A Glimpse at Anti-Semitism

By perspectives
Published on Sunday, November 1st, 2020

Is the deteriorating atmosphere regarding the Jewish people in the U.S.A. and abroad a new thing?  Even prior to the New Covenant, the Jewish people have been singled out for discrimination; it has never truly gone away.  So what is the current situation today, and how shall the Anabaptist community respond?  The answer requires reflection on the issues involved, biblical perspective, and living faith.    

Vandalism, shootings, stabbings, hate filled rants, eggings;  these all seem like somewhat common fare against Jewish people today.  The motives behind these crimes are often foggy, and truly there are many different platforms from which to address the issues.  A few of the motives have included: copy-cat attacks, white and black supremacy groups, poor neighborly relationships, plain hatred, and criminal opportunists.  Law enforcement has struggled to defend Jews because the hatred comes from such a wide spectrum of society.  Notably, it was reported, “…in most cases, the attackers have not stated a clear reason for their attacks”. “They all had one common theme, which was the hatred of Jews, and that’s the common thread here and that’s what we have to keep our eye on,” said Evan Bernstein, the New York/New Jersey regional director at the Anti-Defamation League.2  Astonishingly, Mike Huckabee reported, “Jews represent less than 2% of the American population, but 60% of religion-based crimes in 2018 were directed toward Jewish people”.4  Day to day life has been somewhat unaffected in the Jewish communities of NYC, but there is a realization of the ever-present danger.  Externally, reminders of this reality are clear with the increased police presence in Jewish communities.  Internally, painful memories of the not-too-distant past still linger.

Why New Bible Translations Matter: An Example

By Marlin Sommers
Published on Sunday, October 11th, 2020

A Christian magazine recently asked readers to comment on why we need new translations of the Bible from time to time. English Bible translations are a subject dear to my heart, and I shared a brief response for that magazine. Here on the blog I would like to give a slightly longer explanation. While I am arguing that it is important to make regular use of a modern English translation of the bible, it should be noted that not all translations are equal. Some modern translations on the market are not well-suited to use as your primary bible because they employ a very loose and interpretive method of translation. But, with that caveat aside, I begin by diving into a fascinating difference between newer and older English translations.

First, compare these two translations of Titus 2:13 which were released less than fifty years apart.

ASV: looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (1901)

RSV: awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (NT released 1946)

Does this passage speak of both the Father and of Jesus? Or does it speak of Jesus as our “God and Savior”? Older English translations seem to refer to both the Father and the Son. More recent translations of this passage explicitly call Jesus “our great God.” 

Of course, we don’t need modern translations to know that Jesus is a fully divine person of the Trinity.  But to see the phrase “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” is a glorious affirmation for the Christian, and it is quite jarring for those who deny the deity of Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, have their own translation and do not include that phrase.

When Good Men Do Nothing

By Chester Weaver
Published on Monday, August 31st, 2020

For over a thousand years good men did nothing. Maybe that is not quite saying it right. For over a thousand years good men could do no good publicly and prosper with the good. Their good prospered in non-public ways, in ways forgotten to history. Some men in all ages have found ways to do good, but their good has been lost to public sight. Only the Heavenly records will tell the private stories.

For you see, when good men do good, most people hate them for it. Think about Jesus Christ Himself. He could exercise Himself in public ministry for only 3 ½ years until the Jews had Him removed. Then He went down in Jewish history as a Pretender. The Romans who actually did the killing forgot Him. Josephus and a few others remembered snatches of Him, Josephus himself wondering if the man Jesus should even be called a man. Otherwise, history went silent.

Except for the people who did good. The good men we know as the Disciples became even better men after the Spirit came upon them. And so did quite a few others. We know the entire group as Believers, followers of the Way. These men continued to do good in every place they found themselves. And eventually they wrote the original story of the Good Man we know as Jesus Christ. We read four of those stories today in the four Gospels.

More good men joined the Way and we now have the history of the Early Church in the Book of Acts and beyond.

Unfortunately, the Way became too easy, so easy that entire groups of people joined en masse, bringing their badness with them. The Goodness and Badness were married to become the State Church for over one thousand years. That is the official story, the story we read. What we do not read (because it has been lost to written record) are the forgotten stories of men and women who did good wherever and whenever they could in common everyday ways. Who knows how many people did this? Multitudes most likely, numbers we will never know this side of Eternity.

My Ethics, Your Ethics, and the Dilemma Between

By Roseanne Bauman
Published on Sunday, August 16th, 2020

Part 3

Most adults who have achieved a certain level of maturity have a well-developed set of cultural values and a preferred decision-making ethic, whether or not they are aware of those paradigms within themselves. I am no different. As a Christian professor at a secular community college I am comfortable with my established worldview. However, my current class of nursing students, who are foreign trained professionals from many countries around the world, are helping me reevaluate my paradigm. 

