The Feminist Mistake by Mary A. Kassian

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A certain world-renowned theologian, philosopher and church historian could tell us the name and hairstyle of Martin Luther’s wife’s second cousin, when she was born and when she died. He could diagram every major movement in church history, all the key players and what they believe. But when asked recently what he thought of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, he admittedly had not read the book and had no understanding of the issues. Something is wrong with this picture. I feel somewhat the same way about Kassian’s The Feminist Mistake.

On the positive side, this is an excellent book. Her research is superb, her writing skills are excellent and her conclusions are biblical. Without question, Kassian has rendered a great service to God’s people in writing The Feminist Mistake. I can think of no other volume that traces the feminist movement so clearly and with such copious documentation. For the history, beliefs and results of feminism, Kassian is tops. Additionally, her analysis ties many other philosophical threads afflicting our society. The overlap between New Age, Gnosticism and feminism comes into focus as Kassian unfolds the development of feminism. And just as New Age philosophy is seldom mentioned today simply because it has become mainstream, so feminism is not often mentioned, not because it has gone away but because it has integrated itself in every day life. The Feminist Mistake carefully describes the evolution of secular and Christian feminism then demonstrates their considerable overlap. In order for so-called “biblical feminism” to come into being, it would necessitate both a change in how the Scriptures are viewed (pp. 212-213) and how they are interpreted. To read of the development of a feminist hermeneutics is among the most disconcerting things in the book (pp. 250-259). Kassian has connected all the dots and more. This will be the first book to which I will turn when I want to sharpen my understanding of the history, worldview and influence of feminism.

Still, I could not help but be disappointed that Kassian does not interact with, or even acknowledge, significant movements, people, books or the evolution of feminism during the last decade. She mentions only in passing inclusive translations of the Bible. She does not wrestle with Gilbert Bilezikian’s book, Beyond Sex Roles, nor his influence on Willow Creek and its seeker-sensitive philosophy and, in turn, its influence on evangelicalism. Bilezikian is quoted by Christianity Today as saying that Willow Creek would not have been possible without the egalitarian view espoused by “biblical” feminism. How is this changing the church today? Kassian has no comment.

A chapter or two on the development of egalitarian influence within evangelicalism during the last decade would have rendered this volume even more valuable. So while The Feminist Mistake is an excellent source, as far as it goes, I could not help but lament that it did not go a little further.

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