The Search for Meaning: An Interview With Ricky Freeman

My colleague Ricky Freeman, Dean of Students and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Northern Baptist Seminary, was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune on issues of faith, creation, and the search for the deeper meaning of life. Ricky is also the Senior Pastor of Saint John Church-Baptist (National Baptist and American Baptist) in Chicago.

The following is an excerpt of Ricky’s interview with the Chicago Tribune:

He tells a story of how a Sunday school teacher sought his advice when a student kept probing him about stories in the book of Genesis. How was it possible, the young boy wanted to know, that an entire nation could be created when Adam and Eve had only two sons? Who did their sons marry?

“He was looking at the Creation story from a logical standpoint and saw there was a logical disconnect,” said Freeman. “The teacher kept coming back to me and finally I said, ‘Who is this child?’ and he told me, ‘It’s your son.'”

“In our tradition, there was a time when people said you don’t question God’s judgment or call God on the carpet. The thinking was that made God less sovereign. But I think that’s superimposing our own insecurities and frailties on God and it limits him and our experience with God.”

He said that when he preached the funerals of three young men who died in their 20s, he refused to give the families a pat biblical response to their grief.

“You have to look them in their eyes and resist the urge to smooth things over with some canned expression that ministers typically use at funerals,” he said. “You have to offer comfort, but you have to also say, ‘This doesn’t make sense and it hurts and makes you angry.'”

Freeman believes that even though answers may sometimes be elusive, it’s the search for deeper meaning that is the cornerstone of faith. That may be especially true during trying times when people are concerned about such things as long-term unemployment, unsafe communities and an uncertain world.

He said he doesn’t get sentimental about the new year because a person’s search regarding spirituality is often an ongoing pursuit.

“I would say to someone searching to look inside, ‘It’s not a matter of finding God but opening up ourselves to the eternal within,'” he said. “When I think about God, I don’t think in terms of religious categories or constructs, I think of God as a spirit and God is in every person. He can reach anybody in any place.”

I admire Ricky for his commitment to Christ and for his love and concern for our students at Northern Seminary.  I am happy that the Chicago Tribune chose to highlight the work of Ricky Freeman, my colleague at Northern Seminary.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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1 Response to The Search for Meaning: An Interview With Ricky Freeman

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