Review: Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles

Review: Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles

Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles
Published: 2014-05-27
Page Count: 50
A brief and personal perspective on biblical gender roles. Keller has come to adopt the view that man and women have different roles in marriage and ministry, and that fulfilling such roles pleases God and leads to greater personal fulfillment. She encourages women to teach and lead in the church in ways that may startle some complementarians.

Kathy Keller, the partner in ministry to her late husband, Tim, has long been a sharp, thoughtful and highly intelligent woman. I confess that I haven’t read a great deal of what she has written or published, but Tim would often drop little snippets of insight from Kathy in his sermons that showed she equally as gifted as her husband.

This short book seeks to make a case for Kathy’s theological position regarding the role of women in ministry. The book reads as part-testimony, part-theological argument. Kathy explains how she was once pursuing the path of ordination, only to suddenly shift her theological position on the matter that she no longer pursued it. By all accounts, that change of heart certainly didn’t restrict her significant ministry role in any way, it just changed the shape of it.

Kathy brings her personal journey into view in the final section of the book. She is keen to ensure that the book rests on a very solid theological foundation (and notes how often other books on the subject unfortunately begin from a personal perspective, not a theological one). She does a good job at giving some framing to understanding that her theological position ought not be equated to an unjust position with regards to women.

Who wrote it

Kathy was the wife of the late Tim Keller, who himself was lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, among many other globally impacting initiatives. Kathy was always spoken of as a partner-in-crime figure by Tim, and has played a significant role in ministering by Tim’s side for many decades.

Why I read it

I expected that Kathy would have something highly valuable to read on the topic of gender roles, and she did not disappoint.

What I liked

The book is brief, personal, and very sharp. It was everything I would have expected it to be. A very easy read, with very thoughtful insight. I probably don’t agree with every conclusion that Kathy herself reaches, but that didn’t at all impact my enjoyment..

Kathy has some excellent insight into first century culture that I found very helpful. She does a masterful job at unpacking the key texts in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy in a way that is very accessible to the average reader, and steers clear of the technical jargon often associated with such works.

What I didn’t

It’s hard to fault this work. Kathy is as brief as she is sharp in expressing her theological position. Some of it I would have loved to read more on, but that would significantly increase the size of the book so as to be a different book entirely.

Major Takeaway

Here’s a quote that sums up her position quite succinctly:

So what is being forbidden to women in 1 Timothy 2 (and by extension in 1 Corinthians 14) is authoritative teaching—some kind of teaching that carried with it an authority not found in other, allowable forms of oral discourse. Because this has already been linked in 1 Corinthians 14 with the judging of the prophets and is followed immediately in 1 Timothy 3 by a discussion of the qualifications of elders, I find it not only plausible but unavoidable to come to the conclusion that women were being enjoined to silence (i.e., forbidden to participate) in a function reserved for elders alone—those men tasked with judging personal and corporate faithfulness to the apostolic “deposit” of truth.

And another useful comment:

The teaching is called authoritative for two reasons. First, it was the final judgment of truth versus heresy; second, it came with the power of discipline, that is, the power to remove from the church body anyone who taught in defiance of the approved apostolic oral tradition.

Who should read it

Anyone interested in the subject matter. This is a great read, very accessible, and gets straight to the heart of the matter.

3.5Overall Score

Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles

Kathy Keller, the partner in ministry to her late husband, Tim, has long been a sharp, thoughtful and highly intelligent woman. I confess that I haven't read a great deal of what she has written ...

  • Difficulty to read
    Clear, concise and so very accessible.
  • Overall Rating
    Wonderful little book.

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