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Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women
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Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  446 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Women comprise at least half the world, and usually more than half the church, but so often Christian teaching to women either fails to move beyond a discussion of roles or assumes a particular economic situation or stage of life. This all but shuts women out from contributing to God’s kingdom as they were designed to do. Furthermore, the plight of women in the Majority ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 16th 2011 by Zondervan (first published March 4th 2011)
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Jul 19, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it
So moved by reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Carolyn Custis James responded by writing a book that tackles God's global vision for women. With clarity and insight, James sets out a theology of women that works both for affluent surburbanites and those in the developing world. Women matter to God, they are his beloved daughters, and that knowledge gives them a foundation to rest upon and to strength to fight ...more
Autumn Privett
Feb 17, 2016 Autumn Privett rated it it was amazing
It took me forever to read this book because I would read a few pages, start crying, and have to stop. I kept thinking, why have I been lied to about what it truly means to be a woman? In many ways, my life has been a do's and don'ts list about what I am allowed and not allowed to do as a woman--and all from an allegedly "biblical" perspective. And it's a lie.

Carolyn Custis James presents an accurate, biblical argument for strong, courageous women. She does not filter her study through a patriar
May 08, 2011 Robyn rated it really liked it
Prior to reading Half the Church, I read some strongly negative reviews of this book, which I regret. I should have read the book for myself first. So let me start by saying what this book is NOT:

It's NOT an exhaustive hermeneutical analysis of "controversial" biblical passages.

So please do not review it as such, pointing out how James doesn't engage in verse-by-verse exegesis, making a hermeneutical case of women in ministry. She makes the assumption that that work has been done, which it has
Tom Heil
Mar 19, 2013 Tom Heil rated it really liked it
James wrote this book as a companion to the amazing book Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn. Reading their hard hitting expose of the plight of women around the world shook James’ world and (like most people who read the book) inspired her to get involved. When I first started reading Half the Church I was afraid it was simply going to be a rehash of the other work. Instead I found that James did a wonderful job of taking the next step. While Half the Sky clearly defined the problems in the ...more
K. Winchester
Mar 04, 2016 K. Winchester rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, theology
“Instead of casting a powerful gospel vision that both validates and mobilizes women, the church’s message for women is mixed at best—guarded, negative, and small at worst. Everywhere we go, a line has be drawn establishing parameters for how much or how little we are permitted to do within the church."

Women come with talents in all shapes and sizes, but society as a whole limits what is considered "feminine" and appropriate for women to pursue. The church, too, limits what ministries are consid
Hippie Housewife
Jan 11, 2012 Hippie Housewife rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity
For a book with such potential and such a hopeful message, I was sorely disappointed. I expected to like it, even wanted to like it, but the delivery was so poor that I could barely even get through it.

The arguments put forth were filled with holes, poor logic, and tenuous connections. The points made were weak and unclear; the flow of the book was disjointed. The conclusion fell flat and, in the end, I felt like I had gained nothing from reading it. There was the rare good line here and there,
Sandy H
This book was very much preaching to the choir for me. Since I have only ever been in religious communities in which men and women are truly equal and, as well, in which social action and commitment to global issues have always been a part of our calling as Christians, there was nothing in this book that was new to me. However, if you're in a space in which you're unsure of what the church's role is in helping disadvantaged and oppressed peoples in your own community or around the world; or if ...more
Leigh  Kramer
Jul 14, 2012 Leigh Kramer rated it it was amazing
My copy of Half the Church is filled with underlines and notes. Beginning with a global look at how women are treated, James unveils the horrifying consequences of being born a girl in patriarchal society and then shows how this affects us all. She advocates women use all of their giftings. I'll be reflecting on this for some time.
Christina Craig
Nov 23, 2016 Christina Craig rated it did not like it
Please do not write the same ideas over and over again and call it a book.
Bob Hayton
Jun 06, 2011 Bob Hayton rated it really liked it
Many books are written to inform. Of those, several aim to change the reader's opinion of the given topic. Only a few succeed in forcing the reader to rethink previous assumptions and actually see the world through an entirely new perspective. It takes a special talent to draw a reader out of their shell and get them to really engage with the vision the author is struggling to convey.

