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The Year of Being Threatened by Smart Women

Women have long struggled to be heard in theological conversations. However, many women are challenging this ideology, and thereby, they are challenging the men who built it. 

Baptist News Global uses succinct stories and stunning interviews, particularly within the Calvinist tradition, to help champion just theological debate. Their author, Mark Wingfield, describes the story of Daniel Kleven’s companion who was an applicant to Bethlehem Seminary, an institution founded by Reformed Theologian John Piper.

Kleven’s friend claims his interview was riddled with controversial questions concerning the Critical Race Theory, “gay Christianity”, and opinons of women, such as Aimee Byrd, whose writings target the long-held notion of male headship. 

The interviewee stated that the school’s opinion was clear: “Answer wrongly, and you will be declined and steered toward another school”.

The interview started a Twitter war that engulfed the Seminary and even led to the reveal of misogynist comments and ignored spiritual abuse claims. All of these allegations were ignored or not denied by the school.

The seminary’s opinion concerning controversial and new ways of theology are made clear in the Twitter status of their Professor of Systematic Theology Andy Naselli: “Du Mez, Barr, Tisby, etc.[women theologians] ‘all share a dangerous approach to theology via the disciplines of sociology and history. … They are sowing the seeds of a deconstruction that goes far deeper than race, gender, and politics.’”

Moreover, Wingfield proves that the Reformed movement that has silenced women for years is no longer solely facing criticism from women. Anthony Bradley, Professor of Religious Studies at King’s College, voices his frustration at their prejudices: [Calvinist organizations are] a Christian culture lacking epistemic humility and discourag[ing] self-critique. Internal critics are called ‘anti-gospel.’ They built an entire platform based on critiquing *everyone* but themselves & taught an entire generation of pastors to do the same.” 

This startling statement is born from the fact that “female authors . . . repeatedly earned the most disdain from a group of white men whose entire theology is built upon the premise of male headship”. 

Women such as Diana Butler Bass and Kristin Kobes Du Mez have long been ignored and ridiculed by the church. The women’s ideas were too far from their preconceived notions of scripture to be heard. The men of the Reformed church followed “the current trend of labeling any theology [they] disagree with as “antithetical to the gospel”.

Wingfield further highlights how the church has not only silenced women as a whole, but they have also shunned important theologians of other races and ethnicities. He claims: “There are plenty of Black female theologians teaching and writing today on the same subjects as Barr, Du Mez and others. But the Black scholars don’t appear to merit any attention from these white males.”

Perhaps, Reformed Churches will begin to heed the pleas of a popular Twitter user to take the “first step [of] these white women fighting to get Jesus INTO their churches. Where he has not traditionally been”, and hopefully, 2022 will be the year of listening to smart women.

You can read the entire article here.

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