The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism -- By: Paul W. Felix

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 05:2 (Fall 1994)
Article: The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism
Author: Paul W. Felix

The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism

Paul W. Felix1

Faculty Associate in New Testament

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 differ markedly from those of the advocates of role differences for men and women. A comparison of evangelical feminists principles with the grammatico-historical method of interpretation clarifies what and how great they deviate from traditional views of a womans 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 evangelical feminist hermeneutics to fall short of the grammatico-historical method of interpretation.

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Definitions and Differences

The significant changes for women in society that began about thirty years ago have not bypassed the church. The changes have meant a challenge to 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.”

“Feminist” 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, organized in the latter part of 1987. A position paper—”Men, Women, and Biblical Equality—published in 1989 stated the beliefs of this organi...

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