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Posted November 11, 1999
Although Gilbert Bilezikian is one of Wheaton College¿s respected teachers and a respected leader of the Willow Creek Community Church, this reviewer was very disappointed with Beyond Sex Roles. The author¿s disregard for the economy of expression idea greatly displeased this reviewer. The argument that the author developed in two hundred and fourteen pages should have only taken less than one hundred. The thesis of Beyond Sex Roles is located half way through the book, ¿Jesus taught His followers in word and deed to consider the gender difference irrelevant to the concerns and to the processes of the kingdom of God.¿ (118) Bilezikian based his argument primarily on Galatians 3:28. The author developed the thesis through the creation design of equality, the fall, the consequences of the fall, the special concern of restoring women to creation design levels, and the role of women in the catholic church, referred to as the new community. One obvious flaw in the format of the book is Bilezikian¿s lack of preview statements. Often, the reader is confused as to the purpose of each section. This is due in large part to the author¿s rambling and redundant statements. For example, when the author dealt with the I Corinthians 14:31-40 passage (144-153), he immediately stated that the passage excluded women from speaking in the church. This interpretation is exactly opposite of the intended thesis of the book. It was not until six pages later that Bilezikian developed his argument against the traditional interpretation of this passage. The lack of a preview statement causes the careful reader to question the internal consistency of the book. The author stated in his preface that he would respond to James B. Hurley¿s Men and Women in Biblical Perspective. Justification for this response is the statement that other views ¿need to be considered¿ (12). For the sake of convenience and brevity, he responded to one book. His aim was ¿for the nonspecialized reader to be able to follow with the discussion step by step, to evaluate arguments, to consider alternative views, and to arrive at independent conclusions¿ (12). First, note the plurality of ¿alternative views,¿ which does not agree with his statement of only using one book of the other persuasion. Second, Bilezikian responded to the Hurley text through notes placed some forty pages after the conclusion of the book. Had the author any knowledge of nonspecialized readers he would have known that they usually do not read the notes. If the author had wanted the nonspecialized reader to consider the alternative views, evaluate and follow the arguments and then arrive at their own conclusion, he would have placed the notes within the text in order to facilitate this goal. The only conclusion this reviewer can draw from the author¿s placing of notes at the end is that he was afraid the nonspecialized person would accept the view of Hurley and disregard the Bilezikian¿s argument. The reviewer of this book agrees with the thesis of Bilezikian¿s book but believes that the book is a shoddy representation of the scholarly work accomplished by individuals who believe in the inherent equality of the sexes. Only people with a special interest in women¿s roles in Christianity need purchase this poorly edited book. A more fitting book is Gender and Grace (InterVarsity Press, 1990) by Mary Stewart VanLeeuwen. The only saving feature of this book, except the thesis, is the extensive bibliography at the close of the book. (307-331) The format of the book represents lack of critical thinking on behalf of the author and publisher.
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Posted October 16, 2003
This book changed my view on a woman's role in the church and family when I first read it my sophomore year in college (I am a man who at one time considered women unfit for full ordained ministry). I am now a seminary student pursuing ordained ministry, and have recommended this book to all my peers who have expressed interest in the topic. No, it is not the most well-edited or organized book on the subject, but it is a terrific introduction to the hardest issues and scriptures used to keep women from church leadership and equality in general. A truly concerned reader will have no problem finding or studying the endnotes, and the book's Creation-Fall-Redemption format is easily followed, despite a previous reviewer's opinion. As I stated earlier, there are more thorough treatments of the topic elsewhere, but if you are looking for an ample introduction to either reinforce your understanding of women's roles in church and family, or wish to challenge your own views with soundly reasoned and biblical arguments, this is the book for you.
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Posted November 14, 2008
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