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Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society

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Theologically conservative Christians want to embrace a biblical understanding of women and men, but the beliefs of Greeks, Romans, and Victorians have had undue influence on contemporary teaching. Although modern discussions have focused on authority and submission, Rachel Green Miller believes that there is more to the biblical picture of women and men. As she examines a Theologically conservative Christians want to embrace a biblical understanding of women and men, but the beliefs of Greeks, Romans, and Victorians have had undue influence on contemporary teaching. Although modern discussions have focused on authority and submission, Rachel Green Miller believes that there is more to the biblical picture of women and men. As she examines and corrects conservative teaching on gender, she draws out equally important themes in Scripture that will strengthen our relationship as co-laborers in the kingdom of God.


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Theologically conservative Christians want to embrace a biblical understanding of women and men, but the beliefs of Greeks, Romans, and Victorians have had undue influence on contemporary teaching. Although modern discussions have focused on authority and submission, Rachel Green Miller believes that there is more to the biblical picture of women and men. As she examines a Theologically conservative Christians want to embrace a biblical understanding of women and men, but the beliefs of Greeks, Romans, and Victorians have had undue influence on contemporary teaching. Although modern discussions have focused on authority and submission, Rachel Green Miller believes that there is more to the biblical picture of women and men. As she examines and corrects conservative teaching on gender, she draws out equally important themes in Scripture that will strengthen our relationship as co-laborers in the kingdom of God.

30 review for Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    First, I am not a theologian and I hope to hand this book off to people I respect who are theologians. I also get the crtiticisms that the book makes assumptions about culture based on random quotes from the past. On the other hand, as a very conservative Reformed Christian, I have observed first-hand the devastation to men and women by too much emphasis on authority and submission. I still strongly believe in both, but I also believe that a misunderstanding of the idea of submission hurts men j First, I am not a theologian and I hope to hand this book off to people I respect who are theologians. I also get the crtiticisms that the book makes assumptions about culture based on random quotes from the past. On the other hand, as a very conservative Reformed Christian, I have observed first-hand the devastation to men and women by too much emphasis on authority and submission. I still strongly believe in both, but I also believe that a misunderstanding of the idea of submission hurts men just as much as women. Men do not become their best selves under hyper-submission by their wives. A true helper is not just a yes-man and I know that I was taught from a child on that it was my duty to always say, "yes" to my husband and he will admit that it hurt him in the long run. When I learned a more balanced view of submission, we both grew as people and our marriage improved. Because of that I am willing to take Rachel's book as a beginning, and much needed one, of a long conversation the church needs to have. I thought she did a great job of not throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    Lengthy reviews that articulate many of my concerns about this book have been published already by men well worth reading (i.e., reviews by Steven Wedgeworth and Jonathan Master). So, I will attempt to be brief, and highlight just four items for the potential (or confused) reader to consider. 1 - This book is intensely personal, and thus difficult to critique in the manner which I want to critique it. As you can tell from my Star-rating of the book, I think that this book is very poor. However, I Lengthy reviews that articulate many of my concerns about this book have been published already by men well worth reading (i.e., reviews by Steven Wedgeworth and Jonathan Master). So, I will attempt to be brief, and highlight just four items for the potential (or confused) reader to consider. 1 - This book is intensely personal, and thus difficult to critique in the manner which I want to critique it. As you can tell from my Star-rating of the book, I think that this book is very poor. However, I empathize with the author's testimony about "not fitting in" with the dominant culture. The deeply and even intimately personal element of the author's project comes out most clearly in two places. The first is on pages 123-24, where the author writes about her struggle with self-image, not lining up with feminine stereotypes, and wanting to date boys who expressed no interest. The resolution to her personal crisis in all this - a conflict the sense of which is palpable in her writing - comes with the arrival of the man who would be her husband. She writes, "After my husband and I started dating, I regained my confidence as I saw myself through his eyes. He thought that I was beautiful and feminine. Eventually it dawned on me that maybe there wasn't something wrong with me" (124). The sentiment behind these words is beautiful as the author launches into a chapter devoted to the biblical view of womanhood, though the immediately following sentences pivot to attack something that needs not be trashed. "Maybe the definitions I'd read of what it means to be "appropriately feminine" were too narrow. Maybe there was something missing from those books about dating and how to be a good Christian woman" (124). This kind of reactionary negativity is characteristic of the book, and does much to counteract the reader's sympathy for and investment in the author's project. The second place where the author's project is most clearly tied into her own personal experience is found in a footnote (n20) on page 201, where she writes "I've heard this personally" in reference to the statement "I appreciate the work you're doing. But you shouldn't be doing this, because you're a woman." This second instance does nothing to elicit any sympathy from the reader, as it is framed as a critique of those who are in substantial agreement with the author - nobody esteems a potshot aimed at friends. 2 - The section which gives the book its title is probably the discreet passage entitled "The Fundamental Difference: Authority and Submission" on pages 112-114 nestled in chapter 7, which is subtitled "Prevalent Teaching on the Nature of Women and Men." In this brief section, the author focuses on Susan Foh to argue, "Of all the differences between men and women, the one that conservative Christians focus the most on is the difference of authority and submission. Many conservative Christians believe that when God created Adam and Eve, He instituted an unbreakable structure of authority and submission between men and women" (112). As she has done many times elsewhere in the book, the author commits the straw man fallacy: "but according to this view, all women were created to submit to male leadership in all aspects of life" (112). Whatever "this view" may be, the author fails to demonstrate convincingly that the conservative Christians she relentlessly critiques in this book actually believe in this extreme (and even farcical) form of male-female hierarchy. For more information on the author's faulty argumentation - and particularly her misuse of sources - see Steven Wedgeworth's thorough review. 3 - The writing style and level of scholarship of the book is insufferably poor. The book reads like a series of disjointed blog posts. As a result, there is much unnecessary redundancy and many short paragraphs consisting of one or two original sentences and a quotation that may or may not be relevant to the point of the original sentence(s). The author's train of thought was not clear, as the purpose of inclusion for many of the quotations was not clear. It was difficult to tell at many points whether a quotation was meant to illustrate something with which the author was concerned, was included to rebut a bad idea which had gained currency in Christian circles, or was introduced to bolster her argument in favor of something by way of positive affirmation. The low quality of sources and feckless use of material from the author's ideological opponents was embarrassingly bad at points. With rare exception, the author presents "certain/many conservative Christians" and their churches as monolithic in their views on these matters as well as uniquely dangerous to individuals (and especially women), families, congregations, and society. 4 - Polemics - or, the art or practice of engaging in controversial debate or dispute - is crucially important and immeasurably valuable when done well. However, when executed sloppily, inaccurately, or faithlessly, polemics as an art/practice is disastrous to all parties involved. This book is a prime example of bad polemics. As such, it fails to represent ideological opponents with either charity or accuracy, it does nothing to advance the author's main argument (which is neither compelling nor clear, anyways), and it threatens to deceive unsuspecting readers who might otherwise be impressed by the volume of citations (many of which are asinine) or air of confidence and authority in the writing. It is extremely rare that I get through an entire book only to give it a one-star rating (much less a review of any length). However, because I found this book to be so abhorrent to good argument, good taste, and the cause of Christ in promoting biblical piety in the church, I completed a close reading in order to give an informed appraisal of the volume. I hope that this review is helpful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Manchester

