Oklahoma Baptist University

Martin Speaks on Theology Window in Stained-Glass Series

OBU dean is the third speaker in the Raley Chapel Window Series

Dr. Michael Martin addresses OBU chapel audience

“I’ve never preached from a window before,” said Dr. Michael Martin, dean of Oklahoma Baptist University’s Joe. L. Ingram School of Christian Service. Martin spoke about Raley Chapel’s Theology window during OBU’s weekly chapel service Wednesday morning.

“I decided to approach it the same way I approach scripture, to explore the syntax of the window, consider the author’s intent and ask if it has any points of context with us,” he said. “Can the story of the window help us see our own stories from a fresh perspective?”

Several themes were evident in Martin’s study of the theology window.

“It shows the clear affirmation of the primacy and authority of God,” he said. “God has chosen to work His will in our world using real people, like you and me. Finally, the window begs the question, are you and I prepared to let God use us?”

Completed in 1961, Raley Chapel is adorned with 12 stained glass windows, designed by Dr. John Wesley Raley, OBU president from 1934-61. The windows tell stories in the histories of the great teaching fields, the principles of education, the tenets of the University charter, as well as the histories of a state and nation, of business and industry and of Christian faith.

Martin addressed the seven panels of the Theology window, located on the west side of Raley Chapel. The topmost panel of the Theology window symbolizes the Apostle John’s vision in Revelation and shows a dove representing the Holy Spirit and four rivers that were boundaries to the ancient world.

The second panel of the window is a reference to a passage in Revelation, depicting the Lamb of God and the book of seven seals. A halo hangs over the lamb with a Greek phrase that translates “Behold the Lamb of God.”

“The two top panels take us from Genesis to Revelation; from creation to final judgment,” said Martin. “The dove and the lamb remind us of God’s provision for humanity and tell us that God is sovereign and God is love.”

The third panel of the window depicts the “sword of the spirit,” which Paul uses to describe the Word of God. The panel also reveals a flaming heart pierced by two arrows. Augustine is referenced with the two arrows, as the great religious philosopher said, “With the arrows of your love you have pierced our hearts, and we bore your burdens within us like a sword penetrating us to the core.”

The fourth panel of the window moves from the early church to the reformation, alluding to Martin Luther’s 39 Theses nailed to the Wittenberg church door and showing a note that has the date Oct. 31, 1517, with the town Wittenberg mentioned on the bottom. The crown in the panel is part of Luther’s personal seal.

The fifth panel of the window describes John Calvin’s influence in the reformation with the symbol of an all-seeing eye that references the total sovereignty of God. The center of the panel has “the hand of God” illustrating the famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Below the hand are three books, the first of which features the name of Friedrich Schleiermacher, the second has the title of his earliest book “On Religion,” the third book “The Christian Faith” is a major work which summarizes Schleiermacher’s theology.

The sixth panel of the window contains a hand holding a flame which represents Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and religious thinker considered the father of modern existentialism. Below the hand is the seal of Colgate Rochester Seminary representing, A. H. Strong.

Seminary seals continue in the seventh panel with the seals of two Southern Baptist seminaries. Southern Seminary of Kentucky and the Southwestern Seminary of Fort Worth, representing two influential Southern Baptist thinkers and educators, E. Y. Mullins and W. T. Connors. Super-imposed with these seals are Alpha and Omega merged into a single symbol to depict that the beginning and the ending – the subject and the object of all people do is God.

The final panel also features a depiction of the First Baptist Church of Tulsa, adding an Oklahoma element to the window. To the left of the church are three squiggles, which could be a Hebrew monogram depicting Raley’s initials. At the bottom of the window is an open Bible with 1 Peter 1:25 written in Latin, translating “The word of the Lord endures forever.”

Dr. Bobby Kelly, associate professor of religion at OBU, will address the Raley Chapel’s Worship window in Chapel on Sept. 28. The Stained Glass Series features 12 messages related to the chapel’s renowned windows, which are a key element of the campus landmark.

Guests are invited to join the OBU community for Chapel at 10 a.m. each Wednesday during the academic year.

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