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Our first article summarized three fundamentally differing approaches toward the Bible. The second looked at the initial wave of Feminist Theology. Our third, a basic understanding of Liberation Theology—the base upon which second wave Feminist Theology is built. We are now prepared investigate a full-grown Feminist Theology from the 1960s onward.
Second Wave Feminism
While Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others initiated Feminist ideas within Christianity in the 19th century, Liberation Theology in the 1950s-1980s provided the basic framework seen in its later development. Even so, the starting point of second wave feminism is seen as being Simone de Beauvoir’s, 1949 book, The Second Sex. De Beauvoir traced the treatment of women through history. Her emphasis in the work was not dominated by the theological, but the Roman Catholic Church placed her volume on its prohibited book list. Consider as an example de Beauvoir’s lines concerning Mary, mother of Jesus:
One rejects in Mary her character as wife in order to more fully exalt in her the Woman-Mother. But she will be glorified only by accepting the subservient role assigned to her. ‘I am the handmaiden of the Lord.’ For the first time in the history of humanity, the mother kneels before her son; she freely recognizes her inferiority. The supreme masculine victory is consummated in the cult of Mary: it is the rehabilitation of woman by the achievement of her defeat. . . With Christianity, life and death now depended on God alone, so a son, born of the maternal breast, escaped it forever, and the earth gets only his bones; his soul’s destiny is played out in regions where the mother’s powers are abolished; the sacrament of baptism makes ceremonies that burned or drowned the placenta insignificant. There is no longer any place on earth for magic: God alone is king. Nature is originally bad, but powerless when countered with grace. Motherhood as a natural phenomenon confers no power. If woman wishes to overcome the original stain in herself, her only alternative is to bow before God, whose will subordinates her to man (Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, p. 189).
Another notable Feminist author was Betty Frieden. In her 1963 work, The Feminine Mystique, she discussed a previous generation of feminists.
Of course they envied man. Some of the early feminists cut their hair short and wore bloomers, and tried to be like men. From the lives they saw their mothers lead, from their own experience, those passionate women had good reason to reject the conventional image of woman. Some even rejected marriage and motherhood for themselves. But in turning their backs on the old feminine image, in fighting to free themselves and all women, some of them became a different kind of woman. They became complete human beings (Betty Frieden, The Feminine Mystique, p. 147).
Rejecting marriage and motherhood causes one to become a “complete human being”? This is the flavor. And so, we gain a sense of that contemporary Secular Feminism which shall be a powerful influence on Mainstream Feminist Theology, even as Mainstream Feminist Theology will carry its substantial influence for Evangelical Feminist Theology.
The First Idea of Feminist Theology
Our interest in this article is more theological than secular, and so we proceed to that category. Primary theologians for Mainstream Feminist Theology in this period, are Rosemary Radford Ruether and Elizabeth Shüssler-Fiorenza. Their chief written works include Ruether’s Sexism and God-talk, and Shüssler-Fiorenza’s In Memory of Her.
We noticed that Feminist Theology starts outside the Bible with an idea. Ruether describes this starting point:
The critical principle of feminist theology is the promotion of the full humanity of women. Whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is, therefore, appraised as not redemptive. Theologically speaking, whatever diminishes or denies the full humanity of women must be presumed not to reflect the divine or an authentic relation to the divine, or to reflect the authentic nature of things, or to be the message or work of an authentic redeemer or a community of redemption (Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, pp. 18, 19).
How is “the full humanity of women” defined? By an idea from outside the Bible. The Scriptures are evaluated against an external pre-understanding, a non-biblical measure. The most basic impulse in feminist theology is to judge sections of Scripture as either useful or not usable by means of this human measure. Shüssler-Fiorenza agrees:
A feminist theological hermeneutics having as its canon the liberation of women from oppressive patriarchal texts, structures, institutions, and values maintains that—if the Bible is not to continue as a tool for the patriarchal oppression of women—only those traditions and texts that critically break through patriarchal culture and ‘plausibility structures’ have the theological authority of revelation. The ‘advocacy stance’ of liberation theologies cannot accord revelatory authority to any oppressive and destructive biblical text or tradition (Elizabeth Shüssler-Fiorenza, In Memory of Her, p. 33).
