The New Feminist Theology

“…a feminine society will have its own special potentialities for good and evil, to which a theology based solely on masculine experience may well be irrelevant.”

Valerie Goldstein, a prominent feminist in the late 20th Century, understood that if God was a social construct, like men and women, then theology should be reexamined from a woman’s perspective and ultimately should redefine biblical categories of the human condition, sin, and redemption.

Liberation theology being spurred on in the 1970’s was essential to the success in women’s centered theology. This feminist theology, based on the so-called liberation of women, was developed by Letty Russell and Rosemary Radford Ruether. Being an ‘oppressed class of society,’ women had a right to develop their own doctrine. In order to be fully liberated, they would develop this feminist doctrine which affirmed their own experience. These feminists looked at the theology and doctrine of the past and that which was counter to their philosophy was discarded.

Reuther and other feminist theologians questioned the long standing doctrines of the past and found them “incompatible with the feminist paradigm of liberation and equality,” according to Mary Kassian.

Christian Feminist Definitions:

God- Instead of humans existing to glorify God, God is the one who exists to assist humans to “realize liberation, wholeness, and utopia for themselves.”*

Jesus- Jesus is not the one who saves, but he is the “primary example of God’s salvation.”*

Sin- Russell, in her book, Human Liberation in a Feminist Perspective, redefined sin as “a situation in which there is no community, no room to live as a whole human being.”

Salvation- The journey towards freedom from oppression giving a life of joy, hope, meaning, and reconciliation.

Church- The people of God who are all who are working together, freeing the oppressed of society, unbelievers included.

Eschatology- After the oppressed of the world are free, this will usher in the new humanity. “In sum, feminist theologians believed that a utopian society of heaven on earth, justice, peace, and freedom were achievable by humanity.”*

Cold Hard Truth

Despite the heretical deviations from orthodox Christian doctrines, feminist theologians didn’t think of themselves as going outside the bounds of Biblical truth. This trajectory hermeneutic (slow progression of change in the practical application of Scripture through time which extends beyond the New Testament) spurred Christian women to apply their experience and perspectives into theology. Women took pride in their extended realm of study through theology.

Russell encouraged women to become involved in theology, for, theology was their basis for ‘liberation.’ While the secular feminists analyzed the world through their perspective, the Christian feminists did the same with their analysis of the Bible. Any doctrine that did not follow a woman’s experience in their path to liberation was revised.

Feminists became autonomous not only from men and the world, but also from God.

*From Mary Kassian’s book, The Feminist Mistake

For Further Discussion:

Nicole Leaman on How the Church Paved the Road to Feminism


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