Conversations: Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen talks about reclaiming feminism
Why Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen does not want to give up on a perfectly good word.
September 6, 1999
Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, a native of Canada, is a self-proclaimed Christian feminist, which has occasionally caused a stir. A leading evangelical scholar and professor of psychology and philosophy at Eastern College in Saint Davids, Pennsylvania, she has been derided by Christians as being too "feminist" in her interpretation of gender issues while being dismissed by feminists as being too "Christian."
Reared in the United Church of Canada, she became disillusioned with the faith until after college, when she served in Zambia as a schoolteacher. She was rebaptized there in 1971 and has remained on the frontlines of evangelical academic debate on gender and other issues for decades. She has written and edited many books and is presently working on a book about masculinity and served as an editor and signer of "Women of Renewal: A Statement," a project of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The document asserts that the radical feminist agenda "leads to women being demeaned, their lives destroyed, and their spirits en slaved."
Van Leeuwen and her husband, Ray, an Old Testament scholar at Eastern College, are the parents of two grown sons. They shared domestic and parenting responsibilities while their children were young.
I consider myself an evangelical based on the standards cited by George Marsden: someone who holds a high view of Scripture, who has had a conversion experience, and who has a concern for evangelism. I recognize that these standards can be interpreted in different ways.
In essence, I believe that biblical truth is something that has captured me more than I have captured it. Christian conversion is being caught up in the biblical drama, realizing that I am a character in search of an Author. I have found ...