Androcentric texts and documents do not mirror historical reality, report historical facts, or tell us how it actually was. As androcentric texts our early Christian sources are theological interpretations, argumentations, projections, and selections rooted in a patriarchal culture. Such texts must be evaluated historically in terms of their own time and culture and assessed theologically in terms of a feminist scale of values (Ibid., p. 60, emphasis in original).
This human measure determines whether a passage or book of Scripture does or does not stand in “an authentic relation to the divine”; that is, whether that Word corresponds with reality, actual being. It determines whether the content of that Scripture is an authentic communication to humanity, or not. A master question from outside Christianity is imposed upon Christianity, and is determinative; it is used to define whether a text from the Bible is “in” or “out” in terms of its authoritative status.
No biblical Christian opposes the “full humanity” of women. Certainly Christianity favors the full humanity of both halves of the human race, male and female. But Feminist Theology comes to the text of Scripture and a priori designates any role differentiation, any subordination of one sex or headship distinct to one sex, as being dehumanizing of the other. Feminist Theology refuses to allow for the subtleties of this relation as seen in Scripture. It insists on war with the biblical idea. How does it proceed?
Shüssler-Fiorenza harkens back to Elizabeth Cady Stanton for the key:
. . .Cady Stanton’s insight that the biblical text is androcentric and that men have put their stamp on biblical revelation. The Bible is not just interpreted from a male perspective, as some feminists argued. Rather, it is man-made because it is written by men and is the expression of a patriarchal culture. Cady Stanton and her coauthors thus confirm the general tenet of historical-critical scholarship that divine revelation is articulated in historically limited and culturally conditioned human language. But feminist interpretation particularizes and relativizes the Bible even more by specifying that biblical language is male language and that the cultural conditions and perspectives of the Bible are that of patriarchy (Fiorenza, p. 13, emphasis in original).
It should not escape the reader that, to the person engaging in Mainstream Feminist Theological interpretation, the Bible is not seen as a divine Word telling us the way things are. The Bible is to be measured according to “a feminist scale of values.” This constitutes a reversal of the classic Protestant approach to the Bible.
The Protestant approach seeks so much as possible to lay aside human ideas and constructs, to let the Divine Author of His text provide for us in His text the means for the interpretation of His text. All of us come pre-influenced to the Bible, but we seek so much as possible to lay our biases aside at the door, and let the Revealer reveal to us what He chooses in His revelation to us. The approach of Mainstream Feminist Theology not only refuses to lay aside its ideas at the door, it insists on using its ideas as the door. The interpreter does not come to the Scripture with faith, but with a strainer.
The ‘Hermeneutic of Suspicion’
Among principles set forth in Feminist Theology is the “hermeneutic of suspicion.” Because the Bible is tainted throughout with male perspective and bias, we must come to it with latex gloves and a scalpel. Fiorenza explains:
Considering this patriarchal context for the canonization process a hermeneutics of suspicion is called for. The information found in the surviving canonical texts and writings of patristic orthodoxy are not value-neutral. . . They [the biblical texts] do not give us historically adequate and theologically appropriate information. . . We must, therefore, broaden the sources and information we use. . . All early Christian groups and texts must be tested as to how much they preserve and transmit the apostolic inclusivity and equality of early Christian beginnings and revelation (Fiorenza, p. 56, emphasis in original).
