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5 Books on Christian Doctrine without a Complementarian Edge

For Cynthia

Some of the more well known books on evangelical doctrine and systematic theology have been written by staunch hierarchical complementarians and patriarchalists such as Wayne Grudem, Louis Berkhof, and J.I. Packer. But there are some excellent books that have been written by scholars who hold to a more egalitarian or mutualist ideology when it comes to men and women in marriage and in the church.

I’ve compiled this list of books on Christian doctrine in response to a reader who has been asked to lead a woman’s group and teach “solid doctrine”. Her pastor gave her a book written by a well-known complementarian, but she would prefer to use one written by an egalitarian. I only knew of Michael Bird’s new book on theology, and wanted to know if there were others written without a complementarian edge, so I asked around.

The books below are the ones recommended to me by egalitarian friends and acquaintances. I don’t have much personal experience with these books myself. So, apart from a few personal comments, I have simply copied and pasted information provided by the publishers which I have sourced from Amazon.



Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction

by Michael Bird (PhD University of Queensland)
(Zondervan, 2013) 912 pages.

Theology book BirdMichael Bird is Lecturer in Theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry. His book on Evangelical theology, which was published in 2013, has received a lot of great press. I love Michael’s lucid writing style and his book is on my wish list. Michael blogs at Euanggelion.

“Evangelical Theology is a systematic theology written from the perspective of Australian biblical scholar Michael F. Bird who contends that the center, unity, and boundary of the evangelical faith is the evangel (= gospel), as opposed to things like justification by faith or inerrancy. The evangel is the unifying thread in evangelical theology and the theological hermeneutic through which the various loci of theology need to be understood.  Using the gospel as a theological leitmotif—an approach to Christian doctrine that begins with the gospel and sees each loci through the lens of the gospel—this text presents an authentically evangelical theology, as opposed to an ordinary systematic theology written by an evangelical theologian.” (Source Amazon)

 This book is available through Logos Bible Software.


Theology for the Community of God

by Stanley Grenz (ThD University of Munich)
(Eerdmans, 2000) 723 pages.

Theology books GrenzI have Grenz’s book Women and the Church on my shelves. If this book is any indication of his writing then Grenz’s book on theology should be excellent. Grenz completed his doctoral dissertation in 1978 under the supervision of Wolfhart Pannenberg who wrote a famous systematic theology.

“This proven systematic theology represents the very best in evangelical theology. Stanley Grenz presents the traditional themes of Christian doctrine — God, humankind, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, and the last things — all within an emphasis on God’s central program for creation, namely, the establishment of community. Masterfully blending biblical, historical, and contemporary concerns, this new edition of Grenz’s respected work provides a coherent vision of the faith that is both intellectually satisfying and expressible in Christian living.” (Source Amazon)



Introducing Christian Doctrine

by Millard J. Erickson (PhD Northwestern University)
(Baker Academic, 2001) 448 pages.

Theology books EricksonMillard Erickson is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Western Seminary, Portland. His Christian Theology is deservedly well known. What I didn’t know until today was that the author is a member of Christians for Biblical Equality and is on their board of reference.

“Introducing Christian Doctrine is an abridged, less technical version of Millard J. Erickson’s classic Christian Theology. Pastors and students alike will find this survey of Christian theology and doctrine a practical and accessible resource with both breadth and substance.  Erickson begins by explaining what theology is and then progresses through the doctrines of revelation, God, creation and providence, humanity, sin, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the atonement and salvation, the church, and eschatology. This second edition adds pedagogical aids, includes a chapter on postmodernity, and features the pertinent chapter from Christian Theology contemporizing the gospel message.” (Source: Amazon)

 This book is available through Logos Bible Software.


Oxford Handbook on Evangelical Theology

(Oxford University Press, 2010) 552 pages.

Theology books OxfordThis book contains chapters written by some of my favourite authors: John Stackhouse wrote the chapter on Jesus, Craig Keener wrote the chapter on the Holy Spirit, Scot McKnight wrote the chapter on the Gospel, Dallas Willard wrote the chapter on Discipleship, Howard Snyder wrote the chapter on Spiritual Gifts, and Cherith Fee Nordling write the chapter on Gender.

“Evangelical theology is a burgeoning field. Evangelicals have been growing in numbers and prominence worldwide, and the rise to academic prominence of evangelical historians, scripture scholars, ethicists, and theologians–many of whom have changed the face of their disciplines–has demonstrated the growing maturity of this movement’s intellectual leaders. This volume surveys the state of the discipline on topics of greatest importance to evangelical theology. Each chapter has been written by a theologian or scholar who is widely recognized for his or her published work and is considered a leading thinker on that particular topic. The authors critically assess the state of the question, from both classical and evangelical traditions, and propose a future direction for evangelical thinking on the subject.” (Source Amazon)



Christianity 101 

by Gilbert Bilezikian (ThD Boston University)
(Zondervan 2009) 306 pages.

