“Female theologian.” “Woman theology blog.” “Female version of John Piper.” I remember being really frustrated when Googling these things about six years ago. I enjoyed having access to the writings and teachings of many people who have sought diligently to think deeply and truly about God...but all those people had been men.
Was I as a teenage girl doing something wrong by being interested in these things? At the time, I didn’t know any other young women who listened to sermons for pleasure (a fact that made me either sinfully arrogant or sinfully insecure.) Would it be bad if I wanted to be a theologian when I grew up? What if, in a couple decades, it would be normal to walk through the commentary aisle at Lifeway and find a thick volume (with a lime green cover, of course) written by someone named “Hope”?
I don’t have rock-solid answers to those questions, but I have now found a much more desirable solution than trying to become Lady John MacArthur. And I’ve found that the disappointing Google results are misleading because most of the female theologians in the world are not going to be found on Google.
Side Note: Everyone’s a Theologian
Joshua Harris’s book Dug Down Deep really helped me understand that everyone, even the nominal Christian or atheist, is a theologian. A theologian is someone who has thoughts about God; every single person on the planet, I’d imagine, has some kind of an idea of what God is like. So the really important thing to determine is whether what I know about God is true. This means I need to read the Bible like a madman. This means I need to try to find commentaries and books and podcasts (and, in this season of my life, blogs) to help me understand the Bible better---as it’s meant to be understood.
But of course when I said “theologian”, I meant someone who is really into and has probably written/spoken about deep concepts about God. Also, when I use words like “a deep understanding of God”, I’m speaking very relatively. God’s greatness is unsearchable and no one can know the mind of the Lord, so even the deepest-level thinker about God is still at best beginning to comprehend the fringes of His ways.
4 Examples of Female-Theologian Roles
Through Parenting (and Grand-Parenting!)
Lois and Eunace, mentioned in 2 Timothy, were absolutely instrumental in teaching the influential young man about what he knew of God. It was these two women, his mother and grandmother, who showed him that the Old Testament scriptures pointed to Christ. (See this helpful article.)
Moms have such a unique privilege of showing our children truths about God...so we ought to be careful that what we’re teaching our children is true!
Charles Spurgeon credited a cook from his adolescence, Mary King, as the person who taught him theology: “Many a time we have gone over the covenant of grace together, and talked of the personal election of the saints, their union to Christ, their final perseverance, and what vital godliness meant; and I do believe I learnt more from her than I should have learned from any six doctors of divinity of the sort we have nowadays.”
To use a personal example, I have the privilege of knowing a dear friend from church who has children my age. She and I don’t meet at a regular, scheduled time but we try to get together at least once a month to catch up. Since I’ve known her, I’ve watched her walk through the sudden loss of her husband, and by the grace of God she has suffered really well. As she tells me of the Biblical truths that have upheld her through her pain and even through her mundane, I have grown so much. Her understanding of God is deep, so she speaks deeply to my soul. Oftentimes what she tells me will have a much greater impact than anything even John Piper can tell me, because I see her life and I see truths about God sustaining her.
Through Books, Blogs, and Conferences
That’s not to say that I can’t grow from reading/listening to people I don’t know. Since that initial time of Googling female theologians several years ago, I have found that there are definitely some. Gloria Furman, author of Glimpses of Grace, stands out the most to me. I have grown so much through reading her deeply theological (yet relatable) posts on Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, or her own blog. When I attended the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in 2012, I saw that there are quite a few female expositors who have a lot of really helpful (even mind-blowing) things to say, and I pretty much recommend all of them.
So there are female theologians out there...even in the way I was hoping there were, like the women who spoke at TGC. But most of the female theologians in the world are unnoticed people that just do a good job of knowing and helping the people already in their lives...and that's why their impact is even greater than if they were well-known.
Click here for part 2 of this post: Why I Don't Want to Be John Piper.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today