Listening In: Walter Strickland

WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith, and today you will be listening in on my conversation with theologian and the associate vice president for kingdom diversity initiatives at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Walter Strickland.

Dr. Walter Strickland, though a relatively young man, has already had a lifetime of leadership experience. He’s had national leadership roles in the Southern Baptist Convention, recently serving as the largest Protestant denomination’s first vice president. He also leads the kingdom diversity initiative at the seminary where he’s also assistant professor of systematic and contextual theology. His research includes African-American religious history, multicultural studies, education theory, and the theology of work. We’ll talk about all of these issues in today’s conversation.

I had this conversation with Walter Strickland in his office on the campus, at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

SMITH: Dr. Walter Strickland, welcome to the program. You spoke at the Colson Fellows program a couple of weeks ago in Colorado Springs and you spoke for a couple of hours, so I’m not going to ask you to process all of what you talked about, but one of the things that you said or sort of part of what you said that really impressed me was that often the white church doesn’t really appreciate the history and contributions of the black church to evangelicalism. And we’ve got our white heroes, so to speak. We’ve got our Spurgeons, or we’ve got our Dietrich Bonhoeffers, or we’ve got our William Wilberforces. But we don’t really understand and appreciate the history of the black church. Can you say a little more about that?

WALTER STRICKLAND, GUEST: Yeah, so I think this is an insight that I’ve taken years to even come up with myself because really, I think that what we understand is that history and theology is often recorded and cataloged by those who are the powerful, the influential in society, even in the church. And so with that, a lot of African-Americans haven’t been in that position historically in America. So it’s often that if you’re in a group that’s sort of on the margins of influence and power and who’s not sitting at the and in the executive conference room of publishing houses, that you’re only sort of relegated off to the sides into the margins of the conversation, theologically and about the church and just in general. So, oftentimes these awesome voices because theology often and history is often self-interested. These voices get sort of cast off to the sides.

And so, I’ve been blessed by a number of different voices that I’ve sort of stumbled upon after having been educated in evangelical institutions where you hear a lot about Jonathan Edwards, you hear a lot about Dwight Moody, you hear a whole bunch about the contemporary theologians: Grudem, Erickson, Horton, and the list goes on. But very rarely do you hear about the wonderful black preaching tradition, which has wonderful figures like Elias Camp Morris, which is the first president of the National Baptist Convention. Then you go forward in time to someone like a Joseph H. Jackson, which is a longtime president as well of the National Baptist Convention, which is the largest historically black convention in the country.

SMITH: Yeah, I was going to say, the Southern Baptist Convention is probably the largest Protestant denomination with about 15 million. But the National Baptist Convention has probably 5 or 6 million members. So it’s very large.

STRICKLAND: Which is significant as far as the percentage of population of churchgoing African-Americans. It’s massive. And so there’s a large tradition there. But one thing that I’ve noticed is that oftentimes the value of a tradition is sort of gauged by how many written words people have in books on shelves. But if you go all the way back to when Christianity was really sort of catching fire, so to speak, in black America, it was during the great revivals. But during that time it was illegal to teach a black person how to read. Oh, and then it was illegal for black folks to really just write and get things to read, I guess and to teach somebody how to read. I guess I can say that. So there was a great oral tradition. And that oral tradition wasn’t just cataloged in, like the dominant culture tradition was. So it’s assumed that there’s no tradition there.

SMITH: I came face to face with that a couple of years ago whenever I spend a lot of time in New York. And you know, Tim Keller gets a lot of credit and Redeemer Presbyterian Church, I think rightly, gets a lot of credit for an evangelical revival that’s taking place in New York City. But I was interviewing Dr. Anthony Bradley at the King’s College there in New York, and he was like, you know, dude, there was Christianity in New York before Tim Keller came to the city in the 1980s. And he kind of opened my eyes so this, you know, rich tradition of black pastors and preaching and folks that were sort of carrying on the faith and being, you know, being godly and being faithful in that city for many, many years. Not to take any credit away from, you know, what Tim Keller has done and people like John Tyson and others in that city. But we do forget about that. And it’s important that we not forget about it, but I think it’s also. Yes, go ahead. Yeah, I’m sorry.

