Feminist Theology -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 19:1 (Winter 2005)
Article: Feminist Theology
Author: Aída Besançon Spencer

Feminist Theology

Natalie K. Watson

(Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2003)

Reviewed by

Aída Besançon Spencer

Aída Besançon Spencer is a consultant to Priscilla Papers and Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is also the author of some “evangelical feminist” (or “egalitarian”) books, including, Beyond the Curse, The Goddess Revival, and others.

Sponsored by the Christian Theological Research Fellowship, this monograph is “a short introduction to the main ideas and concepts used by feminist” theology (61), about Scripture and tradition (ch. 1) (24 pp.) and themes in feminist theology (ch. 2) (36 pp.) with an annotated bibliography (47 pp.). Chapter 1 covers some of the “general historical and methodological parameters within which feminist theologians seek to do Christian theology in a critical and constructive way” (24). Chapter 2 discusses “how feminists have engaged with particular aspects of Christianity and responded to the challenges presented to them” (24). Some themes covered in chapter 2 are “woman as the Other,” male God-language, “theological anthropologies,” sin and salvation, Mary as symbol of liberation, “women are church,” eschatology, ethics, the womanist and mujerista theologies, lesbian theologies, post-Christian feminisms, and a few criticisms of feminist theologies.

Watson defines “feminist theology” as “the critical, contextual, constructive, and creative re-reading and re-writing of Christian theology. It regards women—and their bodies, perspectives, and experiences—as relevant to the agenda of Christian theologians and advocates them as subjects of theological discourses and as full citizens of the church” (2-3). In her perspective, not all women theologians are considered “feminist” theologians, specifically if they “assumed their role within the expectations” of the “male-dominated world” (16). Feminist Theology is a helpful introduction to the works of more theologically liberal feminist theologians of the last 35 years.

Even though a very few CBE members were included in the bibliography, Watson has not included evangelical feminism among her “feminist theologians.” She does not include in her history the evangelical women of the 1800s who spoke for the abolition of slavery (e.g., 20). She limits feminist theologians to those who do not identify the Bible as “a source of objective information” (10). She also generalizes that for feminist theology “salvation is no longer understood as personal redemption from sin (through substitutionary atonement)” (41). Thus, evangelical feminists have been written out of the definition of “feminist theology,” even though in reality we should have been i...

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