Jesus Feminist: A Review

I'm a Jesus Feminist
What’s a Jesus-feminist, and should I be one? These are the questions this book seeks to answer.

A Jesus feminist is neatly defined as follows (with a summary that I totally nicked from Sarah Bessey’s website…):
image

So many people associate feminism with anger, a rejection of femininity, and wanting to dominate women. This book very gently blows all those associations away, and concentrates on how God sees women, and how that should shape our response. I love the way Sarah Bessey has reclaimed feminism as something that is not only something that is compatible with being a Christian, but something that flows naturally, logically, out of belonging to Jesus.

There were three things I particularly loved about this book:

1. Her Bible-handling.

    The beginning chapters focus on Jesus and Paul’s attitude to women. This isn’t a book that outlines both sides of the debate about women’s role in the church in the home, nor a book that systematically goes through the a Biblical views of women. Rather, it presents the ‘egalitarian’ theological framework (that women and men are equally called to servant-leadership in the church and mutual submission within marriage) unapologetically, through faithful and contextually-aware exposition. Her tone is always effortlessly graceful. If you are someone who has often struggled or stumbled over seeing Christianity as misogynistic, these chapters will be balm to you.

2. Her compassion.

    Part of the reason I now identify myself as a feminist was seeing that, globally, women are subject to vast social injustice. Sarah outlines these various areas in a way that does not condemn but rallies people into action. Her zeal is contagious.

3. Her reflections on her life experiences.

    Her stories of childbirth and mothering and how they have changed her perspective of the heart of God made me well up. She offers a compelling apologetic for the need for these kinds of stories and metaphors in order to enhance our theological understanding. We need the voice of women in the church so that we have the full picture of God.

The style of this book is quite distinctive: it is not combative, not academic or expositional, nor entirely story-based. I remember Sarah saying she wanted it written with a ‘prophetic voice’, and it has a lyric quality, often sounding a little like a commissioning service. This is potentially the kind of style you will either love or hate, so check out her blog to get an idea of how she writes.

Sarah Bessey’s writing always makes me want to stand up and do something. If you are looking for a detailed account of the history of feminism or the biblical justification for egalitarianism compared with complementarianism you will be disappointed by this book. But if you are a woman, sitting at the back, weary of being silenced, and wondering what your place is in the church, then this book will make you want to stand again, and probably sing and dance too.

imageJesus Feminist is currently available in the US, and you can get it from amazon.com. Jesus Feminist will be released in the UK (with a non-yellow cover) on 27 Nov. Pre-order it here (or get the e-book now) from amazon.co.uk (contains affiliate links). (I received a free copy in exchange for my candid review, which this is. I am an Amazon affiliate, which means if you click through to Amazon from my site and purchase anything at all, Amazon will give me some pence at no extra cost to you!)

NB. Yesterday I wrote about Christian Conferences and the lack of women speakers, and made the suggestion of putting together a national database in the UK of women speakers, so that conferences will be more aware of the ‘invisible women’ available to be invited as speakers. I am delighted to say that this will be happening, coordinated by tweeter @God_loves_women. If you are in the UK, and are a female Bible teacher, preacher, or speaker, or know someone who is, then PLEASE email her at befreeuk@gmail.com . It would be magnificent to have a giant list to present to the various conference organisers.

Over to you:

  • What do you think about the combination of Christianity and feminism?


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10 Responses to Jesus Feminist: A Review

  1. Diana Trautwein 24th November, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Thank you for these good words on behalf of a fine book and a winsome writer. The book does read like a commissioning of sorts, and the last chapter actually IS a commissioning. And I had the privilege of hearing Sarah herself read that chapter at The Junia Project’s gathering on Friday night. I am deeply appreciative of her irenic tone and her inclusive posture and pray that this book will get into the hands of every woman who is wondering if there is room for her in the church, who is questioning why so many churches want to relegate her to something less than a whole person, created in the image of God, called in discipleship just like her brothers. I always appreciate your ‘take’ on things, Tanya. You are bright and honest and deeply thoughtful. Thank you for showing us those stellar qualities in this review.

    • Tanya 26th November, 2013 at 11:33 am #

      Thank you for this lovely comment! And for the word ‘irenic’ – delicious! And so exactly right. Must have been great to meet Sarah and hear her read her book.

      Thanks so much for your continued affirmation of me – I really value it.

  2. Cathy 22nd November, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Love the review, and think I love the pic of you even more!

    • Tanya 26th November, 2013 at 11:34 am #

      Ha! There’ve been quite a few pics of me lately! (I only choose the good ones…) 🙂

  3. Rebecka 22nd November, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    I’ve heard so much about this book, I’d love to read it someday!

    Thank you for your important post yesterday. I hope there will be lots of names on that list.

    • Tanya 26th November, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks, Rebecka. I really hope you get well enough to read all sorts of good things. And thanks – I also really hope there will be lots of names on that list…

  4. Tim Carlisle 22nd November, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Am I reading this right – Jesus Feminist definition reads to me that women are people ‘because they love and follow Jesus’ – not sure I agree with that one….

    Surely women are people because they were created by God, knitted in their mothers wombs, they are loved by him and counted as special by him – I’m probably reading it wrong, or out of context or whatever – but it seems to make someone’s value based on their relationship with God – when we know that isn’t the case but that God loves and values all.

    What have I missed?

    • Tanya 22nd November, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      Um, no – sorry for the confusion. Meant to be:
      Be a feminist because:
      A) … God thinks women are people, too – full stop.
      And or
      B) ….you love and follow Jesus.

      (Hope that makes more sense).

      • Nick 23rd November, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

        Yes, I thought that too, Tim. Until I realised that the ‘they’ refers to the ‘someone’, not to the ‘women’. (There’s a grammary way of explaining it, I’m sure… something to do with objects and subjects…)

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