“My question to you today is, ‘Do we love the words more than The Word?’” Danielle Shroyer, who has pastored Journey Church in Dallas for eight years, was the featured speaker during Hardin-Simmons University’s Cornerstone Lecture Series.
Exploring how people interact with Jesus, Shroyer shared her observational lecture, “What have we done with Jesus? A Parable in Three Parts,” with HSU students, faculty, staff, and community during the annual three-day event in Behrens Auditorium.
Each of Shroyer’s lectures engaged students with a purposeful question: “Have we put Jesus on a throne or on a pedestal?” “Have we focused more on Jesus’s arrival and forgotten the importance of waiting for his return?” and “Do we love the words more than The Word.”
Shroyer relates the story of a person who transforms a statue, erected as a tribute in a town square, by etching the spoken words of the honoree in its stone. Years later, as the preserver sits and stares at the solitary representation, a child inquires about the reason for his steady gaze at the statue; the person says, “I am the one who etched the words there.” The child proudly and dutifully begins to recite the words. But the person is sad and tells the child, “I put the words there because I wanted people to remember the man, but all they did was to recite the words.”
Shroyer says, “At some point, we started calling scripture The Word, but it isn’t, the words are not The Word. The words are scripture that testify to The Word, which is Jesus.”
Shroyer wonders aloud what it would be like if people read the words as a service to a bigger reality. “There are so many other words of Jesus, that if written down, the world could not house the books in which they are written. Jesus is not a flower we can press between the pages,” she contends.
“Something happens to the transformative power of The Word when we put the words in front of the reality of the man. We need the words, but the reality is more than the words can say. The words were written down, shared, and treasured because we didn’t want to forget the man,” maintains Shroyer.
“The primary goal of scripture is not to give you spiritual information – it is not a text book – it is not a phone directory,” says Shroyer. “The primary goal of scripture is to give you spiritual formation. We are to be formed by it and transformed by it.”
Shroyer challenges students to consider the Arthurian legend of Excalibur. “Excalibur is a powerful sword that can’t be defeated, that means it has to be welded with great care. It is a sword to be used justly, not vindictively; but understand that we don’t own the power of the sword, even if we possess the sword. The power comes from somewhere else.”
The Cornerstone Lecture Series is a three-day annual sequence of Bible lectures sponsored by the Baptist Student Ministries program. “Cornerstone seeks to provide better understanding of scripture and a better sense of how to live out our faith in our world,” says John Hunt, HSU’s BSM director.
Hunt says, “We chose Shroyer as our featured speaker this year because she is exceptionally engaging and a terrific interpreter of scripture. She is a perfect fit for Cornerstone because of her skill as a pastor/preacher and her ability to connect with students.”
Shroyer, a Baylor graduate with a double-major in religion and speech communications, earned a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.
She has been part of the emerging church conversation since the mid-1990's and has worked in a range of settings including youth and college ministry, retirement home chaplaincy, a contemporary church environment, and an emerging church community.
Describing herself as a “West Texas girl,” the Midland native has pastored Journey Church in Dallas, originally a ministry of Gaston Oaks Baptist Church, but has recently shifted her role to explore some new avenues of ministry, including writing.
Hunt says the Cornerstone Series has been presented since 1966 to help perpetuate the ideals set forth in the foundation agreement of Simmons College, now Hardin-Simmons University. The ideals are commensurate with the New Testament revelation of Christ, the Cornerstone of our Christian faith.