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Feminism and Evangelical Christianity

The following discussion of the relationship between feminism and 
evangelical Christianity took place on WMST-L in April 2003.  For additional
WMST-L files available on the Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 11:56:21 -0400
From: Janet Gray <gray AT TCNJ.EDU>
Subject: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
I have several students who have launched research projects on topics of
special interest to them, and several are in areas where I can't conjure
up much help from my own bank of knowledge...so I hope listmembers will
bear with me while I pose some questions on a variety of topics.

Here's one:  this student is on a quest that started with the question:
why are feminism and evangelical Christianity apparently antithetical,
when they share some of the same goals?  The topic has evolved to a
search for writings by feminists who also evangelical Christians (or
vice versa), and for definitions of "feminism" that are either
compatible with or exclusive of evangelical Christianity.  I think one
thing that might be useful for this student, too, is exegetical studies
of Judeo-Christian scripture that bring forward both anti-patriarchal
and anti-homophobic arguments.  Part of what's tricky here is that the
student is really working from a very specific sense of what it means to
be Christian--the wife is supposed to obey the husband, etc.

Do any texts come to mind?  Thanks much for any help.

Janet Gray
gray  AT  tcnj.edu
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 12:11:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
this came up a couple of months ago--will repeat encouragement to look at
matilda joslyn gage's WOMAN, CHURCH AND STATE, and elizabeth cady stanton's
THE WOMEN'S BIBLE--both now available after a century of suppression--best
sources for understanding the nature of this "disconnect," where it comes
from, and its historical (and current) consequences for the women's

debbie <deb  AT  kokopellisdaughters.org>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 11:14:25 -0500
From: "Nancy M. Whitt" <nmwhitt AT SAMFORD.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, a Milton specialist, and an
evangelical feminist has a great website (go to google).
Her books go back at least to the 70's.

Nancy M. Whitt
Professor of English
Chair, Department of English
Samford University
Birmingham, AL 35229
Phone: 205-726-2458 Fax: 205-726-2112 E-mail: nmwhitt  AT  samford.edu

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"

      Walt Whitman
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 11:33:25 -0500
From: Mary Todd <crftoddml AT CURF.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
Sue Horner (part-time in WS at North Park University in Chicago) has written
a dissertation on the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus that might
be of interest. She's contributed a chapter to a recent festschrift of sorts
for Rosemary Radford Ruether that may serve as a summary of her research.
Sorry I don't have a more precise citation just now.

Also see R. Marie Griffith's _God's Daughters_ and anything from Christians
for Biblical Equality.

Mary Todd
Concordia University
River Forest, Illinois
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 12:40:37 EDT
From: Bonnie Cohen <Bonitacohen AT CS.COM>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
Here are a few suggestions:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed.   Women without Superstition:  "No Gods -- No
Masters."  The collected writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth &
Twentieth Centuries.  Published by The Freedom FROM Religion Foundation,
Madison, Wisconsin.

Karen Armstrong:  The Gospel According to Woman:  Christianity's Creation of
the Sex War in the West.

Mary Daly:  The Church and the Second Sex.   25th anniversary edition

Bonnie Cohen
bonitacohen  AT  cs.com
Hamden, Connecticut
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 13:06:40 EDT
From: Judith Laura <Ashira AT AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
I don't get the statement that feminism and evangelical Christianity "share
some of the same goals," and I feel it is a vast understatement to term as
"tricky' the attempt to reconcile with feminism the view that "the wife is
supposed to obey the husband."

That aside, I feel that if this student really wants to learn (and grow)
she'd be well advised to open herself up to looking at such critical
Christian thinkers as Rosemary Radford Reuther, (Woman-Church and earlier
books), Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and while she's at it, Mary Daly,
especially her earlier books. For a less academic, more personal approach, a
good start is Sue Monk Kidd's _Dance of the Dissident Daughter_, about her
transformation from a traditional Christian writer to a feminist.

