Tuesday 23 June 2009

Ray S. Anderson (1925-2009)

by Christian D. Kettler, Friends University

Ray S. Anderson passed away on Father’s
Day, June 21, 2009. For many years Professor of Theology and Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, Anderson was a theologian who never ceased to be a pastor. Whether you are a clergy person or a lay person, whatever your denomination or Christian heritage may be, Ray Anderson has many exciting, and sometimes provocative, things to say. I speak from experience as a student of Anderson’s, beginning at Fuller Seminary, but extending along many years. While reading almost any of his many books, I am always struck by both a depth of insight and an almost joyful playfulness for the ministry of theology. Theology is ministry itself, a ministry of meditating upon the gospel of the unconditional grace of God in Jesus Christ, but ministry itself is also theology; true ministry, the ministry of God, always precedes and governs theology.

For over thirty years, Ray Anderson has been quietly writing a body of work that is remarkable in its ability to awaken both theology and the church to a theology that actually intersects with the ministry of the church and a view of ministry that dwells in a deep place of reflection. I regret is that I will be unable to replicate the spark of playfulness and intellectual restlessness that characterizes Anderson’s writings, lectures, and sermons. Donald Mackinnon, the noted Cambridge theologian who has received new interest in recent years, spoke of this “nervous, restless quality” even in Anderson’s doctoral dissertation (later published as Historical Transcendence and the Reality of God).

Anderson’s lectures were for many years a refuge of grace for weary students who were bounced back and forth in seminary classes, from studying academic, critical disciplines in one to learning pastoral and ministry skills in another, with little integration of the two. Most of all, in the midst of personal crises, the students found in Anderson’s lectures (and pastoral counsel) grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16). Unconditional grace is not just a doctrine for Anderson, but the way that he responds to people, even in their weaker moments. For what Anderson means by a theology of ministry is not simply a thin veneer of Bible verses justifying the typical, prosaic ministry program of a congregation. Rather, his theology of ministry is truly incarnational, the Word penetrating deeply into our flesh (Jn 1:14), the flesh of the whole person, involving spiritual, emotional, and physical turmoils. That is where Jesus Christ meets us, and continues to meet us, not in a ministry of our own creation, but in participating in his continuing ministry, God’s ministry.

In recent years Anderson has found more dialogue with Christian psychologists than theologians (perhaps attesting to a fear among theologians of their own humanity?). This has born fruit in a remarkable issue of Edification: Journal of the Society for Christian Psychology, in which Anderson’s article “Toward a Holistic Psychology: Putting All the Pieces in their Proper Place” was followed by several responses by psychologists, philosophers and theologians. This kind of critical interaction, certainly not uncritical, demonstrates the stimulation that Anderson’s thought can provides for all three groups of scholars and at the same time benefits all of those involved in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

For all of Anderson’s commitment to community there is a freedom in his theology to be a maverick, to be oneself and go against the grain. J. G. Hamann and Dag Hammarskjöld are two iconoclasts he likes to quote. Anderson presents an interesting portrait of the maverick theologian in the midst of community; not an easier venture, as his former colleagues and students will attest!

Good theology is not just a display of erudition, as Thomas Torrance told me once. Ray Anderson was not a historical theologian, biblical scholar, or philosopher in the guise of a theologian. Unapologetically, he was a “restless” theologian in service to the church of Jesus Christ. Good theology is being faithful to Jesus Christ and demonstrating that faithfulness with the kind of “nervous, restless quality” of mind that Donald Mackinnon spoke of Anderson’s thought. But Anderson is doubling challenging in that he refuses to allow for a theology that does not partake, like the incarnation, of actual human flesh, like the incarnation; the human flesh of human dilemmas, perplexities, and ambiguity. I remember well Ray Anderson telling a class that one must always be open to a “theology of ambiguity.” How difficult was it for us conservative evangelical students to hear that! But we came to realize that the ambiguity rightly exists in our limited and fallen understandings, not in God.

