In this final blog post review, we will cover the rest of Aimee Byrd’s latest book, “Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In the remaining portion of her book, she makes several challenging points. She is a bit like a prizefighter; the punches keep coming. She convincingly argues that discipleship has been divorced from the church through the parachurch. While she doesn’t demonize parachurch organizations, she points out their limitations. These organizations serve many useful purposes, but they do no have church oversight. This means they lack Biblical accountability as laid out in Scripture. For example, the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has promoted a poor Trinitarian Theology since its inception. When this heterodox Trinitarian view was exposed in 2016, they dug in their heels and did not recant their position. Seeing that they have no church accountability, they had no need or reason to modify their Trinitarian view to an orthodox position.
Another point she makes is that it is the church’s role to disciple its members. So the parachurch’s rise is really the church’s failure to carry out her role in discipling men and women. Her main point, which is very convicting as a pastor, is that discipleship ought to be done and through the church. I completely agree with her!
This leads to another point; the church needs to disciple both men and women. This is Byrd’s plea! She wants both men and women to learn and grow in their understanding of Scripture and Theology. As disciples grow, both men and women are conformed into the image of Christ. In other words, they develop Christian virtues. There is not one set of virtues for men and another for women. For example, she uses the Beatitudes to demonstrate that Jesus applies the blessings of the kingdom to both men and women.
Aimee Byrd proceeds to flesh out what it means for women to be necessary allies or co-laborers. She uses several examples from the early church: Prisca -Romans 16:3-5; Chloe -1 Cor 1:11; Nymphia -Col 4:15; Apphia – Philem 1:2; Lydia – Acts 16:40; Junia-Romans 16:7; Phoebe- Romans 16:1-2 to show the prevalence of women and their co-laboring nature in the early church. The author recognizes some of the restrictions that complementarian churches have today are more restrictive than the early church. She contends that although church leadership is for qualified male-only elders, laymen and women should have equal roles in serving the church. In other words, the church’s authority is given to the male elders, and the lay-people are given gifts to serve the body of Christ.
Her final chapter, in my opinion, is her most speculative one and is likely the reason she has received a strong push back from others. She infers that since Phoebe delivered Paul’s letter, she was probably the reader and the interpreter if there were questions. I don’t see the connection or the evidence that this was indeed the case. Wouldn’t the local pastor or elder be able to answer those questions? Is it possible that Phoebe delivered the letter and a church elder read it to the congregation? She makes a few other questionable claims that I think distract from her message.
In the end, she is calling the church to ask if the way we have women serve in our churches biblical or cultural. Traditional or traditionalism. “Where tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” These are challenging questions and ones that I am continuing to work through.
In sum, I was challenged by Aimee Byrd’s book and enjoyed it overall. While I have disagreements with some of her arguments, I believe she is asking fair questions for churches and church leaders to consider.