    Pretty sure this book is landing in my five favorite books of 2019. It is the best book I have read, either by scholar or layperson, on the issue of complementarianism, gender, and gender roles. SUMMARY Miller takes a hard and in-depth look on the church's and culture's stance on men and women, masculinity and femininity, and what issues that has caused. She argues against putting up walls and hedges regarding roles and jobs arguing while it may seem easier and safer, it's not biblical or good Pretty sure this book is landing in my five favorite books of 2019. It is the best book I have read, either by scholar or layperson, on the issue of complementarianism, gender, and gender roles. SUMMARY Miller takes a hard and in-depth look on the church's and culture's stance on men and women, masculinity and femininity, and what issues that has caused. She argues against putting up walls and hedges regarding roles and jobs arguing while it may seem easier and safer, it's not biblical or good. Most importantly, the author takes aim at the words "authority" and "submission" which has come to consume most complementarian discussions. From the beginning Miller reminds us that she is not an egalitarian arguing for these things. She states in her introduction: I believe that: • God made humans, male and female, in His own image (see Gen. 1:26-27) • in Christ, men and women are equal before God (see Gal. 3:28) • women and men are interdependent and should serve each other (see 1 Cor. 11:11-12) • marriage was designed to be between one man and one woman-ideally for life (see Gen. 2:24) • husbands are called to sacrificial, servant leadership of their wives and to love them as Christ loves the church (see Eph. 5:25-33) • wives are called to yield voluntarily to their husbands-to sub­mit to them as the church submits to Christ (see Eph. 5:22-24) • only qualified men should be ordained leaders in the church (see 1 Tim. 3:1-13) Yet Miller states that she doesn't call herself a complementarian, since all that is listed above are not "all that complementarians are expected to believe" (16). I found myself agreeing with her a lot and also convicted in how I've thought of females. The book also nails the middle-way complementarian position (I don't know what else to call it). It's the first book that I can say "this is what I believe about men and women's roles in the church." THE GOOD I loved this book so much. The structure and footnotes were particularly exceptional. When describing/discussion a wrong view, Miller will quote generously from a multitude of authors and sources. I was shocked at some of the people the quotes came from and from the incredibly popular Reformed (newer) books they come from. This book highlights one of the benefits of footnotes vs endnotes. The one-two punch of reading the quote and then seeing who said it at the bottom is quite a combination in this book. This book challenges assumptions. Instead of focusing on solving unique questions ("what does a woman do in [situation]?", etc), she challenges our beliefs about men and women in general. Every chapter is great. The chapter on companionship in marriage was a particular favorite of mine. This book is also wondrously common. It written from a laywoman to laypeople. You don't have to go to seminary to understand these issues, her positions, or this book. It's extremely current, easy to understand, and very practical. My favorite section/page came in her chapter called "The Nature of Women and Men" where after quoting Gary Welton stating "The notion of what it means to be female, or what it means to be male, is extremely broad. . . . In fact, there should be no singular conception of what it means to be masculine or feminine.", she states: If God made you a woman, you are feminine. Not because you’re a wife or a mother. Not because you wear your hair long and curly and love flowers and pretty clothes. Not because you fit the complementarian mold-quiet, gentle, soft, responsive, and submissive. You are not less feminine if you love math, science, history, and theology. Even if you are the CEO of a company and are responsible for men and women employees. Even if you asked your husband out first. Even if you make more money than he does. Even if you handle the finances. Even if you’re a police officer. Even if you lift weights and build muscles. You are feminine because that is what God made you, and nothing can change that. The same is true for men. If God made you a man, you are masculine. Not because you love football and cars and getting dirty outside. Not because you fit the complementarian mold-a leader, initiator, provider, and protector who is strong and has theological discernment. You aren’t less masculine if you love art and music. Even if you work as nurse or even stay at home with your children. Even if your wife is taller or physically stronger than you are. Even if you drive a minivan. You are masculine, and always will be, because God made you a man. Amen! THE CHALLENGES I don't think I had any real issues with the book, which is nice for a change. For those who don't like quotes or footnotes, you might not like this book. There are a lot of them, to the point that some might find it distracting. But as I said above, it's worth it. I also wish the book had a better cover. I thought I'd be reading a dry dissertation instead of the vibrant book that was inside. CONCLUSION I read this book for me. I want to be a better husband and father. I want to help raise my children, teaching them what God says about how to made and designed men and women. I also want to treat my co-workers better. I want to better help and encourage the women at my church. The book was invaluable to me for that and it made real-time changes in my relationships as I was reading it. It's that good, bold, and convicting. This book oozes and bleeds passion. This has become my go-to book to recommend for people discussing complementarianism and/or gender roles. When I reviewed Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, I mentioned that "this book really showcases what the church is missing by not listening to women." I want to give the same comment/recommendation for this book. We are missing out on so much by not reading books like this and listening to women on this/any issue. Like my review for 7 Myths about Singleness, I think every pastor and elder should be required to read this book as well. Side-note to my Reformed followers: How many books do we have to read before we realize that there are certain beliefs and connections in our reformed theology that allow for abusers to stay hidden and thrive? Five stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joe Spurgeon

    Rachel Miller's main proposition in her book "Beyond Authority and Submission" is that the church has adopted pagan views of sexuality to enforce patriarchy causing women to be relegated to the sphere of the home. Mrs. Miller's historical work is shoddy at best. It reaches back to misquote and paraphrase pagan authors without recognizing the theological concept of natural law. She quotes pagan authors on women being the weaker sex, staying at home, and having children. She thinks by simply quoti Rachel Miller's main proposition in her book "Beyond Authority and Submission" is that the church has adopted pagan views of sexuality to enforce patriarchy causing women to be relegated to the sphere of the home. Mrs. Miller's historical work is shoddy at best. It reaches back to misquote and paraphrase pagan authors without recognizing the theological concept of natural law. She quotes pagan authors on women being the weaker sex, staying at home, and having children. She thinks by simply quoting pagans or summarizing their statements, she has done the work of showing that their ideas are necessarily pagan. It is not enough however to simply show that pagan authors said certain things, you need to show that what they have said originates from their paganism and that paganism is necessary to their ideas. Anyone with a familiarity at all with the scriptures and church history will know that these quotes by pagans are not unique to paganism. St. Augustine said the concept of patriarchy goes back to the garden and to the patriarchs. In his book the City of God, he said, “And this is so much in accordance with the natural order, that the head of the household was called paterfamilias; and this name has been so generally accepted, that even those whose rule is unrighteous are glad to apply it to themselves.” He makes the point that the Roman title of Paterfamilias borrows from the natural order and it is so evident that even the wicked attempt to adopt this view. God has revealed in nature a created order which is evident to all. Therefore, pagans who reject God reveal that they know God and have the law written on their consciences. The Book of Romans lays this out clearly in its first few chapters. Rather than paganism being the foundation from which patriarchy flows and the church borrowing from the pagans, it is the opposite. God the Father gives his name to fatherhood and the pagans have borrowed from God’s creation. Can Pagans twist those truths? Certainly. And they most certainly do. Yet this does not undermine the truth. John Knox in his work the Monstrous Regiment of Women quoted at length several pagan authors to show that even the pagans recognize for example that women were not created to exercise authority over men in the civil realm. He then moves from these pagan authors to show that what they have said finds its source and correct view in the special revelation of God, the Bible. Mrs. Miller then jumps over 1800 years of church history to the Victorian age. She provides a chapter trying to tie Victorian views on men and women back to the Greek and roman philosophers. It is quite a leap. She says that this was the result of the Renaissance stirring up a desire to read the philosophers again. She provides several quotes which I suppose are supposed to shock the reader. For example, she writes “The Victorians found support for their belief that women belonged in the home in Paul’s encouragement that young women be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5 KJV). William Alcott, an influential Victorian author and a cousin of Louisa May Alcott, explained that a woman “cannot discharge the duties of a wife, much less those of a mother, unless she prefers home to all other places, and is only led abroad from a sense of duty, and not from choice.” Mrs. Alcott’s quote would find itself at home in any commentary or sermon on Titus 2 from any period of the church before the 1800s. Calvin, Luther, Matthew Henry, William Gouge, John Chrysostom, Augustine, and plenty of others from all ages of the church have said these things and more. The truth is that Mrs. Miller is starting with a feminist presupposition and anything that does not fit it, she is calling pagan. As an aside, it is interesting to note that almost of the quotes she provides from the Victorian age she got from a secondary source written by a feminist author. Mrs. Miller is quick to critique a supposedly unique “Victorian Patriarchy”, while she calls us to embrace Victorian feminism. When she criticizes the church for supposedly imbibing from pagan influence, she does so while quoting favorably and naming chapters after feminists like Elizabeth Clarke Wolstenholme, a proponent of the free love movement of the 1800s. When Wolstenhome got pregnant by a man she was living with, her colleagues demanded that she marry. She fought against it and said it went against everything she believed in. She did finally get married but only at the behest of others. Both her and her free love husband were committed secularists. Mrs Miller fawns over first wave feminism even to the point of having to remind readers that Margaret Sanger didn’t initially support abortion. Could it be that in Mrs. Miller's accusations against 2000 years of church history on sexuality, that she is the one imbibing from sources and worldviews foreign to scripture? Lastly, Mrs. Miller is quite dishonest in her approach to scripture and confessions. For example, she writes "But those of us who know our catechism can answer that our “chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Do you notice what is missing from her quote of the catechism? The word "Man's" has been chopped off her quote. Now this may seem like a nitpick type of criticism but in truth she does this all throughout the book. Anytime a quote from a confession or scripture uses the masculine inclusive she removes it from the quote. Why? Because the masculine inclusive teaches us something about sexuality. It teaches that male headship goes beyond merely who can preach a sermon in the official worship service on Sunday Morning. Not only does she work to remove the masculine inclusive from the text, she inverts the phrase "men and women" throughout the book to be "women and men." These are little things, but they are very telling. Another example of her dishonest approach is to simply make statements about scripture that are untrue. She writes “In addition, the church cared for Christian widows and did not require them to remarry. " But Holy Scripture says “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.” The discerning reader can find these types of things throughout the book. Her chapter on authority was a case study in sacrificing the normal on the alter of the abnormal. She is ashamed of the call from 1 Peter for a wife to submit even to an unbelieving husband who disobeys the gospel. She constantly is talking about the exceptions rather than the clear truths. She neuters the authority of the husband under the banner of servant leadership. One is left wondering if Mrs. Miller makes lists for her husband so that when he gets home he will know all the ways he can servant lead around the house. In all charity, Mrs. Miller sets out to answer a question that I actually am sympathetic to. She wants to answer the question “what are women called to do?” It is important in the feminist age we live in to provide a full-orbed biblical and positive view of femininity. Unfortunately, Mrs. Miller by shoddy historical and theological work trades the truthful, historical, biblical, and godly answer to the question for a lie. Rather than setting forth and embracing a positive view of women as life-givers and keepers of the home, she makes femininity into a cheap imitation of masculinity. It becomes a game of everything you can do, I can do better. Women are taught to that to be good women they must be good men. They are taught to ignore their calling at home for a calling elsewhere. It is not enough for her to love her husband, love her children, be a discreet and chaste keeper at home who submits to her husband. No, there must always be something more. It is the same lie that the snake told in the garden. God’s commands for women are not good enough. He is withholding from them. They must reach out and take a hold for themselves. As an ordained pastor and in the spirit of Titus 1, I exhort all believers to avoid this work and instead submit themselves to the Bible. Instead listen to what one Victorian-era Southern Presbyterian pastor had to say: Her submission is, therefore, a source of honour. She is not humiliated by it, but exalted...In her cordial submission of will, carrying with it the free coalescence of her own individuality with that of another, she becomes the first exponent of the mighty principle by which, through grace, sinful man is restored to fellowship with God. She is allowed to carry this principle down into all the details of life; and by a thousand acts to show how the will may turn upon its own pivot, and move freely under the law of control...It is a wonderful privilege afforded to her who, “being deceived, was in the transgression,” to be called thus openly to assert and illustrate the spontaneous loyalty of a will that perfectly blends with the authority which directs it. Such a mission is immeasurably grander in its proportions, and sweeter in its beneficence, than all the usurped dignities of the unsexed sisterhood who aspire, contrary to nature, to be the competitor and rival of man, rather than his counterpart and helpmeet."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Rachel Miller's book, Beyond Authority and Submission, has really challenged my own views of what it means biblically to be masculine or feminine, gender roles in the home, church, and society, and much, much more. Well researched with both biblical and historical sources. I used to wonder what all the fuss was about with the complementarian view of men and women among some conservatives. There is unwanted baggage with this view. Rachel Miller's book is an eye-opener! Rachel Miller's book, Beyond Authority and Submission, has really challenged my own views of what it means biblically to be masculine or feminine, gender roles in the home, church, and society, and much, much more. Well researched with both biblical and historical sources. I used to wonder what all the fuss was about with the complementarian view of men and women among some conservatives. There is unwanted baggage with this view. Rachel Miller's book is an eye-opener!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    I really appreciated this book! Miller tackles the serious conversations and questions about sexuality and gender happening in society and the church with a devotion to accurately studying the Bible and history. It's much easier to take this writing seriously because of how earnestly and fairly the critiques are leveled - most of them against conservative Christian writers, theologians, pastors, and the like, instead of taking cheap shots at those "across the aisle," so to speak. While I don't a I really appreciated this book! Miller tackles the serious conversations and questions about sexuality and gender happening in society and the church with a devotion to accurately studying the Bible and history. It's much easier to take this writing seriously because of how earnestly and fairly the critiques are leveled - most of them against conservative Christian writers, theologians, pastors, and the like, instead of taking cheap shots at those "across the aisle," so to speak. While I don't agree with the author on every point and suspect most of my more liberal friends would find even more to quibble about, this is nearly a standalone in the genre because it actually looks at various social movements, including feminism, with a fair eye. Miller carefully walks readers through the Greco-Roman cultural standards the Bible was written into, exposes various Victorian cultural mores, and fairly assesses the good and bad to come from the various waves of the feminist movement and sexual revolution. The work carefully considers popular Christian counsel regarding marriage, singleness, sexual purity, divorce, motherhood, vocation, etc., from a refreshingly biblical perspective. I've read many books on this subject and have opted to withhold reviews or recommendations of works that do not accurately or respectfully represent the egalitarian/feminist position. Even a Christian who is quite liberal on topics of gender and sexuality would be able to read this and at least agree with Miller's assessment of their overall views even if they did not agree with hers, and I think that matters deeply. Highly recommend this to anyone reading in a conservative church context. (Note that the author is a member of a congregation in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church which holds to particularly conservative standards with regards to reserving elder/pastoral positions for men, marriage between one man and one woman, etc., so any claims of this book promoting leftist theology on this topic are, frankly, balderdash.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rose Elliott

