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Aída Besançon Spencer, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament, & William David Spencer, Th.D., Ranked Adjunct Professor of Theology & the Arts, teach at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, MA. Both are
Posted 5/18/13 at 7:13 AM | Aida and William Spencer |
A guest blog by Paul Bricker
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt 6:6).
In one of my last conversations with my father before he died in 2011, he shared with me one of his great fears about me. He lamented: "When you were growing up, mother and I thought that you would never be able to speak."
I grew up with a severe speech impediment. I did not say my first sentence until I was 5 and ½ years old. My first sentence was to my younger sister: "Darah, don't duck your thumb!". It means: "Sarah, don't suck your thumb".
All through my early years, my mother would take me on Saturday morning to meet with a speech therapist. We would go over words and sentences trying to help me to speak. I still stuttered and stuttered…. FULL POST
Posted 5/7/13 at 6:14 PM | Aida and William Spencer
When I went to the hair salon the other day, the customers were talking about the bombers from the Boston marathon. The hair cutter said that she was tired about talking about them. How long can we keep dwelling on evil? However, I think, we should always find some place to identify with evil-doers and think on what we need to watch out for so that we do not end in the same place as them.
I am sure that most of you heard about the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, that before he was caught, his friends communicated with him on social media, asking him, “Why he was doing these bombings,” to which he retorted: “Obama’s dropping bombs every day, why can’t I?”
I do not want to argue politics, but I do want to point out that some kind of anger was behind the bombing, self-initiated vengeance, probably against the United States.
Can any of us ever become angry? Have we managed our own anger? What does the Bible teach us about anger? If we recall Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-16, we will learn that not only is anger important, anger was the cause of the very first murder and it continues to cause the death of innocent people today. FULL POST
Posted 4/15/13 at 9:14 PM | Aida and William Spencer |
When Jesus Christ, God-Among-Us, came to live among those he created to be in a love relationship with himself and his heavenly Father, we murdered him (John 1:10).
I was thinking about this fact right after the call came in telling us that two bombs had exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, maiming family members of runners, while another went off at the J.F.K. Library.
We live on Boston’s Northshore. Bill has been teaching for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Boston Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME) in various Boston churches and its sites first at Jamaica Plain and now in Roxbury since 1992 and exclusively since 2000. Aίda began even earlier, serving on the CUME committee since 1982 and teaching courses in various years since that date. Both of us have preached in many of the city’s churches and trained many of its pastors. This has been our home for 31 years. FULL POST
Posted 3/11/13 at 12:46 PM | Aida and William Spencer |
Posted 3/4/13 at 8:27 PM | Aida and William Spencer
When one travels in Third ( also called Two/Thirds or Majority) World countries, one can hear first person accounts from other believers that reveal a dimension of faith all but lost in the post-modern/intellectual/technological/materially-oriented First World mindset. It is a sobering reminder that little of our world is traveling down the post-modern (First World) corridor and much of it is living in the more expanded perspective of the biblical age.
This past week we were researching Taino American-Indian sites on the western border of the Dominican Republic, across the mountains from Haiti. The Tainos were the peaceful settlers who occupied the Caribbean islands when Columbus and his marauding band of convicts and aristocratic-but-non-inheriting and, thus, fortune-hunting sons descended on them and changed the course of what would become the Americas.[i] FULL POST
Posted 12/31/12 at 8:39 PM | Aida and William Spencer
First, just to clear the air: any Christian who has read the Bible knows exactly why the world did not end on this, nor will it on any, date that has been or will be prophesied.
The answer, of course, was recorded by Jesus’ disciple Matthew in his inspired biography about Jesus, 24:26 and also by his friend Mark in his counterpart, 13:32, when they quoted Jesus’ own words: “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, only the Father.”
Reality check: If, the Second Person of the Trinity, while incarnated in human flesh, did not know the date of the end, how on earth could any other human being know more than did God-Among-Us? Further, when Jesus’ disciples questioned him at his ascension about their nation’s future, he replied gently but firmly, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” FULL POST
Posted 12/11/12 at 9:24 PM | Aida and William Spencer |
Many years ago, while visiting Disney World, we saw an advanced release of the movie Ernest Saves Christmas. Near the end of the film, Santa Claus explained that he owed allegiance to a Power higher than himself. Unfortunately, that sentence was removed from the final released version of that movie. Nevertheless, that one sentence exactly places Santa Claus in his correct schema of things. Santa Claus is an image of One greater than himself and the real Saint Nicholas knew that fact.
