Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Request for Blogspot Users

Every blogger has the right to set her or his own rules for comments.  Recently, a number of my favorite blogs which use Blogger/blogspot have switched to restricting comments by not allowing anonymous comments. I understand that. I don’t like anonymous comments, either.  Unfortunately, this means that to comment, I must have a Google account or Blogger account–and I cannot remember my Google account since I switched from Blogger to WordPress.  I am now silenced, unintentionally, I am sure, on some of my favorite blogs. So, do me a favor, please? Email me at mlw-w@insightbb.com and tell me how to recover my Google account. Thanks.

July 4, 2007 Posted by | blogs | 3 Comments

Peace Blogger Interview #9: Daniel Schweissing, pt.II

danheadshot.jpgMLW-W: Switching gears, do you have (a) military experience? (b) experience in nonviolent struggle? (c) experience in conflict resolution/transformation practices?  Describe your experiences with any or all of these. 

Daniel: No military experience, much to the chagrin of the recruiters who used to come to my high school.  🙂  My friends from the cross-country and track team and I used to run every day after school, rain or shine, whether practice was officially scheduled or not.  The recruiters would often be loading their materials into their car at the end of the school day when they’d see us come running through the parking lot as we began our daily workout.  We never talked to them, but you could just see the looks of envy as they watched us go by.  It was as if there was an invisible sign over their heads that said, “We want YOU to join the army.”  But we never did!

     As a college student, I was involved in some of the anti-war efforts on our campus during the First Gulf War in 1991.  Earlier in my studies, my history professor Tom Eckenrode had recruited me to represent our school as a delegate to the Model League of Arab States (MLAS), which is sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington, D.C.  During the three years that I participated in this program, my classmates and I became thoroughly acquainted with the history and politics of the Middle East, dialogued with numerous leaders from Arab countries, and acquired hands on practice with the diplomatic tools of conflict-resolution.  So when the Gulf War began, several of us who had been involved in the MLAS were well-positioned to take leadership in the campus anti-war effort.

    Shortly after graduating from college, I went overseas as a volunteer missionary and that was pretty much the end of my active involvement in peacemaking until very recently.  During our recent home assignment in the States, I was able to participate in some anti-war demonstrations in Denver, the first time that I had done anything of that nature in nearly fifteen years. 

     About a year ago, my wife and I recently completed instructor training for Christian PREP, which is a conflict resolution program for married couples.  Recently, we have begun offering some workshops based on this material at Emmaus Baptist Church and, so far, have had a good response.  In the future, we hope to share this material with other congregations affiliated with our national partner here in the Bahamas.  After reading Dan Buttry’s book Peace Ministry a few years ago, I realized that peacemaking needs to be practiced at home and in our churches as well as in society-at-large and this seems to be a good starting point for peacemaking in our current ministry context.

 MLW-W:  Do you consider yourself a pacifist? If so, say something about how you see nonviolence (or nonresistance) and its connections to the gospel.  Were you raised a Christian pacifist or did you convert to this view and, if the latter, tell us something of how that came about? 

Daniel: Assuming that there is a continuum of viewpoints between Just War Theory and pacifism, then I definitely lean more towards pacifism.  Though, I rarely use that term to describe myself. 

        My grandfather immigrated from Germany to the U.S. with his family when he was ten years-old.  During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army and went back to Germany as a military chaplain, though no family member since him has followed in his footsteps.  When I was growing up, we were all very proud of him and his military service.  Yet at the same time, as I grew older and became better acquainted with U.S. history—both through formal study and hearing stories from teachers and relatives—I became fascinated by two major aspects of the 1960s counter-culture:  (1) the organized resistance to the Vietnam War and (2) the Civil Rights Movement spearheaded by Martin Luther King, Jr.  This eventually led me to do some in-depth research on Thoreau, Ghandi, and MLK for an essay on civil disobedience in one of my high school English classes.  By the time I graduated from high school, I was probably an adherent to JWT  (though, I had no idea that’s what it was called until I went to seminary) but, at the same time, was very sympathetic to nonviolent struggle as a viable means to bring about change in the world.  Since then, my views have basically continued to develop along those lines through college and well into adulthood.

