Book Review: So Much More by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin

So Much More

Back in June 2012, for my Birthday, I purchased three books. Joyfully at Home, written by Jasmine Baucham; Raising Maidens of Virtue, by Stacy McDonald; and So Much More, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. It was part of a package on Vision Forum, alittle under $50. (Hooray for birthdays and gift certificates!)

When it finally arrived in July, I was elated! In June I had gone to the CHEO Conference (first time!) and managed to frequent the Vision Forum booth. Each time, I visited their copy of “So Much More”, and was filled with anticipation. I could not wait for my copy! It’s such a beautiful book. The cover is just stunning, any bibliophile would appreciate the size and shape of this book, and it fits on the shelf so nicely. Setting vain reasons aside, I found that this book is not just fascinating on the outside, but it is also fascinating on the inside.

I read “So Much More” in a period of two months, three or four months after I initially received the book. I know, after all my anticipation and excitement in waiting for it? I get caught up in library books, which bog me down for a time. (Major book worm here.) I typically read books fairly fast. For example, I read all 12 of the Elsie Dinsmore books, written by Martha Finley, in two months.  (I practically INHALED those books. Book review on the series coming sooner or later!) The reason that it took me two months to complete, “So Much More,” was due to the fact that it is filled with thought provoking information. The most stimulating that I appreciated and was fascinated with was the information they shared on the ties between feminism and Marxism.

However, putting my excitement and adoration aside, I will list a few red flags that I discovered about the book and the authors.
The Botkin sisters do not strictly use the King James Bible, so that lights up a red flag for me. If they aren’t using the true Book, then there is definitely room for error. (Proverbs 30:5-6, Revelation 22:19) Typically I saw them using the New King James Version, and the Geneva, I believe. The King James did make a couple appearances, though!

The Botkin sisters also have the belief that we are to build the kingdom here on Earth (Dominionists, Reconstructionists) referring to the Dominion Mandate, which I do not share. I believe that the Bible gives us the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:16-20. However I do not believe the Kingdom will come through the Church via the claimed Dominion Mandate. (Genesis 1:26-28)With this belief, their view on family patriarchy, growth, and roles within the family may go further, and even extra-Biblical (Deuteronomy 5:2), due to skewed theology. Another red flag.

(Note: Anyone who visits Vision Forum and reads their material will know that they are Reconstructionists. For example, they offer a DVD on their website called “Training Dominion Oriented Daughters. Naturally, the Botkin’s would espouse this belief in their book.)

Another possible red flag pointed out by those who are not in favor of the Botkins’ is their legalistic and their “puffed up” attitude. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3) A blog post that I read a few months before, purchasing “So Much More,” discussed this and some other issues that I will make mention of later. But keep in mind that these are the opinions of people, and the right way to deal with it is to read the material for yourself and judge the content by the Scripture (Acts 17:11). Otherwise, it would be “hearsay”. (Not to be mistaken with the word “heresy”. 😉 )

Now that the (major) red flags have been listed, I’d like to go into the book.

The book is not a “Teenaged-Christian-Girl Survival Guide”. This book explains how, “Christian girls can wage war with the world and win.” (Chapter 1, page 2.) “..the book I organized into seventeen main topics, including careerism, college, courtship, and other controversial subjects.” (Chapter 1, page 7)

My two recent posts, “Life of a Stay At Home Daughter” and “On Biblical Womanhood“, would inform you that I do support and encourage young ladies to stay under the authority of their fathers, as I see this encouraged in the Bible. (This isn’t a concrete rule.) I also am a supporter of women staying at home once married to be a full-time helpmeet to their husbands, and to train and educate their children full-time. I am not saying that women who work are not necessarily full-time helpmeets towards their husbands, seeing as I know women who are, and that would be highly insulting. However, using children as an example, the only way to teach and train your children full-time is to have them at home, with you.

I believe the Bible shows us that there are roles in the family. The husband and father is head of the wife and mother. (1 Corinthians 11:3)  The children are under the authority of both mother and father (Exodus 20:12) but ultimately the father, following the headship of the husband over the wife. The husband/father’s main role is to provide and provide leadership for the family. (1 Timothy 5:8) The wife/mother’s role is to be an helpmeet to her husband (Genesis 2:18), to be a homemaker (Proverbs 15:13, Titus 2:3-5) and to train the children, alongside with her husband. (see Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 29:17, Deuteronomy 11:19.)

Please note that most of the verses use the pronouns “he”, “his”, and even directly says “fathers”. The punishment and training responsibilities seem to heavily lay upon the father. Discipline, training, and educating should go hand in hand, however, and the mother can most definitely do those things.

The Proverbs contains plenty of verses for sons (Proverbs 3:12, Proverbs 6:20-21, Proverbs 17:25), but what about daughters?

