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Christian feminism is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women in that direction are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity.[1] Christian feminists believe that God does not discriminate on the basis of biologically-determined characteristics such as sex and race.[2] Their major issues include the ordination of women, male dominance in Christian marriage, recognition of equal spiritual and moral abilities, reproductive rights, and the search for a feminine or gender-transcendent divine.[3][4][5][6] Christian feminists often draw on the teachings of other religions and ideologies in addition to biblical evidence.[7]

The term Christian egalitarianism is sometimes preferred by those advocating gender equality and equity among Christians who do not wish to associate themselves with the feminist movement.

Contents

History

Some Christian feminists believe that the principle of egalitarianism was present in the teachings of Jesus and the early Christian movements, but this is a highly contested view. These interpretations of Christian origins have been criticized for "anachronistically projecting contemporary ideals back into the first century."[8] In the Middle Ages Julian of Norwich and Hildegard of Bingen explored the idea of a divine power with both masculine and feminine aspects.[9][10] Feminist works from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries addressed objections to women learning, teaching and preaching in a religious context.[11] One such proto-feminist was Anne Hutchinson who was cast out of the Puritan colony of Massachusetts for teaching on the dignity and rights of women.[12]

The first wave of feminism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included an increased interest in the place of women in religion. Women who were campaigning for their rights began to question their inferiority both within the church and in other spheres justified by church teachings.[13] Some Christian feminists of this time period were Katharine Bushnell, Catherine Booth, Frances Willard, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Issues

Adam Eva, Durer, 1504.jpg
Part of a series on
Christianity
and Gender
Theology

Women in Christianity
Women in the Bible
Jesus' interactions with women
Female disciples of Jesus
Paul of Tarsus and women
Image of God
List of women in the Bible
Women as theological figures

3 Major Positions

Christian Egalitarianism
Christian Feminism
Complementarianism

Church and Society

Christianity and homosexuality
Ordination of women
Women in Church history

Organizations

Christians for Biblical Equality
Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus

Theologians and authors
Feminist:
Letha Dawson Scanzoni · Anne Eggebroten · Virginia Ramey Mollenkott
Egalitarian:
William J. Webb · Kenneth E. Hagin · Gordon Fee · Frank Stagg · Paul Jewett · Stanley Grenz · Roger Nicole
Complementarian:
Don Carson · John Frame · Wayne Grudem · Douglas Moo · Paige Patterson · Vern Poythress
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Women in church leadership

In both mainline and liberal branches of Protestant Christianity, women are ordained as clergy. Even some theologically conservative denominations, such as Assemblies of God,[14] ordain women as pastors. However, the Roman Catholic church, the Southern Baptist Convention which is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.,[15] and most churches in the American "non-denominational" movement prohibit women from entering clerical positions.[16] Some Christian feminists believe that as women have greater opportunity to receive theological training, they will have greater influence on how scriptures are interpreted by those that deny women the right to become ministers.[17]

Reproduction, sexuality and religion

Conservative religious groups are often at philosophical odds with many feminist and liberal religious groups over abortion and the use of birth control. Scholars like sociologist Flann Campbell have argued that conservative religious denominations tend to restrict male and female sexuality[18][19][20] by prohibiting or limiting birth control use,[21] and condemning abortion as a sin.[22][23] Christian feminists contend that a woman's "right to control her pregnancy is bounded by considerations of her own well-being" and that her God-given free will must be respected.[24]

A number of socially progressive mainline Protestant denominations as well as certain Jewish denominations and the group Catholics for a Free Choice have formed the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.[25] The RCRC often works as a feminist organization and in conjunction with other American feminist organizations with the goal of achieving a world in which religion does not restrict the rights of women.[26]

Feminine or Gender-transcendent God

Christian feminists believe that gender equality within the church cannot be achieved without rethinking the portrayal and understanding of God as a masculine being.[27] The theological concept of Sophia, usually seen as replacing the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, is often used to fulfill this desire for symbols which reflect women's religious experiences. How Sophia is configured is not static, but usually filled with emotions and individual expression.[28] For some Christian feminists, the Sophia concept is found in a search for women who reflect contemporary feminist ideals in both the Old and New Testament. Some figures co-opted for this purpose include the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene,[29] Eve,[30] and Esther.[31] Others see God as entirely gender-transcendent[32] or focus on the feminine aspects of God and Jesus[33]

