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Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism: Biblical Responses to the Key Questions Paperback – October 16, 2006
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About the Author
Wayne Grudem , research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary, received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He is a board member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, and the author of more than a dozen books. He and his wife, Margaret, have three grown sons.
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1. Grudem tends to present items in an egalitarian position in almost self-repudiating terms. Of course he disagrees with them, but the way he words some claims I have not read any egalitarian make in the way he makes it. Thus his presentation from the get go is somewhat of a "snow" job and this makes it essential to actually read what egalitarian authors actually write. Also, he presents egalitarian arguments in a very framented way, one really needs to read the egalarian arguments as a holistic whole as egalitarians themselves present them. Do not think you have done this UNLESS you read both sides.
2. He certainly makes a point in trying to point out errors among egalitarian authors. This is obviously a way to discredit them in the mind of the reader; after all, they made a mistake (horrors). But then he goes and makes the same kinds of errors. For example, there are many Greek words that are related and have a verb form and a noun form; when an egalitarian points this out he calls it sleight of hand, but then he does it himself in other discussions. So why use a pejorative term when your debating opponent does it? Better to not use the pejorative term at all. As I see it, this is a valid way to discuss the meanings of Greek words.
3. In some places he tries to claim what the Bible says in some verse is obvious, yet then he goes and discusses that verse for many pages. This makes him seem to want his cake and eat it too. It would be better to admit that some verses ARE puzzling and then present his rationale for understanding them as he does.
4. He quotes the ESV Bible, of which he was a contributor, as if it IS the word of God, which is simply false as understood by most evangelicals; who hold that the original autographs were inspired, but a translation might contain mistakes. In effect he dodges many of the translation questions on some puzzling verses by simply resorting to the ESV, which the editors themselves admit adopts a so-called complementatian (male hierarchy in church and home) position.
5. Grudem is a selective literalist and this CAN BE a deadly method of interpretation. When he comes to a puzzling verse, he sometimes fudges what the text actually says (in Greek) and speculates what it means so that it will fit with another verse into a overall non-egalitarian way. His basic argument is that he can read the Bible using "blue colored" (male hierarchial) glasses and find a blue color in many verses. When others try to show him how to read the verse using "clear" (egalitarian) glasses, he claims it is not persuasive; but this just shows his presuppositions when he reads the verse. FWIIW, I believe it is quite possible to read the Bible using all kinds of colored glasses, the slaveholders in 1850 USA did so and did it in a VERY similar way to Grudem, altho on a different subject. This cannot be helped as some of the "submission and obedience" verses mention wives and slaves just a few verses apart. At least egalitarians have a consistent view of these verses, while Grudem simply does not even discuss directly the slaveholders' arguments, as they are so similar to his own.
6. Grudem neglects to mention that the non-egalitarian arguments he uses are mostly new, as are the egalitarian arguments. He claims that his position has an advantage as it is the historic position of the church, but this is not really true as the rationales were very different, namely society generally agreed that women WERE inferior in many ways to men, such as in intelligence, and this was just assumed as an obvious truth. It is only in the 19th and early 20th centurys that women showed they could do many things as well as men did in math and physics, for example. So the question about equality in the home and church never came up much before then.
The author's basic argument is to read everything through the lense of his interpretation of 2 Timothy 2:12, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." Grudem interprets this to mean that women should not "teach the Bible or have governing authority over the assembled church." This dual prohibition of women not teaching men in the church and not having governing authority is repeated often in many contexts throughout the book.
It was refreshing to read the Grudem believes women can, and should, have much more freedom than they currently experience in most conservative churches. However, because of his understanding of 1 Tim. 2:12, he draws a hard line prohibiting women from holding any position whereby they might have authority over men. He believes that women can teach men scripture and theology under certain conditions. However, he would oppose women teaching a mixed adult Bible class at church and would certianly disaprove of a woman preaching in a regular church service.
He has struggled with the difficulties of where to draw the line and admits that complementarian scholars and churches draw the line at different places. It was this confusion over line drawing that caused me to begin to examine the claims of egalitarianism. Grudem does as good a job as he can holding his position, but in the end I found his arguments unconvincing.