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Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Interpretation

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Interpretation

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: How do we know if one interpretation of the Bible is better than another?

The Main Questions

  • Read the definitions of exegesis and eisegesis. While distinct theoretically, can these two forms of interpretation be easily distinguished in real life? If yes, how so? If no, how can any interpretation be seen as valid?
  • What genres of literature are present in the Bible? Should genre change how you interpret the text. If yes, give an example. If no, why not?
  • Does human authorial intent matter for interpreting the meaning of a given Biblical passage? Why or why not?
  • Does a person’s spirituality matter for the validity of their interpretation of Scripture (i.e. if someone is more holy, does their interpretation of the text matter more)? Why or why not?
  • What academic tools should interpreters utilize to understand the Bible (e.g. archaeology, literary criticism, etc.)? Are academic methods always important for Scriptural interpretation?
  • Should the historical and contemporary experience of the Church (i.e. tradition) be a factor in biblical interpretation? If yes, can biblical interpretations legitimately change over time? If no, how can any interpretation be regarded as legitimate?
  • Considering the above discussion, what would be the marks of a good interpretation of Scripture? In other words, how would you discern if a interpretation is correct?

Key Definitions

  • exegesis [ ek-si-jee-sis ] // a critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible. // dictionary.com
  • eisegesis [ ahy-si-jee-sis ] // an interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text. // dictionary.com
  • hermeneutics [ hur-muh-noo-tiks] // 1) the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures; 2) the branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis. // dictionary.com

Important Scripture

  • Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. // 2 Peter 1:20
  • As he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. // 2 Peter 3:16
  • So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. // Isaiah 55:11
  • You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. // Matthew 5:38-39
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. // 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. // Acts 17:11

Thoughts from Others

  • The broader problem is that a great deal of popular preaching and teaching uses the bible as a pegboard on which to hang a fair bit of Christianized pop psychology or moralizing encouragement, with very little effort to teach the faithful, from the Bible, the massive doctrines of historic confessional Christianity. // D.A. Carson
  • The truth is, it doesn’t matter what a verse means to me, to you, or to anyone else. All that matters is what the verse means! // John MacArthur, Jr.
  • Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought. // Augustine of Hippo
  • I urge not that we assume that love will provide a reliable foundation for knowledge but that we nonetheless keep the requirements of love of neighbor foremost in our interpretations of Scripture. We should consider, for example, love to be a necessary criterion (a minimum) when defending an interpretation of Scripture even if it cannot be a sufficient criterion that will guarantee ethical interpretation. // Dale B. Martin
  • The fact that our traditional method of extracting doctrine from Scripture does not work well on narrative does not mean that Bible stories do not send clear messages. Instead, it suggests that the way we apply our traditional method of interpretation is inadequate because we are ignoring too much of God’s Word. // Craig Keener
  • Although biblical religion is sexist, it is not reducible to sexism alone! It has also been dealing with human issues, such as estrangement and oppression and the hope for reconciliation and liberation. It has been doing this on male terms, failing to apply the same critique to women. Biblical feminists use these same liberating principles of the biblical tradition. But they make the principles say new things by applying them to sexism. // Rosemary Radford Ruether

Resources

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Origins

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Origins

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: WHERE DOES THE BIBLE COME FROM AND DOES IT MATTER?

The Main Questions

  • Discuss as a group how the Bible came into existence. Try to answer the following questions: How/when was it written down? Who wrote it down? Was it edited? Refer to the first bullet point in “Ideas and Definitions” as an aid.
  • Read the definition of the “Historical-Critical Method.” What do you think of this method for approaching the Biblical text? What are its advantages? What are its disadvantages? What theological problems could it cause?
  • Is the “original meaning” of the text actually important for doing Christian theology? If yes, what counts as the original text of the Bible when much of what we have is an edited version of earlier texts? If no, on what basis are you doing Christian theology?”
  • Read the four source hypothesis bullet point in the “Ideas and Definitions” section. Does it bother you that the historical records of Jesus are compiled from different sources and sometimes disagree? If yes, what is particularly troubling to you? If no, how do you deal with theological ideas which depend on their being historical realities (e.g. the resurrection)? 
  • While the Bible is often a valuable historical tool, there are many instances where the archaeological record does not match the Biblical narrative (e.g. the conquest of Israel as described in Joshua is not identifiable in any Israeli dig sites). How would you deal with situations like this on a theological level? Does the historical-critical method help or hinder in dealing with situations like this?
  • The Bible is also a “living document” within the life of the Church. It was first compiled by the early Church and has been continually read and interpreted as a source for communal life. Can/should the Bible’s ecclesial origins be separated from its historical origins?

