Monday, April 30, 2012


As a citizen of this country I know I may hold a few political positions that would cause some people to call me an Egalitarian or even a "Feminist" [I guess a man can be accused of that!]  Feminists may perhaps be at the forefront of the kind of Egalitarian debate we are having in our nation politically, but that is far removed from what I'm addressing here. 

Equal pay for equal work is a policy I hold to politically, that is true. That fact, as well as my stand on legal equality for the sexes in education, sports, office holding, and other issues of national importance, may cause me to be labeled by many in an unflattering way. I understand that! Some have even tried to call me, of all things, a Democrat. [For the record, I'm NOT a feminist, Progressive Democrat, Tea Party Republican, Liberated Libertarian, or any other of a number of things, all of which I've been accused of being.] However, none of the above is what I am addressing at the moment. 

I'm addressing Egalitarianism in the context of the last post, I will be speaking of it in regards to theology alone. In this vein, Egals  [I will now revert to the abbreviation as last time.] believe that there is no inherent authority found in the male gender that would scripturally assign them the responsibility of being over female believers in an hierarchical manner as all believers are "equal" before God because of being "in Christ."  Egals believe that "In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, bond nor free" as declared in Galatians 3:28.  So all believers are equal in worth and value and are all equally under the Lordship of Christ with no one to take that place of Lordship over any other believer. This is not a political statement, it is a Kingdom statement. 

While Egals would insist this does not, for obvious reasons, mean that all believers have the same skills, abilities, interests or physiological traits: they would say it does mean that all believers have a mutuality and are all to live out all the scriptures that are true of all believers as servants such as, for example....

"Love does not demand its own way." 1 Corinthians 13:5

"If any man [person] desires to first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." Mark 9:35

"If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet; ye ought to wash one another's feet." John:14 

 Add to that an equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey in their calling to glorify God and encourage the Body of Christ with their ministry abilities without regard to class, gender, or race, just as that verse in Galatians indicates, and you would have what is basically believed by theological Egals.

The organization called Christians for Biblical Equality has put on record about what is believed by Egals in its Statement of Faith. A portion of which reads this way....

1___We believe in the equality and essential dignity of men and women of all ethnic groups, ages, and classes.

2___We recognize that all persons are made in the image of God and are to reflect that image in the community the community of believers, in the home, and in society.

3___We believe that men and women are to diligently develop and use their God-given gifts for the good of the home, church, and society.

Egals would desire that people understand it is not the culture that is the influence on why they hold to what they hold, but the scriptures themselves. In fact, it is the exegesis of Ephesians 5 [More on this passage and others in my next post.] that is one of the stronger reasons for the Egals stand on equality of servant hood as believers and a rejection of the unilateral male authority concept.

As intended originally, the man AND woman were commanded to care for the garden as Genesis 1:26-28 states..."Let THEM have dominion...let THEM be fruitful and multiply....let THEM subdue..."  That "THEM" intention, while lost in the rebellion called "the fall" was regained in the redemption called "The Cross" and is to be mirrored in the family and the Church as stipulated in the mutuality found in Ephesians 5 when correctly translated.

The husband is no more intended to autonomously make decisions for the household than is the woman intended to autonomously conceive the children for the household.

I will close by saying something of a personal nature. 

I've never liked labeling. In some ways it pigeon holes us into systems that may be a bit too rigid for our taste and separates us from one another. But there is also some value in knowing, examining, discussing and even embracing some system of labels, if they help us on our journey.

C. S. Lewis said this one time..Remember for geography's sake, he's speaking as an Englishman from the UK....

 "If a man has walked on a beach and looked at the Atlantic ocean, and then goes to look at a map of the Atlantic, he also has turned from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of colored paper. But here is the point I wish to make. The map is only admittedly colored paper, but two things need to be remembered about it. One is that the map is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you had on the beach: only, while yours would be a single isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America."

Next time I will draw you a map of my journey to the one label out of the three I've been describing that I now identify with more than I do the other two and my study of the scripture that led me to my destination. If it helps for you to read the map I draw, great. But may I remind you we're all on a journey that no one else can take for us. Push out from the beach onto the ocean of scripture study for yourself, as a good Berean, and BonVoyage.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


Thanks again for a wisely thought out article. I wish the belicose proponents of each of the three isms you are writing about would learn a lesson from your non-combative attitude.

"I've never liked labeling. In some ways it pigeon holes us into systems that may be a bit too rigid for our taste and separates us from one another".

Amen, to that! And to the nexr sentence.

But there is also some value in knowing, examining, discussing and even embracing some system of labels, if they help us on our journey."

I look forward to your map. I suspect that, with others, mine will be there too.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

There is a personal habit you have developed and have demonstrated on almost every post I've ever written, and you've certainly shown it in every comment you've ever made on this blog, and that habit is "graciousness."

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading your insight on egalitarianism...

I've actually gone back to your first posts and I've begun reading through them. I appreciate your years of experience....I find myself (in my 40's) now going back and questioning all the "status quos" I was taught growing up.

I find myself challenged by your posts and ofttimes affirmed by what you write.

I just read Al Mohler's new post and had to laugh as he specifically referred to "biblical complementarianism". I guess if you don't believe is's not his book. (way it seems to me)

So, I look forward to having you share more...


Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for stopping by.

As I've written about my theological journey in the past, I've revealed that I discovered I had taken the traditional interpretation of a lot of theological issues as fact, but when challenged with the actual context and text to discover what the writers MEANT, I came away with a different understanding in some of those issues.

I used to be satisfied with saying rather proudly, "I believe the bible means what it says." These days I say it differently. I say, " I believe the bible means what it means." My job is to study the language, text, and context to discover that meaning the best I can, I do trust it will be under the Spirit's leading the best I can understand that.

Stop by again soon.

Off The Cuff said...

Bro. Paul,

I love what you said; " I believe the bible means what it means." Generally, I am not into plagiariam,but I may have to steal that line.:)
It is refreshing to know that people our age (I am just a few years behind you.) are still wrestling with the scriptures in search of a deeper and more complete understanding of God's truth. May we never arrive at the place where we think we know it all.

Have a Great Day!
God Bless!

Paul Burleson said...

Off the C,

There is no way you could steal a line from me because it's already stolen in some way. ;}

I'm glad to know you are a "young man regardless what less perceptive people think" too. LOL

Rex Ray said...

Off the Cuff & Paul,

You guys make me smile…In reference to “May we never arrive at the place where we think we know it all”; I think of what Muhammad Ali said:

“I don’t know it all, but I know I’m right.”

Paul Burleson said...


This...“I don’t know it all, but I know I’m right.” clear indication Ali didn't, in fact, know it all, isn't it. LOL