Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reading the Bible with Scot McKnight (11-15)

Scot, in these chapters of his fine new book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible works out in practice what he developed in the early part of the book. His focus of discernment is on women in church ministries today. Chapter 11 discusses the Bible and women. Chapter 12 centers on women in the OT and chapter 13 on women in the NT. In the last two chapters, 14 and 15, he deals with some blue parakeets, controversial passages (1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2) related to the issue of women leading and teaching. He argues the Pauline emphasis is not on what women cannot do, but on what they must do – learn. “In the Bible, women did learn and did teach” (204). There is no reason, in his opinion, that women should not be teaching in church ministries today.

Scot pleads that his readers not silence blue parakeets. Some say, “We know what women did in the Bible, but that’s not for today!” (204) But is this biblical? Not in Scot’s view. He encourages a post-Pentecost reading of the Bible that allows for an expansion of ministries from Pentecost on. Some will ask, “Why do you think we can expand the ministries of women?” Response. “Very simply: The plot of the Bible, the story of the Bible, and the behavior of women in that Plot and Story reveal to me an increasing expansion of women in church ministries” (204). He points out that many of the cultural restrictions in place during biblical times are no longer the same now. Therefore, we should not limit the ministries of women to the particularity of those cultural contexts, however, he is clear that men and women need to carefully assess the cultural contexts (examples: Asian, Muslim, and Western) and discern what’s appropriate in and for them.


Joshua said...

That last part is interesting, although we should probably just be focusing on the Western context or try to get others to adapt for now. How does the author seem to understand cultural context appriopriateness? What factors is he considering in finding that harmony? I mean is he balancing that sort of tragectory with say a missional practicality or am I totally off or what? Especially with say an Asian context, where there might be more room for a counter-cultural type movement than say Middle-eastern?

Greg said...


Thanks for your thoughts and questions.

I think the author is attempting to be sensitive to the importance of present day Western culture in the hermeneutical enterprise of reading the Bible. What was then and what is now, both have to be considered when seeking a better interpretation of the text for today. There may not be harmony, but sometimes tension in this trajectory. In other words, sometimes what was then will be what is now, and other times it won't be. Culture inevitably has to have some role in our hermeneutical efforts.

And yes, there is a missional aspect here of not necessarily taking an appropriate interpretation for one culture and imposing it on another, but of course this would depend on the subjet at hand. Many biblical interpretations will be transcultural, while others will be more culture specific.

Anonymous said...

Greg, this is a bizarre contention re the role of women in the church. I know that it is an "enlightened" position to hold that women should preach and teach and exercise spiritual authority over mem, but as a Jewish follower of Mosiach (Messiah) I find this type of leaven deeply disturbing. Worse yet is the low view of G-d, His Word, His prophets and apostles is that Scot advocates..I am dumbfounded as to why you would recommend this work. Laila Tov and Shalom, Joel

Greg said...

Thanks for your comment. I think one of your points is exactly the type of thing Scot is trying to touch on in his book. As far as I can tell in reading this book he does have a very high view of G-d, the Scriptures as His word, the prophets and apostles, and the church. I tried to underline this in earlier posts that I made on the book. Not sure if you've had time to read those, but they make his position clear.

So it seems to me you do both share the same view on these crucial matters, but differ as to the role of women. Scot's question is why? These differences are what he's trying to understand better.

Of course, I didn't give a detailed discussion of Scot's view, but the post highlights the reasons for his take on the subject of women in ministry. We do need help in reading the Bible and Scot's book is an attempt to offer a point of view on how to work through some of the harder issues.

By the way, you should know that I sometimes recommend books that I think will be stimulating and challenging to readers, but this does not mean that I agree with everything they say, and in fact this is the case for Scot's book. There are points I would disagree with. Yet, if we only read books that we agree with, we may fail to learn that we sometimes might be wrong and need to modify our view.