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Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women

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Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life. This all but shuts women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority Wo Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life. This all but shuts women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority World demands a Christian response, a holistic embrace of all that God calls women and men to be in his world. The loudest voices speaking into women’s lives in the twenty-first century thus far come from either fundamentalist Islam or radical feminism. And neither can be allowed to carry the day. The Bible contains the highest possible view of women and invests women’s lives with cosmic significance regardless of their age, stage of life, social status, or culture. Carolyn Custis James unpacks three transformative themes the Bible presents to women that raise the bar for women and calls them to join their brothers in advancing God’s gracious kingdom on earth. These new images of what can be in Christ free women to embrace the life God gives them, no matter what happens. Carolyn encourages readers with a positive, kingdom approach to the changes, challenges, and opportunities facing women throughout the world today.


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Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life. This all but shuts women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority Wo Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life. This all but shuts women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority World demands a Christian response, a holistic embrace of all that God calls women and men to be in his world. The loudest voices speaking into women’s lives in the twenty-first century thus far come from either fundamentalist Islam or radical feminism. And neither can be allowed to carry the day. The Bible contains the highest possible view of women and invests women’s lives with cosmic significance regardless of their age, stage of life, social status, or culture. Carolyn Custis James unpacks three transformative themes the Bible presents to women that raise the bar for women and calls them to join their brothers in advancing God’s gracious kingdom on earth. These new images of what can be in Christ free women to embrace the life God gives them, no matter what happens. Carolyn encourages readers with a positive, kingdom approach to the changes, challenges, and opportunities facing women throughout the world today.

30 review for Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    It took me forever to read this book because I would read a few pages, start crying, and have to stop. I kept thinking, why have I been lied to about what it truly means to be a woman? In many ways, my life has been a do's and don'ts list about what I am allowed and not allowed to do as a woman--and all from an allegedly "biblical" perspective. And it's a lie. Carolyn Custis James presents an accurate, biblical argument for strong, courageous women. She does not filter her study through a patriar It took me forever to read this book because I would read a few pages, start crying, and have to stop. I kept thinking, why have I been lied to about what it truly means to be a woman? In many ways, my life has been a do's and don'ts list about what I am allowed and not allowed to do as a woman--and all from an allegedly "biblical" perspective. And it's a lie. Carolyn Custis James presents an accurate, biblical argument for strong, courageous women. She does not filter her study through a patriarchal lens and she does not twist verses to say something they don't mean. She dismisses the idea that women are only to keep the house, saying; "God didn't create the woman to bring half of herself to his global commission or to minimize herself when the man is around. The fanfare over her is overblown if God was only planning for her to do for the man things he was perfectly capable of doing for himself or didn't even need. The man won't starve without her. In the garden, he really doesn't need someone to do laundry, pick up after him, or manage his home. If Adam must think, decide, protect, and provide for the woman, she actually becomes a burden on him--not much help when you think about it." She calls for women to shun the "cotton candy theology" that is so often marketed to them and to tackle the Bible for themselves. She shows how in the patriarchal culture of the Bible, the message of the gospel was this radical message that not only acknowledged women, but actually encouraged them to lead. Pitting men and women against each other, she says, only hinders the Gospel message. We spend time fighting over who is allowed to do what instead of actually serving. James handles this topic with authority and intelligence. She reveals the systemic misogyny inherent in a fallen world and rallies both men and women to correct this wrong. Her vision is global and she compellingly shows how much women are needed in this world. She also includes men in the discussion, something I seldom see, but which is absolutely necessary. This is a must read for all Christian women. It will open your eyes to the Bible in a new way and show how you are both valued and necessary for the gospel mission.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    So moved by reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Carolyn Custis James responded by writing a book that tackles God's global vision for women. With clarity and insight, James sets out a theology of women that works both for affluent surburbanites and those in the developing world. Women matter to God, they are his beloved daughters, and that knowledge gives them a foundation to rest upon and to strength to fight oppre So moved by reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Carolyn Custis James responded by writing a book that tackles God's global vision for women. With clarity and insight, James sets out a theology of women that works both for affluent surburbanites and those in the developing world. Women matter to God, they are his beloved daughters, and that knowledge gives them a foundation to rest upon and to strength to fight oppression and injustice. James is challenging the church to answer three questions: (1) What message does the church offer women in the twenty-first century? (2) What will the church do to address rampant suffering of women throughout the world? (3) What message are we sending to the world by how we value and mobilize our own daughters? (p. 41) In answering the first question, James explains how women are made in the image of God, just as men are, are of great value. She also explains that God made women ezers, helpers. But unlike the docile doormats that many picture, Ezer is also the Hebrew word used to describe God's strong help, how the mighty warrior defends and protects his people. Both men and women benefit and are at their best when they join together to serve the church and the world. I think her work in this area is invaluable to the church as an encouragement to women. The second question is more of a challenge than anything else. Though James highlights some women who are fighting injustice around the world, there isn't an easy solution to the problem of suffering and oppression and there isn't an easy answer. I wish this had been more fully developed, and included more stories of women advancing the cause of justice and mercy. More controversial than the other two, I appreciated the way James handled the third question. She established that it is wrong for us to equate biblical womanhood with being a wife and a mother, which are two good and valuable roles that we often elevate to the point of excluding and marginalizing other women. Her ministry is not for or against women's ordination or a blanket egalitarianism, which is sure to frustrate those on both sides who would like to see her take a strong position one way or another. But I find it wise, as those with either conviction can learn a lot from James. Half the Church could have been organized a little better, and integrated justice more clearly as well, but I still appreciated it. It is a good book, not a perfect one, but one that will encourage the church.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom Heil