The text of the Bible is approached with suspicion that it is biased—not merely some general bias because of the fallen humanity of the biblical authors, but an alleged bias specifically in terms of “patriarchy.” The text is biased through the maleness of the Bible writers. Therefore, the text is neither “historically accurate” nor “theologically appropriate.” The “hermeneutic of suspicion” means that the interpreter must broaden her set of sources and the information she uses to determine the truth. That is, the interpreter must not limit herself to the canon of Scripture or treat its text as being historically accurate or theologically appropriate. The hermeneutic of suspicion is an anti-faith statement, a declaration of unfaith in the text. It confirms that the text must be approached as though it is uninspired. Tools and biases must be brought to the text; it is not privileged. The rationale is provided for the use of interpretive methodologies just as they are applied to any other kind of literary works.
Thus, an external measure is employed. That measure is the Feminist assertion that the early church was apostolically inclusive of women and socially egalitarian in its operation. This is not only an external measure, but if such background cannot be established on the basis of anything more than “imaginative reconstruction” (the following point), then the text is being judged on the basis of a fiction.
The Authority of Female Experience
To obtain a clearer comprehension of how this hermeneutic works, we must look more deeply at the feminist understanding of the authority of female experience. Ruether explains (Ruether, pp. 12-18). Individual experience, she holds, properly judges the word because the idea of a separation between an objective external word and subjective human experience is actually a false dichotomy.
She argues that experience comes before its codification as written word. The historical process alleged by Ruether is that a community of teachers determines that certain written expressions are valid, others not. The out-group is excluded while approved material is passed on. Each generation of the church interprets this written content for themselves, retaining that which they see as being consistent with their own experience. And so, behind all written texts, Ruether urges, there stands little more than a trickle of experiences passed down through time. That which has been passed to us is a Bible record mostly limited to a preselected collection of male experiences.
Feminist Theology places itself in contrast to this by emphasizing female experience. Feminist Biblical interpretation involves, so it is held, a rightful reassertion of the value of women’s experience. Women’s experiences have been marginalized, but only limited suppression was possible. These experiences were so strong that they remains in the Bible even if in limited degree. The task, then, of the Feminist theologian is to investigate the Scriptures closely, and extract the suppressed stories of women from between the lines of male-experience saturated pages. Part of the Bible is usable, part not. Present women’s experience of liberation has authority; she has been liberated from the stifling bondage of male theologians, male interpretation, and a male-superintended text. As a result, she brings her shiny ideological tools to the Bible and uses them to render ancient male experience non-authoritative.
History Recreated Through the Theological Tool
Another feature of Feminist Theology is that the practice of theology itself is seen to be a tool. We noticed this in our previous article outlining Liberation Theology. Since it is not thought possible to approach the Scriptures with any kind of neutrality, no such attempt is made. From the Feminist pen:
The basic insight of all liberation theologies, including feminist theology, is the recognition that all theology, willingly or not, is by definition always engaged for or against the oppressed (Elizabeth Shüssler-Fiorenza, In Memory of Her, p. 6).
No attempt is made toward dispassionate neutrality. The teaching of the Bible is revisited to bring forth a different view of the past so as to create a different situation in the present.
. . .[T]he countercultural egalitarian vision must be read between the lines in the New Testament. It must be ferreted out, in fragmentary form, in contrast to the Patriarchal Church which established the canonical framework for interpreting Christianity.
If this egalitarian, countercultural vision is accepted as the true norm of Christianity, then the authority of the official canonical framework is overturned. The conflict between liberating and patriarchal norms must be seen as existing in the New Testament in an even more radical way than in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the New Testament a suppressed tradition must be brought to the surface to criticize and refute the dominant hermeneutical line established by those who shaped the written canon (Ruether, p. 34).
All early Christian texts are formulated in an androcentric language and conditioned by their patriarchal milieux and histories. Biblical revelation and truth are given only in those texts and interpretive models that transcend critically their patriarchal frameworks and allow for a vision of Christian women as historical and theological subjects and actors (Fiorenza, p. 30).
