I went camping this past weekend, relaxing under a shade tree while my son dug holes in the ground (LOTS of holes and tunnels, mustn’t forget the tunnels…).
Keeping me company on this trip was Dr. Bill Jackson’s “A History of the Christian Church: Book 1: AD 70-1730.” Ever since last fall when I heard that Bill (or Jax as those in the Vineyard called him) was publishing a book on church history, I have been wanting to read it. Some extra birthday cash gave me the excuse to download the book to my Kindle and, well, the rest is history. =)
In a kind of sadly odd way, this reading of Jax’s book turned out to be a tribute to him as Dr. Bill Jackson passed away while I was camping (June 7, 2015) after a long battle with his health.
A tribute… yeah, I think I can call reading Jax’s book on history a tribute as he spent his life telling the story of the scriptures through the lens of a pastor/historian. His first book was a history of the Vineyard movement called “The Quest for the Radical Middle.” This was one of the first books I read when I joined the Vineyard Movement twelve years ago. Published in 1999, this book told the story of the Vineyard, warts and all. Lite on fire by the Spirit during the Jesus Movement of South California, the founders of the Vineyard (Kenn Gulliksen, John Wimber, Bob Fulton, Lonnie Frisbee, and others) tried hard to walk the line between Pentecostalism and Evangelicals, having traits of both but belonging in neither group. In reading this book and experiencing the radical middle through the Vineyard Boise, I found that I had stumbled upon a tribe of people I could run after Jesus with. It was a good feeling.
Years later I read Jax’s second book, “Nothins Gonna Stop It.” For decades Jax went around the nation telling the Bible story from beginning to end as most Jesus followers don’t know or understand how all the smaller Bible stories fit together. This book was originally a study guide for his video class under the same name. Later on Jax would publish a shorter version of this book (“The Eden Project: A Short Story”) as well as a longer version (“The Biblical Metanarrative: One God – One Plan – One Story”). The latter book along with the original were both VERY influential on my understanding of Kingdom Theology.
In addition to reading the above books, I had the pleasure of reading several of his papers – both pastoral and scholarly. Most notable, his pastoral teaching guides “Learning to Ministry Like Jesus” and “Notes on the Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts” were EXTREMELY helpful on my journey towards the radical middle from a Pentecostal/Charismatic upbringing.
I also had the honor to meet and chat with Jax on a number of occasion. He was a regular at the Missional Leaders Meetings hosted by the Vineyard USA Missions Office for many years, allowing a young mission minded pastor the opportunity to bump into him. Rather than being standoffish, Jax was kind, caring, loving and more than willing to answer the questions of a rookie pastor trying to find his way in the world.
One of the things that stood out to me the most was an email exchange I had with him in the summer of 2011. I had just read his “Nothins Gonna Stop It” book and was thrilled to find that he had listed out some of the different gods the Creator King had conquered during the ten plagues. This was something I had been searching for and could not find… in an effort to find out where he had gotten the information from, I emailed him. Not only did he get back to me quickly, he also shared with me his “Nothins Gonna Stop It” notes with the full bibliography as well as his recent PhD dissertation on Luke-Acts!! It was like I had won the jackpot at Vegas!! Here I was, an unknown young man in the back hills of Idaho, receiving notes from THE Bill Jackson!!!!
Thank you Jax for sharing your love of the Kingdom with me. May you enjoy dancing before the King as we await the blessed hope of the resurrection.
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς