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CULTURE DIGEST: Evangelical feminism a new path to liberalism, book says; tension rises over Muslim veils

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Evangelical feminism, a movement that disregards unique leadership roles for men in marriage and in the church, is now one of the greatest threats to the survival of true evangelical Christianity, Wayne Grudem writes in a new book, “Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?”

Grudem, author of numerous books and co-founder and former president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, is research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. In his new book, he discusses 25 patterns of argument employed by evangelical feminists and shows how each one dismisses the authority of Scripture.

“A work like Evangelical Feminism has been desperately needed, and Grudem’s new book arrives just in time,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in an Oct. 23 commentary on albertmohler.com. “A new generation of younger evangelicals is facing the challenge of evangelical feminism just as the current and the larger culture are moving even more against biblical authority.”

Mohler says Grudem’s goal is to demonstrate that the methods of interpreting the Bible necessary to justify the ordination of women to the pastorate undermine biblical authority and “open the door for a complete reshaping of Christianity.”

One of the most important sections of the book, Mohler noted, is the examination of “trajectory hermeneutics” now gaining popularity among some evangelicals. People who subscribe to such interpretations argue that the church should not limit itself to a first-century understanding of the Bible concerning gender issues but must consider Scripture from a modern-day standpoint.

“This means that the teachings of the New Testament are no longer our final authority,” Grudem writes. “Our authority now becomes our own ideas of the direction the New Testament was heading but never quite reached.”

Mohler raises the question, “If the New Testament is to be superseded by a later reality based in a more modern understanding, how can the church justify relativizing some texts without relativizing others?”

Grudem argues that the hermeneutic, or method of interpreting Scripture, used to advocate evangelical feminism leads to the normalization of homosexuality as well. And the approval of homosexuality, Grudem writes, “is the final step along the path to liberalism.”

Mohler described Evangelical Feminism as “truly a tract for the times — a manifesto that should serve to awaken complacent evangelicals to the true nature of the egalitarian challenge. Furthermore, the book provides an arsenal of arguments to use in revealing the crucial weaknesses of the egalitarian proposal.

“Nothing less than the future of the Christian church in North America is at stake in this controversy,” Mohler added. “Evangelicals no longer have the luxury of believing that this controversy is nothing more than a dispute among scholars. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? has arrived just in time. Get this book quickly — and read it with care.”

TENSION RISES IN EUROPE OVER MUSLIM VEILS — Both the leader of Great Britain and the leader of Italy recently have spoken out against the practice of some Muslim women wearing full-face veils in European countries, causing more tension between Muslims and non-Muslims there.

“It is a mark of separation, and that is why it makes other people from outside the community feel uncomfortable,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said of veil-wearing at a news conference Oct. 17. “No one wants to say that people don’t have the right to do it. That is to take it too far. But I think we need to confront this issue about how we integrate people properly into our society.”

The same day, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said in an interview with Reuters that women should not hide themselves behind veils.

“You can’t cover your face; you must be seen,” Prodi said. “This is common sense, I think. It is important for our society.”

Earlier in October, Jack Straw, leader of Britain’s House of Commons, offended Muslims when he requested that women who meet with him in his office remove their veils for better communication. Two more British officials called veils a “symbol of women’s subjugation to men” and a failure to integrate fully into British society, according to The Washington Post.

Muslim leaders have called the remarks attacks on a religious minority and have asked that the right to wear a veil be respected in a society that values religious freedom and free expression, The Post reported.

The New York Times said the gulf between non-Muslims and the 1.6 million Muslims in Britain has been widening since the London bombings by four British Muslims last year, and it evokes questions about Britain’s desire to embrace Muslims and Muslims’ willingness to adapt.

“We have to deal with the debate,” Blair said. “People want to know that the Muslim community in particular, but actually all minority communities, have got the balance right between integration and multi-culturalism.”

WAL-MART INTRODUCES ‘WISH LIST’ GAME — This Christmas season, Wal-Mart is hoping kids will be drawn to a computer game where animated elves named Wally and Marty lead them through an endless conveyor belt of toys and ask whether they’d like to have the toys for Christmas.

The game, accessible at toyland.walmart.com, is drawing complaints from at least one pro-family group because the site encourages children to add as many toys as they want to their wish lists and then the elves “blast it off to Mom and Dad,” assuming the child provides his parents’ e-mail address.

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has launched a letter-writing campaign asking that the Toyland site be taken down.

“Families have a hard enough time navigating holiday commercialism without the world’s largest retailer bypassing parents entirely and urging children to nag,” Susan Linn, co-founder of the group, said, according to Ad Age.

Television and print ads featuring the elves Wally and Marty are set to inundate children for the holiday season, media reports indicate, and Toyland surpasses other online gift-list-promoting retailers by targeting kids directly.

Once kids enter the site, the elves urge them to click a green button if they want the toy and a red button if they don’t. The child hears applause if he chooses a toy, and if he rejects it, Wally complains that the elves might soon be out of a job. The approved toys are boxed up and sent along the conveyor belt to a rocket to be sent to parents, while the toys that don’t measure up are sent to a dump truck.

Linn said the site encourages kids to build lists larger than their parents would approve of, and it puts pressure on kids to be greedy.

But Jolanda Stewart, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said the store is on the cutting edge.

“Today’s kids are savvy about the online world,” she said in a statement. “It simply modernizes the list-making process.”

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  • Erin Roach