Posts Tagged Hinson

Hear What God Is Saying to the Church – Dr. Monty Knight

Glenn Hinson taught me how to read a book–any book–ethically (fairly). Did he teach you the same?Hinson said that for any book to be read ethically, it must be read in its own context, e.g. (speaking metaphorically) a love note is not a shopping list, nor a shopping list a love note.

At Circular, the ascription at the end of the scripture reading used to be, “Hear what God is saying to the Church.” Which, as you know, is partly true, since the Hebrew Bible (Jesus’ Bible) is Israel’s book, written and edited by, to, for, from and out of the life of ancient Israel. And again, as you know, both testaments (unless one is a Marcionite) are the Church’s book (anthological as they may be), the New Testament (the witness to faith of the first Christians) having been written, edited and canonized likewise by, to, for, from and out of the life of the Church between the first and fourth centuries C.E. When Susan Dunn or Bert Keller have preached in recent years, they have used as an ascription to the scripture reading, the UCC mantra: “Listen! God is still speaking.” Which (as I’ve just noted) is a less ambiguous ascription than “Hear what God is saying to the church.”

In recent years, the ascription has been changed (by whom?) to “Hear the wisdom in the words.” Which is, of course, likely so, since there is apparently, if not obviously valuable, important wisdom in the Bible. Most precisely, as you know, in the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, commonly referred to as “wisdom literature.” Which Bert Keller once termed “ancient psychology.”  Except there is also considerable wisdom in many other literary sources. Which raises the question (in this case, for “wisdom” purposes), what’s the difference between the Bible and The Brothers Karamazov or To Kill a Mockingbird, or the poetry of a Hopkins or an Eliot? Not unlike Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, much of Dr. Seuss or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, most readers would likely consider such works notably “wise” as well.

So why is the explicit reading of scripture so central to Christian worship, both in the Church of the New Testament and across Christian history? How is Bible reading in church any different from observing communion and baptism? Most people bathe, or at least wash a part of their bodies daily, and bread and wine are sacred gifts anywhere (at least for discerning Christians). What then is the significance of the context in which these rituals are observed?

Some years ago, I was invited to preach at the Unitarian Church, here in Charleston. (I say “church” in the sociological, rather than in the I Corinthians 12 theological sense.) In agreeing, I explained to the woman inviting me that I was a Christian minister and that I would like to take a text from the Bible and preach a sermon from that portion of scripture. I asked her if that was OK, or if she merely wanted me to give a speech or lecture on mental health or some other social or political subject (as I have so often presented to the Rotary Club, or some similar civic organization).

To which she replied, “Oh, that would be wonderful! We haven’t heard the Bible read here in our church in years.”

 

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Thank You Is Not Enough for These Mind Benders

For the last several months I have kept the focus of this blog on Christian Civility, Christian Communication and Christian Ethics. I have asked so many thought provoking men and women whom I respect to help me. The John A. Hamrick Lectures which enriched our lives so deeply are no more. Carol and I have been unable to attend The Chautauqua Institution in New York State in the past couple of years where we have been so inspired by the speakers; therefore, I decided to create my own Chautauqua and to share it. How blessed I am that these people are a part of my life.

How could I have had a better start than with renowned Bible scholar and theologian Glenn Hinson? Glenn lectured at the Hamrick Lectureship. He was followed by a young dynamic Children’s Minister, Emory Hiott. Emory represents the future of the church. Next came my long term friend and mentor, Dr. Monty Knight. Rev. Dr. John Johnson, a friend from Furman University days and an Episcopal priest rounded out the first month.

August started with Thomas Crowl, a retired Judge, and author of, In His Service, a book of devotionals. Rev. Maria Swearengin, was the assistant chaplain at Furman University.  She is now a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Rev. Dr. Molly, Marshall, president of Central Baptist Seminary, and Rev. George Rossi followed through. George is a counselor at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Marshall spoke twice at the Hamrick Lectures.

Rev Stephanie McLeskey is the chaplain at Mars Hill University. Sarah Pinson is active in food health in the Charleston area and is an active member of Circular Congregation Church. Dr. Douglas Hunter at the time was the Director of the Whitfield Christian Life Center at Charleston Southern University.  Robert Darden is a professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University. Penn State University Press published his two volume history of protest songs and spirituals, Nothing but Love in God’s Waters. Rev. Paul Stouffer is a retired missionary and was a classmate at Mars Hill University.

Linda Wertheimer is the author of, Faith Ed. It is an absolutely splendid work. Kris Wood is the organizer for the Christian Writer’s Conferences at Green Lake, Wisconsin, Dr. Bill Leonard is a global speaker and professor at Wake Forest University Divinity School. Bill also spoke at the Hamrick Lectures and at the Lenten Lectures at Mepkin Abbey. Fredrick Schmidt is a professor at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Rev. Matt Sapp is the pastor of Heritage Fellowship Baptist Church in Canton, Georgia and a frequent contributor to www.ethicsdaily.com. Rev. Brian Skar is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, North Dakota. We met at the Green Lake Christian Writer’s Conference. Rev. Dr. Linda Bridges is part of the Spotlight International Education Group and a former faculty member at Wake Forest University Divinity School. She and I first met at the Chautauqua Institution. Rev. Deborah Meister is the former Rector at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. Rev. Julia Rusling is a priest associate at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody, GA.

Dr. Mark Labberton is the president of Fuller Evangelical Theological Seminary and Dr. Richard Mauw is President Emeritus. Dr. Mauw contributed a chapter to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. His book, Uncommon Decency, is a masterpiece. If you have not read it, go out and get it. While you are at it get his book, Praying at Burger King.

RChristina Embree is director of children and family ministries at Nicholasville United Methodist Church near Lexington, Kentucky. She is a wife, mother and writer. Dr. Eric Barreta is a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Rev. Dr. Shawnethea Monroe is the minister at Plymouth Church, United Church of Christ in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She has two posts back to back. My friend, Rev. George Rossi, is also back with an excellent discussion of physical, mental and spiritual health. Retired Judge Thomas Crowl is back to help us start the New Year.

What a tremendous blessing this has been. These contributions Merritt reading again and again. Thank you all.

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