The following continues a series of posts reading through Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?. If you’re curious why I’m blogging on this, you can start at the first post in the series. Or backtrack your way through the series by jumping to the previous post.
Ch. 14- “Calling” Trumps Scripture: Some evangelical feminists put a subjective sense of “calling” above the Bible
In this chapter Grudem complains about how women who think they have a calling will simply set aside the Bible in order to follow it. My big problem with this chapter is how ridiculously misinformed Grudem seems to be about how evangelical women end up in ministry. Yes, it’s virtually essential for them to have a strong sense of calling to walk the difficult path towards ordination. However, it’s their very dedication to Scripture (and the default complementarian position most of them start with) which makes that sense of calling so essential—without it, they wouldn’t dare even consider going into ministry! In my experience, women who do feel God’s call to be pastors are at first very reluctant to follow and do not do so until after they have spent a great deal of time in study and prayer.
Grudem is wrong to assume that their “call” leads them to ignore Scripture. On the contrary, this call pushes them into Scripture and until they are 100% convinced that they have no heard God wrong, most evangelical women do not think of themselves as ministry material. The ones who do enter ministry obviously come to different conclusions about the Bible than Grudem, but that does not mean he should be allowed to dismiss the ease with which many evangelical women ignore their callings for years, nor the seriousness with which these women eventually investigate gender issues in Scripture.
Ch. 15- “Prophecies” Trump Scripture: Some evangelical feminists put contemporary prophecies above the Bible
In this chapter Grudem—who, notably, does believe in prophecy and other charismatic gifts today—complains that some evangelicals say God has told them there are going to be more women in ministry. Honestly, I have little to say about this chapter, because I’m generally skeptical towards prophecy. Grudem is right that prophecy shouldn’t contradict what we know to be true. Of course, he and I disagree on that starting point from which prophecies might be judged. Altogether, then, this ends up being a pointless chapter. All prophecy should avoid blatant contradictions of our theology, so the question is really, what would we be teaching about women in ministry to begin with?
Ch. 16- Circumstances Trump Scripture: Some evangelical feminists put unique circumstances above the Bible
This is another chapter where I feel Grudem largely misrepresents egalitarians. While, yes, many of them argue that it is illogical to hold back half the church from ministry when there are so many needs in the world, they do not say that desperate circumstances themselves are what excuse women in ministry. Instead, we believe women should be involved in ministry, regardless of the level of need out there. We reject ideas like “God called a man to this position, but because the man said no and God really needs this done, he has now called a woman.” We aren’t substitutes, nor are we responding to a second-class draft which God initiated because the enormity of the task before us requires more men than are available. In this sense, we don’t even believe what Grudem claims we do. He is right, however, that most of us think that God—not being an idiot—has no interest in immobilizing half of his workforce.