A Whole Bible Approach To Equality: Equality In The Light Of Certain Basic Principles Of Bible Interpretation. -- By: Dan Gentry Kent

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 14:4 (Fall 2000)
Article: A Whole Bible Approach To Equality: Equality In The Light Of Certain Basic Principles Of Bible Interpretation.
Author: Dan Gentry Kent


A Whole Bible Approach To Equality:
Equality In The Light Of Certain Basic Principles Of Bible Interpretation.

Dan Gentry Kent

Dan Gentry Kent is professor of Old Testament (retired), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a member of CBE’s board of directors.

The Bible teaches equality. It reports inequality, and sometimes it permits inequality; but the Bible teaches equality. The name of our organization is Christians for Biblical Equality. As best we understand them, we are following and teaching the principles taught in the Bible. Because that is true, we cannot place too much emphasis on studying the Bible, understanding the Bible, and properly interpreting the Bible. I want to consider some basic points of Bible interpretation that we affirm and how they relate to equality.

The Unity Of The Bible

The Bible is made up of many wonderful, diverse parts. However, there is also a basic unity about it. It is the unity of a symphony orchestra, with many different instruments contributing to a wonderful harmony of the whole.

When seen in the proper light, the Bible will not contradict itself nor speak with conflicting voices. Simply stated, if Genesis 1 teaches the equality of female and male, Paul is not then going to teach their inequality. That would violate the unity of the Bible. The tendency with regard to gender issues is to concentrate on the Scripture passages that support one position and to ignore other passages. This, of course, is not valid. There are enough passages of all kinds to trouble those who hold to many different positions; however, we still must dedicate ourselves to searching for their overall harmony.

All Of The Bible’s Various Parts

I note, for example, that there are many places where the teaching passages do not seem to agree with what was actual practice as reported in the narrative passages. Let us look at some examples. (We also want to note that hierarchalists tend to emphasize the teaching passages, while we egalitarians tend to emphasize the narrative ones.)

1. Law and practice. “[T]he legal codes preserved in the OT give no indication that a widow could inherit the property of her husband.”1 But look at Ruth 4:3, which is a complicated passage. Here the widow Naomi exercised some sort of control over her late husband’s property. There seems therefore to have been a difference between legislation and practice.

2. Teaching passages and practice. Compare the oft-quoted “You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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