Anderson’s influences were many and profound, including Edward Carnell, Kierkegaard, the philosopher John Macmurray, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Torrance, James Torrance, and the interdisciplinary work of Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death. Ray Anderson was probably the first English-speaking theologian (in his dissertation published in 1975) to recognize the profound theological anthropology and ecclesiology in the work of the Greek Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas. Anderson provides an interesting case study of American evangelicalism at mid-twentieth century when some were trying to provide an intellectual alternative not only to fundamentalism but to the rationalistic theology that was presented by such early Fuller Seminary professors like Carl F. H. Henry. Anderson’s critique of Henry is very telling and insightful. Anderson’s place, and often a controversial place, in the modern history of Fuller Seminary modern American evangelicalism, is very much worthwhile for further study, when he and Geoffrey Bromiley sought to present Karl Barth’s theology to a Fuller evangelicalism often more interested promoting a Christian “worldview” or church growth techniques than to learn from Barth a radical evangelical theology and to build upon it.

When one reads Anderson one will be struck with the sheer humanity of his theology. The incarnation is not just an orthodox or abstract doctrine for him. I have two “Rays” that have been very influential on my life and thought: Ray Anderson and the fantasy writer Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. His writings have a profound humanity yet always with a sense of wonder and respect for the divine. In a way, as Ray Bradbury has brought a sense of God in the humanity of fantasy and science fiction writing, Ray Anderson has brought a sense of humanity into God in the field of theology. Anderson’s writings have that same respect for humanity that Bradbury’s do for the divine.

Born on a South Dakota farm, Ray Anderson comes from the soil of the very human and practical endeavor of the farmer and transplants that humanity into the struggles of American evangelicalism as a pastor and student and teacher at Fuller Theological Seminary. While a young farmer himself, Anderson listened to one of the most successful of the early radio evangelists, Charles E. Fuller, and his radio program, “The Old Fashioned Revival Hour.” From then, Anderson and his family travelled to Pasadena, California to enroll in Fuller’s relatively new theological seminary. The young Anderson found a form of the traditional American revivalistic tradition that had become preoccupied with correcting its intellectual and cultural deficiencies, now calling itself, “evangelicalism.” These sons (at that time almost exclusively male) of evangelists sought to avoid the parochialism and obscurantism of their fundamentalist forebears while holding to fast to what they perceived to be the eternal faith. The influence of Edward J. Carnell, a restless, iconoclastic, and troubled evangelical mind and professor at Fuller Seminary, was a great stimulation to the young farmer turned seminary student to move beyond simply regurgitating the new “evangelicalism.”

Planting a new Evangelical Free Church congregation in Covina, California exposed Anderson to the very real experience of a young pastor. “Restless” is the word that seems to have continued to characterize Ray Anderson in his early days in pastoral ministry. During this time of living with the raw realities of a congregation and the stereotypical expectations of a “reverend,” Anderson found himself jotting down short “musings” as he would later call them, a theological notebook of the daring of faith that sought to think beyond the stereotypes of ministry and theology. Published much later as Soulprints (1996), this theology in the midst of ministry will be hashed out in the context of the increasingly alienated culture of the 1960s. The result was a ministry that sought consciously to be incarnational, less concerned with success than with human beings trapped in an alienating world.

Mid-life took Anderson to Scotland for a Ph.D. in theology at the University of Edinburgh under the noted theologian Thomas F. Torrance. Torrance, a student of Karl Barth’s, provided for Anderson a theology that would put words to what he had become to experience in Covina, an incarnational ministry that drove one to ask new questions of God. The result was his doctoral dissertation, Historical Transcendence and the Reality of God, published in 1975. Borrowing deeply from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Macmurray, Anderson sought to orientate the doctrine of God in an increasingly skeptical age to a view of transcendence that is not “other-worldly,” but based on the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. A strikingly original ecclesiology proceeded from this, Anderson’s first major theological work.

