08 April 2011

Half the Church - Carolyn Custis James



I have recently completed reading the words of Carolyn Custis James in her new book Half The Church - Recovering God's Global Vision for Women.

I agreed to read and review this book for Zondervan with some trepidation, for indeed the debate about women and the church rages hot, as the author explains:

Since the late twentieth century two polarized groups - complementarian and egalitarians - have defined the evangelical landscape for women, particularly in the West.  The debate between the two groups creates a fault line that runs straight through the body of Christ.  Evangelical churches, denominations, and individuals have taken sides.  It is a cause of profound division among us.
Instead of taking one side or the other, James attempts to present a complete overview of the issue.  What most connected with my spirit was her cry for those so often forgotten in the debate, women from outside our Western world.
Bringing these women into this discussion changes everything.  In our culture, the church has tended to concentrate on a tiny segment of the female population - a narrow, prosperous, protected, well-educated female demographic located in the comfortable midsection of human society.  The prosperity we enjoy shapes both the questions we ask and the answers we embrace.  And we - both the women who are asking and the Christian leaders who are defining the answers - are clueless that this is happening.  We can ask questions like, "Do I plan to use my college degree or set it aside?" and "Should I be a stay-at-home mom, or work outside the home?"  But for the rest of the world, these questions are unimaginable luxuries.  For them, education is a lifeline that promises a better life for a woman and her children and will doubtless benefit her community.

Working outside the home is not an option where grinding povery exists and there are hungry mouths to feed.  Everybody works.  Our cloistered discussions about God's purposes for women and the resulting infighting that ensues among us leave women elsewhere in the world scratching thier heads.
No matter what side you may find yourself on today, you can find insight and truth in James exploration.  You may find that God moves your heart in ways aligned with the beating of His own, and that, indeed, makes the investment much more than worthwhile.

I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


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