If the locus of revelation is not the androcentric text but the life and ministry of Jesus and the movement of women and men called forth by him, then we must develop critical-historical methods for feminist readings of the biblical texts. If the silence about women’s historical and theological experience and contribution in the early Christian movement is generated by historical texts and theological redactions, then we must find ways to break the silence of the text and derive meaning from androcentric historiography and theology. Rather than understand the text as an adequate reflection of the reality about which it speaks, we must search for clues and allusions that indicate the reality about which the text is silent. Rather than take androcentric texts as informative ‘data’ and accurate ‘reports,’ we must read their ‘silences’ as evidence and indication of that reality about which they do not speak. Rather than reject the argument from silence as a valid historical argument, we must learn to read the silences of androcentric texts in such a way that they can provide ‘clues’ to the egalitarian reality of the early Christian movement. . . . Such a feminist critical method could be likened to the work of a detective insofar as it does not rely solely on historical facts’ nor invents its evidence, but is engaged in an imaginative reconstruction of historical reality (Ibid., p. 41).
In the attempt to make the past intelligible the historian must go beyond the events in an act of ‘intellectual re-creation’ (Ibid., pp. 69, 70).
We accept neither Fiorenza’s rationale nor explanation, yet we understand its logic. Feminist Theology approaches the Bible as a vivisection project. It sees the Bible as being deeply tainted by maleness. The Feminist interpreter thinks that men defined what would be in the Bible, and then suppressed or marginalized its portrayal of women. Therefore, the mission of the interpreter is to search deep within the Bible (and other sources!) to locate the stories of women. One part of Scripture is used to criticize another (“deconstruction”). A “feminist reading” is one which purports to find material within the Bible by means of which “the full humanity of women” can be highlighted. So much the better, if, in the development of these insights, male-domination allegedly perpetuated and perpetrated in Scripture can be exposed, and if such portions of the Bible can be tagged, marked-off and de-authenticated. One part of the Bible is lifted out of the whole and employed to undermine another. And which portions are special candidates for this? Those containing material deemed by the interpreter as being patriarchal or, in some manner, suffering from man-centeredness.
In the New Testament, the problem is said to be more severe than in the Hebrew Scriptures, for the content of the New Testament was determined by a “patriarchal church.” Good news about women is seen as being present but suppressed in the New Testament. Fiorenza concurs with Cady Stanton who “conceived of biblical interpretation as a political act” (Ibid., p. 7). A “political act” is exactly what Feminist interpretation is.
An Intentionally Embraced View of the World
Having followed feministic theological reasoning, now notice where we are: the Bible is no longer our standard. The best we can do with the Bible now, is find useful bits and pieces here and there that we can put to use. The whole worldview sustained by the Bible is discarded and replaced with something different. And so, the way in which we are supposed to view our world is changed:
. . .[W]e must reckon with the fact that distorted relationships, translated into power tools of exploitation, have built up a powerful counterreality, a reality that perpetuates itself, both through socioeconomic and political structures and through ideology that shapes education and socialization at every level. Conversion to community then becomes an alternative upon which we base ourselves in order to wage a cultural and social struggle against this counterreality. One seeks to dismantle the institutional structures and refute the ideologies that incarnate alienation and to shape a new vision, culture, and society that would incarnate the grounded self in community (Ruether, p. 164).
Feminist Biblical Interpretation looks—lucidly it thinks, but through damaged, humanity-distorted eyes—to see this present world shaped as a prison house of unfairness for women. It sees operating in it a system that subjugates women and which damages the humanity of men too. The good news, then, is redefined. It comes to mean the discovery and deepening of one’s awareness of this reality, and an entrance into the heroic struggle to change it.
The Activist Turn
The oppressed are to be liberated, the community of humanity is to be changed. A kingdom which women now envision is to replace the one which men allegedly created long ago. The final, hoped-for result? The eradication of all that is male-centered; the creation of what amounts to a humanist utopia. The agents of this salvation would be feminists—those able to see through the layers of stale patriarchy to the changed society available in this imagined future. To borrow from Donald G. Bloesch, under the auspices of Feminist theological principles, “truth is dissolved so that only an amorphous experience remains,” and the ultimate experience is “being submerged in the ongoing evolutionary process” (Bloesch, Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration & Interpretation, pp. 105, 305).
