Taking off the gloves

Written by Father Bill 3 Comments

red glovesCrossway Books has just released a new book by Wayne Grudem, entitled Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? After looking it over quickly (I’m going to read parts of it very closely and offer commentary/analysis in later posts), I commend it to you for your use in challenging the egalitarians within your churches, associations, and denominations.

In this post, I’ll simply characterize the book broadly and provide the text of the table of contents, so you can see how the book will be helpful.

The Crossway Public relations person who contacted me via email to let me know about this book wrote put this spin on it: “Wayne Grudem names names!” And, indeed, he does. This is, perhaps, one of the more helpful features of the book; for, as he discusses the various ways that ostensibly evangelical scholars and leaders abandon evangelicalism’s fundamental allegiance to the Bible, he gives a specific example of what he’s talking about, naming names as he goes along. The result: you do not have to say, in vague terms, “egals believe this or that.” Instead, you can cite the leaders whom egalitarians happily acknowledge as leaders and in the same breath you can challenge the departures from evangelical faith which these egalitarian leaders make.

Below, is my transcription of Parts II, III, and IV from the Table of Contents. In brackets, I have included what is not included in the TOC, the names of the particular egalitarians whom Grudem critiques under each chapter title.

PART II: Evangelical Feminist Views that Undermine or Deny the Authority of Scripture

Ch. 3: Saying Genesis is Wrong. Some evangelical feminists deny the authority or truthfulness of Genesis 1-3. [Rebecca Groothius]

Ch. 4: Saying that Paul Was Wrong. Some evangelical feminists say that Paul was wrong. [Nancy Hardesty; Letha Scanzoni; Paul Jewett; Clarence Boomsa; David Thompson]

Ch. 5: Saying that Some Verses Found in Every Manuscript Are Not Part of the Bible. Some evangelical feminists say that some verses that are in every ancient manuscript of 1 Corinthians are not really part of the Bible. [Fee]

Ch. 6: “Later Developments” Trump Scripture. Some evangelical feminists say our ultimate authority is found not in what is written in Scripture but in developments that came after the Bible. [R. T. France; David Thompson; J. Howard Marshall; Krister Stendahl; Peter Davids]

Ch. 7: “Redemptive Movement” Trumps Scripture. Some evangelical feminists adopt William Webb’s “redemptive movement” approach and cast all the ethical commands of the New Testament into doubt. [William Webb]

Ch. 8: Is It Just A Matter of Choosing Our Favorite Verses? Some evangelical feminists claim that our position on gender roles just depends on which Bible passages we choose to prioritize.[R. T. France; Stanley Grenz; Sarah Sumner]

Ch. 9: Can We Just Ignore the “Disputed” Passages? Some evangelical feminists silence the most relevant Bible passages on men and women by saying they are “disputed.” [Cindy Jacobs; Sarah Sumner; Rich Nathan]

Ch. 10: Does A Pastor’s Authority Trump Scripture? Some evangelical feminists say that women can teach if they are “under the authority” of the pastors or elders. [no specific pastor is named in this chapter]

Ch. 11: Teaching in the Parachurch? Some evangelical feminists evade New Testament commands by saying “We are not a church.” [no specific parachurch organizations are named here, but they are in chapter 35]

Ch. 12: Tradition Trumps Scripture. Some evangelical feminists put church tradition above the Bible. [Kevin Giles]

Ch. 13: Experience Trumps Scripture. Some evangelical feminists put experience above the Bible. [Sarah Sumner; Cindy Jacobs; obliquely Ann Graham Lotz and Beth Moore; Judy Brown]

Ch. 14: “Calling” Trumps Scripture. Some evangelical feminists put a subjective sense of “calling” above the Bible. [Millicent Hunter; Sarah Sumner]

Ch. 15: Prophecies” Trump Scripture. Some evangelical feminists put contemporary prophecies above the Bible. [Cindy Jacobs]

Ch. 16: Circumstances Trump Scripture. Some evangelical feminists put unique circumstances above the Bible. [John Arnott; Cindy Jacobs]

Ch. 17: Calling A Historical Passage A Joke. One evangelical feminist nullifies a Bible passage on Sarah obeying Abraham by saying that it was intended as humor. [Gilbert Bilzikian]

Ch. 18: The Result of Rejecting the Authority of the Bible in These Ways.