    James wrote this book as a companion to the amazing book Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn. Reading their hard hitting expose of the plight of women around the world shook James’ world and (like most people who read the book) inspired her to get involved. When I first started reading Half the Church I was afraid it was simply going to be a rehash of the other work. Instead I found that James did a wonderful job of taking the next step. While Half the Sky clearly defined the problems in the worl James wrote this book as a companion to the amazing book Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn. Reading their hard hitting expose of the plight of women around the world shook James’ world and (like most people who read the book) inspired her to get involved. When I first started reading Half the Church I was afraid it was simply going to be a rehash of the other work. Instead I found that James did a wonderful job of taking the next step. While Half the Sky clearly defined the problems in the world and the terrible treatment of women, Half the Church answers the question of what the church should do about it. The first problem that James tackles is defining the Bible’s stance of the role of women in the world and the church. I was especially inspired by her study of the passages of scripture concerning the creation. Genesis states that men and women together bear the image of God and have been tasked with spreading the image of God’s glory throughout the world. Christian men and women working together in marriage or in friendship demonstrate God’s love, mercy, justice, truth and grace to the world. Men and women together build God’s church, which is remaking the world in God’s image. Women were created to be coworkers or even co-warriors with men. Helper is a term used to describe God several times in the Bible. However, that same term, helper, in the creation passage always seems to carry the connotation of submission. James argues that the Hebrew wording means suitable or complementary partners. While James purposely leaves the question of senior leadership in the church unanswered, she builds a strong case for women serving in leadership roles along side men. There are multiple examples of strong females in the Bible working with men to further God’s kingdom. She points to Ruth, Naomi and Boaz as one example and Esther and Mordecai as another. Essentially James questions whether we are fully mobilizing the church to fight the Enemy and help the world or underutilizing half the church. The Church should have a powerful message that it can offer a hurting world, especially the millions of abused women. That message is Grace for everyone equally and a call to serve God together using all the gifts that God has given us. It is a vision of imparting value to every individual and striving to transform the world. We are called to spread love, justice and mercy to every corner of the globe. God created what James terms a Blessed Alliance between men and women to do just that. Men are called to be fathers and women are called to be mothers, but each is called to be much more than this. Men and women bring their unique gifts and perspective together to work as an unstoppable force if each sex is equally empowered to be all that God created them to be. Ultimately leadership in the Bible is defined as being the servant of others. Each image bearer is called to take responsibility and take action to serve others and serve God. James reminds the Church that this is done best when we do it together.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate Moore

    I approached “Half the Church” with questions about women in ministry. I realized after the first chapter that my expectations were too small. James understands the weight of her words about God and about women. She expands the conversations to a global scale, noting how men and women are created to work together and urging the church to follow God’s design for the male and female Alliance. James intentionally writes in a way that works to include every woman in her conversation, not just Wester I approached “Half the Church” with questions about women in ministry. I realized after the first chapter that my expectations were too small. James understands the weight of her words about God and about women. She expands the conversations to a global scale, noting how men and women are created to work together and urging the church to follow God’s design for the male and female Alliance. James intentionally writes in a way that works to include every woman in her conversation, not just Western women in ministry. She pulls from several passages and characters from Scripture, not just the commonly argued passages, and she helped me to view the big picture of the Kingdom of God in the Bible in a new way. James seeks the flourishing of the Church by helping women to understand they are Image bearers and the beautiful, real weight that truth carries. I cannot recommend this book enough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rylee Paine