Key Definitions

  • The Bible is ..
    • Made up of 66 separate books
    • Written by at least 40 separate authors
    • Written over the course of 1,600 years
    • Written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek
  • Historical-critical Method // The primary goal of historical criticism is to discover the text’s primitive or original meaning in its original historical context and its literal sense or sensus literalis historicus. The secondary goal seeks to establish a reconstruction of the historical situation of the author and recipients of the text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Form criticism // Form criticism breaks the Bible down into sections (pericopes, stories), which are analyzed and categorized by genres (prose or verse, letters, laws, court archives, war hymns, poems of lament etc.). The form critic then theorizes on the pericope’s Sitz im Leben (“setting in life”), the setting in which it was composed and, especially, used. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Source criticism // Source criticism is the search for the original sources which lie behind a given biblical text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Redaction Criticism // Redaction criticism studies “the collection, arrangement, editing and modification of sources” and is frequently used to reconstruct the community and purposes of the authors of the text. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
  • Four Source Hypothesis // The three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) are unique in what they share and how they differ. Some passages appear in all three, some two, and some are unique to each Gospel. The four source hypothesis argues Mark was written first and that Matthew and Luke were written using the following sources: Mark, their own unique materials (L & M), and an undiscovered compilation of the sayings of Jesus (Q).

Important Scripture

  • For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. // Matthew 5:18
  • God said to Moses: “Now write down these words, for by these words I’ve made a covenant with you and Israel.” // Exodus 34:27
  • Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. // Habakkuk 2:2
  • You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. // Isaiah 43:10
  • As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. // Isaiah 55:10-11

Thoughts from Others

  • The church has traditionally not located the site of inspiration to be in the mind of the human author but in the text of Scripture itself. The shift to concentrating on the intentions of the human author is something that only happened in the modern era, with the rise of historical criticism. // Dale B. Martin, Sex and the Single Savior
  • The application of the historical method to the Bible as a historical text was a path that had to be taken. If we believe that Christ is real history, and not myth, then the testimony concerning him has to be historically accessible as well. In this sense, the historical method has also given us many gifts. It has brought us back closer to the text and its originality, it has shown us more precisely how it grew, and much more besides. The historical-critical method will always remain one dimension of interpretation. // Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
  • The historical-critical method is “a truly dictatorial regime in theology.” It is “an uncritical and unjustified denigration of the Biblical text” and a “godless technique that eroded the Word of God itself.” // G. Maier
  • We really just want to make two basic points:
    • We want to show that not all historical-critical view-points lead to heresy (there is no satanic druid cabal slaughtering goats behind closed doors at the Society of Biblical Literature meetings!); you can be orthodox and a historical critic.
    • Since some historical critical perspectives do damage the way Christians historically have understood their faith, evangelicals should be at the forefront of the discussion, helping shape good critical scholarship rather than ceding the field to people who don’t have the same theological concerns. // Christopher M. Hays

Resources

 

Theology Crawl is Starting This Week!

Theology Crawl is Starting This Week!

This week, we are starting our annual Theology Crawl. For eight weeks, we’ll pick a different location and a different theological topic to discuss while we enjoy a drink. This summer we are going to be investigating what this idea of being “biblical” even means. This week, we’ll kick off the festivities by talking about the Bible’s origins. We’ll talk about how the Bible came to exist in its current textual form, and then promptly talk about it why that matters (if it does at all). So, if you want to learn about the Bible or just argue with people, then don’t miss this week!