    Balanced, informative, and well-researched, this book is both needed and helpful. Rachel breaks down each section of her book in manageable chunks. Each part follows a reasonable order (prevalent views -> investigating Scripture -> applying Scripture) that makes it not only a great read but also an excellent reference book. Beyond Authority and Submission is going to the top of my resource list for my own teaching and writing efforts. I am greatly encouraged by Rachel's commitment to honoring Sc Balanced, informative, and well-researched, this book is both needed and helpful. Rachel breaks down each section of her book in manageable chunks. Each part follows a reasonable order (prevalent views -> investigating Scripture -> applying Scripture) that makes it not only a great read but also an excellent reference book. Beyond Authority and Submission is going to the top of my resource list for my own teaching and writing efforts. I am greatly encouraged by Rachel's commitment to honoring Scripture and centering everything she says around Scripture. Rachel has completed a difficult but necessary task. As her blog has been for many years, this book is sure to be a frontrunner for many positive shifts in the conservative Christian worldview.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    So thankful for such an insightful book! Rachel peels back the many cultural, Western layers that have been added onto what the Bible actually teaches about masculinity and femininity and shows how harmful it is when we add manmade rules of our own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Ramey

    I can't begin to imagine why people consider this book "balanced" or "well researched," unless it's sheer wishful thinking. It would not be an exaggeration to say this may well be the most poorly-written book I've ever read, in terms of the quality of argumentation. Contrary to what some people might think, I really WANTED to like this book. I think Miller raised some important questions/issues that need to comprise broader discussion within the Christian community. Unfortunately, I think, if any I can't begin to imagine why people consider this book "balanced" or "well researched," unless it's sheer wishful thinking. It would not be an exaggeration to say this may well be the most poorly-written book I've ever read, in terms of the quality of argumentation. Contrary to what some people might think, I really WANTED to like this book. I think Miller raised some important questions/issues that need to comprise broader discussion within the Christian community. Unfortunately, I think, if anything, she set the discussion back. The historical arguments are scattered and tattered. Cherry-picked quotes from a couple small portions of history, with little to no examination of Christian views during the eras in question, are used as the basis of the argument. The connections made are largely presumed -- and frequently contradictory. (Views in the Victorian era are presented as both inherited from the Greco-Roman era AND as having to be reinstated from the Greco-Roman era. The same is true of the mid 20th century.) Correlation is confused with causation. Many of the "observations" are taken from feminist writers, and others are taken out of context. Even if we choose to simply believe the author's premise, we move on to see a strongly biased presentation of more traditionally orthodox views of men and women in the church today. Not only are *all* complementarians and patriarchy advocates treated as completely homogenous, they're also lumped together with heretics. (Actual heretics. A Mormon book is referenced multiple times as representative of conservative Christian views.) The reader is told that certain positions are "not taken from Scripture," without supporting her claims or engaging with the proponents' arguments that *are* Scripture-based. Quotes are repeatedly taken out of context. Still other citations are misleading grouped with unrelated comments in a manner intend to lead the reader to believe the citations support the unrelated claims. (For example, making claims about views of "spiritual protection," then adding a citation intended to lend credibility to this claim, when the citation leads to an article about *physical* protection.) The book makes use of numerous fallacies, including denying the antecedent, appeal to consequences, appeal to ridicule, composition, ignoring a common cause, confirmation bias, conflation, equivocation, non sequiturs, false dichotomies, and straw men, as well as psychological manipulation techniques like "priming" readers to connect authority with abuses like the Gestapo, and the common feminist tactic of placing women first and avoiding masculine references to humanity. It not only demonstrates a lack of understanding of the views of the "conservative Christian" community at large; it demonstrates a lack of understanding of some of the ideas fundamental to its own premises, like authority, submission, unity, and interdependence. And, by and large, it uses everything *but* Scripture as its lens. What could have been a good opportunity to open up discussion on some important topics in light of Scripture has, instead, served only to slander brothers and sisters, to muddy the waters, and to put a bad taste in people's mouths about those of us raising such questions. So, no...contrary to the assumptions of the Rachel Green Miller fangirls, folks are not giving the book negative reviews because we haven't read it. We're giving it negative reviews because we HAVE.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Darnall

