Book Review: The Grand Design by Owen Strachan & Gavin Peacock


Review of The Grand Design
by Owen Strachan & Gaving Peacock
A recommended resource for "You Are... a series in Christian Basics"
Review by Kyle Schwahn

In The Grand Design, Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock give a stirring vision for gender to the local church, and to the world. This book is written by two men representing the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), an organization that seeks to set forth the teachings of the Bible about the complementary differences between men and women. Strachan is a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (where he also runs their Center for Cultural Engagement) and a past speak at The Spurgeon Fellowship, here at ITC. Peacock is a former professional footballer (soccer to you yanks) who now pastors in Calgary, Alberta.

The meat of this book is toward the front half, as the first three chapters form the theological convictions for Biblical gender roles. The second half of the book seeks to work out the implications of such convictions in the home, church and wider culture. Peacock begins with a chapter affirming this contested reality in our day: there are two genders, and they are different by design. Though many of you reading that statement may take such an assertion for granted, the fact is that in the larger culture it may be downright offensive. But the offense to the culture will probably go deeper as the book moves on. The two chapters that follow are a vision of manhood and womanhood in which men are called to be leaders, initiators and sacrificers for their wives, children, churches and society. It is a vision in which women are called to be nurturers of life, and live in a posture of reverence before God, with a character that is beautiful and precious. These authors argue faithfully from the scriptures, and call us to believe that what they teach in this regard is not only true, but good.

So, what's my take on this book? Let me explain it this way. When I was a young man, I worked as a golf professional. Part of the gig was to give golf lessons on the driving range. As I'd watch people grab the club week after week, I became convinced that most bad golf is bad before the club is even swung. The key to the golf swing is the grip. So, my lessons would go about altering the grips of these men and women who would give anything to overcome their slice. Without a solid grip, there was not chance at a sound golf swing, or a straight drive. But there in lies the problem. The grip is the most ingrained pattern of the game. It is therefore, the hardest thing about the golf swing for a person to change. Imagine someone asking you to tie your shoes with a different knot, or to begin signing your name with your off hand and you'll get the idea.

What's my point with all of this golf talk? Thinking about Biblical gender roles with these two authors will feel to many of you like changing a golf grip. It will feel and sound all wrong. It will be out of keeping with what you've known. It will make you feel horribly uncomfortable at points. Even in my own reading of parts of this book, there were times that I was troubled and challenged. There were times when I had to honestly assess my own manhood and leadership of my family. I was forced to think clearly about what the Scriptures call my daughters to be as young women, and if I'm raising them with this in view. This book presented me with the hard reality that even though I stand firm on many elements of a Biblical view of gender, I may have missed the glorious unity and design of God in the whole.

I'm excited for you to read this book so that your mind might be pulled for a moment from the rushing waters of the a-genderism of our culture. I'm excited for you to be reminded that God has a great design that is true and good. And that He created them male and female.

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