Secular Feminist Religious Metaphor And Christianity -- By: Betty Talbert-Wettler

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:1 (Mar 1995)
Article: Secular Feminist Religious Metaphor And Christianity
Author: Betty Talbert-Wettler


Secular Feminist Religious Metaphor
And Christianity

Betty Talbert-Wettler*

Two years ago I responded to the views of radical feminist Emily Erwin Culpepper during a philosophy symposium at California State University at Fullerton.1 At the time I was struck by the strength of the secular feminist presence in the university. Almost ninety people attended the Culpepper session alone. Out of nine religious studies philosophers chosen to par-ticipate, three were radical feminists: Mary Daly, Emily Culpepper and Charlene Spretnak.

I discovered that radical feminist views on metaphor, symbol and myth were not new ideas. Some of the feminist presuppositions on myth and metaphor are a common offering in religious liberal academic fare. Symbol, myth and metaphor function almost as an intellectual hook to draw women into feminism. There is a growing need for Christians to respond to this secular radical feminist presence in our society.

This study will investigate some current influential views on secular feminist religious metaphor.2 I will contend that the religious metaphors

* Betty Talbert-Wettler is a graduate student in New Testament at Talbot Theological Seminary, 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639.

developed and used by secular radical feminists are insufficient to express the complexity of the nature of God. The radical existential feminists examined include Daly and Culpepper. Representative of the goddess and witchcraft tradition are Carol P. Christ, Charlene Spretnak and Merlin Stone. These women claim to have a better description of religious reality than Christianity does.3 Nevertheless Christian revelation expresses the complexity of the nature of God better than the myth and metaphor of the radical secular feminists.

The women and the philosophies dealt with in this paper claim no allegiance to any Christian beliefs. Thus the views of radical feminist Christians are excluded from this examination.4 I use the term “feminist” in this study with reservation. I concur with Ruth Tucker’s statement that the definition of feminism “depends on whose book you read and to some extent what year it was published.”5

Contemporary views of secular feminist religious metaphor for God are rooted deeply in both existentialist and neopagan religious philosophy. The use of the phrase “secular feminist religious philosophy” limits the subject to deal with those ...

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