Symposium Introduction


Emily McGowi
Christin Fort
Lindsey Hankins
Nijay Gupta




A robust theological argument against the assumption that God is male.

God values women.

While many Christians would readily affirm this truth, the widely held assumption that the Bible depicts a male God persists—as it has for centuries. This misperception of Christianity not only perniciously implies that men deserve an elevated place over women but also compromises the glory of God by making God appear to be part of creation, subject to it and its categories, rather than in transcendence of it.

Through a deep reading of the incarnation narratives of the New Testament and other relevant scriptural texts, Amy Peeler shows how the Bible depicts a God beyond gender and a savior who, while embodied as a man, is the unification in one person of the image of God that resides in both male and female. Peeler begins with a study of Mary and her response to the annunciation, through which it becomes clear that God empowers women and honors their agency. Then Peeler describes from a theological standpoint how the virgin birth of Jesus—the second Adam—reverses the gendered division enacted in the garden of Eden.

While acknowledging the significance of the Bible’s frequent use of “Father” language to represent God as a caring parent, Peeler goes beneath the surface of this metaphor to show how God is never sexualized by biblical writers or described as being physically involved in procreation—making the concept of a masculine God dubious, at best. From these doctrinal centers of Christianity, Peeler leads the way in reasserting the value of women in the church and prophetically speaking out against the destructive idolatry of masculinity.


Reviews and Endorsements


“Peeler affirms both God’s transcendence beyond the created order and the personal and direct way that God relates to us, inviting us to call him Father as a sign primarily of his goodness and compassion toward us. Her arguments deserve careful examination, both from scholars entering a long history of debate and from parents seeking to respond to their children’s curiosity about the nature of God.”––The Living Church

“This is a daring book. Amy Peeler tackles a controversial issue: the gender of God and its implications for women. For some, to raise these questions at all is objectionable. For others, Peeler’s high view of Scripture will suggest that she herself is captive to patriarchy. However, readers who take the time to engage her argument will find that neither critique has merit. Peeler patiently shows why these questions are worth asking and how the Bible itself offers a robust response that both affirms women and glorifies God, without making God male. Peeler’s grasp of the secondary literature is impressive. Her arguments are sophisticated and theologically astute. She is attentive to nuance in Scripture, and her faithful reading yields an illuminating vision of a good God who invites women to be full participants in God’s work in the world. I’m so grateful for her work. I expect it will be an essential resource for years to come.”— Carmen Joy Imes, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

“In Women and the Gender of God, Dr. Peeler states, ‘one can affirm the triune God’s supremacy without calling that masculinity.’ In supporting this claim, Dr. Peeler speaks life over women in general, and over Mary in particular—not only in the story of history but also in the very story of God. Unexpectedly, I walked away from this book with a richer, more worshipful picture of God through an encounter with Mary! For me, as a woman, Protestant, and theologian, this book was a breath of fresh air, though any reader simply born of a woman would be challenged and encouraged by this powerful work.— Christa L. McKirland, Carey Baptist College, New Zealand

“The story of God is the story of Jesus Christ, and the story of Christ is also the story of Mary of Nazareth. No story of the Christian God can be told without the story of Mary. Incarnation through a woman reveals who God is. Pause with that thought as you consider most Protestant theologies, most Protestant sermons, most Protestant approaches to Christian formation, and most Protestant Sunday school curricula. All the way down, Mary has disappeared from the only story we know in the Bible. Protestant theology needs to be schooled in theotokos theology. Amy Peeler’s Women and the Gender of God has done this for us, dismantling the patriarchy by exclaiming precisely what Mary prophesied, ‘From now all generations will call me ‘Blessed!’”— Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

“Peeler’s book is a tremendous contribution to the discussion. Bridging so many disciplinary gaps, she provides a wholistic picture of how women can relate to God and how all of us can think better about gender. I am hopeful that her generous reflections will have a significant effect on our theology and practice.”—Madison Pierce, Associate Professor of New Testament, Western Theological Seminary

“Part exegesis, part theological reflection, and part proclamation, Women and the Gender of God offers a clarion call for those within the Christian tradition not just to affirm that God values women but to reconsider the ways in which Mary is the epicenter of the incarnation itself.”—Brittany E. Wilson, Associate Professor of New Testament, Duke University Divinity School

“Peeler refutes a view that shouldn’t even need discussing because it is so absurd—that God is male. Readers might pick up this book because of the harmful effects of ‘masculine Christianity’ on the Christian faith. But what made this book a page-turner for me is the profound exposition of the story of Jesus, the perfect image of God, man from woman, a testimony to the beauty of God’s dual human creation—both men and women finding honor and dignity in Word made flesh. Peeler navigates a volatile topic with patience, meticulous research, wisdom, and grace.”—Nijay K. Gupta, Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

“Delivers a thoughtful exploration of the complex ways Christian scripture genders God.”––Publishers Weekly

“The Rev. Dr. Amy Peeler’s Women and the Gender of God is an exceptionally lucid and winsome exploration of the Incarnation’s significance for our understanding of both God and women. Few topics today are so fraught, but she proves herself an expert guide through vital theological questions about the fatherhood of God, the maleness of Jesus, and the meaning of Mary. The result is an awe-inspiring vision of the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ—a God who is not male, who loves women as women, and empowers them to serve in freedom. Women and the Gender of God is a must-read, and I am eager to get it into the hands of my students, church members, and friends.”—Emily H. McGowin, Wheaton College

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