Joel Gregory Emphasizes God's Power in His Weakness in Address to Baptist World Alliance Meeting

Joel Gregory address
Joel Gregory, Ph.D., addresses a plenary session at the Baptist World Alliance annual meeting. (Courtesy photo)
July 12, 2013

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WACO, Texas (July 12, 2013) - One of the most significant paintings of the crucifixion of Jesus is by Salvador Dali. It's a clean, bloodless, athletic and comfortable-looking Christ, hung on a sturdy wooden cross overlooking peaceful waters.

But according to Joel Gregory, Ph.D., professor of preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, this is not the true scriptural Christ. "Nothing about Dali's painting presents a disfigured God or Son of God," he said in an address at the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, July 1-9.

The annual meetings, representing 42 million Baptists around the world, are meant to promote worship, evangelism and theological thought, respond to the need of others and defend human rights.

In his address entitled "The Disfigured God," Gregory argued that God is often depicted as "the God who helps those who can and do help themselves" by white Western male preachers. "He is the God Who gives touchdowns to praying athletes, the God Who gives the crowns to the beauty contest winners and the God Who gives comfort to those already comfortable."

But the Book of Isaiah reveals the true God, the Suffering Servant God, Gregory said. "His very ID is that you find Him always with the grieving, not with the laughing and partying and relaxing," he said.

Moreover, the Christian world most celebrates the two days when God was at His weakest rather than strongest, Gregory said: at His birth and at His death.

"Smaller than the smallest, weaker than the weakest, God in the hay. Yet the world bows before that manger once a year," he said. "It is in the moment of His disability, His awful disfigurement, that His great power over all humans is unleashed for all times."

"Forever and forever those wounds will remind the redeemed of the ages that our healing came from his wounding, our restoration from his humiliation and our renewal at the cost of the Disfigured God," Gregory said.

"Dr. Gregory's work is a viable project that has found fertile ground and attention during the epoch of the exponential growth of Christianity around the globe," said the Rev. P. Myria Bailey Whitcomb, MD/MSW student at Truett Seminary.

by Rachel Miller, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary provides theological education leading to the Master of Divinity, the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, the Master of Theological Studies, or the Doctor of Ministry degrees that are centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and consistent with historic Baptist commitments to prepare persons to carry this gospel to the churches and the world. Within the M.Div. degree program, students can choose concentrations in Biblical Studies and Theology, Christian Education, Ministry Leadership, Missions and World Christianity, Worship Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Sports Ministry, and Youth/Family/Student Ministry. Truett Seminary also offers three Dual Degree programs - a M.Div./MSW and MTS/MSW through a partnership with Baylor's School of Social Work, a M.Div./Master of Music through a partnership with the Baylor's School of Music, and a M.Div./MBA through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. Visit to learn more.

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