 

This year, we are running two crawls, one south of the Charles on Tuesday nights and one north of the Charles on Wednesday nights.  If you look on our calendar on the website, you can find out more information on where we’ll be and what we’ll be discussing from week to week.  We hope to see you there!


Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook to RSVP to the event so we know to expect you. 

 

Matt Chin

Executive Pastor

Theology Crawl: Environment

Theology Crawl: Environment

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” Approach to Environmental Issues?

The Main Questions

  • What do most people mean by “nature,” “creation,” and “the environment” How are the above three terms related? How are they different?
  • How have you seen the Christian tradition used to the detriment of environmental health? What theologies supported these actions.
  • As a group, make a quick list of contemporary issues that you would include under the heading: environmental issues.
  • Look at the “Important Scriptures” section below and answer the following  questions:
    • How do these passages describe the relationship between God the natural world?
    • How do these passages describe humanity’s relationship with the natural world?
    • Does the natural world have a purpose? If not, explain. If so, what is it?
    • Is the concept of preservation/conservation of natural resources apparent in these passages? Is it anywhere else in the Bible?
  • Was Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection significant for the environment? If not, does Jesus matter at all for the environment? If yes, how so?
  • Can a person’s understanding of the second coming of Christ, final judgement, and the new creation (i.e. eschatology) have an affect on their treatment of the environment? How so?
  • What ideas and values should form the foundation of a Christian’s response to environmental issues? How is this distinct from other approaches?
  • What are some practical things that you can do now to embody an ethical Christian response to environmental issues? Choose a few from your list above and be specific.

Important Scripture

  • The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the rivers // Pslam 24:1-2
  • Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” // Genesis 1:26-28
  • A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. // Proverbs 12:10
  • You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. // Exodus 23:10-11
  • But every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. // James 3:7
  • Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters // Luke 12:24-28
  • “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. // Romans 8:22-23

THOUGHTS FROM OTHERS

  • Doth not all nature around me praise God? If I were silent, I should be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise Him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Do not the mountains praise Him when the woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Doth not the lightning write His name in letters of fire? Hath not the whole earth a voice? And shall I, can I, silent be?” // Charles Spurgeon
  • The gravity of the ecological situation reveals how deep is the human moral crisis” // Pope John Paul II
  • Climate change is an issue that impels us to think about God’s justice and how we are to echo it in our world. // Rowan Williams
  • We must accept that a number of conservative evangelicals, especially from older generations, will never support significant action on climate change, especially if it means signing a global treaty. // Lisa Vox
  • We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it. // Wendell Berry

RESOURCES

SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week: 

  • GreenFaith – GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.  Their work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.
  • Sierra Club – The Sierra Club seeks to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth. Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with three million members and supporters. Their successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.
  • World Wildlife Federation – For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth..

 

Theology Crawl: Sex

Theology Crawl: Sex

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Is there a “Christian” way to Have Sex?

The Main Questions

  • What does it mean to “have sex”, and what is the purpose of doing so?
  • What is sexual desire? What is its role in having sex? Under what circumstances can it be problematic for sex?
  • What is pleasure? What is its role in sex? Under what circumstances can it be problematic for sex?
  • How is justness reflected in the sexual act? Is it?
  • Look at the “Important Scripture” section below.
    • How do these verses speak about the relational (human and divine) dimension of sex?
    • What are some of the values that these Scriptures suggest as guides to a sexual life?
    • How might the category of “sin” relate to sexual activity?
  • How do you perceive the approach to sex by the following communities? Do you think this approach is healthy/unhealthy? Explain.
    • Evangelical Christianity
    • Roman Catholic Christianity
    • Popular Culture and Mass Media
  • What, if any, role do communities play in establishing and guiding sexual ethics?
    • Under what circumstances is sexual ethics no longer a matter between two consenting individuals? (e.g. marriage, age-of consent laws, polygamy)
    • Are corporate social institutions important for healthy sexuality? Why/why not?
  • Can specific sexual acts be immoral if the participants (or individuals) are both willingly consenting and desirous of participating in the sexual act? Why/why not?
  • Should the way Christian’s participate in sexual activity differently from the way that is commonly taken today? What would be different?

