A number of years ago I took an on-line course from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with Dr. Grant Lovejoy. Grant taught the preaching lab I took during my M.Div. work in the late 1980’s. He spent his sabbatical in Africa working through the concepts leading to the course on, "Chronological Bible Storytelling." He shared the story of a people group with whom humanitarian agencies worked. Infant mortality rate among this group did not abate despite the efforts of relief workers to provide powdered milk. It had been determined one of the chief reasons for the high infant mortality rate was due to malnutrition and specifically an infant’s need for milk. The indigenous group received the powdered mild with the instructions in their tribal language and yet the milk went unused. Someone conceived the idea to provide the instructions in the form of a story about a mother needing to feed her newborn. Once the information reached the hands of mother in the new format the infant mortality rate began to decline. Sometimes we must learn to offer the right information the right way.
Working through the Lectionary text for this coming Sunday provided an opportunity to think about current events in my denominational context. Blog posts, articles and announced conferences regularly point to the growing tension between groups within the SBC. Some would like to pretend they do not exist while others would as soon dismiss dissent as a group of ungrateful youngsters.
Growing up I often heard our mantra, "We are a people of the Book!" Schism occurred when one’s view of the book became the central issue. Call it takeover or resurgence, the operating agenda seemed centered on the Scriptures. I noted in one of yesterday’s posts how a young seminary student senses the day coming when we must choose between two new sides apparently cut from the same "conservative cloth." There is little doubt sentiment and some events appear to be leading us to a line in the sand where cooperation may be more and more difficult if you do not abide the hegemonic/power group position.
Reading from the comments surrounding Mark 9:38-41, I found James A. Brooks comments to be spot on. They seem to be in the right form – a commentary on the Scritpures. The words seem to come from an approved source – offerred in," The New American Commentary" put out by Broadman Press. Mr. Brooks inclusion in this series implies he is a trusted and respected scholar. He taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We appear to have all the necessary criterion to hear from Dr. Brooks on the matter of interpretation and application of his commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Do we listen? He writes,
(commenting on Mark 9:39-40) Jesus’ – and Mark’s – point was that all who with any degree of sincerity do something for or on behalf of Jesus (note "in my name") were to be recognized as allies, if not fellow disciples. The lesson for the church today is that tolerance, acceptance, and recognition should be extended to other denominations and to person of other theological persuasions. Sadly, few individual Christians and Christian groups throughout the history of the church have followed this teaching of Jesus. Exclusiveness rather than inclusiveness has been the rule. (Brooks, NAC- Mark,p.151)
Our own mortality may depend on our ability to read in the forms and from the people we accept.