BTW, you may want to note that some Jews dislike the term "Judeo-Christian,"
as this lumps two separate traditions together and tends to disappear the
Jewish tradition into simply a forerunner of Christian. If your student is
interested in a feminist Jewish viewpoint, a good start is Judith Plaskow's
_Standing Again at Sinai_.

Judith Laura
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 10:10:36 -0700
From: Carol Blessing <CarolBlessing AT PTLOMA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
Why is the assumption made here that Evangelical Christianity and Feminism
are antithetical?  I see one major problem here, and that is in the
definition (or lack thereof) of "evangelical Christianity."  This is an
extremely broad term, and is not synonymous with Fundamentalism.

I am, in fact, a feminist and an evangelical Christian, teach in our women's
studies minor at an evangelical Christian university, and have many
colleagues from my campus and others who would fit these categories.

Further, Christians for Biblical Equality, as was suggested on one post, is
one possible source, but please do not see this group as speaking for all.
It grows from a Calvinist tradition, and is more conservative than some
others (including myself) who are Wesleyans.

I find it interesting that in most areas of knowledge, we recognize
plurality and social constructions of terms and ideas, but many people tend
to brush all "evangelical" Christians with a broad stroke and uncritically
accept the term, plus all the stereotypes that go with it.

Perhaps primary historical research on women evangelical ministers from the
19th century and Christian women's participation in major emancipatory
social movements would be a good place to start.

There are a group of us women within the Christian college community who are
addressing and researching this issue.  We feel one cannot be carrying out
the words of Christ without being a feminist.

Carol Blessing, Ph.D.
Professor of Literature
Point Loma Nazarene University
San Diego, CA 92126
cblessin  AT  ptloma.edu
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 10:27:13 -0700
From: Betty Glass <glass AT UNR.EDU>
Subject: new book RE: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
Relevant to this thread, our library has just received a copy of:

"Facing the Stained Glass Ceiling: Gender in a Protestant Seminary," by
Barbara Finlay.
        Univ. Press of America, 2003.
        ISBN: 0-7618-2478-2

Betty J. Glass
Subject Specialist
Getchell Library/322
University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89557-0044

glass  AT  unr.edu

(775) 784-6500 x303
(775) 784-1751 (fax)
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 10:31:48 -0700
From: Alena Ruggerio <RuggeriA AT SOU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
If your student is coming from a more conservative evangelical
background, she is going to want to focus on those books written from
that background, and so as she reads Ruether, Fiorenza, and of course
Daly, she should be aware that they are various gradations to the left
of that.

>From the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus, which does
explicitly attempt to straddle the so-called dichotomy between feminism
and evangelical Christianity, I second the recommendation of
Virginia Ramey Mollekott's early work (her later work moves outside
conservative evangelicalism)
Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty's All We're Meant to Be
Although I'm blanking on the book titles, check out Paul King Jewett
and Patricia Gundry (I think the full text of Heirs Togther and Woman Be
Free is available on Pat's website, and some biblical feminists hang out
on Pat's listserv Phoebe-L).
Hey, when is Sue Horner's dissertation being published on the history
of EEWC?  Your student is welcome to e-mail me at ruggeria  AT  sou.edu, I'm
the current EEWC Coordinator. if she wants to know more about what the
organization's up to today.  www.eewc.org

Christians for Biblical Equality differs from EEWC in several ways, but
the most significant for me is that EEWC is inclusive of sexual
orientations and gender expressions, whereas CBE's charter has a plank
against homosexuality.  If your student wants that branch of biblical
feminism, start with Katherine Clark Kroeger and the Priscilla Papers
archive on the CBE website.

>That aside, I feel that if this student really wants to learn (and
she'd be well advised to open herself up to looking at such critical
Christian thinkers as Rosemary Radford Reuther, (Woman-Church and
earlier books), Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, and while she's at it, Mary
Daly, especially her earlier books.