After a short time teaching at Westmont College in California, Ray Anderson joined the faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary in 1976. As theological mentor for Fuller Seminary’s growing Doctor of Ministry program, Anderson assembled the massive anthropology, Theological Foundations for Ministry (1979). Not content with simply gathering a plethora of competing theologies for the student to be befuddled by, Anderson presented a coherent theology base on the Trinity and the incarnation, including generous selections from Barth, Bonhoeffer, Thomas and James Torrance, and others including the most ecclesiologically dynamic sections of Historical Transcendence and the Reality of God. Of special note is the essay by Anderson, “A Theology of Ministry,” in which he lays out the significance of ministry preceding and governing theology, not the opposite, based on an incarnational theology in which God is “on both sides” of both revelation and reconciliation. Reconciliation, like all of God’s ministry, is not to be left up to us! Such an anthology signaled to many that a new way of integrating theology and ministry was being proposed that did not simply try to find a lowest common denominator in ethical values or pastoral practice, but was based on the richness of the triune life of God revealed in Jesus Christ. This was a different kind of evangelical theology than the apologetics-driven heritage of the early Fuller Seminary, but one which was just as loyal to the ancient faith in the Trinity and the incarnation. Yet it was refreshingly free to acknowledge not just that Jesus Christ was God, but that God actually assumed human flesh, so an incarnational theology and ministry is not afraid but embraces the human, as messy as that might often be in the realities of ministry.

The incarnational imperative for the humanization of the world (including the church!) drove Anderson increasingly into questions of a theological anthropology. Questions of theological anthropology had begun to intrigue Anderson when he observed how little theological basis there exists with some colleagues at Westmont, whom otherwise possessed a strong, personally pious theology, yet seemed often to offer little integration with their academic disciplines. His pious colleagues seemed to be operating with more of a philosophical, non-theological anthropology than one that was rooted in the incarnation. The fruit of Anderson’s thinking came in 1982 with the publication of On Being Human: Essays in Theological Anthropology. I don’t think that Karl Barth’s profound writings on the doctrine of humanity had ever been mined so thoroughly in light of pastoral and ministry practice. Yet Anderson remained certainly his own man. As a seminarian at the time, I remember vividly the excitement of Anderson’s terse yet provocative prose, bursting with genuine theological and ministerial potential. Not easy to digest for some, but for many, Anderson’s continuing “nervous, restless quality” was the stimulation to believe in the continued healing power of a trinitarian-incarnational theology. Many a Fuller Seminary student can attest to practically stumbling into a Ray Anderson class week upon week, beaten up by life’s events, desperately seeking the grace of God … and finding it in Ray’s provocative and faithful witness to Jesus Christ.

On Being Human only served to further ignite Anderson’s creative theological juices, particularly in the implications of a theological anthropology. Anderson’s theological anthropology is profoundly relational, including male and female relationships and the family, so it was natural that On Being Family: A Social Theology of the Family, written with the family sociologist Dennis B. Guernsey, and the fruit of their team-taught course at Fuller, “Theology and Ecology of the Family,” was published in 1984. The provocative and pastoral thinking on death and dying in On Being Human led to Theology, Death and Dying in 1982. Anderson was fond of mischievously suggesting that he wanted the book to be entitled, On Being Dead, in order to harmonize with On Being Human and On Being Family, and perhaps include ethics and be called, On Being Good and Dead!

Anderson integrative interests continued to be broad and sweeping with the volume on leadership, Minding God’s Business, in 1982 and one on counseling, Christians Who Counsel, in 1990. No shoddy thinking here, Anderson demonstrated his theological bravery is taking on such “nuts and bolts” issues of ministry.

In 1991, Anderson wrote his first “popular” book, but one that is truly profound in its thinking: The Gospel According to Judas: Is There a Limit to God’s Forgiveness? Featuring an imaginary conversation between Jesus and Judas after Judas’s death, this book has deeply affected and challenged many in how shallow our view of grace and forgiveness really is. Still, many have been offended, even with the later version, Judas and Jesus: Amazing Grace for the Wounded Soul (2005). These little books still continue to have a great ministry, including, Anderson tells, even with a convicted murderer serving life in prison. Concern for the individual desperately needing the grace of God is evident many of Anderson’s later books such as, Don’t Give Up On Me – I’m Not Finished Yet! Putting the Finishing Touches on the Person You Want to Be (1994), its more technical cousin, Self-Care: A Theology of Personal Empowerment and Spiritual Healing, Living the Spiritually Balanced Life: Acquiring the Virtues You Admire (1998), Everything That Make Me Happy I Learned When I Grew Up (1995), Unspoken Wisdom: Truths My Father Taught Me (1995), Exploration Into God: Sermonic Meditations on the Book of Ecclesiastes (2006), and The Seasons of Hope: Empowering Faith Through the Practice of Hope (2008).

