Book Review

11 women and the God who empowered them

A book for teen girls by Catherine Parks

August 30, 2019

Sometimes you can learn more from the life and faith of saints on the pages of biographies than from a dissertation on a topic. A theology of suffering comes into view as you read of parents losing children on the pages of From Grief to Glory. Endurance and faithfulness pours out of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Humble leadership is embodied as you read about D.E. Hoste, a man “who lived to be forgotten so that Christ might be remembered (4).” Contentment or a lack thereof is exposed, as you read about the life of Ann Judson who, when pregnant in a foreign country with her husband imprisoned had no support system, but worked diligently to bring her husband and his prison mates whatever comfort she could. In all of this she did not become bitter but wrote, “Oh! How much we owe to that Kind Being who has mingled mercy with all our afflictions (88).” 

Empowered: How God Shaped 11 Women's Lives (And Can Shape Yours Too) is written for girls between the ages of seven and 12 and tells the story of 11 Christian women from around the world and across different eras who lived faithful lives empowered by their great God. Author, Catherine Parks, in the introduction, explains her reason for writing the book:

“I wrote this book because I wanted my daughter, Sophie, and my nieces, Liya and Madelyn, to know about these women. But my greater purpose was for Sophie and you to know that God has a plan for your life right where you are and that He will empower you to accomplish your purpose each and every day.”

I’ve always loved biographies, so I was eager to read Empowered. I was so confident it would be a great tool for young women that I sent it to my niece and to the daughters of dear friends before I read it. What I had not anticipated was being so personally encouraged, challenged, and delighted while reading it.

Parks shares of becoming friends with the characters as she wrote the book, and her engaging writing feels like she is a friend introducing you to other friends. Empowered encourages the reader to imitate the faith of these faithful women, not their life circumstances or their fame. God works through ordinary and imperfect people in everyday circumstances as they are faithful with what is before them to do great things for his glory. The reader is reminded time and time again that these women were like us, and the real hero of the story is God.

This book is an excellent discipleship tool, raising important discussions, teaching messages young women need to hear, and displaying examples of faith to follow in a few ways:

Addresses difficult concepts the Bible speaks to in principle or precept. Parks covers imprisonment, brutal regimes, suffering, the Holocaust, bullying, empathy, child brides, the caste system, injustice, and abuse in age-appropriate, understandable ways that can spark further conversations on the topics.

Teaches beautiful theology and important biblical principles in accessible ways. You won’t see hamartiology or pneumatology mentioned, but you will see rich theology lived out in the lives of these women. Young readers will encounter topics such as sowing and reaping, image bearing, the work of the Holy Spirit, perfectionism, faithfulness, comparison, dependence, loving the unlovely, glory displayed in weakness, identity, and so much more. Many of the truths taught on these pages were imparted to me when I was older, but they aren’t truths beyond a young woman’s grasp.

Gives examples to follow. The heroines on the pages are not shown through rose-colored lenses. Yet, they accomplished great things despite their fears and weaknesses because of their trust in a faithful God. The reader will learn about exemplifying true strength from Esther Ahn Kim, seeking justice from Sophie Scholl, and how to use one’s talents for God’s glory from Phillis Wheatley. These and the others in the book are examples of believers who by faith believed that God exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Heb. 11:6).

Helps the reader apply lessons to their own lives. The reader is asked along the way to consider how she can exemplify the faith of the women in the story. Parks poses the question after the example of Scholl’s courage, “Have you ever watched someone being unkind or cruel to another person?” The reader is encouraged to fight injustices she sees in her setting. And the reader is asked to consider, after Corrie Ten Boom’s powerful story of forgiveness, “Who is someone you are struggling to love? Commit to pray and ask God to give you his perfect love for this person (44).” 

As a disciple who continues to grow in my faith and sanctification, and as a woman who desires to see women of all ages discipled in the church, I’m thankful for this resource and hope to see more resources like this developed in the years to come. May God use this book to help young women be courageous and faithful to him.

Catherine Parks has also recently released Strong: How God Equipped 11 Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Power (and Can do the Same for You)

Jenn Kintner

Jenn Kintner is the associate dean of academic affairs at Gulf Theological Seminary. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24