Important Scripture

  • That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. // Genesis 2:24
  • Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. // Proverbs 5:15-19
  • How beautiful you are and how pleasing, my love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. May the wine go straight to my beloved, flowing gently over lips and teeth.  I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. // Song of Songs 7:6-10
  • But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. // Matthew 5:28
  • Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. // Hebrews 13:4
  • It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God. // 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
  • Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. // 1 Corinthians 6:16-20

Thoughts from Others

  • Any relgiion that doesn’t tell you what to do with your pots, pans and private parts isn’t worth believing in. // C.E.W. Green
  • Sex makes monkeys out of all of us. If you don’t give in to it, you wind up a cold, unfeeling bastard. If you do, you spend the rest of your life picking up the pieces. // Rita Mae Brown
  • We may indeed be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. We must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. // C.S. Lewis
  • I’ve always understood the two to be intertwined: sexuality and spirituality. That never changed. // (The Artist Formerly and Currently Known As) Prince
  • You haven’t got to be in love every time you go to bed. // James Baldwin

  • Nothing one does in bed is immoral if it helps to perpetuate love. // Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. // G.K. Chesterson
  • The failure to understand the infinite depth of the human soul is often why people who are married have affairs. They stop exploring the person they married. They find somebody who appears more interesting. // Rob Bell

ReSOURCES

SUpport AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

  • RAINN – RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
  • Advocates for Youth – Advocates for Youth envisions a society in which all young people are valued, respected, and treated with dignity; sexuality is accepted as a healthy part of being human; and youth sexual development is recognized as normal. Advocates for Youth champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.
  • Amirah – Together we are giving hope to survivors of domestic sex trafficking by helping them restore their lives. The name Amirah comes from the Arabic and Persian meaning “daughter of the king/princess. “ As our name implies and based on our faith, we believe each human life is sacred, created in God’s image, and therefore, worthy of love, mercy and justice.  It is our goal that each woman served at Amirah will be restored and empowered with a sense of her inherent value and God-given strengths.

Theology Crawl: Feminism

Theology Crawl: Feminism

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Should a “Christian” be a Feminist?

The Main Questions

  • In your own experience, how have your viewed Christianity’s treatment of women? What are some negative perceptions your have? Are there any positive perceptions?
  • Look at the section below labeled “Texts of Terror.” Ask someone to summarize a passage if you are unfamiliar with it.
    • What is your response to these? What specifically is troubling about them?
    • Are there any redeeming pro-women passages or themes within Scripture?
    • Do you see the Bible and Christianity’s legacy as liberating or repressive for women? Is this a result of the text itself, its interpreters, or both? Explain.
  • How would you define feminism?
  • Look at the section below labeled “Types of Feminism.”
    • Do you see any Christian ideas or values reflected in the various forms of feminism? What are they
    • Do you seen any ways in which Christian ideas oppose/react to the various forms of feminism? What are they
  • What are some of the most important issues facing women today?
    • What values/ideas/resources does Christianity have that help to address modern issues faced by women?
    • What actions can/should Christians take to address these issues? How are these actions expressions of the Christian story?

EVANGELICAL BONUS ROUND
Look at the section below labeled “Egalatarian Complementarian Debate”

  • Where do you see yourself falling one this spectrum? Why?
  • Pick a perspective you do not align with personally. Why might someone argue this perspective

Texts of Terror

Phyllis Trible argues that the Bible contains several “texts of terror.” These stories of abuse, exploitation, and violence against women expose the misogyny of patriarchal biblical cultures, and their lack of comforting resolution leaves uneasy questions for people of faith. Below are a few examples.

  • Genesis 16:1-16 // Hagar, a slave, is used, abused, and then rejected by God’s chosen family.
  • Judges 19:1-30 // A concubine is raped by a mob, murdered, then dismembered by her master.
  • 2 Samuel 13:1-22 // The princess Tamar is raped by her half-brother then discarded and left desolate.
  • Judges 11:1-40 // Jephthah kills his only daughter due to a foolhardy vow he made to God.

