Book Review: 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood, by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

50 Crucial QuestionsJohn Piper and Wayne Grudem are fully convinced that reading the creation order as anything other than man being created with authority over woman will result in increasing homosexuality. Seriously. They are so convinced, that they have copied 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood from their previously published book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism because they think people won’t take the time to read the latter in its entirety but would read one of its chapters republished. I’ll just go ahead and say that if one is remotely interested in reading 50…, he or she should just get Recovering… There is nothing that helpful in brevity that, when encountering questions that cannot be sufficiently answered, simply appeals to the authors’ view of the creation order and/or refer the reader to certain chapters in another book. Bottom line: skip this book.

However, if you’re still interested, you may read all fifty questions by looking inside the book within its Amazon.com entry. Some of the answers include the following (my summary and paraphrase):

  • The authors believe that “helper” (Gen 2:18) must mean either someone stronger aiding someone weaker or someone aiding a loving leader. Really? What about a helper being someone who simply helps without being stronger, weaker, submissive, or authoritative? This is an extremely weak argument for the authors’ view of the creation order (Eve being created as a “helper for a loving leader”).
  • The authors agree that there are ambiguities that are difficult, but they do come down very hard on the ambiguities they believe further their view of the creation order.
  • The authors explicitly state that they believe “the issues of infant versus believer’s baptism, of premillenialism, and of Presbyterian, congregational, or episcopal polity are less threatening to the health and mission of the church than questions of gender roles” (82).
  • The authors believe that female leadership occurred in the Old Testament only in service to male leadership or when that leadership was failing. So, does that mean gender roles aren’t as important as they claim? Can women leaders rise up when men are failing? They imply this has been, is, and will be the case in mission work, but aren’t sure what to do about that because it is furthering the spreading of the gospel.

What I find rather telling about books by traditional, hierarchical complemetarianists is that they never address the change from the creation order in Eve’s curse in the fall that “her desire shall be for [her] husband, and he shall rule over [her]” (Gen 3:16, NRSV), nor how their view of the creation order plays out in their eschatological view of the new heavens and new earth. This doesn’t mean that answers to these questions from a complemetarian perspective do not exist; it’s that I’ve never heard one.

 

*I received a complimentary digital copy of the reviewed book from Crossway through the Blog Review Program in exchange for this honest review.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood, by John Piper and Wayne Grudem”

  1. They probably explained it somewhere in Recovering that they are hoping that people who want more answers will buy both books, one to get the overview, the other one to go into detail. As I understand it, Grudem came up with with this idea: sin distorts manhood and womanhood in that there are errors of passivity and errors of aggressiveness. Men who are passive are wimps, they do not use their authority as they should. Men who are aggressive are abusive tyrants, they do not use their authority as they should. Women who are passive are doormats, they submit too much. Women who are aggressive are usurpers, they don’t submit enough and they try to take their husband’s rightful authority away from him. Before the fall, Adam and Eve had ‘loving, gentle headship’ and ‘joyful, intelligent submission’. After the fall, the errors became the norm. Then Jesus reversed the curse, restoring headship and submission to it’s pre-fall state. Making it the trans-cultural, trans-temporal ideal that it should be, so that it applies for all time, everywhere. I think they truly believe that their view of the created order isn’t just earthly and temporal, but permanent and forever. They interpret that verse to support the idea that as a consequence of the fall, the women will desire to usurp their men, and the men will desire to be tyrants over their women. When the new earth becomes a reality, they firmly expect all men to have loving gentle headship and all women to joyfully, intelligently submit. They just had to ignore the idea that ‘we will be like angels’ and ‘there will be no marriage’ to do it.

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    1. Jamie, thanks for the response. I assume my final questions would be met my traditional complemetarians with a similar response, although I find it quite unsatisfactory given that it does indeed ignore other parts of Scripture, as you’ve noted. I’ve not read the larger book (I would if they sent me one of those, too), so I know not of any such answer may be found therein. Thanks again, and peace be with you.

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      1. I had the misfortune of debating someone and the deplorable chore of actually reading a few of the chapters for free online in the process just to get inside of his head and understand where he was coming from. So I’ve read some of the questions of 50 questions in so far as the pages were free to view online. I also saw that Grudem is notorious for recycling material from one source to another, so it’s sprinkled through CBMW articles and his own website as well. It just scares me that I’ve gotten too familiar with their teachings. I’d say that your review is quite accurate.

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