November 23, 2016
This is a re-post from July 2016. It’s the Biblical analysis of the concept… and, yes – it is Biblical.
July 24, 2016
E pluribus unum: Is it Biblical?
I’ve defined e pluribus unum previously, as follows:
“In the same way, we as Americans are part of a whole – a nation called the United States of America – but we remain unique individuals. The world outside the USA has always recognized this about us – commenting that American individualism is different from what they have. Our cultural creations are often about the individualism (as in our Western movies). We have individual Freedoms; we act as single individuals – but yet we are part of a group: ‘We, the People of the United States…’ ”
We are NOT “just drops of water in a endless sea”, everyone identical to the other. There’s a reason why Kerry Livgren used that analogy in “Dust in the Wind.” That was the way he had learned to think of himself, based on the study of ALL the world’s religions he was into at the time (1975). That’s why “Dust in the Wind” is a song of profound despair – and that’s what he meant when he wrote it. Look at the words:
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind
Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Oh, ho, ho
Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind
You can watch Kerry Livgren’s testimony. “Dust in the Wind” is his conclusion of his studies of world religions – hopeless… useless… pointless… meaningless… But when he met Jesus, his world changed immediately – he understood that ALL world religions lead to death. There is only one true faith system: the one founded by the only God-Man who ever lived, the One who lived a perfect life, the spotless Lamb of God who allowed Himself to endure the bloody execution of crucifixion by Roman soldiers, experts in torture and death, on our behalf – all who would repent of their sins and put their trust in Him – Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah (Anointed Deliverer), the true King of the Jews. And, after paying the sacrificial price so that our sins could be forgiven, He did indeed rise up from the dead, to live forever. That’s our promise as believers in Him – we will live forever in perfect bodies with Him!
So we got THAT going for us…
I know what you’re thinking – how does any of this relate to e pluribus unum? That’s us as believers – the Apostle Paul calls us “the Body of the Messiah”. As believers in Jesus (or, Yeshua ha Mashiach, His name in Hebrew-Aramaic), we are actually Him – we are Jesus presented to a lost world. We are a genuine body like the human bodies that we have. That’s why Paul talks about spiritual gifts when he discusses what it means to be the “Body of the Messiah”. We are all spiritual “snowflakes”, to borrow an analogy from John MacArthur. We are all part of the “Body”, just like all of our cells are part of our bodies. And, just like our cells, we are all different from each other. Did you know that? Even though some cells might be similar to others, every single cell in our bodies is unique. It is in a unique location in relation to other cells of the body – and every properly functioning cell knows not only what it is but WHERE it is in relation to all the cells around it and to every other cell in the body. Just so in the “Body of the Messiah”: we might be similar in some ways to others, but every one of us is a unique individual. Our spiritual “gift” is really a combination of supernatural abilities that enable us to function – to minister our gifts to others in the “Body”.
The reality of us as cells functioning in the “Body of the Messiah” holds up when we continue to analogy to cancer cells. Cells become cancer cells when they become undisciplined – out of control. They lose their ability to communicate properly; they lose their distinctiveness as specific, unique, functioning cells and become useless cells that end up destroying the body. Their genetic information goes haywire; essentially, every cancer cell is the same to the body – useless, but sucking life-giving energy from the whole organism. Just so are those who try to become part of the “Body,” but are not called by the true shepherd. Jesus used the analogy of a false shepherd:
John 10: 1, 2 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.”
These false shepherds are like cancer cells that cause other, healthy cells to become cancerous. The other cells that become cancer cells are like the lead cancer cells – not only useless to the body, but destructive to it. The Pharisees and the Sadducees are the cancer cells in Jesus’ day; “false teachers” and “false brethren” are the cancer cells in the “Body of the Messiah” today. But, just like in the parable of the wheat and the tares, these cancer cells will have to co-exist with the healthy cells (true believers) until the judgment, when Jesus Himself will “cut them out.”