    A must-read for women and men alike. James completely bypasses the arguments people usually get caught up on concerning women’s roles and goes straight to God’s vision for women (and by implication, the church, men, the world...aka we’re all connected and we should all be invested in these issues). I have a lot of thoughts on this book, mostly feeling like this articulated SO WELL God’s heart and vision for women that sadly (and frustratingly) seems to have been lost by large portions of the chu A must-read for women and men alike. James completely bypasses the arguments people usually get caught up on concerning women’s roles and goes straight to God’s vision for women (and by implication, the church, men, the world...aka we’re all connected and we should all be invested in these issues). I have a lot of thoughts on this book, mostly feeling like this articulated SO WELL God’s heart and vision for women that sadly (and frustratingly) seems to have been lost by large portions of the church. The Bible’s message for women is NOT inadequate but I’ve been pretty disappointed with the church’s message for women (why are they not the same?). But this book was a breathe of fresh air to me. One of the best parts of this book is that it casts a global perspective on women’s issues and roles and why IT MATTERS to the church and has huge implications for God’s Kingdom (SO important for us to know). If you can’t tell, I really liked this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Keturah Lamb

    Wow, I loved just about this whole book (like anything, I didn't always agree 100%, but those things were so trivial and not worth mentioning). This book is just like - super motivational, encouraging, inspirational. Especially for single women. This book makes me thankful that I'm yet single and free to serve God in so many ways! As the author states, so many people put emphasize on women's worth/ purpose/ ministry being found through marrying/ mothering. But what of the rest of us? How do we ser Wow, I loved just about this whole book (like anything, I didn't always agree 100%, but those things were so trivial and not worth mentioning). This book is just like - super motivational, encouraging, inspirational. Especially for single women. This book makes me thankful that I'm yet single and free to serve God in so many ways! As the author states, so many people put emphasize on women's worth/ purpose/ ministry being found through marrying/ mothering. But what of the rest of us? How do we serve God and escape the trap of feminism? Do we have worth outside of marriage? After we are finished having children? Are we are own selves? Or is that feministic? After all, women are half of the church. And most women are unmarried/ done having kids. So what next? This book awakened many biblical truths, showed me there's much to do, and that right now in my life I can do a lot. And yes, I'm one person - but when has that ever stopped God from working through individuals? Groups are great, but God works through "me" best. I couldn't recommend this book enough to all women. Read. Be inspired. Love. Act.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    “[The vision of creation and vision of the bride in Revelation] bracket our world, a world that is a nightmare for so many and can make one vision seem impossible to recapture and the other too distant to imagine. But together these two visions possess the power to spur us forward. The first vision frames our lives and tells us who we are, why we are here, and what our mission is in the present. We are God’s image bearers. We are ezer-warriors and our brothers need us. We belong to the Blessed A “[The vision of creation and vision of the bride in Revelation] bracket our world, a world that is a nightmare for so many and can make one vision seem impossible to recapture and the other too distant to imagine. But together these two visions possess the power to spur us forward. The first vision frames our lives and tells us who we are, why we are here, and what our mission is in the present. We are God’s image bearers. We are ezer-warriors and our brothers need us. We belong to the Blessed Alliance of those who follow Jesus. The second vision fuels our hopes with the certainty that Jesus is going to finish the job and that he enlists our participation in finishing it. The bride reminds us that our efforts make a difference, that heaven keeps score, that anything and everything we do for the kingdom is being woven together not the mother of all wedding gowns.” If you want a defense for female ordination, this isn’t it. But James paints a compelling vision for what it means to be image bearers, male and female, intending to labor together with God in self-sacrificing love and mutually beneficial interdependence. She uses the narrative and especially the stories of Ruth and Mary in Scripture, contemporary stories of woman in bondage across many cultural contexts, and her own reflections not to parse out the fine points of complementarianism versus egalitarianism but to challenge every believer into the active embrace of his/ her Spirit-appointed, strategic role in carrying out the establishing of God’s reign and liberation around the globe, through the unity of the body.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nick Paine

    I really enjoyed this book. It was at some level heart-wrenching but altogether vision-casting. The call to the Christian church to show the world and the Devil itself that in the kingdom of God and his Son, EVERYONE is valued, everyone flourishes. James urges the church to lead the way in the liberation of women and girls globally because the vision God has for them is powerful. As Americans, James notes, we tend to get caught up in our own cultural gender battles, and sure, there is always a n I really enjoyed this book. It was at some level heart-wrenching but altogether vision-casting. The call to the Christian church to show the world and the Devil itself that in the kingdom of God and his Son, EVERYONE is valued, everyone flourishes. James urges the church to lead the way in the liberation of women and girls globally because the vision God has for them is powerful. As Americans, James notes, we tend to get caught up in our own cultural gender battles, and sure, there is always a need to seek justice where injustices are found, but she argues that we must not become so telescopic in our vision of women’s experience that we neglect to look at their plight around the world. The atrocities committed against millions of women and girls in the world everyday are both mind-numbing and tear-coaxing. “Half the Sky” is still being torn down by the other half. Can we, God’s church, arise and speak and act into this injustice to restore the Eden of mutual flourishing? Or will we go the way of the world and it’s lord and try to ignorantly and happily and self-contentedly exist as “Half the Church,” without the strong arm of our “Ezer-warriors?”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meredith McCaskey