      Following 9/11 and the subsequent military escalation in the U.S., I began to revisit these issues.  Eventually, I came to the realization that JWT, while it sounds great on paper, is actually nearly impossible to adhere to in practice.  During my lifetime, there had been no just wars (at least none fought by the U.S.) and it didn’t seem as if any wars in the foreseeable future would fit that criteria either.  About the same time, I became acquainted with Glen H. Stassen’s work in just peacemaking theory.  For me, that was a crucial turning point as it allowed me to set aside the debate on JWT versus pacifism and focus my attention, instead, on the practical aspects of moving forward on peacemaking.  So am I a pacifist?  Probably so, though I am normally more inclined to refer to myself as simply “a peacemaker.”

 MLW-W:  As you know, fellow Baptist, in our tradition, missionaries have often been involved in oppressive, imperialist projects.  But other missionaries (or sometimes even the same ones) have often become the most radical workers for peace and justice out of their encounter with God in new contexts among people very different from themselves.  Has the ambiguity, the blessing and curse, of this missionary tradition impacted your faith and work? 

   Daniel: Well let’s just say that when some twenty-second century historian evaluates the legacy of my ministry, I hope that something positive will be said regarding my efforts for peace and justice.  That being said, I think that regardless of how culturally-sensitive we try to be and how peace and justice oriented we become, the reality is that we all have blind spots and—in spite of our best efforts—American missionaries continue to do and say stupid things that reflect the fact that we are citizens of the Empire.  In that regard, I have no doubt that an honest historian will be compelled to point out numerous ways in which my ministry might reflect such negative influence. In regards to how the legacy of imperialism impacts my work, I should point out that late twentieth and early twenty-first century missiology is significantly different than its nineteenth century counterpart.  (Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t a lot of mission agencies out there operating under a nineteenth century paradigm; but that’s another story.)  However, this type of strategy generally works better in the textbooks than it does in real life.  One of the biggest problems that I believe many missionaries face today is that we are trying to operate under a culturally-sensitive, non-imperialistic missiological strategy yet we typically find ourselves working with national churches and leaders that have been influenced by the legacy of one or two-hundred years of imperialistic, colonial-style missions.  This creates a situation that often puts us at odds with national leaders who are expecting handouts and services while we seek to empower national churches to utilize local resources, train their own members, and carry out their own ministries. 

MLW-W:  What led you to join Christian Peace Bloggers?  Since joining have you blogged any posts on peacemaking?  Have they gotten any feedback from readers? 

Daniel: As a missionary who has spent most of my adult life living outside of the United States, I have noticed that that the peace and justice movement in the U.S. often tends to be a largely white, middle-class, and sometimes paternalistic and ethnocentric movement.  I don’t mean that in a judgmental way as I recognize that we all have our blind spots when it comes to ignorance and prejudice and, even after years of living overseas, I still struggle with my own.  But with that in mind, one of my objectives in blogging is to serve as a “cultural broker” between my own culture and the cultures where I live and work, helping to shed a little bit of light on what goes on in other countries and cultures outside of the U.S.  If I succeed in doing that, then hopefully those efforts will help all of us to be a bit more sensitive to the cultural realities of other countries as we go about the task of peacemaking. 

    Much of my blogging, so far, has focused on justice issues that are unique to the Caribbean.  Following the release of the movie Amazing Grace for example, I did a post on the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, noting that this has been largely overlooked by those who are using the Wilberforce legacy to raise awareness about things such as human trafficking, child labor, and prostitution in mostly non-British Caribbean countries.  While those efforts are certainly commendable (and I hope that the movie was successful in generating support for them), I think something is wrong when we totally ignore the plight of the descendents of those whom the abolition of the slave trade was originally intended to benefit.  In any case, I think these types of issues are crucial to understand if we wish to pursue peacemaking in the Caribbean.

          The Mexican-American theologian Virgilio Elizondo says that, “Actions speak louder than words, and prophetic actions speak louder than prophetic words.”  With that in mind, I am using my blog to chronicle the efforts of the Bahamas Human Rights Network as we seek to address local Haitian rights issues.  I’m currently in the process of blogging on incarnational ministry which I believe is a prerequisite to successful ministry in a variety of areas, including peacemaking.  And of course, as my wife and I continue to offer Christian PREP training, I hope to document those efforts as well.

 MLW-W:  Do you read any of the other blogs in the blog-ring? Which ones do you like and why?  Have you alerted any readers to your blog about these blogs (or specific posts on them) which you like? 

