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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Baptists (and Mormons) on the Road to Emmaus

by Shawn Tucker:

Those who have done missionary work in the South (and perhaps other places) may be able to relate to this experience: you have a nice conversation with someone, and when you return for the follow-up appointment that person's pastor or minister is there. It is hard to know if the local leader was invited or invited herself/himself, but usually that pastor seems to view the conversation as a chance to "defend the flock." I had that experience with the missionaries working here in North Carolina. I think the local pastor already had his Bible open as we walked in the door. And I was very proud of how the missionaries responded. Usually an exchange like this is the battle of the prooftexters, or, as I like to call it in the South, "Dueling Bibles." The missionaries here addressed the questions that were raised with humility and sincerity, and refused to quibble over scriptures.

The conversation did not last very long, but before we left we spoke with them about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. And this is how we did it: we talked about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. We talked about how Christ's crucifixion was very surprising. Many anticipated that Jesus was a Savior who would throw off Roman political rule and restore David's kingdom. When the Man that they believe would save them politically was brutally and shamefully killed, many experienced painful disappointment and confusion. Amidst this confusion, those disciples encountered a Stranger who seemed oblivious to what had transpired. The Stranger soon explained via the scriptures why all that seemed so shockingly unexpected had to happen. The disciples eventually persuaded the Stranger to dine with them, and over the course of the meal discovered Him to be the resurrected Savior.

After this short introduction, we explained to the investigator and his pastor that perhaps they were on the road to Emmaus. They have always expected that the Bible is all of God's word and that He no longer calls prophets like He once did. The idea that there would be additional scriptures and prophets again is at least unexpected, if not surprising and shocking. We then asked how those disciples on the road knew that what they had heard was true. Interestingly enough, they do not say that they knew because they saw Christ. They report that they received a confirmation thusly: Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? We explained that that same influence, that same burning and opening, could verify for them if the Book of Mormon is really scripture and if Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets were truly sent from God.

They did not seem interested in following up with those possibilities, but it has helped me to wonder about what surprises the Lord might have for me. What might be some of the truths that "God has yet to reveal?" Will I be open to them? On a personal level, when ironic things happen, when God zigs when I expect Him to zag, will I be humble, devoted to Him, and have a soft heart and open mind to accept what He has for me? How will I respond when I'm on my own road to Emmaus?

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Shawn Tucker grew up with amazing parents and five younger, wonderful siblings. He served as a missionary in Chile during the Plebiscite and the first post-dictatorship election. After his mission, he attended BYU, where he married ... you guessed it ... his wife. They both graduated, with Shawn earning a BA in Humanities. Fearing that his BA in Humanities, which is essentially a degree in Jeopardy, would not be sufficient, Shawn completed graduate work in the same ... stuff ... at Florida State University. He currently teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. He and ... you guessed it ... his wife have four great children. Twitter: @MoTabEnquirer. Website:

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