    I feel terrible shelving this as unfinished, but it's been months since I've picked it up and I honestly don't think I'm going to pick it up again. Maybe sometime in the far future when reading time isn't so carefully hoarded? The reality is, I loved everything about Ms. James's message in the 2/3 of the book that I read, but the delivery was just so off-putting for me that I can't finish it. I think that the book deserved a better editor– one who would have helped the author understand that CON I feel terrible shelving this as unfinished, but it's been months since I've picked it up and I honestly don't think I'm going to pick it up again. Maybe sometime in the far future when reading time isn't so carefully hoarded? The reality is, I loved everything about Ms. James's message in the 2/3 of the book that I read, but the delivery was just so off-putting for me that I can't finish it. I think that the book deserved a better editor– one who would have helped the author understand that CONSTANT HYPERBOLIC LANGUAGE detracts from the urgency of the message. The plight of a major portion of the world's population of women truly is horrific– the problem is that when you put in a ceaseless commentary about how every last story you share is horrible and awful and horrific and tragic, instead of letting the stories and the women's circumstances speak for themselves, you actually end up numbing your reader's mind to the tragedy. The true impact of what you have to say gets lost in the delivery. And that really is sad. I'm hoping that it won't bother most readers the way it bothered me, because again, the message is important.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Prior to reading Half the Church, I read some strongly negative reviews of this book, which I regret. I should have read the book for myself first. So let me start by saying what this book is NOT: It's NOT an exhaustive hermeneutical analysis of "controversial" biblical passages. So please do not review it as such, pointing out how James doesn't engage in verse-by-verse exegesis, making a hermeneutical case of women in ministry. She makes the assumption that that work has been done, which it has Prior to reading Half the Church, I read some strongly negative reviews of this book, which I regret. I should have read the book for myself first. So let me start by saying what this book is NOT: It's NOT an exhaustive hermeneutical analysis of "controversial" biblical passages. So please do not review it as such, pointing out how James doesn't engage in verse-by-verse exegesis, making a hermeneutical case of women in ministry. She makes the assumption that that work has been done, which it has. If you don't believe that women have a place in active evangelism and work in the world, you won't agree with a single word in the book. If that is your case, it would be most transparent for you to state that fact up front in your review so that readers understand the assumptions YOU are making in reading. What this book IS: The church's message to women, historically, has been less than inspiring. At best, it's been only mildly restricting. At worst, well... In addition, there are billions, yes billions, of women to whom the wife-mother paradigm doesn't apply. Yet the church in general (with growing exceptions) persists in speaking as though every women is married and has small children. There is a voice that SCREAMS at women in the church that their ONE and ONLY purpose is to sit in the shadows, invisible whilst cooking, cleaning, and herding children. There's nothing wrong with those tasks. There is great VALUE in those tasks. But are those the ONLY tasks for which women are fit for their entire lives? Does God ask women to do anything else? This book is a CALL TO ARMS. WOMEN SHOULD BE IN MINISTRY IN THE WORLD. God calls all believers to preach the gospel, make disciples and minister to others. When women sit out the game or are purposefully benched, the church loses. Women lose. But most of all? The world loses. James uses a play on the title of the book "Half the Sky" (which is an in-depth and thoroughly researched volume regarding the status of women worldwide) to make the point that the church, and more specifically WOMEN IN THE CHURCH, should be on the front lines of fighting the atrocities to which women and girls are subjected every day. In the book of Genesis, when God created the woman, he referred to her as "ezer," which means "warrior" or "hero." Sinful patriarchal cultures have tried to argue that this word denotes that the woman was inferior to the man. However, since the same word is used several times in the Hebrew to refer to GOD himself, it clearly cannot mean that the woman was the man's subordinate. James's position, then, is that women are called to be WARRIORS, fighting for justice and grace in a cruel and unjust world. http://www.whitbyforum.com/2005/12/re... One of the chapters I found most significant was titled "The Blessed Alliance," referring to the fact that the MOST effective work is done when brothers and sisters, men and women in The Body of Christ PARTNER to make a difference in this world. Each believer is differently gifted. Each member of The Body is vital to its operation, to its mission. Why, then, is there so much argument about what women are "allowed" to do in service to God? We need to work together without limiting God's expression of our individual gifts. We MUST allow each member of The Body to invest his/her talents if we want to garner a return on our investment. The bottom line is: Do we want to serve God fully, with everything we are? Or don't we? The negative reviews I have read mostly center on attacking James for her stance that women are full members of the Body of Christ. They seek to argue that women's "place" is not in active ministry, which is thoroughly unbiblical. I don't agree, necessarily, with every word in the book. The overall message, however, is one that I believe every believer should internalize.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hippie Housewife

