I was invited to review this book by the publisher and provided with a complimentary copy of the hardback edition for this purpose. A trailer is available here.
The Back of the Book: News stories that ran in early 2008 highlighted how throughout the world women today are living in a world of extremes. On the one hand, Hillary Rodham Clinton nearly captured the Democratic nomination for US president. At the same time, the media reported the brutal honor killings of five women in Pakistan – three young girls buried alive for planning to choose their own husbands, plus a mother and an aunt shot to death as they pled with their husbands, sons, and brothers to spare the girls’ lives.
Into this world of breathtaking opportunities and shocking atrocities, the church attempts to speak with relevance to women. But the message often fails to address the opportunities, changes, and contingencies of life in a fallen world. It is not far-reaching enough to encompass every woman’s whole life within this multicultural, rapidly changing world. Instead, the message too often focuses mainly on marriage and motherhood important as these are, and overlooks all the other seasons or circumstances of life. It fails to capitalize on God’s positive, life-affirming, vision for women. The church is being drowned out by other conflicting voices and falls short of conveying the empowering mobilizing gospel message for women that is clearly embedded in God’s Word.
Carolyn Custis James sets out to unpack that message – directly, clearly, and from a global perspective – so that no woman or girl is left behind.
NotJustLaura’s Review: According to Ms James, I’m a ‘complementarian’. I believe that men and women have complementary but different roles to play in God’s world. I’m also generally quite conservative and really very Catholic. Ms James is an Evangelical who refuses to be limited by the complementarian or egalitarian labels. In Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women she presents a clear and persuasive argument for all women to shake off their labels and just “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37, NIV) This seems like sage advice in a world which, to my eyes, often seems to be crazily out of control.
Although this books addresses big issues I found it an easy, stimulating read. Ms James has clearly honed her craft in her previous books (which I’ll now have to investigate!) and I felt in no way lectured or bludgeoned into accepting her views. We’ve all read authors who’re so fired up with their message that the subtleties of allowing a reader her own opinions are lost and I’m pleased to report that Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women does not fall into that category. Instead, it offers lots of food for thought with a strong, Biblical foundation in an easily digestible form. I suspect it is a book whose message will stay with me long after I’ve closed the pages.