I didn’t mention the chapters on women (in the final section of The Blue Parakeet) because I didn’t want to give the false impression that this book was written with an agenda. McKnight includes them as the practical side of the book; the demonstration of how his preceding framework plays out when considering issues in the church today, and the case study he chooses is ‘Women in Church Ministries’. As an aside, I must say how lovely it is to discover that a Christian you respect and admire (as a result of his unrelated thoughts up to that point) is also someone who counts himself among those who believe that roles in church ministries should be filled based on giftedness, calling, godliness and character rather than gender.
Back to the book: One aspect that McKnight covers in this section that I hadn’t come across in my reading on this topic was the roles of actual women in the Bible. He mentions a list including Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Esther, Priscilla, Junia and Phoebe, and then goes on with the following:
What did they do? They led, they prophesied, they taught, they were apostles, and they were local church mentors. At this point, all we need to grant is that there are – at a minimum – women who were exceptions to dominant cultural perception of women as inferior. They were exceptions whom God raised above the norm in order to accomplish his will. I will go beyond the word “exception” in what follows, but for now we can ask if we are permitting women exceptions in our churches. I know many who believe there should be no exceptions – and they are caging and silencing even the exceptional blue parakeet. (Page 164)
These chapters are a brilliant challenge to the limited view that some have of “Biblical womanhood,” and I found them reassuring and inspiring! They’re yet another reason you should read this book.