I was reading Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley this past weekend and found her coverage of some of the more well-known feminists very intriguing. I have but a surface-level knowledge of the subject of feminism, so to learn more about the origin and history of the movement as well as the presuppositions and theories of the most well-known figures was very profitable. I was, for obvious reasons, fascinated by the theological issues surrounding some of the biographical accounts. Take for example this excerpt about Elizabeth Cady Stanton (colleague of Susan B. Anthony, co-founder of the National Women's Sufferage Association, and author of The Woman's Bible):
"Her activism started with marriage reform and sufferage and then migrated to religion. Stanton developed her atheistic beliefs as a young woman in reaction to the revival meetings of evangelist Charles Finney. After hearing Finney preach, Stanton was terrified of damnation: 'Fear of judgment seized my soul. Visions of the lost haunted my dreams. Mental anguish prostrated my health. Dethronement of my reason was apprehended by my friends... Returning at night, I often at night roused my father from his slumbers to pray for me, lest I should be cast into the bottomless pit before morning.'
But this conviction did not last long. Her family convinced her to ignore Finney's preaching and took her away on holiday to Niagara Falls in order to clear her mind. Following this vacation, she wrote:
'Thus, after many months of weary wandering in the intellectual labyrinth of 'The Fall of Man,' 'Original Sin,' 'Total Depravity,' 'God's Wrath,' 'Satan's Triumph,' I found my way out of the darkness into the clear sunlight of Truth. My religious superstitions gave place to rational ideas based on scientific facts, and in proportion, as I looked at everything from a new standpoint, I grew more and more happy, day by day... I view it as one of the greatest crimes to shadow the minds of the young with these gloomy superstitions; and with fears of the unknown and the unknowable to poison all their joy in life."
God is sovereign, and He knows His people (John 10:14). None can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them (John 6:4). To wonder, "what if?" in the case of Elizabeth Cady Stanton is not very wise... our resources would be put to better use by learning from this example and applying what we have learned in future situations. Though regeneration is monergistic, God has given us a great duty and opportunity to proclaim His Gospel, so that His people will be drawn to Him by the Spirit. Let us maintain and defend the biblical Gospel and seek to evangelize and disciple according to Scripture. Yes, God will save those whom He has elected, but we must labor over truth in our evangelistic efforts in order to produce maturing disciples, who will be equipped to continue that blessed and honorable duty of magnifying Christ.