PART III: Evangelical Feminist Views Based on Untruthful or Unsubstantiated Claims

Ch. 19: Disruptive Women In Corinth? Some evangelical feminists claim that Paul told the women in Corinth to “keep silent” because they were disrupting the church services. [Craig Keener; Stanley Grenz]

Ch. 20: Women Homeowners as Elders? Some evangelical feminists claim that women homeowners were overseers (or elders) in early churches. [Linda Belleville]

Ch. 21: Women Deacons With Authority? Some evangelical feminists claim that women deacons had governing authority in early church history. [Linda Belleville]

Ch. 22: Uneducated Women in Ephesus? Some evangelical feminists claim that Paul told the women in Ephesus not to teach or exercise authority over men because they were uneducated and therefore unqualified to do so. [Gilbert Bilzikian; Craig Keener; Cindy Jacobs]

Ch. 23: Women Teaching False Doctrine in Ephesus? Some evangelical feminists claim that Paul told the women in Ephesus not to teach or exercise authority over men because they were teaching false doctrine. [Richard & Catherine Kroeger; Craig Keener; Gordon Fee; J. Lee Grady; Don Williams; ]

Ch. 24: Women Teaching a Gnostic Heresy in Ephesus? Some evangelical feminists claim that Paul told the women in Ephesus not to teach or exercise authority over men because they were teaching a Gnostic heresy about Eve being created before Adam. [Richard & Catherine Kroeger]

Ch. 25: Does “Head” Mean “Source?” Some evangelical feminists claim that the Greek word kephale (“head”) often meant “source” but did not mean “authority.” [no specific egalitarian authority is named in this chapter]

Ch. 26: Strange Meanings for “Authority” – Are They Right? Some evangelical feminists claim that the Greek word authenteo (“exercise authority”) could mean “murder,” or “commit violence,” or “proclaim oneself author of a man,” or could even have a vulgar sexual meaning. [David Scholer; Craig Keener; Rebecca Groothius; Leland Wilshire; J. Lee Grady; Richard & Catherine Kroeger]

Ch. 27: Is The Son Not Subordinate To the Father in the Trinity? Some evangelical feminists claim that the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son is contrary to historic orthodox Christian doctrine. [Gilbert Bilzikian]

Ch. 28: Women Bishops in the Early Church? One evangelical feminist claims that a catacomb painting shows an early woman bishop in Rome. [Catherine Kroeger; Cindy Jacobs

Ch. 29: These Ten Untruthful or Unsubstantiated Claims Also Undermine the Authority of Scripture.

PART IV: Where Is Evangelical Feminism Taking Us?

Ch. 30: The Next Step: Denial of Anything Uniquely Masculine

Ch. 31: Another Troubling Step: God Our Mother [Ruth Tucker; Paul Smith; Catherin Kroeger; Mimi Haddad; Cooperative Baptist Fellowship]

Ch. 32: The Final Step: Approval of Homosexuality [Virginia Mollenkott; Letha Scanzoni; Roy Clements; interestingly, he does NOT mention the Campolos. Also surveyed are the trends in the mainline denominations, along with such ostensibly evangelical institutions such as Calvin College, the Christian Reformed Church, Fuller Seminary, InterVarsity Press]

Ch. 33: Some Complementarians Help Evangelical Feminists by Being Harsh, Mean, or Abusive.

Ch. 34: Some Complementarians Help Evangelical Feminists by Being Cowardly or Silent.

Ch. 35: Places where Evangelical Feminism Already Has Much Influence. [names every flagship evangelical institution you could imagine, excepting Dallas Seminary, and I know many reasons it should have been included.]

Ch. 36: What is Ultimately at Stake: The Bible.

The book will serve as a wakeup call for those who are not awake (though, one must wonder if they’d wake up enough to read Grudem’s case).
Overall, I give the book an “A” for effort, and a “B+” for executing its purpose. It is, unfortunately, flawed in key and fundamental ways that will likely be exposed with vigor by egalitarians themselves, though a couple of criticisms are only valid when lodged by other complementarians. I’ll have a thing or two to say in that regard in later posts.


  1. greenbaggins   |  Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 11:10 am

    2 Questions for you: what do you think of David Bayly’s review of Grudem’s book? And, secondly, would you like to link to my blog? I have a link to yours now.

  2. Fr. Bill   |  Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 11:38 am

    As to David’s comments, I endorse them. The way Grudem pulls his punches goes a long way toward depleting the relevancy of his critiques. It is an abiding source of frustration common not only to Grudem, but to CBMW generally. It makes me wonder what an egalitarian who self-identifies as a Christian and an Evangelical would have to do or say in order for any of them (Grudem, CBMW) to drop their warm-and-fuzzy assurances that “we’re all in the same body.”

    Indeed, the more one makes a claim to orthodoxy, the more it is appropriate for such a person to encounter challenge, admonition, and rebuke for departing from orthodoxy, particularly in areas so critical for the very shape of orthodoxy as these issues are. For a further example of this kind of pussy-footing, see my comments at the end of this blog entry.

    As for the link to your blog, it’s done.

  3. Eddie Hyatt   |  Monday, 16 August 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Dr. Gordon Fee, in his very popular commentary, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, describes one of Grudem’s articles, in which he seeks to prove that kephale (head) means “authority over,” as “quite misleading both in its presentation and conclusions” (502). I agree. Grudem strikes me as someone with an unhealthy fixation on keeping women in their place and (mis)using Scripture to do it.

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