Book Review: Men, Women, and Order in the Church by John Calvin

Men, Women, and Order in the ChurchMen, Women, and Order in the Church by John Calvin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have found myself reading more and more of Calvin’s sermons. While the basic content is the same as his commentaries, the delivery is quite different. Since I am pastor, I enjoy how he preaches a text to the congregation.

This is book is three sermons Calvin delivered on I Corinthians 11:2-16. While there is some discussion of head coverings, that is minimal, more than likely because it was assumed to be right. But what these sermons are good for is a defense of order in the church and hierarchy in general. It is interesting how often Calvin jumps from the relationship of men and women to masters and slaves, rulers and subjects, and other types of hierarchical situations. He applies what he sees in I Corinthians 11 to other aspects of social order because he believe that God made the world hierarchical. Therefore, “This natural order did come about by chance; rather God reveals his will by it, and means to test our obedience to see if we will submit to him.” He sees order, that is social hierarchy, as essential to the church and society.

Calvin believes that women are made in the image of God just like men. “As for the image, it is certain that is pertains to all females as well as to all males.” Yet Calvin also believe that women were subservient to men “as a class.” He did not see this as denigrating women, but rather as following God’s appointed order and structure.

These three sermons are much more a defense of order and hierarchy than a defense of head coverings. And for that reason they should be read.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it or could just be so poorly written/researched that it is not worth reading. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. This does not mean I agree with everything in it. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is pretty far from 4.5.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

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