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Jefferson City pastor's book connects God, nature

Jefferson City pastor's book connects God, nature

June 22nd, 2018 by Joe Gamm in News

Jacob Taggart poses Wednesday in his office at Concord Baptist Church annex. Taggart is the author of "Theology from the Spring: Reflections of the Creator Cast in Nature."

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

There are a lot of men in Missouri who love the outdoors.

It was not uncommon for them to tell Jacob Taggart they could worship God just as well sitting in a duck blind or deer stand or standing on a river bank as they could during a church service.

Taggart, director of education at Concord Baptist Church, who also happens to be an outdoorsman and avid fly fisherman, understands — to a degree. However, he wondered how deep that worship goes.

Earlier this month, publishers released copies of Taggart's new book, "Theology from the Spring: Reflections of the Creator Cast in Nature."

The book, Taggart said, combines his love of the outdoors, fly fishing and God to help others understand how nature and God are connected.

"The book is really about how we can see through creation the hallmarks and fingerprints of the creator behind the creation that we see, touch, love and enjoy," he said. "Moreover, how do we deduce certain truths in nature to see how this creator would have us live the abundant life as his creatures?"

Taggart said the book can help anyone understand the God who created the same natural beauties people love is the same God they gather to worship on Sunday mornings.

The book, he hopes, will provide them with tools to better understand that. He hopes to equip people to go beyond a superficial, fleeting thought and understand all the nuances and intricacies behind the deer or fish they're seeking and recognize "fingerprints of God" in them.

"In this case — much of the setting is a freshwater trout stream," Taggart said. "From that simple picture, we know from the beauty that is depicted there, there is something behind that beauty that gives it to us."

While in seminary in 2009, instructors presented analogies to explain the Holy Trinity — how God can exist as three co-substantial persons, keeping each distinct.

The analogy that stuck with Taggart was that of a freshwater spring.

"As a kid, my favorite sanctuaries were to be in family camping trips to Bennett Spring State Park or Montauk State Park or the local springs around here," he said. "(They) had an invigorating quality, brought a sense of peace."

The springs gave Taggart an understanding of how those three in one can actually work, he said. The orifice represents God the father, from which all life flows. The central channel represents God the son, who gives life to all. Flowing from the spring's surface are the fog and mist, which represent God the Holy Spirit, which draws all to it.

As pioneer settlers crested the Ozark ridges, Taggart learned, they'd see the steam rising from the bottom of the valleys and that would notify them that water (life) was present.

It was his father, an atheist, who had taken Taggart to state parks and developed his love for fishing and the outdoors.

However, in 2014, his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Taggart determined to complete the book before his father died. And as Taggart worked on the book, his father was able to overcome the illness.

More and more, we live in an age in which relationships are superficial, he said. People are addicted to their cellphones, technology and mass media in a way that causes them to lose a sense of who they are and whom they are meant to be.

The book, he said, will get people to unplug, "de-tune," get off the couch and get out into nature.

Go hiking. Go canoeing. Take a walk down the Katy Trail, he said.

"I'm looking forward to my first fishing trip with my dad," Taggart said. "I gave my first copy of the book to him."

Taggart will have a book-signing 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. July 11 at Downtown Book & Toy, 125 E. High St.