Taxis or Praxis? Why Trinitarians Do Not Make Good Feminists -- By: Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 22:1 (Fall 2004)
Article: Taxis or Praxis? Why Trinitarians Do Not Make Good Feminists
Author: Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Taxis or Praxis?
Why Trinitarians Do Not Make Good Feminists

Peter R. Schemm, Jr.

Associate Dean of Theological Studies
Associate Professor of Theology
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587


Trinitarians do not make good feminists. Sue Monk Kidd’s The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is a case in point. In her spiritual autobiography, she tells of her journey from Southern Baptist orthodoxy to the awakening of the “Divine Feminine” within her.2 Though Kidd is not a trained theologian, she attributes her “awakening” to reading such feminist theologians as Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Elizabeth Johnson, and Rosemary Radford Ruether. Kidd’s Dance demonstrates that confessional orthodoxy and feminist revisionism, rightly understood, have nothing in common. It also helps to frame the title of this essay— Taxi’s or Praxis?3 since she rejects her erstwhile confession of Trinitarian orthodoxy (taxis) through intentional critical reflection and reformulation for the purpose of emancipation (praxis).4 The fact that Kidd’s journey in “spiritual transformation” has been commended by the Trinity Church (Episcopal), New York, NY,5 is a sobering reminder that the doctrine of the Trinity is indeed, in the words of Geoffrey Wainwright, “Where the church stands or falls.”6

The goal of this essay is to explain why good Trinitarians do not make good feminists. It could easily be subtitled “Confessing a Biblical Patrology” or “A Defense of Paternal Biblical Language for God.” In the present work I intend to: (1) identify the decisive theme in feminist revisions of the doctrine of God the Father; (2) introduce some of the grave problems that attend this theme in light of classical Trinitarian doctrine; and (3) make a positive confession of biblical patrology7 in hopes of restoring confidence in the doctrine of “God the Father Almighty.”

Defining a few key terms from the essay’s title will prove helpful. By “Trinitarian” I mean someone who affirms the classical formulation of the doctrine which recognizes God as Father, Son, and Spirit according to Scripture, the ecumenical creeds, and the classical exegetes.8 By “feminist” I have in mind those who range from “religi...

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