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Popes and Feminists: How the Reformation Frees Women from Feminism

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Before the Reformation, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, being a wife or mother was not a holy vocation. The only "spiritual" calling for women was to be found in a convent. The Reformers confronted the bad theology which led to this (and other worse abuses, like priest-patronized brothels) and returned to the Bible to develop a theology of vocation that began to Before the Reformation, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, being a wife or mother was not a holy vocation. The only "spiritual" calling for women was to be found in a convent. The Reformers confronted the bad theology which led to this (and other worse abuses, like priest-patronized brothels) and returned to the Bible to develop a theology of vocation that began to free Christians to be "holy" no matter their occupation. Christian women wondering about their place in society and comparing feminism with the Bible should start with the teaching of the Reformers and the lives of many exceptional women of the Reformation. Popes and Feminists argues that women today have some of the same choices facing them as women in the sixteenth century. In this fascinating study, Elise Crapuchettes shows how the Reformation changed the lives of Christian women as it turned them away from trying to earn their salvation and toward a joyful, liberating view of vocation and work.


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Before the Reformation, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, being a wife or mother was not a holy vocation. The only "spiritual" calling for women was to be found in a convent. The Reformers confronted the bad theology which led to this (and other worse abuses, like priest-patronized brothels) and returned to the Bible to develop a theology of vocation that began to Before the Reformation, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, being a wife or mother was not a holy vocation. The only "spiritual" calling for women was to be found in a convent. The Reformers confronted the bad theology which led to this (and other worse abuses, like priest-patronized brothels) and returned to the Bible to develop a theology of vocation that began to free Christians to be "holy" no matter their occupation. Christian women wondering about their place in society and comparing feminism with the Bible should start with the teaching of the Reformers and the lives of many exceptional women of the Reformation. Popes and Feminists argues that women today have some of the same choices facing them as women in the sixteenth century. In this fascinating study, Elise Crapuchettes shows how the Reformation changed the lives of Christian women as it turned them away from trying to earn their salvation and toward a joyful, liberating view of vocation and work.

30 review for Popes and Feminists: How the Reformation Frees Women from Feminism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    2020: Better the second time! If we want a Reformation, Christians need to come back to the Scriptures and believe what God says there. Then we need men and and women with the fierce conviction that where they are is the place from where they can advance the Kingdom of God! 2017: Super interesting, well researched, and thought provoking. It helps us, women, to boldly embrace our God-given vocation, and be fearless in a generation in which Christian women are succumbing to the temptations Feminis 2020: Better the second time! If we want a Reformation, Christians need to come back to the Scriptures and believe what God says there. Then we need men and and women with the fierce conviction that where they are is the place from where they can advance the Kingdom of God! 2017: Super interesting, well researched, and thought provoking. It helps us, women, to boldly embrace our God-given vocation, and be fearless in a generation in which Christian women are succumbing to the temptations Feminists are offering.

  2. 4 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    This was a super enlightening read on two fronts: 1) explaining feminists in their own (shocking) words, and 2) comparing the lies of modern feminism with the lies of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Both wage war on the idea that women can actually serve God and change the world from inside the home. Whether it’s packing girls off to convents or pressuring them into careers, medieval Catholicism and modern feminism are ultimately the same enemy here. The wonderfully well-read Elise Crapuchet This was a super enlightening read on two fronts: 1) explaining feminists in their own (shocking) words, and 2) comparing the lies of modern feminism with the lies of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Both wage war on the idea that women can actually serve God and change the world from inside the home. Whether it’s packing girls off to convents or pressuring them into careers, medieval Catholicism and modern feminism are ultimately the same enemy here. The wonderfully well-read Elise Crapuchettes, mother of five, packs a lot of history and encouragement (laced with dry wit) into a book that should make the Devil go (as Luther might say): “Oh crap.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Della Ray Dodgen

    I learned much from this book that I did not expect to. Reading about all those hard-working women, made me feel slothish. Like, I need to get off my seat and care for some plague-ridden folk. On a serious note, the last chapter struck a chord with me. There is where Elise mentioned the "idol of making a difference." I realized all those women were unconcerned with who would know about their good works. They were simply doing what they knew was right in the moment, with no concern over receiving I learned much from this book that I did not expect to. Reading about all those hard-working women, made me feel slothish. Like, I need to get off my seat and care for some plague-ridden folk. On a serious note, the last chapter struck a chord with me. There is where Elise mentioned the "idol of making a difference." I realized all those women were unconcerned with who would know about their good works. They were simply doing what they knew was right in the moment, with no concern over receiving recognition. They weren't constantly trying to "one-up" their husbands like some modern wives. They were content in aiding him in his mission-which was part of theirs.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pete Williamson

    Usually when the Protestant Reformation is brought up, the conversation invariably turns toward its theological contributions, which are substantial. What doesn't get as much attention is its sociological contributions. The argument of this book was that among other things, the Reformation was very important for improving the lot of women in the church, in the home, and in the public square, particularly in contrast to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The author illustrates her point Usually when the Protestant Reformation is brought up, the conversation invariably turns toward its theological contributions, which are substantial. What doesn't get as much attention is its sociological contributions. The argument of this book was that among other things, the Reformation was very important for improving the lot of women in the church, in the home, and in the public square, particularly in contrast to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The author illustrates her point with an array of biographical sketches of different key women from the Reformation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I do feel the title is a bit misleading, as a majority of the book is about how much women assisted in the reformation and how the reformation allowed women to have more choices and be free to speak out against injustices. I was inspired by a lot of the women in this book and intend to (hopefully) find some biographies of the heroines of the reformation and read them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I really wanted to love, love, love this book, but it fell a bit short of my hopes and expectations. It felt like the connection between modern feminism and 16th century Catholicism that was attempted , wasn’t as woven together as it could have been. And the middle portion of the book, where it went into the lives of several women of the Reformation, went way too long. I think the point would have been driven home with fewer examples of women. I would have liked to know more about fewer women. B I really wanted to love, love, love this book, but it fell a bit short of my hopes and expectations. It felt like the connection between modern feminism and 16th century Catholicism that was attempted , wasn’t as woven together as it could have been. And the middle portion of the book, where it went into the lives of several women of the Reformation, went way too long. I think the point would have been driven home with fewer examples of women. I would have liked to know more about fewer women. But this book is completely worth reading, especially the first part. I did a ton of underlining in the first several chapters.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Baker

    Lacks balance and historical rigour. Makes a lot of assumptions about what others are thinking and engages in historical isogesis. Unfortunately lacks empathy for reasons for the women’s movement that have nothing to do with a sinful grasping after superiority but are very serious needs to many women still today. Some really interesting thoughts and good points and thumbnail sketches of truly godly women but the negatives tended to undermine the positives.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mason Sherrill

    Definitely a well researched book in the area of women’s impact in the Reformation! Felt the title was a bit misleading. On the other hand, I learned a lot about how women’s rights, education and spiritual liberties were truly shaped by the rejection of pre-reformation Catholic doctrine and practice. Chapters 17-20 were my favorite and could stand alone as a concise summary of the whole book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ValeReads Kyriosity

