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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Can Our Minds Get Too “Renewed”?

I love peeking into other people’s reading lists, especially the ones where the reader and I share common interests. I’ve gleaned several wonderful book recommendations from studying other people’s lists including Where Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James, The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, and Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson.

Several of my favorite bloggers (be they thought-provoking, challenging, irritating or entertaining) have posted updates to their readings lists. And I’ve discovered a startled and disheartening trend. The vast majority of the books these ladies are reading are all homemaker/mothering/healthy eating/child discipline books. I mean, seriously, there is not a theological or fiction book to be found! Anywhere! And I have to wonder- how do they sort through all this information about the same subject?? You’d think they could write a book themselves from gathering all this knowledge.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve read plenty and I mean plenty of homemaker/mothering/healthy eating/child discipline books. I think that’s why I’m so confused. Well, I’m not exactly confused, but I certainly think that my thinking is more muddled than if I had just tried to figure it all out by myself by gathering information from the people who I know have been successful at the endeavors in which I find myself.

Do we seriously need to read four books each on these subjects in one year? Do I really need to read To Train Up a Child AND Shepherding a Child’s Heart and How To Raise Your Children For Christ and Successful Christian Parenting to discover “God’s way” of child training? (Yes, that is from one book list). I know I’m being picky… I just wish that we Christian women would expand our intellectual horizons just a bit!

For the record, here is a list of the books I am currently reading:

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
The Trinity and Subordinationism by Kevin Giles
Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
Through Western Eyes, Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective by a guy who’s name escapes me at the moment.

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Captivating: A Review

Here is my Amazon.com review of the book Captivating by John and Staci Eldridge:

1.0 out of 5 stars Sappy, Sentimental, Poorly Written Drivel, March 29, 2007
I picked up this book in the hopes that I would find something original, something challenging, something other than the evangelical drivel that passes for “Christian Living” books these days. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.
What I Liked:

1. There really were some challenging ideas in this book. So often, “biblical womanhood” is portrayed as being all about homemaking, mothering, and hospitality. It’s all about being “against feminism.” While I don’t see anything wrong with a balanced view of a woman’s role, I do think that it’s easy to take these ideas to the extreme. Stasi Eldredge’s book definitely does not fit the mold, at least not in the circles I tend to frequent. Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas are concerned more with the heart. To her, “godly womanhood” means getting back to our roots as women, to embrace our femininity and use it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas about femininity are wrought with their own problems. (See below). Additionally, Mrs. Eldredge’s idea that womanhood and femininity doesn’t always look the same between women is very refreshing and something of which I need to be reminded every day.

2. The authors are clear about the God-ordained distinction between the sexes. In other words, men and women are not the same.

3. The chapters, while lengthy, were quick and easy to read. Yes, that is a plus when you’re running after two children under the age of three.

4. This book was easy to read in pieces.

What I Did NOT Like:
1. The Eldredges have a very low view of women. In their minds, all women are broken, messed up creatures who have spent their lives hurting and looking for someone to build them up and fill in all the holes they experienced growing up. There is no room for strength, confidence, industry, dignity or any other “Proverbs 31” quality in their economy. In fact, they mock and ridicule the “Proverbs 31” woman as though hers is an unattainable, impractical, useless standard to which we should strive. For them, it all boils to whether or not a woman feels she is beautiful (and while they spend an entire chapter developing this idea, I never understood what they meant- beauty on the outside? Inner beauty? What beauty are they talking about? Oh, the beauty that is completely corrupted by sin, but made alive and beautiful again by the saving work of Christ? That beauty?), and whether or not she is being properly “romanced.” In fact, I’m actually nervous about writing a bad review of this book in fear that Stasi will read it and spiral into a depression again. What if I hit a nerve, dig a deeper wound, remind her of her difficult childhood? Why not generalize this fear to all women because according to the authors, women are weak, wounded, and helpless.

2. Theologically, this book is a mess. For example: “Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God” (pg. 44). Hello! That is heresy! Jesus Christ, ALONE, is the incarnation of God. I think they must have no clue as to what they are actually saying in that statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Eve was made in the image of a beautiful, captivating God. Image and incarnation are not the same thing. They make this error several times throughout the book. They suggest that Eve was the “Crown of Creation.” In reality, mankind (women AND men) is the apex, the pinnacle, the crown of creation. They often refer to Jesus as the “bridegroom” of the Christian woman and that the woman is His bride. Actually, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that includes men as well as women. They refer to Jesus in these sappy, overemotional, and overtly sexual terms when they talk about Him as a “Lover.” Well, were I a man, I would either laugh at this or be very turned off. Jesus isn’t my boyfriend. He’s my God. He’s my Savior. He’s my Lord. He is the Bridegroom of the Church Universal, but not of individuals. I could go on, but its late and I’m tired…

3. Frequent and blatant misuse of Scripture. They take so much of the Bible out of context that its hard to know where to start in pointing it out. Their use of the Song of Solomon is a frequent offense in this regard. The book was written as a description of marital love between husband and wife, not between Christ and the Church and certainly NOT between Christ and a woman. Hosea is another example. This book was written as prophecy regarding the eventual return of Israel from exile, not as a description of the return of a woman to her “first love”. They often mock the correct interpretation of several passages in Scripture, tossing them aside for their own feminized, overly-sentimental view as well.