STRICKLAND: Yeah, so as you’re thinking about this, a prime example of this is Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. And you mentioned the great heroes of the faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he actually came to Union Theological Seminary in New York City for a year or two. And during his time in New York, he actually went to Abyssinian Baptist Church where Adam Clayton Powell was pastor. This is a historically black church and that is a time where he really began to see how the Christian faith and ethics actually come together. So there’s a wonderful book by Reggie Williams called Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus. And  what he argues for in that book is actually very profound. He says that prior to coming to America and having spent time in that church, in the black church tradition, he was very, he had this, what you call a very Volkish Christianity, which is a very culturally bound, sort of a traditional Christianity, which is actually through the state churches, what put Hitler into power.

And so he was sort of, you know, a part of that tradition. He lived it, he grew up in it. But then he came to Abyssinian Baptist Church and his time in the States and he says, these people are putting, not necessarily ideology with Christianity, but they are sort of living out this sort of faith in a new way. That’s very profound and he was trying to figure out what the, what this, how this comes together. And then from that he began to write books like Discipleship, and Ethics, and Life Together, all these books that we appreciate and know of, you know, Bonhoeffer came after his time in New York. I’m not trying to give Abyssinian Baptist Church and Adam Clayton Powell all the credit for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but that’s definitely an element in there.

SMITH: Well absolutely. I’ve read a couple of biographies of Bonhoeffer and that element of his biography is undeniable to folks who know Bonhoeffer. But, but let’s transition just a little bit because you mentioned Adam Clayton Powell, you mentioned, whose theology did not remain Biblically orthodox as he got older. And it is, I think unfortunately also an element of the black church that liberation theology and other extra-Biblical ideas have crept in. Is that fair?

STRICKLAND I would say it varies to a degree. The phenomenon is everywhere, but I think because of the way that liberation theology is highlighted as being the sum total of African-American theology, especially after a person as profound as James Cone. I think almost the whole sort of African-American theological sort of enterprise gets a bad rap. So that does happen. And I’m not trying to deny that at all. There are some unfortunate things, even someone who is as profound as Howard Thurman. He begins to drift into being a mystic in his later years. But there are other voices that just haven’t been given their due, that I think we could sort of balance out and have a good wide variety of those who have been faithful to the biblical text, but also those who have done other sorts of things and got culturally captive in their theology as well.

SMITH: Well, so let’s stipulate for the record that the black church has a rich tradition that is thoroughly Biblical, that we should, as white evangelicals, pay attention to and learn from and be instructed by. But let’s also, if you’ll allow me to stipulate for the record that, a lot of leaders in the black church today don’t all—today—don’t always subscribe to a Biblical theology, which makes it hard for Bible-believing evangelicals of all stripes to sort of be in common cause with them. So what’s the solution? How, if we are truly interested in racial reconciliation and fidelity to Scripture, which of course, I think racial reconciliation comes, would come, you know, we are reconciled to be reconcilers. So that idea comes straight out of Scripture. How do we proceed? Where do we go from here given where we are right now?

STRICKLAND: Yeah. So I think that’s a good observation. I think what has happened is that because of the, just the historical background in America, a lot of people who have robust, solid, Biblical sort of underpinnings, who wanted to be pastors in the African-American church tradition, ended up going to, you know, liberal divinity schools at universities like Princeton, Yale, Duke, you know, and others like, like Howard and places like that, Virginia Union, as opposed to being able to come into a place like, you know, that was more Orthodox.

SMITH: Like where we are. Like Southeastern.

STRICKLAND: Well, you know, and unfortunately, even in the Southern Baptist Convention there isn’t a long history of folks who have been able to come to these schools. I mean, Tony Evans is the first PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary and he’s still living. He’s still active in ministry. So we’re not talking about a long time ago. And so now we’re just beginning to see theological institutions who are thoroughly and intentionally orthodox, working off of the authority of God’s word, and you know, for the most part thorough going inerrantists, are finally seeing that culture actually matters. We have to set a table for everyone who’s going to be in the kingdom to have a place to study at our institutions. And so now I think we’re seeing more folks who are publishing and engaging broadly, especially with the blogosphere, things like podcasts and these sorts of things, who are publishing from a more orthodox sort of theological framework. And those voices are emerging very, very quickly. They had been out there, but there hadn’t been a place for them. There was more of a place for the liberationist African-American theologian. But now you are seeing more African Americans publish with B&H, with Crossway, with PNR, Presbyterian Reform, and B&H’s Broadman and Holman, which is sort of an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. So you’re seeing a lot more. And then you’re even seeing a lot more African Americans publish with Fortress Press, who are evangelical. And so I would commend a couple of, you know, especially with the idea of being, you know, being unified in mind and, you know, pleading each other’s causes, understanding each other, empathizing with each other, learning from each other. There’s wonderful things like the Jude 3 Project that I would commend to anybody who’s really jumping into apologetics robustly from an African American perspective or urban perspective. Something like the &campaign. If you saw it written out, it’s &campaign based out of Atlanta talking about politics, trying to figure out what it means to engage politically without being captive to the political right or the political left. And so both, you know, Hispanics, white believers, black believers are all sort of coming into these new spaces to think Biblically about these things. So those are some resources that are online to continue to sort of journey down this path of what it means to bear each other’s burdens, to live life with one another, and to be reconciled to one another.

