Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wayne Grudem's Evangelical Feminism

Wayne Grudem is the world's leading expert on evangelical feminism. And, to be sure, he doesn't like this club.  (Caryn Rivadeneira suggests the club needs some new ground rules, but more on that in a moment.)

So, what is the club of evangelical feminism? What is an evangelical feminist? And who are the evangelical feminists?

Well, let's see how Wayne expertly answers these questions.  First, let's see how he first came to answer the questions.  Finally, let's scroll to the final three paragraphs of this post to see his actual answers.

In 1991, Wayne joined John Piper to target the club of evangelical feminists.  Wayne and John got together to assemble and to edit a book they entitled, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. The editors of Christianity Today read it, and named it the 1992 "Book of the Year."  Wayne's public resume makes perfectly clear that this response to so-called evangelical feminism was named "as the book that had the most significant impact on the evangelical community in 1991."

In this book, Wayne and John wrote a chapter they entitled, "Can Our Differences Be Settled? A Detailed Response to the Evangelical Feminist Position Statement of Christians for Biblical Equality." (The next year, this chapter was made into the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood booklet, Can Our Differences Be Settled? A Detailed Response to the Evangelical Feminist Position. Fifteen years later, the big book was revised, and this concluding chapter was updated by Wayne's and John's chapter, "The Controvery [i.e., caused by Evangelical Feminism] and the Cause of Christ] (including a respose to the statement by Christians for Biblical Equality.") The two co-editors, Wayne and John, also outlined, as an early chapter, "An Overview of Central Concerns [about Evangelical Feminism]: Questions and Answers. As an additional appendix to the big book, Wayne also contributed his 1990 essay, ""The Meaning of kephal ("Head"): A Response to Recent Studies"; from this, as the second appendix, he added from the CBMW "The Danvers Statement." As an additional chapter of the big book to respond so expertly to evangelical feminism, Wayne also added his own essay, "1 Peter 3:1-7: Wives like Sarah and Husbands Who Honor Them."

For this big book to respond expertly to evangelical feminism, Wayne and John asked several men to contribute chapters. Each of these men is presumably an expert respondent to evangelical feminism. Every one of these men ostensibly could help readers recover from evangelical feminism.

The "evangelical feminist" expert men, in the order in which their essays appear are John and Wayne; Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.; James A. Borland; Thomas R. Schreiner; D. A. Carson; S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.; George W. Knight III; Douglas Moo; John M. Frame; Vern Sheridan Poythress; Paige Patterson; William Weinrich; Gregg Johnson; George Alan Rekers; David J. Ayers; Donald A. Balasa; H. Wayne House; and Weldon Hardenbrook. For the 2006, new edition of the big book, Wayne and John asked J. Ligon Duncan and Randy Stinson to write the new preface.

In addition to these 21 "evangelical feminism" experts, 21 men, Wayne and John asked 3 women to contribute essays. "The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective" was Dorothy Patterson's contribution. "Women in Society: The Challenge and the Call" was Dee Jepsen's contribution. "The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective" was Elisabeth Elliot's contribution.

In 2004, Wayne wrote Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More Than 100 Disputed Questions.

In 2006, his big book with John was republished.

That same year Wayne also wrote Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?.

And that same year Wayne also wrote, Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism: Biblical Responses to the Key Questions. His preferred subtitle, which didn't make it to press, was the enumerating, "Over 40 Biblical Responses."

In 2008, Wayne became the general editor for the ESV Study Bible. Although this Bible was not a direct response to evangelical feminism, Wayne the expert on evangelical feminism made sure that none of the 95 contributors he worked with on the project are, were, or would become evangelical feminists. The English Standard Bible, likewise, did not include even 1 woman in its team of all-male translators.

So, what is evangelical feminism? What is an evangelical feminist? And who are the evangelical feminists?

Caryn Rivadeneira would have done well to ask this in her Her.meneutics blogpost, "Bachmann, Palin, and the Trouble with 'Evangelical Feminism'" It's the "Christianity Today blog for women." (Recall that Christianity Today named Wayne and company's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism the 1992 "Book of the Year" as Christianity Today considered this "the book that had the most significant impact on the evangelical community in 1991.") 

Caryn only assumes her readers will understand what "evangelical feminism" is.  She ignores the fact that Michele Bachmann doesn't want to be called a feminist of any sort.  Bachmann listens to her husband because he's her head; so maybe it's that he doesn't want her to be called a feminist or an evangelical feminist.  But Caryn says that "Feminists say Bachmann and other conservative women can't join their club. I say the club needs some new ground rules."  But Caryn doesn't say whether these "feminists" are "evangelical feminists" or not.  Caryn doesn't say who these "feminists" of the club are.  Caryn mentions "Feminists of the Jesus-loving persuasion,"  and names a few of those, but won't include Phyllis Schlafly in that particular club.  Caryn asks her Christianity Today blog editor to remove Phyllis from this club.  Caryn is making new ground rules for the "evangelical feminist" club or for the feminist club in general, but her rules won't let Phyllis join.  (See Caryn's blogpost and her club-exclusionary comments.)  Oh, the ironies.

So, what is evangelical feminism? What is an evangelical feminist? And who are the evangelical feminists?

Let's go to the experts, Wayne and John.  These men have coined the phrase "evangelical feminism" (or at least have used it for certain individuals or for that particular club), and these experts have answered all of our questions:
A controversy of major proportions has spread through the church.  It began over 20 years ago in society at large.  Since then an avalanche of feminist literature has argued that there need be no difference between men's and women's roles -- indeed, that to support gender-based role differences is unjust discrimination.  Within evangelical Christianity, the counterpart to this movement has been the increasing tendency to oppose any unique leadership role for men in the family and in the church.  "Manhood" and "womanhood" as such are now often seen as irrelevant factors in determining fitness for leadership.

Many evangelical Christians have defended this position in writing.  They include Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (1974),  Paul Jewett of Fuller Seminary (1975), Richard and Joyce Boldrey of North Park College (1976), Patricia Gundry (1977), Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen of Bethel College and Seminary (1979), Catherine Clark Kroeger (1979), E. Margaret Howe of Western Kentucky University (1982), Gilbert Bilezikian of Wheaton College (1985), Aida Spencer of Gordon-Conwell Seminiary (1985), Gretchen Gaebelein Hull (1987) and many others, in articles, lectures, and classroom teaching.  Although they have disagreed on details, their common theme has been the rejection of a unique leadership role for men in marriage and in the church.

Yet these authors differ from secular feminists because they do not reject the Bible's authority or truthfulness, but rather give new interpretations of the Bible to support their claims.  We may call them "evangelical feminists" because by personal commitment to Jesus Christ and by profession of belief in the total truthfulness of Scripture they still identify themselves very clearly with evangelicalism.  Their arguments have been detailed, earnest, and persuasive to many Christians. 
(-- The above are the first three paragraphs of Wayne's and John's Preface to their expert and award-winning and profoundly-influencing book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism)

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