    Don't go back to Egypt! Elise Crapuchettes argues persuasively that modern feminism seeks to undo the blessings of the Reformation. The Roman Church in the sixteenth century led women to believe that the only truly worthwhile life was one that turned its back on the home for a life in the cloister. Feminism, too, rejects the home as the center of a woman's calling, telling them that only in work outside the home will they make any valuable contribution or find any true fulfilment. The truths rec Don't go back to Egypt! Elise Crapuchettes argues persuasively that modern feminism seeks to undo the blessings of the Reformation. The Roman Church in the sixteenth century led women to believe that the only truly worthwhile life was one that turned its back on the home for a life in the cloister. Feminism, too, rejects the home as the center of a woman's calling, telling them that only in work outside the home will they make any valuable contribution or find any true fulfilment. The truths recovered by the Reformation sweep away both of these opponents to women's freedom. The women of the Reformation—Reformers' wives, royal ladies, and others—made the Reformation possible by their faithfulness to the gospel and their families. Sometimes well-behaved women DO make history, and they do so with energy, intelligence, and love that glorify everything in sight. With careful scholarship and extensive research, this book provides modern Christian women with examples to follow and exhortations to help them resist feminism's siren call back to Egypt and stay the course in home-centered faithfulness. And it provides Christian men with fuel to stoke the fires of honor and encouragement for the faithful women in their lives.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kait Doud

    Interesting read - I enjoyed learning about many inspirational women of the time. However, I ended not being convinced of the direct correlation between Catholicism and Feminism. Enjoyed the read all the same.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    It's interesting to compare the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic distain for women with the distain modern feminism has for women. I very much enjoyed the historical mini-bios of many incredible women during the Reformation. It's interesting to compare the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic distain for women with the distain modern feminism has for women. I very much enjoyed the historical mini-bios of many incredible women during the Reformation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Carrow

    It was so interesting to learn about some of the women of the Reformation, and their roles in turning people from debased systems the church had created, and to freedom in Christ. Essentially, the pre-Reformation church at the time and feminists today both promise women lives of meaning and freedom based in specific works, occupations, activities or trivial tasks... when indeed both will fail to fulfill. True freedom is found in Christ alone by grace alone, and this book was a great and empoweri It was so interesting to learn about some of the women of the Reformation, and their roles in turning people from debased systems the church had created, and to freedom in Christ. Essentially, the pre-Reformation church at the time and feminists today both promise women lives of meaning and freedom based in specific works, occupations, activities or trivial tasks... when indeed both will fail to fulfill. True freedom is found in Christ alone by grace alone, and this book was a great and empowering reminder of that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    This book does a good job of confronting the idea that Catholicism in general and convents in particular were sources of women's empowerment in the Middle Ages. Crapuchettes makes a good case that the Reformation improved the lives of women and elevated the status of wives and mothers in society. I was skeptical at first about how she was going to tie the history of the Reformation into the church's current struggle with feminism, but I think she made a good case in the end. This book does a good job of confronting the idea that Catholicism in general and convents in particular were sources of women's empowerment in the Middle Ages. Crapuchettes makes a good case that the Reformation improved the lives of women and elevated the status of wives and mothers in society. I was skeptical at first about how she was going to tie the history of the Reformation into the church's current struggle with feminism, but I think she made a good case in the end.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vinnie

    This book shows how the reformation actually raised women's role and worth in society and gave their life as meaning outside of the cloister and also restored the beauty of marriage that was considered unholy by many catholics of that time. I think it does a beautiful job in contrasting the lawlessness of the 16th century catholics and how the reformation sought to establish a truly god-pleasing doctrine. I was especially inspired by the chapters of the women who used their influence to further This book shows how the reformation actually raised women's role and worth in society and gave their life as meaning outside of the cloister and also restored the beauty of marriage that was considered unholy by many catholics of that time. I think it does a beautiful job in contrasting the lawlessness of the 16th century catholics and how the reformation sought to establish a truly god-pleasing doctrine. I was especially inspired by the chapters of the women who used their influence to further the reformation and often did this at great personal loss and sacrifice. However I didn't really understand the way the author applied the things she studied about the reformation to our contemporary world. It was extremely simplistic and impractical. On one hand she says that the reformers put a huge emphasis on women being educated and tells about women reading their bibles daily and then she says they never had any "me-time" and that we shouldn't seek this either. Firstly I would consider a personal quiet time "me-time" and secondly I find this ideo of not taking any time for oneself to refuel highly dangerous and wrong, especially in our loud and hectic time. After reading the book, the subheading also makes no sense to me and I consider it misleading, since it deals almost 95 percent with the past and not the present. Despite this criticism, I think the book is very worthy to be read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Molly- The Modern Homeschooler