4. They have a very low view of Christ. Essentially, they suggest that He cannot act in our lives unless we let him, unless we “open the door of our hearts” where he stands knocking (yet ANOTHER reference they take completely out of context). Theirs is a neutered, powerless Christ. There is nothing said in this book about the beauty He gives us because He is IN US, living HIS LIFE through us. The reason I need to look to Christ to find this beauty for which I am allegedly seeking affirmation is because the beauty I possess comes from Him.

5. There is an overemphasis on the effect that Satan/demons/spirits can have on the lives of Christians. I believe this issue stems from their use of the Neil T. Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker, a book that has been widely rebutted due to its unbiblical views of Satan and his relationship to believers. They attribute common marital and even medical problems to meddlesome spirits when there were completely natural explanations for what they were experiencing. I’m afraid that people will fail to get to the root of their problems and just “blame Satan” instead of really working through very complex issues (or seeing a doctor for medical issues!).

6. Enough with the movie metaphors already! I don’t want to hear about how I’m like “Cora” in “Last of the Mohicans” or “Rose” in “Titanic.” Tell me about Rachel, Rebekah, Mary, Deborah, Ruth, Phoebe, Dorcas, Mary Magdelene, the nameless women throughout the Bible who acted in faith when God called them out of their normal lives into greatness. Tell me about those women FIRST and leave the movie metaphors out of it! Instead of looking to God to learn about us, they point us to our culture and ourselves in order to learn about God. That’s completely backwards!

This book is nothing more than really bad pop psychology trying to be passed off as “biblical” truth. It is sappy, overly sentimental, erroneous, and, in most parts unbiblical. I had a hard time following any of the points put forward by the authors. The meat in this book would’ve made for an interesting article in “Christianity Today” or “Focus on the Family” magazine. They didn’t need a whole book to detail this dribble. Please don’t bother with it. There are much better books out there about biblical womanhood than this one.

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if it wasn’t so distubring.  The follow is an excerpt from Raising Maidens of Virtue:

“Do you remember last week when you and your sister Jennifer were arguing?  She had pointed out your unmade bed and lack of diligence in keeping things as neat as you probably should.  When your feelings were hurt by her drawn-out rebuke, you said some rather unkind things about her cooking skills.  God’s Word tells us:

‘A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.  The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.’ (Proverbs 15:1-2)

Lydia winced as she remembered the sarcastic way she had suggested that Jennifer would probably never make much more than boxed macaroni and cheese and instant pudding for her future husband and children.” (pgs 105-106)

I seriously laughed for a full five minutes after I read this.  It is just absurd.

Here’s a preview of my review: McDonald sets up one straw man after another and just knocks them out of the park.  She takes the extreme case (which may or may not actually exist in reality) and uses it to prove that the exact opposite should be true.

I’m thinking of going chapter by chapter…

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More on Submission

I was going to put this in the comments section of the post below, but its turning out to be longer then I had intended, so here goes:

So it seems from the responses here that you all view marriage as a true partnership where both opinions are of equal value.  The husband doesn’t have to “pull rank” all that often, if ever.

I have seen homes where the husband is much more involved in his wife’s daily affairs.  He doesn’t necessarily direct them, per se, but he certainly makes it known if the wife isn’t doing what he thinks she should be doing.  Its almost like he doesn’t trust her to take care of what needs to be done.

Conversely, I’ve seen homes where the husband isn’t involved really at all.  He does his own thing and lets the rest of the family run itself.  The result is a disconnectedness that can’t be healthy for anyone… and when he does try to get involved in things, his wife rejects his input because he “just doesn’t know where she’s coming from.”

I’ve been reading Jeff VanVonderan’s AWESOME book, _Families Where Grace Is In Place_ and he has some really fantastic things to say about submission and the roles of husbands and wives:

If Christ is over you and me (the church), it is not because He placed himself over us.  It is because we placed ourselves under Him.  In fact, bending your knee to Christ as Lord is how you become a Christian.  We submit to His headship.  But as you can see from the text, all the activity of Christ, who is our head, is to come under, to serve, to build, and even to die for the church.  And the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church!  So, husbands, if you are reminding your wife that you are the boss, then you are not the head of your wife as Christ is the head of the church.

In writing about the sad and widespread problem of spiritual abuse, Dave Johnson and I explored what happens when leaders in the kingdom of God use worldly techniques to gain control and power.  In this world, leader means boss, the one in charge, the one in front.  But Jesus says that leaders are servants. (See Matthew 23:11 and Luke 22:6).  It is the same way with the word head.  Paul is saying: ‘Everywhere else ‘head’ means boss, chief executive officer, commander.  But in the kingdom of God, the head is the person who comes under others, serving and building, and being willing to die for them.’

