170. Christian Scientist meets Baptist: An Encounter of Mutual Respect

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Speaker Jaime Clark-Soles and blogger, Madelon Maupin

Speaker Jaime Clark-Soles and blogger, Madelon Maupin

Why was a Baptist speaking at a Bible conference for Christian Scientists?  After all, wouldn’t ‘her’ theology be at odds with ‘ours’?

That’s often the first reaction to any denominational group hearing from someone from another communion-– an automatic 'we/they' viewpoint.  But one of the benefits of entering into more ecumenical dialogue is you at least noticewhen your thought starts wandering that way!

So there’s an immediate gift of humility as we begin truly listening.  What initially struck me about Jaime Clark-Soles, a professor of New Testament at Southern Methodist University, was her deep and respectful love of the Scriptures – something we shared.  That she was a young mother and wife, active in her faith community, yet choosing to spend as much of her life as possible pouring over the same texts of John that I too love, gave me pause.  What a witness of Christian commitment.

In retrospect, I realized that such genuine respect opened my heart to really hear her.  First, we were treated to a film clip of a movie (of which this is the trailer), The Gospel of John. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that the three minutes chosen was the post-resurrection morning meal that Christian Scientists so value.   Think of how young people would appreciate this medium, having grown up on digital expressions of story-telling. 

As thoughtful as Jamie’s presentation was, the more telling points were the rapid fire questions from the audience.  Whenever she gave the slightest opening, people asked about her practices of piety:  ‘How did she celebrate Lent?’  ‘What is Lent’?  ‘What is the music like in your church?'  'Are there separate services for young people?’  ‘What is a worship service like?’  ‘What is a lectionary and who creates it?’  The questions revealed a hunger to understand others' Christian practices, which another audience member also recognized and shared that she found it helpful to occasionally visit other churches.   A healthy outcome of our morning together.

Also significant was when Jamie shared the hard questions of self-examination she asks herself regularly, such as ‘where is God calling me to grow?’ That's when one realizes how much our spiritual journeys have in common -- turning to God with our most heartfelt questions.

Finally, I was struck by her underlying conviction, stated repeatedly,  that the intimate encounters Christ Jesus had with the many individuals who crossed his path, were always worked out in community-- that there was no ‘Lone Ranger’ type of experience in the Gospel of John. 

Now there’s a path for future study.  

  1. I think what I love most about this story is the way it helps us dissolve our private fears of ‘others.’ Just getting to know someone else’s faith journey and his or her sincere love for God helps us feel more comfortable in our journeys. In fact, we can be more open and clear about who we are in the presence of others, when we experience their examples of openness and clarity. Thank you for sharing this, Madelon.

  2. What a joy it is to see how the Christ effects someone else's spiritual journey and to be privileged to share in that unfoldment

  3. What was fascinating about the clip THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is the look at Christ Jesus' in daily prayer to his FATHER GOD, and then seeing Jesus teach what he prayed during the daily, hourly, minute by minute meditation. The actual teaching others inspired by this meditation gave Jesus options for so many acts of healing and activity that brought him into contact with thousands of people in need. Just like a regular public school classroom here in the South where there are many faithful followers of GOD and HIS beloved son Christ Jesus.
    I have watched a teacher who was born and educated in the Netherlands reach out to students who had so many tough experiences in their young lives. This teacher never expressed anger but listened. His own troubled youth quite met with the individual students' and flowered into a class where the Southern youth felt accepted. Being raised with a love for Christ Jesus and his teaching seems to follow this teacher every where, and others are attracted to this genuine love, so evidence in Christ Jesus concern for those around him, supported by a GREAT and LOVING GOD. Thanks for this blog. EFC's (cs), great granddaughter ATK