    Beyond Authority and Submission is a thoroughly-researched and engaging book that takes on presupposition after presupposition about men, women and authority, finding that many of the things we take for granted as being "biblical" actually go back to culture and tradition. When we get done peeling off the layers of extra-biblical ideas, what we are left with is a simple, scriptural view of the sexes that affirms the legitimacy of headship and male eldership but frees us to engage with deeper the Beyond Authority and Submission is a thoroughly-researched and engaging book that takes on presupposition after presupposition about men, women and authority, finding that many of the things we take for granted as being "biblical" actually go back to culture and tradition. When we get done peeling off the layers of extra-biblical ideas, what we are left with is a simple, scriptural view of the sexes that affirms the legitimacy of headship and male eldership but frees us to engage with deeper themes such as mutual service and interdependence. Miller's sensible, orthodox book will be of great use to anyone who has ever wondered,"Is THAT really in the Bible?"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Baldwin

    In her new book, Beyond Authority and Submission, Rachel Green Miller evaluates the Complementarian doctrine of men and women through the lenses of both history and Scripture. Her motivation for writing this book comes from the general discussion on human sexuality, gender identity, masculinity and femininity, and what social norms we should advocate as Christians. She lists four broad categories that attempt to address these topics. They are Feminism, Egalitarianism, Complementarianism, and Pat In her new book, Beyond Authority and Submission, Rachel Green Miller evaluates the Complementarian doctrine of men and women through the lenses of both history and Scripture. Her motivation for writing this book comes from the general discussion on human sexuality, gender identity, masculinity and femininity, and what social norms we should advocate as Christians. She lists four broad categories that attempt to address these topics. They are Feminism, Egalitarianism, Complementarianism, and Patriarchy. These categories are typically conceptualized on a spectrum. Since many self-described complementarians may (and do) object to how Miller defines Complementarianism, it’s important to be absolutely clear: Miller derives her definition of Complementarianism directly from the architects of the doctrine, including John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Mary Kassian, Dorthy Patterson, and other vocal advocates including Douglas Wilson. She cites her sources clearly and in the book. Miller is one of a growing number of women and men in Reformed circles questioning and objecting to the teachings of Complementarianism. At the same time, however, there also appears to be a growing interest in so-called “Biblical patriarchy” in Reformed circles. Both Complementarianism and “Biblical patriarchy” are reactionary teachings to Feminism and its influence on Christian orthodoxy. Miller’s concern is that forming doctrine in reaction to the culture, rather than simply holding to explicit Scriptural truths, is giving way to some harmful syncretism between true doctrine and unbiblical and extrabiblical ideas. She invites equally concerned readers to suspend judgement on their own self-labeling in order to allow an honest reevaluation of what it is that the Word of God says about men and women. Part 1 of the book serves as a starting point for defining ‘authority’ and ‘submission’ from Scripture. Miller explains how God is the source of all authority and submission and that Christ is our model for both. And she points out that only God’s authority is unlimited, but whatever authority human beings have, is limited. Part 1 prepares the reader for Part 2, where she “peels back” the historical-cultural layers influencing the “traditional” view of men and women. Part 2 may be the most eye-opening. Here, Miller provides the historical backdrop, not just for how Complementarianism came to be, but the origins of many commonly held “traditional” ideas about men and women. Miller is quick to point out the difference between what is biblical and what is traditional, noting that what is traditional is not necessarily biblical. If Part 1 serves to illustrate what God created man and woman to be, then Part 2 shows the overlap of the Fall; a distortion of the nature of men and women through the eyes of Greco-Roman pagans and Victorian idealists. This distortion leads to the manifest frustration the Fall brings on relationships, as modern feminist movements bring to the surface a myriad of problems women have faced in society which reaches into every corner of the culture. In Part 3, Miller addresses the Complementarian conception of human nature which posits two human natures, one male nature and one female nature. This conception has ramifications on the orthodox teachings of the image of God in mankind; the doctrine of the Trinity; and the fundamental nature of the curse in the Fall. In Part 4, Miller addresses marriage. Complementarianism teaches that men are prophets, priests, and kings of the home, and that women are “keepers of the hearth.” Miller contrasts this with a clearer reading of Scripture, highlighting marriage as a creation ordinance, noting the unity, interdependence, and mutual service of husband and wife depicted in Adam and Eve. Entailed in this comparison is the difference between the unlimited authority Complementarianism claims husbands/fathers have, and how their authority is actually limited by Scripture. In Part 5, Miller discusses the Complementarian view of “masculine piety” viz the muscular Christianity promoted by John Piper, Doug Wilson, Tim Baylay and several others. This is the idea that the church is “distinctly masculine” and the reason why men aren’t as religious as women is because the church is presented as too feminine.5 In this paradigm, men are the leaders and heavy physical and intellectual lifters, tending to the business of the church, while women are sidelined as the “adorning” extras doing the secondary work of the church; eg., nursery duty, Sunday School and VBS, throwing baby and bridal showers, etc. Once again she contrasts this view with Scripture, citing examples of women in Scripture being far more than secondary adornments to a “masculine” church. Miller points to several women; Phoebe, Mary, Junia, Persis, Julia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Nereus’s sister, and others. She cites John Calvin who, in his commentary on Philippians, explains that Paul “calls them his companions in war, inasmuch as they had struggled hard with him in the gospel.” Miller is careful to distinguish these Christian women, who held prominent positions and performed crucial services, from ordained officers of the church. Chapter 15 is dedicated to her explanation of why only qualified men may hold ordained office in the church. In Part 6, Miller deals with the question of gender roles in society. Complementarianism teaches a certain view of gender roles which applies beyond marriage, family, and church. According to Complementarianism, a man should take leadership roles and a woman should take subordinate roles, with her “highest calling” being that of a wife and mother. In this view, any education of women should focus on female social duties and not confusing women with notions of assuming leadership, or other masculine roles. This is also the section that Miller deals with the “elephant in the room” – that is, abuse. “In this [Complementarian] system, men are the authority that’s been put into place by God over families. To reject or resist that authority, even when it’s used abusively, is to put oneself at risk of spiritual and physical harm. As a result, women are told to submit to their husbands’ authority even if their husbands are cruel, harsh, or abusive …” (pg. 238) Miller’s final point here is that the world is watching how the church is responding to abuse. And how we respond says something, not just about individuals who may be directly involved, but it says something about what we believe Christianity is about, and what Christ represents. “The gospel, Christianity, the universal church, and Christ Himself are judged by our response to abuse. As Paul warned, the gospel is in danger of being reviled because of our actions.” (pg 241) Unlike so many Complementarian books, Miller doesn’t conclude with legalistic solutions, but encourages readers to be honest and examine themselves. She doesn’t tell you what to believe, or offer an alternative system. She asks you to weigh the evidence; use the Bible as your standard, to honestly examine your own beliefs, and to seek reform of your own heart and life by the Word and Spirit of God. I highly recommend that you add this book to your home library. It is faithful to historic Reformed teaching on Scripture while simultaneously clearing away so much false teaching that entangles the issue which prevents Christians from getting a straight answer. Misrepresenting the gospel is a gospel issue, and this book is a helpful guide in avoiding Complementarian misrepresentations. Of particular importance is Miller’s explanation of what voluntary yielding means for Christian submission. Not only is it not genuine submission if it’s involuntary (coerced), but the voluntary nature of submission is necessary for resisting misuse and abuse of power. Christians are called to have a proper balance between Christian submission and Christian liberty. And this involves understanding that none of us are called to be doormats. Some have been persuaded that resisting those who misuse authority is “disobedience,” “insubordination,” or “disrespecting authority.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Choosing to resist illegitimate uses of authority comes from a high respect for legitimate authority. If you have questions about the Complementarian-Egalitarian debate, and want a resource that avoids the errors of liberal theology, this is the book you want to get.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Persis

    Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is true in science, and unfortunately, this is true in theology. Attempts to correct a problem can create an equal and opposite problem by reacting in fear, and I've seen this take place in the gender wars. But what if it's time to get off the pendulum, stop reacting, and see what the Word of God says? This is why “Beyond Authority and Submission” is such an important book. Rachel Miller first Newton's third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is true in science, and unfortunately, this is true in theology. Attempts to correct a problem can create an equal and opposite problem by reacting in fear, and I've seen this take place in the gender wars. But what if it's time to get off the pendulum, stop reacting, and see what the Word of God says? This is why “Beyond Authority and Submission” is such an important book. Rachel Miller first examines what the Bible says regarding authority and submission. Spoiler alert: submission is rooted in our humanity, not in a particular chromosome pair. God has sole power and authority to whom all of creation is subject, including all of mankind. Any human authority is derivative and temporal. Thus the Bible admonishes children to submit to their parents, church members to qualified male elders, wives to husbands as unto the Lord, and citizens to governmental authorities. She then opens the history books to reveal where we got many of our ideas. Going back to Greco-Roman times, she shows the stark difference between the pagan view of men and women and the Apostle Paul's writings to the early church. These pagan ideas were resurrected in the Victorian era, which inform many of our ideas today. The quotes from the 1800s sound very similar to the 1950's stereotype and what I would find in some popular women's books. Namely, men are strong and rational. Women are soft and emotional. And be sure to stay in your separate spheres regardless of whether you fit the mold or not. But modified Greco-Roman, American, cultural conservatism isn't necessarily synonymous with being biblical. The Eternal Subordination of the Son, a Trinitarian error, is promoted by a sector of conservative evangelicalism through systematic theologies, books on marriage and womanhood, and even children's books to justify their take on gender roles. Miller contrasts these current Christian ideals with the Bible's descriptions of men and women and its teachings on marriage and the structure of the local church. God calls men and women to a relationship of interdependence where we need one another and the different strengths and gifts he has given. This relationship is marked by love and service. “Beyond Authority and Submission” summarizes and confirms much of what I have read about the gender wars. Sadly out of fear, Christians have reacted against the secular culture by adopting an opposing but equally secular ideal out of historical ignorance and the pull of nostalgia. The pendulum swing over the centuries has led to an adversarial conflict where men and women are seen as opposites and opponents rather than coheirs, co-laborers, and fellow image bearers. This has marred the testimony of the church before a watching world as it observes how we treat our own. We need to get off the pendulum and consider what the Word says rather than settling for a culturally bound substitute. “Beyond Authority and Submission” will help us to that end, which is why I strongly recommend this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joenne Courtney