    For a book with such potential and such a hopeful message, I was sorely disappointed. I expected to like it, even wanted to like it, but the delivery was so poor that I could barely even get through it. The arguments put forth were filled with holes, poor logic, and tenuous connections. The points made were weak and unclear; the flow of the book was disjointed. The conclusion fell flat and, in the end, I felt like I had gained nothing from reading it. There was the rare good line here and there, For a book with such potential and such a hopeful message, I was sorely disappointed. I expected to like it, even wanted to like it, but the delivery was so poor that I could barely even get through it. The arguments put forth were filled with holes, poor logic, and tenuous connections. The points made were weak and unclear; the flow of the book was disjointed. The conclusion fell flat and, in the end, I felt like I had gained nothing from reading it. There was the rare good line here and there, but overall it is not a book I would recommend, especially to someone who wasn't already "there" as far as the general message goes.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jane 🌻 Gleaton

    This was SO GOOD. It really addresses that women are not second class or less than. We don’t have to hide or tamper down our gifts because of men. I’ve always been told I need to be in the “appropriate place” because I am a woman and this book pushes back on that. It honestly was pretty liberating to finally understand in a biblical way the things I’ve been feeling in my heart for years.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Terra Wood

    First 2/3rds of this book are SO good, a bit life-changing for me. She sort of rambled out uncommitted for the last third.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    Half the Church is an inspirational read. In chapter 8, James does an excellent job of describing the conundrum women face as they step into church with the intention to serve God with everything they are. But the rest of her book lifts our eyes above that debate to the enormous need and opportunity that is presented to the church around the world. It is inspiring, although the grandness of her writing style can wear thin at times. There are no practical guidelines offered in this book, which is Half the Church is an inspirational read. In chapter 8, James does an excellent job of describing the conundrum women face as they step into church with the intention to serve God with everything they are. But the rest of her book lifts our eyes above that debate to the enormous need and opportunity that is presented to the church around the world. It is inspiring, although the grandness of her writing style can wear thin at times. There are no practical guidelines offered in this book, which is frustrating. The conclusion left a lot to be desired. But in the end, my sense after reading her book is that the practical aspects will work themselves out as women step forward to serve God as they were created to do. There are good source notes in the back.

  15. 4 out of 5

    RuthAnn

    Would recommend: Yes This book is really, really good. I especially recommend it for anyone who has read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The author was highly affected by that book, and it comes up often here. Reading this book gave me a lot to think about, and I will be mulling for a long while. I copied down lots of lines, but the one that still rings very true for me is: "Can we miss or lose or spoil or be cheated of God's purpose for his daughters? Are G Would recommend: Yes This book is really, really good. I especially recommend it for anyone who has read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The author was highly affected by that book, and it comes up often here. Reading this book gave me a lot to think about, and I will be mulling for a long while. I copied down lots of lines, but the one that still rings very true for me is: "Can we miss or lose or spoil or be cheated of God's purpose for his daughters? Are God's purposes for women only for those whose lives go from early adulthood to 'I do' and from there to the delivery room? Or are his purposes dynamic enough to leave no woman or girl behind?"

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary Grace

    This is the kind of book you feel bad for not liking. Like, a book talking about women in the church and how they're important- great! yes! definitely! However, Carolyn Custis James's writing style is so over the top, repetitive, and in some ways unorganized that it's hard to take Half the Church seriously. In some ways it's a glorified review of Half the Sky. It's also full of mixed metaphors, appeals to emotion, and dramatic language. Yes, God has a global, "full-orbed" vision for women, and t This is the kind of book you feel bad for not liking. Like, a book talking about women in the church and how they're important- great! yes! definitely! However, Carolyn Custis James's writing style is so over the top, repetitive, and in some ways unorganized that it's hard to take Half the Church seriously. In some ways it's a glorified review of Half the Sky. It's also full of mixed metaphors, appeals to emotion, and dramatic language. Yes, God has a global, "full-orbed" vision for women, and that is WONDERFUL. Praise Jesus for that-- Jesus, come quickly. But, I was not impressed with Custis James's delivery. side note: maybe this book would be more life-changing for someone who hadn't heard this message before? Thankfully, I go to a thoughtful Christian school that teaches about the global plight of women and actively wrestles with the topic of gender in the church.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandy H