SMITH: Walter Strickland, you may or may not be willing to address these questions that I’ve got for you, but just to kind of drill down a little bit deeper, there’s some specific issues that I hear when… I was talking to a black pastor, for example, a couple of years ago, when we were talking about some of these issues. And since you used the metaphor earlier, a seat at the table, this guy said to me, why do I want a seat at your table? I’ve got my own table over here. And for example, in the context of should there be a merger between the National Baptist Church in the Southern Baptist Church?

I mean, I could understand why that could be a very, very good thing. A beautiful thing. It would communicate some great, as you say, a great apologetic to a watching world. But if I’m a member of a 5 million person denomination, and I’m a leader in that, and I’ve got, I control all the institutions and all of the levers of power, why do I want to merge into a predominantly white institution that has 15 million people, where I am from day one going to have to give up my levers of power? So I guess my question really boils down to, I understand sort of the resistance of white evangelicals to some of these… Maybe I don’t fully understand it. Maybe because I’m living them I don’t fully… But there are also some black, there’s black resistance to these ideas as well. True or not?

STRICKLAND: Yeah, that is true. And I would say that they’re very understandable reasons as you. And you just brought up a very good one. So, the idea that’s out there is that, you know, what the idea of the black church was a necessity based upon sinful actions that separated the church or made it necessary to have a different space for blacks to worship with dignity because they were sitting in the back or in the balcony. They weren’t taking the supper together. They were, you know, reading the slave codes out of the pulpit after church was over. Like there’s these reasons why it was very uncomfortable and it wasn’t sort of affirming of black humanity to be in white churches. And so they broke off and had separate churches where they can worship as full human beings is the idea. So, many would say, well, it wasn’t our choice to do this, so now you’re asking us to fold back in or to come back together when this is the one space that we’ve been able to have the authority to shape and to cater to our needs. Because the second we go back to work on Monday, we’re, you know, in a white-led space. The second we go out in society, it’s usually led by someone who’s different than us. And so this is the one safe haven that we have. And you’re asking us to give that up. So, and that’s the pushback that you hear. And emotively, I completely understand. I mean,  that’s a valid a concern. And this is where you begin to… There’s brokenness in the world. There’s brokenness everywhere. So how do you move forward in a healthy way in light of where we actually are? So I think that there is space for the National Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptist Convention to remain. But also there’s, I think a lot more churches should be multicultural. A lot more churches within Southern Baptist life and in National Baptist life should be ministering more effectively to their geographic areas, which will then make them more multicultural. I think the tradition or the denomination from which they’ve come, will probably have a heavier shaping hand in the culture of a church while I don’t think it has to be exclusively either white or black.

So I mean this is one of those conversations I love to have. I mean, because I’ve done a lot of work with an organization like CRU, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ. They have “normal CRU,” that meets on Thursdays. But then they have other, they have Impact, which is predominately African-American. They have, I forget what the other sort of ethnic-specific groups are, but as we’re talking about every tribe, tongue, and nation together being the Biblical vision, they’re like, well, should we just collapse all of those groups into one? And I said, well, no, because there are still folks who need those groups. Like, I grew up in the south side of Chicago and a lot of people there have had little to no contact with white people just, unless it’s been a person of authority, like a teacher or a law enforcement officer and things like this.

So then to go to Chicago State and then have to jump into CRU, you know, and be just, you know, a minority there, that’s just a very difficult jump. But hopefully even in those groups that are ethnic specific, it has a bigger vision for the kingdom. The Jerusalem, Judea-Sumeria, the ends of the earth, is always on the hearts of the people. And then they’re partnering with all the other ethnic specific and “normal CRU” to then understand that the faith is bigger than itself. So that flushes back into the church, into church life as well. If we have churches that partner with each other and know that we are not the only show in town, the kingdom is bigger than just us, I think that’s actually a way forward without sort of collapsing National Baptist, Southern Baptist, and whatever into the same pot.

