Review of "The Resignation of Eve"

The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone?
By Jim Henderson
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Category: Non-fiction, Christian, Women’s Issues

Publisher: Tyndale House
Pub Date: 2012

Kindle Format: 2774 lines
Hardcover Format: 208 pages

Kindle edition: $9.69
Hardcover: $14.99

Product Description from the Publisher: In talking with women around the country, Jim Henderson has come to believe that there is an epidemic of quiet, even sad resignation among dedicated Christian women who are feeling overworked and undervalued in the church. As a result, many women are discouraged. Some, particularly young women, respond by leaving the organized church . . . or walking away from the faith altogether.

Containing personal interviews with women and new research from George Barna, The Resignation of Eve is a field report on what women have to say about how they’ve been affected by their experiences within the church. It is crucially important because, across the board, the research shows that women are driving changes in the church . . . so what will happen if they resign?

Inviting women to speak for themselves, The Resignation of Eve is a must-read, life-changing book for women who have been engaged in the Christian church as well as their pastors and ministry leaders.

Review: The Resignation of Eve is a provocative and critical analysis of the treatment of women in today’s evangelical church. Directed primarily toward male pastors of evangelical churches, Jim Henderson rebukes leaders for failing to recognize and appreciate the contributions women make within the body of Christ. More philosophical than theological, Henderson’s narrative centers on personal interviews with women he places into three categories: those who are resigned to their church’s position on women; those who have resigned from the church because of the church’s position on women and those Henderson describes as “re-signed” or “re-engaged in their churches … leading and influencing despite opposition.”

While the book is a conversational, easy read, Henderson’s biases are obvious. For example, he tends to denigrate the women he interviewed who hold more conservative positions, in one case explaining away a woman’s beliefs by concluding her childhood experience in a broken home led to her need for “structure” within her family and within the church. At the same time, he seems more accepting of those who have walked away from the church, laying blame for their decisions at the feet of evangelical leaders while assigning no responsibility to the women for their attitude and actions.

A potential strength of the book is the random survey of women by the George Barna group. Unfortunately, the survey results play a lesser role in the narrative than the qualitative interviews. As a result, the research fails to add the dimension of objectivity required to offset Henderson’s biases.

On the other hand, Henderson’s description of Pastor David Cho’s work at Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, strengthens the book. Recounting Cho’s conversion to Christianity and the growth of Cho’s church to the largest congregation in the world, Henderson shares a particularly compelling quote from a conversation between Cho and Pastor Rick Warren on the role that women played in the development of Cho’s church in a traditionally patriarchal society. Cho said,

“In 1964, when I was almost total (sic) infected (with tuberculosis), I had the choice of one of two steps – to delegate my ministry to lay Christians or keep up the ministry. But when I tried to delegate my ministry to the men, they would all make excuses saying that they were too busy, or not trained, or “You receive a salary not me.” So I had to use women.

In Korean society – for long periods of time — women had no power or voice in the church, and I began to use women. This was a big risk – but I had no choice – it was a step out in faith, and I had no alternative. Then the women made a tremendous contribution to church growth! Now all the Korean churches – even Catholic — have accepted women. When I come to Europe and America encouraging pastors to use women, I always receive a lot of opposition – especially in Europe.” http://tinyurl.com/davidcho

(Please note that the reviewer’s attempt to find the original source of the quote at pastors.com was unsuccessful).

Finally, Henderson’s book addresses an important and divisive issue. The Resignation of Eve raises the issue of women’s roles in a way that could lead to reasonable discussion among men and women within the evangelical community. Unfortunately, the lack of objectivity, theological argument and balance between qualitative and quantitative research prevent the book from becoming the authoritative commentary it could be.

I received an electronic copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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