This is part of an ongoing exploration of Mennonism. To start at the beginning, visit here.
This weekend, our church hosted Prof. Don Blosser to speak on SACRED STORIES, RADICAL VISION. Don is a retired professor from Goshen College (and many of his writings can be found in their archives). I was only able to attend the friday evening session but found him very engaging. His seminar was basically a Bible 1o1, answering questions like, “Where does the Bible come from?” “Why is it important?” and “Why do we call is sacred?” Blossers charm and humility made me wish I had studied under him but I was thankful for the few hours I had.
The main point I took from him was one of communal revelation rather than individual. He promoted and advocated for a strongly Mennonite view of scripture and revelation, one that is brought about by and made stronger with the community involved in it. Americans (and Westerners) often place great import on the individual. This is most likely a cause for the myriad of denominations, schisms, and fundamentalist sects of American Christianity. Here, as a result of Continental and Cartesian philosophy, we take the cogito ergo sum as prescription for self over community. Our faith and its revelations, both scriptural and personal, become wholly self-centric.
Blosser reminded us that If The Good News is only good news for you, but bad news for someone else…it is probably not The Good News. He called for a collective reflection, a communal examination of the scriptural and reminded us that church came before scripture. The Bible, in all its value is a tertiary step in the relationship between God and humanity. The Bible is a tool by which we discuss and make sense of our collective relationship. The Bible is a communal book. Mennonites take this very seriously and I take great comfort in it.
To know that my revelation can be bounced off of others and that theirs demands my involvement carries a responsibility but a glad one. As our church goes forward each of us has a place in deciding how and where we go. I can read the word or feel a prodding from something I would call the Holy Spirit, but a sister or brother could say,”No…that is your greed. Not God.” or they could remind me, “Yes…that jives with my own feeling.” We become integral parts of each others spiritual relationship.
Yes, that scares the shit out of me. I am barely able to guide my own sorry self through a relationship let alone anyone else, but here, in the communal world of the Mennonites, I am not the only one with the weight on my shoulders. We will handle it all together. That is beautiful.