faith in God, life, and equality: Professor David M. Scholer (1938-2008)

I should check my earthlink email more often. I just today got the news of David Scholer’s death from cancer, on August 28th. He was a professor at Fuller Seminary while I was there (1995-1999). I can still hear his laughter and see his smile. He smiled and laughed A LOT.

Wow, I’m actually very saddened by news of his death. :(

Here’s the LA Times obituary: “David M. Scholer, 70; Bible scholar advocated women in ministry, turned battle with cancer into testament of faith.”

Yay, David:

His course “Women, the Bible and the Church” was one of Fuller’s most popular electives. Scholer showed how the New Testament could be read to support women as authority figures in the church. He delivered a message of tolerance and egalitarianism, encouraging skeptics to listen to the stories of women and homosexuals who felt the calling.

Here’s one of his last sermons (2006): “Prisoner of Hope: Living with Cancer” I thrive on examples of people facing terminal illness with their faith (or, at least, most of it) in tact. I hope to God I can do the same, if and when anything like this ever befalls me (or just when the normal deaths of loved ones happen, for that matter.)

I actually wrote one tract in my life. When I was dean of Northern Baptist Seminary, the president had a heart attack and almost died. The very next day I had to preach in chapel but had to scrap the sermon I had prepared, sitting up all night to write a new sermon on “Why does God allow evil?” […]

So the first thing I did after I learned I had cancer was re-read my own tract! I said, “I better see if I actually now believe what I wrote!” So I got out my little tract, and I read it over. And these are the points I made: God is not the author or cause of evil; God never promised freedom from pain; God uses pain for God’s purposes; We have God’s promise of love and comfort; Evil and suffering are not experienced because of one’s sin; God has provided a triumph.

Reading this I said to myself, “You know, I think it was all right.” I thought, well, those things are true. I can’t solve the problem of evil. I can’t solve it for cancer; I can’t solve it for Katrina; I can’t solve it for the tsunami; I can’t solve it for anything that happens in anyone’s life. But biblical faith teaches us that God is not the author of evil, that God is there to help us cope with this, and that God in Jesus Christ has provided, ultimately, the triumph of eternal life.

And here’s an article he wrote for “Christian Feminism Today” in 2006: “My Fifty Year Journey with Women and Ministry in the New Testament and in the Church Today

I like how he ends his reflection:

I hope, too, that what I have said is a witness to the gospel, its power and its purpose for women especially, who have been for too long marginalized in the very church for which Christ gave his witness and life.  The Pauline (as one of my students once said: “I have had enough of Paul; I want to meet Pauline!”) vision of Galatians 3:28— the text used in the ordination sermon of Antoinette Brown in 1853, the first woman ordained in the USA in a recognized denomination—continues to be a critical beacon light of and for the gospel.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (NRSV).

Your whole life served as a witness, David. Thank you.


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