Monday, January 27, 2020

2019 IVP Academic Reader's Choice Award Finalists

Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters is among the ten finalists at IVP Academic's annual Reader's Choice Book Awards. What an honor to be listed beside these great projects! This means dozens of readers took the time to nominate my book. Bearing God's Name is already in its 3rd printing since its release on December 10th. This is largely thanks to enthusiastic readers who have spread the word about the book. Thank you!

If you'd like to cast your vote, you have until February 7th to vote here.

While you're at it, check out the rest of these finalists:

A Week in the Life of Rome, by James L. Papandrea
The God Who Trusts, by Wm. Curtis Holtzen
Sculptor Spirit, by Leopoldo A. Sanchez M.
The Making of Stanley Hauerwas, by David Hunsicker
Disability and the Way of Jesus, by Bethany McKinney Fox
The Genealogical Adam & Eve, by S. Joshua Swamidass

Some of them have made their way onto my own reading list. I'm so grateful for the team at IVP that continues to produce thoughtful books to deepen our understanding and cultivate faithfulness.

Update as of Feb 10, 2020: Congratulations to Lucy Peppiatt and Bethany McKinney Fox, whose books won this year's award!

2019 IVP Academic Reader's Choice Book Award Finalist

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Author Interview: Kristen Padilla, "Now That I'm Called"

Image result for now that i'm called kristen padilla
Today I had the privilege of interviewing Kristen Padilla about her book entitled Now That I'm Called: A Guide for Women Discerning a Call for Ministry (IVP 2018). I have already recommended her book to students multiple times, so it was great to hear the backstory of the book.

Since the particular roles open to women differ from one denomination to another, Kristen explores ways that women from all kinds of churches can walk in obedience to God's call to participate in his mission. In her book, she says, "I want people, especially women, to understand that receiving this kind of call does not mean that they must hold a church office -- the role of a pastor, elder, or deacon, for example. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the people of God, and these gifts can be exercised outside of a particular office in the church" (13). Her approach makes this book suitable for women from churches across the theological spectrum.

What inspired you to write this book? I was inspired to write this book for several reasons. First, I wrote this book because I saw a need for it. When I was a young woman sensing a call to vocational ministry, I had no one and no resource to guide me through the discernment process, the questions pertaining to being a woman in ministry, and next steps. As I say in my book, I felt like I was in a dark room with my arms outstretched trying to find my way to the door. By the time I was in seminary and had conversations with other women my age or younger called to ministry, I realized my story was not unique—it was the story of many women called to ministry. Thus, God put the idea and passion for this book in my heart, and ten years later it finally came to fruition. Second, I wrote this book out of a deeply held biblical conviction that God calls women to gospel ministry and that the Church of Jesus Christ needs women who are called by God to engage in gospel ministry in the church and world. I wanted to write a book that would encourage and aid these women in the journeys of discernment for the purpose of equipping future generations of female ministers of the gospel.

What was the most difficult aspect of the project? The most difficult aspect of writing was perhaps the most obvious one: writing a chapter on 1 Timothy 2:11-15. As many know, this passage has been used to silence and forbid women from many avenues of gospel ministry. It is the battleground where most of the fighting regarding women in ministry takes place. In my mind, I could not write a book for women called to ministry without addressing this passage of Scripture. However, I wanted to demonstrate a fidelity to the authority of Scripture and a humble and generous interpretative posture and tone. I also wanted to address head-on problematic and false interpretations that have held many women from pursuing ministry, namely that the female gender is by nature more easily deceived and that a certain “creation order” is a fail-proof guard against false teaching.

Author Kristen Padilla
What do you want readers to take away from your book? I want readers to walk away with a theological and biblical vision for women in ministry. I want them to see in Scripture that God’s plan has always included women and that women play an equally vital and important role in gospel ministry. My prayer is that women who read the book walk away with confidence grounded in Scripture and theology to follow God’s call to serve him in whatever role he has called them in obedience and humility.

