Equality without difference

I made a random comment during the Apologetic Moment last night that got some confused looks. I think I said something like "You can't have equality without difference."

What I meant was this:

There's a temptation, when talking about equality and pushing for equality, to settle for sameness. "If you want to be equal to me, you have to be more like me." This line of reason is especially difficult in gender relations and theology.

In gender relations, if equality requires absolute sameness, then the push has to be toward some sort of gender-neutrality, which tends to emasculate masculinity and defeminize femininity.

In theology, you lose the mystery of the Trinity and the uniqueness of our faith.

It is this fact that we are equal even with our differences, united by God's grace, that Paul finds so amazing in Ephesians. He can't talk much about God's grace toward us without talking about our unity in Him. And these ideas of equality and unity make no sense unless God Himself has created, approved of, and is glorified by some of our differences and diversity.

Equality without difference is mere sameness. God is glorified in that He experiences and creates equality with difference, unity with diversity.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

For some interesting reading on MLK Jr Day...

Check out this section from his Letter from the Birmingham Jail

"But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

For the whole letter, see...

Why trust the Bible?

Our last Apologetic Moment was focused on this question: Why trust the Bible? Unfortunately, I was focused on Ryan's talk: whether I'd encouraged him enough, given him enough direction, prayed for him enough, or annoyed him. So, my attempt at an answer was jumbled and confusing. My apologies.

Why trust the Bible?

There's a 3 second answer, a 3 minute answer and a 3 hour answer.

Christians trust the Bible because it speaks truthfully about Jesus. That's the 3 second answer.

But this answer, I've found, is so unusual that it tends to frustrate people. The approach to this question that most of us are familiar with is an outside-in approach. We take on the posture of doubt, apply scientific textual-historical criticism to various holy books, examine the Bible more closely if and only if it stands out above the rest, and trust it only after all our questions about it have been answered. This approach moves from understanding to faith.

And it works for some people, this 'understanding seeking faith' approach. Read the works of FF Bruce or Josh McDowell or Lee Stobel and you'll see a way to come to trust in the Bible.

But this isn't the way the church has always approached the Bible, or even the best way. As an example, let's look at the history of the compilation of the book. The Bible is a book that was compiled, did you know that? It didn't descend from the sky and it wasn't buried in the ground waiting to be uncovered. It was compiled because the community of people who followed Jesus needed to pass down Jesus' friends' (the apostles and their companions) teaching about Jesus after they died (or were martyred). The ancient community of Jesus-followers trusted the Bible because it spoke truthfully about the one they followed.

This approach, from faith to understanding, is eminently unscientific. I know that. It doesn't open the door to our sexiest scientific proofs. It isn't impressive. It isn't forceful. It's gentle and humble. It follows a very straight and narrow path to the question of the identity of Jesus. So let me warn you: "Be careful where you plant this answer, for it quickly grows so much that 'the birds of the air can perch in its shade.'"

Let me show you what I mean.

I trust the Bible because it speaks truthfully about Jesus...
- What leads you to think it speaks untruthfully about Jesus? Who do you say that he is? Why?
- Do the Qu'ran, Book of Mormon, Jesus Seminar, etc... agree with the Bible and speak truthfully about Jesus? If not, why not?
- Why don't we settle the question of Jesus before we move on to other questions of facticity and interpretation (for ex. mustard seed=smallest, Gen 1 vs Gen 2)?

Let's not pretend to be disinterested, objective observers. I mean, will anyone really buy that? It's falling out of favor in the academy and it definately doesn't jive with the biblical description of humanity, which always presents us on one side or the other, never in some objective middle.

Let's not pretend that faith and trust flow from perfect understanding and comprehensive research. As limited beings, we will always wrestle with unknowns, clinging to what and who we know in the mysterious darkness, even as we learn and expand our knowledge.

Let us not pretend that we stand over the Bible, as if it is waiting for our endorsement and permission before it can challenge, comfort, and change us. We know better. We need the biblical truth of Jesus like we need air, not like we need dessert.

Let us trust the Bible. It speaks truthfully about the One who loves us and has taught us what love is, who is loved by God and given to us out of God's great love, who is the truth that sets us free.

I'm sorry if I confused anybody with this AM or this post. As always, please feel free to ask me to expand on what I've said or written.