The faith of your friends

We welcome John Wesley Taylor V as the new editor of Dialogue journal. Dr. John Fowler will continue to work with the journal, although he has officially retired after 53 years of work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. John Wesley Taylor V joins the journal after working for seven years at Southern Adventist University, USA. He was dean of their School of Education and Psychology. Before that, he served for seven years as a professor and in a variety of academic administrative roles at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), in the Philippines. For the seven years prior to that, Dr. Taylor was at Montemorelos University in Mexico, where he was dean of the Division of Graduate Studies. Over the years, he has been a mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Taylor was born to missionary parents in Puerto Rico. He has published copiously in English and Spanish and is a popular speaker for conferences, including a variety of events for university students and professionals. He earned a doctor of philosophy from Andrews University, USA, and a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree from the University of Virginia, USA. These broad and international experiences in a range of settings enable Dr. Taylor to appreciate the challenges Dialogue readers face in the course of their university studies in countries around the world.

While we have a new editor, the goals of Dialogue remain the same. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), there is a remarkable story about friendship. There are five friends, one of whom is paralyzed and bedridden. He and his four friends were convinced that Jesus could do something about that. We don’t know whether he was born that way, had an accident, or developed immobilizing depression later in life. We do know that there was a psychological and spiritual part, and that Jesus addressed that first. We also know that these were not fair-weather acquaintances. They were true friends.

They hoisted their bedridden friend on their shoulders, bed and all, and were off. It could be they had done this many times before, so that he could get some fresh air or go out to watch his able-bodied buddies run around or work in the fields. But this time, there were insurmountable obstacles. They got to their destination but could not carry their friend in to where Jesus was because there were too many people blocking the way. They just knew that Jesus would help him, and they were determined to find a way to make the connection. Since they couldn’t get to Jesus through the crowded door, up they climbed to the roof. They removed some roof tiles above the spot where Jesus was seated. Through the opening in the roof, they let their paralyzed friend down, still on his gurney-bed, much to the amazement of the crowd. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven’.” (see Mark 2:5, Matt. 9:2, Luke 5:20).

This point should not be missed, and it is restated in all three gospels. Jesus took note of their faith – not his faith alone. Sometimes we overemphasize the individual and overlook the importance of one’s family and friends. This man had faith, it seems. But he could not take a single step towards Christ so that he might be healed. His friends did for him what he could not do himself. As a result of their faith as a group, Jesus forgave the paralytic his sins. Then he healed him, to the astonishment of all – except his believing friends.

Dialogue journal is that kind of a friend, to encourage and to carry you to the Lord if you should be feeling too overwhelmed, discouraged, or demoralized to go yourself. And that’s the kind of friend each one of us can be to others as well.

—Lisa M. Beardsley-Hardy