    I have not read this yet, but intend to. I’m giving it 5 stars right now, just because Joe Spurgeon rambled on so long and negatively about it, and I just learned that Doug Wilson won’t even read it, so I figure it must be excellent!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

    I have a feeling some poor reviews on here are from those that haven’t read the book. They might be afraid to hear something that would deter them from believing what they want about crafty and easily deceived women. It’s easier for them that way. This book was great. A relief to read. Biblical, while defying the worldliness that has crept into the church concerning women and men. Soli Deo Gloria.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    A refreshing examination of complementarianism in the church, which doesn’t throw any babies out with the bathwater.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Denhollander

    Rachel Miller has done an excellent job in bringing clarity and discernment to a discussion that is often emotionally charged and contentious. Biblically reasoned, confessionally informed, and drawing from the resources of church history, Miller's work cuts through rhetoric and assumptions to show us that sometimes ideas labeled 'biblical' can in fact be loaded with cultural notions. While much of the contemporary discussion about 'gender roles' focuses primarily on authority and submission-who Rachel Miller has done an excellent job in bringing clarity and discernment to a discussion that is often emotionally charged and contentious. Biblically reasoned, confessionally informed, and drawing from the resources of church history, Miller's work cuts through rhetoric and assumptions to show us that sometimes ideas labeled 'biblical' can in fact be loaded with cultural notions. While much of the contemporary discussion about 'gender roles' focuses primarily on authority and submission-who is allowed to do what?-Miller shows that there is a need to go beyond this narrow focus to promoting unity, interdependence, and service. Miller invites readers not to ignore or dismiss Scripture but to go deeper in their understanding of its meaning and implications. In Beyond Authority and Submission, many Apolloses have the opportunity to listen and learn from a wise Priscilla.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily Schultz

    It seems as if one of the major controversies within conservative evangelicalism is the ordination of women and marital submission. Where do Christian women biblically fit in a third wave feminist culture? Should women lead outside of the church? Is the modern definition of complementarianism a concise or helpful evaluation of the relationship between men and women? Rachel Miller’s book answer some of these questions in beyond authority and submission. In her book, she places an emphasis on how w It seems as if one of the major controversies within conservative evangelicalism is the ordination of women and marital submission. Where do Christian women biblically fit in a third wave feminist culture? Should women lead outside of the church? Is the modern definition of complementarianism a concise or helpful evaluation of the relationship between men and women? Rachel Miller’s book answer some of these questions in beyond authority and submission. In her book, she places an emphasis on how women in the church are treated, pointing out that factors such as a teaching called the eternal subordination of the Son place women in a secondary social category. Rachel takes you back in time to the root of our church influences, from Greco-Roman thought to Victorian familial conceptualizations, you’ll learn that “traditionalism” and “conservatism” aren’t always synonymous with biblical. Rachel teaches that submission is not submission unless it is done willfully, and is particularly gracious to women who seek vocation in the secular sphere. If you’re uncomfortable with egalitarianism or patriarchy, this is a solid middle ground. Healthy relationships in the church thrive on liberty, not legalism. Thank you P&R publishing for allowing me to pre-read this work for free prior to release.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Niziol

    Want to start a bonfire of opinion and fury? Mention gender roles online, especially in a Christian context. These days, it feels like everyone subscribes to extreme views. No women allowed to speak in the church! No working outside the home! Only denim jumpers! OR on the other side, a complete denial of gender, any difference between the sexes, and basic chaos. We need a clear, straightforward document. Rachel Miller is a breath of fresh air in her new book. Instead of sharing a ranting polemic, Want to start a bonfire of opinion and fury? Mention gender roles online, especially in a Christian context. These days, it feels like everyone subscribes to extreme views. No women allowed to speak in the church! No working outside the home! Only denim jumpers! OR on the other side, a complete denial of gender, any difference between the sexes, and basic chaos. We need a clear, straightforward document. Rachel Miller is a breath of fresh air in her new book. Instead of sharing a ranting polemic, she writes with clarity and conviction about this crucial topic. She takes into consideration not only Scripture, but also cultural influences and examines the history of women's rights movements. Her view is nuanced, and despite what her critics like to claim, she is far from championing an assault on orthodox Christian values.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Abuse of authority is an abomination to God. Misusing and/or going beyond Scripture sets us up for just such abuses. That's why I'm so grateful for women like Rachel Green Miller who are being like the noble Bereans, examining the Scriptures to see if what religious teachers are teaching is in accord with the whole counsel of God's Word, which is exactly what she sets out to accomplish in her newly released book, Beyond Authority and Submission. Miller begins her work by examining the source and Abuse of authority is an abomination to God. Misusing and/or going beyond Scripture sets us up for just such abuses. That's why I'm so grateful for women like Rachel Green Miller who are being like the noble Bereans, examining the Scriptures to see if what religious teachers are teaching is in accord with the whole counsel of God's Word, which is exactly what she sets out to accomplish in her newly released book, Beyond Authority and Submission. Miller begins her work by examining the source and nature of authority and submission according to Scripture. To be clear, she isn't seeking to find a loophole that allows women to disobey the clear teaching of Scripture. However, she does make some very helpful observations of where the plain teaching of Scripture has been misapplied and misused. Miller carefully demonstrates that authority and submission are important but limited aspects of relationships and widens her lens to include the biblical themes of unity, interdependence, and service. After laying this foundation, she moves to examine cultural influences throughout history that have been imposed upon our definitions of "biblical" womanhood with particular emphasis on Greco-Roman society and the Victorian Era. She examines the first-wave feminist movement, its subsequent developments, and the conservative Christian response to these movements followed by an examination of what the Bible has to say about the nature of men and women. Miller closes with sections devoted to prevalent teaching on women and men in three different spheres: marriage, the church, and society, and closely compares what is being taught with what we encounter in Scripture. Beyond Authority and Submission is a much needed start to a conversation that has needed to happen. Again and again, Miller illustrates areas where conservative religious leaders have gone beyond Scripture, imposing cultural definitions of manhood and womanhood upon folks while claiming they are biblical standards. Her careful attention to the whole counsel of God's Word reveals where mistakes have been made and where we need to bring our views into closer alignment with Scripture, representing "the full diversity of expression that is seen in Scripture" (pg. 125). Some errors have already been discussed at length on blogs (ex. The Trinitarian error of eternal subordination of the Son). Others have been less discussed. For example, Miller writes of the damage caused by mistranslation and misinterpretation of Scripture that leads men to be suspicious of women: "When conservative Christians teach men to suspect women's counsel because women are prone to deception and will try to usurp their leadership, interactions become antagonistic. If women can't be trusted to make wise decisions, and if men have to be careful not to let women lead them, then men and women are pitted against each other. These teachings undermine the unity, interdependence, service, and co-laboring that should define Christian behavior." (pg. 119). Again, Miller doesn’t' go beyond Scripture in allowing women to lead men where the Bible clearly forbids it (ex. Women as elders), but she is careful to warn against going beyond what is clearly stated in Scripture. She highlights many examples of women who lead, initiate, protect, and provide in Scripture. She examines many instances in which biblical women exercise theological discernment. Miller is careful not to flatten out the distinctions between men and women but does highlight the many instances when we have conformed "to narrow or wooden definitions of masculinity and femininity" (pg. 148). For example, we rightly recognize that "...godly women should be submissive, gentle, quiet, and responsive...helpers and life-givers...", but we err when we limit these attributes strictly to women as many times in Scripture, godly men are to exhibit these characteristics as well. As a lover of theology and a bit of a "tom boy", it was so refreshing to read a more broad view of femininity and masculinity....one that doesn't pigeon-hole men and women into traditional cultural constructs OR compromise biblical truth. Miller doesn't throw out the baby with the bath water and is careful to recognize that much of what conservative Christian leaders are teaching is good, but she does bring much needed balance to a movement that has made a severe overcorrection. Perhaps the greatest concern that Miller and others are highlighting is the damage these overcorrections do to the Gospel and the Church. She writes: "When marriage is emphasized as living out a picture of the gospel as the highest calling for women, along with bearing children, it tends toward making marriage and family into idols. This is especially harmful for singles and widows and for those who don't fit the neat box of a nuclear family unit...Marriage, while a good and necessary thing, isn't the gospel. Conflating the two obscures the actual gospel and presents a truncated understanding of what Christ actually accomplished for believers through His death and resurrection" (pg. 165). Additionally, Miller addresses unbiblical teaching on the purpose of marriage, divorce and remarriage, the subtle prioritization of men over women in the church, abuses perpetuated by abusive teaching that treats women like children, and many traditions that have crept into some teaching that is far more cultural than biblical. Beyond Authority and Submission challenged some of my presuppositions and caused me to think more carefully about some of my positions. Many folks in conservative Christian circles will benefit from a thoughtful read of this book but particularly those in conservative circles who have been influenced by (or whose teachers/leaders have been influenced by) works on biblical womanhood/manhood such as those by John Piper & Wayne Grudem (as well as other contributors to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Mary Kassian, Elisabeth Elliot, Voddie Baucham Jr., Anna and Elizabeth Botkin, Douglas Wilson, Debi Pearl, Gary Thomas, etc. If you think all feminism has always been evil or pine for the good old days, Beyond Authority and Submission will serve to bring a much greater balance to your perspective. Rachel Green Miller raises important questions with careful attention to and handling of God's Word. May we all handle Scripture as faithfully as Miller as we continue this valuable conversation! *Many thanks to P & R Publishing for supplying me with an advance copy of Beyond Authority and Submission! These are my honest thoughts.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Shubin