Even the secular textbook I use when I teach Biology (Miller/Levine “Biology” 2014) says that there is unity in diversity in a every living system. When listing the Major BIG IDEAS in Biology, it says that Unity and Diversity is a Big Idea, defined this way: Although life takes an almost unbelievable variety of forms, all living things are fundamentally similar at the molecular level. All organisms are composed of a common set of carbon-based molecules, store information in a common genetic code, and use proteins to build their structures and carry out their functions. One great contribution of evolutionary theory is that it explains both this unity of life and its diversity.
I agree with everything but that last statement: looks to me that this unity and diversity is contradictory to evolution, but it certainly looks like there’s a Common Designer who is infinitely creative! The diversity of life shows the unfathomable creativity of the Creator, Elohim, while the unity shows us that He is the source of all life!
Look at this idea of Unity and Diversity in the Bible. We could start at the Garden of Eden (but we don’t have a lot of specific details in Scripture). We do know, however, that a lot of organisms that existed on the pre-Flood earth have gone extinct – look at the incredible diversity of fossils. We even comment on the “Cambrian Explosion”: that (supposedly) early in earth’s history – during the so-called Paleozoic Era, with the Cambrian period being the first time life existed on our planet, there was an enormous burst of organisms “evolving” and going extinct. Here’s what the National Geographic site (not a Creationist site, that’s for sure) says:
The Cambrian period, part of the Paleozoic era, produced the most intense burst of evolution ever known. The Cambrian Explosion saw an incredible diversity of life emerge, including many major animal groups alive today. Among them were the chordates, to which vertebrates (animals with backbones) such as humans belong.
What sparked this biological bonanza isn’t clear. It may be that oxygen in the atmosphere, thanks to emissions from photosynthesizing cyanobacteria and algae, were at levels needed to fuel the growth of more complex body structures and ways of living. The environment also became more hospitable, with a warming climate and rising sea levels flooding low-lying landmasses to create shallow, marine habitats ideal for spawning new life-forms.
Nevertheless, the scale of the Cambrian Explosion is likely exaggerated due to the proliferation of hard-bodied animals that fossilized much more readily than their soft-bodied precursors. These included brachiopods, which lived in shells resembling those of clams or cockles, and animals with jointed, external skeletons known as arthropods—the ancestors of insects, spiders, and crustaceans. These toughened-up creatures represented a crucial innovation: hard bodies offering animals both a defense against enemies and a framework for supporting bigger body sizes.
Good guesses! Or maybe the Biblical accounts of Creation and the world-wide Flood are TRUE!
There’s Unity and Diversity beyond the Creation and the Flood, of course. The next thing – the Tower of Babel – is EXACTLY about that! The post-Flood world sought unanimity – they wanted to stay in one place, speaking one language, living in a one-world system with a one-world religion, in defiance of Elohim’s command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” He confused their languages, causing them to separate to the different parts of the earth, after the Flood. One evidence that this is true is that linguists – who are not following the Bible – cannot find a “first human language” in their research of the modern languages of the world. The other piece of evidence is the existence of Gobeckli Tepi – which here, again, is how it is defined by the evolutionists at National Geographic:
“Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it’s the site of the world’s oldest temple.”
Could this be the remains of the Tower of Babel? Possibly!
So the peoples of the world began to separate and become the ethnic groups that we find today. One of those ethnic groups came from the children of Eber – also known as Hebrews, a guy named Abram. Elohim chose him and his descendents as a group of people He would pour out His blessings on. Look at the first message Elohim gave to Abram:
Genesis 12: 1 – 3 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Later on, the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham by giving him Isaac as his son of promise. Isaac was very different from Abraham. And Isaac and Rebekah had two sons who were very different from each other: Esau and Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons, all of whom were very different from each other – that’s apparent when Jacob (now named Israel) blessed his sons before he died. The Twelve Tribes of Israel were a greatly diverse group, but they were all unified as the blessed descendants of Abraham.
