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Archives / 1991 / June

 

Book review: Women in Their Place, Does God Call Women?

Lawrence Downing

 

A noticeable need for editing obscures insightful and helpful understanding hidden within this book written by a woman physician. Now and again flashes radiate from the pages and illuminate our under standing of woman's role in biblical literature and affirm the author's grasp of the barriers the Adventist Church has erected against women. We male clergy plead guilty to thwarting the expression of the talents given women. Unfortunately the author obscures her point with a meandering potpourri of extraneous observations and esoteric opinions.

Particularly troubling are statements presented as fact with no evidence to support her claims. Here are a few examples:

• If males prayed and studied the Bible more, they would accept women.

• "True" records show that more women than men were burned at the stake.

• Sprinkling baptismal candidates was introduced by apostate male ministers because "no husband wants another man holding his wife in his arms."

A precarious argument from silence underlies Underwood's belief that in Old Testament times women served as priests. "If women were meant by God not to serve in the ministry, then the Scriptures would plainly state this." She feels female priests were necessary to diagnose and treat women's physical problems. Men could not perform this task; therefore, there must have been women priests.

Underwood's list of women and their accomplishments, drawn from both Testaments, affirms God's confidence in women. Their lives are a witness against any church and its leaders who consciously exclude this significant group. In the Adventist Church their dedication has benefited the denomination.

Underwood's charge of an abuse of power by Adventist clergy and administration stands as an indictment we cannot lightly cast aside. Her voice adds to those who call for repentance, reformation, and refutation of those practices that have brought hurt and limitation to those God has called.

Underwood's contention that God does call women will be ignored to our harm. How unfortunate that her persuasive arguments are hidden in pages of extraneous material.

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