The foundation for authority peels the layers back to the core of a belief system. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship split from the Southern Baptist Convention in the early 1990’s due to the SBC affirming and enforcing the inerrancy of Scripture. The CBF did not find their ultimate authority in the Bible. Likewise, so-called “Christian Feminists” have replaced their ultimate authority as well.
Feminist theologians found it difficult to square with the authority of Scripture. Their secular sisters found that authority came through a woman’s experience. When push came to shove, whenever it came to matters of equality, if a feminist disagreed with the orthodox understanding of what the Bible taught, it would be dismissed. The Bible had to be dismissed.
“Feminist theology is part of a revolution of consciousness that touches the issue of authority at every turn,” wrote author Mary Kassian. Margaret Farley, a feminist theologian, basically proclaimed that if the truth of the Bible violates her idea of truth and justice, then the Bible cannot be accepted. If the Bible does not proclaim that which frees her, the Bible is wrong. To feminists, experiences based on oppression from a male dominated society and feminist perspective trumped the authority of Scripture. “Experience equals authority,” pronounced Letty Russell.
Oppression is the central key to hermeneutics for the feminist theologian.
As time went on in the 60’s and 70’s, a woman’s experience of oppression became the main focus and theology was an after-thought. Therefore, a boldness was simmering underneath the movement even going so far as to change the pronoun of God.
Looking back, feminists realized that they were not going to get any help from the past traditions of the Judeo-Christian heritage. They would need to go beyond that of the Bible and couple other resources alongside it. Within these sources, they focused on the reconciliation of male and female and the divinity of the man and woman. Early theologians even looked toward near-Eastern and Greek mythology. Anything that supported the cause of the oppressed woman could be considered canon.
Feminists, due to their emphasis on experiencing oppression (playing the damsel in distress role to the extreme), looked to those who were castigated in history as examples to emulate. Gnostics, heretics, Montanists, ascetics, sectarians, goddess worshippers, and neo-pagans were all on the list of those who were canonized into feminist theology.
Due to solidarity among feminists, even those who did not agree with bringing in such teaching as goddess-worship, went along with their fellow sisters. There was a nonjudgemental pluralism that stalked the movement. Thus, religious and secular feminists were united for the same cause: the freedom of the oppressed.
When feminist theologians altered the pronoun of God and became bold with their strange new interpretations, they became one with the secular feminists. Consequently, both secular and theologians alike (though in different terms) found that salvation was found in a “special inner knowledge of one’s own connectedness with the universe and the source and origin thereof, God.”
As Al Mohler explained, “Once the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Bible are abandoned, theological revisionism is inevitable.” Those feminist theologians who had any inkling of staying somewhat on track theologically have no hope, just like the CBF. Theologically speaking, feminism is a dead end. But the Word of God and the Word’s authority abide forever.
For Further Discussion
Tim Challies Book Review on the Feminist Mistake by Mary Kassian