A New Way to Understand Men and Women in Christ? A Review of Rachel Green Miller’s Beyond Authority and Submission
By Steven Wedgeworth - Posted at CBMW:
Rachel Green Miller’s Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society (P&R Publishing, 2019) represents a growing new voice in what might be called post-complementarian literature. In it, Miller affirms the biblical teaching of male-only ordination in the church and the husband’s leadership in the family, but she seeks to correct what she considers an intrusion of unbiblical and even pagan assumptions into the traditional Reformed and Evangelical discourse.
In this review, I will first summarize the major sections of Beyond Authority and Submission and highlight its key points of argument. I will commend the admirable intentions which lie at its heart and even join in on a few important criticisms of some complementarian writers. Regrettably, I must also make several points of substantial criticism of the book. Its full thesis is not presented directly at the beginning, and so readers are forced to piece it together as they move throughout the later chapters. Its biblical exposition, which ought to support the thesis, is actually quite meager. The book’s persuasiveness is mostly found in its telling of the history, a damning history as told. Yet this narration is extremely selective, as Miller leaves large gaps in her timeline and appeals to a questionable history of ideas. It would be inappropriate to treat the book as an academic treatise, of course, yet these flaws make Beyond Authority and Submission misleading and unhelpful for practical purposes. Most troubling of all, however, is its unfair presentation of the complementarian position. Throughout the book, several shocking arguments or quotes are given as evidence of what leading Reformed men and women teach, but when the citations are examined, they repeatedly do not support the initial charge. This lack of fairness is so pervasive that one cannot avoid the impression of animus, a characteristic that makes the book potentially harmful for the average reader.