SMITH: Let me pivot a little bit and ask about sort of the way, in America at least, conservative politics and conservative theology sometimes get all sort of squished together. For example, there’s no really better indicator or predictor of how a person is going to vote in this country then race, right? I mean, if you’re black, you’re 90 percent likely to vote Democrat. If you’re white, you’re 60, 70 percent likely to vote Republican. There’s questions about, for example, the role of government. I remember having a conversation with a black theologian a couple of years ago where he said, you know, you conservatives, you political conservatives are, you know, talk about the role of government and that you want smaller government. And while I can intellectually understand that, you got to understand that I was raised in a family where my mother was a school teacher and my dad worked for the postal service. If it wasn’t for the government, the government provided my family a way into the middle class. And so there’s some unintended consequences whenever we talk politically about small government, for example.

STRICKLAND: Yeah. And, and even small government, if we had a small government that wasn’t powerful enough to change the mainstream of society, who knows if I would be even able to have this conversation or be an employee at this institution because it was a government is the one that began to do desegregation and then to enfranchise blacks into society.

SMITH: So I get that. But also, as a political conservative, in addition to what a theological conservative, I have principled reasons for being a small government conservative. They’re not racial, they’re not motivated by racial animus. They’re motivated by a love of liberty and a belief that large governments tend towards totalitarianism. And our Founding Fathers understood that in separating powers. How do we get that conversation right? How do we, how can we talk in political terms that are principled and meaningful without offending and unintentionally alienating folks, especially blacks and other minorities, who would have almost a Pavlovian response to some of those kinds of conversations.

STRICKLAND: Yeah. You know, and I think you have to get to know people first because as you were explaining the principled reasons why you’re a small government person, but I’m like, well, but your principles don’t negate the fact that the government is actually what helped me to be an equal citizen in this country. So whereas I’m not… So basically because of — Government’s not perfect, you know, and it’s… And this is a big mess. Like we’re not going to be in a perfect kingdom until it rests on Christ’s shoulders. But we each have to understand, okay, there’s reasons, principled reasons why you’re for small government and I lean that way as well, but I do also understand if the government didn’t have any sort of stake-holding power, that my destiny right now, it’d be very, very different. And so me being able to understand your reasons, principled as they may be, but then you being able to understand that what I’m saying as, yeah, you know what, at the same time, if we were a truly small government, then I’m not sure what you’re like, what, if you would be able to sit at Southeastern Baptist Theological seminary and have this very conversation. And so it’s having a — getting in someone else’s shoes. It’s being able to empathize with somebody. Because philosophically, I’m with ya. But practically it’s hard for me to get all the way there. Does that makes sense?

SMITH: Sure.

STRICKLAND: And so, and then I would… 

SMITH: Well, I’m not an anarchist or a libertarian either. I mean, I believe God ordains governments and that political structures and governments are not evil inherently. They, in fact, they can be a powerful force for good, for both for good and for holding evil at bay. Which is a good in and of itself. So I’m not arguing for no government, but I am trying to, you know, find out, you know, or struggle through what the right language is for talking about this in ways that don’t, that are true to principles without alienating those that might share my principles but have experienced life in a different way.

STRICKLAND: Yeah. And I think when we begin to talk about, you know, sort of principles and we begin to talk about logic. We can talk about all these thingsthat are philosophically driven, that sort of makes sense, and the categories and the flow of ideas. It’s oftentimes we’re supposed to divorce our emotions and our feelings and our experiences from that. And in life, both of those sort of crash together, our ideals, realities that crash together and it makes a mess. And so we exist in the mess. And so if we can begin to, in the conversation… Because we aren’t talking about whose principles are right and who’s wrong, but in the clash of those, like in conversation with someone who’s different than you or has a different political ideology than yourself, it’s being able to empathize with another. And I think that’s the most important thing.

SMITH: Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like what you’re saying is that these conversations just need to happen in the context of a relationship.

