In one of my books, I declared that if I were a Calvinist, I would be out fishing instead of working for Christians to get their act together and allow women the full equality God gave them. So I was intrigued when I received an email from an author asking me to review her book, Once an Insider, Now Without a Church Home.
She described the book as “One couple’s faith crisis due to the infiltration and spread of authoritarianism, Calvinism, complementarianism, and covenants in the American Evangelical Church.”
Amanda Farmer writes about her experience when her church in Minnesota began to change its original mission and vision to embrace Calvinism, and the pastor’s supreme authority over a congregation, which led to teaching that women were to be in submission to male leadership in the church. Where women once had a voice in the direction of the church, they no longer did.
Amanda and her husband Gordon were both very involved in their respective faiths. Amanda was a Mennonite and Gordon was Lutheran when they met and married. They decided to find a different faith they could both feel comfortable in and devote their lives to by serving in all phases of a church life. The church started out small and these two were involved in all the ministries such as being on the Elder Board and the Administrative Council. Amanda was the church Treasurer for most of those years and Gordon served on the Elder Board. Gordon used his skills each year to design and make various Vacation Bible School props, even making a roller coaster one year. They loved their church pastor, the church family and their part in the church ministries.
For over 25 years of faithful church service, and with the service of several pastors, they served faithfully. That began to change when one of their pastors began to lead the church toward Calvinism. As is expected, most of the congregation had no idea what the change was all about and did not see it coming, but Amanda did, and began writing the Board and the pastor asking for clarification in what was being taught.
The book chronicles Amanda and Gordon’s service and what brought about their dissatisfaction and uneasiness in the theology change they saw taking place. In their minds (and I will admit, in my own mind) this church was going backward to a time of John Calvin and the cultural mores of the day, to a time when women were not respected or valued for their leadership or voice. Instead of moving forward they became cult-like in their restrictive covenants and methods.
I recommend this book. Amanda is honest in telling her story. She made mistakes in what she said and did, but she knew in her heart that something was wrong. I admire her and her tenacity.