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A Maid to Order Bible

S. M. Hutchens

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Finally Feminist: A Pragmatic Christian Understanding of Gender
John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
Baker Academic, 2005
138 pages, $14.99, paperback

One after another feminist interpretation of the Bible has failed when scrutinized.

To remain "biblical," the Evangelical progressive, these days infallibly marked by his profession of being both orthodox and egalitarian, has never been able to deny outright the parts of the Bible he finds damning to his cause. In the early days of Evangelical feminism, attempts at persuasion tended to concentrate on reinterpretation of the patriarchalist seats of doctrine, especially in the writings of the unfortunate St. Paul, who was viewed as having a particularly difficult time saying what he meant.

With time and critical scrutiny, however, it appeared this project would collapse of its own weight for several reasons, first because the scholarly reinterpretations of sub-egalitarian passages, once the shell shuffling in the journals was done and the pea finally reappeared, still looked strained and unnatural, not to mention at odds with the way these passages had been understood from the Church's beginnings.

An Egalitarian Canon

Then it became more plain that it wasn't just Paul who was the problem, but the broad patriarchalist stream upon which he sailed, a stream that perfused the Scriptures from beginning to end and in which all parts were connected. It became more difficult to make the necessary adjustments to biblical anthropology without noticing that one was perforce also making changes to traditional ethics and Trinitarian doctrine.

Worst of all, it became apparent as the work progressed that there was a controlling agenda behind it that came not only from outside the Bible, but outside any historically plausible definition of Christianity.

Faced with this situation, the problem for egalitarian theologians has become associated less with particular passages of Scripture as with the Scriptures considered as a whole. Several years ago in the pages of this journal we dealt with one of them, who averred that the Bible contains patriarchalism in much the same way as it contains reference to the devil and his works. What's patriarchal isn't Scripture--it's just in the Bible. What's egalitarian, he assured us, is what's truly Scripture. Obviously this canon-within-the-canon approach has its drawbacks, the first of which is that by that rule the Bible can be made to teach anything whatever, but some variation on the theme seems to be what's being worked on today on the upper floors of the Evangelical theology laboratories.

Read the entire article on the Touchstone website (new window will open).

Posted: 02-Sep-06

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