Catherine Erwin – Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley
A Book Review by an “Occasional Guest Contributor Who Wants No Blame Whatsoever With-This-Site”
(Joel’s words..not mine!)
by Catherin Erwin
A few of you may be saying, “I have no idea who this is and why is she reviewing this book?” I would be asking the same thing so here are my qualifications. I’m a sinner saved by the unmerited gift of grace through faith in Christ and His atoning work on the cross. That’s it. That is my only qualification. No big degrees, no reason that you should know me for anything heroic or famous that I have done. I am a Christian wife and mother of three children-two in college and the last one in high school. I love my children and everyone else’s children and have worked in children’s ministry for over twenty years.
I first heard Carolyn McCulley on ‘Revive Our Hearts – Daily Radio with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.’ I’m not a regular listener but was searching for something else when I came across her site and saw that the subject of feminism was going to be discussed which peaked my interest so I listened in. I was impressed. So as soon as I had some book money I ordered McCulley’s book. As I read this book, I kept coming back to the same thought, “All women need to read this.”
I appreciated McCulley’s testimony at the very beginning of the book. It really set the stage for what was to come and explained why this is such an important subject to her. In some ways I could relate very much to what she said. After being saved at 23, I struggled with the role of what a true biblical Christian woman was. I knew women in the small church we attended who stayed home, made more babies, home schooled them and seemed perfectly content in doing this. My dream looked much different than that. It included going back to school, finishing up a mechanical engineering degree and beginning a career. Of course I would have children, and they would never get in the way of a career because, after all, women balance their careers and family everyday. I actually started down this path, had two of our three children and was unsuccessfully trying to “have it all”. Honestly, I was bone tired most of the time. Then, there was an older lady in the church that gently pulled me under her wing and I began learning new things about what it meant to be a biblical Christian wife and mother. It all seemed radical and there were times when I pulled against what I knew was right (based on what I had read in God’s Word) and tried to do things my own way. Thankfully God is gracious and He disciplines us because He loves us. Honestly, this was the book that I needed because it explains it all.
McCulley begins by going through the entire feminist movement in the United States-first wave, second wave and finally third wave. She begins with John Adam’s wife Abigail and a letter that she wrote to her husband. As McCulley puts it, “She simply wanted laws that recognized women as fully legal, adult entities to this new nation.” One of Abigail’s comments in her letter to John was, “Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.” McCulley was correct in assessing that, “Whenever women have considered our history of inequality, the consistent conclusion has been that men are the problem.” It is from this point that she begins the historical trek down memory lane including names that I was familiar with, but were never cohesively put together in a way that explained the whole movement. I think most women, unless they have spent time on the homework of this history lesson, know the fractured fairy tale, but have not put all the pieces together quite this neatly.
She has done a wonderful job with the research and clearly shows when and how the feminist movement entered the Church and can be seen in the liberalism that is visible in so many mainline churches and denominations today in regards to women’s roles in the Church. The chapter that most affected me was, “The Mommy Wars”. Because of the work that I have done over the years in children’s ministry, I have seen these wars fought first hand. They are not pretty and many times the children are the ones that suffer. Perhaps now you can see why I felt such a need to write this review and recommend that any woman who reads this review, get the book. When McCulley writes that, “Our true enemies are not the men and women named in this chapter, nor those who champion their thinking today”. I’m in complete agreement with her when she says, “We need to take a stand, but we need to heed how God tells us to do it. We are called to be strong in the Lord, not ourselves.” She goes on to the scripture found in Ephesians 6:13-18 that speaks of putting on the full armor of God.
While I agree with her points on this, one thing that I would like to note here is that there are things that we need to remember in regards to man’s spiritual state and those women that have been part of the feminist movement through the decades. In Romans 8:7,
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
and in Colossians 1:21,
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”
Both of these verses speak of unregenerate man’s position with God, which is His enemy. I wanted to point out man’s (woman’s) true nature here with the realization that the final destination for those that are unsaved is eternal separation from God in hell. Many of those that have been involved in the feminist movement have died and gone on to spend eternity there because they refused to hear the truth of the Gospel, then went on to spread their lies to the itching ears of other women.
There are personal stories intertwined throughout the book, of women who have been nearly destroyed by the role that feminism has played in the culture and in their lives. For some woman it was in the form of abortion, for some prostitution and others it was the remarkable way that God used a developmental disability in their child. The stories of all these women speak volumes about God’s unmerited favor, the redemption that only He can provide and the faith that sustains as they follow Him in faith knowing that He knows best. These are stories of lives changed even though there are still consequences that must be endured as these Christian women learn to walk with Him.
As you can see overall I’m quite smitten with this book and I think every woman should read it and then consider mentoring other women who may be struggling in this area of their life, just as I once was. McCulley does a great job of using Scripture and theology to back her thoughts on feminist subjects along with referenced texts and quotes from books written by respected authors, theologians, and pastors such as John MacArthur, C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney and John Piper. McCulley’s writing style is much different than many ‘Christian’ women’s books written today and is missing much of the sappy sentimentalism that seems to permeate the market. I was pleasantly pleased and I hope that you will be too.