Webb's "Slaves, Women and Homosexuals" is one of the most poignant writings on the church's treatment of these aforementioned social groups, as it pertains to western culture today. Webb introduces the idea of the redemptive-hermeneutic, which asks us when studying the Bible, to not only understand what the text states at face value, but to apply the spirit of this text into a greater application. In an example, to employ the cultural use slavery, with regard to what Scripture states at face value, slavery is an acceptable practice. However, slavery has now been abolished and to a certain extent at the hand of the Christian church. A static reading of Scripture today (or a reading of it at face value) would support the modern use of slavery, so why abolish it? But by the using the redemptive-hermeneutic we see the true spirit of redemption within the Biblical text. From the Old Testament into the New we see the cultural use of slaves, but by the laws God has set upon the Israelites there was always a higher standard. The surrounding cultures could beat and kill a slave for no reason if they wanted to. Not so with God's people as God has always had a higher standard for His followers. Moving into the New Testament we still see the use of slaves, but here there is a hint that slavery is being used with less barbarism. Now if slavery has ultimately been eliminated, why not prohibit the church from treating women as less than equals. Why shouldn't women be permitted to teach? A static reading of the Pauline texts might prohibit this, but would it when we take into account the certain cultural phenomena Paul was speaking toward, and would it when we understand the ultimate ethic of redemption? What we move toward in use of the redemptive-hermeneutic is an ultimate ethic of treatment. Eliminate slavery. Restore women to their rightful place as equals. Practice heterosexual monogamy. These are God's higher standards. A very thoughtful book altogether!
Webb, Professor of New Testament at Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, had published a work, long in the making. It will make waves in the evangelical community as it has been endorsed by good scholars like Darrell Bock, Craig Evans and Craig Keener.Webb's book begins by setting out his rationale. He hopes to bring the evangelical community back together by his "redemptive-movement" hermeneutics. His basic premise is that the more "static" approach of Grudem, Piper and others is lacking in its cultural application. Unfortunately, Webb misses the mark by departing from a grammtical-historical hermeneutic.Webb divides the book into three sections. Slavery, which is his control group, homosexuals, and women. He eventually comes to the conclusion that slavery was a cultural convention of the ANE. Homosexuality, on the other hand is transcultural. The commands against it, go for all time. And finally, women in leadership, he feels was a cultural convention as well. That the arguments against women leadership in the Bible, was a cultural issue.Unfortunately Webb's book does not answer the age old question, that if somethings are cultural, then what isn't cultural? He critizes the patriarchalists because they see slavery as cultural but not the women issue. Webb's basic premise that because life was better in Israel than in the ANE, and that life was better in the Church than it was in ancient Israel, and that life is better now than it was then, shouldn't we now move forward and bring women into the picture as leaders? His point is, why would we perpetuate the curse?Unfortunately, Webb doesn't follow a generally held view of hermeneutics, and this will cause some to shy away from his book right away. A well-trained pastor or teacher could read this book with some profit, but I would not recommend it to anyone else than that.