On Monday, I highlighted an article to which I contributed for Touchstone magazine, “Evangelicalism Today.” On Tuesday, one of the editors of Touchstone, S. M. Hutchens, responded to our article and had this to say about what feminism has done to the evangelical movement.
“In essence Evangelicalism was a liberalizing or opening movement, but this has been its own downfall–the antifundamentalist solvent it concocted for itself created a movement that had no confessional boundaries or identity with Christian tradition with sufficient depth or fiber to resist the egalitarian virus, an anti-Christian influence that neatly penetrated a defense system unequipped to handle it, so that the majority of Evangelicalism’s most prominent institutions are now thoroughly egalitarian. Evangelicalism finds itself reliving in our generation, under the influence of feminism, what Evangelical Protestantism of the nineteenth century found itself undergoing under the corrosive influence of biblical criticism–and it fell far more quickly completely.”
This is an interesting observation from Hutchens. He’s drawing a parallel between the “biblical criticism” of a former generation and the “feminism” of the current one. Just as biblical criticism undermined mainline Evangelical Protestantism by neutralizing its confessional commitment to sola scriptura, so also Feminism is doing the same thing to Evangelicalism today through a hermeneutic that effectively neutralizes the authority of scripture.
This is precisely why so many of us in the Complementarian wing of evangelicalism perceive fundamental issues to be at stake in the evangelical gender debates. It is not misplaced priorities that stir such forceful responses to the trajectory hermeneutics of William Webb (and now, unfortunately, many others). At the end of the day, the authority of the Bible itself is at stake. And where the Bible’s authority is neutralized, you can be sure that the evangel itself is close behind.