Evangelical Feminism

Evangelical Feminism: A History

Pamela D. H. Cochran
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 245
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  • Book Info
    Evangelical Feminism
    Book Description:

    For most people, the terms evangelical and feminism are contradictory. Evangelical invokes images of conservative Christians known for their strict interpretation of the Bible, as well as their support of social conservatism and traditional gender roles. So how could an evangelical support feminism, a movement that seeks, at its most basic level, to redress the inequalities, injustice, and discrimination that women face because of their sex?Evangelical Feminism offers the first history of the evangelical feminist movement. It traces the emergence and theological development of biblical feminism within evangelical Christianity in the 1970s, how an internal split among members of the movement came about over the question of lesbianism, and what these developments reveal about conservative Protestantism and religion generally in contemporary America.Cochran shows that biblical feminists have been at the center of changes both within evangelicalism and in American culture more broadly by renegotiating the religious symbols which shape its deepest values.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-9041-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    On a rainy afternoon in the spring of 1982, a young pregnant woman visited the headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ, a conservative Christian ministry to college students. Anne Eggebroten was dressed in one of her cutest pregnancy dresses (despite her disdain for typically feminine attire). She hoped that her outfit would help convey that she was “a good Christian woman” at the same time that she was trying to communicate a feminist message. Armed with bookmarks advertising a conference later that summer, her goal was to “reach the female employees [of Campus Crusade] with the good news of Jesus’...

  5. 2 We’re on Our Way, Lord! The Birth of Biblical Feminism, 1973–1975
    (pp. 11-31)

    In 1969 Nancy Hardesty, an assistant editor ofEternity, a Christian magazine, left her position and moved to the Chicago area to teach English at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. During her first month there, Hardesty received a letter from a writer, Letha Scanzoni, with whose work she was familiar fromEternity. Scanzoni remembered Hardesty because she had sent her a supportive note after one of Scanzoni’s articles challenging traditional evangelical views of women’s roles received a lot of criticism. In the letter, Scanzoni invited Hardesty to join her in writing a book on women’s liberation from a Christian perspective. Hardesty...

  6. 3 All We’re Meant to Be: The Early Years of Biblical Feminism, 1975–1983
    (pp. 32-76)

    As biblical feminism developed and expanded, the movement continued to be plagued by controversy, both inside and out. As the movement grew theologically and organizationally, a fissure within the fledgling organization developed. At first, the fracture was not very visible, since some evangelical feminists wanted to maintain a united front for effectiveness and credibility, and others simply were not aware of disagreements stirring beneath the surface. Although the differences in theology and politics were not evident yet in the organizational structure of biblical feminism, they nonetheless could be seen in the publications, politics, and theology of those in the movement....

  7. 4 Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? The Crisis in Biblical Feminism, 1984–1986
    (pp. 77-109)

    In 1978, Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott teamed up to publishIs the Homosexual My Neighbor?They began by stating, “The question that makes up the title of this book shouldn’t be necessary” because the Bible clearly indicates that every human being is our neighbor, including the homosexual.¹ Their goal was to counter Christian prejudice by presenting new biblical, sociological, and psychological data on homosexuality and to propose how the church could be more welcoming to homosexual persons. This book—one of the first by Christians (including Catholic, evangelical, and mainline Protestant denominations) on the topic of homosexuality—sparked a...

  8. 5 Empowered by the Word, I: Theological Changes in Biblical Feminism, 1986–
    (pp. 110-148)

    “Now Sophia, dream the vision, share the wisdom dwelling deep within.”¹ With these words of invocation, the “Re-Imagining Conference,” an event sponsored by the World Council of Churches with the goal of revisioning religious traditions and women’s places in them, began. For the opening session in 1993, 1,743 women and 83 men met, among them several members of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus. Shortly after the closing ceremonies, a firestorm erupted among more traditional Protestants, including many of those in Christians for Biblical Equality. The reason for the uproar was that many Christians who heard about the gathering thought that it...

  9. 6 Empowered by the Word, II: Organizational Changes in Biblical Feminism, 1986–
    (pp. 149-189)

    In the latter months of 1975, Deborah Jang was touring the United States, exploring new horizons. On Thanksgiving weekend, she arrived at the Greyhound bus station in Washington, D.C., to begin another step on her journey, this one spiritual.¹ Jang had become a “bornagain” Christian as a youth, through the influence of neighbors and friends. During high school, she attended an evangelical church, but in 1975, Jang found herself struggling with questions about her faith, particularly its exclusivity and gender inequities. When she read a flyer about the EWC’s first conference, Jang decided to attend. One of her strongest memories...

  10. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 190-194)

    In telling the history of evangelical feminism, I have sought to do two things. First, I wanted to tell the story of a group of marginalized yet significant women in the history of American religion. This account is particularly important because evangelicalism has been such a considerable force in American history. Second, I hoped to discover what role, if any, feminists in evangelicalism have played in changes occurring within their own community and beyond. To answer this, I have traced the development of evangelical feminism, focusing on its theology and view of biblical authority and on its leading organizations and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 195-224)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 225-234)
  13. Index
    (pp. 235-244)
  14. About the Author
    (pp. 245-245)