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A large blue paperback volume with yellowing pages sits on one of my shelves. With all the stylistic aplomb of the decade of Lisa Frank, a golden starburst adorns the cover stating, “1993 Christianity Today Book of the Year.” The book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, has served as a sort of complementarian enchiridion for the decades since. Now it would seem, at least for one author, that this oft-admired tome has outlived its usefulness. Aimee Byrd, a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has published Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a work positioned as a response to this movement spawned back in those heady days when ‘serious’ bible scholars used the NASB. With an adroit repurposing of the previous work’s title and the sort of thematic book cover that publishers dream of, this volume has quickly risen to the #1 bestseller position in Amazon’s Gender & Sexuality in Religious Studies category. Perhaps more importantly to the reader of this review, Byrd’s work is a matter of conversation throughout both the broader evangelical world and particularly the confessional Reformed circles from which she hails.

There is no reason to bore with such a full recounting of the work as other reviewers have and no doubt will admirably supply. Suffice to say that Mrs. Byrd sees the complementarian movement (and specifically the incarnation of it associated with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) as having foisted a load of oppressive baggage upon Christian women, the “yellow wallpaper” which she uses as a compelling image throughout the work. In her own bold summary statement, “This book presents an alternative to all the resources marketed on biblical womanhood and biblical manhood today, focusing on the reciprocity of the male and female voices in Scripture, the covenantal aspect to Bible reading and interpretation, and bearing the fruit of that in our church life.” In both title and declared vision, this volume is expressly committed to leaving the complementarian movement behind for something better.

To read further, click here. Special thanks to Rev. Bryan Peters of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Columbus, Indiana for this guest post. 

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Petrus_et_Paulus_4th_century_etching (2)In the present debate over Aimee Byrd (et al.) and her book Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, I have been forced to re-evaluate how and when naming names is appropriate in the Christian ‘public square.’ While it saddens me that rancor has developed among those with serious if not grave concerns over Byrd and company, it has at least helped me sharpen in my own mind a distinction that is vital.

For starters, I think the case is rather easily made that naming names in public matters involving public persons and opinions is unavoidable. To be sure, in private matters and where opinions are not openly set forth for public consumption, the order of the day is to deal with the brother privately to reclaim him. No one else need know, as it is a private affair. But there is only so much obfuscation possible with a big white elephant plopped down in the middle of the room.

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A few striking observations from a favorite anecdote in John G. Paton’s autobiography, below. If I’m not mistaken, this would be referring to a cholera outbreak in 1832 in the U.K.

1. Healthy believers long for the courts of the Lord and don’t let lesser things get in their way. 2. However, it appears that godly Scottish Presbyterians in the early 19th century believed that public health crises could warrant church closures (or at least effectively cause them by population controls). 3. And apparently, the same believed that the state could mandate such closures (or at least effectively, etc.) in the interests of public health.

Not an argument that any of our churches must necessarily close under the present circumstances; just an observation to help put some strong opinions out there in context.

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Intersectionality

This strikes me me as a fairly decent article on a very thorny and contentious subject.

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