Toward an Egalitarian Hermeneutic of Faith -- By: Catherine Clark Kroeger

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 04:2 (Spring 1990)
Article: Toward an Egalitarian Hermeneutic of Faith
Author: Catherine Clark Kroeger

Toward an Egalitarian Hermeneutic of Faith

Catherine Clark Kroeger, Ph. D.

My first introduction to the rudiments of a theological education came during the closing days of World War II as I sat upon the rocks of a remote island in the Lake of Bays in Canada. Our instructor was Cornelius Van Till of Westminster Theological Seminary. Liter Varsity Christian Fellowship had introduced a one month lay training institute to prepare Christian college students to deal with the attacks upon the Christian faith which were our daily lot in the secular classroom.

Van Till taught us that the Bible, if it was truly the Word of God, would hold up to intense scrutiny; that we could dissect it, shake it in a test-tube, grind it fine, and analyze it carefully. If we found apparent contradictions, this was an invitation, not to discard the Bible, but to study further.

I believe that we need to come to the Bible with just such a faith when we deal with the hard issues—not only those of doctrine but also those of Christian behavior. If we can develop a hermeneutic of faith which will apply to a better understanding of gender roles in the economy of God, perhaps the same methodology can serve us in circumstances which the church of Jesus Christ cannot now fully envision. The twenty-first century will surely bring theological debates of a nature different from any we have known, but the same Lord can guide us into all truth through the Word of God which shall not pass away.

In every age there are those who come to the Word of God with new questions. They wrestle with the topic until at last the Holy Spirit gives light, and then they go on to new questions. I think especially of those early men and women of God who debated the nature of Jesus Christ. Sincere people were able to point to one set of Scriptures; and others, equally dedicated to knowing the mind of God, would come to another conclusion, also with the use of Scripture. The struggle to understand the truth of the Word took centuries to be resolved; and at last the Empress Pulcheria, with Eutychians and Nestorians snapping at her heels, summoned four hundred bishops to Chalcedon; and there was hammered out a declaration of Jesus Christ as One Person in Two Natures, united unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.

There have been other debates which have taken an enormous amount of time and effort what is the Word of God? What is the nature of man? What is the basis for our salvation, and so forth. Each is an urgent and legitimate question, one with which the Church of Jesus Christ must tussle. In our own day, one of these legitimate questions concerns the biblical role and status of women. Some point to Genesis 3:20 and to the restrictive statement...

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