Friday, October 1, 2010

Texts in Tension and the D2D

Dean of the Seminary, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Harrison Ray Anderson Professor of Ministry

September 10, 2010

As the Seminary embraces a wider vision of a ministry that attends particularly to the religious pluralism that hallmarks our national landscape and neighborhoods where the churches we serve live out their calling in Christ, difficult and troubling texts emerge from the New Testament’s expression of Gospel. When the neighbors Jesus commands us to love, as a tangible expression of God’s love, are Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and people of many faiths different than ours, what are we to do and say about Scripture like Matthew 28: 16-20, which we’ve come to call “the Great Commission”? Is it possible to read this text honestly and faithfully and hear in it something other than a divine directive to convert those who are not Christian, requiring them to abandon their own rich traditions and ways of practicing faith and insisting that “there is no salvation outside the church,” the long standing claim of the historical church? Is it possible to hear this text and others like it as genuine good news that embraces all people? Is it possible to follow Jesus’ commission with a generosity that recognizes God’s love and life giving intentions for all people and celebrates, as God does, the tapestry of faith that is expressed in the religious pluralism amidst which we live? This sermon tries to answer questions like these by considering carefully both the context in which we and Matthew’s text now live and the context of Matthew’s church in late first century and the needs the Great Commission addressed to that first community of faith. Listen to the sermon. Read the sermon in PDF.