argument to be similar to that of Belleville. However, his approach seems to be more anchored on the practical aspects of women in ministry.
The last presentation is made by Thomas R. Schreiner whose presentation is in support of the complementarian perspective. Schreiner attempts to harmonize the two views by showing the importance of women in the ministry. However, he sticks to his complementarian beliefs that the role of women in church is different when it comes to leadership.
A Critical Interaction with the Author’s Work
The book Two Views on Women in Ministry is characterized by scholarly arguments on the roles of women in the church. The book presents two contradicting perspectives through well thought out arguments staged by four scholars with each pair opposing the other. The approach in which the book is presented gives a fair ground of discussion on the controversial subject enabling readers to make personal judgments. Such debate has increasingly become essential in the contemporary world where equality is highly advocated for.
The book applies a technical approach of presenting the subject matter through a compilation of contradictory opinions and arguments. Beck uses this technique to allow readers the room for self-determination of the side to take after analyzing the presenter’s arguments. The main controversy has little to do with whether or not women are to take responsibilities in the church but rather looks at whether they should be involved in leadership roles or not.