Dignify and Deploy 4: Philosopher and Pragmatist
‘I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…’ (Jn 14:12)
Pope St. John Paul II and John Wimber exemplify the best of their ‘worlds.’ As a European scholar, Karol Wojtyla represents the ‘pure’ thought of academia. His many writings are layered and highly conceptual. Wimber took high concepts and brought them down to size for the Average Joe or Jane. Wimber did what America does best—make practical, accessible, and exportable her goods, in Wimber’s case, the goods of God’s Kingdom.
Wimber was no intellectual slouch. While recouping from some physical problems in Santa Monica circa the early nineties, he floored me with his insights into politics, the economy, and the racism/poverty for which Jesus came. Genius. Anything I said in response to his questions about restoring the sexually broken seemed dull.
Wimber had a knack for getting to the core of things inductively. Having immersed himself in myriad expressions of American evangelicalism, he distilled the biblical understanding of Jesus’ Kingdom rule that united these groups. He then forged tools for activating the Spirit of Love that would help them all do Jesus’ greater works (Jn 14:12).
Christians of all kinds need steps and markers and modelling as to do these ‘works’ wisely and well; for us, John gave handles for how to discern and pray for persons suffering a host of afflictions.
Wimber restored human dignity through these works; Wojtyla gave voice and definition to this dignity with unprecedented clarity. He endured the worst indignities of the 20th century while training in theology, anthropology, and Christian spirituality. He forged a philosophy (the nature of things) of human dignity in light of Jesus’ humanity. He gave vision for our dignity and the courage to embody it.
Karol Wojtyla wrote numerous plays, a watershed philosophical work entitled Person and Act, and Love and Responsibility, his foundational thought underlying Theology of the Body. While juggling global crises and travel as pope, Pope St. John Paul II wrote constantly, producing 15 encyclicals, nine apostolic constitutions, 36 apostolic letters, 600 formal addresses, thousands of audience teachings (a portion of which became Theology of the Body), while overseeing the formation of two new codes of canon law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first of its kind in over 400 years. His resume inspires and exhausts me.
The philosopher and pragmatist sound the echo of paradise that every person can still hear and act upon. Thank you, Wojtyla and Wimber, for your creative genius.
“We thank You, living God, for Your members who think outside the box and help us know You in new ways.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”