Book Review and Giveaway: The Resignation of Eve (What if Adam’s Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone?)

In the recent flurry of blog posts and statements from well-known pastors about a woman’s place in the Church, comes the latest release by author, Jim Henderson, “The Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib is no Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone?

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers as park of the book’s blog tour. Given that the role of women in the church is such a hot button issue now, I thought it would be timely to read and post a review. What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to write a review on an issue that I’ve had personal experience with and haven’t been able to come to terms with yet.

Lynne Hybels (who writes the book’s foreword) cites the following statistics: Between 1991 and 2011,

  • There has been a 20% decrease in the percentage of adult women attending church services during any given week.
  • 29% drop in the number of adult women attending Sunday school classes
  • 31% drop in the number of women who volunteer at church during the course of a week
  • Bottom line: more than one-third of all women no longer are connected to a church

Henderson commissioned The Barna Group to conduct a nationwide survey (results are cited throughout the book) to determine what was going on and interviewed countless women on the issue of gender roles within the Church and determined that there are three faces of resignation of women:

  1. Resigned To: Women who are in this category either came to terms with the fact that they will not be allowed to fully use the gifts and abilities they have within the Church or feel perfectly fine with that reality.
  2. Resigned From: These women were capable of leading, teaching, guiding, shaping, and forming spiritual community within their Church but were denied the opportunity to do so. They either resigned from their church or even more tragically, walked away from their faith.
  3. Re-Signed: These women knew the risks and limitations they were up against. They didn’t quit or accept things the way they were. They make waves and stay engaged.

Henderson tells the stories of 15 women who wear one of the above faces of resignation. Some of these stories will either anger you, encourage you or make you weep.  All of them will make you think.

It’s a well-written, well researched book and I’m pleased that Tyndale has reserved a copy for me to give away on this blog.  To enter to win a copy of The Resignation of Eve, leave a comment in this post by mentioning something you’ve read that’s challenged you in a personal way. I’ll announce a winner on February 20th. I will mail the winner a gift certificate from Tyndale that can be redeemed at your local Christian bookstore. The gift certificate is only valid for The Resignation of Eve.

Download a free chapter from The Resignation of Eve here.

Jim Henderson’s Facebook page is located here.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

UPDATE: To read another view on this book, please click here

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8 thoughts on “Book Review and Giveaway: The Resignation of Eve (What if Adam’s Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone?)

  1. For me, this post, this book, this conversation is very pertinent to my stage/journey in life. I have recently completed my undergraduate degree in ministry, am pursuing ordination, and am currently looking for a job. To my core I know that I am called in to full-time Christian ministry, but it becomes harder to fight to make that a reality with some of the language that is used in the church or the way positions are filled…with men.

    As I read your blog, I was brought to tears when I got to ‘Resigned From’ because that is more than a category or percentage–I have faces and friends that make up those numbers; it’s a temptation I have to resist every time things get tough. And I think with that, we want to blame major things: those who are outright against women being in ministry and want you to know, the times when you, as a woman are not chosen to preach on Sundays–the go-to “big movie” events, but personally I think it is harder in the small things. Gender exclusive language. “He must be able to…” or putting my calling in a box — “so, are you thinking children, youth.” We really have to be careful with our words because they can discourage, but they can also encourage. We have to be careful in our practices (serving communion, leading worship) because it shows through our actions our theology.

    As someone who loves God, loves the Church, and believes in the power of the Kingdom–I don’t want to look back and wonder where the Church would be, in a multitude of areas, if we would stop saying: “We’ve never done it like that before” and simply try to trust in God.

  2. I think I am currently living somewhere between the Resigned From and Re-signed. My heart is sad and I want to abandon ship but that seems not completely possible so I’m trying to reimagine new ways, to be creative with my calling.

    Probably the thing that resonates with me right now is a post by Kathy Esobar who talks about rather than trying to fix the old way (which not sure it can be b/c there is structural issues) or getting rid of everything (which probably doesn’t work because the old way has some good things) let’s build something new.

    I’ve been trying to figure out what that looks like and what I have to change about how I relate to God, Jesus Christ, theology, and others in order for that to work. I want so bad to change others and to “throw the first stone” but I forget that besides the fact that we are told to not do that I may be more part of the problem than I realize and I am for sure part of the solution and the only variable I control in the whole mess is me.

  3. FWIW, On graduating from seminary in Boston in 1974, unless I was black or female, I had no chance of being appointed to a church in that conference of the United Methodist Church. That too seemed unfair. (Not entering the contest, just remembering how that felt all those years ago.

  4. As a friend of Jim Henderson’s, I appreciate your thoughtful review of this book. It is comforting to know this book has given permission for women and men to have a public conversation about a subject that has been left to the hallways or only between close friends.

    I am currently a church refugee – after more than 50 years active engagement in church (and the last 5 years on staff at a mega church) – I walked away.

    Yes, to Kathy Escobar and The Refuge. If I lived in Denver, I would be at Kathy’s and Karl’s church. But I don’t. I still love the “Church” but have a problem with man made churches.

    I appreciate the “Man in the MIddle’s” sharing his experience. Both men and women have been put into boxes in what roles are appropriate for them in church – this is regardless of how God has gifted them.

    For me, I think Margaret Meade’s quote sums it up best – “Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.”

    What might happen in our churches if everyone was honored and celebrated for their gifts and given space to use them as God has called them?

  5. Thank you for your comments, Elaine. I’m not sure where I’m at right now. I’d like to walk away but for the sake of my husband and kids, I don’t. Plus deep down inside (way, way deep down) I can’t help but feel that I’m not released to go yet.

    In the meantime, as Jim Henderson stated it, my body is present but my mind is not. I’m not sure what to do about that other than keep leaning into God and going through the motions.

  6. Vikki – I’m sorry to here you are in that space. It is a hard place to be. I’m afraid I was not always gracious while I was waiting to be released. Thankfully, I did not have children involved and my husband was not that tied to this church.

    Once I realized I had lost my voice, I felt released. BUT, it was still a time of healing for me. I was grateful I had friends outside the church community.

    My heart goes out to you as you walk this out. Know that you are not alone.

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