The church, the corporate, communal and relational nature of the Christian life and the presence of Christ today, however, was never far from Anderson’s thought and pen. Ministry on the Fireline: A Practical Theology for an Empowered Church (1993) challenged the need for evangelical theology which emphasizes a “Word” theology to embrace as well a “Spirit” or “Pentecostal” theology of the presence of the Holy Spirit in mission. Such concerns continued with what the summary of decades of Ray Anderson’s thinking on a theology of ministry based on a trinitarian-incarnational theology: The Soul of Ministry: Forming Leaders for God’s People (1997). Wide-ranging concerns from homosexuality to “The Humanity of God in the Soul of the City” are developed in light of a trinitarian model of practical theology in The Shape of Practical Theology: Empowering Ministry with Theological Praxis. Anderson’s disgust in the lack of practical ecclesiology in much of modern systematic theology reflects his desire to leave “systematic theology” behind for the sake of “practical theology.” This direction from systematic to practical theology is spelled out more in detail theologically in The Soul of God: A Theological Memoir (2004).

Anderson continued to provoke his evangelical roots (and colleagues!) with Dancing with Wolves While Feeding the Sheep: The Musings of a Maverick Theologian (2001) with such chapters as, “Was Jesus an Evangelical?”(the “wolves” are his faculty colleagues!). One of Anderson’s most challenging proposals is his practical theology for secular caregivers found in Spiritual Caregiving as Secular Sacrament: A Practical Theology for Professional Caregivers (2003).There are many treasures of ideas in all of these books, ideas that have much appreciated by colleagues and students alike through the years. Much critical thinking stimulated by Ray Anderson’s theology can be found in the two Festschriften edited in honor of Ray: Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in Church, Society, and Family: Essays in Honor of Ray S. Anderson (eds. Christian D. Kettler and Todd H. Speidell) (1990), including essays by Thomas Torrance, James Torrance, Geoffrey Bromiley, Colin Gunton, Alan Lewis, and Lewis Smedes (with a telling introduction by the president of Fuller Seminary, David Allan Hubbard and a bibliography through 1990) and On Being Christian … and Human: Essays in Celebration of Ray S. Anderson (ed. Todd H. Speidell) (2002), which includes contributions by many of Ray’s former students, including LeRon Shults and Willie Jennings and an essay on “Community in the Life and Theology of Ray Anderson” by Daniel Price (along with a bibliography through 2002). Also included are the case studies used by Anderson for many years in his theology sequence of courses.

Karl Barth, in the lectures he gave during his tour of the United States late in his life, remarks that what he desires for Americans is to be freed for a “theology of freedom.” In a way, I think Ray Anderson is the purest example of an answer to Barth’s desire for America: A theologian who has always been first of all a pastor of a concrete, local church, never deserting the church for the rarified air of seclusion in the academy, never deserting particular, actual people for abstract values or virtues. For most of Anderson’s over twenty years of seminary teaching he was preaching every week at the “high of the low churches,” Harbour Fellowship. Anderson builds upon Barth’s revolution but is distinctly a theologian for the church in the U.S. today. Much is made today of a need for a theology of “globalization” and “postmodernism” and certainly the church and the gospel are for the world. But Anderson’s roots in a South Dakota farm and an evangelical parish become real in a theology that takes very seriously actual human beings and concrete situations in the church, not to be swallowed up by what can become abstract ideals and causes, from orthodoxy to social justice.

