Deepening the Theological Roots of Our Work (Audio)


At a recent Noon Service, MDiv degree candidate Shelley Brown delivered a sermon on being theologically rooted in her work as an MIT scientist and a Harvard preacher. Listen to or read it below.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33 NIV

Today I stand before you dual purposed, driven by a personal mission that is faith-based and yet scientific in principle. Simply stated, I am committed to savings lives through regeneration, the act of being made new again.

I am dedicated to understanding how to strategically utilize science with the intended purpose of restoring and regenerating a person to a better, healthier state of being, improving their quality of life. And it is through my journey within the Christian faith tradition that I have come to understand there exists this duality of physical and spiritual regeneration, and I intend to bring that duality into conversation through my field education work at MIT. This fieldwork allows me to engage, minister, educate, develop, and learn at the intersection of science and religion.

Now, one might ask, how did I even arrive at this type of intersection? Prior to HDS, my doctoral work in biomedical engineering focused on the use of human embryonic stem cells for tissue regeneration therapies. And it was during the PhD that I first answered a call into the preaching ministry.

Therefore, being a stem cell scientist and now ordained minister, one might assume that at the time my doctoral work challenged my faith given the ethical implications. However, I contend that it was at that moment when my view of this controversial research would be both scientific and religious in nature. It was at that moment that a synergistic and symbiotic relationship between science and faith began to form.

So upon coming to Harvard, I decided not to first pursue biomedical research, but to first pursue what God placed on my heart—and that was to seek ye first the Kingdom of God and God's righteousness, and believe that all other things shall be added unto me.

Through my journey at Harvard Divinity I have been educated on what my place in the Kingdom is. And that is the vantage point and the theological lens that informs my engagement in science ministry as I work in a cellular bioengineering laboratory MIT, where I am investigating the efficacy of combinatorial cytokine treatments for liver cancer.

It is in this Field Ed that I have been given the opportunity to conduct biomedical research and build relationships that would facilitate discussions around scientific, bioethical, and theological topics. Addressing not only stem cell research, but other boundary-crossing products of science and technology that raise new theological and bioethical questions.

In a society where co-production of authoritative knowledge is abundant, I believe this type of framework provides fertile ground for interdisciplinary discussions to develop. And it is my hope to begin developing a space where science and religion can be freely discussed through my field education experience.

So as I stand before you, figuratively wearing my scientist white coat and my preacher's robe, I am indeed theologically rooted in my work—daring to intersect the sphere of science with that of faith, daring to intersect the sphere of research with that of religion. Because for me, at that intersection resides the Kingdom of God and the presence of God within my scientific ministerial calling. Amen.