The new assistant professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary put on a bit of a short course for Synod 2014 delegates Tuesday night.
Delegates peppered Sarah Steen Schreiber with questions about her area of expertise before approving her as an assistant professor at the Christian Reformed seminary. Her ready responses and youthful charm seemed to solidify her qualifications in the minds of the delegates.
“This is like a free course in the Old Testament, so that’s why we just keep lining up,” quipped Rev. Dan Roeda of Classis Wisconsin.
Schreiber appeared to delight in the questioning, in keeping with her professed love of the church and of teaching.
“I believe God has given me the heart of a teacher,” Schreiber said during an interview before delegates.
Her appointment came on the same day she was approved as a candidate for ministry in the CRC. Schreiber has a master of divinity degree from Calvin Seminary and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame. The Calvin College graduate has also taught courses at the seminary.
Delegates were impressed by her grasp of Hebrew and eight other ancient and modern languages, her breadth of biblical knowledge, and depth of scholarship. The fact she has just been approved for ministry at age 30 and is the mother of a 2-month-old son seemed to weigh in her favor.
“I believe I can bring diversity to the faculty, both my gender and with my age,” Schreiber told her interviewer, Rev. Doug MacLeod of Grand Rapids. “I have many years I hope I can serve at the seminary and grow.”
Schreiber grew up in Holland, Mich., attending Park Christian Reformed Church. She said she was “the churchy one” among her friends. “From an early age, I just loved the church.” A trip to Turkey at age 16 through a seminary program increased her interest in serving the church by teaching, she said. Falling in love with the “playful and clever” language of Hebrew solidified it.
She said she wants to excite students about the language and the biblical stories it tells.
“Even though our tradition holds the Old Testament in such high regard, there’s still some struggle with it sometimes. It feels foreign. I’d really like to help people understand it better.”
When MacLeod asked what God seeks to reveal in the opening chapters of Genesis, Schreiber had a ready answer: “God did it, and wow, isn’t it wonderful?” Unlike creation stories in other traditions, she added, in Genesis “the creation of the world isn’t a result of conflict but a result of God’s delight.”
Asked how she would instill her enthusiasm for the text in her students, she was equally direct: “ I don’t want my students to remember me. I want them to have an encounter with God’s Word. I want to get out of the way.”
Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.