TYPES of Feminism

  • Liberal Feminism // This kind of feminism works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into it and make it more responsive to individual women’s rights, but does not directly challenge the system itself or the ideology behind women’s oppression. The suffragist movement is an example.
  • Radical Feminism // Radical feminism views patriarchy and sexism as the most elemental factor in women’s oppression – cutting across all others from race and age to culture, caste and class. It questions the very system and ideology behind women’s subjugation. The term often refers to the women’s movements emerging from the civil rights, peace and other liberation movements.
  • Black Feminism (Womanism) // School of thought which argues that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together The way these concepts relate to each other is called intersectionality.
  • Marxist/Socialist Feminism // Feminists, grounded in Marxist and socialist analysis, attribute women’s oppression principally to the capitalist economic system where global corporate power prevails.
  • Eco-Feminism // This form of feminism views patriarchy and its focus on control and domination not only as a source of women’s oppression but as being harmful to humanity as well as destructive of all living creatures and the earth itself.
  • Transnational/Global Feminism // This approach to feminism is concerned mainly about how globalization and capitalism affect people across nationalities, races, ethnicities, genders, classes, and sexualities and has reinforced a range of global movements.
  • Visionary Feminism (Womanism) // The notion of visionary feminism, as seen in the many writings of the African-American feminist, bell hooks, combines the need to challenge patriarchy, class, race and other forms of oppression such as imperialism and corporate control. She also focuses on love and the role of men.
    Definitions adapted from We Rise, “Different Kinds of Feminism

Egalitarian-Complementarian DEbATE

Within the evangelical world, the power relationship between women and men often fall into a debate between an egalitarian perspective on gender roles or a complementarian perspective. The below chart outlines a bevy of options around these two perspectives.

Position Roles in Church Roles in Home Roles at Work
Patriarchal Different Different Different
Strong Complementarian Different Different Similar
Moderate complementarian Some differences Different Some differences
Soft Complentarian Similar Similar Identical
Moderate Egalitarian Same in theory Similar Identical
Strong Egalitarian Identical Identical Identical
Extreme Feminism Different Different Different

Chart from excerpted from Adrian Warnock, “Gender: complementarian Vs Egalitarian Spectrum

PAUL ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

  • As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church // 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
  • But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. // 1 Corinthians 11:3
    Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. // Philippians 3:14
  • Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. // Titus 2:3-5
  • There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. // Galatians 3:28

Thoughts from Others

  • Thus, it seems that through imprecise translation, our understanding of the powerful words used originally to describe Eve’s role have been diminished… Suppose we had all been taught to understand Genesis 2:18 as something like the following, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a companion of strength and power who has a saving power and is equal with him.” // Beverly Campbell
  • Although we cannot answer all questions about the specific situation Paul was addressing in Corinth, we do conclude that he was addressing a specific situation rather than making a general prohibition on women speaking in church. His intent was to prohibit disruptive and disrespectful questions and comments that were part of the chaotic Corinthian meetings—and in Corinth, these particular practices were coming from the women.  // Joseph Tkach
  • Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature. // Dorothy L. Sayers 
  • The current demographic shift in world Christianity should be analyzed as a women’s movement based on the fact that even though men are typically the formal, ordained religious leaders and theologians, women constitute the majority of active participants. // Dana L. Robert

ResouRCES

SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

  • National Organization for Women – NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.
  • Cambridge Women’s Center – The Cambridge Women’s Center offers a wide variety of programs, groups and workshops to meet the varied needs of women in Greater Boston. Our programming assists women in healing from traumatic experiences, offers opportunities for women to support each other, and develops new skills and leadership abilities among the women in our community. Our goal is to contribute to the empowerment of women and the creation of a just society.

  • Strong Women Strong Girls – Strong Women, Strong Girls is an award winning curriculum-based mentoring organization that works to counter the social pressures that discourage girls in under-resourced communities by combining multi generational group mentoring to build a community of strength around every girl. Strong Women, Strong Girls empowers girls to imagine a broader future through a curriculum grounded on female role models delivered by college women mentors, who are themselves mentored by professional women. 

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