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My friend John Blase is a writer who chooses his words with utmost care. So when I noticed he refers to his wife as his "girlfriend" in his blogs, I knew the quirk was intentional. It turns out the habit goes back to the time when John was asked whether the lovely lady next to him was his wife or his girlfriend. He gave the only answer that made sense: "Yes."

I've been thinking about John and his girlfriend/wife a lot lately, especially when I read my Bible. Is it faith or works? I demand of the text, and the answer seems to be: "Yes." Is God a God of revelation or of mystery? Is he as close as a whisper or beyond all things? Yes. Yes. Is the kingdom of heaven now or not yet? Should I be wise as a serpent or innocent as a dove? Should I fall headlong into grace or work out my salvation with fear and trembling? Yes. Yes. Yes.

A lifetime of evangelical thinking has primed me for either/or questions,breeding a deep distrust of both/and propositions. After all, one of the distinguishing features of Christianity is its insistence that there is one way to God. A wariness of pluralistic worldviews is completely warranted. But if I'm not careful, that insistence can mutate into creating artificial schisms that fly in the face of a God who desires to make us whole in radical ways.

When we fall for false dualities, we end up arguing over whether the gospel is concerned with ministering to the poor or proclaiming the Word. We believe our theology must emphasize either a free gift of grace or a call to holy living. In a myriad of areas, we polarize, dichotomize, and greatly minimize the life God has for us.

In his book Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith, Richard J. Foster argues for a larger, less-fragmented ...

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Christianity Today
A Both/And Path to Truth
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August 2011

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