Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy -- By: Royce Gruenler

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 20:3 (Summer 2006)
Article: Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy
Author: Royce Gruenler


Discovering Biblical Equality:
Complementarity without Hierarchy

Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, General Editors Gordon D. Fee, Contributing Editor (InterVarsity Press 2005)

Reviewed by

Royce Gruenler

ROYCE GORDON GRUENLER is professor of New Testament emeritus at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and pastor emeritus of Peabody (Mass.) Second Congregational Church. Among his publications, The Trinity in the Gospel of John has been reissued by Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004. It was reviewed in Priscilla Papers 19, 3 (Summer 2005).

The editors of this large volume of 515 pages have put together twenty-nine essays arranged under five headings: Setting the Stage (the Historical Backdrop); Looking to Scripture (the Biblical Texts); Thinking It Through (Logical and Theological Perspectives); Addressing the Issues (Hermeneutical and Cultural Perspectives); Living It Out (Practical Applications). All are scholarly presentations that are well documented and compellingly written by more than twenty contributors, three by contributing editor Gordon Fee. Fee’s study “Male and Female in the New Creation” is a gem and represents in my estimation a biblical theology that is most faithful to the biblical material among options within the academy. My own research has led me to appreciate more deeply the central work of Christ in creating a new humanity embodied in himself and inaugurating the new creation. This central theme of the New Testament, where Jew and gentile, slave and free, and male and female are described as gathered into one new humanity in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:13-15), each one gifted by the Holy Spirit, provides a common ground for evangelicals on the roles of women in ministry. Again, Fee’s article “The Priority of Spirit Gifting for Church Ministry” is biblically on center. Indeed, all the essays in this volume assume these motifs and in one way or another affirm the gifting of the Spirit who sovereignly bestows complementary gifts upon believers, without human discrimination. The new humanity embodied in Christ is not characterized by fixed ethnic, generic, or gender roles but by the freedom of the Holy Spirit, who exhibits the power of the inaugurated new creation.

The absence of harsh polemic in the collected essays is commendable and attests the good heart and good will of the contributors. Among the excellent articles in the practical application section, I was particularly moved by Joan Burgess Winfrey’s “In Search of Holy Joy: Women and Self-Esteem,” a study which moves the heart on a deep issue while presenting a powerful critique of the modern emphasis in developmental psychology on separation, individuation, and autonomy, to the neglect of connectio...

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