Practical Theology and Biblical Womanhood: An Interview with Wendy Alsup

By Trillia Newbell

When Wendy Alsup began journaling for her own benefit she didn’t imagine those journals would become full-length manuscripts for  gospel centered woman  the benefit of women everywhere. Alsup, of Seattle and mother of two, began developing material for classes requested by various churches after publishing on a church blog.

In 2008, she published her first book and has been serving women since. Learn more about Wendy, practical theology and her desire for women to know and understand biblical womanhood in this Q&A.

(Have a chance to win a copy of Wendy’s newest book by commenting on this post until Friday, January 18 at midnight)

Q:  Are you in ministry? Tell us a little bit about your ministry?

Alsup: I feel I’ve almost always been in ministry, from the earliest years of my life helping my dad with his bus ministry at a small Baptist church in South Carolina.  But I won’t get on my soapbox about unhelpful ways we distinguish full-time ministry in the church.  As an adult I’ve occasionally been in paid ministry, working for Christian camps and Christian schools in the states and in Korea.  But most of my adult ministry has been unpaid, including informal counseling and discipleship of women as well as leading women’s ministry at a large church in Seattle.

Q:  What lead you to write your book Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives (Crossway, 2008)?

Alsup: That book came about organically from a class I led at church.  Before I attended, they had a class called Practical Theology for Women, and I was intrigued by the title of the class from the first time I heard it.  Practical theology.  So much theology had previously seemed to me esoteric and decidedly impractical.  I was intrigued and inspired by the idea that, yes, it should be practical.  Knowing God, the essence of the idea behind theology, ought to make a clear practical difference to us daily.  Over time, I started teaching that class and developed the content that eventually became the book.
Q: What makes theology different for women vs. men?

Alsup: The theology itself isn’t different, but the way we approach it sometimes is.  Women tend toward warmer, more relational presentations (that’s a generalization, I know).  I realized at some point that, at least in my circles, the results of that desire for warm, relational interactions with other believing women was what I call pink-fluffy-bunny Bible studies.  The women I knew longed for something deeper and resonated with my pursuit of deep biblical truth in a warm, relational way.  I’m still on that journey and have appreciated the encouragement from many other women on similar journeys.  The deepest things of the character of God minister to me in exactly those places in my heart.
practical theology for women cover

Q: You have a new book, The Gospel Centered Woman: Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel (2012). Tell us about that book.

Alsup: The Gospel-Centered Woman is simply about understanding biblical womanhood through the lens of the gospel.  The good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection changes everything according to Scripture, and that includes how women view themselves and understand the Bible’s instructions to them.

Q:  Why did you choose this topic for your next project?

Alsup: I’m not sure if I chose it, or it chose me.  I think the latter.  Biblical womanhood has been a hot topic in conservative and liberal Christian discussion for some time.  I’ve read many books espousing different views on what God wants women to do, especially in the home and church.  I’ve always felt there was a big hole in how the topic was presented.  Women were encouraged to be like Ruth or the Proverbs 31 woman.  But what about Christ?  Romans 8 says we were predestined to be conformed to His image.  Doesn’t that mean women too?  Does He not have something to offer women on the topic of womanhood?

Then Rachel Held Evans published A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and the topic took off in the blogosphere.  I felt her book didn’t address biblical womanhood at all, because she didn’t use the Bible’s own guidelines for what parts of Scripture are and are not prescriptive for the average woman today longing to live as the Bible instructs.  I couldn’t hold back from that point, and after publishing bits and pieces of my thoughts on my blog, reader after reader encouraged me to publish the thoughts altogether.  I’m not addressing Rachel’s book or other books from complementarians per se.  My book is not against any of them, but I do hope to offer a third way to understand the Bible’s instructions to women.  It’s not new.  Actually, it’s ancient.  But at some point, we got off course in how we discussed these things in the Church, in my opinion.  This is my meager attempt to reroute the discussion.

Q: Let’s get practical; what are some ways you share that women can be gospel-centered?

Alsup: Wow.  That’s a tough question to answer shortly.  The phrase “some ways” contradicts the term “gospel-centered,” at least in the way I use it.  Instead, think of an entirely different paradigm.  The gospel is a BIG word, encompassing the fullness of all Christ ushered in through His life, death, and resurrection.  And it is the pursuit of a lifetime.  When I am centered in it, it is the environment in which I spend my life.  Like any new environment, I need to learn its distinguishing features.  I focus in the book on how this environment gives us an entirely different lens through which to view our creation as women as strong helpers in the image of God. When we understanding the fullness of the way Scripture speaks of the good news of Jesus Christ, we can then, in the moment of struggle or pain, wrestle with God over how that good news makes a difference in that very struggle.

 

Keep up with Wendy on her blog  Practical Theology for Women. Comment on this blog post for a chance to win a copy of Wendy’s newest book, The Gospel-Centered Woman!

Wendy AlsupMore about Wendy

Wendy Alsup is a wife, mom, and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.  She has published three books, Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference in our Daily Lives, By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity, and The Gospel-Centered Woman: Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel.

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12 Comments to “Practical Theology and Biblical Womanhood: An Interview with Wendy Alsup”

  1. This is great. Thanks for being faithful to the word and to teaching women, Wendy. And thanks, Trillia for interviewing!

  2. Hazel says:

    Thank you, Wendy, for your blog and your previous two books. I’ve just started your second one, and having read Practical Theology some time ago I now recommend it to young women I disciple.
    Thanks for your courage in communicating as you do, I love the way you put things across!

  3. Hazel says:

    …and thanks Trillia for the interview and all your writings, I do so enjoy them!

  4. Christina says:

    I enjoyed this interview. Living a gospel centered life is what I long for. This is a book I need to read, as well as the next one on womanhood. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I am very interested in reading Wendy’s book. I also appreciated the way Wendy answered the question, “Are you in Ministry?” We should know that ministry goes beyond the pulpit, church walls, and position, we can see she began in ministry as a child/youth. We mothers can encourage ministry in our families; what we do for Chirst will last.

  6. Melanie says:

    I agree with Tamika. I tend to put ministry in a box and forget that it extends beyond the pulpit. Thanks for that reminder!

  7. Dana says:

    Thanks for insight into what has become an increasingly magnetic (and sometimes divisive) issue in many evangelical circles.

  8. Lindsay says:

    Looking forward to reading the new book!

  9. Amy Netto says:

    I agree we need to model the image of Christ is all inclusive. It is not just the Proverbs 31 woman .

  10. Marla says:

    Would love to read a copy of your new book.

  11. Kathy says:

    It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve really started to understand what the gospel is all about and this book sounds like it would be great for learning to apply the gospel to my everyday life!

  12. Raine says:

    I have read Wendy’s blog for a couple years now and really enjoyed her first book, so I’m looking forward to this one.