Peter Gomes is an American Baptist minister who has served in The Memorial Church at Harvard University since 1970. Gomes is also the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and is the Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church. Gomes is commonly regarded as one of the most distinguished preachers in America. He was named Clergy of the Year in 1998 by Religion in American Life and offered prayers in the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
Educated at Bates College and the Harvard Divinity School, Revered Gomes alsoholds thirty-six honorary degrees. He is the author of numerous books on the Bible, including the national best-sellers TheGood Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and Sermons:Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living.
Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do for a living?
Peter Gomes: I’m a preacher who teaches, as opposed to a teacher who preaches. I . . . Everything that I am is defined by my Christian belief and my Christian experience. And everything that I do stems from that, whether it’s preaching or teaching or counseling, or whatever else goes with the territory. People have asked me, “Well what are you? How would you define yourself? What is your … your ultimate label?” My ultimate label is a believing Christian.
My mind is not a hole. My mind is an interesting place – reasonably well furnished – and it ranges up and down a whole host of avenues. But I continue to hold fast to the faith in which I was brought up. And I like to present it as an interesting challenge to people who are smarter than I am. That’s the fun of being the Harvard preacher. I preach to people who are infinitely smarter than I am. I know more than they do, but they are smarter than I am. And that is great fun – trying to take them as far as you can before they overtake you.
Recorded on: 6/12/07