Smith is professor of divinity and Christian preaching at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University. He does research on passion in preaching, and put that passion into practice for students, faculty and staff in the Special Events Center.
His voice swelling and crashing like a rolling sea, Smith quoted the Book of Jeremiah and other biblical texts from memory. He urged students not to fear, because God has plans for them. "Your life will not be one of accidents, of coincidence or incidents. It will be one of beneficence," he said.
At the same time, students should not succumb to arrogance, because they are where they are by the generosity of God and others. Telling the true story of a man who became pastor of the church where he started as a janitor, Smith said all Christians should be willing to start at the bottom. "God promotes from the inside," he declared.
As the crowd left College Hour, Milt Friesen, music instructor and leader of the Crosswind ensemble, asked the question others were thinking. "Did he breathe?"
Smith is the author of Doctrine that Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life and a study of Christian ministry in the African American church published in Preparing for Christian Ministry. His research interests include the place of passion in preaching, the literary history of African American preaching, Christological preaching and theologies of preaching. Before coming to Beeson, he was the Carl E. Bates Associate Professor of Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. An ordained Baptist minister, he served as pastor of New Mission Missionary Baptist Church in Cincinnati for 20 years.
FPU hosts College Hour chapel every Wednesday and Friday at 10:00 a.m., organized by the Office of Spiritual Formation. Music is part of the worship, as well as campus and guest speakers.
More about Smith at beesondivinity.com/robertsmithjr