Reframing religious diversity through the stories of Cain, Ishmael, and Esau.
The way we read the Bible matters for the way we engage the pluralistic world around us. For instance, if we understand the book of Genesis as narrowly focused on primary characters like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, we’ll miss the larger story and end up with the impression that God only cares about those who are “chosen.” In fact, the narratives of marginalized biblical characters reveal that God protects and provides for them also. What might this mean for Christians living in a world of religious difference today?
In Father Abraham’s Many Children, Tyler Mayfield reflects on the stories of three of the most significant “other brothers” in the Bible—namely, on God’s continued engagement with Cain after he murders Abel, Ishmael’s circumcision as a sign of God’s covenant, and Esau’s reconciliation with Jacob. From these stories, Mayfield draws out a more generous theology of religious diversity, so that Christians might be better equipped to authentically love their neighbors of multiple faith traditions—as God loves, and has always loved, all humanity.
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