“That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:..” Psalm 144:12
“So Much More” explains that as daughters, we are the corner stone of the family. They give the 1828 Noah Webster definition of the word “pillar”: “2. A supporter; that which sustains or upholds; that on which some superstructure rests.” They explain that the superstructure of the family heavily rests on the daughter, whether they realize it or not. “A building is only as strong as that which supports it. A daughter can make or break her family.” (Chapter 13, page 192.)

This can happen, and I have seen it happen. The verse states that “our daughters may be as corner stones”. The first part of the verse says, “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;” This indicates that we may BECOME corner stones, just as “our sons” may become grown plants in their youth (mature). As we grow as daughters, we can become the corner stone of the family. This is a great, but honorable, status! We can encourage and give an example to our younger siblings, learn and assist our mothers, and serve our fathers. As we grow up and get married, we can leave with confidence that we have served our family well. However, I have seen daughters grow and become a faulty, weak cornerstone; never taking her role as a daughter, consumed with self-interest. That, or they never even take the place as a cornerstone, and live a passive life within the family.

Knowing this, you can see how important the Botkins felt it was to produce this book and why they go into detail about daughterhood and the relationship with fathers.

I found the book to be very informative, and accurate to a point. As with all books, you must be careful and study with prayer, aligned with the Bible. (Philippians 4:6) In fact, I will give credit to the Botkin sisters asking their readers to do just this! “If you decide to read this book, read it like a Berean. Check what we say against Scripture. ..Please pray for a responsive heart before you read it.” (Acts 17:10 was given in the footnote.  Chapter 1, page 7)

Within this book, they do lay a good foundation on the role of daughters and their relationship with their Fathers. They also do an excellent job of exposing feminism and its ties with Marxism. They give a good case and do supply a lot of scripture, though I may not agree with them on certain points as to WHY we should do certain things, seeing they are tied to Dominion Theology.

Why is it important to keep the family together as one unit and to recognize the roles God has given us?  Because that’s what God created and what He instituted; for Man to not be alone (Genesis 2:18); for the husband and wife to cleave to one another (Matthew 19:4-6); and that children are a blessing and a product of the sacred unity of husband and wife (Psalm 127:5).  We are to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:22), but not to take dominion over the Earth to bring on the Kingdom. But to spread the gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15), and to wait for Jesus’ take us up, and to return to establish His Kingdom on Earth.

(If you would like additional reading material on Dominion Theology, check out these articles produced by The Berean Call. Part 1, and Part 2.)

Keeping this in mind, you can get some good information out of these books. While they did reference the so-called Dominion Mandate, it wasn’t their main theme. They did supply scripture backing the teaching on family government, and they used examples given in the Bible.

A few months before I purchased “So Much More”, I read a review on a blog that made me question even reading it. It was written on a blog called Charity Grace, back on March 13, 2008. You can read the post yourself.  It is very well written and extensive. But, I’m going to cover some of the criticism.

Because the Botkin sisters apply scripture about married women to the unmarried, many people concluded that they espouse the notion that daughters should serve their fathers as helpmeets, in addition to their mothers.
In defense of the book, on page 16 of chapter 2, the Botkin sisters write, “We do not believe that the father-daughter relationship is somehow more important or special than the mother-daughter relationship, or the father-son relationship, nor do we mean to breath into this relationship a kind of super-special, mystical quality never seen in the Bible.” As we compare scripture to scripture, we should compare the Botkins writing to their own writing.

Looking at history, typically, when a family has a son, what does he do? He typically aides the father in providing for the family, learning from his example in order to someday be the provider for his own family. He may even have chances to lead his family when the father is absent.When a family has a daughter, what does she typically do? She typically aides the mother in homemaking. What is the other role of the mother? To help the father. Naturally, the daughter will assist in this as well, learning from example, to someday become a homemaker and a help meet for her husband, if she ever marries.

I see no harm for the Botkin’s to insinuate that daughters are to help their fathers, aside from the main help meet, the wife and mother. I, for one, can tell you that there’s nothing much better than hearing your Dad tell you that you are a great helper.

Another issue is their stance on unmarried/single women being missionaries. As quoted from Charity Grace:
One fatal interpretive mistake the Botkins commit is to use the “example” method to determine whether or not a single woman can be a missionary (p. 267)
While the Botkins did use “examples”, you can’t hide from the scripture. Women cannot take leadership over men (1 Timothy 2:12), so how can they create churches (using the MODEL the Lord left us in the Book of Acts), and find leaders for the church? They cannot pastor it. They would be leaving their homes to cleave… to what? I am definitely not opposed to missionaries themselves, but following what the scriptures says, it does not seem Biblical (or safe) for unmarried, single women to go out to become missionaries without a protector. I will not condemn women who do, but I do see the Botkin sisters points.

