Grudem analyzes and refutes more than one hundred arguments used by egalitarians in the debate about biblical gender roles. The book’s first 536 pages address these arguments, and the remaining 320 pages consist of eight appendixes, a bibliography, Scripture index, name index, and subject index.
Grudem sees this book as a companion to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which he coedited with John Piper in 1991. Grudem is a board member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and professor of theology at Phoenix Theological Seminary.
In this book Grudem seeks to accomplish five goals (p. 17): (a) to answer new arguments made by evangelical feminists; (b) to adopt a user-friendly format that enables readers to find a fair summary of egalitarian arguments from the last three decades accompanied by clear, biblical responses; (c) to summarize the results of new scholarly research and to articulate it so that it can be easily understood by laymen; (d) to provide an updated assessment of where the evangelical world is headed regarding issues related to gender; and (e) to warn about troubling trends in the evangelical feminist camp that indicate an even more dangerous trend toward theological liberalism.
Grudem believes the Scriptures teach that headship originated at Creation. It is not a result of the Fall, and its effects are not obliterated by Christ’s death and resurrection. Thus headship must be based on Creation and affirmed in the New Testament. Grudem discusses how egalitarians make the claim that male headship is a result of the Fall in Genesis 1–3, maintaining that male headship did not come about until after the Fall and that it is therefore a product of sin (pp. 102–30). In response Grudem offers several arguments to prove there was male headship before the Fall.
Some of the major sections of Scripture that are addressed include Genesis 1–3; Judges 4 and Deborah; Psalm 68:11 and Isaiah 40:9 on women preachers; Proverbs 31 and the “good wife”; Matthew 28 and the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection; Acts 18:26 on Priscilla and Aquila; Romans 16:7 on Phoebe; Romans 16:7 on Junia; 1 Corinthians 7:3–5; 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 on women being silent in the church; Galatians 3:28 (“no longer male or female”); Ephesians 5:21 on mutual submission; Ephesians 5:23 on the meaning of kefalhv, “head”; Hebrews 11:2 and 1 Timothy 5:3–16 on women and eldership; 2 Timothy 4:1–2 on preaching the Word (pp. 275–78); and many more.
Grudem’s eight appendixes include three reviews of Catherine Kroeger’s 1992 book I Suffer Not a Woman; the “Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”; the “Complete List of Eighty-two Examples of Athenteo (‘to exercise authority’) in Ancient Greek Literature,” by H. Scott Baldwin; Grudem’s own articles on kefalhv; and the policy statements of numerous denominations and parachurch organizations on women in ministry.
Both egalitarians and complementarians will be interested in Grudem’s answers to the 109 questions (or objections) offered by egalitarians. His opening two chapters offer a biblical vision of manhood and womanhood as created by God and in the church. Chapters 14 and 15 address the claim of evangelical feminism that complementarianism is harmful and also offers some serious warning signs within evangelical feminism.
It is sometimes claimed that organizations like the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood tend to alienate women because of harsh wording in their documents. As a result the egalitarian perspective often seems attractive to those who have not been offered the opportunity of honest dialogue regarding their concerns. Even though this book is clearly a complementarian apologetic, many of the questions and answers could possibly be used to promote dialogue among believers about those concerns.