    This book was very much preaching to the choir for me. Since I have only ever been in religious communities in which men and women are truly equal and, as well, in which social action and commitment to global issues have always been a part of our calling as Christians, there was nothing in this book that was new to me. However, if you're in a space in which you're unsure of what the church's role is in helping disadvantaged and oppressed peoples in your own community or around the world; or if y This book was very much preaching to the choir for me. Since I have only ever been in religious communities in which men and women are truly equal and, as well, in which social action and commitment to global issues have always been a part of our calling as Christians, there was nothing in this book that was new to me. However, if you're in a space in which you're unsure of what the church's role is in helping disadvantaged and oppressed peoples in your own community or around the world; or if you're in a space in which you're struggling with the role of women in the church; you may find this book challenging and informative.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Greg Reimer

    A solid book with a grounded Biblical perspective that takes a "middle of the road" approach so as be applicable to women on both sides of the issue. My only critique would be that as a man, I found this content very informative and relevant, and yet the language Carolyn used made it clear the books audience was solely women, even though it should be read by more than just half the church. A solid book with a grounded Biblical perspective that takes a "middle of the road" approach so as be applicable to women on both sides of the issue. My only critique would be that as a man, I found this content very informative and relevant, and yet the language Carolyn used made it clear the books audience was solely women, even though it should be read by more than just half the church.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    My copy of Half the Church is filled with underlines and notes. Beginning with a global look at how women are treated, James unveils the horrifying consequences of being born a girl in patriarchal society and then shows how this affects us all. She advocates women use all of their giftings. I'll be reflecting on this for some time. My copy of Half the Church is filled with underlines and notes. Beginning with a global look at how women are treated, James unveils the horrifying consequences of being born a girl in patriarchal society and then shows how this affects us all. She advocates women use all of their giftings. I'll be reflecting on this for some time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    CJ Craig

    Please do not write the same ideas over and over again and call it a book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aja

    As someone who's beliefs fall into the egalitarian perspective, I wanted to read something by James because I've heard of her name around those circles. So, I found this book at my school's library. I thought most of the beginning was a little slow to get to her point. I feel like maybe I did have some preconceived notion about her supporting women's ordination in that, but she doesn't hold that same conviction here. In fact, she talks about this very briefly in saying that she lets down both sid As someone who's beliefs fall into the egalitarian perspective, I wanted to read something by James because I've heard of her name around those circles. So, I found this book at my school's library. I thought most of the beginning was a little slow to get to her point. I feel like maybe I did have some preconceived notion about her supporting women's ordination in that, but she doesn't hold that same conviction here. In fact, she talks about this very briefly in saying that she lets down both sides by believing that she does not reject women being pastors for complementarians and does not affirm women as pastors for egalitarians...like most of my friends at school. Go figure. I did think her critique of how complementarians are limiting the gifts of women in the Church as well as egalitarians still being too comfortable with male church leadership that they don't give women a chance even though their theology allows it. I don't have a clue if James has changed from this position since she published this book, though. I still might give Malestrom and The Gospel of Ruth a try. However, when she talks about Christianity on a global scale, most of her argument makes sense. I do feel that there was a bit of pitying those in third world countries a lot, not that we should not mourn their tragedies, but as an American it can seem a bit...unaware. I did find it interesting when James mentioned how some African Muslim converts to Christianity who were women were disappointed because they thought that Christianity would give them more rights. To me, that just confirms that some degree of gender hierarchical aspects of Christianity isn't much different than that in other religions if Christians want to favor that as being divinely given...especially when Christians want to promote freedom. Freedom to what extent? How much will we let the curse have rule over our lives when it comes to relationships with gender, economic class, among other things? Otherwise, I give James here a good 3 stars. I think this is good for soft complementarians, egalitarians who favor men still, or someone who's still questioning about women in the Church. Just don't let this be your only book about it. It's not as radical as it sounds in the sense of getting to the root of the problem. Ruth Tucker's Women in the Maze and Denise Carmody's Feminism and Christianity: a Two Way Reflection are also good books to read and compare this to, the former more egalitarian (focuses on women but still discusses relationships with men) while the other is more feminist (women-centered).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marcy Kennedy

