Men and Women in the Church: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership, By Sarah Sumner

Men and Women in the Church

Building Consensus on Christian Leadership

by Sarah Sumner
Foreword by Phillip E. Johnson

Men and Women in the Church
  • Length: 332 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: March 11, 2003
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 2391
  • ISBN: 9780830823918

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Evangelicals stand divided in their view of women in the church.

On one side stand complementarians, arguing the full worth of women but assigning them to differing roles. On the other side stand egalitarians, arguing that the full worth of women demands their equal treatment and access to leadership roles. Is there a way to mend the breach and build consensus?

Sarah Sumner thinks there is. Avoiding the pitfalls of both radical feminism and reactionary conservatism, she traces a new path through the issues--biblical, theological, psychological and practical--to establish and affirm common ground. Arguing that men and women are both equal and distinct, Sumner encourages us to find ways to honor and benefit from the leadership gifts of both. Men and Women in the Church is a book for all who want a fresh and hope-filled look at a persistent problem.

"I have felt deep need for someone to enter the discussion of gender and leadership in the church and provide some fresh perspectives and new approaches. Dr. Sumner has listened well. Her work is done in the context both of careful scholarship and of personal experience within the evangelical community. And, I believe, she provides an important contribution to the life of the church."

Gregory Waybright, Ph.D., President, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Sarah Sumner's practical approach to Scripture offers the church new hope for unity and growth."

Pat Verbal, Founder, Ministry to Today's Child

"Dr. Sumner's book is like a fresh breeze from the New Testament, moving clouds of bias and freeing us to look again at the valuable ministry for women in the kingdom of God."

Dr. Barry McMurtrie, Senior Pastor, Crossroads Christian Church, Corona, California, and Chairman, Londen Institute for World Evangelism

"Every once in a while someone enters into a theological skirmish and lifts it to a level where rays of biblical sunshine reveal a whole new way of looking at the issue. Honest male readers will repent--at least, I did--of some thoughts. So will honest female readers. And we'll humbly and joyfully explore the new dimension Sarah has helped us see."

Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor, Skyline Wesleyan Church

"Sarah's solid biblical approach clarified several issues for me personally. Men Women in the Church is the 'talking point' book on this subject for this generation."

Jim Burns, Ph.D., President, YouthBuilders

"This book is a tribute to Sarah Sumner's academic devotion and puts to good use her theological training. Her analysis is fresh and much on the mark. Helga and I are praying that her ministry will have a great and holy impact."

Carl F. H. Henry, Founding Editor of Christianity Today, and author of the 6-volume God, Revelation and Authority

"Sarah Sumner's book has the promise to break the divisive deadlock between egalitarians and complementarians that continues to hinder the effectiveness of the church. Sumner's clear, carefully argued message challenges all of us regardless of our position. A must-read for Christian leaders and potential leaders."

Lilian Calles Barger, President of the Damaris Project

"This landmark book by theologian Dr. Sarah Sumner is long overdue. I predict this book will engender helpful discussions among concerned Christian leaders for decades to come."

Ted Engstrom, President Emeritus of World Vision International and former President of Youth for Christ International

"I've met with hundreds of female students, youth workers and pastors desperate for a balanced biblical view on women in leadership. Finally, we have one."

Kara Powell, Ph.D., Coordinator of Women's Youth Network

"Dr. Sumner's Men Women in the Church is one of the most carefully and sensitively written and argued works available on a topic of vital concern for the churches, their leaders and their people in this new millennium. Even among readers who have already taken definite stands, egalitarians can learn modesty, complementarians moderation."

Harold O. J. Brown, John R. Richardson Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte campus

"With courage and honesty, Dr. Sumner explores the biblical and cultural assumptions behind evangelicals' disagreements over gender and leadership. This book cuts to the heart of Christian anxieties about sexuality and the church. It gives new hope to women and men who have felt torn between their support for women's ministries and their adherence to scriptural norms. I recommend it very highly."

Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Mission, Boston University

"This is a deep and important book, with a significance far beyond what the title alone would suggest. . . . I strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about the conduct of visible church life to study this book carefully. It provides a rich discussion of all the major issues concerning gender and leadership in the church, and often brilliantly engages the major voices already on the field."

Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy


Foreword by Phillip E. Johnson


Part I: Men and Women in the Church
1. My Story
2. The Purpose of This Book
3. The Primacy of Scripture
4. Exceptional Women
5. Is it Better to Be a Man Than a Woman?
6. Women and Personhood
7. Men and Manhood
8. Masculinity and Femininity
9. The Authority of Biblical Metaphors
10. Every Passage in the Bible Means Something
11. What's a "Weaker Vessel"?
12. No Pictures Please
13. The Husband Is the Head
14. How Does God Head Christ?
15. The Mystery of Headship
16. Does Matthew 18 Apply to Wives?
17. In the Name of I Timothy 2
18. The Order of Creation
19. It Was Adam, and Not Adam
20. The Significance of Adam Being Created First

Part 2: Building Consensus on Christian Leadership
21. The Fault Line
22. Thomists and Scotists
23. Jesus Is the Logic
24. Brothers and Sisters in Christ
25. Following in the Steps of Jesus Christ

For Further Reading

Subject Index

Scripture Index


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Sarah Sumner

Sarah Sumner (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is dean of the A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary in Redding, California. She is also an author and speaker who travels both nationally and internationally to address church congregations and institutions of Christian higher education. In addition, she is a consultant who addresses businesses and nonprofits on the subject of leadership and organizational health. Dr. Sumner is the first woman to earn a PhD in Systematic Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Her formal training includes a BA from Baylor in Education, an MA in Theology from Wheaton College, an MDiv equivalent from Trinity, and an MBA from Azusa Pacific University. For nine years Sumner served as a core teaching pastor at New Song Church in San Dimas, California. For almost thirteen years she worked primarily as a faculty member in the Graduate School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University.