Monday, October 20, 2008

The Feminist Mistake - Pt 6

Reading Mary's book has hopefully helped us think about feminism a little and realise, as Mary points out, that feminism is an experiment that has not really succeeded and can be legitimately challenged at several points, even though it is the default setting for our culture now. Let's turn to think together about how it might affect our evangelism.

This is where it might be good to think about our aims in telling people the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins. When we have friends and family who are either self-consciously feminist or ‘accidentally’ feminist (or ‘lipstick feminist’ as they have been labeled), and who are not Christian, what do we long for them and pray for them? We want them to come to know Jesus most of all. So we have to keep reminding ourselves of this again and again, and keep it central.

Having said that, however, our position on women will often interrupt good conversations about Jesus. This should not surprise us too much. The devil will use everything to stumble people and keep them from putting their faith in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, people are usually unwillingly to trust a God who acts in way that they are convinced is immoral. What do we do if we keep ‘getting interrupted’ because our good friend or family member simply won’t let us get past the ‘women’s issue’?

I have a few suggestions. Please add yours to the comments so that we can learn more about this together!

First, let’s think creatively about how to talk about Jesus. It’s him that we want people to meet, so let’s try and subvert endless conversations about the ‘women’s issue’ and turn the attention to Jesus.

For example, if I had a friend who kept telling me that God was too ‘male’ and I was sure that it wasn’t just a cheap shot, but had become a stumbling block for her in listening to the Gospel, I could try and lead the conversation towards talking about Jesus, specifically. I would probably try and do this by saying that Jesus is the only way we can really know God and that he tells us that the most important thing we need to know about God is that he welcomes us if we put our faith in Jesus and his death for our sins. God is so unlike us that we can’t know him all by ourselves, whether we are male or female, but we need God to tell us about himself, which he has done in Jesus. I would try and challenge my friend gently, as to whether she knew God well enough to be confident he was ‘male’. (And it goes without saying that this would probably be the work of many conversations on many different occasions!) What might you do? What have you done in similar situations?

Coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ is how people become Christians. So, let’s work out how we can speak about him and how he has changed our lives and given us hope, at any and every opportunity.

Second, give people time and work towards getting gospel categories across to people. Some of the most successful Methodist revivals, which swept across England in the late eighteenth century, were among people who had been thoroughly catechised and knew all the ‘facts’ about Christianity. The preaching they heard helped them to realise that they needed to respond in faith to the Lord Jesus, whom they already knew about. Today, in the Western world it is usually quite different.

In her book, Mary shows how some of the esoteric feminist spiritualities have become mainstream (pp 282-284). This means that it would not be difficult to find someone who did not know or did not believe: that Jesus died to save us (because they believe that Jesus is male and therefore cannot be a saviour for women); that human beings have sinned (because they hold that men have certainly done wrong things and that women need liberation, not forgiveness); that Scripture is the word of God (because they view it as a collection of writings chosen by men to subjugate and exclude women from the church), and so forth. Feminism has stolen the categories which make it easier to tell people about Jesus. Building them back up for people takes time, prayer and great wisdom. It is worth remembering that living lives of obedience to Jesus and patiently listening is significant in this process as well. It can be a long road to Jesus for someone who has been told so many lies about God and his kindness towards us in Christ. Sometimes God’s mercy can move someone in an instant, but other times it is a gradual process.

Let’s remind each other that we can trust God with our loved friends and family; his love for them exceeds our own. Ultimately, God in his kindness and by his grace is our Saviour, saves us despite ourselves (Ephesians 2:8).


Anonymous said...

It is difficult with the wordview so changed...
[in the late 18th century...]
The preaching they heard helped them to realise that they needed to respond in faith to the Lord Jesus, whom they already knew about. Today, in the Western world it is usually quite different.

But...I wonder if God will use the opposite extreme in our case. The world has so deviated from his ways that he *could* use the deep despair which may eventuate as people feel the groans of that which they can't express (but that we know to be the result of living "without hope and without God in the world")

Surely, as Christ shines in the lives of His people, the light would become clearer in the darkening gloom? That's my hope anyway.

Jennie, thanks so much for your posts about this book. The book club generally has been a real blessing to me. I have appreciated having the deadlines and knowing that someone is doing a lot of brain work for my (our!) benefit.
Just fyi, I have decided to use the both books on feminism for our mini book club. So the discussion will be slightly wider than if we used only the Mary Kassian book. But I'm excited bcz this is a topic which has been neglected in our corner of the (christian) world.

Anonymous said...

Dear Janelle,

Yes! That is the great thing about God's work in our world: he isn't hamstrung by anything, even ignorance of him or his word. If we had to trust ourselves and our words and our competence his kingdom would never be built.

It gives us great confidence in the face of something like feminism, which can sometimes cause us to be intimidated.

Thank you for your comment. All the best for your discussion - I hope it is profitable, interesting and encouraging.

In Christ,