The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism -- By: Paul W. Felix, Sr
JBMW 8:2 (Fall 03) p. 35
Assistant Professor of New Testament Language and Literature,
The Master’s Seminary
Sun Valley, California
An evangelical feminist is one who has a high view of Scripture and believes the Bible teaches the full equality of men and women without role distinctions between the two. Their principles for interpreting Scripture, however, differ markedly from those of the advocates of role distinctions for men and women. A comparison of evangelical feminists’ principles with the grammatical-historical method of interpretation clarifies what and how great they deviate from traditional views of a woman’s role in church and at home. The disputed principles include the issues of ad hoc documents, interpretive centers, the analogy of faith, slavery as a model for the role of women, culturally biased interpretation, cultural relativity, and patriarchal and sexist texts. An examination of these issues shows how far evangelical feminist hermeneutics falls short of grammatical historical interpretation.
Definitions and Differences
The significant changes for women in society that began about thirty years ago have not bypassed the church. The changes have challenged the Christian community to consider afresh the role of women in their relationship to men in the church and in the home. The instigators of this challenge call themselves “feminists.”
Feminism is a broad term that includes several groups. “Secular feminists” are those who do not accept the Bible as authoritative.2 “Religious feminists” are “individuals who do not identify with Christianity, but whose beliefs nevertheless include a religious worldview.”3 “Christian feminists” work from the standpoint of a commitment to the Christian faith but accept the authority of Scripture in only a limited way.4 A final classification of feminists includes those identified as “evangelical feminists.” An evangelical feminist has a high view of Scripture and is “one who believes that the Bible teaches the full equality of men and women without role distinctions based on gender.”5 The focus of this essay is on this last group.
A group that best represents the position of evangelical feminism is Christians for Biblical Equality (C.B.E.), organized in late 1987. A position paper—“Men, Women, and Biblical Equality”—published in 1989 stated the beliefs of this ...
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