Ruether elaborates on how we are to be propelled into this revised world:
Once a breach in the wall of sexist ideology and depersonalization of woman is made, the entire ideological and social superstructure built up over thousands of years of sexism and justification of sexism is open to question. . . . [W]omen have to suspect that the entire symbolic universe that surrounds them, which has socialized them to their roles, is deeply tainted by hostility to their humanity. This touches on all their most intimate relations, to mother and father, ministers and teachers, husband, male and female children. An entire social and symbolic universe crumbles within and outside them. They recognize in the familiar the deeply alien (Ibid., p. 173).
Women must come into a stance of opposition to this androcentric world. They must become angry enough to change themselves and to be ready to change others.
The acceptance of liberating anger and the reclaiming of basic self-esteem allow a woman to look honestly at the situation that has shaped her life. She is able to acknowledge her own compliance with the systems that have diminished her humanity. The shackles of this system on her mind and energy begin to shatter, and she gains the courage to stand up against them.
This breakthrough experience is the basis for the development of consciousness. Women read their own history within the history of patriarchy. They become aware of the depths of the system that has entrapped them and discover a hidden community of women of the past. They reclaim their own history as witnesses to an alternative possibility and also become increasingly conscious of the complexity of the global socio-economic system that subjugates women. The difficulty of the task of emancipation becomes clearer. It is no longer just a task of settling accounts within interpersonal relationships.
This expanded consciousness deepens one’s sense of alienation and anger so that one senses oneself ready to ‘go mad’ with alienation and anger. Males take on a demonic face. One begins to doubt their basic humanity. One desires only to be with women, to distance oneself from the whole male world with its myriad games (Ibid., pp. 186, 187).
The path then, is to change the way that women think of the world. They must come to see that it is permeated with sexism and patriarchy. This means becoming aware of one’s servitude to this allegedly all-encompassing system. At last, when this new consciousness has been achieved, one is in a position to enlist in the movement to undermine and eventually destroy this male-made, woman-imprisoning system of which the church is understood to be such a key part.
Both Ruether and Shüssler-Fiorenza discuss how Feminists should orient themselves to accomplish institutional change.
Feminist liberation theology starts with the understanding of church as liberating community as the context for understanding questions of ministry, creed, worship, or mission. Without a community committed to liberation from sexism, all questions such as the forms of ministry or mission are meaningless. Conversion from sexism means both freeing oneself from the ideologies and roles of patriarchy and also struggling to liberate social structures from these patterns. A feminist liberation church must see itself as engaged in both of these struggles as the center of its identity as Church. . . . Can the historical churches be transformed by new leadership and theology to become vehicles for this way of being church? (Ruether, p. 201).
Conversion means a change of ideas, but also, as in Liberation Theology, it means becoming engaged in the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. One becomes part of the struggle to change social structures. Shüssler-Fiorenza:
A critical reconstruction of women’s historical oppression within patriarchal biblical religion and community, as well as an analysis of its theological, conceptual justification must, therefore, be based on an alternative feminist biblical vision of the historical-cultural-religious interaction between women and men within the Christian community and history. Such a historical reconstruction and theological revisioning is inspired not only by scholarly theoretical goals but also by practical interests in the liberation of women from internalized biblical patriarchal structures and doctrines. It is concerned not only with analyzing the historical oppression of women in biblical religion but also with changing the social reality of the Christian churches in which the religious oppression and eradication of women takes its specific historical patriarchal forms. In the last analysis, such a project is not just geared toward the liberation of women but also toward the emancipation of the Christian community from patriarchal structures and androcentric mind-sets so that the gospel can become again a ‘power for the salvation’ of women as well as men. Such a revisioning of Christian community and belief systems is not only a religious but also an important political-cultural task, since biblical patriarchal religion still contributes to the oppression and exploitation of all women in our society (Shüssler-Fiorenza, p. 31, emphasis original).
