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Christianity Today VP calls feminist ad in March issue a mistake

March 28, 2004

CT staff change cited as reason for mix-up

The April issue of Christianity Today (CT) has one less thing in common with the March edition: It does not contain an advertisement placed by a radical feminist group.

The March edition of CT included an ad detailing the 30th anniversary conference of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus (EEWC) scheduled to be held June 17-20 in Claremont, Calif.

The ad touts a number of radical feminist theologians who are scheduled to address the conference, most of whom hold unbiblical views of God, enthusiastically embrace homosexuality, and seek to redefine gender.

The ad’s presence in CT provoked a number of phone calls and e-mails from readers concerned about a possible shift in the direction and policies at CT. But Brian Ondracek, vice president of sales for CT said the ad ran because it inadvertently bypassed a rigorous set of content checks.

Ondracek said the breakdown occurred because of a change in the vice president of sales position that took place near the outset of 2004. Ondracek began work in the position on Dec. 30 and never saw the EEWC ad, which he said was already in the process toward running in the magazine. He stressed that the ad does not indicate a capitulation by CT to the radical elements afoot in contemporary society.

“To be honest, our controls basically broke down in terms of getting this really looked at,” Ondracek said. “We usually take things through a pretty stringent (system). Anything that is questionable we will put through the ringer a lot.

“Because of the transition and I think some confusion with some staff, this one just got through. It had the word ‘evangelical’ in it, people didn’t look real close. We weren’t as on top of it because of the transition. This one kind of slipped through the cracks.

“If this had come to my attention, we would not have had it in the magazine. It was much more a mistake on our part, in terms of not getting it through our normal checks than it was a shift in CTI policy that we are going to accept ads like this one.”

Randy Stinson, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, said CT’s clarification is good news.

“It is good to see a Christian publication like CT recognize that the EEWC, despite having evangelical in its name, is outside the fray of evangelicalism,” Stinson said.

Ondracek said the magazine has received only negative feedback regarding the ad. He was uncertain whether CT would print a retraction in a future edition of the magazine, but said it is under consideration.

CT takes no official position on the complementarian-egalitarian debate but seeks to serve a broad constituency that falls within the pale of the historic Christian faith, he said.

“Where the Bible is black and white we want to be black and white,” he said. “This ad seems to fall into a pretty well black and white area. But on all of those issues on which the church tends to take different positions, (we probably won’t take a position).

“I’m not going to be an Arminian only or a Calvinist only or Reformed and baptistic, for example. We would probably take a similar approach to whatever things the churches (takes) different opinions on (like) the egalitarian-complementarian issue.”

The ad breaks down the EEWC’s commitments under three headings: “We are Christian; We are feminist; We are inclusive.”

Beneath the “inclusive” heading is the following description: “EEWC welcomes members of any gender, race, ethnicity, color, creed, marital status, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, age, political party, parental status, economic class, or disability.” The EEWC ad marshals Gal. 3:28 as supporting the radical feminist position.

Among other feminist theologians slated to address the conference are Virginia Ramey Mollenkott and Rosemary Radford Ruether.

Mollenkott is professor emeritus of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey. She is author of 12 books including Women, Men, and the Bible, The Divine Feminine, and Sensuous Spirituality. Her latest book is entitled Omnigender: A Trans-Religious approach.

In Omnigender, Mollenkott argues against the traditional “binary construct” of gender that asserts two opposite sexes, stating that western society has reached a “gender crisis” due to “heteropatriarchy”—male-dominated heterosexuality.

Mollenkott unfolds a thoroughgoing postmodern argument for redefining gender, asserting that the “two sexes” view is an inadequate social construct and that each person is entitled to define his/her own gender or even to leave it undefined. Mollenkott terms her approach “omnigender.”

Reuther is professor of theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.

In her 1992 book entitled Gaia & God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing, Ruether asserts that “Gaia should replace (the Judeo-Christian) God as our focus of worship.” Reuther defines Gaia as “a personified being, an immanent divinity,” who is neither male nor female. This new deity is part of Reuther’s plan for healing the planet earth.

Said Stinson, “CT has made the right decision in refusing to run EEWC ads in future issues, and I hope that others will be made aware of the dangerous unbiblical trends represented by the EEWC.”

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