    Beyond Authority & Submission by Rachel Green Miller is an excellent book for a very specific audience, namely the complementarian who is questioning the way things are and the whys of what they have been taught. I wish this book had been available a few years ago when I went through that unpleasant questioning process myself. What makes this a good fit for the questioning complementarian is careful way Rachel walks the line. She is squarely in the camp of ordained church leadership being compris Beyond Authority & Submission by Rachel Green Miller is an excellent book for a very specific audience, namely the complementarian who is questioning the way things are and the whys of what they have been taught. I wish this book had been available a few years ago when I went through that unpleasant questioning process myself. What makes this a good fit for the questioning complementarian is careful way Rachel walks the line. She is squarely in the camp of ordained church leadership being comprised solely of men, and she repeats this several times throughout the book. She isn't trying to completely dismantle the entirety of the conservative view. With that out of the way, she turns her focus to the parts that are founded not on Biblical ideas but rather have been borrowed or inherited from other cultures over time, specifically the Romans and the Victorians. Numerous extraneous restrictions have been piled onto women over the years and mistakenly identified as Biblical. Rachel does a fine job of tracing this history of these ideas and effectively dismantling them. If you are currently experiencing the brain fog that comes with trying to figure out why what you've always heard that the Bible says doesn't seem to line up with what you are reading in it yourself on this topic, then this book will be a huge help and relief to you. Rachel has done a huge service and a great job.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steven Robertson

    If I could give it 8 stars, I would. Man, what a book! This is such an important book: clear, compelling, convictional, and faithful. We will all do well to focus more on unity, interdependence, and service than authority and submission. I've had many conversations about these topics, and I wish I could have said what Rachel has as well as she did. GET. THIS. BOOK. If I could give it 8 stars, I would. Man, what a book! This is such an important book: clear, compelling, convictional, and faithful. We will all do well to focus more on unity, interdependence, and service than authority and submission. I've had many conversations about these topics, and I wish I could have said what Rachel has as well as she did. GET. THIS. BOOK.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trent Still

    Plenty of things to agree with. But the faults are far and away greater than the good. There appears to be an underlying denial of nature and instead a treating of the Bible as a textbook for how men and women relate in house, church, and society. The discussion around ‘why’ the Bible says what it says left much to be desire because of this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    I loved this book for many reasons. I'll highlight a few: 1. Rachel is committed to Sola Scriptura. It's how she concludes the book, but it is evident throughout. She is not interested in being another overreaction to poor church and cultural practice; she is interested in explaining what the Bible teaches about gender, roles, manhood/womanhood, and how those things are fleshed out in the church, home, and society. She invites the reader to evaluate the framework we've been given for thinking abo I loved this book for many reasons. I'll highlight a few: 1. Rachel is committed to Sola Scriptura. It's how she concludes the book, but it is evident throughout. She is not interested in being another overreaction to poor church and cultural practice; she is interested in explaining what the Bible teaches about gender, roles, manhood/womanhood, and how those things are fleshed out in the church, home, and society. She invites the reader to evaluate the framework we've been given for thinking about these things (authority and submission) and, while not rejecting these categories outright since they are still biblical, she proposes additional categories that have more frequency and weight through Scripture - unity, interdependence, and service. This moves the conversation from being one where the sexes are inherently opposed to each other towards one where the love of Christ is exhibited and practiced within all of our relationships. 2. The historical data is important and helpful. Rachel exposes ways we may have adopted thinking as "biblical" when it is actually rooted in cultural and historical movements. It calls all of us to better discernment, where we evaluate practices and ideas we've accepted against the scriptures. I've read snippets of this in other places, but Rachel's comprehensive approach was really valuable and is something I'm sure I will revisit. 3. The footnotes are gold. There are so many writers and teachers out there that people have accepted as authorities on these issues without evaluating the full breadth and depth of what they teach. Rachel exposes some of the more extreme thinking for the purpose of bringing these things to light. She is careful not to go all bad on people or ideas (sometimes too careful, IMO), but her collection of some of the horrific things that have been said or published by well-known pastors, writers, and speakers is so helpful. Again, it calls all of us to evaluate how discerning we've been and hold all teaching up to the word of God. This is an important contribution that I hope will move these conversations forward in the church. Rachel shows that there is a way to be a biblically faithful complementarian without going to unbiblical extremes. I'm grateful to have received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher; these thoughts are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joelle

    This book will restore you; it will heal you; it will bring everything back into perspective. Beginning by establishing a strong foundation of Scripture, and never once deviating from it, Rachel shows how so much of our worldview is determined by the focus of a narrow lens. She not only brings freedom to women, but to men. She releases men from burdens they were never meant to carry - whether it is stereotypes that weigh like pounds of weights upon their shoulders, or roles that they constantly This book will restore you; it will heal you; it will bring everything back into perspective. Beginning by establishing a strong foundation of Scripture, and never once deviating from it, Rachel shows how so much of our worldview is determined by the focus of a narrow lens. She not only brings freedom to women, but to men. She releases men from burdens they were never meant to carry - whether it is stereotypes that weigh like pounds of weights upon their shoulders, or roles that they constantly feel they are failing. She reminds us that we are equal, and we are needed together. It's not a competition; it's about serving jointly as a Body for the glory of our King. Never once does she resort to bashing or name calling, and never once does even an ounce of pretension seep through her writing. This book is gracious, humble, and wise, yet written so well that you cannot stop reading, because you cannot stop celebrating the affirmation on every page. Rejoice in the message of this book, and remember the graciousness of her approach. May all our speech be seasoned with such truth and wisdom!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Skrip

