Monday, May 14, 2012

Luke Powery on 'Groaning and Glory': At the Romans 5--8 Conference at Princeton

I just watched a really good sermon, the beginning parts of it, from Dr. Luke Powery; he is Perry and Georgia Engle Assistant Professor of Homiletics, at Princeton Theological Seminary. His sermon opened up Princeton Theological Seminary's recent Creation, Conflict, Cosmos Conference on Romans 5--8 (the dates were May 5-8, and you can listen to most of it here). Powery's sermon, the video version which only provides 5:30 minutes (and well worth your time), was very provocative and emotive; his recurring theme in this short video presentation was Groaning, taken of course from Romans 8:18ff and this context:

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
And his points about Groaning before Glory are well taken; I think it could be taken further, and we could say with the Theologian, John that God's glory is death to self and life found in the other (subject-in-being). So that groaning is the obverse of God's glory (in a sense), and not just a precursor in a temporal kind of 'sequentiation' or linear movement (albeit there is this reality too). There is a dialectic between groaning and glory best typified with ontic reality in something like what the Apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4:10,

 10  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Groaning in these bodies of death is the Christian reality; only because we have the groaning of the Spirit uniting us with the groaning of the Spirit anointed humanity of Jesus for us. We live in and out of his life, both his death and resurrection; it is in this locution of God's Word that groaning has meaning and purpose from God's life in Christ as the purpose and point of all creation (Col. 1:15).

You can watch the 5.5 minutes of sermon on 'Groaning' from Powery by clicking HERE. 


  1. Bobby,

    Wow...where am I? What island have I landed on? Who replaced all the theologians with these trees? Must be the effect of the sun finally coming out up here in the NW!

    Loved Dr. Powery's message (only got to listen to the short version so far). I think that many Americans, in particular, have a hard time with the concept of groaning/glory, death/life as being a one-with-the-other concurring part of what our life now is, in Christ. It's as though, in our culture-shaped thinking, we feel that God has somehow gotten this one wrong; that we have a better approach. Our world tells us that weaklings groan and losers die - and who wants to be a weak loser? But God's wisdom (which so surpasses that of the world) is evidenced in His Son! He brought glory through His groans, and life through His death! It's because of Jesus, and our life united in His, that we know (and sometimes even get to experience) that our groans will be answered in glory and that our death is only bringing about life!

    Good stuff to chew on. Thank you!

    1. Pastor Daniel,

      Yes, you never know what you'll find when you visit my blog ;-).

      Amen, on your mini-reflection here; you know I totally agree with you. I think we suffer, as Evangelical Christians, in general, from a folk understanding of God (like one in our image)---or that we suffer from syncretism and thus idolatry---instead of knowing the God revealed, for real, in Christ. It is our 'natural' bent to want to be comfortable (as we've spoken of before), and we will construct all kinds of housings in order to sure that that is the case (and name them Jesus of course!). We definitely need to hold each other accountable (as Christians in this generation) as we see the day approaching. I am actually rather pessimistic, at this point; I don't see a lot of movement in most Christian's lives, there is a hyper-apathy and thus atrophy in peoples lives towards Christ and the things of God ... and I'm afraid that this is true within the lives of the most well-intentioned people.

    2. michelle roemer schoenMay 25, 2012 at 7:03 AM

      Bobby, We have replaced the five-minute video clip of Luke Powery's sermon with the full video. You can access it here:

    3. Michelle,

      Thank you for the heads up, I will update this link then. And thank you all for making this available like you have, much appreciated!! Blessings.


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