I had a wonderful time speaking (and enjoying the ocean and the Mickey Mouse) in Florida. Next week we will kick off our new series on Shame and Spiritual Abuse/When You’ve Been Hurt By the Church.

In the meantime, I am so pleased to share a Q&A with Dr. Natalie Eastman. She is a friend and sister Redbud, and her new book, Women, Leadership and the Bible: How do I Know What To Believe? is a great resource for any woman wanting to be equipped with tools to dig into scripture at a scholarly-but-doable level.

Eastman (M.Div. ‘02, D.Min. ’05–Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is a freelance writer, editor, and member of the Redbud Writers Guild. She has served as a full-time youth minister to girls and women; Bible study teacher; worship leader and team developer; missionary to east Asia; and retreat and event teacher/speaker. She lives in Delaware, OH, with her husband and three young children. You can find her blog at natalieeastman.com, and her training and coaching at biblicalbreakthrough.com.

Q: What’s the purpose of your book, Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe?

A: The term “empowerment,” it seems to me, is vastly overused these days. Yet, admittedly, that’s exactly what I’m doing through WLB and Biblical Breakthrough! Through equipping women with seminary-level tools by which they can study, understand and interpret the Bible; then, stuffing them full of confidence through constant encouragement that they can do this, I hope to empower them to change from an internal status of paralyzed and possibly ignorant (or simply the feeling that one doesn’t know much or enough) to confident, ready, and trained to engage and effectively apply God’s Word with theological reliability and biblical skill.
Of course I hope this empowers and encourages any Christian wanting to become more grounded in God’s Word, not women only; but my primary mission and calling is to and for women.

On an emotional level, I simply want to tell Christians, especially women, “You can do this.” This is not rocket science. Nor do these abilities rely on a special gifting of the Holy Spirit. These are learned skills. Anyone who puts their mind and effort toward the training can and will learn how to know what the Scriptures are saying, as well as what they’re not saying. They can learn how to filter through the many voices “out there” that interpret God’s Word; how to tell the difference between when someone’s giving their opinion about what God’s Word says and when they’re interpreting; and what to do with the many conflicting opinions and interpretations. It can be done. People do it every day. And you can do it with greater skill and effectiveness, while still being sensitive to and filled with God’s very presence throughout the process.

Q: What benefits does Women, Leadership, and the Bible provide to women?

A. Whether or not the subject of women in church leadership roles is an “issue” in your community, a thoughtful approach to understanding the issue can help a person feel secure in their practices and help them understand the interpretations of others. That type of studied, thoughtful understanding promotes good and helpful dialogue among Christians. The method taught in WLB benefits people wanting to get to the bottom of other issues, too; for, as we all know, many other theological issues have been or will become “issues” there at some point. WLB can benefit your church or ministry in numerous ways:
·         Engages women with the Bible.
·         Encourages women toward further biblical and theological development.
·         Develops women as critical thinkers, so they can embrace their faith and service with groundedness and confidence.
·         Urges independent thought within the context of Christian community, with unity being the ultimate goal.
·         Equips women with seminary-level hermeneutical skills and tools on an introductory level and, hopefully, whets their appetites (or satisfies one!) for further and deeper biblical studies. 
·         Teaches women to recognize and face internal and external influences that impact their faith and practice.
·         Encourages grace-filled dialogue and study about this and other “controversial” issues within a safe space.
·         Provides a “virtual community” for women who really want to “get to the bottom of things,” biblically speaking.

Q: What view of women in leadership does this book promote – complementarian or egalitarian?

A: Women, Leadership, and the Bible promotes the view that women should be biblically literate and discern the answers to their questions about that issue for themselves. Said another way, the book does not support either view and does not lead toward one conclusion/position over another. Instead, it helps women learn to interpret Scripture, then weigh the evidence and interpretations for themselves, filtering positions by various means, and making their own decision, with the help of and within the context of their own communities. I worked purposefully not to lean either way – to the extent that I took it all back to nearly starting over several times. This was important to me, so women can truly learn to think critically for themselves on this and any other issue they tackle biblically and theologically. I worked very hard to create a safe and objective space, within the pages of the book, for women to explore this issue.

Q: I am a [seminary professor, Bible college professor/instructor, other academic, pastor, ministry lead/influencer, etc.] and I’d like to consider Women, Leadership, and the Bible for use in my [class, ministry, church, Bible study curriculum, or similar program]. Can I obtain an exam copy?

If you would like to consider WLB for use in your particular circumstance that would mean a larger quantity purchase, you may request an exam copy from James Stock at Wipf & Stock Publishers (James@WipfandStock.com).

Q: What if I am not in the media? Can I get a free or reduced-price copy?

If you are interested in WLB, but are not in some sort of “influence” role, you may be interested to know that Dr. Eastman runs book giveaway contests on the book’s Facebook page on a fairly regular basis. Just enter “Women, Leadership, and the Bible” in Facebook’s search box.
Otherwise, you can purchase a signed and personalized copy through http://womenleadershipbible.com/shop/buy-signed-book-wlb/ or through Amazon at http://amzn.to/1d8NXuv

Want to connect with Dr. Eastman? 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/natalierweastman
FB: https://www.facebook.com/womenleadershipbible
G+: https://plus.google.com/+NatalieEastmanTVI/

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