I’ve done my best to avoid bringing back my class, “Women, Mary and Jesus,” onto this blog but I’ve read a book recently — and we discussed it in class — that I think you should know about: John Stackhouse, Finally Feminist. There are a few very big ideas at work in this book that I think make it unique and valuable — beside being short and clearly written:
First, Stackhouse argues that Scripture needs to be approached through accommodation. That is, “God works with what he’s got and with what we’ve got” (39). The accommodation view of Scripture is increasingly on the rise: it helps affirm historical conditions and some things in the Bible Christians simply no longer do and some things that Scripture does affirm — like slavery — that are no longer acceptable. Anyway, when it comes to women what the Bible says is accommodated to its time.
Second, Stackhouse is a realist. In his most recent book, Making the Most of It, this view is explained more. By this he means: we do not live out the biblical vision completely and we have to do with what we’ve got in the world we live in. Thus — and this view at the end of his book will get some irritated — he argues that some will have to resist but live with a patriarchal world (and here he is thinking of non-Western conditions… roughly).
Third, Stackhouse argues we live in an egalitarian world and we have to look at how biblical patriarchal texts are lived out in our world. In other words, it is not about imposing another world on us but living out the gospel in our world and its context.
Fourth, the major principles at work in his “Paradigm.”
1. Equality… traces the theme in the Bible.
2. Gospel priorities and holy pragmatism and accommodation: the gospel is what matters and Christians adjust all to that.
3. Eschatology: complementarians may not accept enough realization of eschatology, egalitarians may accept too much realization (of kingdom), while he argues for a (realist) inaugurated eschatology that lives in this real “between the times.” What do the biblical ideas about men and women look like in this view?
4. He develops the notion of “doubleness”: prudence in the world in which we live and promote the egalitarian dynamic (51).
5. In the home … the time has come for the church to be egalitarian in the modern society (57). Slavery is the good example of how this works.
“The irony remains precisely in Christians lagging behind society and still requiring a submissive role for women, a posture that now is a mirror image of the scandal that egalitarianism would have caused in the patriarchal first century” (72).
I’ve given enough for a good discussion … he responds to various criticisms in the last chp.