On last Sunday evening, Loren Johns gave a presentation to the New Perspectives on Faith titled “Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture: What Is Different and Why?” Johns is Professor of New Testament and Director of the Master of Divinity Program at AMBS.
According to Johns, early Anabaptists diligently read the scriptures and interpreted them in groups. Johns believes that today’s church is too illiterate of Bible literature, and does not sufficiently engage one another in Biblical interpretation.
During question and answer time, I admitted that since I am not a scholar I am not qualified to judge who is correct between competing scholars. Instead I am inclined to take seriously the testimonies of LGBTQ believers and their relationship to God. I asked if this was a faithful Anabaptist approach to the Bible.
The guest scholar replied that he didn’t know if it was a proper Anabaptist approach, but that he did know it to be Biblical. He used the solution of the problem of circumcision as recorded in Acts 15. There was no small discussion and debate in the church, first in Antioch and then in Jerusalem.
Loren Johns said that the conservatives in the early church undoubtedly pointed to the story in Genesis when God gave male circumcision to their father Abraham as a sign of separation for his descendants for all generations forever. They must have challenged their opponents: “Here, it’s written in Genesis 17:9-14 Can’t you read? What does forever mean?”
In spite of this solid Biblical foundation for the pro-circumcision position, the church did not require that gentile believers be circumcised. From Peter’s vision and the accounts of Paul and Silas of the Holy Spirit’s work, the church sensed that something new was stirring. New stories may override old stories.