STRICKLAND: They do, they do. And then what we have to understand is that this collision of our ideals in our, in the real fallenness of reality begin to work together in a very weird way that generates like death in relationship or it generates hostility because there’s not the patience to understand and hear from somebody in order for them to speak from experience and not to pit that against logic or philosophy or principles. But to sort of say, okay, well if these are the ideals and this is the reality, how do we bring those together, and not pit the two against each other, one being more valuable than the other. And so, and I think that’s what happens. Like if you’re talking to somebody who has a narrative from the underside of the American story, they’re saying, well, this is what has happened to me and you’re sort of valuing your principles more than the people who are telling you the story. And then on the other side, I’ve been around people who have valued their, who have said, well, here’s the principles. If we just sort of got with the principles and then, you know, just jump out of your experience and then got on board, then it’ll fix it. But, so I think that that’s how we talk past each other. And so I think if we can empathize, hear each other, understand and like actually have actions that bespeak the value of the other in the conversation from both sides, I think that’s why we move forward in understanding. So and moving forward and understanding doesn’t mean uniformity. It means understanding.

SMITH: Walter Strickland, another area of expertise for you is what sometimes is called a theology of work. Can you say a little about that and how your fascination with that lines up with some of the other fascinations that we’ve already been talking about?

STRICKLAND: My provost came to me and said, hey, Walter, I would like you to teach a class on work and vocation. Theology of work and vocation. And I didn’t want to say it to his face, but I was like, well, what’s that? Is that a thing? Is that something that people have researched and studied? And so I didn’t ask him that question to his face, but I went back to my office and scoured a bunch of books and went online to say, okay, is this actually something that I can teach a class on, and later write a book on. And of course there was a lot out there that I had no clue about. And really what this does is that there’s a lot of people who asked the question, what does my work have to do with the mission of God? And I think a lot of really well-intended lay people who aren’t working in church ministries or sort of Christian ministries or organizations, they see that, okay, well the way I bring my faith into my work is to either pray on the job, to facilitate a Bible study on the job, which is, you know, and then also to help fund those who are doing the “real work.” And while all three of those are good things, I think it’s really kind of short-sighted because in a sense, you’re just being like a little pastor in your workplace, which is a good thing. But how does the stuff in your job description actually line up with the purposes of God? How do you fulfill the stuff that your employer has listed for you on there to God’s glory and for His purposes? So of course this eliminate some jobs from being viable for the Christian.

SMITH: No pornographers or prostitutes in the Kingdom of God.

STRICKLAND: Yeah, you can’t be a drug dealer. You can be a swindler, you can’t, you know, have these, you know, there’s lots of things that are out of balance to begin with. But for all those that are in-bounds, how do you do that to God’s glory? And that’s the question that we’re trying to answer there. And just to be clear, there’s Ephesians 4, there’s a place where it’s talking about the different types of, you know, gifts. And I wish that I had the text before me, but it says there are some to be teachers and you know, evangelists, and the list goes on of these folks who you would see in your mind as wearing a clerical collar. You know, these sort of priestly, pastorly ideas. And then they’re the ones who are training the people to do the work of ministry. And so it’s like there’s a place for the pastor, but there’s also the fact that they’re strategically positioned to teach the pew, those who are wearing white and blue collars throughout the week to do the work of ministry where they are.

SMITH: And I understand that ultimately where this comes from, from your thinking and maybe some of the others is really from Genesis 1, 2 and 3, right? I mean, you know, we see from… God is a worker from the very beginning of Scripture. So work is not evil, work is actually what God…. I mean, it’s a blessing. It’s a gift.

STRICKLAND: Yeah. So many of us see work as a necessary evil. I work so I can pay my bills. I work so I can get to the weekend and have fun. Or we try to make a good thing out of work, but we make it a very idolatrous thing when we look to work to find our value and our purpose. So we pour ourselves into it and only to pour ourselves into it all the more because we never actually find our value and purpose in it, because that’s not what it’s designed to do. We find our purpose in God, and then God uses our work in vocation for His glory. And so, and people who are in the “secular workspaces” or even sacred workspaces can make that mistake and to finding their value, their identity, and their worth in their work and not in the God who provides them the opportunity. So, I mean, it’s seen as this thing that’s sort of a bad thing. But as you said, we meet God as a worker in Genesis. He’s creating, He’s separating, He’s organizing. And then Adam and Eve, as image-bearers, they work prior to the fall, you know, so it’s important for us to see that. The work is complicated, no doubt by the fall with thorns and thistles and the sweat of our brow will eat from, you know, as a result of all that. But yeah, this work is a good thing. And I think that if more people saw what they do,  you know, from 9 to 5 or 8 to 5, whatever it is, or even work that’s not even paid work. Because I mean, I mow my lawn every week and I’m definitely working, but I’m not getting paid for it. So even that work, and so even work extends to like anything that humans do in creation, like a mother mothering, being a mother at home or stay-at-home parent—there’s some dads that stay home as well—as they’re beginning to engage their children. They’re not being paid for that. But that’s also work and seeing that all of that can be done under Christ’s lordship and to His glory.

