Controversial speaker heads Matthew Simpson Lecture

Controversial speaker heads Matthew Simpson Lecture

by Allison LaneStaff Writer

Simpson students, faculty and members of the Indianola community will have the opportunity to dig into their personal beliefs tonight at the annual Matthew Simpson Lecture.

Dr. Gregory Boyd will serve as the featured speaker for the religion-based lecture, speaking on his latest book, “Myths of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church.” Gary Kinkel, associate professor of religion, is responsible for finding the lecturer.

Kinkel first became aware of Boyd a few years ago after reading an article about him in a Minneapolis newspaper. Earlier this year, after having read another article about him in The New York Times, Kinkel deemed Boyd ideal for the Matthew Simpson Lecture.

“He brings forth a set of very serious questions about how Christians should relate to politics and power,” Kinkel said.

Boyd has been considered controversial due to his refusal to support specific political positions through his preaching.

“Certain practices have developed in recent years where one side of the American political spectrum has tended to identify a certain kind of politics as properly Christian.” Kinkel said.

When pressure was placed on Boyd to endorse conservative political views, he publicly declined to do so.”I’m not afraid of taking positions that aren’t the popular ones,” Boyd said. “I have been controversial.”

Jan Everhart, assistant professor of religion, also points out Boyd may come across as divisive because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of an evangelical pastor.”People can’t fit him into a box,” Everhart said. “People tend to get really nervous when they see people embody two things that don’t seem to come together.”

A strong believer in the separation of church and state, Boyd will deliver his talk on the problems that can arise when the two are not divided. He believes church and state should be individuals, both for the good of the state and for the protection of the church.

Arguing that the kingdom of God is different and completely separate from any political party, he said, “We are not called to run, fix or control the world, but rather to serve.”

Besides being senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., Boyd is also president of Christus Victor Ministries, which oversees all of his work outside of the pulpit. Part of the proceeds from his books and his talks at seminars go to fund projects such as one that supports refugees in America, helping them to get on their feet.

“Lots of these folks live one meal away from hunger,” Boyd said. “We take it one family at a time. You have to walk with them.”

Faith, to him, is a very personal and thoughtful matter. He came to an understanding of his beliefs completely on his own. In this evening’s lecture, he will try to explain why, as he says in his book, “The minute you pick up the sword, you put down the cross.”