Your book occupies the unpopular middle ground between the debate over women in ministry–not progressive enough to satisfy those who ordain women and too progressive for those who don't. What was your heart behind writing for those in this middle space? This is a great question. One of the first responses I received from the book was told to a friend of mine, “I wasn’t sure if she was complementarian or egalitarian.” A compliment or a criticism? I made the decision early on to write a book from that neither-complementarian-nor-egalitarian space or the in-between space for two reasons. First, I wanted the book to meet women in churches and traditions on both sides of this interpretive divide. My goal is to address the beginning of one’s call to vocational ministry—to lay the groundwork, if you will. Therefore, secondly, I did not see the need to talk from a strictly complementarian or egalitarian perspective, whatever that means today, since my goal wasn’t to talk about ordination or roles per se. I believe these two approaches have more in common than is often acknowledged. Most women in these so-called camps are tired of the debate and want to focus on the question: does God call women like me to serve him in ministry? I actually believe that this “in-between” space includes many women. This does not mean I do not have a particular interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 nor does it mean I am somehow theologically neutral when it comes to the roles of women in ministry. However, I did not believe it would be helpful to advocate from one perspective or another given the purpose of this book. Some will “blacklist” books if they are written from the other “side.” Even though I tried to stay in that middle space, I knew that for some my book would not be complementarian or egalitarian enough and would therefore be censored. This is indeed what has happened. In spite of this, I strongly believe that there is a strong middle and ecumenical ground where conversations about women in ministry can and should take place. I pray the posture and position I take in the book draws people together rather than exclude them.

In the year since your book has released, you've undoubtedly heard from many readers. What would you like to say to those who haven't read it yet? Or what would you want to add to what you've said in the book? Yes, I have been very fortunate and blessed to have heard from readers around the world, namely women for whom the book came at a time in their life when they needed biblical encouragement and guidance concerning the next steps in ministry. Hearing personal testimonies from readers is an author’s great reward. To those who haven’t read the book yet, I would of course say, “Read it!” On a more serious note, I try to bring out from Scripture stories of women called by God to proclaim the word of God for the people of God. There are many examples of women in Scripture doing just that—proclaiming a message from God to edify people in their day, and, by God’s design as Holy Scripture, edifying us today! In my book, I put the stories of these women next to stories of well-known men in Scripture to show a common pattern in how he calls and uses both men and women for his purposes. It would be a shame if the discussion about women’s place in God’s kingdom was limited to a few verses from the New Testament and did not take into account all of Scripture. If I could revise the book today, I would add more examples of women God uses in Scripture whose words are included for our edification today, such as the wise woman of 2 Samuel 20 and the Queen of Sheba. I want to continue to shine a light on the ways in which God is using women in his kingdom, which is why I am glad to say that I am writing a second book with Dr. Timothy George on women of the Reformation. My prayer is that the Church would be filled with God-called, theologically trained spiritual mothers who, alongside spiritual fathers, are equipping the saints for the work of ministry.

Thanks, Kristen, for writing this book and giving us a glimpse of your journey!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Five Things They Didn't Tell Me about Writing a Book

Bearing God's Name turned one month old yesterday! I had watched all the helpful training videos from InterVarsity Press about writing, editing, and marketing my book. But like parenting, no matter how much you prepare, there are still surprises. Here's what they didn't tell me:

1. They didn't tell me how much time it would take.

I wrote the book in one summer. And then I mostly waited. I anticipated this, as editors and peer reviewers took their turn, followed by copyeditors and graphic designers. Now and then I had a job to do -- responding to suggestions or checking page proofs. But I think I imagined my work would be basically finished when the final document headed off to print. In reality, that's when the big push began.