Daniel: Apart from Levellers and Earth as it is in Heaven, both of which I read regularly, I haven’t had a lot of time to check out the other blogs.  I’m discovering that one of the disadvantages to owning and maintaining a blog is that it takes away from the time I might otherwise have to read what others are saying.  Right now, I’m making it a point to read each interview that appears in this space and then check out the blog after I’ve had a chance to become acquainted with the blogger.  Hopefully, by the time the series is over I’ll have identified a handful of blogs that I feel inspired to read on a regular basis.  While all of the blogger profiles and blogs to date have been quite interesting, I’d have to say that I found Parables and God in a Shrinking Universe to be the most compelling.

 MLW-W:  Outside of blogging, do you participate in any other peace-related activities or organizations? If so, tell us about them. 

Daniel: I try to regularly attend the Summer Conference of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, which was first recommended to me by my colleague Dan Buttry.  I have found this to be an invaluable venue for networking and support.  My first year, for example, Mike Broadway encouraged me to check out John Perkins’ writings on Christian Community Development, which is now a central focus of my teaching and ministry strategy here in Nassau.  More recently, my wife and I were invited by a local Bahamian pastor to get involved in the newly-founded Bahamas Human Rights Network, which beginning to do some cutting edge work on Haitian rights issues.

 MLW-W:  I have followed closely your involvement in the newly-founded Bahamas Human Rights Network (BHRN).  Has there been much church participation? I ask because I have heard you complain that much “pie-in-the-sky” type theology has been exported to the Caribbean from North America, especially via TV evangelists, and I wondered if that led churches to shy away from something like strong human rights work.

Daniel: A local pastor who helped to found BHRN has basically said that most churches in the Bahamas are silent when it comes to human rights issues or, if they have something to say, they’re usually on the wrong side.  With few exceptions, the majority of our members seem to be non-religious.  This is unfortunate because the Baptist churches in this country have a very rich legacy of black radicalism that paralleled and interacted with the U.S. Civil Rights Movement back in the 1960s and helped to usher in Black Majority Rule (1967) and Bahamian Independence (1973).  Recovery of this tradition would go a long way, I think, towards countering the negative impact of U.S.-style prosperity theology.

 MLW-W:  Does your local congregation take peace issues seriously? Give us some example, if “yes.” If “no,” what could you do to raise awareness about this in your local congregation? 

Daniel: We are currently involved in Emmaus Baptist Church, a Haitian immigrant congregation here in Nassau.  Our pastor and fellow church members do not really have the leisure to think about peacemaking and what that entails.  They are just struggling to feed their families, find jobs, avoid getting picked up by immigration, and send something back to Haiti—all in the midst of a severe racial discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiments.  One way that my wife and I hope to address peace and justice issues in this context is (1) by offering Christian PREP workshops—which I just explained earlier, (2) by encouraging involvement in the Bahamas Human Rights Network, and (3) via my wife’s current efforts to provide educational and economic development opportunities to Haitian women and youth.

 MLW-W:  What about your denomination or your church’s wider connections to the Church Universal?  Are peace issues a part of those non-local/denominational connections? 

Daniel: The American Baptist Churches and International Ministries cooperate in a variety of ecumenical and interdenominational efforts, both at home and abroad, in addition to maintaining longstanding partnerships with Baptist churches around the world.  As a missionary, I am especially proud of our Go Global Strategic Plan, a holistic approach to ministry that integrates the best traditions of our Evangelical and Baptist heritage with cutting edge missiology.  Within the framework of that strategy, IM and its missionaries are carrying out a number of strategic peace and justice initiatives around the world.

 MLW-W: You have already answered this somewhat, but to what extent have you travelled outside your home nation? How well do you stay informed with global events? 

Daniel: I have traveled and/or lived in New Zealand, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Quebec.  I don’t really keep up with global events as well as I would like.  Obviously, I keep up with the major headline news, internationally and in the Bahamas, but I don’t always have time to dig deeper or go out of my way to follow the many important things that don’t often make the front pages.  Another source of news is what I hear—informally or through missionary newsletters and IM press releases—regarding news and developments that impact our national partners around the world, which are often things that rarely get much, if any, attention in the mainstream media.

 MLW-W: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? 

Daniel: Yes, for those readers who are interested in being more intentional about looking at the world from a non-U.S. perspective, I would encourage them to check out Global Perspectives, which was started by me and Mayra Giovanetti—a missionary colleague serving in Chile.  Basically, it is a blog that will be co-authored by us and four other American Baptist missionaries that seeks to share our unique cross-cultural perspective on theology, mission, and world events with a broader audience than those who would normally read our monthly newsletters.

 MLW-W: Daniel, thanks for an informative and challenging interview.

