Scot McKnight has a post up (third in a series) on Women in Ministry, where he summarizes RT Franceâ€™s last chapter of Women in the Church’s Ministry: A Test-Case for Biblical Interpretation. After reviewing the variety of examples of prominent women in the Bible, Scot summarizes this way:
Gal 3:28 in Franceâ€™s view has to do with equality in Christ. The trajectory finds its endpoint in this text.
Conclusion, and what do you think? â€œThe early church as it appears in Acts remained a male-dominated movement, but within which the seeds of greater equality of the sexes and a more prominent role for women which we saw planted in Jesusâ€™ ministry were beginning to growâ€? (81).
France asks this question in closing: which text/texts are basic? Those that specify limitation or those that indicate potential non-limitation? France thinks the indications of women in ministry throughout the Bible is a trajectory we can follow — biblically — today. Others call this the redemptive trend.
I like this… maybe I’ll latch onto a new phrase, “the redemptive trend”. I’m going to have to put France on my list of books to read, to get a better feel for his thesis, but just from what’s here I see the spark of the notion that the New Testament reflects changing times as women were just beginning to ascend the ladder of equality. It can’t be missed that Jesus treated women better than most rabbis of his day, bucking the cultural norm, so it would make sense that this trend would follow into the early church, but slowly.
Tidy if this reconciles inconsitencies that some want to point out in the New Testament on this issue, though I suspect that others will still have difficulty with the notion that the Bible was influenced by culture and that any shift in the role of women should be contemplated, as this implies differing instructions within the New Testament itself. Don’t think I see it quite that way though.
Food for thought, and another book to chase down.
I too like the thought of “the redeptive trend”. I see this too with the issue of slavery. It appears that the core of the Jesus movement is reconciliation with the Creator. As people experience reconciliation the Spirit begins to reshape their thoughts and affections.
Slowly??!! … surely you jest! It’s been TWO thousand years and we’re behind the curve. The church is leading the pack as reactionaries. The redemptive trend needs a good shot of caffeine or adrenaline because right now it’s moving backwards.
The context of slow change was first century, early second perhaps. As for the present-day situation where the church is tending to resist the change in the culture rather than be at the vanguard as it was in the first (and second?) centuries, I posit that this just might not be the only issue where the church was once at the vanguard but now is resistant. Consider the arts, for example. My appeal is to return to the redemptive trend established by Jesus.
Thanks for your grace, Maynard. This issue is such a “hot button” for me that I usually keep quiet (as I should have done in this instance). I can see the wisdom in returning to ways established by Jesus. Thanks for clarifying it.
“Tidy if this reconciles inconsitencies that some want to point out in the New Testament on this issue”
my default measure of inconsistencies in this matter has always been: does a particular interpretation of a NT text contradict the life, teachings or actions or Jesus? if so, perhaps one should re-evaluate their interpretation.
i too would like to see the return of the redemptive trend, with regards to women AND art!