“God is not man, that he should lie” (Numbers 23:19). This eternal truth of Scripture regarding the character of our holy God stands in sharp contrast to the blasphemous words of a Presbyterian (PCUSA) “pastrix” (yes, apparently that’s a word), professor, and author—Rebecca Todd Peters, who recently preached a sermon applying the lens of feminist theology to Genesis 3.
Before we get into what Peters said, I first want to quote the relevant passages of Genesis 2:16–17 and Genesis 3:1–7 so it is fresh in our minds.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:1–7)
All right, with that context in mind, let’s dive into Peters’ message.
During the nearly-four-minute clip of her message that was widely shared on social media, Peters explains her hermeneutic for reading the Bible.
Feminist theology has taught me how to reinterpret Scripture in ways that are healing and life-giving, and I refuse to allow conservative Christians or anyone else to take my God away from me.
As a feminist theologian, one of the things that gives me joy is reinterpreting texts that have been used to hurt or control people. Because the God that I know is full of light and life—because the God that I know holds me in my grief and walks with me in my pain, I know that the sacred Word of God is not a weapon nor should it ever be used to harm or shame people.
Her ultimate authority is not the Word of God—and she’s up-front about that! Her authority is herself and other “feminist theologians.”
Her ultimate authority is not the Word of God—and she’s up-front about that! Her authority is herself and other “feminist theologians.” Really, she’s falling for the same old lie that Adam and Eve fell for: “Did God actually say . . . ?” and “You will be like God!” That’s what it means to reinterpret the Bible’s clear teachings in light of the fallible (and foolish) thinking of our day—it means putting yourself in authority over God and his Word. And the result is always a god in your own image (notice her wording: “my God” and “the God that I know”). She is confirming our sin nature as summed up in Genesis 3:1 and Genesis 3:5.
You’ll notice that while she calls the Scriptures “sacred,” she clearly doesn’t mean that, because she’s perfectly willing to twist and abuse the Scriptures to force in a feminist interpretation that completely upends the clear meaning of the text (as we shall see).
It’s also worth noting that she says, “The sacred Word of God is not a weapon,” when that is precisely what God’s Word calls itself.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, emphasis added)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:12–18, emphasis added)
Yes, the Word of God is a weapon; it’s a two-edged sword that cuts through lies and error, exposes sin with the light of truth, and pierces consciences—pointing individuals to the only One who can save and redeem, Christ Jesus. It’s our weapon in this spiritual battle that God’s Word tells us we’re in.
And this is where what someone means by the words they say matters so much. She claims God’s Word should not be used to “harm or shame people,” but what does she mean by “harm” and “shame”? One of the very purposes of the Bible (especially the Law) is to convict of sin, which brings with it shame that drives us to repentance, and then that guilt and shame is removed through the cross of Christ as Jesus cleanses our hearts and presents us blameless before the Father. God’s Word is designed to convict us of our unrighteousness by showing us God’s perfect, holy standard!
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:7–12)
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
With her feminist theology interpretive lens firmly in place, Peters begins a radical reinterpretation of the account of the fall in Genesis 3.
Despite two millennia of misogynistic interpretations of Genesis and Eve, there have always been other ways to read this story. I love the story of Eve in the garden. . . . When we look at it with fresh eyes, it’s quite a remarkable story.
Notice her use of “story”—as you listen to her message. It’s quite apparent that she doesn’t take Genesis as literal, historical narrative but rather as a “story” (a fairytale) included in the Bible to be reinterpreted at will to make whatever point the speaker or reader would like to make.
She goes on about this “remarkable story.”
Have you ever noticed that God lied to Adam and Eve? While the serpent plays the role of the foil here, he’s meant to set Eve up for her role as the bringer of wisdom and moral agency to the human community. The set-up for this action that she takes is that God lied to her. God told the first couple, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is the middle of the garden nor shall you touch it or you will die.” And the serpent reveals the truth, “You won’t die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” (emphasis added)
To claim that God lied to humanity is to claim that God sinned against humanity and therefore God is not who he claims to be: holy, righteous, and the truth.
Yes, Peters claims that God lied to Eve (which, even if we disregarded the truthfulness of God’s words, couldn’t be an accurate assessment as God did not give the command to Eve—he gave it to Adam in Genesis 2:16–17). To claim that God lied to humanity is to claim that God sinned against humanity and therefore God is not who he claims to be: holy, righteous, and the truth.
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)
The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
If God is not who he says he is in Scripture, then he not only lied to Eve, he has lied to all of humanity through his Word (which says he does not lie: Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) and he is no longer worthy of the worship of anyone. So what is the point of Peters and those listening to her message claiming to follow God and read his Word? Why follow a liar who is just like us—morally imperfect, fallible, corrupt, and unrighteous?
But, of course, God is none of those things and is perfectly, utterly, completely worthy of the praise given his name.
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12–13)
You’ll also notice that Peters makes the same mistake as Eve—she misquotes God. Notice Peters’ words.
God told the first couple, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is the middle of the garden nor shall you touch it or you will die.”
God didn’t tell “the first couple” (he told Adam before Eve was created) “not to eat or even touch” the fruit from the forbidden tree. God said, “You shall not eat.” Eve was the one who added “neither shall you touch it” to God’s words when she spoke to the serpent—and Peters does the same thing!
And here we get to the real heart of the story, the verse in which Eve acts on behalf of all humanity. In fact the moment at which Eve not only exercises her own moral agency but she chooses that very trait that defines our humanity—that knowledge that makes us moral creatures, our ability to know good and evil.
Did Eve’s rebellious action against the Creator God of the universe really usher in our status as “moral creatures”? No. The very fact that God gave humanity a command that they, of their own will and volition, could choose to obey or disobey shows they were created as moral creatures with the ability to choose right and wrong. Eve didn’t make humanity into a race of moral beings—we were created by God from the very beginning, before sin entered creation, as moral beings with the choice to obey God or rebel against God. And, of course, Adam and Eve chose rebellion.
Now, when Adam and Eve sinned, the Bible tells us, “The eyes of both were opened” and that God said, “The man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). Their choice to sin gave them experiential knowledge of sin that they, even as moral creatures, did not yet have; but when they sinned, suddenly they truly understood and experienced the difference between good and evil (consider, for example, that they tried to cover themselves and hide from God immediately after sinning—they knew something had changed). So while this first sin didn’t make humanity moral creatures, it did forever change our relationship with good and evil (a change that is certainly not for the better!).
It’s also worth noting that, even though Eve sinned first, the Bible places the blame for sin squarely on Adam’s shoulders.
It’s also worth noting that, even though Eve sinned first, the Bible places the blame for sin squarely on Adam’s shoulders. He was created first; he was given the direct command from God; he was ultimately responsible. We sinned in Adam, not in Eve (who was deceived as 1 Timothy 2:14 says). Nowhere does Peters ever acknowledge this biblical teaching. Rather, she places all the praise on Eve and her actions, ignoring Adam and his role and involvement completely.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
Now, if you can believe it, her message actually manages to get worse from there! And we will dive into the rest in part two on my blog tomorrow.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.