    This book is closer to a 3.5. It made many good points. She does a word study for the terms normally translated "help meet" in Genesis, and she draws lessons from the lives of the women in the Bible. She also points out that the Bible is meant for everyone, so if we can't find a way to apply what we think it says to multiple cultures, we're probably reading it wrong. Her call to arms to help abused and enslaved women worldwide is vitally important and, in a very different way, so is her message t This book is closer to a 3.5. It made many good points. She does a word study for the terms normally translated "help meet" in Genesis, and she draws lessons from the lives of the women in the Bible. She also points out that the Bible is meant for everyone, so if we can't find a way to apply what we think it says to multiple cultures, we're probably reading it wrong. Her call to arms to help abused and enslaved women worldwide is vitally important and, in a very different way, so is her message to first-world women that their most valuable role isn't wifehood and motherhood. Their most valuable role is serving Christ through loving God, serving others, and making disciples of all nations, which is the same role that Christian men are to play. I couldn't give this book a higher rating, however, because she completely avoids what she calls "disputed passages." She does it intentionally. Her theory is that we should only focus on the "indisputable" passages. Here's my problem with this--the Bible doesn't contradict itself. Therefore, any message we pull from the "indisputable" passages should help us make sense of the more highly debated passages. She did her message a disservice by not doing that. If she's entirely convinced that she's correct, then how would she interpret the disputable passages? We can't just ignore parts of the Bible because they don't agree with what we want to believe. She won't be able to achieve her purpose with this book without addressing those passages because people who don't agree with her message will simply point to those passages as evidence against her message. She skipped the hard work in favor of an emotional appeal when both are actually needed. Her message was also poorly organized and jumped around. I wish it'd been structured better. I listened to this as an audiobook book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather Kidd

    Carolyn Custis James is eloquently inviting us into “a global conversation about the Bible’s message for women”. Which she says we need desperately to do “because a global conversation safeguards us from proclaiming a prosperity gospel for women that works for some (at least for a time) and is utterly crushing to vast numbers of women in our own culture and elsewhere in the world.” “Women hold up half the sky” is the analogy alluded to through out the book. However, this book is not just FOR women Carolyn Custis James is eloquently inviting us into “a global conversation about the Bible’s message for women”. Which she says we need desperately to do “because a global conversation safeguards us from proclaiming a prosperity gospel for women that works for some (at least for a time) and is utterly crushing to vast numbers of women in our own culture and elsewhere in the world.” “Women hold up half the sky” is the analogy alluded to through out the book. However, this book is not just FOR women or ABOUT women, but strongly advocates for BOTH men and women to rise up into the full purpose of who they were made to be, without one gender being superior and the other inferior. She talks about God making both male and female in his image and what ramifications that has for all of humanity. The message of the book is inclusive and challenging for all people. I enjoyed the last half of the book the most as she expands her ideas of what she calls the Blessed Alliance and what she understands God’s Vision for his Church and the redeeming of this world to be. It’s exciting, compelling and hopeful! Basically it’s a rallying cry, by the last chapter, for us the church to stop infighting and join together to eradicate injustice and evil in this world. To become One with each other, just as we are one with Christ, just as He is One with the Father. The book for me took a long time to read, and even though at times I found it hard to read more than a few sections at a time, it was well worth it. This book is a full course meal, heavy and rich, with lots of meat. I appreciate Carolyn’s insights and her seriousness, her thoughtfulness and creativity, her wisdom and her humility that shines through in the words she’s written down.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Saldaña

    I was motivated to read this book, after the glowing recommendation given by Sarah Bessey of Jesus Feminist. I read it within a day, because of the relativity and sense of urgency of it all. The book was published in 2011, but feels more and more prevalent as the days pass. The idea that there’s a better world, a God-inspired and breathed world, we just have to work for/at it is hopeful. This book focuses on the struggles women have faced biblically and currently. The call is to work together, w I was motivated to read this book, after the glowing recommendation given by Sarah Bessey of Jesus Feminist. I read it within a day, because of the relativity and sense of urgency of it all. The book was published in 2011, but feels more and more prevalent as the days pass. The idea that there’s a better world, a God-inspired and breathed world, we just have to work for/at it is hopeful. This book focuses on the struggles women have faced biblically and currently. The call is to work together, with men, to truly reflect God’s image. We are God’s image-bearers. Somehow along the way, the equality of men and women has become reckless, dangerous and outlandish. Carolyn writes in such a way to see God’s intention for us, ALL of us, to love on others and have courage doing so. This book is a call to action, it’s a call of redemption and an admission that God most definitely loves us-yes ladies, even us. I would recommend giving this book to anyone you know, especially the men you respect and admire. It’s beautifully written and calls both male and female to be and do better.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kat Coffin

    I appreciate Carolyn Custis James' enthusiasm and passion for women in the church. Heavily inspired by "Half the Sky", "Half the Church" reimagines the role for women in ministry, going far beyond the submissive archetypes typical church teaches. However, I wish James' had gone a bit further in advocating and affirming female leaders. I understand she's trying to create a path for both complementarians and egalitarians to agree, but as long as we differ on the value of women, there will be no agr I appreciate Carolyn Custis James' enthusiasm and passion for women in the church. Heavily inspired by "Half the Sky", "Half the Church" reimagines the role for women in ministry, going far beyond the submissive archetypes typical church teaches. However, I wish James' had gone a bit further in advocating and affirming female leaders. I understand she's trying to create a path for both complementarians and egalitarians to agree, but as long as we differ on the value of women, there will be no agreement between the two. I also wish James took into consideration intersectional points about women in the west--white women have it pretty good, but women of color do not, and that needs to be addressed appropriately. James spends a lot of time talking about child trafficking/child marriage in eastern Europe, India, and Pakistan, but she neglects to mention how the Evangelical church harbors and encourages child marriage/child trafficking as well--the main reason why so many American churches to not have 18 as the minimum age to be married.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elicia