July 4, 2007 Posted by | blog-ring, peacemaking | Comments Off on Peace Blogger Interview #9: Daniel Schweissing, pt.II

Rejoice! BBC Journalist Alan Johnston Released

After 114 days of captivity in Gaza, Alan Johnston has been released unharmed. This is the first good news out of Gaza in a long time.

July 4, 2007 Posted by | economic justice, human rights., Israel-Palestine | Comments Off on Rejoice! BBC Journalist Alan Johnston Released

Peace Blogger Interview #9: Daniel Schweissing, pt.I

danheadshot.jpgWelcome to a special American Independence Day edition of the Christian Peace Blogger interviews. [Previous installments can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8.]While 04 July 1776 should be remembered as the day that many of the British colonies in North America declared their Independence and formed these United States, a noble experiment in self-government, maybe it’s long past time that Americans, in the words of one of our greatest presidents, John F. Kennedy, declared their interdependence with the rest of the world.  With that in mind, this latest peace blogger interview is with Daniel Schweissing, an American with much cross-cultural experience and who splits his time, these days, between his native Colorado and his home in Nassau, the Bahamas.  Full disclosure: Unlike with most of these interviews, I know Daniel from our common membership in the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. We “met” on the BPFNA email discussion list before meeting in person–at a time when neither of us had yet heard of “blogging.” He runs the blog, Doing Theology from the Caribbean, which should be much more well-known.  Welcome, Dan!

 MLW-W: How would you describe yourself? 

Daniel: Coloradoan, Baptist, missionary, teacher, theologian, not necessarily in that order.

 MLW-W:  Those self-descriptions are always very interesting.  Tell us about your immediate family. 

Daniel: I am married to the former Estela Luisima Yeven.  Estela was born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrant parents.  We met during the two years that I spent as a volunteer missionary at her church during the mid-1990s and married shortly after my term of service ended.  We have no children, but Estela comes from a big family.  So we have fifteen nieces and nephews, fourteen on her side of the family and one on my side of the family.

 MLW-W: I always wondered how you and Estela met. I still don’t know what spell you cast on her to make her fall for a lug like you, but, then, if women weren’t extraordinarily kind and gracious, I’d still be single!  What do you do for a living?   

Daniel: Estela and I are American Baptist missionaries, presently assigned to Nassau.  I teach theology at Atlantic College and Theological Seminary and Estela works in general ministry with the local Haitian Baptist churches.  We are in an urban ministry context where we are attempting to teach and minister according to the principles of Christian community development.

       MLW-W: Briefly, could you describe or maybe just list these principles of Christian  Community Development?  

 Daniel: The basic principles as conceptualized by John Perkins are known as the 3Rs: relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution.  But other practitioners have added additional principles that have gained wide acceptance as well. 

MLW-W: That’s helpful, thanks.  In addition to your other work as a missionary, you teach theology at Atlantic College and Theological Seminary in the Bahamas.  Not to promote the “cult of the Ph.D.” or anything, but do you see yourself pursuing further theological education with this cross-cultural educational work in mind? 

Daniel: I’m certainly interested and opened to that possibility.  Unfortunately, my options in that area are largely limited to taking a three or four year leave of absence from my ministry in order to take up residence near a PhD granting institution.  That’s not really feasible right now and it doesn’t appear that it will be any time in the near future.  There are a handful of European institutions such as the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and the Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague (both of which supervise doctoral dissertations under the auspices of the University of Wales) that could work with me on a part-time basis, but the expense involved in commuting back and forth to Europe to meet with advisors is simply beyond my reach.  Perhaps the best option at this point is Fuller Seminary in Pasadena which has recently revamped their DMiss program to accommodate field missionaries who wish to pursue studies on a part-time basis.  They are currently enrolling student cohorts on a quarterly basis that focus on specific missiological themes.  So assuming that a cohort is ever offered in Afro-Caribbean studies, contextualized theology, missions history, or a related area, then I would likely give very serious consideration to enrolling.  

MLW-W: Well, I hope something along those lines works out.  When not working or blogging, what do you like to do? 

Daniel: I am a native Coloradoan but have spent most of my adult life in the Caribbean so—not surprisingly—I find the two most amazing aspects of God’s creation to be the mountains and the ocean.  When we’re at home in Colorado, I enjoy camping in the mountains and, when we’re at home in Nassau, I enjoy relaxing at the beach.