In a class on ethics I used as an example the timeworn question, "What would you do if someone asked you, as the nurse, to baptize their baby?" The scenario is that the baby is imminently dying and the parents are afraid the priest won't arrive on time to baptize it, and the baby will not go to heaven, so they ask the nurse to baptize it quickly. Nurses are encouraged to assist people to carry out their religious rituals where possible. During the discussion, one of the students mentioned that they couldn't really answer the question because they had no idea what baptism was! OK! Back up the bus! I have made an assumption out of my cultural background that everyone would understand this scenario. I am challenged daily to think about examples that can be used when the group’s cultural backgrounds are so varied.

Who Is My Neighbor?

By Roseanne Bauman
Published on Sunday, August 9th, 2020

Part 2

I teach a nursing class made up of nurses, midwives, and doctors who were trained in  Egypt, Nepal, Romania, Korea, the Philippines, India, Columbia, Sudan, China, Taiwan, Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Bangladesh, Iraq, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and Iran. They speak 30 languages other than English among them. They vary in years of experience from 1 to 20. Some have immigrant status and others are international students. Some have not worked in healthcare for many years.

I am a believer in grabbing hold of and maximizing teachable moments. If a question is asked, helping someone find the answer will be the most prime teaching opportunity you'll ever get. Someone is wondering, listening, and paying attention. It works vastly more effectively than the teacher asking the questions. However, it doesn't take a class long to figure out their teacher works on this principle and they begin to maximize the opportunity to ask questions! Particularly when they are isolated in a new language and culture. As a result, we have vigorous discussions about many things. What is a washcloth and what is its purpose? Do Canadians use alcohol to prevent pressure sores? What about water beds for patients in hospital?  Why doesn't Canada sell antibiotics over the counter the way many countries do? Why aren't you ordering an eosinophil sedimentation rate with a white blood count to check for infection? Why would anyone put more than one sheet on a bed? Are the energy boosters at the 24-hour convenience store for the elderly to help increase their energy levels? What is the difference between white and red meat? Is a person with no religion a free spirit? And those are just the medical and nursing questions! I agonize over how to re-socialize these people into Canadian culture and yet honor their vast experience and unique reality. How do you teach someone the "right way" to do a thing in Canada without suggesting what they did before was the "wrong way"? What sort of arrogance proposes that my way is more “advanced” than theirs?

From Every Nation, Tribe, and Language

By Roseanne Bauman
Published on Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Part 1

I am a nursing professor at a community college in Canada. Currently I am privileged to teach a class for foreign trained medical professionals whose credentials are not recognized in Canada. This nursing class fast tracks them into the Canadian healthcare system so that they can begin working in the field and networking their way to where they wish to go. Let me introduce you. There are 25 students. 12 are nurses or midwives, and 13 are doctors. We have 18 countries of training represented, with no more than three students from any one country. Does this qualify as diversity?

I asked them today, just for fun, what languages they speak, and wrote them on the board. I thought I was familiar with a few of the major languages in the world. I guess it depends on how you define "major". This group of 25 persons speaks 30 languages among them! No wonder I don't hear many non-English conversations going on at break time. There isn't a whole lot of overlap in languages. When the name of a country is the root word for the name of the language, I can sort of spell it, and some like Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, etc. I've previously encountered, but they were helping me spell out names of languages I have already forgotten! The trouble with them spelling for me is that I can't decipher b from d, p, t, or v in their accents. They were intrigued by the fact that my first language was not English either. You know how you feel when you've just had a telephone conversation with someone you can barely understand at all because of their accent? Multiply that by 25 or so persons with at least a dozen varieties of such accents who talk all the time, and you will know why I come home very tired every day after work! I find myself being stretched in every way. My internal thesaurus grows daily as I run through lists of synonyms attempting to locate the one English word familiar to the student, in order to translate the concept they are having difficulty with. My ability to guess the meaning of an entire sentence based on the two or three words I understand is growing, as is my awareness of culture-specific words. I had quite a time trying to describe jello to someone who wasn’t familiar with the substance, let alone its name!

“But You Will Just Die”

By Marlin Sommers
Published on Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Since I did not live on campus, I spent time between classes in the Grove City College commuter student lounge.  One day my friend Brenda was speaking of her dislike for the military. She was responding to some callous young men. I started to push this conversation just a little bit. Brenda protested that, even if war is necessary, killing is certainly something to sadden one, not for one to glory in. Many of the young men took a brutally callous approach, and Brenda was pushed on the implications of her aversion to violence. What if someone is attempting to rape or kill you? She stood firm. It is not right to kill; besides, she would be in a better condition to die than the attacker. 

The reactions were interesting. Some dismissed her as sissy, out of touch with the reality of enemies. Others argued that God respects life, so we must be willing to protect innocent life by taking the life of the aggressor. Another friend, Michelle, took this position, arguing that one who tries to take the life of another forfeits his own right to live. In general, the reaction to Brenda was decidedly consequentialist; possible bad consequences supposedly showed that Brenda was wrong. “We need to protect ourselves, don’t we?” “Wouldn’t your life do more good in the world, if you survive, than the life of the guy who is trying to kill you?” “He is probably a jerk anyway.” I was quite taken aback by the blatant use of such reasoning at this Christian school.  

