Can I Get a Witness? Explorations in an Amen
On September 26 and 27 Charles Marsh delivered three lectures at the School of Theology at Sewanee University as the 2018 DuBose Lecturer. Marsh built upon the theme of witness by presenting three different lectures.
The first lecture “Aristocrats of Responsiblity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Quest for a New Nobility” details the theology and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Marsh collects Bonhoeffer’s theological journey from gatherings in the dissident Church in Germany, his spiritual awakening during his trip through the Jim Crow south, and his late writings from Gestapo prison. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to a heightened and expansive sense of God’s presence and of what he called the ‘polyphony,’ the great richness and depth and textures of Christian faith.” Watch the first lecture here.
The second lecture”‘Better than Church’: The Civil Rights Movement and Religionless Christianity” explores the theology of the Civil Rights Movement, drawing on stories of Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. Martin Luther King, SNCC, and other pivotal figures. Marsh highlighted Hamer’s role in the movement: “She gave voice to an exuberant love of Jesus of Nazareth, an immersive intensive incarnational spirituality. I would say evangelical in the most important and robust sense of the word. A parable of God’s resounding yes and Amen spoken in Jesus and to be shared with everyone. And a love of the whole miraculous story, of the death and burial and resurrection of Christ. And her love, because of that particular conviction, was a great big open love, open to anyone who cared for the weak and the poor.” Watch the second lecture here.
The third lecture “Visions of Amen: On the Judgment of God and the Splendor of the World” draws on Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and delves into the complicity of the white churches’ response to the Civil Rights Movement. “Wandering in wastelands of our own design, we wonder, has not the judging, righteous God traveled to save us as well? Isn’t this the message of the gospel? There is a place beyond judgment and wrath? This place of course, cannot be reached without repentance, metanoia, beyond judgment and wrath is the forgiveness of sin. Attention to the sacrifices of Jesus and the excellences of Christ. Attention to the christological incognito, to the distressed and excluded. And the hope for the return of splendor in the world.” Watch the third lecture here.
Find more information on Marsh’s DuBose Lectures on Sewanee University’s website here. For a full listing of our spring speaking engagements with Charles Marsh and others, visit our events calendar here.
Charles Marsh is the Commonwealth Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and the director of the Project on Lived Theology. His research interests include modern Christian thought, religion and civil rights, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and lived theology. His publications include Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2014) and God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (1997), which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.