Book Notice: God’s Design for Man and Woman (by Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger)

God's Design picMany of the influencers in the West are working to blur the lines between genders, and apparently now are enjoying a significant amount of popular approval. Even the notion of gender is up for grabs. (Witness Facebook’s recent announcement that its users can select from over 50 gender options.) The culture is awash with “gender questioning” (one of Facebook’s new options). We are naïve if we think that we, or our churches, will not be affected by this cultural shift. Responsible resources are needed to equip Christians living in this gender-neutral culture.

For this reason, we are grateful to Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger for writing an excellent book that presents Scripture’s witness to God’s design for man and woman, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey (Crossway). They address God’s intentions for man and woman in the home, but also in church and society. They are clear about the importance of the topic: “Biblical manhood and womanhood is too important a subject not to think through carefully as a Christian. While it is undeniable that there’s no current consensus on this issue in the church, the probable reason isn’t that Scripture is inconclusive or conflicted.” (14-15) The authors believe, instead, that Scripture is clear and consistent on the topic. Thus, they see Scripture as the source and guide for clear thinking and loving application on what it says about man and woman, individually and in their relationships together.

In the book, the Köstenbergers seek to provide a biblical-theological treatment of God’s design for man and woman. That is, they trace the biblical storyline to see what God has said about man and woman throughout the ages. The structure of the book illustrates this helpful approach:

Introduction

Chapter 1: God’s Original Design and Its Corruption (Genesis 1–3)

Chapter 2: Patriarchs, Kings, Priests, and Prophets (Old Testament)

Chapter 3: What Did Jesus Do? (Gospels)

Chapter 4: What Did the Early Church Do? (Acts)

Chapter 5: Pauls’ Message to the Churches (First Ten Letters)

Chapter 6: Paul’s Legacy (Letters to Timothy and Titus)

Chapter 7: The Rest of the Story (Other New Testament Teaching)

Chapter 8: God’s Design Lived Out Today

Appendix 1: The Three Waves: Women’s History Survey

Appendix 2: The Rules of the Game: Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology

Appendix 3: Proceed with Caution: Special Issues in Interpreting Gender Passages

In Chapters 1–7, then, the biblical-theological teaching on man and woman is presented. Each chapter contains discussion of key passages and the relevance of those passages for today. Controversial texts such as 1 Tim 2:15 (“she will be saved through childbearing”) receive special attention. On this text they conclude that “save” refers not to religious salvation but to spiritual preservation from falling into error, namely Satan’s deception (pp. 212–19). Chapter 8 contains a summary of the key points from the book and application points for churches, married and single men and women, including the biblical roles and activities for men and women. The three appendices provide interested readers with resources and arguments for further study into this important and controversial topic.

Since this book is about God’s design for men and women, nearly everyone will benefit by reading it. Pastors, small-groups, married couples, singles, and students pursuing clarity on this topic will especially benefit. The Köstenbergers begin their introduction with a testimony of God’s grace to them through the lives of faithful men and women who, in their relationships together, showed the power and beauty of the gospel (pp. 15–16). We can be helped by this book to do likewise.

In Case You Missed It

1) Watch your life and your doctrine. Eric Geiger discusses “a tale of two Mars Hills.” 

2) Andrew Branch at World Magazine tells the story of Nancy Writebol, missionary who survived Ebola.

3) Over at Baptist21, a helpful discussion of old liberalism in new clothes.

4) How now shall we evangelize and disciple those in our congregations? The folks at 9Marks asked several pastors to weigh in. Your thoughts?

5) Get a free good book from B&H, Truth in a Culture of Doubt by SEBTS professor Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), and SEBTS alum Josh Chatraw (now at Liberty University).

Book Notice: “Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World”

TruthMatters picIt is no small secret that university religion departments often provide a lush environment for professors who wish to undercut the historic Christian faith. In recognition of this fact, and in an attempt to respond to such criticisms, Andreas Köstenberger, Josh Chatraw, and Darrell Bock recently published Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World (B&H).

In the book, Köstenberger (Senior Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at SEBTS), Darrell L. Bock (Senior Research Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary), and Josh Chatraw (Ph.D. SEBTS) organize the book around the theological skepticism of University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman.

The preface summarizes Ehrman’s approach in his classrooms: “The Bible was put together to suit an agenda. . . . The Bible is basically a forgery. . . . Your Bible doesn’t contain the real words of God after all. . . . The Bible can’t seem to keep its own story straight. . . . The whole basis of Christianity is in question. . . . God doesn’t care. Maybe God isn’t even there.” (pp. xvii–xviii) Thus, Ehrman’s criticisms strike at the heart of biblical Christianity.

Truth Matters serves to challenge skepticism in general and Ehrman’s criticisms in particular. The book is written with lucid prose in a manner accessible to high school or college students. The book’s outline provides the potential reader a glimpse of the authors’ approach.

Chapter 1 – The Skeptical Mystique: What Makes Unbelief So Terribly Believable?

Chapter 2 – Is God There? Does God Care? Then Why Can’t He Do Any Better than This?

Chapter 3 – Let’s Make a Bible: Who Picked These Books, and Where’d They Come From?

Chapter 4 – Contradictions, Contradictions: Why Does My Bible Have All These Mistakes?

Chapter 5 – I’ll Need an Original: How Can Copies of Copies Be the Same as the Real Thing?

Chapter 6 – And the Winner Is . . . Who Decided What Christianity Was Made Of?

Chapter 7 – A Likely Story: How Do We Know Jesus Rose from the Dead?

I recommend this book for parents who wish to serve as trustworthy guides for their children who are preparing for college. I further recommend this book for high school and college students, and for any thoughtful reader wishing to address some of the foremost skeptical questions of our age.