Monday, March 12, 2007

No Gnostics Here: Rebecca Merrill Groothuis's Response to "Crosstalk" Radio Program

[On March 8, 2007, the "Crosstalk" radio program interviewed two women who said false things about Rebecca Merrill Groothuis and myself in their supposed expose of "Evangelical Feminism." They accused us of being sympathetic to goddess worship and to Gnosticism, believe it or not. Below is Rebecca's email to the host of the program, which includes an earlier response to Jill Ritsche.]


Dear Ingrid Schlueter:

I have been informed of the substance of Jill Ritsche's and Dwayna Litz's allegations aired recently on your radio program. Since Jill and Dwayna were quite inaccurate in their portrayal of my position and beliefs, I thought you might be interested in reading my 2/16/07 email to Jill (copied below), which I sent her in response to her repeated request for my email address and her query regarding my association with Christians for Biblical Equality. In the email to Jill, I also included a short essay that I had written, which clearly delineates my beliefs on the subject of God as Father. The essay is attached here as a file, and I have also provided a link to it, where it is posted on the Christians For Biblical Equality web page. Everything in this essay is based soundly and directly on Scripture. A cool head and a sound mind will readily perceive from this essay that I absolutely do not advocate worshipping God as Mother. Any charge that my views on this matter are "questionable" is without any warrant.

Dwayna and Jill also claimed that I believe Adam was originally androgynous. That, too, is false. In my book Good News for Women I present this briefly as the view of some, but state clearly that "we cannot know these things with certainty" (p. 125). I do not affirm this view; I merely offer an unbiased discussion of it. In any case, this has no bearing on the nature of God. Nor does this idea affirm or even suggest androgyny as any kind of ideal for humanity in general.

Further, in my book Women Caught in the Conflict (chapter 12), I thoroughly address the error and illogic of associating evangelical egalitarianism with androgyny and Gnosticism. There is no biblical, logical, or theological basis for the claim that biblical gender equality entails, derives from, or leads to androgyny and/or Gnosticism.

Time does not permit a response to the other falsehoods aired on this show. But I trust that the few remarks I have offered here will be helpful to you in properly assessing the merits of Dwayna's and Jill's claims.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Merrill Groothuis


2/16/07

Dear Jill Ritsche:

You now have my email address, although it is available for one and all on my website, which also offers essays I’ve written critiquing goddess religions. Those essays—as well as both my books—make clear that I do not have any sympathy with goddess worship, which posits a divine feminine element present in every woman and throughout the universe (pantheism). This is certainly not compatible with biblical theology. Nor is it compatible with any of the teaching propounded by leaders in Christians for Biblical Equality. CBE does not advocate the worship of a mother God. That charge has no logical or factual basis. Recognizing that God is neither male nor female and that Scripture speaks of God in metaphorical imagery that is feminine and motherly is NOT tantamount to worshiping a mother God.

I would also like to clarify that I am on the Board of Reference for CBE; I am not on the governing board. I do not have, nor have I ever had any governing authority over CBE. The books and resources that they choose to offer, as well as their own publications, are not subject to my review. There are doubtless some books, resources and articles in their publications with which I would not be in entire agreement. I am not responsible for CBE’s public comments or publications or marketing decisions. However, I am on the Board of Reference because I stand behind CBE’s doctrinal statement, and their “Men, Women and Biblical Equality” statement, and their mission to build up the church by releasing all believers to serve God according to the gifting of the Holy Spirit without restrictions based solely on gender. CBE and I are in agreement that a true and proper understanding of Scripture requires that gender, in and of itself, will neither privilege nor curtail a believer’s opportunity to serve the Lord in ministry.

I have included my own understanding of God as Father in the short essay below.

http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/free_articles/Egal.%20Interp..shtml

I trust that the above material is helpful for you.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

5 comments:

Timo_the_Osprey said...

Professor Groothuis,

I regret that you and your wife were misrepresented and hope radio listeners were not taken in. Mr. and Mrs. Curmudgeon do not deserve calumny.

But this is the sort of worry I expressed here some months ago - that maybe you sometimes make yourself vulnerable to such misrepresentation due to lack of emphasis on important qualifications, or tone, etc.

A commenter asked you: What is your response when people think God's name as Father is just a male-dominance thing?

Your answer was: God is a thoroughly personal (and tri-personal) Being. However, he is neither male nor female, since these are categories of created being (ontology). A variety of names and metaphors are used for God. God is not a Father in the sense of procreation; God creates. "Father" is, then, a true metaphor for God.

Although God is never referred to as "she" or as a "mother," feminine qualities are attributed to God: God gives birth to Israel and to Christians; Christ likens himself to a mother hen who years to gather to gether her chicks; God nurtures; and so on...


My objection at that time (however poorly expressed) was that your direct entry to egalitarian themes and your failure to note that "Father" is a name of God's own choosing made it easy for you to be misunderstood; despite the fact that the substance of your view is correct. (Rebecca, in fact, has addressed the issue of the name "Father" very nicely in her essay.)

Not everybody is a professional philosopher,trained in the cool, passionless evaluation of ideas! Sometimes the failure to package your message with accommodations to your audience (in tone and emphasis, I mean, for there is no accommodation of falsehood for a curmudgeon!) will result in your entire message's being lost.

Ray said...

Nuanced views, such as the notion that God is neither male nor female, are lost of the tabloid discernment crowd (i.e., Christian "Research" Net and its progenitor, Slice of Laodicea). Such drive-by tactics are their stock in trade.

Ingrid, Dwayna and Jill should be ashamed of themselves but don't expect them to admit it.

Douglas Groothuis said...

To: Timo:
From Rebecca:

You may have a valid point here. However, that was not the dynamic at work in this case. I sent my essay on "God as Father" to Jill Ritsche weeks before she and Dwayna appeared on the show. But they made no mention of the essay or its substance. Why? Because its content did not support their presuppositions!

Timo_the_Osprey said...

Dear Rebecca,

Yes, it certainly seems that way.

It's the price you pay for defending truth in the public square...

Ray said...

Seems Dwayna won't let this one go:

http://christianresearchnetwork.com/?p=876

To tell you the truth, I'd never heard the view about Adam expressed in Rebecca Groothuis's book, but I accept her explanation given in her letter to Ingrid Sclueter.

The problem with these discernment watchdogs is once you make a comment that deviates ever so slightly from their interpretation of scripture (even if it doesn't relate at all to the big picture), you are pretty much in their doghouse. They apparently won't even forgive Michael Card for performing one time with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.