Thursday, July 05, 2007

Strong medicine

You read about it in The Lutheran (rather their misquotes and false mischaracterization of Dr Karl Donfried and his motives). Here is part of his talk, and a link to the rest:

PART 3. The Empowerment of Alien Hermeneutics in the ELCA

What drives the non-Trinitarian, alien hermeneutic that empowers much of the ELCA’s secularist tendencies? Here we need to have a brief but honest conversation about “feminism” and how this secular ideology has infiltrated churches, academic institutions as well as others in the cultural elite.
Precisely because the term “feminism” is so ambiguous and malleable, it is fraught with enormous danger since it may signify one thing to certain audiences (e.g., advocating the just cause of women) yet have a far more sweeping and intentional agenda to others (i.e. the transformation of traditional sexuality). Having devoted 37 of my teaching years to the education of women and having had a hand in educating the first wave of women to go to seminary (one of whom is currently an ELCA bishop and another a seminary president) I stand firmly behind the substantial advances that allow women to contribute their God-given gifts to the benefit of both particular societies as well as to the larger world community. I have been deeply privileged to participate in these dramatic and positive steps forward for women, resulting in an enormous benefit for all in the human family.

Having taught almost four decades at Smith College, the largest women’s college in the US, I have become sensitized to the broader implications of the term “feminism,” both through our graduates (eg., Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, etc.), through my colleagues - particularly in women’s studies, queer studies, philosophy - and by my students. As a result of this intense exposure to feminist thought and practice I have come to realize that, at its core, one must view feminism as an atheistic ideology. Many of its advocates argue that gender roles and identity as well as sexuality, especially heteronormativity, are social constructs that must be questioned and critiqued. Such feminism is often closely aligned with gay, lesbian and transgender studies and many feminists support the transgender movement since it defies the traditional distinction between ‘man’ and ‘woman.’

Further, many feminists argue that justice involves the elimination of diverse structures of authority and power that legitimate male prerogatives; androcentric bias must be eliminated. This frequently results in the encouragement of “egalitarian lifestyles” such as cohabitation, open marriage and other forms of what is referred to as “responsible non-monogamy.” The goal for some is the replacement of the traditional family since marriage is perceived as a form of slavery for women. It is often insisted that every women must be willing to be identified as a lesbian in order to be completely feminist.
The practitioners of feminist ideology frequently use their newly found power within religious establishments to develop new structures of belief that more appropriately cohere with their non-Christian philosophical orientation, including neo-pagan and goddess spirituality. When this feminist ideology attempts to merge with remnants of classical Christian theology, heterodoxy, also known as a theology of inclusion or acceptance, emerge. This very theology of acceptance and inclusion, however, is neither inclusive nor tolerant of those with whom it disagrees.

As a Lutheran Christian I continue to unequivocally support the right of women to use their God-given talents to the fullest and in overcoming all cultural barriers hindering such advancement while simultaneously rejecting the non-Christian philosophical presuppositions that permeate much of the “feminist” movement.

If we had more time at our disposal I would be eager to exchange ideas with you concerning the theological crisis in our seminaries. But for the moment it will suffice to say that since most of our current seminary professors received their graduate training at secular institutions like Harvard or Union, my own alma maters, these alien and feminist ideologies quickly make their way into the life of the church via many of our seminary faculty. With incredible speed Trinitarian hermeneutics are being replaced by an alien hermeneutic that touts secular justice as the new canon within the canon - whatever that ambiguous and slippery term “justice” may mean – a canon that advocates above all the rightness of gay marriage as a key dimension of a theology of acceptance.
I would argue that whether it is part 3 of the Sexuality Study, “Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality”, or Nessan’s 2006 lecture to the Conference of Bishops, “The Authority of Scripture,” both represent an anti-Trinitarian hermeneutic in which a theology of acceptance has been substituted for a theology of redemption. The starting point for both is a vague and secularized view of “justice” which assumes that sexual activity between gay partners is permissible and should be not only acceptable within the Christian Church but also that such partnerships should be officially blessed by the community in Christ. Once these documents are read through the hermeneutical lens of a theology of acceptance and inclusion, driven heavily by atheistic feminism, one begins to understand the unusual selection of Galatians as well as the rationale for what is emphasized, distorted and omitted.

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