Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Just one month ago, on Friday, September 23, 2013 I had lunch with Dr. Joseph Lowery and his wife Evelyn at the Hyatt Hotel in Washington DC, site of the 55th Annual SCLC Conference at the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington. And again, marching beside them the next day for the Saturday March fills me with humility, even as I process the fact that God allowed me to see Evelyn ‘one more time’. By the time of this publication, I will have returned from Atlanta for the occasion of her funeral services.

As a Gospel Preacher, (meaning that I, more than 95% of my pastoral and preaching ministry have used text from the four Gospels), I still believe that as Perrin suggests, Christianity must “re-discover the ‘Teachings of Jesus’.” I suspect that the Church has very deliberately built it’s foundation upon the ‘Teachings of Paul’. With two notable Pauline Theologians as advisors in my PhD work in New Testament, I discovered, what I think to be the most overlooked fact of the Gospel: Paul did not know Jesus! Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to see if you find Paul’s name in them. He is simply not there. You do the math.

It is no small thing, this ‘re-discovering The Teachings of Jesus’ for you may find how radically different Jesus’ teachings are from Paul’s teachings. At times even contradictions exist. To be sure, it is the teachings of Paul that have lead to the historical oppression of life as it has been sanctioned and manifested in the Christian Church. The making and holding of slaves (by a Christian Nation) that must ‘obey a master’ based upon the color of skin; the making and establishing of the original, largest and most influential world Church that would not (even today) have a single woman present in it’s hierarchy because she must ‘be silent in the Church’;— all based upon the Teachings of Paul. Never the Teachings of Jesus! Did I say radical? I alone, have found that the schizophrenia of the Church, (as defined by ‘split personality’ and observed by the field of psychology to be the most common disease of modern man) might also be found in the teachings of Paul. The fact is this: The Church keeps splitting and splitting… And splitting and splitting… And splitting and splitting…

Don’t get this twisted. I am not among the ‘traditional bashers of Paul’. I am prepared to argue these things on a deeper level. I am convinced that we want persons to be ‘all things, to all people, at all times’ when these omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient powers are reserved for The Most High God, ALONE. It is man who specializes! For me, Christology in Christianity begins with Paul! And, the power of The Holy Spirit, now we are talking about my love for Paul. But, that’s later in this course on faith when we reach the Pauline writings. The fourth Gospel is where we turn now— John’s use of ‘pistis/faith’. Again, Young cites not a single use of ‘pistis’ in John’s Gospel.

I can’t help but stay a moment on an introduction to John’s Gospel as it has become my favorite of the Gospel writings. I have already indicated that my ‘life text’, the one most used in my preaching ministry and teaching ministry is John 5. So to capsule an introduction to John I would say that ‘John speaks life!’. The word life is used in this Gospel more times than in any other Book of Bible. I would say that no one is as concerned about life as Jesus is in John’s Gospel! The ‘I Am’ passages peculiar to this Gospel have power to save, to heal, to deliver. John speaks Life! “I am… come that they might have life.” “I am… The Bread of Life.” “I am… The Way, The Truth and The Life.” “I am… The Resurrection and The Life.”

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Email: mustardseedfaith@bellsouth.net