I want to make mention that I adore Elisabeth Elliot. One of my favorites by her is, “Passion and Purity”. She went to college to become a missionary, and was a missionary for a little while before she married Jim Elliot (missionary and martyr for the faith).  If you read her book, you may find her case special, but does that change anything? For some, what the Bible says is not “concrete” enough. Others would argue that it’s made clear and evident.

(An interesting article to check out on the subject, and includes a quote from Elisabeth Elliot, is “Women in Ministries Exceptions“. I do NOT support the view and conclusion of the blog, however, Elisabeth’s Elliot’s words are very insightful and important to consider.)
“They also condemn unmarried women missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Mary Slessor.”
From Chapter 17, page 268, when talking about Mary Slessor and Amy Carmichael, “We need to be very cautious in the way we treat real life examples, careful that we don’t hold up real, fallible people as the infallible standard. We should give godly people honor for the worthy things they did and learn from their examples. But we should recognize that these godly women do not in fact feature in the Bible, and their examples can’t be used as a scriptural precept. Just because a godly person did a good deed in a certain way doesn’t mean that it was God’s way of getting that deed done.” (Italics in original quote.)

Two paragraphs later, “We do not mean to criticize any well-meaning missionary woman. Our purpose in writing this is to stress that we must study Scripture, trusting only Scripture, to tell us exactly how God wants us to live.”
“The Botkins also regularly refer to girls who choose to stay home until marriage as “heroines of the faith.” That’s rather dramatic, I think. Wise young ladies? In many ways, yes. But heroines? Not quite.”
On page 8, Chapter 1, the authors state, “Let us introduce to you the fourteen young women you will get to know in its pages. Sometimes we refer to them as The Young Heroines of the Underground Feminist Resistance Movement, because they have dealt so courageously with the destructive influence of feminism.” (Italics in original quote.)

This is why they are called “heroines”. I will be honest, I did think it was a dramatic term when I first read it. Actually, it never really hit me as dramatic until I was reading the last chapter. But after reading this refresher in the first chapter, I understood a little more.

If you look at the feminist movement today, you will see it as a very vicious force, attacking women of all ages to push their agenda. Lying, like the serpent did in the garden, that you are to “break free” from your family ties, pursue selfish-ambitions, or regardless of “self”, to just go out and do something independently and that you will be better for it. Happier. More honorable. And if you look at the state of our country today, you can see that they did a pretty good job of it.

I am an American, living comfortably in a nice home. I don’t have too many challenges in my life.  However, we all do have some challenges. In the broad sense, I am not doing anything too ground shaking. I, personally, do not care to call myself a “Stay at Home Daughter”, not out of shame, but not wanting to put myself on a pedestal. (I did use the term in my blog post, but I do want to identify with those who do call themselves Stay at Home Daughters.) I don’t care to think of myself as a “heroine” of the faith. I’ll pull the humble card out here, but I don’t necessarily think that God would look at someone “rocking the boat” for His glory, and shrug it off since it wasn’t a big matter. I think He appreciates even the little things.

“The Botkin sisters state that to counter-culturally choose to stay at home and serve your father till marriage will take “the courage and conviction of a martyr.” (p. 13) That’s a gross exaggeration, and a slap in the face to the martyrs who have spilled their blood for Christ through the ages. … Try telling a Saudi Arabian Christian who is about to have her throat slit for her faith that you have equal courage and conviction because you are staying home till you marry and see if she agrees.”
Okay, I’m just going to go out on a limb here, and say that THAT is a little extreme. LOL Just sayin’!

They did use the word martyr. The Noah Webster 1828 defines martyr as “n. [Gr. a witness.] One who, by his death, bears witness to the truth of the gospel. Stephen was the first christian martyr.” and “To be a martyr signifies only to witness the truth of Christ.” Some would say that to be a martyr is to suffer for Christ, not necessarily die. (The Botkin Sisters frequently quote and use the 1828 Webster Dictionary, so I chose to use it to define the word martyr, assuming they were aware, themselves, of the meaning.)

Assuming they meant the dying martyr, I will agree that is somewhat extreme. But, having made this decision over a year ago, having to argue and stand with it, deal with accusations, worry, concern, and criticism from other people, I will say, it is hard. Depending on the person, it could take a lot of courage and conviction! I did need a lot of help from the Lord, and a lot of praying was done. Sin and fear makes nothing easy in this life.

