BA Books & Authors on the Web – April 15, 2016

Cover ArtScott Sunquist was interviewed on the Bible Gateway Blog about his book The Unexpected Christian Century.

“In 1900 religionists—people following and studying religions—assumed Islam would become the religion of Africa. They were wrong. They thought Christianity would remain strong in the West. They were wrong. They assumed Christianity would continue to look Mainline, Catholic, and Orthodox. They were wrong: Pentecostalism was not even a concept at the time.

Historians were wrong because they and politicians were progressive; they thought everything would get better and better. The Russian Revolution, Armenian genocide, and the Great War put all those ideas to bed.”

Robert Sherman’s Covenant, Community, and the Spirit was reviewed at The Gospel Coalition.

Norman Wirzba’s From Nature to Creation was featured as part of an essay in Duke Magazine.

Scot McKnight, at Jesus Creed, continued his series on Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian by Michelle Lee-Barnewall.

The Limitations of Debate – an Excerpt from Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian

The following is an excerpt from Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian, by Michelle Lee-Barnewall.

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In her book The Argument Culture, linguist Deborah Tannen asserts that our culture is permeated by a “pervasive warlike atmosphere that makes us approach public dialogue, and just about anything we need to accomplish, as if it were a fight.” While she acknowledges that such an approach is useful in the right context, it has become overemphasized to the point where it often gets in the way of solving problems rather than aiding. The assumption is that opposition is the most desirable option (ibid., 3–4), and Tannen suggests that other means, such as “exploring, expanding, discussing, investigating, and the exchanging of ideas,” may yield more fruitful results in some endeavors (8).

The answer may not be the exclusive domain of one side but rather may lie elsewhere. If this is the case, we cannot discover the entire truth in a debate in which the only option is to choose from two positions. Tannen explains, “Opposition does not lead to the whole truth when we ask only ‘What’s wrong with this?’ and never ‘What can we use from this in building a new theory, a new understanding?’” (19). Limiting ourselves to an either/or choice does not leave enough room for improving either side or exploring a different understanding.

Cover ArtAs Tannen further observes, “When the problem is posed in a way that polarizes, the solution is often obscured before the search is under way” (21). Our methodology should make room for a different kind of answer, but a “culture of critique” does not allow for another position. Although criticism certainly has its place, so do other methods such as integrating ideas from different fields (19).

Some evangelical scholars have expressed similar concerns about the gender debate. Timothy George calls for the pursuit of truth in a context that recognizes individual fallibility and the potential contribution from those of the opposing position. He also states his concerns for the effect of the conflict on relationships among the members of Christ. In searching for a “way beyond the polarization,” George discusses three questions for those involved

1. “What do I owe to the person who differs from me?” While we are not obligated to agree with that person, we do owe him or her love. As a result, we are to be good listeners, seeking to understand the person’s aims and asking whether there is anything valid in his or her position.

2. “What can I learn from those who differ from me?” In recognition of his or her own fallibility, each interpreter should be prepared to learn that he or she is wrong and the other person is right. Seeking after truth is more important than winning discussions or protecting reputations.

3. “How can I cope with those who differ from me?” We must remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Consequently, our goal is not to demolish our opponent but rather “to win him or her over to a new and, we trust, better understanding.”

He calls for both sides to recognize their mutual commitment to historic Christian orthodoxy and to allow this greater context to be the basis for a unity under which differences can be discussed. With this underlying unity, perhaps there can then be “honest confrontation of ideas and truth claims as well as a conciliatory spirit that is open to convergence and reconciliation.”

As Tannen and George have noted, there are significant limitations in assuming that the truth of an issue is to be found in one of two sides. As a result, the contours of the debate may be in need of reexamination and adjustment. A more fruitful approach at this point may be to expand or redesign the shape of the gender discussion rather than simply reinforcing the two current positions. In searching for the most accurate way to understand the biblical text, we must be open to exploring another way of viewing the issue itself.

©2016 by Michelle Lee-Barnewall. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian, click here.

New Release: Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian

Cover ArtRegarding gender relations, the evangelical world is divided between complementarians and egalitarians. While both perspectives have much to contribute, the discussion has reached a stalemate.

Michelle Lee-Barnewall critiques both sides of the debate, challenging the standard premises and arguments and offering new insight into a perennially divisive issue in the church. She brings fresh biblical exegesis to bear on our cultural situation, presenting an alternative way to move the discussion forward based on a corporate perspective and on kingdom values.

The book includes a foreword by Craig L. Blomberg and an afterword by Lynn H. Cohick.

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“Imagine using core biblical themes like corporateness, servant leadership, mutuality, and unity to discuss issues of the relationship of men and women to one another in the church. Imagine focusing not on power or rights but on the example of Christ. If you imagine reframing the gender discussion in helpful ways, then you will be interested in Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian…. Read this book no matter which side of the debate you are on––and think afresh.”—Darrell L. Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary

“The church’s debate over gender and leadership has become an intractable problem because we have adopted the model of the world, where leadership is about equality, rights, privilege, power, and position. Michelle Lee-Barnewall calls for a radical paradigm shift that adopts the upside-down values of the kingdom of God, where humility, love, service, unity, and responsibility replace power, privilege, and position as the guiding principles for true servant leadership. If put into practice, this book would transform not only the gender debate but also the prevailing model for all Christian leadership.”—Mark L. Strauss, Bethel Seminary San Diego

“This well-written book offers a gentle word of correction to sincere Christ followers who are honestly trying to search for biblical truth. It’s a perspective-giving message that describes in biblical terms the only way to establish church unity, and it issues a quiet, radical call for pastors and church elders to imitate Christ and the apostles and recall the real cost of discipleship. I highly recommend it as a required textbook for seminary leadership courses.”—Sarah Sumner, author of Men and Women in the Church

“In a debate often polarized by shrill rhetoric, Lee-Barnewall rightly urges us instead to take each passage and argument on its own terms and to put kingdom principles first. Regardless of whether one agrees with every detail of Lee-Barnewall’s reconstruction, her spirit and larger vision offer a constructive way forward, including a willingness to hear and learn from those with whom we may not agree on every point.”—Craig S. Keener, Asbury Theological Seminary

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Michelle Lee-BarnewallMichelle Lee-Barnewall (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. She is the author of Paul, the Stoics, and the Body of Christ.

For more information on Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian, click here.