    So appreciated the global vision in a time where I’ve been thinking about my privilege quite a bit. Would love to own a hard copy and maybe read through it with a group, in person or not. If you’re interested, let me know! “Page one of the Bible shatters every negative value statement the world has ever made up about women by offering up the most exalted view of women anyone could imagine. Gods story begins by emphatically corroborating the view that “women hold up half the sky,” but takes this s So appreciated the global vision in a time where I’ve been thinking about my privilege quite a bit. Would love to own a hard copy and maybe read through it with a group, in person or not. If you’re interested, let me know! “Page one of the Bible shatters every negative value statement the world has ever made up about women by offering up the most exalted view of women anyone could imagine. Gods story begins by emphatically corroborating the view that “women hold up half the sky,” but takes this statement much, much further when God names women, along with men, as God’s image bearers.” “Leadership is everywhere. It is, after all, every image bearer’s calling to accept responsibility and take action.” “Privilege and prosperity come with responsibility.” “God isn’t working with fractions here, but with two complete image bearers who, when joined in common cause with their Creator, will present to the world the clearest reflection of God and a potent force for good in the world.”

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Seders

    Seeking Perspective Having read Malestrom, I was eager to hear more from Carolyn Custis James. Her theological insight into gender and relationships is valuable, and I thought Half the Church might deepen my own understanding of the subject. Many of the same topics are addressed in the two books, so you'll see a lot of repetition if you read them consecutively; however, I did appreciate this volume's extended explorations of the fight for justice, the blessed alliance, and the imago dei. Seeking Perspective Having read Malestrom, I was eager to hear more from Carolyn Custis James. Her theological insight into gender and relationships is valuable, and I thought Half the Church might deepen my own understanding of the subject. Many of the same topics are addressed in the two books, so you'll see a lot of repetition if you read them consecutively; however, I did appreciate this volume's extended explorations of the fight for justice, the blessed alliance, and the imago dei.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lori Galaske

    In reading this book, I had hoped for a clear and definitive understanding of those scripture verses that puzzle me about God's perspective on women in leadership. I got so much more! To attempt to understand a few dividing verses is too small a thing. To do so is, as Ms. Curtis says, quarreling about how to cut up a pie most equitably among siblings, when our neighbor's house is on fire. I want to read more on the hot topic of complementarianism vs equalitarianism, but this was a great place to In reading this book, I had hoped for a clear and definitive understanding of those scripture verses that puzzle me about God's perspective on women in leadership. I got so much more! To attempt to understand a few dividing verses is too small a thing. To do so is, as Ms. Curtis says, quarreling about how to cut up a pie most equitably among siblings, when our neighbor's house is on fire. I want to read more on the hot topic of complementarianism vs equalitarianism, but this was a great place to start!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lee Nienhuis

    I wanted to love this book. In the beginning, the author made a strong case for addressing the incongruities between American biblical womanhood and that of the world. As a Bible Teacher who has traveled internationally, I have seen this American tendency to prescribe a vision for women in the church that falls short of the reality of those who live in poverty or simply outside the US. That said, the meat I was hoping for, a prescription for addressing this error, simply isn’t there in a way that I wanted to love this book. In the beginning, the author made a strong case for addressing the incongruities between American biblical womanhood and that of the world. As a Bible Teacher who has traveled internationally, I have seen this American tendency to prescribe a vision for women in the church that falls short of the reality of those who live in poverty or simply outside the US. That said, the meat I was hoping for, a prescription for addressing this error, simply isn’t there in a way that is scholarly satisfying. It’s a good place to start the conversation.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Sutton

    Absolutely excellent and highly recommended for anyone interested in Christianity's view and treatment of women. Emotional, passionate, and sometimes repetitive, but clearly from the tender and earnest heart of a woman. I appreciate the legitimacy with which the author includes scripture and stories. Anyone disenchanted with the church and the patriarchy within its dogma will find this refreshing, empowering, and inspiring. Absolutely excellent and highly recommended for anyone interested in Christianity's view and treatment of women. Emotional, passionate, and sometimes repetitive, but clearly from the tender and earnest heart of a woman. I appreciate the legitimacy with which the author includes scripture and stories. Anyone disenchanted with the church and the patriarchy within its dogma will find this refreshing, empowering, and inspiring.

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