 MLW-W:  Tell us something about your faith. How long have you been a Christian? 

Daniel: I was raised in a Christian home and have attended church for as long as I can remember.  So like many of the other church kids that I grew up with, I received Jesus Christ as my personal savior when I was eight years old and was baptized, shortly thereafter, on Easter Sunday.  In hindsight, that early commitment was probably a greater reflection on what I believed was expected of me and what I saw other kids doing than a genuine commitment on my part.  The decisive turning point in my spiritual life came years later as a teenager when my youth pastor did a four-week series on hunger and poverty in our Sunday night youth meetings.  Not coincidentally, he did this when the publicity of the Ethiopian famine (1985) was at its height and the result was that I began to seriously consider what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.  Within two years of that study, I had been on a short-term missions trip to Mexico with a Christian relief and development organization and had committed to pursuing a career as an overseas missionary.

     Other important influences during my teenage years were the music of Steve Camp and the preaching of Tony Campolo.  God sort of blended all of these things together to gently push me forward in the direction that he wanted me to go.  The interesting thing is that my calling and commitment emerged in a context where holistic ministry was assumed to be a given.  So I never struggled with theological questions of whether or not to emphasize evangelism or social action.  By the time I realized that such a debate existed, it was already clear in my mind that it was an issue of both/and not either/or.

 MLW-W: Campolo, I know, having  first met him in college. But,  I confess to being rather “tone deaf” about “contemporary Christian music.” My rock music days were pretty secular. What about Steve Camp’s music influenced you? 

Daniel: I hear where you’re coming from.  I haven’t listened to contemporary Christian music on a regular basis since shortly after I graduated from college in 1992 so I’m a bit “tone deaf” in that regard myself, especially since Christian music from pre-1992 is probably no longer considered “contemporary.” 🙂 That being said, Steve Camp influenced me during my high school years mainly because of his call to radical discipleship.  His songs made it clear that being a Christian was more than just going to church on Sunday morning and attending youth group on Sunday night.  He challenged his listeners “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”  During my freshman year in college, his album Justice was released and strongly reflected progressive Evangelical sentiments on a variety of pressing social issues, which served to further reinforce my commitments in that area.  That was actually the last full album by Steve Camp that I ever heard before graduating from college and going off to the Dominican Republic as a volunteer missionary.  I remember reading a review of one of his subsequent albums in an Evangelical publication that was very critical of the fact that he had watered down his prophetic voice.  I don’t know if that’s true but, if so, then his music may have very well taken a different direction from the mid-90s onward. 

MLW-W:  You have somewhat answered this, but of what local congregation are you a member? If your local church is part of a denomination, what is it?    

Daniel: I grew up at Crossroads American Baptist Church, a conservative evangelical congregation in the north Denver suburbs.  I was baptized there, ordained there, and continue to be a member there to this day.  I’ve obviously been heavily involved in a number of other churches—mostly Baptist—during my college and graduate studies as well as through my overseas missions work.  Currently, my wife and I attend Emmaus Baptist Church in Nassau, which is the oldest Haitian congregation in the Bahamas.

 MLW-W: You were raised in the evangelical wing of the American Baptists.  Have you ever been part of a different Christian denomination or tradition? 

Daniel: My grandfather was an American Baptist pastor, so my family has been heavily influenced by those roots.  I guess I could say that I’ve been an American Baptist since about nine-months before I was born. 🙂  During my years at Fort Lewis College, I attended a Conservative Baptist congregation and was heavily involved in Campus Ambassadors—the campus ministry of the Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society (currently known as Mission to the Americas).  It was through my involvement in both of those groups that my understanding of ministry and social justice issues was greatly deepened and expanded.  In some ways—ironically—the progressive wing of the Conservative Baptists was quite a bit to the left (socially, not theologically) of the conservative ABC congregation that I grew up in.


         Having lived and traveled in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, I have been involved in a variety of Baptist churches that are really very culturally different than the largely white suburban middle-class congregation in which I grew up.  In Puerto Rico, we attended the Presbyterian Church for our first year and then a charismatic congregation for our second year.  Then we found a new ABC church start that—while theologically challenging in some respects—was a much better fit for us.

 MLW-W: How did you get into blogging?   What do you like about it?  Are there problems you see with blogging? 

