*This review first appeared on The Gospel Coalition’s website. I am reposting it here with minor changes and with a drawing for a free book to a randomly chosen commenter. If you comment, please be sure to check back to see if you won. I’ll announce the winner on Saturday.
I remember opening John Piper’s Desiring God for the first time around 18 years ago. In just the first three chapters of the book, Piper rocked my world. He presented thoughts on finding my satisfaction in God Himself that reoriented me to Scripture, and those thoughts have affected me every day since. Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image by Hannah Anderson is this kind of book and has had this kind of effect on me. That may sound like an over-the-top statement, but I believe Made for More is going to change the conversation on women as image bearers of God for the long term good of the Church—that God is going to use this book the way He used Piper’s thoughts in Desiring God to redirect His people to Himself. Remember an important truth from Desiring God – those thoughts were not new to John Piper. He points back again and again to their historical longevity and Biblical origins. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9). Hannah Anderson does the same in Made for More.
Hannah doesn’t present a new, faddish way of looking at Biblical womanhood. Instead, she weaves a story of timeless truths with historical longevity and Biblical clarity. These are God’s truths, not Hannah’s. Yet, God has clearly gifted Hannah to reword these truths in a way that 21st century postmodern women can hear and relate. What truth is Hannah presenting? Hannah is presenting the conversation before the conversation about complementarianism and gender roles. Before the foundational phrase of complementarianism in Gen 1:27, “Male and female, He created them,” the Bible first says, “God created mankind in His image.” Our problem in the complementarian discussion (even when we do it in really thoughtful ways) stems from the fact that we assume a robust understanding and acceptance of mankind made in the image of God that few of us actually have.
“We must find a North Star. And not simply because our circumstances change, but because we ourselves are more than the roles we play in this present world. We are large, deep, eternal beings, and only something larger and deeper and more eternal will satisfy the questions in our souls.” Hannah Anderson
Some in complementarian circles might be concerned that this conversation before the male/female conversation might downplay the complementary nature of gender. But to NOT have this conversation before the other causes confusion and a weak foundation for the complementarian discussion. After all, as a woman, I have more in common genetically with a male human than I do a female cat. The value of the differences in our genders become caricatures if they are not first based on the solidarity male and female have as image bearers of God who are called to steward His creation together. Hannah fleshes out this foundational truth and then builds upon it with the specifics of womanhood.
Hannah has written the book I wish I had written. She’s taken a nugget of truth, woman as image bearer of God, for which I had been burdened and fleshed it out in a way that deepened my understanding of the topic and its value in my life. She hasn’t just written on a topic I wished I had written, but she has also written in a style I wish I could write. I appreciate Hannah’s ability to both think deeply and write accessibly all in one tidy package. I wanted to plow through the book quickly, but instead I had to stop to consider again and again – not because her words were too lofty but because she managed to bring down lofty ideas in a way I could appreciate and apply. But even as I envied her writing, her section on gifting and work freed me from comparisons and helped me rejoice in both my abilities and hers. Over and over, she tethered lofty ideas to concrete summary statements. She is an author with a vision for her audience, and she writes in a way to make sure we, the audience, can understand her objectives.
Hannah’s chapter on the creation mandate, Queens in Narnia: Embracing your Destiny to Reign, is a beautiful exploration from Scripture of the noble calling of work that lifts it above our usual earthly compartments. Hannah inspired me to talk to my children in a radically different way about “work.” More importantly, her words transformed my thoughts on everything from cleaning my kitchen to weeding my yard to teaching math to blue collar workers through my community college job. I imagine that I will be contemplating work as an image bearer of God for a lifetime now. I felt similarly about her chapter on knowledge and education in the image of God.
I read recently that the best reviews of a book include some measure of criticism, which keeps the reviewer from looking like a fan boy (or girl). Hannah has presented a nuanced look at what is basically the doctrine of sanctification or how God conforms us back to His image after belief in Him. Justification is God declaring us righteous in heaven. Through the process of sanctification, God slowly transforms us in reality to what He has already declared us to be in heaven. Hannah has woven echoes of God’s justification of us through Christ throughout the book. The book follows an outline based on Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” There is a strong sense in which the entire book is Christ and gospel centered. But other than a brief section in her chapter on the results of the fall of man, there lacks an explicit exploration of how God declares us righteous. I don’t really see this as a criticism, because I can’t imagine a book with enough room to adequately explore both justification and all that Hannah has presented without being overwhelmingly long for its target audience. Instead, I would recommend reading Hannah’s book in conjunction with something similar to Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Because He Loves Me that explores our position of righteousness in Christ as the fuel for our conformation to His image.
This is a book for women and men, pastors and lay leaders, complementarians and egalitarians. Basically, this book will bless anyone in the Church. If you care about what God has created you to be as a woman, or, if you are a man who longs to support the women in your life in ways that lead to their flourishing in their God-given identity and giftedness, I recommend that you read this book.
“When God rewards those who seek Him, it is not with wealth or power or privilege but with the very thing that they were searching for in the first place—Himself.
And the beauty, the unmistakable genius of it all, is that in discovering Him, the source of all existence, you will also discover yourself. In finding Him, you will find the answer to the question “Who am I and why am I here?” Hannah Anderson, Made for More