Two Egalitarian Paths toward the Same Destination -- By: Ben Reaoch

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 15:1 (Spring 2010)
Article: Two Egalitarian Paths toward the Same Destination
Author: Ben Reaoch

Two Egalitarian Paths
toward the Same Destination

A Review of Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology, edited by Gary T. Meador. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009, 369 pp., $19.99.

Ben Reaoch

Three Rivers Grace Community Church
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The scope of this book encompasses a diverse selection of hermeneutical questions—indeed, too many to cover in a book review. Therefore, I will begin by giving a brief overview of the four contributors and then focus mainly on the portions of the book that relate closely to slavery and the gender debate. William Webb, one of the contributors, is the author of Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals (InterVarsity, 2001). One of the fascinating things to see in this Four Views book is the interaction concerning slavery, gender roles, and Webb’s redemptive-movement hermeneutic. It is most intriguing to see two egalitarians, William Webb and Walter Kaiser, present opposing approaches for their conclusions. Therefore, I will narrow the focus of this review to these topics. For a more general response to the book, see Thomas Schreiner’s review in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 13, no. 4 (Winter 2009): 88-90.

General Overview

The book consists of the presentation of four hermeneutical models, each followed by responses from the three other contributors. Following this section of the book there are three “reflection” chapters offered by Mark Strauss, Al Wolters, and Christopher Wright.

Walter Kaiser presents a principlizing model of biblical interpretation. A key aspect of this approach is using the Ladder of Abstraction, which Kaiser defines as “a continuous sequence of categorizations from a low level of specificity up to a high point of generality in a principle and down again to a specific application in the contemporary culture” (24). He illustrates this by citing the Old Testament prohibition against muzzling an ox (Deut 25:4) and showing how Paul applies that principle to the matter of financially supporting pastors in the church (1 Cor 9:9-12; 1 Tim 5:18).

Kaiser then addresses various issues in order to demonstrate the use of a principlizing model. He discusses euthanasia, women and the church, homosexuality, slavery, abortion, and embryonic stem cell research. In each case he seeks to show that principles within the Word of God are sufficient for our instruction concerning these matters. There is no need to go beyond the Bible.

Daniel Doriani commends a redemptive-historical model for hermeneutics. The focus here is on the progres...

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