It is, along with feminism, according to Professor Stephen Prothero of Boston University. I like Prothero. His American Jesus is one of the most interesting books I’ve encountered about American religion. But I think he may have spoken too soon here.
There are a variety of feminisms and thus a variety of feminist theologies. Are all of them dead? And if so, did they all die at the same time? My own thinking is that the current trends of feminism in academic circles (represented by works such as Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble) have left behind the equality-centered and issue-driven feminism of previous waves of feminists such as Steinem.
There is an odd kind of totalitarianism among academic feminists, though. In my course work, it often seemed that some women in the class were simply not content until we looked at everything from a “feminist” point of view. The most egregious example of this was in a class I took on Christianity and Masculinity, in which the female graduate students began to complain that we were “not talking enough” about women’s concerns. Eesh.
In some respects, I often found academic feminism to be silly because, in my experience, it consisted of elite, privileged (and often white) women sitting around and wallowing in their own oppression. If you’re in an ivy-league PHD program, odds are you haven’t suffered massive injustice! And if you want to do justice, go work for Habitat for Humanity, because teaching a bunch of other women to see themselves as oppressed doesn’t really do much to make the world a brighter or more truthful place.
Nevertheless, feminist theology has some important contributions to make. Male theologians need to be called out for their unrecognized bias on occasion. As a pastor, my own view is that feminist theology stops being theology altogether when the identity “woman” becomes more important the One worshiped – the Holy Trinity, God in three persons. The gospel, after all, is not a call to self-actualization but a call to die to self and live to God.
Read Karl Barth – it’s all about Jesus!