In "Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women", Carolyn Custis James gives us a book of this exc
Rebekah Schrepfer
Carolyn Custis James wrote this book as her own addendum to the best selling secular book, Half the Sky, which is a book based on the Chinese proverb that women hold up half the sky. It is a cry for justice and action against the oppression of women and girls around the world. Without having read Half the Sky, I think I might agree with it actually. There is no objection from me if we want to encourage people to help end the degradation of women around the world. But Carolyn Custis James has ...more
Aug 27, 2011 Callie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-nonfiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2016 Emily rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ken Garrett
Dec 16, 2014 Ken Garrett rated it liked it
I enjoyed interacting with James' argument for men and women to honor a robust, creative, true, equal partnership in the task of serving as God's image bearers. I don't think her argument will sway anyone who has bought the classic complimentarian argument or the usual egalitarian argument, but it does serve as a provocation to think and wrestle with the current deficiencies in gender relations found in churches today.

A good quote that captures her convictions: "Much deeper kingdom issues are a
Kimberly Bower (gladeslibrarian)
In her three previous books James laid the Biblical foundation for a better understanding of God's vision for women. In Half the Church, she continues in that vein but also shifts her focus so that her mission has now become twofold.

First, she aims to widen the reader's scope of understanding from a primarily middle class Western worldview to a much broader international view. To do so she takes the reader through snapshots of the lives of individual girls and women identifying each by name and
Mar 24, 2013 Miriam rated it it was amazing
James’ message is urgent. We live in a world shattered by violence toward women: in most developing countries, staggering numbers of women and girls are victims of abortion, trafficking, rape, honor killings, abuse, neglect, murder. In the face of these grim facts, James asks: What is the Church’s message for women? Is it a message of hope and freedom that can be understood by ALL women?
James points out that half, or more, of the Church (women) is often underfed, and their gifts undervalued an
Lindsey Jane
Jul 20, 2011 Lindsey Jane rated it liked it
First, let me say that I had high hopes for this book. I have not read anything by Carolyn Curtis James before, but loved the premise of the book. I was not prepared for the graphic stories in this book. This book tells stories in just about every chapter about atrocities done to women and girls around the world. Nothing in the description of the book prepared me for that possibility. I do not think such stories should be quieted, however, a warning to readers about such things would have been ...more
May 25, 2013 Teresa rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, faith
It was a good read to unpack some of the theological arguments about how women's roles in the church should not be limited, as they often currently are, to wife, mother, and homemaker.

My favourite chapter was "The Ezer Unbound". The word "ezer kenegdo" in Genesis 2 was translated narrowly in the KJV as "helpmeet", from which churches get their submission theology today. The word kenegdo actually says the ezer is the "man's match", in a ying to yang fashion. It's more of a complimentary polarity
Robert Murphy
Jan 25, 2014 Robert Murphy rated it liked it
Shelves: own, kindle
Emily said (and I agree),

"I felt cheated when James attempted to side-step the egalitarian vs. complementarian conversation, despite having already criticized vital components of the complementarian position and expressing a need to move beyond seeing motherhood and marriage as the highest calling for women.

Additionally, it seemed that she borrowed too heavily from the book that initially inspired her, Kristof's and WuDunn's Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
Oct 25, 2011 Colleenish rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-fun, god-books
I decided to read this book because it fits into my research about complimentarianism vs egalitarianism, women's roles etc. I was really impressed.

When Christians talk about women's roles in the church or even in general, the debate gets nasty quickly. Because it's an issue that I can't seem to get my thoughts away from, I've been searching for a resource that approaches this debate seriously and maturely. This book was it.

The author sums up the issues with great insight and theological underst
Sep 18, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
First of all, I really should have given "Half the Church" four stars because some of the arguments the author uses are pretty flimsy, but I wanted to counterbalance the one-star review and give the author credit for her efforts in looking at this issue outside of our Western cultural lens.

This book spoke to me as a woman who is constantly wrestling with what I am supposed to do with my calling in the church. Thankfully I am in a denomination that has a 400 year history of egalitarianism, but I
Oct 03, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. I appreciated James' re-examination of the story of Ruth, and her explanation of Proverbs 31 as a celebration of existing women's valor, not an impossible to-do list. This hermeneutical work is important, and should be spread and re-told widely.