    What an interesting book! The premise of the Catholic Church being the first people group to make women being out of the home and more holier/better cause the staying home was a new concept for me. It was so great to read a bunch of mini biographies of the women reformers and the roles they played in spreading the gospel. There is a constant struggle of the balance of my abilities but my God-given role as wife and mom. This was an encouragement to me as I strive to do what is right. highly recom What an interesting book! The premise of the Catholic Church being the first people group to make women being out of the home and more holier/better cause the staying home was a new concept for me. It was so great to read a bunch of mini biographies of the women reformers and the roles they played in spreading the gospel. There is a constant struggle of the balance of my abilities but my God-given role as wife and mom. This was an encouragement to me as I strive to do what is right. highly recommend this read!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Josh Hamon

    This book only touches on feminism on occasion. It seems written so Reformed people can give themselves a pat on the back for making everything better for everyone. Or for people who still want to get upset about 16th century Catholicism. I did really enjoy the section on individual women of the Reformation, it covers some major players but also several I had not heard about before. So, I recommend just reading pages 125-188.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alexa Athena

    Poorly researched, poorly written Much of what she spouts is water-cooler talk and highly opinionated as opposed to factual. She also fails to differentiate between Church policies and views and societal interpretations and enactments. She barely grazed the surface of both history and theories, both of which she brings up to support her non-existent argument. This book is a waste of time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Fascinating. Now I have all sorts of questions and thoughts about compulsory education, the image of God in men & women, and arranged marriages vs. individual choice. Also, apparently even 500+ years ago, people were calling the women who first saw Jesus risen from the dead, "preachers". *sigh* Fascinating. Now I have all sorts of questions and thoughts about compulsory education, the image of God in men & women, and arranged marriages vs. individual choice. Also, apparently even 500+ years ago, people were calling the women who first saw Jesus risen from the dead, "preachers". *sigh*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emma Ferguson

    This was such an encouragement! It can become so easy to lose sight of what really matters in today’s society. I really appreciated the author’s bluntness and her ability to bring the truth to light.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ValeReads Kyriosity

    Even better the second time around. And read by the author, which makes it even more betterer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Simona Sanduleac

    Exceptional.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Super good! Wish I had had this resource when I took that "History of the Medieval Church" class that was actually about feminism. "There is only one true fairy tale in this world, and feminism is not it. Only one worldview ever offered true progress for women and for society, and that is the biblical Christianity preached by the Reformers. The only equality women will find is through Christ." Yay! Super good! Wish I had had this resource when I took that "History of the Medieval Church" class that was actually about feminism. "There is only one true fairy tale in this world, and feminism is not it. Only one worldview ever offered true progress for women and for society, and that is the biblical Christianity preached by the Reformers. The only equality women will find is through Christ." Yay!

  23. 4 out of 5

    E Moll

    Really interesting! It was awesome to learn more about the Reformation, and inspiring to hear about how much the women of the reformation accomplished. Definitely worth a read if you want to learn more about that time period and how the reformation bettered the lives of women.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carly Powers