SMITH: You know, I’m reading more and over the last 10, 15, 20 years, I think of Oz Guinness’ book The Call, for example, and many others. I’m drawing a blank on some of them right now. Is this idea coming back into evangelicalism? I mean, it seems to me that this is an idea that is sort of been hiding in plain sight in Scripture. I mean, it’s in Genesis 1, 2, 3, as you mentioned, and yet, you know, we have turned work into something bad or at least think of it as something bad. But again, is the pendulum swinging back or are we seeing this more and more?

STRICKLAND: Yeah, I think the pendulum is swinging back because I mean, in the Protestant Reformation, this really began to, in that context where you had this strong division between clergy and laity, Martin Luther, the great reformer, he was trying to give value into what the peasants were doing. So it’s really a class reality and saying that you guys are doing good work. And so he began to theologically think about what the work of the peasant was. And then I think that was sort of growing in its influence, that thinking, but then when the Industrial Revolution hit, when you know, we began to have the factories emerge in America, people sort of began to be the sort of cogs in these larger machines. And because we were sort of like moving in that direction, this conversation came out of vogue because it wasn’t efficient. But now I think that after we’ve had this, you know, multiple generations of trying to be efficient and effective and be specialists, which really sort of minimizes the scope of one worker’s work in the larger whole, detaching them from the implications of the work, right? I think that we’ve become miserable in our work because we’re not, we’re just a cog in this larger machine as I said. And so now I think that this conversation is beginning to take back up some root in this sort of reading impediment, if I can say it that way, that we’ve had in Scripture is beginning to be mended because there’s such a crying need to be more than just, you know, someone who’s doing such a small segment of a larger thing that we’re disconnected from the full effect of our work.

SMITH: Well, and if I may, and Walter Strickland, tell me if I’m reading too much into this, but it seems to me that you could make a connection from the work you’re doing on race and diversity and the work that you’re doing in the theology of work. That both of those areas, if we understand them Biblically, tear down distinctions of race and class and elevate the dignity of people.

STRICKLAND: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s exactly right. So there’s a book or a pamphlet that I’ve been stewing on for the last three or four years where I’m thinking about, okay, well, oftentimes people look to the church and its church meeting to be the sole source of racial reconciliation. And I think if we think about it that way, we’re shortsighted. But it’s the lives of the people throughout the week that are actually going to fuel a more robust sort of picture of the people of God on Sunday morning. Not that we can take steps strategically on Sunday mornings, which we should and we need to do that. But if we have business owners, if we have people who are managers, if we have people who are leading things throughout the week in society, how much of a apologetic is it for that business to run in such a way that respects the people who are there? And then, you know, employees begin to say, you know, this is unlike any place I’ve ever worked before. I feel respected. I feel cared for. The management is attentive to the persons that are doing the work that make this place run. And we’re not just seen as these cogs in the larger machine and we’re dispensable. You know, why is that? Well, I’m actually glad you asked because there’s this man named Jesus, and he is God. And we go into the gospel and how He’s the creator and how He created you, and He created me, and we have value. And so I’m treating you as a person that God in Scripture teaches me, I should respect you as. And in fact, Christ died for you, to enhance your image-bearing, to make you a full image-bearer, reconciled to God. And so, and then, hey, come to my church on Sunday, and we can show you what we do and how this all works together, and you can begin to enter into this life that is really influencing the workspace in which you engage every week. So you’re not only in that way, you’re not only sort of ministering to someone’s soul, but there’s this sort of plausibility structure for the message that you’ve built because the workplace is one where you’re meeting other needs that humans have, but then you can also, you know, do it in such a way that sort of begs for the spiritual need to be met as well. And so these two conversations do dovetail on each other because I think the quest for the minority in America is, am I fully human? And the answer is yes. And the answer is we see this in the pages of Scripture. We see it sort of rubber-stamped by the cross and the resurrection. And here’s where it happens. It happens in the church and it’s reflected and refracted all throughout society. And where we spend a lot of our time as Americans and as anybody in the world is in our workplaces. And so I think these two conversations dovetail very well. And I think you’re exactly right to bring that up.

SMITH: Walter Strickland, thanks so much for being on the program.

STRICKLAND: Thank you for having me.

(Photo/Walter Strickland)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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