Thursday, June 30, 2005

William Willimon

Boy, am I behind. While looking around for some friends from my alma mater, (which is connected with the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church) I discovered that William Willimon was ordained as the new Bishop last September. They have a collection of his weekly messages on the conference website. I've heard only good things about him while he was Dean of the Chapel at Duke-- and I've seen him described as "paleo-orthodox" along with the likes of Packer and others, as well as a proponent of "narrative theology." I'm interested in reading some of his books-- I've had the one on Baptism on my wish list for over a year.

Anyway, this quote from the sermon he preached last fall at his ordination knocks my socks off:

Sometimes, in popular, American, evangelical Christianity, we get this wrong. We say things like, “Since I took Jesus into my heart…,” or “Since I gave my life to Jesus…,” or “Since I decided to follow Christ….” That’s not the story! The story – Moses, Samuel, Mary, Paul, Peter, you and me – is more that you don’t take Jesus anywhere – he takes you places. You can’t “give you life to Christ.” He takes it! It’s not all that important that you decided to follow Christ; the Bible says that in Jesus Christ God has decided for you!

And this, from a message dated May 9th of this year:
Give me The Lutheran Hymnal any day over most of those tasteless “praise choruses” of some of my evangelicals.

I never thought I'd hear any of that from a Methodist. Maybe some of Willimon's beliefs will rub off on BSC's chaplain. Despite some of the Chaplain's inclusivist tendencies (enhanced after 9/11) and his love of some pretty awful cheesy 60's type-praise songs, I am very thankful for the liturgic chapel services with regular communion and the ecumenical Bible study, both of which he and the former chaplain helped lead while I was there. Their broader perspective helped me develop my stance on Scripture and theology. And I will admit, they did introduce me to David Wilcox's music, which is pretty cool.

As a somewhat-related aside, I heard a fellow IV/BSC alumni is starting an RUF chapter there, though he's met some opposition and will only be on campus half-time. It's a start! And he's using the rest of his time to develop an RUF ministry at UAB. Praise God!

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