I often hear from men and women who are struggling with their traditional teachings on women in the Church, callings, vocation, and particularly the complementarian view of marriage. I don’t engage in debates online anymore because, well, they are exhausting and usually unhelpful plus it’s pretty time-consuming. But many people are genuinely searching because their marriage or their experience or their reading of Scripture does not line up with the narrow and tiny box they’ve been offered in their tradition, particularly when it comes to these issues. So they are searching.
Often our heart (or I would even argue, the Holy Spirit) leads us with our questions and our struggles, and then, as the proverb says, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. My teachers are often hidden in the pages of books.
I did a tremendous amount of research for Jesus Feminist – which means I read a rainforest’s worth of books. Some of the books were good, some of them were not. Some of them were supporting my position, some of them thought my position made me a heretic and disqualified me from “true” womanhood and delivered me to the flames of eternal conscious punishment. I read feminist books from people who hate Christians, and I read books from Christians who hate feminists. And I read a lot of blogs and websites and I underlined and dog-eared pages and scribbled notes until my kitchen table resembled something out of that movie A Beautiful Mind.
Every word of Jesus Feminist has purposeful thought and intention behind it but, as is my habit here, I often work through theology with story or prose, as an invitation and conversation, instead of in a traditional scholarly fashion. (There are other works which inform my underlying theology ranging from N.T. Wright to Walter Brueggemann, Jurgen Moltmann to Eugene Peterson to Stanley Haurwas, and probably a bit too much Barth for some of you, but I didn’t include those works as they are more foundational to me, and less focussed specifically on this issue.) I also have not included online websites and resources here but hope to gather those up for you soon, as well.
So here are my top books for becoming a Jesus Feminist. These books are a mix of story-telling, journalism, theology, and academics. (P.S. They are in alphabetical order because a ranking was impossible for me.)
A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle by Sara Gaston Barton (Leafwood Publishers: 2012.)
A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson: 2012.)
Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender: Why Both Sides Are Wrong – and Right by John G. Stackhouse Jr. (Baker Academic: 2005.)
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James (Zondervan: 2010.)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Vintage: 2010.)
How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals edited by Alan F. Johnson (featuring essays from Stuart and Jill Briscoe, John Ortberg, Tony Campolo, Bill and Lynne Hybels, and many others) (Zondervan: 2010.)
The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight. (Zondervan: 2008.)
Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight (Patheos Press: 2012.)
Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (Gospel & Our Culture) by Darrell L. Guder, Editor. (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: 1998.)
Theology for the Community of God by Stanley J. Grenz (Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2000.)
Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (American Society of Missiology) by David Jacobus Bosch (Orbis Books: 2011.)
Why Not Women : A Biblical Study of Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton with Janice Rogers (YWAM Publishing: 2000.)
Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Dr. Stanley J. Grenz with Denise Muir Kjesbo (IVP Academic: 1995.)
Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William J. Webb (Intervarsity Press: 2001.)
Lastly, my heart and thinking is always rooted in Scripture, and so, of course, the Bible.
And in a bit more book news, I should have the final official cover ready to announce soon! I’m excited to share it with you. (The one online is just a place-holder draft.) November feels really far away because I can’t wait to give this book to you. It feels very precious and sacred to me right now. You can find info about preordering – and my first “official” endorsement! – here.
P.S. My full reading lists are here.
image source, Creative Commons