I have just finished a work that is to be a little introduction to Anderson’s work entitled, Reading Ray S. Anderson: Theology as Ministry, Ministry as Theology. I am pleased that Ray was able to read the preface and seemed happy (and embarrassed!) by the book. “Theology as Ministry” particularly relates to the doctrines of God and theological anthropology. “Ministry as Theology” suggests the profound integration of a theology praxis to the church in its ministry and mission. But the dialectical aspect of “Theology as Ministry, Ministry as Theology” should not be forgotten. There is one ministry of God, Anderson contends, the ministry of Jesus Christ. Theology only seeks to serve that ministry. Anderson has been well known for his uses of cases studies in exploring the implications of theology in ministry. (The actual cases he uses for examinations in his courses are found in the second Festschrift, On Being Christian … and Human, edited by Todd Speidell). So at the end of each chapter I have included a case that which “fleshes out” the implications of that chapter for ministry. I think you’ll find that the writings of Ray Anderson will be an incredible stimulation to your participation in the ministry of Jesus Christ.


Brian Lugioyo said...

Ray will be greatly greatly missed. Keep Mildred and their family in your prayers.

Our Father, what a gift you gave us in your servant Ray. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this. I found myself last night going to my old class binders to re-read notes that he had written on my papers. His pastors heart came through every letter.

He was indeed a gift.

didymus said...

thx for that great eulogy. ray changed my entire approach to theology and spirituality. he gave me freedom to not think like an "evangelical" anymore and to find peace in and through the world. he definitely was incarnational in all ways and demonstrated such pastoral care for his students -- a care i hope to model in my own teaching career.

(first time i've run into this blog btw. good to know that there is a voice for those out there who were shaped by ray.)

Unknown said...

"Praying that the fruit of his influence will be even more in death than it was during his life." This is what my friend Kim wrote about my friend Ray. I shall likewise voice this Nommo when I eulogize my friend David this morning. I only hope that I am comparably influential in my life and death. Because of Ray I know Jesus compassionate and present. Because of David I know God present and still speaking. RIP both of you.

Adam Nigh said...

Thank you for the great eulogy. Ray has influenced my life tremendously, though I regretfully never got to meet him face to face. I took his class "Reconciliation and the Healing of Persons" through the distance learning program at Fuller and it changed my entire approach to theology. He had us read "The Mediation of Christ" by T. F. Torrance and within a few months after finishing the course I got the idea to do a PhD on Torrance under Ray. I live in northern California (Santa Cruz) so moving to Pasadena with a wife and 2 children seemed reasonable to my wife and I. Ray, however, informed me that he had recently retired and recommended I go to Scotland to study with John Webster at the University of Aberdeen...We leave in 3 months. I am so grateful to Ray's influence on my faith and theology, which are obviously enormous, and I am so sad that I never got to meet him and thank him in person for that.

kim fabricius said...

From another Kim, who is very sad, thank you for this wonderful obituary - no, tribute.

I first encountered Ray's work in the early years of my ministry, when, on spec, I bought Theology, Death and Dying. After a diet of psychologies of grief as an Oxford ordinand, it was just what I needed to escape the church's captivity to secular counselling and complicity in pastoral denial through sentimental nostrums. And then to "meet" Ray here at F&T, through his posts and his courteous, careful, and clear comments - it was a privilege.

May he rest - restlessly - in peace.

Matt Norman said...

I had the great privilege of being in Dr. Anderson’s last three systematic theology classes he taught at Fuller. Last summer, I visited him in his home in Huntington Beach and we discussed theology and such. He inspired me and discipled me and I will miss his insights, cherish the writings, and lecture notes that I have.

Unknown said...


Thanks for posting this blog. I was saddened when I heard of Ray's death and was looking online for more information.

I had the privilege of taking a Barth class, Bonhoeffer class....and Ray let me into his Ph.D. seminary on Practical Theology. Those three classes challenged me more than any in my seminary career, and I consider him to be a friend and theological mentory.

After seminary we stayed in touch, exchanged emails, and met for coffee on Fuller's campus when he was there on Mondays.

He also posted a guest blog on my site on his book An Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches. http://rhettsmith.com/2006/07/14/guest-blogger-dr-ray-anderson-on-his-new-book-an-emergent-theology-for-emerging-churches/

Ray, you will be missed greatly...

Rhett Smith

Anonymous said...

