Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy. A Book Discussion. (Index here)
Part V: Living it Out (Practical Applications)
Chapter 28 – Helping the Church Understand Biblical Equality. Mimi Haddad and Alvera Mickelson.
Haddad an Mickelson write, “Sociological research suggests that it is not enough to present the biblical facts” if there are to real changes toward biblical equality. (481) The success of innovative change is dependent on a number of variables. Drawing on the work of Everett M. Rogers in his book Diffusion of Innovation the identify six variables that must be addressed.
Eliminate Complexity: The Importance of Understandable language – “Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use. The higher the complexity, the lower the rate of adoption.” (482) “Egalitarians must speak the truths of the Bible in language like that of our Lord Jesus Christ – simple, direct and rich in personal stories.” (482)
Show the Relative Advantage: How Biblical Equality Improves People’s Lives – “The Relative Advantage is he degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes.” (484) “Egalitarians must show how life improves, in marriages and in the church, when gender barriers are broken. (482)
Increase Compatibility: Connecting to the Core Beliefs of Christians – Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. (487) Egalitarians must connect the message to the core beliefs of Christians. (482)
Improve Observability: Modeling the Message of Gender Equality – “Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others.” (489) Model the message in as many ways as possible. (482)
Offer Trialability: Safe, Simple Ways to Sample Biblical Equality – Trialaiblity is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis… The personal trying-out of an innovation is a way to give meaning to an innovation, to find out how it works under one’s own conditions. This trial is a means to dispel uncertainty about the new idea.” (491) Find simple, safe ways for people to “sample: their freedom in Christ with no gender barriers. (482)
All of these suggestions are good advice. It seems to me that there is another critical factor for anyone working for transformation of this kind: Put your energy into the vision, not into fighting the opposition. The opposition can not be ignored and head to head confrontation can not be avoided but that is not the central focus. The central focus needs be about living out gift-based ministry.
Mimi Haddad received her M.A.T.S. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is a Ph.D. candidate in historical theology at the University of Durham, England. She servers as president of Christians for Biblical Equality <www.cbeinternational.org> and is part of an intentional community in the city of Minneapolis. Mimi also serves on the steering committee and occasionally cochairs the Evangelicals and Gender Study Group at ETS.
Alvera Mickelsen received her M.A. from Wheaton College and M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University. She taught writing for many years at Wheaton and Bethel Colleges. She and her late husband, Berkeley Mickelsen, wrote several articles and books together, including The Family Bible Encyclopedia, Understanding Scripture and The Picture Bible Dictionary. The two of them were among the founders of Christians for Biblical Equality. Alvera also served as editor for Women, Authority and the Bible.
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