Alena Amato Ruggerio
Department of Communication
Southern Oregon University
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 13:12:02 -0500
From: Glenn Blalock <gblalock AT FALCON.TAMUCC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
This information is from my wife.  For further questions, contact her
off-list: Laine_Scales  AT  baylor.edu

> Mary Stuart  Van Leeuwen is an evangelical and a
> feminist...she wrote a
> book in the 1990 called "Gender and Grace."   This book really does
> biblical exegesis that might be interesting to your student.
> I used the book in a class of conservative evangelical young
> men and women and they gave Van Leeuwen a great deal of
> credibility because she takes the bible so seriously
> Here is her bio:
> About the author
> Van Leeuwen is professor of psychology and philosophy at
> Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. She is also a
> resident scholar at Eastern University's Hestenes Center for
> Christian Women in Leadership. She taught at Calvin College
> (Grand Rapids, Michigan) for many years, and she has been a
> senior editor of Christianity Today. Currently she is an
> editor for The Reformed Journal. Van Leeuwen has written,
> cowritten, and contributed to several books, including The
> Psychology of Intergroup Relations (with L. Kidder,
> McGraw-Hill, 1975), The Person in Psychology (Eerdmans,
> 1985), After Eden (one of several contributors, Eerdmans,
> 1993), Religion, Feminism & the Family (co-editor,
> Westminster John Knox, 1996), The Family Handbook (co-editor,
> Westminster John Knox, 1998) and Women and the Future of the
> Family (with Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Mardi Keyes and Stanley
> Grenz, Baker, 2000).
> Also website for Evangelical and Ecumenical Women;s Caucus

Also the below list of authors was mentioned in an article  on
evanvgelical feminism  at


Many evangelical Christians have defended this position in writing. They
include Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (1974), Paul Jewett of Fuller
Seminary (1975), Richard and Joyce Boldrey of North Park College (1976),
Patricia Gundry (1977), Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen of Bethel College
and Seminary (1979), Catherine Clark Kroeger (1979), E. Margaret Howe of
Western Kentucky University (1982), Gilbert Bilezikian of Wheaton
College (1985), Aida Spencer of Gordon-Conwell Seminary (1985), Gretchen
Gaebelein Hull (1987), and many others, in articles, lectures, and
classroom teaching. Although they have disagreed on details, their
common theme has been the rejection of a unique leadership role for men
in marriage and in the church.

Yet these authors differ from secular feminists because they do not
reject the Bible's authority or truthfulness, but rather give new
interpretations of the Bible to support their claims. We may call them
"evangelical feminists" because by personal commitment to Jesus Christ
and by profession of belief in the total truthfulness of Scripture they
still identify themselves very clearly with evangelicalism. Their
arguments have been detailed, earnest, and persuasive to many
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 11:24:31 -0700
From: Carol Lee Flinders <clf AT TWOROCK.ORG>
Subject: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
When I queried the list a couple of months ago about connections between 
19th century feminist reformers and mysticism, Susie Stanley alerted me 
to her book, Holy Boldness: Women Preachers' Biographies and the 
Sanctified Self. It turns out that Madame Guyon, the 18th century mystic 
roundly criticized by Evelyn Underhill as a "quietist," was a source of 
inspiration for Wesleyan/Holiness women preachers of the 19th and 20th 
centuries. The book offers a fascinating window onto the historic 
background of the question, which another listmember suggested would be 
useful to know about.
Carol Lee Flinders
clf  AT  tworock.org
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 14:49:27 -0400
From: Virginia Bemis <vbemis AT ASHLAND.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
One book I've found very useful is REFORMED AND FEMINIST by Joanna
W.H. Van Wijk-Bos.  She discusses her own journey and how she has come
to see feminism as not at all antithetical to Christianity,
particularly in the Reformed Protestant aspects. She is also a scholar
specializing in, among other thing, the Hebrew scriptures.  I would
also recommend anything written by Sharon Ringe (one of my professors
at seminary), especially her Women's BIble Commentary and Inclusive
Language Lectionary.

