Worthy: Celebrating The Value Of Women, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Eric Schumacher
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I feel a great sense of empathy for anyone who writes about the thorny and difficult subject of God’s view of women and how that should inform our view of women in the church as believers. Having written extensively on the subject myself, I can say that while I do not agree with everything that these authors have to say, in general they represent my own view about women and my own view about the delicacy that is required about addressing questions of the place of women within the body of faith when one is committed to following what the Bible has to say about such matters. And the authors do a very good job in wrestling with their own conduct as it relates to the treatment of women as well as discussing the worth of women as it is discussed in the Bible, doing so without labeling the Bible in a hostile manner and pointing out the obvious (if unpleasant truth) that people have not always or even often lived out in their own lives and behavior the gracious and honorable standard towards women that the Bible commands.
This book is almost 300 pages long and it begins with an introduction that celebrates the value of women in God’s word. After that the book contains twelve chapters that discuss the worth of women in creation (1), the fall (2), the promises to Israel (3), Israel’s history (4), the laws of God (5), Israel’s worship practices (6), biblical wisdom literature (7), Jesus’ birth (8), Jesus’ life and ministry (9), Jesus’ death and resurrection (10), the early Church (11), and the contemporary Church (12). After that the conclusion of the book calls for hope-driven, courageous, and compassionate conviction about the worth of women. Five appendices then follow that deal with various pointed issues, including a discussion to ladies in particular (i), a discussion of what women wish their pastors knew (ii), what pastors want women to know (iii), a sample letter from the pastor to address issues about and with women (iv), and an open letter to Rachael Denhollander about her discussion of the abuse of women within the Southern Baptist denomination (v), after which each of the authors provides acknowledgements and notes end the book.
As might be expected, this book treats the worthiness of women as something that is both profound biblical truth as well as a landmine in contemporary society that has to be carefully dealt with. The authors condemn abusive masculinity as well as feminism in showing the pitting of men and women against each other as being contrary to God’s will for both to rule over creation as beings created in His image. The authors struggle visibly to deal with the conflict between complementrian and egalitarian views of women and make it clear that they are writing to men as well as women about this issue. As is frequently the case when it comes to works in this vein that are written about women’s matters, this is a book that will likely be read mostly by women. That said, unlike many of these efforts the authors clearly aim for and deserve attention from male readers, especially those in positions of authority and responsibility within churches. The book contains an open letter relating to the SBC and the unpleasant reality of the abuse and exploitation of women by religious leaders in that organization. While this is a book that could clearly only be written in our own age given its connection to the broader social conversation relating to women, it seeks to do so from the point of view of sound biblical interpretation, and that is well worth commending and endorsing.