Christians for Biblical Equality has issued a call for papers for their Winter 2006 issue of Mutuality. The theme for this issue will be “worship and equality.” They announce that they “still need authors” for the following topics:
- The role of spirituals and freedom songs in the long struggle for ethnic equality and justice in the United States
- Examples of worship leaders in the Bible, like Miriam and David
- Examples of worship leaders in Church history, like Hildegaard of Bingen
- Themes of justice and equality in the Psalms, and how the Psalms have influenced the church’s worship
- Themes of justice and equality in Mary’s Magnificat
- Reflections on how worship has influenced your understanding of biblical equality and justice, and vice versa
- Examples of how worship can be a topic of division, but also a source of unity and healing
It will be fascinating to see how the editors of Mutuality view the intersection of worship and “equality.” What, I wonder, amounts to “worship and inequality?” Oh, I know! That tedious business about women never exercising authority or teaching a man somewhere in one of Paul’s minor epistles. He was having a bad day, right? Anyhow – women need to be in those pulpits for our worship to have equality. I’ll bet that’s what’s on their minds.
But, returning to those topics for which they have no authors, their requests provide some fascinating insights into how egalitarians evaluate and assess various theological things. Consider …
“Long struggle” is illuminating, as it is defined as extending (at most) back to 1776, or perhaps a few years earlier. So, if a struggle has gone on for 230 to 250 years, this is a Long Time for an egalitarian. It helps to keep this in mind, because the Church has been around for 2,000 years, or, possibly, for up to 3,500 years (assuming a 15th Century BC date for the Exodus and incorporating the entirety of Israel in “the Church”). That’s 8 to 14 times as long as what egalitarians will call “long” in terms of the calendar.
Why is this helpful to know?
Well, it suggests that perhaps the Mutuality editors cannot apprehend real antiquity, real historical momentum, as one finds in the entirety of the Church. If they could apprehend this, they would see how novel, how radically Nouveau Chic their egalitarian values actually are in the historical scheme of things. After all, men have been heads of their families and churches for about 1900 years, maybe a few decades more than that. But, does this count for anything in the egalitarian scheme of things historical?
Two hundred plus years is about as much as the folks at CBE can reckon for “long time” stuff. No wonder they can’t appreciate how really long time the patriarchal values have held forth in Christ’s Church.
But, there’s more here …
Did you know that the Old Testament had “worship leaders?” And that they included women? And that the Medieval Church had them too? And that Hildegaard von Bingen was one of them? I’ll bet this is news to the elders of the tribes of Israel, and to Asaph, and to Zechariah, as well as to Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, and Obed-Edom, along with Jeiel, Benaiah, and Jahaziel. And, I bet it was Really News to Popes Eugene III, Anastasius IV, Adrian IV, and Alexander III, since Hildegaard’s writings and music were confined to her convent until after her death.
We have worship leaders today, and they are almost entirely women, right? So, of course, the Medieval Church must have had some women worship leaders. And, so too did Israel’s Temple worship. Just stands to reason, right? Whatever we have today must have been back there too, right?
And those themes of justice and equality in Mary’s Magnificat? Wow! How fantastic, that here in the 21st Century we’re finally learning about that.
And, you know what??? These themes were in the Psalms too! Themes of equality in the Psalms, if you can believe it. Surely we can find someone to author a paper that lays this all out for us.
Worship a topic of division? Hey, here’s an idea — how about the equality of Agag and the sheep? Didn’t the Prophet Samuel hew Agag to pieces before the LORD, kind of like the sheep were hewn into pieces at the altar worship? If that isn’t division in worship, I don’t know what is!
And you know why, of course. It was because Saul and Agag didn’t wait for Samuel to show up for worship. They went ahead of him (see? a-HEAD; not WITH Samuel). So, that most definitely led to multiple divisions of Agag.
You know, this egalitarian perspective sheds a whole new light on those otherwise confusing (and, seemingly, patriarchal) books of the Old Testament. Can you imagine those centuries of misled believers who never heard a word about equality until the editors of Mutuality came along to bless God’s Church? How horrid it must have been!
Everyone equally praise the Lord, following those mostly female worship leaders! Today we have Mutuality and those wonderful papers that will appear in the Winter 2006 edition, once they find people to write them.