In this chapter, Lee does a great job of describing Clarence’s M.O. with everything he did. (1) He was deeply immersed in Scripture. A true Baptist, he believed that God speaks through the pages of Scripture. It was his desperate desire to know, really know what Jesus was talking about, especially in the sermon on the mount, that led him to become a Greek scholar.
(2) Though he immersed himself in Scripture in his studies, exegesis was never the end of the Bible study process for Clarence. If you’re not going to live by the truths you learn in Scripture, what’s the point? So, looking closely at the life around him–particularly the plight of the poor, which in Louisville, were largely people of color–Clarence sought to LIVE the biblical truths he discerned in his study of Scripture. (Hence his comment that the associational offices “should be put in the inner city, ‘where our preachers will have to wade through the shipwrecks of humanity to get there. I believe they would be better preachers.” (23) The Gospel wasn’t just words on a page for Clarence. The Gospel is to be lived in the here and now.
3) The third piece that always was key for Clarence, was community. Scripture is important, living the Gospel in real life is vital, but you can’t go it alone. You need a place to study and reflect on what you’re learning and what you’re doing. It makes sense that Clarence–in his attempts to reflect and discern–ended up in partnerships like the Koinonia group at the seminary and in relationship with people like Martin England and businessman A J Steilberg.
As committed as Clarenc was to Scripture, living Scripture (especially the teachings of Jesus) in real life, and doing all of that in community, the birth of the Koinonia “experiment” in Sumter County, Georgia, makes sense.
On p.26, when describing the on-camps Koinonia group, Lee summarizes the three main concerns of Clarence Jordan. In the group, “Clarence began to toss out his ideas about pacifism, racial equality, and the radical stewardship of complete sharing.” Those three ideas–peace, the brother-and sisterhood of all people, and economic justice–will shape everything else that is to come.
Question: On p.24, Lee writes: “The storehouse plan was tabled, but the question of waht influence a [person’s] faith ought to have on his economic resources apparently continued to tumble end over nd in Clarence’s mind.” What relationship do you see between faith and money?