The time, the present. The place, what appears to be an office of some kind. The walls are lined with book shelves that are overflowing. There is a telephone, a typewriter, and even a copy machine. Of course, there is also a desk, with a man sitting at it, reading a book. Oh yes, if one will step outside of the office, he will see a sign on the door into the office which says, "STUDY."
As the action begins, the telephone rings. The man behind the desk frowns at another interruption as he puts down the book and reaches for the telephone. "Hello," he says, "this is the Blank Street Church of Christ. Can I help you?"
The voice on the other end of the line asks, "Are you the 'located preacher'?" After a slight pause, the man replies, "Yes - I am." Then follows a five minute discussion before the conversation is finally concluded.
As he puts down the telephone, the man (referred to by the members of the Blank Street Church of Christ as "Brother" Jones) has a frown upon his face once again. The initial question that the caller had asked, "Are you the 'located preacher'?", is one which has been asked of him many times before. However, for some reason, this time the question is quite troubling to him, having affected him as never before. Even more bothersome to him is the answer that he gave to the question, "Yes - I am," although he has given such an answer many times before.
As he ponders the question and his answer to it, instead of picking up the book that he had been reading from when the telephone rang, "Brother" Jones leans back in his chair and wonders aloud, "How would the apostle Paul have answered such a question?"
Act I then comes to a close with "Brother" Jones still leaning back in his chair and daydreaming about the kind of response that Paul would have made.
The time, the first century, somewhere around the early to middle 50's. The place, the city of Ephesus, at the "school of Tyrannus." A man of less than either imposing stature or impressive speech is instructing a small group gathered about him. A stranger enters, and impatiently waits until the group breaks up. He then approaches the one who has been speaking. "Are you the 'located preacher'?", the stranger asks. The man who has been teaching the just departed group is none other than the apostle Paul. The question puzzles him more than a little. What does the stranger mean by "located preacher?" Although he has been around for quite a while, and has been in quite a few places, it is not a phrase that Paul is familiar with. Indeed, neither Paul nor his contemporaries, including the likes of Peter, John, James, and Jude, use such vocabulary in either their speaking or writing. So, to say the least, Paul is unsure of just what it is that the man is referring to when he speaks of a "located preacher."
After giving a little thought to the stranger's question, Paul begins to slowly respond. "Well, I am indeed a preacher. In fact, I was appointed to be one, as well as, for that matter, an apostle and teacher of the Gentiles." "And I guess that it is true," he then continues, "in that I am standing in a particular place and at a particular time, that I could be said to be 'located' in that particular place. It's sure the case, in that I can't be in two places at once, that I won't be found in some other location. So, I guess you could say, in that I'm standing right here, that this is where I am presently 'located'." "But," he then goes on to add, "what's true of me is also true of everyone else, including you, stranger. We're all 'located' somewhere, and that somewhere is wherever we happen to be at the moment!"
By now, the stranger is very definitely shaking his head in a negative manner. "No, no, that's not what I mean! Let me ask my question in another way," he exclaims. "Are you the minister?" To which Paul responds, "Well of course, I am a minister. However, I am not the minister. You make it sound as if I am the only one here in Ephesus who is a minister. But, you see, every child of God, and that includes you, if you are a Christian, is a minister."
The stranger's negative shaking of the head continues, and indeed becomes even more violent with each passing moment. In total exasperation, he than blurts out, "What I mean is, are you paid by the 'local congregation' here in Ephesus to be their 'full-time man'?"
"Paid by the who, to be their what?", Paul then asks, still just as puzzled as ever. He then continues, "Listen my brother, I certainly believe that the laborer is indeed worthy of his hire. However, what you keep asking about is totally foreign to both my practice and understanding]"
At this point, the stranger throws up his hands and turns and walks away, as Act II concludes.
The time, once again the present. The place, the same "STUDY" as before. "Brother" Jones has ceased his daydreaming, and is once again reading from the book which he had been reading from when the telephone rang. Actually, rather than just reading, it looks more as if he is searching for something, as he quickly scans over several pages which he had read just prior to the interruption. Suddenly, he pauses, intently looking at what is obviously the statement which he has been looking for. He takes a yellow fluorescent marking pen and begins to mark the statement in the book. When he is through marking it, he then holds the book up in such a manner that we are able to look over his shoulder and see what he has marked. There, in bold relief, Thomas Campbell's famous statement stands out: "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where these are silent, we are silent!"