References

  1. ^ Harrison, Victoria S. "Modern Women, Traditional Abrahamic Religions and Interpreting Sacred Texts." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 15.2 (2007):145-159.
  2. ^ McPhillips, Kathleen. "Theme: Feminisms, Religions, Cultures, Identities." Australian Feminist Studies 14.30 (1999).
  3. ^ Daggers, Jenny. "Working for Change in the Position of Women in the Church." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 26 (2001)
  4. ^ McEwan, Dorothea. "The Future of Christian Feminist Theologies--As I Sense It: Musings on the Effects of Historiography and Space."
  5. ^ McIntosh, Esther. "The Possibility of a Gender-Transcendent God: Taking Macmurray Forward." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 15 (2007): 236-255.
  6. ^ Polinska, Wioleta. "In Woman's Image: An Iconography for God." Feminist Theology 13.1 (2004):40-61
  7. ^ Clack, Beverly. "Thealogy and Theology: Mutually Exclusive or Creatively Interdependent? Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 21 (1999):21-38.
  8. ^ Beavis, Mary Ann. "Christian Origins, Egalitarianism, and Utopia." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 23.2 (2007): 27-49
  9. ^ Bauerschmidt, Frederick Christian. "Seeing Jesus: Julian of Norwich and the Text of Christ's Body." Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 27.2 (1997):189-214.
  10. ^ Boyce-Tillman, June. "Hildegard of Bingen: A Woman for our Time." Feminist Theology 22 (1999):25-41.
  11. ^ McEwan, Dorothea. "The Future of Christian Feminist Theologies--As I Sense It: Musings on the Effects of Historiography and Space." 79-92.
  12. ^ Ellsberg, Robert. All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses from Our Time
  13. ^ Capitani, Diane. "Imagining God in Our Ways: The Journals of Frances E. Willard." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 12.1 (2003):57-88.
  14. ^ "The Role of Women in Ministry" (PDF). The General Council of the Assemblies of God. 1990-08-14. pp. 7. http://ag.org/top/beliefs/position_papers/pp_downloads/pp_4191_women_ministry.pdf.  
  15. ^ SBC Position Statements - Women in Ministry
  16. ^ SpringerLink - Journal Article
  17. ^ Harrison, Victoria S. "Modern Women, Traditional Abrahamic Religions and Interpreting Sacred Texts." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 15.2 (2007):145-159
  18. ^ Birth Control and Christian Churches
  19. ^ Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations
  20. ^ Birth Control and Christian Churches
  21. ^ Paul VI - Humanae Vitae
  22. ^ Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions on Abortion
  23. ^ Sin of Abortion and the Reasons Why
  24. ^ Colker, Ruth. "Feminism, Theology, and Abortion: Toward Love, Compassion, and Wisdom." California Law Review 77 (1989):1011-1075.
  25. ^ RCRC—Member Organizations
  26. ^ National Women's Law Center
  27. ^ Ji-Sun Kim, Grace. "Revisioning Christ." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 28 (2001):82-91.
  28. ^ McEwan, Dorothea. "The Future of Christian Feminist Theologies--As I Sense It: Musings on the Effects of Historiography and Space." 79-92.
  29. ^ Winkett, Lucy. "Go Tell! Thinking About Mary Magdalene." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 29 (2002):19-31.
  30. ^ Isherwood, Lisa. "The British Christian Women's Movement: A Rehabilitation of Eve." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 15.1 (2006): 128-129.
  31. ^ Fuchs, Esther. "Reclaiming the Hebrew Bible for Women." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 24.2 (2008):45-65.
  32. ^ McIntosh, Esther. "The Possibility of a Gender-Transcendent God: Taking Macmurray Forward." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 15 (2007):236-255.
  33. ^ Ji-Sun Kim, Grace. "Revisioning Christ." Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 28 (2001):82-91.

See also

Further reading

  • Rosemary Radford Ruether, Feminist Theologies: Legacy and Prospect (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007)
  • Patricia M. Berliner, Ph.D., Touching Your Lifethread and Revaluing the Feminine Cloverdale Books (2007) ISBN 978-1-929569-20-5 [1]
  • Mimi Haddad, Ph.D., "Egalitarian Pioneers: Betty Friedan or Catherine Booth?" Priscilla Papers, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Autumn 2006)
  • Eryl W. Davies, The Dissenting Reader: Feminist Approaches to the Hebrew Bible (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003)
  • Pamela Sue Anderson, A feminist philosophy of religion: the rationality and myths of religious belief (Oxford; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1998)
  • Pamela Sue Anderson and Beverley Clack, eds., Feminist philosophy of religion: critical readings (London: Routledge, 2004)
  • Letty M. Russell, Church in the Round (Westminster John Knox Press, 1993)
  • John Temple Bristow, What Paul Really Said About Women: An Apostle's Liberating Views on Equality in Marriage, Leadership and Love (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988)
  • Patricia Wilson-Kastner, Faith, Feminism, and the Christ (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983).

Journals

  • Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. [2]
  • The Woman's Pulpit

External links


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