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Kenneth Collins: The Evangelical Moment

However, as even-handed and satisfying as the previously mentioned chapter, Collins chapter “Evangelicals and Feminism” was, perhaps, just as disappointing. This criticism is not about his conclusions per se, but rather his overall methodology. He begins by outlining four positions: “traditionalists or hierarchicalists,” “neotraditionalists,” “biblical egalitarians,” and “quasi-egalitarians.” But even at this early stage one can already see Collins’ bias as he describes one position as “biblical” and the rest with other designations. As he proceeds, it is evident that Collins has researched the matter well. He actively engages with positions considerably more liberal than his own (e.g., Lori Beaman, Mary Daly), and also with those more conservative (e.g.., the Roman Catholic Church, Aquinas). However, what was surprising was that throughout the entire chapter Collins never engaged any of the contemporary evangelicals who have written voluminously on the subject from a perspective that was more conservative than his own (John Piper & Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood;6 H. Wayne House, The Role of Women in Ministry;7 Stephen Clark, Man and Women in Christ;8 etc.). When one considers just how much of an impact that these authors have had over the past couple of decades it is difficult to understand Collins reasoning for simply skipping that entire segment of evangelicalism.

Collins also tackles the difficult and potentially promising subject of ecumenism. One of Collins’ great strengths throughout his work is his complete awareness of the Eastern Church. Unfortunately, many within evangelicalism seem to see the Christian faith divided between Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. Collins, however, is clearly aware of Eastern Orthodoxy, and nowhere does it come out more clearly than in his section on ecumenism. He begins by looking at the first four ecumenical councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451), and he notes a number of developments within the past several decades that offer some possible reason(s) for optimism. Most significantly, in October 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church held formal talks in the historic city of Augsburg that resulted in The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. This document claimed that there was now a basic unity with respect to the doctrine justification. But as Robert Preus has pointed out, the document “says nothing about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”9 In fact, the post-Tridentine Catholicism “continued to regard justification as a process…rather than the imputation of righteousness.”10 So, although there has been some clear progress, there still remains room for further growth.

As stated earlier, Collins covers a vast amount of ground in a very short space. If you are looking for a broad introduction to the subject of evangelicalism this book should be on your list. For a helpful introduction on “Foundationalism,” “Postliberalism,” etc., again, this book should be on your list. If you consider yourself an evangelical and an Arminian/Wesleyan, you’ll enjoy Collins a great deal. However, his segment on evangelical feminism lacked Collins’ typical academic rigor, and reflected more bias than research. All in all, the book is worth the price and the time it takes to read.

Reviewed by Jeffrey Anderson


1 Pp. 41-61.

2 P. 58

3 Reginald W. Ward and Richard P. Heitzenrater, eds. The Works, of John Wesley, vol. 23, Journals, and Diaries, VI (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995), 25.

4 Albert C. Outler, ed., The Works of John Wesley (Nashville: Abingdon, 1984), 2: 600

5 P. 14

6 John Piper & Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (Wheaton: Crossway, 1995).

7 H. Wayne House, The Role of Women in Ministry (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995)

8 Stephen Clark, Man and Woman in Christ: An Examination of the Roles of Man and Woman in the Light of Scripture and the Social Sciences (Ann Arbor: Servant, 1980).

9 Robert Preus, Justification and Rome (St. Louis: Concordia, 1997), 114-15.

10 Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification from 1500 to the Present Day (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 284.

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Category: Church History, Winter 2008

About the Author: Jeffrey Anderson, D.Min., Ph.D. (ABD), is the former Teaching Pastor at Northlake Christian Church in Bothell, WA. He has been a church planter, lead pastor, and was an adjunct professor at Puget Sound Christian College and Northwest University. LinkedIn.

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