Simpson Lecture Response

By Luke Steeves

The 2024 Simpson lectures took place on June 11-13, as part of ADC’s annual East Coast Theology Summer School. For those of you who weren’t able to join us, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III gave several inspiring, challenging, and compelling lectures which you can find here: 

Several of our Futuring Hub summer staff were able to attend and were inspired not only by the wisdom and presence of Dr. Moss III but also the futures orientation that many of his talks held. Below is a short reflection from a theo-futures perspective offered by Luke Steeves. Luke is in the final year of his Master of Divinity and Master of Art (Theology) and is working within the Hub this summer as the Organization and Methods Researcher (partially funded by a Canada Summer Jobs grant). 

His reflection on the Dr. Moss III second lecture is insightful and challenges Christian leaders to carefully consider what is informing our imagination and discernment of possible images of the future church. 


In his second Simpson lecture, “When the Empire Strikes Back: Prophetic Preaching in an Age of Empire,” Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III prophetically diagnoses the American church. The church shows serious symptoms of uneasiness with those who challenge myths of empire. The underlying condition? “Empire ideology has taken over our Christ-centered theology.”  

For Moss, the start of liberation work in the world is liberation work in our own hearts; otherwise, we end up simply rebuilding any systems we dismantle. A lack of internal reflection causes Christians to become “unintentional evangelists of empire expansion.” We thought we were the Jedi, but we were working for the Empire all along.  

Internal exegesis is vital for recognizing when our own stories draw more from the myths of empire than the world-upending gospel of Jesus Christ. One key factor in this self-examination is how we imagine the future. What unexamined stories do we tell ourselves? What futures do we allow ourselves to imagine, to strive for? Which stories from the past play in our ears as we articulate our futures and which have we prematurely dismissed – or failed to hear in the first place? When left unquestioned, the myths of empire not only dominate the past, but hold our futures captive as well. 

Unquestioned myths of empire paint a future that is much like it is now – or like it was in the imagined past. But are these the best futures we can imagine? Or are Christians called to seek the new creation even now? Theo-futures invites Christians to take our images of the future seriously – for God is calling us to partake in a new creation. The hope we have is not in a re-establishment of empire, but in the truly new in Christ. God is indeed doing a new thing – will we bold enough to look beyond the former myths of empire to perceive it? 


The Simpson Lectures were rich both in consideration for the future, but also insightful for the present. Luke does a masterful job of highlighting the importance of considering what is shaping and informing our perspective of possible futures. 

We would love to hear from you about what possible futures of the church you are imagining. What is shaping those? Please get in contact with us here.

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