Throughout the Tanakh (which we call the Old Testament), there is a great deal of diversity. The prophets all serve the same God (Yahweh), but they are all different from each other. Isaiah is not Jeremiah, who is not Ezekiel, who is not Daniel. Amos and Hosea primarily prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the Ten Tribes), but their messages of judgment were very different. Habakkuk was not Nahum; Zechariah was NOT Malachi… they were all Yahweh’s prophets, but they were their own, unique person.
It’s the same in the Messianic writings (the New Testament). Jesus picked a very diverse group of men to be His disciples, didn’t He? Just two brothers – the ever-obedient, quiet Andrew and his loud, bombastic, over-the-top Peter – are unique individuals. Look at how Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, is so different from Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, in their writings. Even Paul and Jesus’ half-brother James are different enough that people accuse them of disagreeing – but they don’t really. It’s just because they’re two different people looking at the same faith from two different directions.
Every group had its own unique characteristics. Paul wrote differently to the Corinthians – who were mostly Gentiles living is a very pagan society – than he did to the Thessalonians, for example, because they had more of a Jewish foundation.
Finally – look at the seven churches in the Book of the Revelation. They are supposed to represent churches as they would exist throughout time – and, once again, they are very different from each other. There are churches that are alive, but are in various degrees of compromise with sin – like the churches of Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira. There were two churches which got no rebuke from Jesus, but for two completely different reasons: Smyrna (which was dealing with persecution) and Philadelphia (the “Church of the Open Door”, which was focused properly on missions and outreach). Then, there were two churches that were already dead – no churches at all: Sardis and Laodicea.
And look at the idea of America, related to unity and diversity: the “melting pot” idea. This nation is really the “anti-Babel”: people have come from every nation on earth (diversity) to become a new unity – the United States of America. We ARE the world, in a real sense. We all come from other places (yes – including “Native Americans,” whose ancestors came Asia across the Bering Strait sometime during the Ice Age, which occurred right after the Flood, according to a Biblical time frame). When our ancestors came here, however, it wasn’t to continue being the same as they were – they came for American-style Freedom. All the immigrants from previous times came here to BE Americans – or, at least have their children be Americans. We were different – it didn’t matter whether you came from Italy, Poland, Ireland, England, Serbia, Croatia, Lebanon, Turkey, Kenya, Nigeria, China, Japan, or Indonesia – we all came here to be Americans. We are diverse – and we are STRONG because we are diverse – but we are unified under the banner of a democratic republic, ruled by a Constitution, NOT by any totalitarian who wants to grab power. Our government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” was designed to minimize the government’s role in our lives, while at the same time keeping us free to live our lives the best way we know how.
Now – I can hear those saying, “But what about the slaves? THEY didn’t choose to be here!” Yes – that’s true; their ancestors didn’t choose to be here. But they’re here now. Would any descendents of slaves (which, by the way, the president is NOT) desire to go back to where their ancestors came from? In our country, you are perfectly free to do that; you can go anywhere you would like (only restricted by the OTHER countries, but all Americans are free to leave, if they so choose). But remember: we have an immigration problem, not an emigration problem. Everybody in the world, if they could, would like to come HERE. They’re trying. Why? Because (at least, up until now), this has been “The Land of Opportunity” for people all over the world. It has been. Does that mean everybody who comes here will become rich? Not at all. But we’ve got it better here than any other place on the planet. Even a poor American has much more than most average people in other nations.
Unity in diversity – that’s the healthiest way. But, while we have great diversity, we are unique individuals. We cannot be all things to all people – we are who we are. The Lord wants us to come to Him as individuals – uniquely created by Him, with all of our individual sins. He does not want monolithic automatons – that’s what the globalists want. They accept no true dissent, not the Lord. The Lord wants us to love Him with all our “heart, soul, MIND, and strength.” Not EVER drops of water in an endless sea!