Ray was always interested in reading my work when I was a student at Fuller, and he was a generous and insightful correspondent. He was a great help to me during a time when mentors and teachers were hard to come by for a commuter student, and thanks to his help, I have been given the gift of working on a PhD on Barth here in Aberdeen.

Last summer, I had the chance to get together with him at Huntington Beach, and we went over a whole swath of stories about the history of Fuller Seminary; Daniel Fuller, Carnell, CFH Henry and Paul Jewett. He was a generous man to take time just to tell them to me. I am thankful to God for the man that he was.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful biographical and inspirational tribute to my friend, Ray. I had the rare privilege of co-teaching a class for 8 years with Ray, partly based on his fine book "Christians Who Counsel." Those classes were, and continue to be, the highlight of my teaching career. Ray was a truly unique gift from God, accessible even to psychologists!

Jeff Bjorck, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Fuller Seminary
Graduate School of Psychology

roger flyer said...

Wow! I had never hear of him, but so encouraging for me to hear news of a 'maverick theologian' from the 'greatest generation' amidst evangelicals.

I'll be sure to look up some of this stuff. Thanks!

Jon said...


Anonymous said...

Ray was a mentor for my doctoral studies and perhaps the most encouraging person that I ever met. He always listened and engaged in his gruff but certain manner. A certainty that was never coercive or defensive, but enlightening and stimulating. He was always much more concerned my being (and well-being)than my academics. Meeting and discussing my dissertation with him always left me feeling like I had something to say, even if he disagreed with it.

I bet he has the answers to all those restless questions he was unafraid to ask during his life. I hope Judas met him at the gate.

Ron Hammer, Ph.D.
Pastoral Counselor
Adjunct Professor
Fuller Theological Seminary

gbroughto said...

One of the many stories / legends told at Fuller about Ray Anderson was that David Hubbard (past president) was fond of saying that he received more correspondence about Ray Anderson's classes than any other, sometimes more than all other classes put together; then Hubbard would finish by adding "...and every Seminary (/ theological college) needs a Ray Anderson."

A sad day for Fuller and those of us influenced by him, that it/we have finally lost him.

Anonymous said...

I have never meant Dr. Anderson, but through the author of this tribute i have engaged several of his works, with three to come this summer.

I haven't read many who could, with one sentence, say something that was both so profound and also so imbued with common sense. It saddens me that he is gone. He was so refreshingly unique in the theological landscape. More than his work, i have heard that he was nothing if not loving, one who loved giving grace to others.

He can never be replaced, but may more like him come to prominence in the academic world, both in their writing/teaching, and in how they treat others.

Chris Pritchett said...

Ray will remain in my heart and memory as the one who shaped my theological formation and identity. I will never forget our lunch gatherings when he would spin my world upside down in one hour while eating cream of mushroom soup at Coco's in Huntington Beach.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to know Ray and be guided by him. His influence on my life and ministry will continue as I engage with him through his works.

It is a sad time for all who knew him.

Bobby Grow said...

After reading all of this, I wish I knew Ray Anderson; I will have to start reading his books!

Thanks for sharing this thorough obituary.

Ted Johnston said...

I'm saddened by Professor Ray's passing, but his teaching will remain and bless for a very long time.

For two interesting and recent video interviews with Ray see




Henry Kim said...

I will always treasure the wonderful moments I had in my all to brief interactions with Prof. Ray. His classes and converstations always served to make me think and really look at the world in a new way.

I will miss him, but know that while it is our loss, he has blessed me in more ways then I could imagine.

Todd Speidell said...

Ray Anderson's influence extended well beyond the classroom and even his office (and his door was always open to students). He preached at my ordination and wedding (traveling cross-country for the latter). I listened today to his wedding sermon, in which he was uncharacteristically tearful and spoke quite personally about how we were not content simply to let him be our teacher. He was a friend, and there are so many of us who are different persons and ministers because of his ministry on our behalf. He was not content simply to be our professor; he was our mentor, pastor, and friend.

Brenda said...