    Seriously one of the most influential books I've ever read. Seriously one of the most influential books I've ever read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Elise Crapuchettes’ work could hardly come at a more apropos time. Even within the evangelical church, this year has seen a new wave of Christian feminism, symptomatic of the continued unease which women feel in their vocations. Is the answer to go assert perceived rights in church leadership as a means of validating our womanhood? Or can we find validation outside of specifically spiritual vocations? Christian and non-Christian women alike are bombarded with the message that “real,” fulfilling w Elise Crapuchettes’ work could hardly come at a more apropos time. Even within the evangelical church, this year has seen a new wave of Christian feminism, symptomatic of the continued unease which women feel in their vocations. Is the answer to go assert perceived rights in church leadership as a means of validating our womanhood? Or can we find validation outside of specifically spiritual vocations? Christian and non-Christian women alike are bombarded with the message that “real,” fulfilling work happens outside the home. Feminists tell us that leaving the workforce to have children and raise them is a waste of our potential. Popes and Feminists: How the Reformation Frees Women from Feminism is a breath of fresh air, bringing answers to these questions from a historical, thoughtful, and biblical perspective. Elise Crapuchettes begins her tale by telling us her own story, and how she became convinced that she ought to go into “full-time Christian work,” in spite of her desire to primarily be a wife and mother. Fast forward past law school, divinity school, marriage, and 5 kids, and she began to realize that there was in fact more to vocation than full-time ministry. Elise began researching the role of women in the Reformation, and how they set the example for what it means to be a godly Christian woman fully living out her vocation. Elise draws fascinating parallels between the medieval church’s view of vocation, and modern feminism’s view of vocation in the context of motherhood. The pre-Reformation church had a tendency to place a premium on sacred vocations—you could become a nun, or you could do the less holy thing and become a mere wife and mother (and often end up in a purely pragmatic marriage for political alliances’ sake). (The same view applied to men, but that’s a topic for another book.) The women of the Reformation (and the men around them) turned this worldview upside down. Many women even left the convents they were cloistered in and married, to the horror of the Roman church and their families. But many found true freedom in Christ in their new callings. They began to realize that the work they did in serving their homes, being helpmeets to their husbands, raising children, and exercising their many and diverse God-given talents was just as much holy work as the “ora et labora” (“work and prayer”) with which they filled their convent days with. As Martin Luther and other reformers taught, all work is holy work to God. Elise brings us along on a fascinating whirlwind tour of the lives of no less than seventeen women who all served the God in various ways through the work God had called them to. Some are names you may have heard, like Katie Luther or Jeanne d’albert, but many are little-known heroes, like Olympia Morata or Louise de Coligny. Some left a legacy through being a helpmeet to their husbands, some were authors, some held political power. But regardless of earthly position or honor, all served God and knew that they could best serve him on His terms, not the terms of the culture around them. Elise thoughtfully highlights the multi-faceted nature of these women’s vocations—Katherine (Von Bora) Luther, for example, held down more jobs than many a career woman could imagine, as she ran a house, a farm, a brewery, raised children, fed boarders, and more. The book wraps up with a brief discussion of what these stories and this Reformational legacy mean for us as twenty-first century women. The women of the Reformation stood against the tide of their culture, and found marriage and motherhood to be worthy, God-glorifying vocations. Likewise, Elise inspires us to live more fully, more sacrificially, more courageously, and more biblically for Christ, whether in tending toddlers, feeding a crowd, or, like Jeanne d’Albret, commanding an army. We live in a confused culture. Popes and Feminists brings clarity and truth, cutting through the lies of feminism and bringing to light the stories from our sisters in Christ of another century, whose shoulders we can stand on as we find our place in this century. Review cross-posted at http://valerieabraham.com/

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This three star rating is for structure, not content. The beginning and end do a good job of arguing her thesis but the middle section of biographies really drags. I would've broken up the stories of the women and paired them with specific arguments to make for more dynamic reading. That being said, I like that she is defending the high view of women that the Reformers recovered from the scriptures and used to transform marriage, hospitality, charity, and education beginning in the 17th century. This three star rating is for structure, not content. The beginning and end do a good job of arguing her thesis but the middle section of biographies really drags. I would've broken up the stories of the women and paired them with specific arguments to make for more dynamic reading. That being said, I like that she is defending the high view of women that the Reformers recovered from the scriptures and used to transform marriage, hospitality, charity, and education beginning in the 17th century. It is a fallacy of feminism to equate freedom from having babies with social equality. Feminists praise nuns and the prostitution business boosted by clerical celibacy as signs of female freedom from men. What is missed is the spiritual anemia of these systems and practices and how they keep women from embracing who God made them to be.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jody Bennon

