The Resignation of Eve by Jim Henderson

When I chose to review this book I thought I was going to be reading about the various reasons women are leaving the church and what we, as Christians, can do about it. Because I have a passion for women’s ministry (one of the reasons I started my blog), I was intrigued by this topic… what’s going on in the hearts of women and why some are bolting from the doors of the church. However, this book is not about a topic that general. It comes across as a collection of women’s stories, specifically selected by the author… some who already supported his viewpoint, and some who he was hoping to persuade into supporting his viewpoint.

This book leads us to believe that the reason women are leaving the church is that they are not granted power. The same point kept surfacing… women can’t become senior pastors. Never mind all of the other leadership positions that women ARE allowed to have… women need to be allowed the grand pulpit. I’m really trying not to be judgmental, because I struggle with selfish motives just as much as the next girl. That understood, let me say this… if you care more about standing behind the pulpit (or attaining the highest position you can) than about filling whatever role God gives you in ministry, you’re doing it for the wrong reason(s). I’m hopeful that the importance of power is not the intent of this book, but that was my take.

This book has brought out an incredible range of emotions in me. As I began to read, I literally threw the book down in anger a couple of times. Anger at the author for his very clear biases. Anger for the way he came across… particularly about the conservative women. He explained that it was their past experiences that led them to believe the way they do about women’s roles in the church. My question is why did this same tone not seem to come across as he described “his take” on the more moderate and liberal interviewees?

Now I must say that the women’s stories did touch me… well most of them touched me. There were a couple that made me mad (and sad at the same time). I related mostly with the first group of women and the last group of women. I related with the first group (the resigned TO) because they interpret the scriptures in the same way that I do. Not only that, they see this “power for women” issue as a NON-issue. Why? Probably because they are more concerned about serving people and leading them to Jesus than they are about their own fame. I also related with the last group (the re-signed) because I have a lot of D in my own personality. My husband could tell you that. The blog is my main outlet for sharing what God has placed on my heart… in the hopes that it encourages others to cling to Christ in this messed-up world. Mostly women read it, but if men read it I don’t believe that makes my blog writing a sin. However, in my home church, I follow a man (who follows Christ). And in my home, I follow a man (who follows Christ). I believe that is the way God has ordained it.

The middle group (the resigned FROM) really made me sad. They have left the church… and some have left their faith completely. It’s one thing to leave a church because of flawed church leaders. It’s another thing to leave Jesus because of them. I would so love for each one of those ladies to get a copy of the last book I reviewed (Healing Your Church Hurt by Stephen Mansfield). Men are flawed. We can’t find Jesus through them. I tried that for years and years. Now I know that we are ALL going to make mistakes and we ALL need to find our hope and trust in one… Jesus. We can’t turn away from Him because we have bad experiences with His people.

My main issue with this book goes back to the recurring theme… it’s a problem if a woman can’t hold the senior pastor position at a local church. So we’re talking about a VERY specific position. It’s basically implying that even if a woman leads a Jesus-centered homeless shelter, a small group in her home, any other Christ-centered organization outside of the church… or even if she leads in various capacities within the church, it’s not enough. If a woman cannot be senior pastor, it’s not enough. To me that’s a power trip. I mean, not every man at the church is going to be allowed to step up to the pulpit either. The one who is called to be in the pulpit is there. And saying that a woman is not given the amount of influence she deserves if she can’t be the senior pastor… this is a stretch at the very least. Women have a TREMENDOUS influence in churches. Probably more than we even realize. Again… is it really about influence? Or power?

Anyway, to summarize, when I first started reading, I almost quit several times. I believe there is a ton of obvious bias, and an interpretation of scripture that is not the same as my own, but I have to say I’m thankful for the thinking process this book brought out in me. I was able to reach in and figure out why I believe what I believe. It made me want to learn my Bible more. It also made me even more passionate about getting to the heart of why women are feeling lost and alone and hurting within the walls (and outside of the walls) of our church buildings.

And for the record, I don’t believe there will ever be a mass exodus of women from the church. We may struggle with people-pleasing, and serving for selfish motives or out of obligation, but ultimately we serve because we love Jesus. And that’s why the real “backbone” of the church is never going to go away.

Although I don’t necessarily recommend this book, you can download the first chapter here for free: The Resignation of Eve Excerpt.

