Mary Kassian's book: The Feminist Mistake, The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture is an extremely important book in all this "gender debate" issue. And it is important because of at least three reasons:
1. It helps us understand the origins, the philosophical and theological views of Feminism and how it found its way into the Church.
2. It also help us understand how it is impossible to be a Feminist and a Christian. You can't embrace both. Feminism always leads to a "new kind" of theology which has its own hermeneutic methods to interpret the Scriptures, so that it would be able to "support" its own beliefs.
3. It helps us understand that the so called "gender-debate" (egalitarianism vs complementarism), goes beyond the issues like "who takes the final decisions at home." Feminism leads, little by little, to a complete non-Biblical view of God, and the world.
Kassian's book is well written, clear, and engaging. It is also well researched and it includes a great number of references. Mary Kassian's approach is objective, and does not deal with the subject as if she were in a "witch hunt," she presents a professional historical account, and always from a solid Biblical standpoint.
The book is divided in two parts: The Philosophical Quake and Shock Waves
The first part is subdivided in three stages:
1. Naming Self (here she explains how women decided to name themselves, instead of letting God name them, define who they are).
2. Naming the World (two of the things she deals about in this stage are: Women-centered Analysis of Theology and Women's Studies in colleges).
3. Naming God (the feminization of God, and women and their place in the Church are discussed here).
In the second part of her book, Kassian deals with the advent of "biblical feminism," the hermeneutic methods they use to sustain their "egalitarian" position, the "what-to-do-know" kind of questions, and what will happen next if we refuse to see the danger feminism represents and we neglect to stand firm against it.
I would like to share with you some quotes on the matter of Feminism and Theology:
"In order to harmonize feminism and religion, Daly found it necessary to reject the theology that presented God as omnipotent, immutable, and providential, for she believed that this view discouraged women from seeking change. Furthermore, she viewed images of a jealous and vengeful God as projections and justifications for the role of the "tyrant father in patriarchal society" rather than as actual aspects of God's character. The concept of an almighty, all-powerful, unchangeable, caring, providential God, jealous and demanding worship, was, according to Daly, an inadequacy in the conceptualization of basic doctrines which sustained and perpetuated androcentric theological teachings." (p.47)
"Feminist theolgians, therefore, took the liberty of discarding passages of the Bible that did not agree with their vision of sexual equality. They either dismissed the text as outdated -relative only to a particular time and culture- and the author of the text as misogynistic, or they interpreted it and assigned it a meaning different from what the author had intended. The dynamic view of the Bible that feminists adopted allowed them to adjust biblical interpretations in order to make the Bible relevant to the problems and perspectives of women in contemporary culture. Feminists argued that biblical interpretation could and should change." (p. 108)
"Traditional symbols of the church had presented God as "He" and as King, Lord, and Judge. Feminists maintained that these religious symbols excluded women. The symbols needed to be updated to accommodate the new feminist consciousness. According to feminists, linguistics symbols of the Bible and church, as well as of God, needed to be altered in order to bring them into line with the inclusive equality of women." (p.162)
Ruether and Stendal, two influential feminist theologians, said that "those who imaged God as male were guilty of idolatry," and that "those who believed that God was, in some way or another, male were guilty of idolatry." The author rightly responds,
"...by changing the biblical symbols, Russell altered and renamed God. This is a serious matter. For if feminism's altered view of God is out of synchronization with who God really is, as He has revealed Himself, then it is not really God whom they are imagining and worshiping; and this is the idoaltry that the Bible condemns." (p.168)
When women start re-naming God and try to de-sexualize Him, what they end up doing, according to the author's analysis, is they depersonalized God, they attack God's character, they deny the Trinitarian relationship, they obscure the person and work of Christ, they obscure humanity's relationship to God, and their own personal identity (p.168-173).
If you read this book carefully, you will clearly see the philosophical progression of feminism.
Mary Kassian says,
"While I do not deny that feminist vary in political theory and theology, I maintain that are all part of a larger continuum that supersedes and encompasses those variations. A feminist, at any given point in time, may not see herself or himself at the radical end of the movement, and I am certain that some individuals will never change their personal views to that extent. But the dissociation of one's brand of feminism from the remainder of the feminist movement is a naive denial of reality. The philosophical progression of feminism is both coherent and logically immanent." (p.241)
Maybe you are one of those who "sees feminism as an ideology that merely promotes the genuine dignity and worth of women." Read what Mary Kassian wisely says on the matter:
"If this were true (the statement above), feminism would definitely be compatible with Christianity, for the Bible does teach that women and men are of equal value in God's sight, co-created as bearers of God's image. But the philosophy of feminism adds a subtle, almost indiscernible twist to the basic biblical truth of woman's worth. Feminism asserts that woman's worth is of such a nature that it gives her the right to discern, judge, and govern that truth herself... Feminism does not present itself as at outright affront to the Bible, but it nevertheless contains an insidious distortion that erodes the authority of the Scripture. Acceptance of the feminist thesis may not drastically alter one's initial beliefs, but if followed, it will naturally and logically lead to an end miles away from the Christianity of the Bible." (p. 261)
What now? Why should you read this book if you are not a "biblical feminist" (or an egalitarian)? I assure you, sisters, that the rise of this movement is coming more rapidly and with more fury than we can even start to imagine. We need to be ready to discern it and be well grounded in the Word of God to be able to teach our daughters (and sons) the dangers of this lie.
Let us press hard and embrace our precious and wonderful calling which is good, because God said so. Let us not be afraid, sisters, to be named by God, to embrace the beauty of our place in His story.
“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” Genesis 2:23
Under His sun and by His grace,
Mary Kassian blogs at Girls Gone Wise, and True Woman