So…I guess today is international men’s day. As I considered today how best to commemorate this, I felt that the best way to go about it would be to use this day to recognize that my voice is not necessarily the most important one in the world.
I strongly believe the things I say are important. But, as I consider the state of the Church in the United States, I remember something a male commenter once asked me:
“I’d be curious as to what books I could read to help develop my egalitarian thought further?”
At that time, I challenged the commenter to invest himself in learning to read the Bible through a woman’s eyes by engaging the works of strong Christian women and feminist scholars. Thus, as I consider the state of the Church in the U.S. it seems dominant male voices have had their day.
For this reason, I think it of the highest import that I take the time to point out the way forward for the Church is not the voices of powerful men; it is the powerful humility of men willing to listen and lend their platform to strong and inspiring female voices.
While it is impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all the important female voices within Christianity, I want to provide a representative sampling of important female voices. Below, the reader will find a reading list divided by Bloggers, Authors, and Scholars/Scholarly Works.
Jory’s singular mission is to “break the glass steeple” in the Church. I often find Jory’s work to be challenging and inspiring. She takes a gracious tone, yet thoroughly demonstrated the dangers, pitfalls, and abuses inherent to any theology which attempts to limit the roles of women in the Church.
Sarah is a self-proclaimed Jesus Feminist, author, and advocate for women in the Church. She is also a gifted author empowering women to recognize and utilize the gifts and callings God has place on their lives.
Parsons and Martin co-edit the Wartburg Watch. Wartburg is a blog dedicated to exposing the various abuses taking place within the Church from a Christian perspective. It’s mission is to make information that might all pertinent information available to their readers to empower them to make informed decisions. They have written some particularly scathing commentary on CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.
RHE has long been championing the cause of women in the Church. She has a way of cutting to the heart of the issue. She also isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions about Scripture, Church, and Tradition that will challenge you to rethink some of your positions.
Natalie Greenfield is a survivor of sex abuse and assault. She attended Doug Wilson’s church and talks extensively about the the spiritual abuse that occurs there. She also writes on the relationship between complementarian teaching and sex abuse in the church from an insider’s perspective, having lives it herself. She has a strong voice, a heart-breaking story, and we all need to be listening.
Julie Anne is a woman who has seen the abuses of complementarianism and the Christian homeschooling movement first hand. Julie was once sued by her former pastor/church for exposing their spiritually abusive practices on her blog. Now she works to make sure that church abuse is exposed and talked about wherever it occurs.
Sarah Bessey: Jesus Feminist
Bessey explores her own journey towards becoming a Jesus Feminist. She engages a number of important passages and challenges all believers to realize the importance of recognizing the full giftedness and calling of women within the Church. She has also written My Practices of Mothering and Out of Sorts
Diana Butler Bass: Grounded
Butler Bass examines the changing landscape of American religion and the way people practice their faith. As she tells it, people are moving away from the distant God of traditional religion and towards an intimate and tangible experience of the divine in the world we live. Her goal is to lay out what this means for Christianity and why it is a good thing. She is the author of several books, including Christianity After Religion, A People’s History of Christianity, and Christianity for the Rest of Us.
Carolyn Custis James: Malestrom
With this book, Custis James firmly hammers another nail in the coffin of the christian patriarchy subculture. This is a challenging and insightful read that should be on the bookshelf of every Christian. She has also written Understanding Purpose, The Gospel of Ruth, Lost Women of the Bible, When Life and Beliefs Collide, and Half the Church.
Rachel Held Evans: A Year of Biblical Womanhood
Here, RHE takes a hard look at what it means to be a “biblical woman” by living out the commands of Scripture as literally as possible. The result is a scathing critique of biblical literalism and “Biblical Womanhood” that often delves into humor and absurdity in the best of ways. She has also written Evolving in Monkeytown, Faith Unraveled, and Searching for Sunday.
Shirley is a self-described “street evangelist for women’s equality”. She is deeply passionate about exposing the falsehoods of complementarianism and has compiled her arguments in this book. Particularly interesting is her parsing of the Danver’s Statement and commitment to offering an easy and accessible text dismantling complementarian readings of Scripture. Shirley has also written Outside the Pastor’s Door and Women Equal – No Buts.
Carol Meyers: Exodus
I found this book incredibly insightful. Not only does it pack of wealth of information necessary to critical engagement of Exodus into a mere 336 pages. Unique to this volume is Meyers’ feminist treatment of characters like Miriam and Zipporah. She also has an excellent treatment of the roles played by ancient Israelite women in the home and worship. I found a feminist perspective on Exodus refreshing and challenging. Meyers has written a number of scholarly works, including Rediscovering Eve and Households and Holiness. She has also co-written a commentary on Haggai & Zechariah 1-8 and co-edited the compendium Women in Scripture.
This is a single volume commentary on the entire Scriptures, including the Apocrypha, by prominent female scholars. In addition to book commentary, it also offers several articles on prominent female characters like Eve, Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Mary and many more. The great thing about this volume is the wealth of feminist scholarly criticism all in one place. If you don’t mind buying an older edition, the 1992 print is available used from $.01 on Amazon.
Elaine Wainwright: Shall We Look For Another
I have found this small monograph invaluable. While a bit dense, it offers an eye-opening look at the ways in which the Christian faith is steeped in masculine language. Wainwright focuses on feminine metaphors and images of God and how Jesus interacts with women in the Gospel of Matthew. She uses these things to suggest a hermeneutic for reading the Gospels through a feminist lens. With used copies selling for as little as $ .07 on Amazon, this oft overlooked work is an inexpensive yet profound introduction to feminist bible scholarship. Wainwright has also written The Gospel of Matthew and co-written The Bible in/and Popular Culture.
Phyllis Trible: God and Rhetoric of Sexuality
Trible is a premier feminist biblical scholar. While I could say a lot about her work, I think Walter Bruegemann says it best when he describes this book as “a definitive starting point in Old Testament Study for the ways in which public speech (and thus the text) generate alternative worlds” (Preface to the revised edition of Prophetic Imagination). She has written a number of books, including Texts of Terror; Hagar, Sarah and their Children; and Rhetorical Criticism. She also co-edited Faith and Feminism.
What resources have you found helpful/insightful. What female authors would you recommend for me to read?
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