Dr. D. Larry Gregg Sr. is a retired Christian minister and university and divinity school professor. In retirement he has pursued a third career as an author of both fiction and nonfiction. A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Gregg is married to the former Peggy Franks of Birmingham, Alabama. They have two adult sons and three grandchildren. The Greggs currently live near Rutherfordton, North Carolina, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
How did you come to write Bowl Ecclesiology?
Back in the early 2000’s I was invited by the owner of a local radio station to host a Sunday morning radio program. I explained to the owner that I had no interest in becoming another radio preacher. Unless we could do something different, I wasn’t interested. His immediate response was, “Please do something different!” I decided to create reflective essays around issues of Christian living in the contemporary world by taking images from ordinary life and avoiding the use of the “language of Zion” as much as possible. There was significant positive response from the local community and many urged me to publish collections of the reflections. In response I published Believing Thinkers and Thinking Believers and If You Ain’t Somewhere Doin’ Somethin’ both in 2005. The lead essay in the first book was entitled Believing Thinkers and Thinking Believers: One is Not an Ox and the Other is Not a Moron. The lead article in the second was called If You Ain’t Somewhere Doin’ Somethin’ You Ain’t Nowhere Doin’ Nothin’.
As I moved to retirement from the academic classroom and local church ministry, I wanted to speak to the larger community through the use of electronic media. The end result was the development of a large email list and the monthly online publication of my Thinking Believer essays/reflections. Again, many persons urged me to consider publishing a larger collection of reflective essays than the two previous books. In late 2019 I wrote an essay, drawing upon my hobby as woodworker and bowl turner, entitled Bowl Ecclesiology, again taking an image from day to day life and applying it analogically to the life of the Christian community. This led to the compilation of a collection of essays which I submitted to Smyth & Helwys for consideration and that, to my delight, Smyth & Helwys agreed to publish.
What is your hope for how your new book might impact readers? What part of this Bowl Ecclesiology excited you most?
As a Christian I have always taken to heart the assertion of I Peter 3:15 that believers should “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you . . . .” Too often we begin with theological language and draw our images/illustrations from the biblical text. Unfortunately, in our contemporary world millions and millions of people know little or nothing about the content of the Bible. A careful reading of the words of Jesus and the letters of Paul will reveal that both Jesus and the Apostle regularly drew images from the everyday life of the culture within which they lived, and used those commonly understood images to as the “jumping off place” for reflection upon life with God and with others. In my reflective essays I attempt to follow their model. I want readers to be drawn in by commonly experienced images, lead them to think reflectively about their spiritual lives and relationships, and come to places where they say, “Oh. I get it. This is what it means for me to experience life as a Christian.”
I am particularly excited by the truth, as illustrated in Bowl Ecclesiology, that while God speaks to us through scripture, scripture is not God’s only medium of revelation. It is just as relevant to begin with ordinary life and move to scripture as it is to begin with scripture and seek to apply it to ordinary life.