Daniel: At some point last summer(’06), I heard you promoting the virtues of blogging and encouraging others to get involved. [N.B.: Noticing that more rightwing Baptists had blogs than centrists or progressives, I suggested to members of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America that some of us work to change that dynamic.] Upon further reflection, I realized that most of the theology blogs that I read tended to be very Eurocentric in their orientation and that I could contribute a distinctive voice to the blogosphere by drawing on my own cross-cultural context and experience.


      So far, I’ve enjoyed blogging as it has enabled me to share my ideas and interact with a much broader audience than what I am normally able to do on a typical listserve or message board.


         The biggest problem that I see with blogging (as opposed to, say, private listserves or message boards) is that they are public in every sense of the word.  It’s like having a private conversation amongst friends but anybody can google your name and find out exactly what you said, who you said it to, and then go quote it out of context and cause a lot of damage.  This fishbowl effect makes it difficult to honestly and openly explore sensitive or controversial topics without creating an anonymous identity for oneself.  Yet anonymity—by nature—diminishes one’s credibility when speaking to such issues.  So it’s like walking a tightrope—a real-balancing act—to be able to avoid superficiality yet still communicate clearly to non-specialists on a given subject.

 MLW-W: Those are important insights. I allow anonymous commenters on my blog (although encouraging people to give their name) because sometimes people want to comment on very sensitive topics, but fear for jobs, family, etc.  And the “fishbowl effect” has made me more cautious, I think, than I otherwise would be. 

MLW-W:  How do you relate your faith to issues of peacemaking? What sources of strength have you found? 

Daniel: My faith has been important in helping me to get a grasp on social justice issues and, in the last few years, has begun to lead me towards a better understanding of peacemaking as well.  As I already mentioned, my call to discipleship and missions service developed in the midst of a context in which holistic ministry was assumed to be normative.  This commitment was reinforced by my years of volunteer missions service, graduate study, and church involvement in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. 

      While I developed a good understanding of many of the major biblical teachings on social justice during that time, my subsequent studies at Denver Seminary really deepened my understanding and enabled me to articulate my beliefs with much greater precision.  In particular, I was challenged by my Old Testament professor Daniel Carroll, my theology professor David Buschart, and my academic advisor and world missions professor Ray Prigodich.  Each of them, in their own way, has helped me to conceptualize the whole notion of contextualizing theology which has given me a greater appreciation of the contributions of the various third-world liberation theologians as well as given me the tools to analyze culture and help me to think theologically within the context of the distinctive social location in which I minister.  So in regards to justice issues, I have been especially challenged by the theological writings of Justo González, James Cone, Cheryl Sanders, Miguel De La Torre, Kelly Brown Douglas and similar authors.

 MLW-W:  One of your profs. you don’t mention is NT Prof. Craig Blomberg, who was also my New Testament professor in college before his move to Colorado.  Craig influenced me, more than I think he expected, by introducing me to liberation theology and to biblical studies on hunger and justice. (I think he never expected me to move as far to the left of him on some other issues as I have, though.) I wonder if Craig was one of your influences, too, even though you were already concerned about hunger, economic justice, poverty, etc.

  Daniel: I deeply appreciate Craig’s scholarly commitment to world missions and social justice.  His greatest impact on me, however, was in a very different area.  I attended a public liberal arts college and, during my senior year, took a couple of courses in Judeo-Christian tradition with a professor that was well versed in the nuances of biblical criticism but also took great pleasure in creating cognitive dissonance for religiously conservative students like myself.  While I had appreciated the intellectual challenge and opportunity for spiritual growth that such classes had brought earlier in my undergraduate career, this was my first exposure to biblical criticism and this particular prof really pushed me over the edge intellectually and spiritually.  Worse yet, my circle of evangelical friends and mentors were ill-equipped to help me work through those issues and, in more than a few instances, simply dismissed what I was learning in class as “trashy theories.”  In hindsight, the anti-intellectual stance of my friends probably did more to challenge my faith than anything that my non-Christian professor actually threw at me.    When I finally ended up in seminary seven years later, I still had a lot of unresolved doubts about my faith that had been raised from that one particular grueling semester in college.  In that respect, both Craig Blomberg (NT) and Richard Hess (OT) of Denver Seminary were outstanding role models for me as I observed the way that they engaged with the Bible as well as with non-conservative biblical scholars.  They helped me to see how intellectually narrow my own Christian upbringing had been and, more importantly, they taught me how to engage in healthy dialogue with a broader spectrum of Christian scholarship.  For those lessons, I will always be grateful.

End, pt. I

July 4, 2007 Posted by | blog-ring, just peacemaking, peacemaking | 1 Comment