Valentine's Day brought news of the sudden death of one of my heroes, someone you likely haven't heard of, but someone who has strengthened God's people and helped to make the Kingdom of our Lord a reality in the lives of thousands. The founder of Christians for Biblical Equality and one of the great conservative Christian academics of the last half century, Dr. Catherine Clark Kroeger was a passionate, brilliant voice for the truth of the Gospel's liberation of women and men from the sinful gender roles and acrimony wrought by the Fall.
Her career was devoted to studying and teaching the Bible, and her brilliant exposition of apparent restrictions on women teachers in 1 Timothy, "I Suffer Not A Woman," co-written by her late husband, Richard Kroeger, was enormously significant in my understanding of Biblical equality. She was a member of the faculty at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and was devoted to the protection and encouragement of women in the Christian home, calling for men and women to forsake patriarchy, hierarchy, and enmity and exhibit the peace of the Holy Spirit in their relationships. Her concern about violence and abuse in Christian homes led her to begin PASCH, Peace and Safety in the Christian Home, and she wrote eloquently in condemning the masculinist, patriarchial roots that so often give rise to the battering of Christian women.
As CBE's Arise e-zine puts it, "Together with eight others, Cathie drafted CBE's founding manifesto -- "Men, Women, and Biblical Equality" -- a document that has shaped the gender policies and practices of hundreds of churches and several prominent evangelical organizations and denominations. With her daughter Betty Elliott, Cathie launched an academic journal, Priscilla Papers, which, under the leadership of Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, became the scholarly publication of Christians for Biblical Equality. The journal has since received nine publishing awards with editors Carol R. Thiessen and William David Spencer." I subscribe to Priscilla Papers, and I marvel at the depth of scholarship therein -- scholarship and wisdom you're unlikely to encounter, given the male-hegemony emphasis in so much of conservative, evangelical Christianity.
Clark-Kroeger's work is without a doubt the best teaching you've never read. That's something you ought to remedy.
She had five children and 10 grandchildren, many foster children, and hundreds of students throughout the world. Her reward in Heaven is great, I know, and I can't help but smile when I think of her reunion with her beloved husband, who died only a few months ago. Her "well done, good and faithful servant," has been received, and her work will stand, encouraging and edifying the Church, until our Lord returns. Until then, I remain grateful beyond measure for her work.
I'm not just a better woman, feminist, wife, or mother because of her ministry. She helped show me how to be a better Christ-disciple, and her work will have the same effect on you. May God be praised for her life here among us.