According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Monday, July 14, 2014

Transparent Moments of Scholarship when a Theologian Must Either Stay or Change, Part 9 - Michael L. Ruffin


Michael L. Ruffin

“aha” moments: biblical scholars (and pastors) tell their stories (8): Michael Ruffin
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/07/aha-moments-biblical-scholars-and-pastors-tell-their-stories-8-michael-ruffin/

by Peter Enns
July 14, 2014

Michael L. Ruffin (MDiv and PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is pastor of First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, Georgia and former professor in the School of Religion at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Prayer 365, Living on the Edge: Preaching Advent in Year C, and Living Between The Advents.

This is the first post in this series by someone whose career has been primarily as a pastor (hence the slight title change).

---

I was raised in the small town of Barnesville, Georgia, where I was born in 1958. My parents were high school-educated textile mill workers who loved the Lord, who loved their only child, and who loved their church. As a result, my presence at the church was perpetual.

The church was the Midway Baptist Church, a nominally Southern Baptist Church with Independent (fundamentalist, pre-millennial, and all that) Baptist leanings that was located several miles from town on City Pond Road (although throughout my childhood I thought it was on County Maintained Road since the only sign on it said “County Maintained”).

In ninety-five percent of the families at Midway, at least one - and often both - adults worked in a mill; I can remember just a small handful of people who had any education beyond high school.

Our pastor, the now late and much missed but then beloved Rev. Herman J. “Bill” Coleman, was an energetically evangelistic preacher and caring pastor who had no college or seminary training; I don’t think he finished high school.

Preacher Bill, as everyone called him, would have been shocked and dismayed had he ever been exposed to any sort of critical approach to the Bible. Once I saw an ad in one of my comic books for a book containing “Lost Books of the Bible”; I asked Preacher Bill what he thought about that and he said, “That’s the imagination of some man’s mind!” I imagine that’s what he would have said had someone tried to describe the Documentary Hypothesis to him.

When I was fourteen I announced to my church family that I had been called to preach; a couple of years later I found myself in Macon at Mercer University, then the flagship university of Georgia Baptists (but now free of denominational entanglement).

During my first semester in the fall of 1975 I enrolled in “Introduction to the Old Testament” which was taught by Dr. Howard P. Giddens, then a sixty-something year old professor who some ten years earlier had come back to his alma mater to teach after many years of service as a pastor. The textbooks for the course were the Oxford Annotated Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and James King West’s Introduction to the Old Testament.

Within the first couple of weeks we had covered many significant introductory matters, including the Documentary Hypothesis. My head was set to spinning.

On a trip home I decided to broach with my father (who was our Baptist church's deacon, and long-time men’s Sunday School class teacher) the subject of the liberalism to which I was being subjected. I figured (and probably hoped) that he would tell me to go pack my bags, come back home, and enroll in some safe state school.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “Do you know what Dr. Giddens and my textbook say about the Pentateuch?”

Dad: “About the what?”

Me: “The Pentateuch. The Torah. The first five books of the Old Testament.”

Dad: “Oh. No, what do they say?”

Me: “That Moses didn’t write everything in those books.”

Dad: “Really?”

Me: “Yes, really.”

Dad: “Huh. Well, I always wondered how Moses managed to write about his own death.”

And that is how it took a college professor with a Th.D., an introductory Hebrew Bible textbook, and my high school-educated textile mill-working father to open my eyes to all the biblical wonders to which they are still being opened …



Index to Series -

Transparent Moments of Scholarship when a Theologian Must Either Stay or Change

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