In the church, Christ is more fully seen and experienced when we submit to Him as our head.  And in grace-full relationships, a wife can come under her husband, and put to his service everything about herself that is female, to enable her husband to become everything God created him to be.  And a husband can come under his wife, bringing to bear everything about himself that is male, and in doing so he will enable his wife to become everything God created her to be.  When we come under someone, we love and support- and we allow God to take the lead in changing and directing…

If we obey the scripture, ‘being subject to one another,’ we will have a relationship in which God can be seen- and image-of-God relationship.  ‘For this cause [that God may be seen in our midst] a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’ (Ephesians 5:31).  This is the description of the marriage relationship found in Genesis 2.  Paul is using pre-fall, pre-curse language to describe the marriage relationship that results when our filling comes from the Spirit and not from ourselves.  We are back to God’s plan!”

– excerpt from Families Where Grace Is In Place, Jeff VanVonderen pgs. 84-85

Wow!  This was revolutionary to me.  Its not about one being over the other.  Its about BOTH being servants to each other.  Its about using your gifts and abilities to come up under the other person and build them up.  It is truly about decreasing yourself so the other can increase.

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To Train Up a Child Review

I thought I’d throw my own “Pearl Opinion” into the mix.  This is my Amazon.com review of To Train Up a Child:

25 of 35 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Christian At All, April 12, 2006

I think a few of the main problems I have with this book lie in a couple of areas:

1. The Pearls view training children the way some people view training animals. Several times in TTUAC, Mr. Pearl states that the biblical way to train children is the same way we train a mule or a dog. He seems to ignore the fact that children are human beings made in God’s image. Biblically speaking, we are to treat human beings with a great deal more dignity and respect than a dog.

2. The Pearls set up an antagonistic relationship between parent and child. The child’s will must be subdued and conquered and the only way to accomplish this, it seems, is through switching. If parents fail to use this method, Mr. Pearl states that parents are creating a “Nazi.” He commands parents to look for opportunities to “thwart” the will of one’s children. I don’t see that in the Bible anywhere.

3. Obviously, parents react to the Pearls’ materials in different ways. I see TTUAC as a manual for child abuse. Pearl supporters claim its saved their homes. It seems to be a matter of interpretation. How can we know how anyone is going to interpret what is in that book? Even some Pearl supporters say that they don’t agree with everything they say which means there are elements that just don’t sit right with many, many people. I would hope that those folks ask why those elements bother them so much.

4. The Pearls represent themselves as biblical authorities on parenting and “child training”. Parents who don’t have a good support system in place tend to get desperate very fast. Mr. Pearl states in his introduction to TTUAC that once you read his book, the techniques will seem obvious and you’ll wonder why you didn’t figure it out on your own. Desperate people often tend toward extreme behavior. There are many MANY pro-spanking parents who feel that the Pearls’ methods are extreme. Switching for each and every single offense. Placing a child’s hands on a hot stove to teach him not to touch it. Shoving an unsuspecting child in a pool to teach them fear of the water. Hosing down a child who’s soiled his pants while learning to potty train as punishment for not using the potty.

Believe me, there are innumberable ways to raise godly children that have nothing whatsoever to do with the abuse advocated in this book.

5. This book is also full of horrible theology which I believe stems from the Pearls errant view on the nature of man.

6. The Pearls are just bad writers. They are totally unclear about several of their ideas and they contradict themselves in a number of places. Never show mercy to your child, show mercy to your child. Pick your child up when he cries, don’t pick him up when he cries. Things like that. I know for a fact that their style alone has left a number of parents totally confused about what to do with their kids. If the Pearls believe that consistency is the key, perhaps they should work on being more consistent in their writing.

Please, please don’t buy it. Amazon should stop selling it.

I’d give it zero stars if I could.

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Books on the Docket

I really want to delve into these issues from a theological perspective.  The issues run much deeper then just “submission” and “gender roles.”  I’m going to get into the Word- deep into the Word.  I’ll be reading books on both sides of the issues and I thought I would list out the books I plan to read or have read and will be discussing (in no particular order):

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womandhood

Discovering Biblical Equality

The Trinity and Subordinationism

So Much More

Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God

Danvers Statement

Raising Maidens of Virtue

Different by Design

Domestic Tranquility

Finally Feminist

The Excellent Wife

Reforming Marriage

The Fruit of Her Hands

Fascinating Womanhood

Men and Women in the Church

Paul, Women, and Wives

Lost Women of the Bible

When Life and Beliefs Collide

Biblical Womanhood in the Home

The Feminist Mistake

Biblical Foundations of Manhood and Womanhood

Equality in Christ

Women, Creation, and the Fall

Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth

Some of these are not theological (So Much More, Passionate Housewives, Raising Maidens, Fascinating Womanhood, Lost Women of the Bible…), but they are indicative of what is out there and what is being sold to women on both sides of the fence.  I am sure I will need a brain break once in a while.  This is a really big list and I am sure this will take many MANY months of reading, maybe even years.  But I am looking forward to it.

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