Perhaps the foundation of the entire debate about women in ministry is in what is today called the “redemptive trend.” Very few would say the Bible teaches absolute equality of women and men in ministry, but instead most would say the Bible establishes the precedent, forms the foundation, and creates a redemptive trend that — over time — creates an equal opportunity for women in ministry. Here’s the book I’ll look at next:
William Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals.
The thesis is this: there is a redemptive trend within the Bible about women (against the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts) and there is an ultimate ethic toward which the Bible points its readers and practitioners. Genuine interpretation involves seeing the “spirit” of this redemptive trend and turning it loose in our world today. Which means, some things are culturally conditioned and some things are transcultural. (Nuance: Webb knows that all things are cultural, but he wants to distinguish what is permanent from what is not permanent.)
How does the redemptive trend strike you? Do you think it embraces Scripture’s proper authority or denies it?
Webb also argues that everyone today is to one degree or another involved in this redemptive trend.
He sees two basic options: the redemptive trend folks and the static approach. Here it is:
X –> Y –> Z
X is the original culture; the Bible speaks redemptively be saying Y to the cultural X condition; and the Z is the ultimate ethic toward which the Y was pointing when it spoke to the original X. I hope you follow this, for it is the whole book.
If one recognizes that the Bible (Y) speaks redemptively to cultural contexts (Y) and the the ultimate ethic (Z) has not yet arrived, then one is in the redemptive trend. Static folks tend to live with X and Y; secularists tend to live with Y and Z. The redemptive trend lives with both sides (X and Y as well as Y and Z).