A rector in Lubbock, Texas, has won first place in a seminary competition for a sermon discussing science and faith.
The Rev. James Haney V is rector of St. Paul’s on the Plains and chaplain at Canterbury at Texas Tech. He is a graduate of Texas Tech University, where he majored in chemistry and minored in biology, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.
He preached the winning sermon, “The God Who Made the World” [PDF], at St. Paul’s on May 21, the sixth Sunday of Easter.
Haney was on a pre-med track as an undergraduate. “I had decided to be a physician when I was 13, and being goal oriented plugged straight ahead with that goal and didn’t reevaluate until my first semester in Medical School when I had a pretty major vocational crisis,” he told TLC via email.
“I asked the question ‘What am I doing here?’ and didn’t have a satisfactory answer. Simultaneously I was wrestling with a sense of call. I had thought about the diaconate in addition to being a physician, but I had a pretty clear call experience in November of that semester with the bottom-line message: ‘Not physician and deacon but rather priest.’”
He finds his background in science helpful in relating to particular students. “Liberal arts majors aren’t too impressed by it, but it does help with relating to students in scientific, engineering, and medical majors,” he said. “There’s probably an overt illustration every four to six weeks. I usually get good feedback from our science and engineering types, but I don’t want to alienate the rest of the congregation by doing it too often.”
The sermon competition, sponsored by Fuller Theological Seminary’s Office for Science, Theology, and Religion, offered $1,500 to the first-place winner and another $1,500 to the preacher’s church. The John Templeton Foundation helped provide funds. The vestry of St. Paul’s has designated the parish’s portion to help with seminary costs for a member pursuing the priesthood.
Haney heard about the competition through BioLogos, which he called an “awesome group/website, with very helpful content about science and religion, especially evolutionary biology.”