And as far as saying they were being mean-spirited, I just have to say that in some cases, you gotta use your back bone and stop with the sensitivity. I didn’t sense anything mean, or rude, in this book. They do lay it out, and are very honest. But I’m not going to start sniffling if something they said bothered me, or start crying over offense for someone else. If you did feel a bang of “hurt”, consider it, pray over it, and study it. Perhaps you are being convicted. If something in the book was written with in a mean-spirited tone, then I missed it. Before I apologize, please show it to me.

(I agree that Geoffrey Botkin can be blunt in his writing, but having the father that I have, sometimes you just gotta say “ouch”.)
“They unequivocally advocate a dramatic pendulum-swing to the extreme opposite of our culture in order to somehow counterbalance it. This is human nature. When humans see errors in the way a previous generation did things, we tend to swing to the opposite extreme. It’s how people typically approach life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do. Biblical balance is often somewhere in the middle.”
I do agree with this sentiment, somewhat. We, as Christians, need to have balance and moderation. To make decisions and changes prayerfully and with wisdom. However, we should not be afraid to become extreme compared to the current age. In the days we are living in, living a life guided by the Bible will be extreme to many people.

I very much enjoyed “So Much More” by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. I appreciated their ability to take a stand and write something so different and “scandalous” in the age where soft, hyper-sensitivity, sin, corruption, and feminism rampage our daily lives. They laid their argument out very well. They are very talented in writing. (They go into this on page 163!) They do include a lot of references. While some of them are associated with Vision Forum in some way, I couldn’t expect much else since they would be the ones who are most like-minded to them! They also referenced John Taylor Gatto, a personal favorite of mine. I was very surprised, but pleased, by this! They make many references to Scripture, which is your job, as the reader, to look up and check context and validity.

I would recommend this book to young women who are wishing for more information and encouragement for their relationship with their father and what the Bible has to say about this transitional age of what to do next in life. However, due to the authors following Dominion Theology, I would give caution and request the Bible be open right next to the book. (Like any book we are to read.) It’s best to be read along with a discerning parent, perhaps.

To quote another blogger who reviewed this book (in a much more positive light), “Examine it for yourselves, search the scriptures regarding the principals contained in the book.  Pray and ask God for wisdom on how He would have you apply it in your family.”

In the last chapter, on page 290, they make mention how they cannot promise any change for you after reading this book. Everyone has different circumstances, not one is the same as another. But you can’t change what the Bible says. We can only obey it to the best of our ability and ask God for wisdom, strength, and guidance. He will be with you through the storms.
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” Psalm 84:11-12
I’m glad to have read “So Much More” by Elizabeth and Sofia Botkin and I did benefit from it. It’ll be a book that I’ll look through from time to time, refresh on some of the facts they shared on feminism and the different scriptural encouragement for daughters.

In the very least, it reminded me not to lead a selfish life, why that matters so much, and how it is such a blessing to you and to others.

May of us daughters lead an example, continuing to grow closer to Christ; to serve, and not to be served. May we be a blessing to the family, the physical and the spiritual one, and not a curse.

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:1-4
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11 comments

  1. Excellent, excellent review! I cannot praise it enough!

    1. Thank you so much Cathy!! 😀

  2. I didn’t get to read all of this but what I read was good. I also have this book and came away blessed even though I didn’t agree totally with everything. Blessings.

    1. It is rather long, but I wanted to write it all out for those curious, like I was, lol!

      Thank you very much! I do love this book, too, even with the disagreements.

      Many Blessings,
      Moriah Jordan Miller

  3. How funny, I’m actually the one who wrote the review you linked, years ago when I was too scared to use my real name. 🙂

    1. Oh my, that is funny! lol Which review? Did you switch blogs at a point?

      1. Yes, I was at Charity Grace on blogger, then Charity Grace on WordPress, then Reviving Motherhood and now my new one. (This is the first time I feel like I’m starting to know what I’m doing. LOL)

      2. That’s so funny! I’ve had this blog for forever, it seems, but I’ve just recently been progressing with it, lol!

        Well, I’ve enjoyed both your blogs, although I wasn’t aware of the Reviving Motherhood one, lol! I’ll now look through it and check out some of your posts.

        This makes me wonder how many other bloggers do the same thing. I might have followed one blog, and then another, for them to have been written by the same person! lol

  4. Thank you for linking your review of this book on my blog for Sharing Our Bookshelves! I enjoyed reading your detailed thoughts on “So Much More”. This is a book I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t read it yet myself. I appreciate being able to read about it from your point of view.

    1. Thank you for allowing me to share my review, and for your comment! In my eyes, it is worth the read! Very informative and eye opening!

      Many Blessings,
      Moriah Jordan Miller

  5. […] to reading “So Much More” by the Botkin Sisters, I read “Joyfully at Home” by Jasmine Baucham. It was lent to me by a dear friend, […]

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