Still, I felt cheated when James attempted to side-step the egalitarian vs. complementarian conversation, despite having already criticized vital components of the complementarian position and expressing a nee
Apr 30, 2013 Loretta rated it really liked it
What do I rate a book that took me almost a full year to read? On the one hand, I liked it. The author had some interesting things to say, particularly as it related to ALL of us being image-bearers of God, as well as her exploration of the ezer kenegdo term. I've got highlights and exclamation points galore scattered throughout the first part of the book.

Still, it seems to have fallen flat for me in the last chapter or two, and it sat on my shelf forever before I finished the last few pages jus
Dec 20, 2011 Jeni rated it really liked it
This writer walks the tight-rope between two camps: feminists and submissionists. It doesn't really get into that until later in the book, but while exposing mistreatment and abuse of women around the world, it also addresses the issues of women's identity in God. It sometimes feels like it is "empowering" women to take charge of their lives, without really advising them to rip off their aprons and go out and conquer the world. I wonder how those with a traditional view of women's roles in the ...more
Dec 27, 2015 RuthAnn rated it really liked it
Would recommend: Yes

This book is really, really good. I especially recommend it for anyone who has read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The author was highly affected by that book, and it comes up often here. Reading this book gave me a lot to think about, and I will be mulling for a long while. I copied down lots of lines, but the one that still rings very true for me is:

"Can we miss or lose or spoil or be cheated of God's purpose for his daughters? Are G
Apr 05, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
A must-read book for every Christian woman. Two things I especially appreciated about this book:
1) Custis James does an excellent job of laying out a broad, expansive, exciting vision for the possibility of women's contributions to the church and the world without getting bogged down in the controversy that often bogs down these conversations. Whatever your view on women's roles, you'll be inspired by her vision of who you as a woman are called to be.

2) The book works hard to avoid the narrow Am
Jul 15, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Loved this book but it must be read in tandem with the Half the sky and it story really continues in the just published Malestorm. I love that the two book together address the danger of patriarchy to not just women but to men around the world. Instead it looked at the question of what it means to be an image bearer "imago dei" and especially look at Jesus' interactions with women. How did he as a dominant male interact with the women of the Bible. Jesus really broke cultural norms over and ...more
Catherine Gillespie
Feb 02, 2015 Catherine Gillespie rated it liked it
Shelves: theology, culture
In Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, Carolyn Custis James raises the very important point that the church’s view of women needs to be Biblically-based, rather than applicable only to our own cultural and socioeconomic situation. James point out that God’s view of women transcends time and place, and that if we’re focusing our message to women on standards that only apply to a small minority of women, we tacitly say that the Gospel is not applicable to the vast majority ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
Carolyn Custis James provides a concise and powerful argument for the engagement of women in the mission of the Church. I wish I could say that such an argument wasn't necessary, but in fact it is. James has written this book to encourage women to see themselves as God sees them and to begin to act as strong ezers, working together with men to bring about God's purposes. But this book is not just for women. Men need to read this as well, because our attitude toward and beliefs about women will ...more
Christina Allen
Dec 28, 2014 Christina Allen rated it liked it
I liked this book but felt that it lacked focus. There were a lot of good ideas here that were not fully developed or unified. I well know the line that women of God have to walk when they believe fervently in the calling of women but don't want to be a cause of division and strife in the body. I don't know that any of us do it right. Perhaps that is why the writer failed to deliver the punchline that the work so painfully lacks. It was a hesitant writing, anemic from being bled of its true ...more
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Carolyn Custis James (M.A. in Biblical Studies) is an evangelical thinker who loves God enough to break the rules--rules of cultural convention which attempt to domesticate the gospel message of the Bible.

Carolyn is president of WhitbyForum, a ministry dedicated to addressing the deeper needs which confront both women and men as they endeavor to extend God's kingdom together in a messy and compli
More about Carolyn Custis James...

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“Instead, we end up with a list of bullet points—an inventory of God’s communicable attributes, those qualities belonging to God that he shares with us. Moral, spiritual, intellectual, and relational qualities make the list. What ultimately happens is that instead of being shaken by a visionary calling that will take everything we have to offer and more, we end up with a static list of attributes that are echoes of the divine in us. Efforts to pin down the precise meaning of image bearer (which the text does not do) ultimately box up the subject.” 0 likes
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