That was then; This is now

Dr. Wit at a podium

About a week ago I saw that a special guest lecturer was coming to the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. I said to myself that I would like to hear the lectures by Hans De Wit. That was then, and then I remembered that my daughter Rachel travels to Mennonite Church USA Headquarters which is near AMBS. I asked her if I could ride with her.

With her generosity I found myself in the AMBS library where I skimmed a section of a book on biblical interpretation. I was attracted to the segment on the Epistle to the Hebrews titled That was then; This is now. I learned from this reading that the Bible allows us to hear a conversation between the Father and the Son and to understand the conversation and be enabled to act through the Holy Spirit.

Daniel Shipani, AMBS Professor and friend of Hans de Wit

Then I went to the Sermon on the Mount Chapel to hear Dr. Hans de Wit’s lectures. I was not sure if I would know the way to the Chapel and was surprised to see several others from Greencroft who had come to hear the lecture.  Dr. Wit was born, reared and trained first in the Netherlands.  Then he went to Chili for further training where he learned Spanish and was exposed to liberation theology.  After ten years  he returned to the Netherlands, and on reflection he saw certain weaknesses in liberation theology. It was a theology owned by the poor of only one culture. That seemed to be too limiting to him.

His lectures were on a unique global project in which he gathered small groups of ordinary readers from many cultures around the globe. Each group was asked to study the same biblical text and report in writing what they saw in the text. Each cultural group reported a unique insight. Disparate groups interacted with each other.  It is hoped that this global  process will develop an empirical hermeneutic.

Sarah Wenger Shank, President of AMBS

I supposed I was the oldest person listening to the lectures.  So I tried to imagine myself as a young seminarian about to accept a call to a Mennonite congregation.  That seems to me to be a difficult assignment, and I prayed for them.  Perhaps they will lead   congregations  to study the same scriptures and report in writing what they observe and what behaviors they believe the Spirit is leading them to adopt. That may lead us all to a new hospitality.

Biblical vision
varies with cultural view
whatever it reads


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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2 Responses to That was then; This is now

  1. Peter B. Wiebe says:

    I was dropped from your regular blogs. Can you again put me on your list to receive them. I have missed too many, and don’t know why this happened. Blessings to you for allowing yourself to think new thoughts and helping us in on them also.–Peter

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