    I was a long-time Bible study leader and Sunday School teacher at my church. Early on, my wife and I spent many afternoons discussing how she could best serve in the church. We’ve since worked some of those issues out, but I would love to have a resource available to give to people when they come to me with the same question. Rachel Green Miller (RGM, for brevity, no curtness intended) had the same intention. In her introduction, she writes: I wrote this book because I care deeply about what the I was a long-time Bible study leader and Sunday School teacher at my church. Early on, my wife and I spent many afternoons discussing how she could best serve in the church. We’ve since worked some of those issues out, but I would love to have a resource available to give to people when they come to me with the same question. Rachel Green Miller (RGM, for brevity, no curtness intended) had the same intention. In her introduction, she writes: I wrote this book because I care deeply about what the Bible teaches about women and men. My desire is for women and men to be co-laborers in all of life so that our families and churches will be strengthened and encouraged. Working together, we can then be a blessing to our society, which so desperately needs the truth of the gospel (Loc 274). The problem with interpreting the Bible in the area of roles for the sexes is that we, as a church, have imported a lot of cultural tradition from the Graeco-Roman and Victorian eras—so says RGM. She wants to “peel back” these traditions so we may see what the Bible really teaches about how the sexes are to glorify God together, both in worship and all of life. To be honest, I was quite disappointed with how she handled the Bible throughout the book. I understand that this book was not intended to be a Biblical exposition. However, given her stated goal of understanding what the Bible says about the topic, I was hopeful that she would be willing to meet me in the middle and bring me over to her interpretation instead of essentially asserting it. For instance when she discussed 1 Timothy 2:11-15 she never addressed the logic of Paul’s argument . Here is the passage in its entirety: "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1Timothy 2:11-15)" RGM crafts a logical argument that she says represent the prevailing and incorrect understanding of passages like this one: Eve was deceived. All women, like Eve, are more easily deceived than men are. No woman can be trusted on theological matters. But if that’s Paul’s point in 1 Timothy 2, men can’t be trusted either. After all, if the point is that Adam wasn’t deceived, then he sinned willfully. If all women are like Eve, then all men are prone to outright rebellion like Adam. That’s not a strong argument for male leadership. The contrast between Adam and Eve isn’t that Adam was never deceived, but that he wasn’t deceived first. Eve, having been deceived, led Adam into sin. Eve is an example for all believers, as Paul warns: “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Similarly, in 1 Timothy, Paul deals with false teaching that was infecting the church. Like Eve, some women were being deceived by false teachers. Some commentators believe that these women were spreading false teaching, as Eve did to Adam.27 Paul’s concern, then, is that all believers be on their guard against false teaching.(Loc 3745)" The first thing I’d like to say is that I would gladly sign-on and say that men are more prone to outright rebellion than women, and this isn’t the argument she wants to follow. Second, you’ll see that she comes out and says that Adam was deceived, when, in this passage, Paul directly says that he was not. Then, she states that Eve is functioning as an example for “all believers.” If she was discussing 2 Corinthians 11:3, then she would be absolutely right, but in this case, Paul is using Eve as the foundational reason for the exclusion of female teachers. Paul’s explaining why women are not allowed to teach and he bases that in the order of creation and the deception of Eve. Eve was not an example, she was one of the reasons. RGM doesn’t deal with the particularities of this text, and therefore we have no reason to trust her conclusions. Now, you might point out that RGM’s desire was to peel away the non-biblical tradition in our interpretations, and so we shouldn’t judge her handling of the Bible so seriously. In fact, Dr. Valerie Hobbs, one of the endorsers of this book, wrote this about RGM, “Her aim wasn’t to do some impeccable exegesis of the Bible (as if that is possible), though she is faithful to God’s Word...Her aim was to ask questions about the source of our theology about men and women and to consider the extent to which we have been influenced by extra-Biblical anthropology and philosophy.”[1] While I am less skeptical about the possibility of doing thorough exegesis, you should take a minute to assess how well she handles the history section, for it was precisely in the history sections that I believe RGM could have most used the Bible. I was never fully sure what methodology RGM was using for these chapters. It read like she was listing all of the horrible things that have been written about women (and they are truly horrible), and then any areas of overlap in the church are automatically poisoned. I didn’t see any effort taken to make a biblical case for any of the hierarchical practices, it was always assumed to be from the outside culture. It’s as if, because the other beliefs are so horrible, then everything those cultures believed about women must be bad. Here’s a great example: The philosopher Aristotle, in particular, advanced the theory of the oikos (the private domestic sphere) and the polis (the public sphere). The two spheres were both separate and unequal. Women, due to their weakness and inferiority, were best suited to the domestic sphere of the home. Good wives took care of the home... (Loc 784)" This quotation is in the list of bad or outdated things people have believed about women, and therefore if you hear about this in church, it’s because the cultural tradition has not been peeled away yet. Later, she talks about how Christianity came into Roman life and started to turn everything upside down. While I may agree with her on that, one of the examples she gave was very interesting, “In addition, the church cared for Christian widows and did not require them to remarry (Loc 882).” I’ll provide just one passage to refute both of these, “But refuse to enroll [for church financial support] younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander (1 Timothy 5:9-14)." So you see that the Church encouraged younger widows to remarry, and they also encouraged them to “manage their households well.” The term used there is oikos despoteo, or house manager. The fact that RGM appears to misrepresent the practice of the early church regarding widows, and doesn’t deal with the multiple passages that encourage women to manage their houses, makes me question how successful she was at accurately finding a foreign tradition to “peel back” in the first place. I cannot recommend this book. There are too many unproven assertions to wade through, and she, in my humble opinion, fails to live up to her goal of revealing what the Bible teaches on men and women, precisely because she fails to use the Bible enough. If you would like to read a fantastic work on this topic, consider reading this work by William Gouge, one of the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith that RGM holds to. https://www.amazon.com/Building-Godly... [1]From: “Valerie Hobbs Responds to Mark Jones” posted on Alliancenet. Accessed 2019.10.07

  26. 5 out of 5

    Josh Sieders

    Probably 3.5 stars. I liked the book and agreed with most of it. Coming from a similar christian tradition as the author, we had lots of common ground. At times I admit, I questioned her reasoning or emphasis, but taking the book as a whole, I would say it's very worthwhile and necessary, especially if you are in a complementarian tradition (believes men and women are equal but with different roles at home and in church). I think the book was necessary because Miller highlights some strange extra Probably 3.5 stars. I liked the book and agreed with most of it. Coming from a similar christian tradition as the author, we had lots of common ground. At times I admit, I questioned her reasoning or emphasis, but taking the book as a whole, I would say it's very worthwhile and necessary, especially if you are in a complementarian tradition (believes men and women are equal but with different roles at home and in church). I think the book was necessary because Miller highlights some strange extra-biblical teaching that has grown out of an interpretation of scripture, but has been covered over with layers of cultural baggage. That baggage is dragging the whole ship down and casting doubt on scripture's reliability and providing environments ripe for abuse or the devaluing of gifts women have to offer. I applaud her for exposing this and making a strong case for us to check our theology for western 1950s culture creep. My main struggle with the book and the reason for less than 4 stars is for what it doesn't tackle. I know that's not exactly fair since author's cannot write every book for every reader and cover every topic. At the same time, though affirming male headship at home and in the church, the author completely dismantles the way that plays out in many homes and churches. She argues against the "traditional" and common ways these roles work themselves out by highlighting how women can lead and provide and men can nurture. Fair enough. Some of that dismantling is completely necessary, but some of what she refutes is good and comes about naturally. She acknowledges this, to her credit, but after dismantling commonly held attempts at applying complementarianism "on the ground", she offers nothing to replace them with. That may be fine because she's trying to avoid being prescriptive and leave room for liberty, but it leaves this reader scratching his head. What does headship look like then in the home? I honestly don't know any more. Is it servanthood? If so, she made the case that women and men are to serve eachother, so how is it different than a woman's role. If it's not leadership or provision or protection - because women can do those things too, what is it? I see an affirmation of scriptural texts and theological positions but am more confused than ever on how to apply those things. I think that many of the applications of complementarianisam are played out in cultures which shift over time. That's why the culture often bleeds into the theology. What does it mean to be a man or a woman in this or that place, in this or that time period? Cultures vary and evolve and so expressions of these theological truths vary and evolve, and there are always exceptions to the mainstream in every culture too. But what then binds them all together? Why are these verses in the Bible and what do they mean for us now? After reading this book, they feel pretty arbitrary rather than a good plan from a good God. For this reader, I quickly found affinity with the author and her arguments and said "great, where do we go from here" but got very little of that answer. I realize that's probably not the book she was writing, but I also see anyone attempting to answer those questions in some kind of meaningful way get excoriated and so there is a giant vacuum. I had hoped for some basic steps in that regard. We've torn down the bad theology and are shattering descriptions of biblical manhood and womanhood that were built on them. Good. But now what? Miller talks about avoiding lists and fences as a way to keep us theologically pure and I have much sympathy for that because I have seen legalism and know how Jesus attacked the pharisees for burdening the people with extra rules that were intended to guard a theological truth but became the truth and purpose over time. At the same time, I think it's easier to tear things down than to build them, and it's some idea of how to rebuild that I'm still looking for...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian Whittaker