Brenda was not against hindering the attacker from his purposes, but she insisted that she must not kill him. Michelle tried to talk some sense into her. “But you will just die,” she said. I broke in, quoting Jesus, “He who would save his life will lose it.” Michelle pounced on this: “that’s a misinterpretation, it’s talking about spiritual life, not literal physical life.  Misuse of scripture, Marlin.”

Of course, I should sometimes save my literal, physical life. If a train is coming down the track, I had better get off, and usually I should steer clear of people who intend to shoot me. But there are some things that I, as a follower of Jesus, cannot do to save my life. Some things I must avoid, even if it means I “will just die,” and killing people is one such thing.

Revisiting the Lord’s Table – Again and Again

By perspectives
Published on Monday, June 1st, 2020

"Jesus took bread, and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; 1 this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."  

With these words, Matthew records the historic moment when Jesus instituted a simple but profound meal that has been a central practice of the church for the past 2,000 years. While its practice has a myriad of applications in terms of who participates, what the actual food components are, and how often it is shared, no one denies its significance as central to the mission and message of Jesus.

The practice of bread and cup is still a significant part of life in the Anabaptist church. As with most traditions, it’s easy to merely see this from inside our denomination’s long habit of practice. We rarely take a moment to step back and have a look at its place in the history of salvation, the life of the church over the past two thousand years and even its place in the Anabaptist denominations. The way in which it is practiced feels “normative” to us and seldom comes under scrutiny.

For a large segment of Anabaptist churches, the Lord’s supper is served in a specifically designed service two to four times per year. It often follows some form of examination: for some a quite formal, full-length service days or weeks before, and for others a more abbreviated segment of a service. Common to most is preparation that emphasizes the serious nature of this event. 

What has been debated throughout Anabaptist history is who comes to the table. Is it for the local church only? For the local church and visitors from the same family of churches? Is the table open to all believers? Terms have been coined to describe the various practices such as open, close, and closed. These views represent something of the polity of the church and also often represent the congregation’s perspective on navigating the challenging terrain of holiness and unity.

Studying the Word of God

By Anonymous
Published on Friday, May 1st, 2020

The Bible waits to be mined for its treasure. God intentionally hid some of these treasures so that they are only obtained by those who really desire Him and seek  His truth. Those who seek, find; to those who knock, the door to the Scriptures will be opened. Frank's method of Bible study can be adapted and used by any diligent seeker of God's truth. Get started; try your own hand. Discover what can be found.

Bible study is one of the most intriguing experiences of the life of a believer. The Bible is the written Word of God. When we read and study the Bible, we experience the voice and Spirit of God that gives life to us.

Bible study can be a chore but does not have to be a chore. It can be the most amazing joy of your life.

Some terms may be helpful to begin:

Revelation – God disclosing Himself in Scripture and in nature.

Inspiration – God’s moving in persons to write Scripture.

Illumination – God opening the human heart to understand Scripture.

Exegesis – the process of discovering and extracting the content of Scripture.

Eisegesis – to impose one’s own beliefs upon the text (this is very wrong).

Graphe – The written text of the Scripture – All Graphe is given …

Logos – The Word spoken by God – Jesus is the Logos of God.

Rhema – The Sword of the Spirit is the Rhema of God.

Entrepreneurs as Servant-Managers

By Marlin Sommers
Published on Saturday, April 18th, 2020

Part Two of Business as Stewardship

A business person should steward his business abilities and roles. Stewardship is not limited to managing profits that may be gained through business. In Part 1 of this blog, I sketched an overall vision for acting as a servant-manager in business. This second part reflects in a bit more detail on some aspects of the stewardly role of business. I reflect on job creation, on business investment in general, and conclude with a few words about the steward mindset in business.

Job Creators as Servant-Managers 

Some entrepreneurial types are tempted to think that everyone could or should be an entrepreneur. According to this line of thinking no one should need to depend on someone else creating a job for them, because opportunities for profit abound. Anybody prepared to put in the effort should be able to start their own business. But this line of thought, if taken to its natural extent, obscures the fact that job creation is a needed service in society. There are a variety of reasons why it is often good for one person to create a job and another person to work that job. Thus, the entrepreneur stewards his job creating ability for the sake of people who work for him. 

One way to define a job would be as a position that allows one to work for pay. In the big picture, work provides the link between the resources that God provides us and specific human needs. For example, God made cows, while humans tend and milk them. The general principle of compensation for work is that the workers should get a share of the good produced by their work. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul unpacks this with a variety of examples. One who is plowing should have hope of a share of the crop. One who tends cattle should get some of the milk. The worker must get a portion. Of course, we don’t always want a literal portion of what we produce; most people building pallets don’t want their wages paid in pallets. Someone laying block can hardly carry home a portion of the wall as his reward. Generally, we do such jobs with the expectation of payment in money.