Staying with the Lemmings
by S. M. Hutchens
When I wrote “Abreast of the Times” (Fall ’95) about the inclusive language statement in Trinity International University’s (formerly Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) Graduate Studies Handbook, I hoped the article would move the school to have a searching look at the anthropology of egalitarian feminism and make a thorough and decisive course correction, breaking ranks with the many schools that have joined the evangelical feminists’ march to the inclusivist sea. I find Dean Hunter’s reply to Touchstone, appearing on page 6, very disappointing in this regard. Trinity has clearly “handled” the problem, but not corrected it, and this, I believe, calls for a rather extended editorial comment.
Let me first say that I appreciate the Dean’s predicament, and the juggling act his letter represents is about as skillful as it can be under the circumstances. His faculty is clearly divided on inclusive language and other matters that relate to feminism in its subtler forms. There are powerful forces he and the Trinity administration must placate on either side of the cluster of issues my article thrust forward. On one hand, the Trinity constituency—principally the Evangelical Free Church and its ministerium—is predictably more conservative than the faculty as a whole and, holding much of the purse’s power, can make its opinions acutely felt at the school if it chooses to do so. On the other, there are the large number of evangelical progressives more closely connected to the school on a day-to-day basis who expect it to do what they consider the right thing with regard to women and their ministries. Beyond this there is the looming, and I assure the reader very significant, problem of what the rest of the religious establishment thinks of Trinity, particularly accreditation agencies, graduate schools to whom its alumni apply for doctoral studies, firms that publish the faculty’s books, and professional associations to which its members belong. These, taken together, weigh in very heavily in favor of inclusive language. Trinity, speaking through the Dean, has decided to do what it can to please, or at least pacify, them all.
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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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