Wednesday 12 May 2021

Questions Women Asked: Historical Issues, Timeless Answers

 As a woman, it is helpful to read about Christian women of the past who might have had dissimilar lives but often faced challenges not so unlike those which we face today. Simonetta Carr has just produced such a book: Questions Women Asked: Historical Issues, Timeless Answers, published by Reformation Heritage Books.

This new book has short biographies of thirty one Christian women from Marcella of Rome who lived in the fourth century to Jeanette Li who died in 1968. Some of the women are relatively well known such as Monica, the mother of Augustine and Anne Bradstreet, the American poet; others, particularly Marie Durand, deserve to be better known and several were completely new to me. Each chapter is comprised of a short biography followed by a section called Food for Thought which includes some quite challenging questions which involve thinking through the life of the woman concerned, in the light of Scripture and our response to this. At the end of each chapter is a short list of reading For Further Research.

A particularly interesting chapter is about Sarah Sergeant Miller. I hadn't heard of Sergeant Miller before but she struggled with depression and doubts, along with a gambling addiction and a flirtation with laudanum. She continued with her despair for the first five years of her marriage and only shared her difficulties with her husband after this, probably, as a result of mistaken teaching from her mother. Thankfully, she was able to emerge into Gospel light and be a great help to others.

Simonetta has written this book around questions that these ladies asked. These questions are varied:

Will my son be lost?

How can I nuture a son who lives miles away?

How can I be sure I am saved?

What can I do if my husband neglects me?

What should a mother teach her children?

Can women write about theology?

Must I forever mourn?

Can Christians have disturbing thoughts?

and more.

I was impressed with how often these women had useful correspondence. Sometimes, they were helping others and other times they were needing encouragement or asking questions. Is correspondence something that we neglect in our day? I'm not arguing that we all have to write and seal letters; email would do as well! 

Anyway, this is well worth reading and then rereading. It would make an excellent choice for a book group as there is so much to discuss.

 Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Questions Women Asked. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are my own.

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