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This book speaks to the intersection of gender and power within American evangelicalism by examining the formation of evangelical leaders in two seminary communities.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary inspires a vision of human flourishing through gender differentiation and male headship. Men practice “Godly Manhood,” and are taught to act as the “head” of a family, while their wives are socialized into codes of “Godly Womanhood” that prioritize prescribed gender roles. This power structure that prioritizes men yet offers agency to their wives in women-centered spaces and through marital relationships.
Meanwhile, Asbury Theological Seminary promises freedom from gendered hierarchies. Appealing to a story of gender-blind equality, Asbury welcomes women into classrooms, administrative offices, and pulpits. But the institution’s construction of egalitarianism obscures the fact that women are rewarded for adapting to an existing male-centered status quo rather than for developing their own voices as women.
Featuring figures such as high-profile evangelicals such as Al Mohler and Owen Strachan along with young seminarians poised to lead the movement in the coming decades, this book illustrates the liabilities of white evangelical toolkits and argues that evangelical culture upholds male-centered structures of power even as it facilitates meaning and identity.