We have asked all the nominees for moderator four questions so that we, as a church, could get to know them a little better. Here are the responses for Rev. Dr. Orville James. If you would like to know more about Orville, please read his profile from the General Council 41 website.
1) “Cruxifusion” means “united by the cross.” What does Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection mean to you?
Jesus’ death and resurrection are the pinnacle events in his life work. The Bible presents the work of the Cross as a many-faceted event, offering a variety of images for the Atonement: self-giving love, the forgiveness of enemies, payment of a debt, the ransom of captives, victory over the demonic principalities and powers, and so on. Theologian Scot McKnight suggests these images are like golf clubs: Different clubs are needed for different situations. An experienced golfer will know when it is appropriate to use the driver or the sand wedge or the putter. We need Jesus as ‘moral example’ but also as rescuing Saviour, etc. For me, The Resurrection is God’s complete endorsement and justification of Jesus Christ and his work, AND it is God’s ‘kick-off’ or initiation of a new realm, a new kingdom – which is promised to everyone who is open to receiving it.
2) Describe the God you worship.
I worship the God who is multi-faceted, revealed in history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, but pre-existing before all time and space, who is also the God who is present in Spirit at all times and places. This God is unfathomably diverse, open and welcoming, not limited to any religious system (including Christianity). While this Trinitarian God has strong historical links to the Christian religion, this God connects with and welcomes all souls who will receive her\him.
3) Which Christian author has had the greatest impact on you?
N.T. Wright, the British scholar and Biblical theologian has had the greatest positive impact on me in the past dozen years. His clear-headed, carefully researched support for a generous orthodoxy has re-stored my confidence in gentle passion for classic Christian theology. He renewed my confidence to believe and proclaim the divinity and resurrection of Jesus. Previous to Wright, Christian psychiatrist Dr. Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled, etc) and Christian journalist Phillip Yancey (What’s So Amazing about Grace?, etc) were great positive influences.
4) What gifts and passions do you have that you believe the United Church of Canada needs today?
My gifts are ‘Vision-casting’ leadership, team-building, affirmation & encouragement; My passion is for congregational regeneration, and faith sharing (evangelism). I am convinced that our Canadian culture is saturated with spiritually hungry people, who will be greatly served by strong local congregations that are welcoming, inclusive, and build community, while introducing people to a life-transforming friendship with Jesus as their role model, guide and Saviour.