"Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, 'What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'" - C.S. Lewis, The Four LovesThe friendship Lewis wrote of is the salve to the loneliness Blamires described in The Christian Mind (see the quote in the banner above). Like many of you, I’ve experienced the painful solitariness of not having someone to talk with who shared the doubts, thoughts, cares, and aspirations that stirred within. I also know the joyous relief of encountering people who, upon hearing my heart, asked, “You too?” Jerry Foote is one of those traveling companions for whom and to whom I’m deeply grateful.
Jerry supervised my pastoral internship when I was a seminarian. When it was done, I had the pleasure and privilege of serving with him on the pastoral staff of the church I’ve served for almost 13 years. By his words and example, I learned a lot about what it means to be a shepherd of God’s people. I remember frequently asking myself, “Why didn’t I think to do that?” when he humbly served others in unglamorous but loving ways. I also recall with fondness, conversations about theology, literature, evangelical fads, and bad puns (Jerry’s, not mine). Because I so appreciated his friendship, I was very sad when, a few years ago, he moved away to serve as the senior pastor of a church in Iowa.
Jerry’s familiarity with the Old Testament and ability to trace themes through the Bible are impressive. He helps people see that the Bible isn’t an assortment of unrelated texts but a unified record of God’s redeeming activity. Despite emphatic professions to believe in biblical inspiration and authority, Christians frequently adopt interpretive practices that contradict this affirmation. Whenever we disregard literary considerations, such as context, we fail to treat the biblical texts as authoritative. This has always been of great concern to Jerry.
I received an email from Jerry a few days ago notifying me that he has taken up blogging. This is welcome news because I’m one of many who have encouraged him to write (though I had books, not blogs, in mind). Jerry’s blog is called Read with Open Eyes and is devoted to commonly misinterpreted and misapplied passages of Scripture. In his blog's banner Jerry says:
Many things we think the Bible teaches aren't really there. We need to read the Bible with our eyes open. That is, pay attention to what is actually written, even if it overrules things we have always believed. It is the Bible (not our concepts about the Bible, or sermons we have heard, or songs that we learned) that is God's revelation to us.
I'm looking forward to profiting again from Jerry's insights and hope you'll avail yourself of them as well. As you do, you may even find yourself thinking, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."