The Scholar Answers my Question

JohnsOn 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.

group studyAccording 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.

bible_open_newThe 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.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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6 Responses to The Scholar Answers my Question

  1. Carl Metzler says:

    Thanks for your report, Martin. And Professor Johns encouraged all of us to go home and carefully read and think about Acts 15 as we ponder the current discussion in MC USA.

    • Thanks, Carl, for finishing my blog. I knew there had to be an application but I didn’t know how to word it. As I think of it now I would write the last sentence as “new stories that are alive may override old stories that are written down.”

  2. Freda Zehr says:

    Martin, again as always your words from brother Johns resonated so strongly with me. As a child growing up I always wondered why God told Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Then I read a report from people who had been over the holy lands and they reported finding a building which housed thousands of newborn baby boys bones, whose parents worshiped a god who demanded that everyone sacrificed their f first born sons.
    Suddenly I thought, “oh that is why Abraham felt God was asking that of him, but needless to say, my elders immediately set me straight saying that, the Bible says that is true, God did indeed tell Abraham that.
    One question I left unspoken, which was, “But NO ONE today would believe that God would ask them to kill their son, so why not?You say that God never changes, yet we can only imagine what would happen to a man was walking up a with his child in his arms with the intent offer him as a sacrifice to God! claiming God had told him to do this.” From the time I was a little girl I was such a questioner.”you always were the rebellious one, we dare not question Gods word”

  3. Carl Metzler says:

    Martin, I just read, in Huffington Post, a Religion News Service story of the sermon that Pope Francis gave today. The sermon goes so well with your post, and with today’s SS lesson from Matthew 25. I regret that I am not computer savvy enough to give you a link, but you should find it easily with your search engine.

  4. Keep up the good work, snow and all.

  5. Sam Troyer says:

    This sounds good to me, believers today still need to gather around the Word and pray for the Holy Spirits guidance to follow Jesus. Doesn’t He say where two or three of you are gathered in my name..

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