Ray Anderson WAS Fuller for me. I still have all the notes and journals from the 5 classes I took from him from 1993-1997. No one has commented yet on my favorite "Rayism" yet, so I will. I remember being in class where Ray's theology/teaching would challenge someone so much that they would stand up and quote the Bible at him as if it was a sword....he would get this little smile on his face, his mouth would twitch...he always waited until the student finished their tirade. Then something like...."ah, yes, 1 Corinthians 3:2. Of course, if you read Chapter 2, 5-11, it says... (and he would quote it all, word for word)...and if you look in Hebrews 4:6-8, you will see (and he would quote that....)" The student would usually meekly sit down, realising that he knew his Bible alright, and THAT approach wouldn't work! I still smile when I think of him. What a life! What influence! Brenda Holt, Melbourne, Australia

Brian Lugioyo said...

Ray's memorial service will be this Saturday, June 27 at Grace Lutheran Church in Huntington Beach from 11am-12:30pm. The address for Grace Lutheran Church is: 6931 Edinger Ave.,
Huntington Beach, CA

Brian Lugioyo said...

For those of us who cannot be there in person, the memorial service will be recorded and posted on Grace Lutheran's website : http://www.gracehb.info/podcasts/

It probably will not be up there until a few days after the service, but you will be able to watch the service or listen to it from a far. Mildred and Ray's family have requested, that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:

The Ray S. Anderson Scholarship Fund (a scholarship fund for Fuller Seminary's regional campus based in Irvine, California)
c/o Office of Development
Fuller Theological Seminary
135 N. Oakland Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91182

The Ray S. Anderson Fund (a fund designated for Grace Lutheran Church, where Dr. Anderson served as Teaching Pastor)
c/o Grace Lutheran Church
6931 Edinger Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Brian Lugioyo said...

For those interested Ray's famous sermon - The Gospel According to Judas can be heard and watched (for free) via iTunes. Just search his name and "gospel of Judas". He gave this chapel sermon at SPU.

Rev. Sunee S. Robinson said...

It is with sadness that I send a prayer to the family and friends of Professor Anderson. I did not know him, but as a member of FSW cohort 2008, I had many occasions to read his works. I had suggested that at our last meeting (our graduation cohort retreat) that we invite him to speak. Speaking with our school director Tom Parker, I was advised of his health and the limited engagements he now took. As a people and as a school we are sadden to lose such a voice. To God be the glory.

Anonymous said...

There are few human beings who are both larger than life and humble as the dust that one ever gets to know. Their presence in the world changes you, and as his student, and also counseling many Fuller students over the years, I can tell you, that Ray Anderson was one of those people. As his student, I was constantly mystified into thinking about realms that I had never before imagined. As someone who watched him live out his Christian life from the perspective of seeing his great impact on so many students--I was honored to have known him. I am sure heaven is rejoicing with his presence there!
--Jim Steinwedell

Robert Cornwall said...

I only had one class with Ray, his Theology of the Family class co-taught with Dennis Guernsey. It was an interesting class, very different from the others I had been taking. It was while I was taking that class in the mid-80s that the above mentioned book on the family was being written, and we were reading in manuscript. Ray always had the maverick image at Fuller -- had has supporters and detractors. The one thing I remember hearing was that if you took one of his classes you first had to get a handle on the very specialized vocabulary.

But one of the keys was his witness to the importance of Barth, which made Fuller at least an expression of neo-orthodoxy -- maybe the last strong expression of it.

So, my thoughts are with his family today. Another of my teachers is gone.

Anonymous said...

Ray spoke quite a bit about death—probably more often than most of us who hang out in pulpits do. This is why he was one of the first people I e-mailed when I found out I had cancer. I knew that he was one of the few who would not send back platitudes but would engage with me in the difficult questions, fears and struggles that lay ahead—that was just the kind of person, theologian, teacher, mentor and friend he was. Re-reading his e-mail response to me (which included directions to that Sunday’s service at Harbor Fellowship) I was reminded of the sermon he preached that Sunday—because I knew that it was God speaking through Ray giving me the words of life I would need to make it through the next days, weeks and years.

