Gender Roles In The Church -- By: Jonathan F. Henry

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 12:36 (Aug 2008)
Article: Gender Roles In The Church
Author: Jonathan F. Henry


Gender Roles In The Church

A Review of Evangelical Feminism:
A New Pathway to Liberalism?, by Wayne Grudem.
Wheaton: Crossway, 2006. 272 pp., paperback, $15.99.

Jonathan F. Henry, Ph.D.

Professor of Natural Science, Clearwater Christian College
Chair, Division of Science, Clearwater Christian College

All agree that there are two types of human beings, man and woman, and the Genesis account of origins (Gen 1:26–27) explicitly mentions both “male and female” as creations of God. Beyond these basic statements, however, Wayne Grudem (research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Arizona) documented major misunderstandings about the roles of men and women in the church. Grudem’s study of gender roles spans the better part of two decades. It began with publication of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, co-edited with John Piper in 1991, which was a massive tome of 566 pages with 22 contributors. It broadly covered gender roles inside and outside the church. The present book is a more specific and updated focus on the roles of men and women in the church.

An old cliché states if two people are the same, one of them is unnecessary. This suggests that if men’s and women’s roles were really intended by God to be indistinguishable, it would be a contradiction in divine logic, for then God created two types of human beings where only one would do. Even the co-equal persons of the Trinity have different roles (p. 214), and the same is true of male and female who are each made in God’s image. The need for procreation does not require two sexes either, for God could have made humans to multiply asexually. Therefore, the evolutionary premise that procreation is the only essential gender difference fails to answer the question, Why man and women?

Grudem defined evangelical feminism as “a movement that claims there are no unique roles for men in marriage or in the church” (p. 12). This movement developed from the women’s liberation movement that swept across secular culture and into the mainline liberal denominations in the 1960s, first manifesting itself in evangelical denominations in 1974 (p. 43). Indeed, both the women’s liberation movement and the mainline denominations had essential foundations in evolutionary philosophy extending at least into the 1950s if not before. In the 1950s, for example, Philip Rieff, whose career linked various secular interests and the National Council of Churches (NCC), had

called for the abolition of the family, from which it followed...

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