Rob Nash currently serves as the Arnall-Mann-Thomasson Professor of Mission and World Religions and associate dean at the McAfee School of Theology of Mercer University and as senior pastor of Heritage Fellowship in Canton, Georgia. He also served for six years as the Global Mission Coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and is the former dean of the School of Religion and International Studies at Shorter College. Nash grew up in the Philippines, where his parents served as Baptist missionaries for more than 30 years. He has traveled extensively in some 90 countries, either during his childhood or as part of his work with CBF, Shorter College, and mission immersion experiences at McAfee. He is married to the former Guyeth Godwin, and they are parents to two adult children.
What were you hoping to achieve with your new book, Moving the Equator: The Families of the Earth and the Mission of the Church?
My hope is that the book offers followers of Jesus and congregations a biblically-grounded theology of mission that encourages them to be as open to receiving the blessings of other religions and cultures as they are to extending God’s blessings to those religions and cultures. I know my own Baptist tradition well enough to know that scripture is the foundation for our beliefs about God, church, and mission but I also know that our own interpretations often become trapped by cultural lenses through which we read scripture. My intention was to present a new reading of scripture and of culture that offered a path forward in an age of diversity and pluralism. How might we think differently about Christian mission in such a world?
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect facing churches today?
Without doubt, it is our fear of otherness and difference. We simply do not possess a theology of mission that is adequate to a day of competing world views, religions and cultural perspectives. We do not know how to receive a blessing from someone who offers such blessing to us from within their own worldview and faith. We have been taught to “defend the faith” rather than to embrace those from other faiths with openness, curiosity, and a listening spirit. Without such embrace, we miss the divine blessing that others want to offer to us. In this way we diminish our own understanding of God even as we create walls that prevent others from receiving the blessing we want to give to them.