Virginia Bemis
Associate Professor/English
Ashland University
Ashland, OH 44805
vbemis  AT  ashland.edu
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 13:24:55 -0400
From: Kate M Lair <Kate.Lair AT HUSKYMAIL.UCONN.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
If the student is willing to broaden her studies to include
Catholicism, Nancy Mairs', _Ordinary Time, Cycles in Marriage, Faith
and Renewal_ is a wonderful collection of personal essays of her
journey through life as a Catholic Feminist (or Feminist Catholic).

Kate M. Lair
University of Connecticut
Department of Sociology
Manchester Hall Rm 9
Kate.Lair  AT  huskymail.uconn.edu
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 17:10:05 -0700
From: Lucy Tatman <lucytatman AT YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Being Evangelical about Feminist Christian Theology...
for those interested in christian feminist theology
from a lesbian or queer perspective, there's Carter
Heyward, esp. her books The Redemption of God, Our
Passion for Justice, and Touching Our Strength.  Also
check out Mary Hunt's Fierce Tenderness: A Feminist
Theology of Friendship, Elizabeth Stuart's Just Good
Friends: Towards a Lesbian and Gay Theology of
Relationships, and, for the brave and good-humored,
Marcella Althaus-Reid's Indecent Theology: Theological
Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics.  If this
whole thread on (primarily US, primarily white)
feminist christian theology has left you scratching
your head and wondering what on earth it's all about,
a lovely, or at least useful, introductory text on the
development of said body of thought is Knowledge That
Matters: A Feminist Theological Paradigm and
Epistemology, by Lucy Tatman. Grin.  Cheers, Lucy Tatman
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 08:29:49 -0400
From: Tess Pierce <tess AT ETRESOFT.COM>
Subject: Re: Being Evangelical about Feminist Christian Theology...
I also suggest looking at Sonja Johnson's books about the Mormon church. My
favorite is ::From Housewife to Heretic::

Tess Pierce
tess  AT  etresoft.com
The kick ass liberal curmudgeon
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 09:38:45 -0400
From: Janet Gray <gray AT TCNJ.EDU>
Subject: Feminism and Christianity: Thanks!
I now have more than enough material for my student who is exploring
connections and disconnections between feminism and conservative
Christianity.  Thanks so much to all who responded so quickly!  These
resources will launch him on a voyage of discovery he probably never
dreamed of when he first framed his research question about the
"antithesis" between Christianity and feminism.

Janet Gray
gray  AT  tcnj.edu
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 10:46:19 -0700
From: Carol Blessing <CarolBlessing AT PTLOMA.EDU>
Subject: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity--Another Source
Here is a source that does specifically address the husband/wife
relationship, as well as much more.  I don't think it has been mentioned

Equal to Serve: Women and Men Working Together Revealing the Gospel, by
Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1991 (rpt. of 1987 ed.)

I also strongly agree with the recommendations of Susie Stanley's and
Mary Stuart Van Leeuwen's books.
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 15:44:02 -0400
From: Lillie Sharon Ransom <lsransom AT WAM.UMD.EDU>
Subject: Re: Feminism and Evangelical Christianity
Though I don't know if the author would call himself "feminist", a
book called "Beyond Sex Roles" by a Christian theologian, whose last
name is Bilizekian (I read this many years ago so forgive me if I've
misspelled his name) writes of how he came to see a woman's role as
much more expansive that 'traditional' translations of scripture might
lead one to believe.  He did exegete many of the passages that folks
use to 'keep women in their [proper] place', and pointed out
alternative contexts and interpretations of those scriptures.  Hope
this helps.

Lillie S. Ransom, Ph.D.
CoDirector, College Park Scholars--American Cultures
(Interim) Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Studies, University of
Maryland, College Park, MD   20742

preferred email address:  lsransom  AT  umd.edu

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