Theology books BilezekianGilbert Bilezikian is a professor emeritus of Wheaton College, a charter member and elder of Willow Creek Community Church, and his books are well known to many egalitarians.

For something a little lighter: “This book presents eight basic doctrines of Christianity–The Bible, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Human Beings, Redemption, The Church, and The Last Things–in clear, simple language that gives seasoned Christians a fresh understanding of the Bible and its teachings and puts new Christians on familiar terms with Christian doctrine. Gilbert Bilezikian does not shape his analysis of these doctrines in the worn-out, rationalistic categories of older systematic theologies, but in vibrant, dynamic language designed to communicate biblical truths to contemporary believers.” (Source Amazon)

Other top scholars with egalitarian leanings include: Kenneth E. Bailey, David Instone Brewer, F.F. Bruce, Gordon D. Fee, Walter Kaiser, I. Howard Marshall, John Stott, Ben Witherington, and N.T. Wright.  

Are there any other books that should be included here?

P.S. If you’re looking for Bible Commentaries without a complementarian edge, take a look at this list compiled by Alan Padgett.


Related Post

Egalitarian Books and Resources on Marriage
Prominent Biblical Scholars on Women in Ministry

Posted September 4th, 2014 . Categories/Tags: Book Reviews, Christian Theology,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

21 comments on “5 Books on Christian Doctrine without a Complementarian Edge

  1. TL says:

    Can you tell me what the chapter on Gender is about in the Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology.

  2. raswhiting says:

    Has any Biblical, evangelical woman, or women as a team, written a systematic Theology book, or contributed a significant portion of one with multiple authors?

    • Marg says:

      Good question.

      Cherith Fee Nordling is the only woman who contributed a chapter in The Oxford Handbook on Evangelical Theology.

      Women have a lot of catching up to do. Men have typically been welcome and encouraged in seminaries much more than women. And, until quite recently, men could more easily devote themselves to scholarship while women typically took time away from academia to take care of their families, if they were part of it at all.

      There is a book on theology where all the chapters were written by women I’m not sure how evangelical it is, despite being written from a Reformed perspective.
      Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics edited by Amy Platinga Pauw and Serene Jones (Westminster Knox Press) 2006.

      There must be more books on doctrine out there written by a woman. I can see that gradually more and more Bible commentaries are being written by women.

      There are many evangelical women scholars who hold doctorates and are contributing to theological and biblical knowledge. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see some of these women producing more well-known works like some of their brothers.

      • Lyn Kidson says:

        Hi Marg,
        I wonder if we really will see a systematic theology produced by a women anytime soon. The problem is one of institutional support and economics.To write something like a systematic commentary you really need to be in a position where you are researching and lecturing so you can work up your material. Then you need your institution to continue to support you as you write your commentary or systematic theology. Even theologians need to eat and pay the mortgage Further the institution will normally have pathways to assist in publication. What I am describing is a person in a senior teaching position and these positions are normally filled by men. To have women contributing at this level of intellectual activity would need a change in culture with women supported in a sustained way through a career path. Bible colleges might be happy to take women degree students and even MA students if they pay their money but how likely are they to employ women and support them through to senior teaching positions?

  3. Jonathan Parker says:

    Regarding Michael Bird’s ‘Evangelical Theology’, what is meant by “the evangel (= gospel), as opposed to things like justification by faith”? Thanks.
    The way I witness is to ask: “What is the simple message of the gospel? What would I say when I am judged by God? My answer to both questions is the same 5 word statement: Jesus, you died for me.”

    • Marg says:

      Thanks for your comment Jonathan. 🙂
      You might have to ask your first question to Michael. I’m guessing that Michael’s theology does not lean as heavily on justification by faith as some other theologies.

  4. cynthia says:


    You’re the best! I can’t wait to look into them. My class starts in October. Thank you so much!


  5. Jamin Hubner says:

    Good post Marg,

    Yes there are a many others that are significant:

    1. Millard Erickson, Systematic Theology
    2. Paul Jewett, God, Creation, and Revelation
    3. Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding
    4. Thomas Oden, Systematic Theology (3 vols)
    5. Thomas Oden, Classic Christianity
    6. Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith
    7. William Placher, Essentials of Christian Theology

    Sarah Coakley is also writing a multi volume systematic theology, and her first volume just came out.

    I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting (I’m at a thrift store shopping with my wife). My doctorate in systematic theology was on women in ministry etc, so this is pretty familiar to me.