    There's much to commend in this book. Rachel Miller's basic concept is that we ought to view women and their role in the church beyond merely the categories of submission and authority. She emphasises that men and women equally posses the divine image and are partners in the gospel, co-labourers in God's kingdom. She helpfully argues that too easily the focus in debates concerning men and women in the church narrows just to texts about submission and authority, and neglects teaching about the sa There's much to commend in this book. Rachel Miller's basic concept is that we ought to view women and their role in the church beyond merely the categories of submission and authority. She emphasises that men and women equally posses the divine image and are partners in the gospel, co-labourers in God's kingdom. She helpfully argues that too easily the focus in debates concerning men and women in the church narrows just to texts about submission and authority, and neglects teaching about the sameness and equality of men and women. I found this a helpful pushback to some of the complementarian material I've read. She also offers a good critique of some (American!) complementarian teaching which seems to perpetuate a version of biblical womanhood which is more like a 1950s housewife than a Proverbs 31 woman. Again, this was a helpful pushback, and for these reasons I'm glad I read the book. It did me good. But the book has major shortcomings. The main area of weakness in the book is the lack of a real, substantial account of what biblical womanhood actually is. She is good at saying what it is not. But there's little to say what it actually looks like. Her engagement with key biblical passages is often lacking, as is any real analysis of male and female ontology (the created pattern for men and women). This seems a real flaw in the book and one which, for me at least, prevented it from being as useful as I had hoped.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Unfortunately, I find this book to be deeply flawed on at least three significant fronts. Historically, Miller's attempt to define Greco-Roman, Victorian, and 19th and 20th century feminism's views on gender and sexuality, and then demonstrate that there is historical causality from Greco-Roman to modern times through the Victorian era is problematic. Her quotes and primary sources are often drawn from contemporary works of gender history, rather than a broad reading of the primary sources thems Unfortunately, I find this book to be deeply flawed on at least three significant fronts. Historically, Miller's attempt to define Greco-Roman, Victorian, and 19th and 20th century feminism's views on gender and sexuality, and then demonstrate that there is historical causality from Greco-Roman to modern times through the Victorian era is problematic. Her quotes and primary sources are often drawn from contemporary works of gender history, rather than a broad reading of the primary sources themselves. This leads to what Herbert Butterfield called the "whig fallacy" of history: a simplistic sketch of historical causality that supports a pre-determined view, rather than engaging the the complexities of the past in a responsible way. Exegetically, Miller spends very little time actually discussing the meaning of Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3:18-25, and 1 Peter 3:1-7 (the texts that use the language of authority and submission). While descriptions of what submission is NOT abound, one is hard pressed to find a definition of what it actually IS. By quoting only a single commentator at most when she cites a text, Miller glosses over the exegetical discussion, which has the (perhaps unintended) effect of implying there are no other possible readings than the one Miller advocates. Lastly, theologically Miller's discussion of men and women seems to move in the direction of nominalism - that is, a view that gender distinctions exist in name only. To be fair, she does not advocate for such a position. But her arguments lack the conceptual and theological depth necessary to either fully account for the why of creation as male and female (is there any reason why men are given one role in marriage, and women another? Are these roles theoretically reversible?), or to answer contemporary assaults by theories of gender fluidity.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Hoss

    I anticipate this review to be very short or shortish. In my mind, it’s easier for me to review materials where there’s some big “aha” moments or personal growth; however, because I have been a longtime avid listener to the Theology Gals podcast, I am very familiar with a lot of Rachel’s positions already. That said, I am going to try to focus my review on two main things: the quality of the actual writing style and a little bit of a position explainer for those who aren’t actually familiar with I anticipate this review to be very short or shortish. In my mind, it’s easier for me to review materials where there’s some big “aha” moments or personal growth; however, because I have been a longtime avid listener to the Theology Gals podcast, I am very familiar with a lot of Rachel’s positions already. That said, I am going to try to focus my review on two main things: the quality of the actual writing style and a little bit of a position explainer for those who aren’t actually familiar with Rachel’s content. I am very late to reading this book. It came out in 2019 during the height of some very heated debates on the roles of men and women in the church. I think (hope) this is beginning to cool off, but only time will tell. For those who don’t know, the premise of this book is that there are theological errors that conservative churches have let creep in that go against scripture. No, I’m not talking about egalitarianism or LGBT affirmation. What Rachel is setting out to do is give us a background on how we got to having these unbiblical beliefs in our churches and to show what scripture has to say about all of it. On page 15, Rachel establishes a baseline for her distinctives: So which am I? I believe that: - God made humans, male and female, in His own image (see Gen. 1:26–27) - in Christ, men and women are equal before God (see Gal. 3:28) - women and men are interdependent and should serve each other (see 1 Cor. 11:11–12) - marriage was designed to be between one man and one woman—ideally for life (see Gen. 2:24) - husbands are called to sacrificial, servant leadership of their wives and to love them as Christ loves the church (see Eph. 5:25–33) - wives are called to yield voluntarily to their husbands—to submit to them as the church submits to Christ (see Eph. 5:22–24) - only qualified men should be ordained leaders in the church (see 1 Tim. 3:1–13) It is essential to this conversation moving forward because one of the biggest errors we as people can fall into is binary thinking. We see this often in political conversations. If you’re not voting for Candidate X, you must be a supporter of Candidate Y. Likewise, as Rachel is making needed critiques, people assume that she does so with malintent or as an egalitarian. As we see above, that is certainly not the case. We should be the first ones to critique some of the issues the church can fall into. When we do it, we are looking for the purity of Christ’s bride. We’re doing it out of love for God’s people. Non Christians are not so kind to us. They’re not looking for our good. The book is divided up into 6 main parts: 1. A Lens for Our Relationships, which covers how scripture speaks to the nature of men and women and how we should read Ephesians 5 and other authority/submission passages in scripture. 2. Women and Men in History, which outlines Ancient Greek and Roman thoughts on how men and women are viewed and then moves to the Victorian Era and beyond to show how people have borrowed from Greek and Roman thought 3. The Nature of Men and Women, which speaks about modern views of the nature of men and women that reach outside of scripture to give a basis for why women are to submit to men and why men are considered leaders in the home. This is really where the more “controversial” ideas come from, but this was one of the more fruitful chapters for me because I appreciated Rachel’s exegesis and handling of Susan Foh’s arguments specifically. 4. Women and Men in Marriage. This is another area that I appreciated a lot because Rachel thoroughly dismantled the unbiblical idea of a husband being a “prophet, priest, and king” in the home. Before you come to burn me as a heretic, I really truly believe that we need to be careful about our language when we take the Christ/Church metaphor in Ephesians 5 too far. Husbands are supposed to love their wives like Christ loves the church. They’re not actually Christ. The “prophet, priest, and king” label is supposed to be specifically directed toward Christ. 5. Women and Men in the Church. In this chapter, Rachel gives an overview of how some complementarian and patriarchal churches handle interactions between men and women in the church and beyond that, this really hits at some of the more grey areas between men and women. Things like blogging, teaching Sunday school, and how women are to be involved in service are things that the Bible doesn’t really outline and each church has to decide where their boundaries are. That said, some churches can take it too far in either direction and this chapter pushes back against that. 6. Women and Men in Society. This hits at some of the questions like, “Can/should women be president?” or serve in the military or be police officers. Many conservative Christians believe that some of the gender roles prescribed for the church also touch relationships outside the church, so here’s where Rachel puts out her position on that view. One of the things I appreciate about this book is that Rachel writes in a very approachable way. Her retelling of history keeps the reader engaged and makes everything very easy to follow. She also provides an excellent documentation of the feminist movements, which I didn’t quite understand the nuances well before reading the book. Rachel also gives a solid defense of the importance of ending marital abuses. Despite this, one critique I have is that I wish that she filled in some of the historical blanks between Ancient Greece and Rome, the Victorian Era, and more modern times. This was really the one big weak point with the book, where it felt somewhat abrupt to jump from the ancients to the Victorian Era, knowing that neither of those time periods happened in a vacuum. I know that what I would be asking for is a significantly longer book, so I get why the in between times didn’t make it in the book, but I think handling some of the patriarchal views of those time periods would have helped flesh out the book better. I hope the above gave a decent overview without giving too much away. I really want to encourage you all to read this book, even if you think you may disagree with it. One of the best things we can do is arm ourselves with information from a variety of perspectives and then check that information against scripture. I think this one is a 4 out of 5 for me, largely because of the historic arguments that I wish were fleshed out more, but it is really a well done book. This is another one that I wouldn’t necessarily give to a new Christian, but if you’re new to reformed theology, I think it’s good, and if you’re really interested in challenging your deeply held views, I think this could be good, as well. Surprise to me, this was actually kinda long, but I hope that this helps you decide whether or not to add it to your stack (in my mind, the answer is yes lol)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Missy

    I am, thankfully, part of a healthy church body that has a lot of opportunity for women to serve, although we do not have female elders or preachers. One among us recently has been arguing against male-only preaching, so that has made me curious about the topic and I've been reading through a stack of books to supplement my Bible study. Beyond Authority and Submission sounded very interesting to me because the title seemed to suggest a mindset shift, which I think is sorely needed. However, the I am, thankfully, part of a healthy church body that has a lot of opportunity for women to serve, although we do not have female elders or preachers. One among us recently has been arguing against male-only preaching, so that has made me curious about the topic and I've been reading through a stack of books to supplement my Bible study. Beyond Authority and Submission sounded very interesting to me because the title seemed to suggest a mindset shift, which I think is sorely needed. However, the majority of the book was spent detailing the many uber-restrictive teachings about women's roles. I was aware of only a small fragment of this teaching before, but suddenly I was struggling with anger over the ugly and minimizing statements that are made about women in supposed Christian environments. I wasn't angry before I picked this book up. And the author isn't the perpetrator of the bad teaching. But I think Rachel Green Miller made a mistake by concentrating so heavily on the very teaching she was trying to refute. I wanted the Word of God explicated so I could have encouragement and clearer understanding of some difficult-to-reconcile passages. I did not get much of that, and in the end it was disappointing. One statement I LOVED: "We're not saved by faith in or faithfulness to a particular understanding of gender, men and women. We're saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone - and to God alone be the glory for the truth of the gospel." This book is not written from an egalitarian standpoint, and Rachel Green Miller is orthodox in her views.

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