Sunday, August 10, 2008

Evangelical Feminism and liberalism

I have just finished reading one of Grudem's latest book (published in 2006) on the subject of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood entitled Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism: Biblical Responses to the Key Questions. Coupled with the views expressed by Mary A. Kassian in The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church, which I have reviewed here, I think it is safe to say that Feminism is the offspring of Liberalism, and that ultimately the embrace of egalitarian principles will open the way for the destruction of the church from within, not to mention the flood of false doctrine that would enter due to the erosion of biblical authority brought along by egalitarianism.

Before I continue, a brief explanation of the biblical view of Complementarianism on the issue of Gender Roles should be made plain.

Complementarianism teaches that men and women are equal in value and worth, but different in role. The roles they place are not set in terms of one being superior or inferior to another, regardless of what the world or other professing Christians may think. Men and women thus complement each other in their contributions to the family unit and to the church. The man in the family is the head of the household, having authority over his wife and children, and 'has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family' (p. 21). The women in the family is to be a helper fit for her husband, joyfully and intelligently submitting to the authority of her husband "as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22), and using her talents for the good of the household. In the churches, the teaching and governing aspects of ministry in the church (and parachurch organizations as well) are to be limited to male leadership, except for the teaching/counseling of other women and youths/children. Therefore, the offices of the church (ie Elders, Deacons) are to be all men. All other ministries however are open to both men and women.

Egalitarianism is the widening the ministry boundaries to all regardless of gender. Therefore, women can be pastors, elders, deacons, even "apostles". In the home, egalitarianism practises "mutual submission", which is supposed to mean that each party submits to the other out of love [and I still cannot fathom out how this is supposed to work out].

Anyway, with that, here are some interesting quotes from that book:

Regarding women in teaching or ruling ministry

If a woman goes on serving as an elder or pastor, I believe she is doing so outside the will of God, and she has no guarantee of God's protection on her life. By continuing to act in ways contrary to Scripture, she puts herself spiritually in a dangerous position. I expect that eventually the measure of blessing God has allowed on her ministry will be withdrawn (though I cannot presume that this will be true in every case) (p. 273)

On the feminization of Christianity advancing under egalitarianism:

Having women as pastors or elders erodes male leadership and brings increasing feminization of both the home and the church. It could also erodes the authority of Scripture because people see it being disobeyed

...

4. A Church with female elders or pastor will tend to become more and more "feminized" over time, with women holding most of the major leadership positions and men constituting a smaller and smaller percentage of the congregation (p. 275-276)

Like it or not, the presence of women pastors and elders will inevitably precipitate a decrease in the percentage and number of men in the congregations, and Grudem has in a footnote listed one such survey which shows exactly this fact. It is a fact that women in leadership generally function differently from men in leadership, and as such does not exactly rule the Church as it should be done. Furthermore, God will not bless this work if it is done out of rebellion against his commands regarding gender roles.

I have visited a Singaporean church [which I shall not named] that has a totally dysfunctional congregationalist church polity bordering on anarchy, and has about probably 70-80% women in the congregation as compared to men. They have one woman elder, and the men who are supposed to be leaders there are not behaving like men ruling the church of God. For whatever reason, they seem not to believe in having a church ruling and governing structure, probably because they dislike hierarchy and want to be more like what they perceive to be the model of the early church in being loving and caring instead of ruling over te flock. It must be stated that they are very passionate for the Gospel, yet it can be seen that the unbiblical dysfunctional government of the church is creating many problems as the church cannot grow qualitatively, and mainly women are attracted to it. Such indeed is a sad example of a thoroughly feminized church, and when I tried to talk to the male leadership (whatever there is of the leadership) about it, they refuse to listen. That is truly a sad example of what a feminized church looks like, and how it just crushes all virility in the church, thus rendering it a sad shadow of what the church is supposed to be as it is portrayed in the Scriptures.

Grudem here also approvingly quotes Thomas Schreiner in his view of 1 Tim. 2:14[1]:

Generally speaking, women are more relational and nurturing and men are more given to rational analysis and objectivity... Appointing women to the teaching office is prohibited because they are less likely to draw a line on doctrinal non-negotiables, and thus deception and false teaching will more easily enter the church. This is not to say that women are intellectually deficient or inferior to men... Their kinder and gentler nature inhibits them from excluding people for doctrinal error. There is the danger of stereotyping here, for obviously some women are more inclined to objectivity and are "tougher" and less nurturing than other women. But as a general rule women are more relational and caring than men. The different inclinations of women (and men!) do not imply that they are inferior or superior to men. It simply demonstrates that men and women are profoundly different. Women have some strengths that men do not have, and men have some strengths that are generally lacking in women.

