Evangelical Feminism: Why Traditionalists Reject It -- By: A. Duane Litfin

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 136:543 (Jul 1979)
Article: Evangelical Feminism: Why Traditionalists Reject It
Author: A. Duane Litfin


Evangelical Feminism: Why Traditionalists Reject It

A. Duane Litfin

[A. Duane Litfin, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Evangelicals may discover the answer to that hoary old question in the near future. The feminist movement continues, inexorably, to make inroads into evangelical circles. On the other hand, the traditionalist camp is retrenching and drawing its battle lines. Eventually the room for maneuvering will be exhausted and the two sides will have to square off. What then?

One option would be for the feminists to cease pressing their views on the evangelical church. But this is unlikely since feminists tend to see the issues in terms of liberating women from male oppression and degradation. For such causes one must be prepared to give one’s all and retreat becomes unthinkable.

A second option would be for traditionalists to acquiesce and adopt the views and proposals of the feminists. This would eliminate the tension between the factions and bring the evangelical church into closer harmony with the secular culture. It would also counter-balance some of the abuses of male authority that even the staunchest traditionalists acknowledge. Will this second option be the way evangelicals handle the conflict?

Almost certainly, it will not. Traditionalists see the theological ramifications as so far-reaching that to accede would be to betray some of the fundamental aspects of a biblical view of man and his world.

Why such intransigence on the part of traditionalists? What issues could be so serious as to justify such a refusal to budge? At

their roots the concerns of the traditionalists center on what they see as the impetus behind the evangelical feminist movement. To understand their concern, this impetus, as the evangelical feminists view it, must be examined.

The Impetus behind Evangelical Feminism

The feminists who call themselves evangelical—and the writer does not question their use of the term—believe the impetus of their movement stems from the general New Testament teaching on how Christians should relate to one another. Thus Virginia Mollenkott, in her book Women, Men and the Bible, devotes an entire chapter to “The Christian Way of Relating.”1 This is set in contrast to “The Carnal Way of Relating,” spelled out in another chapter.2 The carnal way of relating is equated with the traditional hierarchical view of male/female relationships, while...

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