Book Reviews: Into the Pulpit

Into the Pulpit

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Into the Pulpit: Southern Baptist Women and Power since World War II by Elizabeth H. Flowers, University of North Carolina Press

University presses generally publish objective, scholarly books. Elizabeth Flower's Into the Pulpit: Southern Baptist Women and Power since World War II deserves that reputation. In Into the Pulpit, the author analyzes the role of women and "the woman's question" in the context of society and Baptist life.

Flowers, an assistant professor at Texas Christian University, spent hours in archives, attended numerous women's gatherings, and interviewed both conservative and moderate Baptist women. An extensive bibliography documents her research, and she explains key concepts such as complementarianism and defines Southern Baptist Convention terms.  

A 25-page introduction sets the historical stage when the story of women revolved around missions and Woman's Missionary Union. Chapters 1 and 2 examine the landscape between 1948 and the 1978 SBC Consultation on Women in Church-Related Vocations. Chapter 3 follows the SBC controversy from 1979 to 1983. The final two chapters take readers from the 1984 SBC convention through the passage of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message. A lengthy epilogue reviews the status of Baptist women since 2000.

Ultimately, Flowers shows how "the struggle of Southern Baptist women and the Southern Baptist struggle over women" constitute a "story within a story." And she does so with dignity, objectivity and grace.

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman's Missionary Union of Texas, Waco


Those Who Must Give an Account: A Study of Church Membership and Church Discipline by John S. Hammett & Benjamin L. Merkle, editors, B & H Academic

Increasingly, it seems many Baptists today think very little about what it means to be a member of a local church. Fewer still are the instances when Baptist churches seem to practice biblical church discipline. Is it possible we have watered down life in the church and devotion to Christ and his body? Have we subsequently impaired the mission he has given us by not teaching scripturally clear doctrine about what it means to be the church and represent Jesus to the world?

This helpful volume provides nine chapters written by nine Baptist scholars—mostly representing Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary—delving into the biblical theology and history of local church membership and discipline, while providing some practical suggestions for church leaders in implementing ideas and processes in developing a healthy understanding of church membership among the congregation and leading a church to practice sound corrective discipline.

Greg Bowman, minister to students

First Baptist Church, Duncanville

What God Did with a Mess Like Me by Jon Lineberger, Intersect Press

Jon Lineberger focuses on the absolute faithfulness of God in What God Did with a Mess Like Me. Born in a pastor's home and suffering from ADHD, he shares his personal testimony in three phases. Phase one—"Who I Was"—describes a downward spiral starting with juvenile pranks that escalated into more serious sins. All through this rebellion, he sensed God had not abandoned him.

The second phase is "Following Christ." Matthew 16:25 became the verse Lineberger stood on as God began to give new direction. God opened the way for the ADHD to be overcome through the process of his education at Houston Baptist University and ultimately other graduate degrees, along with the spiritual education God provided each step of the way.

The third phase—"A Better Way to Think and Live"—is the author's expression of his life now surrendered to Christ. God has a plan for each of us, and when we allow him to work, God can make something good out of messes like us!

What God Did with a Mess Like Me is a great read. You will be blessed. The author laces each chapter with great insights he learned along the way. He concludes his book by sharing 17 truths to a changed life that come from his own personal experiences. Enjoy the journey as you read. You will be reminded of God's work in your own life.

Leo Smith, retired executive director

Texas Baptist Men, Alvin

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