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Book Review: The Making of Biblical Womanhood (Barr)

 By Zachary Garris - Posted at Knowing Scripture:

The egalitarian books just keep coming. And they will keep coming as long as people keep buying. The latest trend is for women authors to attack complementarianism, the view that men are to lead in the home and church, as being rooted in unbelieving cultures. I previously reviewed two popular books by women who attend complementarian churches (both in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church), Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Aimee Byrd and Beyond Authority and Submission by Rachel Green Miller.

Beth Allison Barr’s book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, is different in that she is openly egalitarian, explicitly advocating for women to serve as pastors. In this sense, Barr’s book is less dangerous. Whereas Miller and Byrd seek to push complementarianism in an egalitarian direction, Barr calls for a complete abandonment of complementarianism. Barr’s attack is much less subtle.

In short, Barr’s argument is that the church has upheld pagan patriarchy by misusing Bible passages and overlooking historical examples of women in ministry. Barr makes this argument primarily through narrative, weaving historical examples alongside her own personal stories recounting her problems with complementarianism—or what she describes as “patriarchy.” Try as they may to distance themselves from the term, complementarians are still labeled as patriarchalists by egalitarians. As Barr says, “Complementarianism is patriarchy” (13). And according to the back of the book, “It is time for Christian patriarchy to end.”

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