Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth. By Wayne Grudem. Multnomah Publishers, 2004. 864 pp. Paper. $29.99.
Every pastor and theologian should have this book in their library. In 864 pages, Grudem uses his biblical scholarship to provide a thorough response to the current views expressed by evangelical feminists. In 1992, his book entitled Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism was named “Book of the Year” by Christianity Today. Therefore, in the Preface he lists several reasons why writing this book was necessary. One of the reasons is “to warn about troubling trends in the evangelical feminist camp that indicated increasing movement toward theological liberalism through various types of interpretation that imply a rejection of the effective authority of Scripture in our lives” (p. 17). This concept was reiterated several times throughout the book. At one point he states that the rejection of the doctrine of inerrancy has historically led to the ordination of women in certain denominations (p. 503). Thus, he shows that feminism is not the problem, but is instead a symptom of a greater problem.
In the first two chapters Grudem presents a biblical case for the complementarian view of men and women. He unlocks the biblical role of men and women in the areas of creation, the home, and the church. The meat of the book is found in chapters 3-12 where he answers 118 feminist objections, based on the views posed in the first two chapters. These objections are taken from leading feminist writings from the past thirty years. Many of the answers are based on recent scholarly research, which has strengthened the complementarian position (p. 524). For example, Grudem’s personal research on the meaning of the Greek word kephale„ has provided over fifty examples where it always means “person in authority.”(p. 526) Though the information is rich, the format of the book is user-friendly that enables the reader to quickly find answers (p. 17).
I found the final two chapters of the book to be quite interesting. He provides an overview on the state of evangelicalism with regard to feminist trends. His concern is that the rise of feminism within evangelicalism is a sign of liberal influence. Therefore, he urges the reader to search for truth in the Bible rather than in cultural or historical trends. He cautions against churches buying in to cultural relativity, and also how to practically deal with feminist infiltration in the church. He illustrates in the final chapter the reality of the correlation between feminist trends and theological liberalism. He includes both the current, and historical positions of many main-line denominations. And his premise holds true. The denominations that are primarily egalitarian have had a significant amount of liberal influence in their history.
There are a lot of good things to say about this book. It extremely thorough in the information it provides. It is hard to imagine that there is another book out there that deals with this subject with more detail and clarity. The reader will not only be able to defend the complementarian position, but will gain a perspective on the root of feminism. I highly recommend it for anyone who desires to gain a biblical view of men’s and women’s roles.
Th. M. Student
Dallas Theological Seminary