10.10.14

Influential Women

Influential Women

I have now finished Wendy Virgo's 'Influential women'. This book grabbed my attention because of the blurb on its front cover, which explains: 'From the New Testament to today - how women can build up (or undermine) their local church.'

On Amazon it is described with the following title, which is not actually to be found on either the front or back of the book:

'Influential Women: From the New Testament to Today - How Women Can Build Up or Undermine Their Local Church: How Women Can Bless - or Ruin - Their Local Church - Wendy Virgo'
I was puzzled as to why the idea of women undermining the church was put in parenthesis. I realise why now. Women will be attracted to this book initially as they seek to learn how they might build up the church. What they soon realise it that this book's aims are subtle, hence the parenthesis but then liberated from such punctuation inhibitors later. The book's aims will squarely smack you between the chops and if you are undecided about what you think God's will might be for women in the Church, you will be taught that if your callings are to eldership, the pastorate or leadership of a mixed congregation, then according to Wendy Virgo you are entertaining a 'Jezebelic spirit'.

When I started this book, I skimmed a little. It is a bit pedestrian. It is light-hearted and entertaining. It is imaginative. She adds details to the biblical portrayals of Priscilla, Tabitha, Lois and Eunice, Euodia and Syntyche. The blurb on the back describes how 'Some were saints, full of good works; some were frankly poisonous and did considerable harm. What can we learn?'

So what did I learn?

Well, at first I wondered whether learning was the point. And I think that this is part of the book's weakness. We tell entertaining stories to teach each other but somehow Virgo doesn't quite pull it off. Three quarters of the read was entertaining and interesting, of a kind. Virgo adds colour and detail from her imagination, which fleshes out the holes in the original stories, as she surmises about how old these women were, how they entertained themselves, what they thought about...

However, the last third of the book, is of a different tone altogether. Here, we are to swallow her bitter pill, concur with the 'theology' of her complementarian mindset, prayerfully seek forgiveness for our 'jezebelic spirits', if we have entertained 'aspirations' for which we were not built.

Virgo morphs from imaginative fancy grounded in truths but padded out for our delight to, well, attempts to correct and admonish the wayward thinking that is a product of our time and the influence of the devil.

The book ends prematurely. It is as if we are left with nowhere to go. If we are left weeping, she has already been there as she struggled to tame her own rebellious heart! We are presented, before this premature end, with descriptions of her ultimately 'influential women': Eve and Mary.

Eve failed her husband and failed God. It was her independent spirit which has ruined us!

Mary obeyed God, was willing to be his servant in bearing Jesus.

The theology here is well-worn and centuries old, we are either the rebel or the virgin and there are no shades in between.

It's all that simple!

The argument is crass and unconvincing in its application to women. Never is there any discussion of Mary's counter-cultural predicament, what her relationship must have been like with Joseph in this marriage which did little to conform to the norms. Never is there any discussion of any other way of looking at the fall and what God planned for man and woman before it.

Headship and hierarchy are the holy words in this book and we are left in no doubt as to the sort of woman who will ruin her local church - Eve-like, if she is unable to gain the power she quests, she will result to using her sexuality to unsettle the men there. My goodness! Local church - watch out!!

This book does not inspire a healthy vision for either men or women, in the local church.

Entertaining until the end when Virgo's parenthetical aims emerged. 3 out of 10.

No comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

.

.
A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.