27 June 2004 - Sunday

Ecclesiblogging II: Moral support

I dragged Wheeler to church with me this morning. I lent him my NRSV, the one with all of the deuterocanonical books, for the occasion. I caught him reading Judith several times during the sermon. This creeping papism did not really alarm me, of course; I myself was discreetly composing a poem and copying down the amusing turns of phrase employed by our guest preacher. After church, we discussed our impressions of the service over beef broccoli (mine) and chicken vermicelli (his) at China Chef.

The guest preacher seemed to be practicing for a career in motivational speaking. His theme was the subject of "triumph" -- specifically, whether we Christians have "enough try in our umph." (I hope he realized that this was a pun rather than valid etymology, but I cannot be sure.) The sermon was a plea for emotionalism. The speaker spent less time on Scripture than he spent on the myth of Sisyphus, which he mangled horribly. Apparently Sisyphus' problem was insufficient try in his umph.

After this expository abortion, Wheeler and I attended the college-age Sunday school class. We already knew that the topic would be spiritual gifts (per 1 Corinthians 12), and had braced ourselves. We were not disappointed.

When it comes to spiritual gifts, Southern Baptists have an odd way of completely disregarding the words on the page in front of them. From a text that says that "no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3 ESV)" and "there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit (v. 4)," our teacher extracted an implication that speaking in tongues tends to get out of hand. From a text that talks a lot about the spiritual gifts of apostleship, miracles, and tongues, our teacher derived a set of spiritual gifts called by names like exhortation, encouragement, service, and giving. This is typical in the denomination.

Eventually, as we had anticipated, the teacher recommended that we take a "spiritual gifts inventory." I entertained the idea of telling him that I already know that my gifts are apostleship and miracle-working, but I restrained myself. Actually, when I took a Cosmo-style spiritual gifts inventory put out by the SBC several years ago, it said I have the spiritual gift of teaching. For some reason, glossolalia was not one of the possible outcomes. And oddly enough, teaching seems to be my talent in secular fields as well (although I flatter myself) -- funny that my spiritual gift coincides with my secular talents and interests.

Wheeler and I joked about our new experience over lunch, but we went on to talk about our friends and discuss university life. I was sorry that he had to leave just a couple of hours later. The visit made my weekend much more enjoyable.

| Posted by Wilson at 23:52 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

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