Sadly to say, the feminized churches will find it very difficult to resist when heresies come their way and ravage the flock.

Regarding the dangers of liberalism, Grudem gave a summary of some disturbing warning signs that show that evangelical feminism is becoming a "new path to theological liberalism for evangelicals in our generation" (p. 282). Summarizing the points he had written extensively about in his book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism, Grudem states the following points:

  1. Liberal Protestant denominations were the pioneers of evangelical feminism, and evangelical feminists today have adopted many of the arguments earlier used by theological liberals to advocate the ordination of women and to reject male headship in marriage. By contrast, the strongest opponents of women's ordination are found among groups most firmly committed to the inerrancy of the Bible.
  2. Most prominent evangelical feminist writers today advocate positions that deny or undermine the authority of Scripture, and many other egalitarian leaders endorse their books and take no public stance against those who deny the authority of Scripture. In twenty-five chapters in Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?, I document and explain twenty-five different ways in which the authority of Scripture is undermined or denied in current egalitarian writings.
  3. Once the authority of Scripture is undermined or denied, certain consequences have predictably followed in denomination after denomination, and a number of these are already seen among evangelical feminists, as noted in the following points:
  4. Recent trends now show that evangelical feminists are heading towards the denial of anything uniquely masculine, an androgynous Adam who is neither male nor female, and a Jesus whose manhood is not important. This step is already common in evangelical feminist writings.
  5. The next step, also taken first by liberal Protestant denominations, is to advocate calling God "our Mother in heaven". Leading evangelical feminist writers have now taken this step and some writings promoted by evangelical feminists even warn against the harm that comes from calling God "Father".
  6. The next step that has happened in liberal denominations is incremental movement towards an endorsement of the moral legitimacy of homosexuality. Through only a small number of evangelical feminists have taken this step to this point, and I though I am thankful that the egalitarian group Christians for Biblical Equality has remained clearly opposed to the moral legitimacy of homosexuality, this next step has been followed in liberal denominations as a predictable outworking of (a) the same methods used to undermine the authority of Scripture in order to deny any uniquely male leadership roles in the home or in the church, (b) the denial of differences between men's and women's roles in marriage and the church, and (c) the strong pressure for approval of homosexual conduct in the general culture.
  7. The final step is the ordination of homosexuals and the promotion of homosexuals to high leadership positions in the church.

Summarizing these points, Grudem states:

The common thread running though all of these trends is a rejection of the effective authority of Scripture in people's lives and that this is the bedrock principle of theological liberalism. That is why I believe the matters discussed in this book are so important for the future of the church. (p. 283-284)

Indeed, the issues are important. The denial of distinct roles between men and women have caused gender identity crisis in our youths, and aids in the spread of homosexuality in a society that does not know what manhood and womanhood really is.


References:

[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, "An Interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-15: A Dialogue with Scholarship," in Köstenberger, Andreas J. and Thomas R. Schreiner, Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2005), pp. 145-146, as quoted by Grudem, p. 38

6 comments:

vincit omnia veritas said...

"I have visited a Singaporean church [which I shall not named] that has a totally dysfunctional congregationalist church polity bordering on anarchy, and has about probably 70-80% women in the congregation as compared to men."

>I respect them for their passion for evangelism, but I have to say that it is very regretful that they do not view church polity as of any consequence/importance.

They are an Evangelical church, but they do practice what their name proposed - "FREE." Well, what can I say? Evangelical and "Free"-ly "confused"?

Very sad indeed. I would have considered that place if not for their church polity (amongst other less serious issues). Sigh ... nice people though :)

Sincerely yours,
Vincent

PuritanReformed said...

Ouch!!

That was quite explicit... If anybody from that church was to read this, I could be in trouble.... =P Haha.

Isaiah said...

There are actually quite a few churches with those two words in their names from what I know, so I suppose it's fine. :)

PuritanReformed said...

Isaiah:

well, if somebody were to know how many of such churches I have visited, that's it..... =P

Isaiah said...

Daniel:

I'd be more worried that someone is paying such close attention to my personal life if that was the case, ha ha!

PuritanReformed said...

Isaiah:

well, I DO have some friends within that church [all girls, just to show how bad it is =P], and I think some of them may read this blog, so they would probably be able to guess, especially since Vincent added details that make it even more specific. [Yeah, he visisted also, that's why]. But oh well, they just have to deal with the truth. After all, their situation is very very unhealthy; you can even say diseased. This was one of the reasons why I decided not to go there, despite the passion and love for the Lord in the congregation [in areas except certain forbidden zones of doctrine and praxis].