Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kathryn Stegall's Book Addressing the Gender Debate

A few months ago, Kathryn E. Stegall shared her new book with me. I keep sitting down to write a review of her book, but I have such a plethora of thoughts, memories, and passionate emotions that I had trouble sorting through them to figure out how to start.

I will finally start here!

Her book presents the power of the Gospel more than anything else, simply by focusing on Scripture, and the doctrines shine through in the process. Though the declared subject of the book concerns this modern gender debate that has come to the forefront in the Evangelical world, I think that it's really more of a book about soteriology: what salvation is, how it is obtained, and what it does for those who put their faith in Jesus. I imagine that as a Christian writer, one couldn't ask for more. Through a focus on Scripture, the book dispels competing and idolatrous doctrines that rob God of His glory, power, authority, and ongoing works that belong to Him alone.

I found myself rejoicing in how Jesus atoned for my sins, how He paid my ransom with His own life, He justified sinful me though I don't/won't ever deserve it, and how He works in me, transforming me through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. It was deeply personal for me to read, for I found myself thinking about the holiness of God, the power and authority that He has bestowed on me through His Name, though I don't deserve it. And then, when I return to the fact that the book was written to clarify who women are in Christ, I feel a host of painful emotions that such a book ever needed to be written to Evangelical Believers.


I was taught that to truly evaluate a book, one must “consider the source.” Kathryn is a math teacher, and I loved how this influences her approach and presentation of Scripture in her book. As mathematics concerns itself with qualifying and quantifying truth by systematically applying rules and standards, the author evaluates what the Bible says about Believers. It just so happens that many of those Believers happen to be female. :)

Kathryn has been a lifelong member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and it is clear from the book that she received excellent doctrinal training there. The significance of that early training that she had there carries through so strongly in the book, I found myself confused. My own disappointing experiences within Presbyterianism, the glorification of systematic theology to the exclusion of nearly all else by too many, and the ideas proffered by renowned Presbyterian teachers have made me rather pessimistic and skeptical of Presbyterianism in general. As Jesus confronted the Pharisees, saying that rejected the commandments and doctrines of God so that they could follow their own traditions and the commandments of men, I'd really lost most hope for this denomination. As I read, I kept thinking that Kathryn must have supplemented her understanding of gender with ideas from outside the Presbyterian Church. In clarifying the details of her background, I found myself greatly encouraged and my hope renewed. The book bears an even greater witness that when one gives the Word of God it's proper place, the truth shines through. As Christians, that should be our passion.

If you're reading this review, you should also understand the author of the review. I struggle with this topic, because to a great degree, I don't even understand how or why these doctrines are even accepted. I believe that the errors in complementarianism are so glaring that I don't even know where to begin to address them, but Kathryn did. In so many ways, she writes the book that delineates these basics that I take for granted. In that sense, this is perhaps the most powerful first book to consider reading when approaching the topic to determine what the Bible teaches about gender.

The Title

People who read here come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and some of them follow complementarianism. To encourage them to read what I had to say about the book book itself, I've saved the mention of the title until now. I hope that I've hooked your interest! It is entitled The Full Rights of Sons. According to those who advocate for gender hierarchy, claims that women are heirs to the same promises of God that men is a sacrilege, blatantly reject God's Lordship. The Full Rights of Sons argues otherwise. I challenge those who believe this to read the book and to look to Scripture alone, apart from systematic theologies and the traditions of men, to discern the truth about these teachings. And I hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Please visit Kathryn's website, and join in on the discussion at her blog!

From the Book Description:

The Full Rights of Sons demonstrates that

  • long established principles of the orthodox and reformed Christian faith
  • widely accepted rules for interpreting the Scriptures
  • basic Bible knowledge
  • and a common sense understanding of language

all affirm the equality of men and women in the church, family, and society as a presuppositional, all-pervasive, and overt teaching of the Holy Bible. The Full Rights of Sons is firmly built upon the historic Christian faith taught by the apostles, prophets, and early church fathers, affirmed by the reformers and those today who hold the Holy Scriptures to be the authoritative and living word of God, all founded upon the chief cornerstone of the church, Christ Jesus Himself. (Eph 2:20)