In the fall of 2018 while studying at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, I took a Christian Theology class for which the final project was to artistically express my own personal theology. Of course, I decided to write a song, which I ended up calling “This Is the End.” I would eventually play this song at my ordination council, as it served as the basis for part of my written personal statement. I’m happy to share that part of my statement below, and I invite you to consider your own personal theology as you read about my approach to following Christ and being the Church…
I will do all I can to ensure that my theology continues to expand and evolve over time and that I remain open to new ways of knowing and understanding. With that being said, my personal theology has remained pretty consistent since beginning my seminary studies, but I’ve learned many ways to articulate and express it more clearly. In December of 2018, I wrote a song called “This Is the End,” the purpose of which was to lay out my own personal theology. It still does a good job of covering the bases for me:
As the Spirit gives us our foundation to unbind the ties of domination, It blows the winds of change toward liberation In the Christ who came in time and space to suffer with and offer grace to the Ones who are sinned against, without a trace Of the love that carries out creation and brings on reconciliation Clothing us in true compassion to carry out God’s action If we tear down every wall in search of justice for all We could build the church on love instead of power. I may not have all the answers, but I’ll take every chance there is To be the Christ who frees in every hour, ‘Cause this is the end This is the en… …Day by day, more people say, “My Jesus is the only way,” and then they Close their minds and tuck their hearts away How can we find unity if every time we disagree, we just Point our fingers and stare accusingly? Remember, he is she are they are we, connected in community All part of the imago Dei, that leads us on our way If we tear down every wall in search of justice for all We could build the church on love instead of power. I may not have all the answers, but I’ll take every chance there is To be the Christ who frees in every hour, ‘Cause this is the end This is the end.
My personal theology has been particularly shaped by reading Elizabeth Johnson, James Cone, Howard Thurman, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Walter Rauschenbusch, Paul Tillich, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bede Griffiths, Ched Meyers, and Virginia Mollenkott. This song explains how I envision the Holy Trinity – we’re led by the Spirit toward liberation and freedom as expressed in Christ, fulfilling the creative action of God, and this relational nature symbolizes the importance of connection in community – and also what I see as a vision for the Church – to seek justice through the liberating power of Christ’s love as a means of bringing about a new creation in the Kingdom of God on Earth (“the end”).
As for our way of being in the world, I believe it is the Christian’s call is to “be the Christ who frees in every hour.” We do this by always being faithfully aware of God’s presence and living in the love that lets us see Christ revealed in all. I am inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideal of beloved community as necessarily requiring a continued commitment to individual and collective transformation, leading to justice brought about through love. It is essential for the Church to have an active presence in and hospitality toward the larger communities to which it belongs. I believe Christ is present in all dimensions of human liberation, and it is in lovingly going out into our communities and working toward the liberation of all – particularly those most oppressed and marginalized – that we find the freedom of Christ and realize heaven on earth. Ultimately, this comes down to having the faith and courage to live out the Great Commandment every day and in all contexts.
As we look forward to a post-COVID, renewed reality and as we reenter the world from our collective isolation, I pray that I remember to let myself be led by the Spirit to be the liberating Christ in building a church of love and compassion for all.
Christian McIvor, Minister of Worship, Music and the Arts
Click here to listen to “This Is the End,” by Christian McIvor