Archives for April 2013
Text: Acts 9:36-43
Bob Poerschke, as some of you know, was one of my major professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a member of this church. Bob is the person who opened a new world of theological thought for me. As a first year seminary student, in compassionate and caring ways, he challenged my understanding of God and scripture and faith. As I would, in my second year of seminary, become his teaching assistant and grader I was pushed even further to define more clearly my theological assumptions, or theological presuppositions as Bob called them. In particular, that first year of seminary, Bob challenged my view of God as a judgmental and vengeful God. Later, he also challenged my Christology. In the earlier years of my faith development, I was much more comfortable with Jesus’ humanity than I was talking of his divinity. In part, I believe, because I could better understand Jesus from the perspective of being a human being rather than a divine being. Jesus the human seemed real to me – someone that I could actually emulate. However, Jesus as the Christ – the concept of God’s divinity being a part of the human soul – was much more obscure and confusing to me. And even more daunting to me was considering that within me was a part of God’s divine nature.
For years, Bob and I had an ongoing conversation that went something like this: “Nancy, we are the Christ of our time. As God’s people today, we are no different than Jesus. We possess the same power and authority that he did. We can be the new Christ in our world.”
“But Bob,” I would say shaking my head, “I’m not sure about that. There’s something that doesn’t seem right about that kind of theology to me.” I know, that was not a highly sophisticated theological response but it was the best I could do at that time in my life.
For those of you who knew Bob, you know well that he could be “out there” with his thinking and, in particular, his theology. But if you spent much time with him, you also knew that his thinking and theology was grounded, not just in some off-the-wall thought process that had no merit or scriptural underpinning, but rather his theology was rooted in his own serious study of scripture and his personal faith convictions. We are the Christ of our time.
My sermon today is not to debate Bob’s theology, much less his Christology. However, based on our text from Acts, I do want to share how I have come to embrace the notion or idea that maybe Bob wasn’t so far off and that we are the Christ for our time. I want to explain how I understand the word “Christ” and how it is a part of our identity as people who seek to follow the teachings of Jesus.
Dr. Gary Dorrien was a guest in the Pullen pulpit on this day. His participation in worship came at the close of the inaugural W.W. Finlator Lectures in Faith and Social Justice, of which he was the keynote speaker. Professor Dorrien is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. Additional information on Dr. Dorrien is available on the UTS website.
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