To learn more about Jim Henderson, you can check out his website here: Jim Henderson Presents.

I received a free review copy of The Resignation of Eve from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for this review.

13 Comments

  1. I admire your tenacity to write this review especially considering how many times you threw my book down :-) Your integrity to keep your agreement with Tyndale is admirable and without question you will have provided a wonderful warning to your friends and readers who may have been tricked into reading it otherwise :-) For the record my book is not about what you purport (women must be allowed to be Senior Pastors) you “see” that because you have been taught to “see” it. I do believe they should but am aware that many many good people disagree. My book is about one thing. Does the church treat women with the same levels of respect, dignity, honor and opportunity as Jesus did? That is an easier question to answer than the one you out forth. But it is a question that almost no one addresses. One can only guess the reason why:-) I liked your blog post so much that I featured it on my facebook page. Hopefully a few others will drop by here and make friends. Next to my “I gave this 1 star because I couldn’t give it Zero” review yours is my favorite “spunky” review. Thank you for caring about the Kingdom and women

    Reply
    • Jim, first of all I must say I’m honored that you stopped by my blog (even if it was because of my not-so-nice review). :) Like I said in my comment on your Facebook link, I am sorry if this came across as disrespectful. That was not my intent. My passion for this particular issue did come out strongly… and perhaps, as you said, I did “see” that one point as being the most important because it stood out to me so much. Let me just say that I admire you as a leader within the whole body of Christ followers. I believe God is pleased with the work you do. You are trying to reach people for Jesus… a lot of whom do not want to step foot into a traditional church (for many reasons). I am personally thankful that you care so much about women within the kingdom. Although we disagree on this issue, I have the utmost respect for your leadership.

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  2. Paula— I, too read Jim Henderson’s Resignation of Eve, and came away with a somewhat different take. First of all, I want to compliment (with an “i”) on your thoughtful piece. The women’s stories collected by Jim presented a wide and fair representation of how women feel about the current state of opportunity to lead in the Evangelical and Conservative church. I thought them fairly presented. Some heartbreaking. Some maddening. And some inspirational. Jim’s commentary was fair. He did not hide his views that there needs to be a better sharing of power between genders, but he didn’t hit us over the head with it, either. As a father of three daughters and someone who love Jesus, and someone with years as a church Elder, this issue has been of great interest to me. I encourage continued study on the subject for anyone interested, as I have concluded, the Bible in its entity, and not by proof text reading, gives a far more generous via of God’s intensions toward the genders. Another great read on the subject, also published this year, is Pam Hogeweide’s “Unladylike”. Pam has done a very fine job, again using stories of real women, in real-life struggles, showing how the limitation put on women are more of a justice issue than a Biblical imperative. I do think your comments reducing Jim’s argument to women just wanting to he Senior Pastors for the “fame” is a bit simplistic. There are women called to serve in this role. It’s a legitimate, Spirit giving call, and it need to be given voice. Men need not be afraid. Nor women. Only the people called to Senior Pastor need to be afraid as it is oft a grueling and difficult calling for man or woman.

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    • Al, Thanks so much for stopping by to read my thoughts.. and thank you for the compliment that my piece was thoughtful. My passion came out strongly throughout the time I read and throughout the time I was putting together the review. After looking through Jim\’s website and really learning more about his heart (other than just the book), it is obvious that my OWN bias took over with the \”senior pastor\” pointedness. True, my personal belief/conviction is that only men should hold the role of senior pastor… but I now see that the book doesn\’t really revolve around that one point… women who crave the coveted position. That is just what continued to stick out in my mind. And I don\’t think Jim was saying women only want to be senior pastors for the fame. My thought behind that statement was that we can ALL get wrapped up in self-centered desires and it\’s good for us to check our motives before accepting (or going after) any position in leadership in the church. The D in my personality has caused me to pursue things out of my own selfish ambition before, so honestly I\’m speaking out of personal experience. We just disagree on this one scriptural issue, but I have much respect for Jim, his heart, and his ministry. Thanks again for stopping by! :)

