Part 1 of series: Sharing Laity Lodge: 2009
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This past weekend we were pleased to host Scot McKnight at Laity Lodge. Many of my readers will be familiar with Scot because he is, among other things, a prolific and influential blogger. Jesus Creed, Scot’s blog, is one of the most widely read Christian blogs. It appears in the “Faith Blog” section of Beliefnet.com, which is the Web’s largest clearinghouse of things religious. (Photo: Scot holds forth in the Great Hall at Laity Lodge.)
But Scot McKnight is not merely a popular blogger. He’s also a fine New Testament scholar, whose books I used to require when I taught seminary classes. Officially, he’s the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University (Chicago, Illinois). Scot is also a prolific author, who has written well over a dozen books on a wide range of topics, from academic studies to more popular books. In 2004, Scot’s book The Jesus Creed won the prestigious Christianity Today book award in the “Christian Living” category. Another of Scot’s surprising books is called Praying with the Church. It is an outstanding introduction to liturgical and shared prayers for people from traditions in which spontaneous prayer is the order of the day.
Scot’s contribution at Laity Lodge was outstanding. He is a fine scholar who is able to communicate in a popular, engaging style. He does not flaunt his scholarship, but rather uses it as a solid basis for his teaching. Scot also has a delightful sense of humor, and is able, among other things, to laugh at himself. Though he takes his content seriously, he does not take himself too seriously!
Scot’s teaching content was based on some of his recent books: The Real Mary, The Jesus Creed, Praying with the Church, and The Blue Parakeet. But he didn’t just rehash old material, or, worse yet, read portions of this books. Rather, he summarized some of his main points, illustrating them creatively and helping us connect to them personally.
One of Scot’s persistent points was that Christian spirituality is not just a matter of developing an inner glow, even one that shines outward. It is also doing what Jesus said, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and giving cups of cold water to those who are thirsty . . . especially to those we’d rather not have to get involved with. “Responding to other people with mercy and grace,” Scot observed, “is almost always inconvenient.”
This is worth a second read. “Responding to other people with mercy and grace is almost always inconvenient.” As someone who likes convenience, I don’t like this. I don’t disagree with its truth, but I don’t like it. I must confess that I sometimes let my desire for convenience and comfort defeat my commitment to acting with mercy and grace. Scot has challenged me to allow the Lord to work on this part of me.
For years, I have held Scot McKnight in high esteem. Now, having had the chance to meet him and sit under his teaching, my esteem is even higher.