Evangelical Feminism: Some Bibliographical Reflections On The Contemporary State Of The “Union” -- By: Harvie M. Conn

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 46:1 (Spring 1984)
Article: Evangelical Feminism: Some Bibliographical Reflections On The Contemporary State Of The “Union”
Author: Harvie M. Conn


Evangelical Feminism: Some Bibliographical Reflections
On The Contemporary State Of The “Union”*

Harvie M. Conn

What is a feminist? I agree with Alan Alda. It is “someone who believes that women are people.”

My purpose in this essay is to review the opinions on feminism now current within the evangelical community. What do I mean by “evangelical”? To use the language of Robert K. Johnston of Western Kentucky University, I speak of a group of over forty-five million North Americans and millions more worldwide. Two of their commitments are important for us now in providing a functional definition for this paper. They affirm (1) the need for personal relationship with God through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,

* Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty, All We’re Meant to Be (Waco: Word Books, 1974). Paul K. Jewett, Man as Male and Female (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975). Richard and Joyce Boldrey, Chauvinist or Feminist? Paul’s View of Women (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976). Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, Women, Men and the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 1977). George W. Knight III, The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977). Patricia Gundry, Woman, Be Free! (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977). Id., Heirs Together (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980). Id., The Complete Woman (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981). Paul K. Jewett, The Ordination of Women: An Essay on the Office of Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980). Peter Dejong and Donald Wilson, Husband and Wife: The Sexes in Scripture and Society (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979). Susan Foh, Women and the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1980). James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective (London: InterVarsity, 1981). Vernard Eller, The Language of Canaan and the Grammar of Feminism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982). Donald G. Bloesch, Is the Bible Sexist? (Westchester, III.: Crossway Books, 1982).

and (2) the sole and binding authority of the Bible as God’s revelation.1

More specifically, I focus on what some have called “conservative-evangelicals.” This label, like so many other theological ones current, is purely functional. And even then it is clumsy. “Conservative” hardly seems appropriate as a designation for those in this circle who question past evangelical stances on the issue of women in the Bible. And I suspect there are many in this broad continuum who are even reluctant to use the term, “evangel...

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