Fiorenza calls not only for change of inward beliefs but “changing the social reality” in churches and “emancipation of the Christian community from patriarchal structures. . .” Turning to Ruether again, hear yet another idea borrowed from Liberation Theology—the creation of “base communities.” Because many churches are not sufficiently Feminist,
. . .[F]or most Christians the only alternative is to turn to the creation of autonomous feminist base communities as the vehicle for developing a community of liberation from sexism (Ruether, p. 205).
Ruether adds this description,
A feminist base community is an autonomous, self-gathered community that takes responsibility for reflecting on, celebrating, and acting on the understanding of redemption as liberation from patriarchy. . . . The formation of such feminist base communities does not necessarily imply a sectarian rejection of institutional churches. People who find their primary support in such feminist communities might also participate in various structures of institutional church life. Some might be lay members or even clergy of local churches, members of religious congregations, teachers in theological schools, or denominational employees, while drawing support for a more radical vision for social action from the base community. The transformed liturgies, theological reflection, and social action developed in base groups could then be brought to bear on the institutionalized Church. The creation of ‘liberated zones’ in at least some sectors of institutional churches would be seen as one of the ‘fields of mission’ of the base community. . . . Some parts of the historical structures then become vehicles for transmitting the message of the Gospel as redemption from patriarchy” (Ibid., pp. 205, 206).
The institutional church is understood as being a field for mission, a target for transformation. The “gospel” is not seen as being found in the institutional church, for what is here envisioned is institutional churches becoming “vehicles for transmitting the message of the Gospel as redemption from patriarchy.” This in another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:2-4; Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 1:16, 17). We must not be ashamed of the gospel, even if it is accounted by those Feminists who want to replace it with “the message of the Gospel as redemption from patriarchy,” as being no gospel at all.
Are there places where “liberated zones” already exist in the Adventist Church? How far has the feminist cause advanced in our midst?
Ruether proceeds to describe a take-over of a church by Feminist Theology:
In order to transform a local church into a liberation community, feminist ministers must be free to take many more risks with the financial base of the institution than they are normally allowed by either laity or denominational authorities. They must be able to enter into a process of rending and sowing in which the preaching and teaching of a liberation understanding of the gospel may drive some people, often the wealthiest and most influential, out of the congregation. The ministry must be able to do this in a creative and constructive way that at the same time converts to the new vision ‘those who have ears to hear.’ Ministers must be able to shape a new system of adult catechetics and participation in ministry that educates people in the theology and practice of the Church as liberation community. Other people who are hungry for such a church will join. Gradually a new community will come into being that really shares a common faith about the meaning of the Church and is ready to explore the further implications for faith and action.
What I have just described is a clergy-led revolutionizing of a local church (Ruether, pp. 202, 203).
Ruether envisions the hollowing out of a church. Higher levels of denominational administration would place female pastoral leadership in congregations and support the preaching of a message different from that which previously had characterized that group. They would support these women through the inevitably ensuing conflict, and going forward, into that changed future in which their churches have become liberation communities, and when those people theorized to have been waiting for this development “will join.” Alas, there are few, if any, cases of churches with women senior pastors where congregations are consistently found to grow. We know of none.
It may be of interest as well to notice, that in at least some cases, with this changed view of what the gospel is comes skepticism about the role of the Atonement. Fiorenza:
The notion of atoning sacrifice does not express the Jesus movement’s understanding and experience of God but is a later interpretation of the violent death of Jesus in cultic terms. . . the death of Jesus was not a sacrifice and was not demanded by God but brought about by the Romans. . . . The Sophia-God of Jesus does not need atonement or sacrifices (Fiorenza, pp. 130, 135).
The Atonement is an add-on. The historical Christian understanding of the atonement is called into question. This is not just a questioning of one or another of the varied particular atonement theories that have been proposed across history. By Fiorenza at least, the death of Jesus is understood as not even being an actual sacrifice. In one swoop the central theme of the New Testament is wiped away. Do other Mainstream Feminists think the same way? It is difficult to know, since the Atonement is an exceeding rare topic in Mainstream Feminist writings.
