Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review: No Little Women

No Little Women. Aimee Byrd. P&R. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

We read books for different reasons. But whether we pick a fictional, historical, biographical, doctrinal, or self-help book, we are after a positive experience. There is something noble about reading—even if it isn’t quality reading—in an age that is captivated by visual media.

No Little Women is an engaging read for men and women. In the book, Byrd argues that men in the church (pastors, elders, etc.) need to be more aware of books being marketed to the women in their congregations, more discerning of what books are being read by women in their study groups or book clubs. Byrd also argues that women--whether in position of leadership or not--need to be more discerning of what they read. All books are not of equal quality. Bad theology, she warns, is entering our homes, our churches, our very minds because we lack discernment.

This book isn't just about bad books, however. It's about men and women doing church together, learning or not learning from one another. The segregation that exists--for better or worse--when churches insist on having separate "women's ministries."

This book addresses women's roles a good bit. Byrd argues that women are necessary allies for men.

Byrd is very honest and straightforward. She calls us to stop being nice, to stop being tolerant, and to take a stand for the truth. We are to be men and women of the Word. And we are to know the Word. We are to judge by the Word. What we read--outside the Bible--should be informed by the Bible. We should insist that truths line up. That the "Christian" books we read--whether self-help, christian living, theology, or devotional--be biblical.

Byrd assumes that her readers attend churches where only men are pastors and hold leadership positions, and that there are no women pastors. For better or worse, she makes this assumption.

Favorite quotes:

  • What we study together in a side room of our church or in our living rooms shapes our own growth in holiness as well as the growth of those around us. Women are very influential both in God’s household and in their own. And there are many books marketed to Christian women that appear to be godly, while a closer look reveals that they are not in accord with Scripture.
  • People need to learn how to read a book.
  • Sin weighs us down and discourages us from our call to keep running. It also distracts us from the One we are to look to while running. That’s when divergent teaching becomes appealing. Don’t be susceptible! Make no mistake; weak women are still being targeted.
  • Knowledge of God’s Word is not enough. We need to pray for God’s thoughts to form our thoughts, and this takes conditioning in the Word of God and a willingness to live in the light of his presence.
  • We act according to what we believe to be true. Our spirituality is a living out of our doctrine.
  • Are people in our churches worshipping what they do not know? Tragically, many women full of good intentions are always learning and never able to arrive at the truth. Are we bold and compassionate enough to point that out?
  • No matter what our different circumstances and vocations may be, every woman is a theologian. We all have an understanding of who God is and what he has done. The question is whether or not our views are based on what he has revealed in his Word about himself.
  • To be fit theologically, we must be conditioned by God’s Word, exercising this gift actively by living a life of faith and obedience. As we strive to understand our confession of hope, we are emboldened to hold fast to it. God’s Word and his promises should motivate us to live in a way that pleases him. 
  •  But man is not to determine goodness apart from what God, who is goodness, says! We are thoroughly dependent on God, and nothing is good outside of him. So, by entertaining this guest and keeping conversation going with him in the household-garden-temple of Eden, Eve is already practicing this autonomy. She is already beginning to turn from God. And Adam, who is with her, is doing the same.
  • Evangelical Christians are not generally expected to be critical thinkers. And this is sad.
  • Christians are responsible to be discerning readers, to separate the truth from the lie. Why should women be less responsible? Instead, discernment has become just as unappealing as the truth it stands up for.
  • First of all, we do need to be paying attention to everyone we are learning from. We are responsible for our own maturity in the Word and for discernment in reading and listening (see Acts 17:11). It’s not okay for anyone to learn bad theology, no matter what our gender or the gender of our teacher may be. No one should be winking at any of this. We shouldn’t accept bad theology just for the sake of encouraging women to teach. All teachers should have the same standards for content and methods.
  • It is not insulting to point out error. What is unloving is giving a teacher license to teach falsely because you like her personality, because you want to believe that it’s true, or, worse, because you don’t want to engage critically with a woman. Teachers will be accountable before God for what they say, so we should want to correct them.
  • We need to read authors whose writings are over our heads, and to engage in the process of learning from them, so that we can then connect that knowledge to other ideas for new discoveries. 
  • No one is really teachable who does not freely exercise his power of independent judgment. He can be trained, perhaps, but not taught. The most teachable reader is, therefore, the most critical. 


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

1 comment:

barbarah said...

I just saw another review of this book this week. It definitely sounds truths that are dear to my heart. It's on my TBR list.