    Jamin h

  6. Cynthia says:

    Do you think it is possible to have a reformed theology with an egalitarian mindset? Just asking because that seems to be where I am at this point.

    Input anyone?


    • Jamin Hübner says:


      Possible? Inevitable I would argue, as a consistent doctrine of total depravity (for example) leads to the basics of feminist and egalitarian thought (eg patriarchy, androcentrism, and sexism is the result of a fallen creation under sin).
      By the way, my master’s thesis for Reformed Theological Seminary was entitled “A New Case for Female Deacons” (published by Wipf and Stock, due in 2015), and doctoral dissertation which is related (the title will be released later) has the subtitle: “A Reformed-Evangelical Approach.” I’ve spent nearly a decade preaching in reformed churches, the latter half during my egalitarian years. So, I am apparently living proof!


      • Cynthia says:

        Ha thanks Jamin,

        I am part of a wonderful, evangelical, reformed church that has no problem with women deacons and women are held in high esteem by the pastoral staff. Wow, would I love to read that! Would you have a particular book on Doctrine that you could recommend. I am looking for one that is more egalitarian but doesn’t make a point of it…just good solid doctrine. The one by Erickson seems like a good one. It is with many of the women that I have to tread lightly and slowly. Thanks,


        • Jamin Hübner says:


          Before I write any further, the title of Erickson’s book is “Christian Theology” (not Systematic Theology). Anyway…

          Pretty much all of those volumes do not push egalitarianism (few even address to topic directly). The subject comes up more overtly in Oden and Placher than the others, but they’re certainly not aggressive.

          It really depends on what kind of “doctrine” book you’re looking for, and at whatever depth, and for what purpose (group study, personal reading, classroom teaching, etc.). I’m currently using Oden’s “Classic Christianity,” Placher’s vol, and Bavinck’s 1 vol abridged “Reformed Dogmatics” for my systematic theology classes. It’s an odd mix, but I like it like that; really helps people see the larger spectrum, even though there is substantial overlap. They’ve been fantastic volumes so far. Erickson is alright, but a bit too 20th century fundamentalist for my personal taste. I can’t say much of Jewett since I haven’t gone through it much…

          • Cynthia says:

            Thanks again. I teach a 10 month class at our church where 50 % is focused on Doctrine. I am looking at the books Marg listed for me above. I appreciate your thoughts. I don’t really get involved in either the egalitarian or complimentarian debate though I am defiantly more egalitarian but rather look to Scripture among other study tools for solid understanding. I wish there was no division. I have no interest any longer in those who write with a strong hierarhicial view. On another note there are many I know who call themselves Calvinists and though I believe some of the points in TULIP from what I read about him besides being an anti-Semite he really seemed like he had a low view of women. True or not…curious?

  7. I like your list of books. I myself am not entirely in neither of the comp or egal camp as I’m more interested in learning about true biblical doctrines rather than lump myself in these two branches of Christianity although I tend to lean egalitarian in my views. I also like to add a list books that don’t have the hierarchical overtones of gender roles in the marriage or church even though I never read any of them I did research on what they are about. “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy” by Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Goothius, and Gordon D. Fee, “What Paul Really Said About Women” by John Temple Bristow, “Understanding Scriptures: How To Study the Bible” by A. Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, “Men and Women in The Church” and “How Just married Do You Wan To Be” by Sarah Sumner, “Woman: God’s Plan, Not Man’s Tradition” by Joanne Krupp,”Woman: Her Purpose, Position and Power” by Mary Jean Pidgeon, “Ephesians” by Walter L. Liefield, and “I Suffer Not a Woman” by Catherine Clark Kroeger”. God Bless

  8. Cynthia says:

    Hi Marg,

    Just wanted to give you an update as you were such a big help during my search for a sound book on theology/doctrine. I chose a book called Created for Community by Stanly Grenz and I supplement with his more expanded book, Theology for the Community of God. So well written…we are loving it!

    During the second half of my class we will be looking into women in the church and have loved and appreciated all your research, study and insight. It is not an easy road but there have always been forerunners that God raises up to bring truth and a deeper understanding of his word. I am not about a cause nor do I teach out of hurt or disillusionment in the church as I sense that some do when I read certain articles. When we know scripture and understand the teachings of Christ, when we walk in love, forgiveness and humility, God’s spirit will lead us into all truth. Free from an agenda, we will speak into peoples lives trusting the work of the HS.

    I believe that is what you do and am so thankful for your ministry. Many blessings.


    • Marg says:

      Thanks so much for letting us know. 🙂

      I love your second paragraph. It can be hard to hear what people are saying when they speak out of hurt, disillusionment, and especially bitterness.

      Hoping that all Christians will walk in love, forgiveness and humility.


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