Ray also had unmatched theological imagination. Whether critiquing Calvin on predestination, musing on Judas’ fate or reflecting on the current denominational struggles over ordination standards, Ray had a way of approaching theological problem areas with biblically grounded creativity.

A little over a year ago, Ray was preaching at Grace Lutheran Church and used an illustration where his comfort with speaking of death and theological imagination intersected in a powerful way. In his characteristic style, he asked the congregation if we had ever wondered what it was like for Jesus to go home to the Father after his ascension. Reflecting on Jesus’ words in John 14 about going to prepare a place for his followers, Ray wondered out loud about that moment of reunion between the Father and Jesus. Who spoke first? The Father, Jesus? What was said?

In this imaginary conversation, Ray mused, maybe Jesus said to the Father, “Father, I’m home!” and the Father replied, “It’s good you’re here, but Son you look different, what’s that you’re wearing?” Jesus replied, “Humanity Father, I’m clothed in humanity—oh, there are some others waiting outside, can I bring them in?” “Of course,” the Father replied and in came Adam and Eve and all those who had long awaited their welcome into the presence of the Father through the Son.

And one day, Ray then said, Jesus will say to the Father, I have someone else here waiting outside to come in to meet you. One day Jesus will say to the Father, “Father, Ray’s outside, he’s here, can I bring him in—can I bring him home?”

Ray’s day of reunion has come. If I had my way, that day would have been years and years from now. I will miss him.
Denise Hess

Todd Speidell said...


There will not be a LIVE feed, but we will post video afterwards ASAP at the following link: http://www.GraceHB.org/memorials/rayanderson/

Pass it on to anyone you know who may know Dr. Ray.

Mark Ahrens

Hendrika Vande Kemp said...

I was in a "new faculty" group with Ray when we both started at Fuller in 1976. We taught the class on physical disabilies together, and shared many other experiences as faculty. His students were a wonderful testimony to the depth of his teaching. I too mourn his passing.

Charles Twombly said...

A great man and a great theologian in his own right but also a wonderful conduit for the insights of the Torrances and Zizioulas. Much underrated in some ways. Seems to have been marginalized by some of his theological colleagues at Fuller--or so the rumors go.

Unknown said...

I regret never having met Ray, even though he was my theological advisor for my D.Min. dissertation at Fuller. In reading one of his books, he unraveled for me a tight theological knot. I email him and asked if he could elaborate which he did – quickly and thoroughly. I was so impressed both by his scholarship and timeliness in getting back to me that I asked him to be my advisor which he readily and gracious accepted. I never made it back to Pasadena, not even for my graduation. When I learned of his death, I had no idea he was of such advanced age. Ray has meant so much to me and helped me not just academically, but in my growth as a pastor. I thank God for him.

Rev. Walt Brouwer, D.Min.

Ted Johnston said...

There is a video tribute to Ray at http://www.wcg.org/av/_lib/PlayVideoSpOL.asp?program=SpOL155

Anonymous said...


Thanks for that wonderful tribute to Ray. I came into my office today to sort some things out and found a voicemail informing me of the news. Now my longest, and most significant, theological mentor is gone. He deeply impacted my wife and I while we were at Fuller, and his ministry and theology preserved our Christian faith through some difficult periods.

I echo all that has been said of Ray here as a 'restless' and integrative theologian, although I refer to him in my classes as one of the best theological improvisors I know - a person of passion, courage, and boundless curiosity. He was a fearless risk-taker due in no small part to the deep faith he had in the One who held him. I sense a renewed call to step up to the plate and to go and do likewise.

Thank You Ray.

Eric Flett

Anonymous said...

I never met Dr. Anderson. But I feel like I new him having watched a couple of interviews of him by Mike Feazell on wcg.org. Recently, I read one of his books, "Emergent Theology for Emerging Churches" which I throughly enjoyed. Dr. Anderson came accross as a fatherly figure and a man who loved Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Best professor I ever sat under, and his class at Fuller "Reconciliation and the Healing of Persons" shaped me more than any other class.

Thanks for the wonderful eulogy/biography, Christian.

John Hagedorn
Novomichurinsk, Russia

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