    This is a fantastic book. The historical sketches and analysis of pre and Reformation eras are fascinating. What happens when society loses the point of what marriage, children and the home are for? Culture degrades, whether it looks like our current Western world or the pre-Reformation culture of brothels, disdain for women and avoidance of marriage and children. I tend to think the world is getting worse and worse yet it’s hard to not have that notion challenged when reflecting on the debauche This is a fantastic book. The historical sketches and analysis of pre and Reformation eras are fascinating. What happens when society loses the point of what marriage, children and the home are for? Culture degrades, whether it looks like our current Western world or the pre-Reformation culture of brothels, disdain for women and avoidance of marriage and children. I tend to think the world is getting worse and worse yet it’s hard to not have that notion challenged when reflecting on the debauchery taking place in the church and society prior to the Reformation. The quotes in this book from the Reformers and their wives as well as zealous single women who converted to Protestantism is worth every penny. I was equal parts crying and fist pumping the robust, courageous and valiant words of these warriors for Christ.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Turner

    It was fascinating to hear about these women in history. My problems and struggles pale in comparison to the trials they endured and still they trusted in God. Elise mentions one woman who in a short span of days lost 5 of her immediate family members in a war. Many lost children to death, had children forcibly taken from them, died or were threatened with death and so much more for the sake of the gospel. They also served others self sacrificially instead of charging around demanding their “me It was fascinating to hear about these women in history. My problems and struggles pale in comparison to the trials they endured and still they trusted in God. Elise mentions one woman who in a short span of days lost 5 of her immediate family members in a war. Many lost children to death, had children forcibly taken from them, died or were threatened with death and so much more for the sake of the gospel. They also served others self sacrificially instead of charging around demanding their “me time”. Yes, I was challenged to gain perspective on how I view the challenges and trials in my own life and my response to them. Elise shows how their lives and choices changed the course of history.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Becca Bailey

    On the whole, this book presents a compelling and unique thesis. There are many moments of clarity in which the author succeeds in connecting the philosophy of 16th century Catholicism to the modern feminist movement (specifically in the area of vocation/career). There are also many interesting mini-biographies of significant women of the Reformation. However, the flow of the book is somewhat stilted. There is not enough connecting material to recall the author’s “why” in the middle portions dev On the whole, this book presents a compelling and unique thesis. There are many moments of clarity in which the author succeeds in connecting the philosophy of 16th century Catholicism to the modern feminist movement (specifically in the area of vocation/career). There are also many interesting mini-biographies of significant women of the Reformation. However, the flow of the book is somewhat stilted. There is not enough connecting material to recall the author’s “why” in the middle portions devoted to the women Reformers. There are also several editing errors that are simply distracting. I still think this book is helpful, encouraging, and unique. But it could benefit from a great deal of rearranging of material in order to present a more continuous flow of argument.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt & AmyLaura Duraski

    A well researched, thoughtful and needed book for the world we live in. That said, I can’t say I 100% agree with every major and minor point made but over all an encouraging, eye opening, and provoking read. To paraphrase Rosaria Butterfield, no adult human being fully approves or agrees with another. So while I might want to nuance or push back on some smaller points or expression of smaller points made in some way that will not stop me from wholeheartedly recommending this book and even giving A well researched, thoughtful and needed book for the world we live in. That said, I can’t say I 100% agree with every major and minor point made but over all an encouraging, eye opening, and provoking read. To paraphrase Rosaria Butterfield, no adult human being fully approves or agrees with another. So while I might want to nuance or push back on some smaller points or expression of smaller points made in some way that will not stop me from wholeheartedly recommending this book and even giving it to others.

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