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  3. Hi Paula,

    I also read Jim’s book. I didn’t see the whole senior pastor thing as Jim pushing that as the ultimate prize to be won by women. I saw that question as a sort of litmus test to help him, the reader, and the interviewee understand from what perspective that particular woman was coming in order to put her story into an accurate context.
    I think the issue is much larger than whether or not a woman can be a pastor. For example, how Denie was treated in the park once men wanted to jump on the bandwagon of the ministry she had started. And how, the woman who was made a pastor was then set up for failure.
    I have been in churches where women were co-pastors with their husbands, where women were allowed significant roles but not the title of pastor, and most recently, a church that preaches patriarchy masked as complementarianism (not that all complementarians are but this was). My husband and I have chosen traditional roles as far as working and raising children. Prior to this experience I probably would have put myself in the first category (resigned to). Until recently, I would say that this question about women and the church didn’t matter. It was a non-issue for me. But at the last church I attended, we experienced spiritual abuse and I had my “wings” clipped, simply because I was born female.
    As a result of what happened, a common question that came up in my discussions was are you complementarian or egalitarian? I still have yet to take a position on either side. Why do I believe what I believe? Is it because it is true and what the bible teaches? Have I given the other side’s argument about what the bible says about women in depth study and consideration or just dismissed it because it made me uncomfortable and may lead me to further questioning?
    The second group, (resigned from), also made me sad and uncomfortable. Six months ago I would not have understood why these women made the choices they did or would have dismissed them somehow. Although I did not come to the same conclusion, through my recent experience I have come to respect and have empathy for those who have been severely hurt by church leaders.
    It is funny how you do not realize how much you value your voice until it has been taken from you, or until you realize you have sacrificed it. I am reminded of Ariel in the Little Mermaid who sells her beautiful voice in order to have legs (and the prince).
    I am not currently attending church but have not lost my faith. I have “re-signed” and I realize that when I return to church, I will have to choose my battles and navigate the system in its current state.
    I guess the question I cannot get over is the one Jim posed in his comment above:
    “Does the church treat women with the same levels of respect, dignity, honor and opportunity as Jesus did?” Is it consistent with his character? What impact did gender bias at the time the bible was written have on what was included in it? What about in the gospels when it mentions a group of women AND his disciples? How do I feel about teaching my daughter that God loves her but she is only able to do some things? What message about how God values her does that send? What if she feels called to do something that does not fit into the gender roles conservative Christianity has created for females?
    These are all questions I have not figured out all the answers to quite yet. But I cannot dismiss what Jim presents as a troubling situation indeed. I have never been one to question the status quo, but in my questioning, I am confident that God is big enough to handle my questions and gracious enough to answer them.

    Reply
    • Sophia, thank you for giving me even more to think about. This whole experience has brought up a lot of issues in my mind that I\’m working through. I\’m thankful for how God uses things and people in our lives to draw us closer to Him. And I definitely am right there with you… I absolutely know that I don\’t have all the answers. There are some answers we won\’t have until we meet Jesus face-to-face. And I must say that I have probably been sheltered more than most. I\’m thankful for the body of believers where I serve. My pastor is a man who seeks God first and we are seeing true life-change in people… we are not just racking up more attendees. The pain that I read about in some of the ladies\’ stories just crushed me. It\’s sad that people who claim Christ can be so cruel and self-serving toward others. My hope is that those ladies who have left the faith will find peace, and even if they don\’t return to traditional church, that they will find their way back to Jesus. Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

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  4. “The D in my personality has caused me to pursue things out of my own selfish ambition before, so honestly I\’m speaking out of personal experience. We just disagree on this one scriptural issue, but I have much respect for Jim, his heart, and his ministry. Thanks again for stopping by”\\

    BTW – Im a High D as well :-)

    Thanks for interacting with some of my friends – very kind of you

    Reply
    • I\’ve enjoyed interacting with your friends. Thanks for sending them my way. :)

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  5. “The D in my personality has caused me to pursue things out of my own selfish ambition before, so honestly I\’m speaking out of personal experience. We just disagree on this one scriptural issue, but I have much respect for Jim, his heart, and his ministry. Thanks again for stopping by”\\

    BTW – Im a High D as well :-)

    Thanks for interacting with some of my friends – very kind of you

    Reply
  6. I meant Im a High I with D coming in a close second

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    • I\’m a C with D coming in a VERY close second.

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  7. You have good heart

    Reply

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