Summary and Conclusion
Feminist Theology as illustrated through the key referenced documents can be summed in the following points:
- The fundamental principle of Feminist Theology is “the promotion of the full humanity of women”; the basis of this theology is the liberation of women as defined externally to Scripture.
- Only a subset of the Bible is to be accepted as authoritative or truly revelatory; canon is not the 66 books of Scripture. Feminist Theology is overtly deconstructive.
- The Bible is an androcentric text, not mirroring historical reality or reporting historical facts. Its text is composed of fallible interpretations and projections biased by maleness. Therefore, a “hermeneutic of skepticism” is necessary.
- Before they are to be accepted, the “facts” of history must be “imaginatively reconstructed.”
- Theology is always employed in support of, or in opposition to, the oppressed. The existence of an “oppressed” class is thus presupposed, as well as overt bias in theological interpretation.
- “Conversion” means developing an awareness of having lived according to a falsely conceived reality, as well as one’s developing a sense of alienation and anger towards that reality.
- The result is to be the replacement of one’s previous social and symbolic universe and engagement in a cultural and social struggle, including working for the “liberation” of social structures (i.e., churches).
This article has outlined Feminist Theology. We have not here, however, recapitulated either the most or least radical Feminist Theologies. Still, while Evangelical Feminism is not identical to Radical or Mainstream Feminist Theology, it has the same root ideas, and inevitably echoes in measure the principles illumined in this article. We shall devote our sixth article in this series to Evangelical Feminist Theology.
The article that follows (our fifth) shall explore in particular, the question, in theological terms, of how Feminist Theology and Queer (homosexual) Theology interrelate.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick has served churches in Nevada, Utah, California. They presently serve in the forest fastness of Northern Idaho where Larry lives with his wife Pamela and their children Seamus (age 7) and Mikayla (age 6).
3 replies on “Foundations of Women's Ordination, part 4: Second Wave Feminist Theology”
This does explain the attitude of many who support WO. I don’t believe they really understand what lies behind their push for so called equality.
In every respect, the origination of the WO emphasis is external to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Mind you, I think it was in part 1 we clarified that what many of us actually oppose is not ordaining women, but ordaining women to positions that based on biblical principle would be male-headship positions, e.g. senior pastors, conference presidents, etc.) More than this, in terms of the method of biblical interpretation, the supporting theological framework upon which this push comes is, again, very alien to us. It is true that Evangelical Feminists (EF) (pt 6) try to keep basic feminist principles along with claiming to let the Bible be finally authoritative in this matter. But as we shall see, EF have unfinished business in reconciling those ideas. Radical and Mainstream Feminists concluded that it was not only not desirable but not possible. All we have to go on in terms of this reconciliation being possible is the intuition of those holding the EF position.
Focusing on this article, we see that Mainstream Feminism imposes a master idea on the Bible: the “full humanity of women” (FHW). Everything is matched to that idea. If a passage is not seen to match that idea, it is considered to be non-authoritative—amazingly different from anything remotely SDA in terms of how the Bible is approached. No, the Bible is not opposed to the “full humanity of women,” but when humans on their own preference define the FHW to mean there is no sex-distinct role differentiation, whrn they make men and women almost completely interchangable, they are dictating to the Creator rather than listening to Him.
These ideas all “trickle-down” into the subtler EF position as unresolved background dissonances. Accepting WO would result in deep changes in how we understand biblical authority. The end result would be the church being completely made over into something very different than it started out to be.
There are forces beginning to arise in the secular and christian community that may be of use to us in defeating this beast. If you want to know what is coming google up the following terms.
MGTOW, churchianity, Dalrock, the-spearhead, Captain Capitalism, Marriage 2.0 and finally the Sunday Morning Night Club.