Professor Anna Case-Winters talks about pandemic-related work with the World Communion of Reformed Churches and her new book on the Incarnation
March 26, 2022
The Rev. Dr. Anna Case-Winters, who has taught theology at McCormick Theological Seminary for 35 years, wasn’t all gloom and doom during a recent episode of the “Leading Theologically” podcast hosted twice each month by the Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty of the Presbyterian Foundation.
While the conversation led with a year-long work Case-Winters has been doing with the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) helping churches around the world to dream of a different world following the pandemic, it also found its way to Case-Winters’ new book on understanding theology through the lens of the Incarnation, “God Will Be All in All,” published by Westminster John Knox Press.
The pandemic has brought with it an apocalypse, defined as an uncovering, Case-Winters noted. “What has been laid bare by COVID-19,” Case-Winters said, “is the destructive dynamics of systemic racism and economic injustice. We have seen clearly why some are more vulnerable to the virus than others.”
“We say that it’s not a great leveler so much as a great revealer,” Case-Winters told Hinson-Hasty.
“That’ll preach,” he responded. “That’s a gift.”
We’re all in the same storm, Case-Winters said, but we’re not all in the same boat. “Some are traveling on Noah’s Ark and others of us are on the Titanic,” Case-Winters said. “The pandemic has cast a light that throws these lethal inequities into sharp relief. There is no more innocence, no more plausible deniability.”
“What are we going to do in the aftermath of the apocalypse?” Case-Winters asked. “We are facing multiple interlocking crises.”
The WCRC working group has seen “that white supremacy is alive and well,” Case-Winters said, as is as “deadly police violence with seeming impunity” and “the repression of women and sexual minorities.” It’s also taken notice of the world’s economic stratification in which ½ of 1% of the people own more wealth than 6.9 billion people do, Case-Winters said.
“The economy is not good — not for people, and not for the planet,” Case-Winters said.
The working group has also made note of rising authoritarianism and the planet’s looming climate emergency. First and hardest-hit have been “those who are already poor and vulnerable who are not the chief consumers and beneficiaries of fossil fuels,” Case-Winters said.
Along the way, the WCRC working group is proposing an economy of life, with information available here. The proposal, according to Case-Winters, calls for “the radical change we need,” including new architecture for the world’s financial and economic systems. Part of the proposal is a “#ZacTax,” a progressive tax on wealth inspired by the Zacchaeus account in Luke’s gospel.
Another proposal calls for banks to cancel the debt of low-income, heavily indebted countries. “We are called to bear witness to the God of life amidst the death-dealing structures of our day,” Case-Winters said. “It is time to put the ‘protest’ back in ‘Protestant.’ We have wondered if we are on the verge of a new Reformation.”
“There is no question there is a revolution on the way,” Case-Winters told Hinson-Hasty. “The question is whether the church will be on the right side of the revolution. If we want a different kind of world, we are going to have to be a different kind of church.”
As a church, “we have been through unsettling times. Maybe we should be unsettled,” Case-Winters said. “Our calling, after all, is to follow, not to settle. … The church is not a building — it’s a movement, a movement of God’s Spirit in the world God loves so much. God is not confined to the sanctuary; neither should the church be. We are dreaming of a different world.”
Her students at McCormick Theological Seminary “are dreaming the dream and they are giving it hands and feet in their ministries and activism,” Case-Winters said. “They are bold, adventurous and committed. My students are a big part of what is life-giving to me today. They pose the deep questions that shape my research and my writing. It’s a privilege to be in their company.”
Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: World Communion of Reformed Churches
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Donald McKim, Writer/Editor, Theology, Formation & Evangelism, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Andrea McNicol, Manager, Budgets & Forecasting, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)
Let us pray
Lord, thank you for opportunities to help others wherever they are. Let us not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to needs around us but simply do acts of kindness and compassion in your name. Amen.