Julie Ingersoll examines how evangelical women challenge gender norms.

She also shows how conservative Protestant women help build gender ideology and manage and respond to conflict. Her "war stories," gleaned from Christian women in pastoral ministry and the academy, are often heartbreaking.

Ingersoll, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida, devotes a chapter to the Southern Baptist Convention, in which she says "right views on women" have replaced belief in inerrancy as the measuring stick by which leaders judge orthodoxy.

One of Ingersoll's premises is that "religious traditions are cultural systems that are always in a process of change, that they do not exist in some pure form apart from a culture and never have." The question then becomes, she says, "who will decide how the inevitably transformed tradition will look?"

Drawing on research and interviews (with Christians for Biblical Equality as her base), Ingersoll also explores the rise of evangelical feminism.

This highly accessible book should be required reading across all denominations.

Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer (Paraclete, 2003).

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