The real Saint Nicholas was a bishop in Myra of Asia Minor, current day Turkey. As a bishop, he would have been a devoted and genuine believer in Jesus as Emmanuel, “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). Bishops or elders were overseers over the spiritual life of a Christian community. In the earliest times, each church had several “bishops” or overseers, such as at Ephesus (Acts 20:17, 28) or Philippi (Philippians 1:1). They were to “shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). Although most bishops were men, a few were women, such as Theodora. A bishop was to be “temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-3). Nicolas was known for his generosity, which made him “hospitable” or a “lover of strangers.” When his Christian parents died and he received his inheritance, he used it to assist the needy and the sick. For example, three young girls of Patara who could not marry because they were poor could have been sold into slavery. But Nicholas tossed into an open window three bags of gold so they could use them for their dowries. Once, when he was returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Like his Lord Jesus (for example, Matthew 14:22-33), Nicholas calmly prayed. The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed, sparing them all. That is why Saint Nicholas became known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or in need, especially of children and sailors. FULL POST
Posted 11/10/12 at 7:17 PM | Aida and William Spencer |
"Every Knee Shall Bow To: Olumba Olumba Obu" ???
As seminary professors, Aίda and I are the target of a lot of interesting and - let’s face it – bizarre emails. Over the thirty years we’ve been teaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, we received mail from a self-styled prophet who just got out of jail and who claimed God had told him that we should donate to him, another prophet, this one from Africa, who told my wife God wanted her to adopt him (he sent us a picture of himself reclining on a brand new car – we’ve only owned second-hand cars, so we wondered if he got the message wrong – maybe God wanted him to adopt us!), various iron-clad messages about the end of the world from the USA (but…uh…we’re still here…), news of a perfect man running around China, and so on. These remind me that, when I was still a seminary student myself, a newspaper used to come rocketing under my door, expertly tossed by a factory worker who claimed he was God. One day, I scurried out into the hallway and there he was – a large, rough man, with a commanding gaze, and a fist full of self-printed newspapers claiming that the measurement numbers of the distances in the factory where he worked demonstrated he was indeed God. He fixed his penetrating gaze on me and announced that “none – no, not one” had ever taken him seriously. I wasn’t buying either, but, in the decades between, I’ve discovered there’s been a lot of competition for Supreme Ruler of the universe. FULL POST
Posted 8/29/12 at 7:40 AM | Aida and William Spencer
“Trying to reason with hurricane season" is pretty futile, as Jimmy Buffet sang in one of his songs. As we were standing on a sixth floor balcony overseeing the Caribbean Sea in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic last week, these words came home to us. Roiling above us in a 300 kilometer (almost 200 mile) span, the largest, deepest, thickest, most ominous lowering black mass of storm clouds descended inevitably toward us.
A fireworks display like every Fourth of July celebration put together since we were born intermittently lit up the entire sky. And we realized at that moment that every bit of technology we humans had put together across the world was pitifully incapable of veering it off its course. We counted the distance between one lightening flash and the rumble (1001, 1002, 1003,…) till we reached 90 seconds or about 90 miles away as the storm Isaac lumbered through the ocean past us, missing us by God’s grace and the prayers of many. FULL POST
Posted 8/20/12 at 7:10 AM | Aida and William Spencer
Is Aurora a Community that Could Generate a Killer?
Reading about the mass killing and wounding in Aurora, Colorado, one wonders about the kind of community that could generate such a killer. However, coming to visit Denver and its neighboring city Aurora 12 days after the shooting, I saw how very different reality is from one’s imagination. Aurora and Denver are organized communities where one sees a society that for many is the American dream. Many houses appear to be middle and upper middle and lower upper class (though, as any city, it has its depressed area, too). The streets are wide, the traffic is persistent but calm (compared to some other cities I have visited). Drivers are polite, pausing to let pedestrians cross. No one begged for food in my brief visit. (Routinely I keep food to give away, so I saved some French fries for my trip home from downtown Denver to Aurora. But Aurorans were too well-to-do for anyone to want some fries. I also noted change on the sidewalks, which would have caused a minor pedestrian jam in some places to which I have traveled. But no one shoved in front of me to scoop it up.) Aurora appears to be a normal somewhat affluent community going about its normal business. At least the city is not renowned for its great poverty! Instead, it is the eighth safest city of its size in the United States! FULL POST