Last semester I had a lighter teaching load. I had big plans for all the writing I was going to do with my extra time. I did write a bit, but mainly I got ready for the book launch by taking on extra speaking engagements -- in Washington and Oregon and Texas and California and Alberta. I created memes, contacted speaking venues, set up events, traveled, ordered books, interacted with book stores, tracked book sales, responded to readers, interviewed for podcasts, and wrote blog posts. The whole process has taken tons of energy.

2. They didn't tell me what a splash it would make.

The fact that it's been time-consuming sounds negative. But here's what's blowing me away:

People are reading my book.
Pastors are preaching about it.
Teachers are teaching about it.
Parents are telling their children.
Facebook groups are discussing it.
Couples are processing it together.
Small groups are deciding to read it this year.

One man looked up every Scripture reference in the entire book to check my work. He gave a glowing report.

Readers are telling their friends and writing reviews and recommending it to their pastors. Some of the top Christian podcasts have interviewed me about the book.
The message is getting out there that the Old Testament matters for Christians, and that if we want to understand our identity and vocation as believers, we need Sinai.
 This is a dream come true!

Me with James Enns at the Official
Book Launch (Photo: Sheena Mejia)
3. They didn't tell me how many new friends I would gain.

I hear daily from readers -- people I don't even know -- who are grateful for this book. They are befriending me, not just in the sense of following me on Facebook, but in some cases letting me into their lives and their stories.

This week I heard from the parents of a reader who is so on fire about the book that it is changing her relationship with God. She can't get enough of God's Word. This couple drove 45-minutes one way just to meet me and thank me in person.

For some reason, I didn't anticipate this. I've probably been in the academic bubble for too long. When I published my dissertation in 2018, I heard from a grand total of about 5 people who took the time to tell me how much they learned from it. Now I'm hearing from that many people every day.

4. They didn't tell me my dream was too small.

My dream was to write a book that the whole church could read. In reality, I imagined my parents, friends, and students' parents reading it.

My dream was to write a book with IVP, a reputable publisher that consistently produces quality books for Evangelicals. I pictured how my book would look in their catalog, and the thrill of seeing my name on the cover. I even had the audacity to imagine my book on the shelves of brick and mortar stores. I just hadn't imagined, or hadn't dared to imagine, what would happen next.

Bearing God's Name Launch Day (Photo: Sheena Mejia)
IVP has already ordered three printings of the book! Barnes and Noble is carrying it, along with a bunch of seminary bookstores. Library Journal highly recommended it. Christianity Today promoted it. IVP chose it as a Book Club selection and gave copies to women at the IBR breakfast. Bearing God's Name was consistently in the top 5 new releases in multiple categories on Amazon this month. And we're just getting started. The book is only one month old!

5. They didn't tell me how much fun this would be!

The whole experience has far exceeded my expectations. I've discovered that not only do I enjoy writing, but I also enjoy marketing. Even more than that, I enjoy interacting with readers. And I can't wait to get started on the sequel!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Top 10 Posts of the Decade

My blog-o-versary passed without notice a few months ago. I've been blogging for 10 years! Not prolifically and not methodically, mind you, but often enough that I've published 525 posts that have so far collected over 150,000 views. Still small potatoes in this big wide world, but a wonderful way to practice writing and build community.

Most of my posts haven't made a big splash, but here are the top 10, all of which had over 900 views. Clearly 2018 was a banner year, yielding 6 of the top 10 posts. If you've been reading for a decade, enjoy this walk down memory lane. If we've only met recently, here's a taste of what you've been missing. Thanks for reading!

Confronting Modern Day Slavery -- closer than you think - on cell phone addiction

What John Piper Said . . .

Is Christianity Essentially Masculine?

Christmas in October - a tribute to a dying friend

Navigating the Valley of Disappointment - when I didn't get the job

#readwomen: Taking the Challenge - submitting a book proposal

Shattered: Top Ten Myths about the Ten Commandments (Part 1)

Shattered: Top Ten Myths about the Ten Commandments (Part 2)

Shattered: Top Ten Myths about the Ten Commandments (Part 3)