Is Feminism a Crutch?

"We cannot have one Savior" for the whole world, said a Chinese theologian. That would be "imperialistic." Her words were spoken at a recent conference of feminists who claim, at least, to be Christian. The title of the conference was "Re-Imagining," and it called on women to dig deep into their imagination to create new images for God. Apparently the biblical images of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit aren't good enough anymore. "Imperialistic," as the Chinese feminist put it. Instead, conference leaders asked, "Who is your God? What does your God . . . look like?" Aruna Gnanadason, of the World Council of Churches, said her god has nothing to do with the crucifixion. The "cruel and violent death of Christ on the cross, sanction[s] violence against the powerless in society," she charged. Episcopal theologian Virginia Ramey Mollenkott agreed. "As an incest survivor," Mollenkott said (using the language of therapy), "I can no longer worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent and Jesus as the obedient, trusting child." Delores Williams of Union Theological Seminary chimed in. "I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff," she said. In fact, "we don't need atonement, we just need to listen to the god within." That, it appears, is exactly what these feminist theologians were doing. The god they talked about was based firmly "within"—in their own psychological needs. Though the Re-Imagining conference was supposedly Christian, the biblical God was repeatedly denounced as patriarchal. Instead, conference leaders spoke about God in terms of Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom, personified in the book of Proverbs. Conference participants prayed to Sophia, sang a liturgy to Sophia, and even held a mock communion service featuring milk and honey. "Our mother, Sophia, we are women in your image," they chanted. "Sophia Creator God, let your milk and honey flow." I must say, the whole conference would have tickled Sigmund Freud, the father of psycho-analysis. Freud argued that religion is a neurosis, where people project their own psychological needs into the divine realm. Modern feminists are playing right into Freud's hands. The Father image doesn't meet my psychological needs, they say; the crucifixion doesn't meet my needs; so I'll simply create my own feminist image of God. Religion is reduced to therapy. God becomes a symbol of psychological need. As Christians, we need to stand against any attempt to reduce God to a cosmic crutch. As Francis Schaeffer put it, Christianity is about the God Who Is There. We aren't interested in reducing religion to a form of therapy. We want to respond to the God who exists objectively. The good news is that many Christians feel the same way. Literally hundreds of congregations cut off funding to protest their denominations' support for the Re-Imagining conference. Why don't you find out whether your own denomination donated to the conference and, if it did, register your protest as well. Feminist theologians may complain that Christianity is "imperialistic"—but they themselves place religion under the imperialism of their own therapeutic needs. As I say, Freud would have loved it.


Chuck Colson



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