To the Old Fool’s amazement he discovered that since May 5, 2012 he has written 200 blogs for this website. He scrolled through the blogs and recalled why he calls himself the Old Fool. This was a day for him to read.
Today, the March, 2013 issue of The Mennonite came to my hands and I read first, “Rule Book or Story” by J. Denny Weaver, professor emeritus from Blufton, (Ohio) University. According to Weaver, the Bible should not be read as if it were a rule book. Instead, the whole Bible is the story of Jesus that evolves and changes. Changes in this story give the church the authority to adapt as it serves the world in the name of Jesus. This is how I understand Weaver.
(Weaver reminds me of the late professor Paul R. Miller who taught that the Old and New Testaments prepare the way for Christians to live in the Now Testament.)
The second article I read in The Mennonite was “A Shalom Arc of biblical interpretation” by J. Nelson Kraybill, lead pastor of Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana and president-elect of Mennonite World Conference. Kraybill introduced an “interpretative arc” that stretches from the Garden of Eden to the comprehensive shalom intended by God in the very end. He holds up Acts 15 as a model for change in the church. Change, according to Kraybill, is the response of a missional church and is often slow and complex.
The third article I read was in the March 18, 2013 issue of the Mennonite World Review titled, “Churches take stand of welcome.” It led with a report of a Virginia congregation that first discussed the issue of human sexuality 20 years ago. At that time the majority of the members of Community Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg, held the traditional view of exclusion. Now, after a three year discernment process, 90 percent of its 173 members are open to applying the same standards for celibacy and fidelity to single persons and couples regardless of sexual orientation.
The fourth article was in the March issue of “The Mennonite.” It was about Marilyn Miller as a “Pioneer Pastor.” Her life story illustrates the struggle of rule book vs. story book as presented by J. Denny Weaver, and the slow and complex change process provided by the shalom arc of biblical interpretation described by J. Nelson Kraybill.
I understand Weaver to be in this article a theological prophet; Kraybill to be more a deliberative pastor. Both are gifts to the church. In the mind of the Old Fool the time to expedite the discernment process regarding gay and lesbian believers is here and now. The Virginia Conference may now wisely bless Community Mennonite Church just as it once blessed Ruth Brunk Stoltzfus, the first woman pastor ordained by that same conference.
Hear a testimony from The Old Fool. To use the bible as a rule book will inevitably lead to division, unhappiness, and defeat; To be empowered by the story of Jesus and to live under the shalom arc of biblical interpretation is redemptive and joyful. Amen.
Read the Bible, the Mennonite, the Mennonite World Review, and subscribe to this website, for yourself, and for others of influence in the church.