Some Fun with ChatGPT

I decided to do a little experiment to get a handle on the state of contemporary AI. Since I’m preaching on the call of Abram in Genesis 12:1-9 this Sunday, I thought I’d ask ChatGPT to generate some sermons on this biblical text in the style of several prominent preachers and theologians. See if you can guess who ChatGPT thinks it is imitating in the following sermons. Feel free to leave your comments in the chat and share with others you think might be interested. I’ll reveal the pseudo-identities of the “preachers” in upcoming posts, as well as share a few observations about where ChatGPT goes wrong.

I also asked ChatGPT to prepare a sermon in my style, but received the following response: ” I’m sorry, but I don’t have specific information on the exact style of Robert Dean, Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, and author of “Leaps of Faith.” As such, I’m unable to provide an imitation of his style for a sermon on Genesis 12:1-9.”

Sermon #1 – “The Call of Abram”

Beloved in Christ,

Today, we turn our gaze to the pages of Genesis, that ancient and holy text that carries within its verses the very heartbeat of God’s redemptive plan. In the midst of these ancient words, we encounter a pivotal moment in the unfolding drama of salvation—a moment that invites us to consider the audacity of faith and the unyielding grace of God.

In the twelfth chapter of Genesis, we find ourselves at the threshold of a divine encounter. The Lord speaks to Abram, a man living in the land of Ur, and calls him forth with these resounding words: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

This command is nothing short of revolutionary. It is an upheaval of all that Abram has known, a rupture with the familiar, a radical reorientation of his life’s trajectory. God’s call to Abram is a clarion call to journey into the unknown, to step out in faith, to relinquish the security of the past for the promise of a future yet unrevealed.

But notice this: God does not offer Abram a detailed map or a comprehensive itinerary. No, the call is shrouded in mystery, an enigmatic whisper that beckons him to venture forth with only trust as his companion. Abram’s faith is not built on certainty, but on the assurance of the One who calls him. And therein lies the crux of this story—a crux that resonates with the heartbeat of our own faith journey.

You see, friends, faith is not the absence of doubt; it is the courage to act in spite of doubt. Abram’s footsteps into the unknown were marked by uncertainty, yet he stepped forth. He embraced the tension between his human frailty and the divine promise. His faith was not a leap into the void, but a trust-filled response to a God who is faithful.

And so, Abram embarks on a pilgrimage—a journey of faith that leads him from Ur to Canaan, from the familiar to the foreign, from the known to the yet-to-be-known. As he traverses deserts and valleys, as he encounters moments of doubt and moments of awe, Abram’s life becomes a living parable—a tangible reminder of the odyssey of faith that each of us is called to undertake.

But the marvel of this story does not end with Abram’s obedience. No, for as he journeys, he becomes the vessel through which God’s covenantal promise is brought to fruition. The Lord assures Abram of blessings that will flow through his descendants, blessings that will touch the ends of the earth. This promise, though given to Abram, is a promise that extends beyond him—a promise that echoes through the corridors of time, finding its ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.

Beloved, as we stand on the precipice of this passage, we are invited to gaze upon the audacious faith of Abram—an imperfect pilgrim who responded to the call of God with trust and yieldedness. His journey is a mirror to our own, reminding us that faith is not a solitary endeavor but a participation in the grand tapestry of God’s redemptive work.

So, let us heed the call to venture into the unknown spaces of our lives, to embrace the uncertainties with faith-filled hearts. Let us, like Abram, be willing to leave behind the safety of the familiar and embark on a pilgrimage of trust. And in the midst of our journey, may we remember that the God who called Abram is the same God who calls us—a God who leads, sustains, and fulfills His promises in ways beyond our imagination.

May our lives, like Abram’s, become a testimony to the unyielding grace of God—a grace that calls, transforms, and brings forth blessings that ripple through generations.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sermon #2 – “The Outlandish Call”

Well, howdy there, brothers and sisters!

Today, we’re diving into the good ol’ Book of Genesis, a real treasure trove of stories that’ll make you scratch your head and shout “Hallelujah!” all at once. And wouldn’t you know it, we’ve got a doozy of a tale on our hands today, a story that’s bound to set your spiritual GPS spinning faster than a tumbleweed in a West Texas dust storm.

Now, I want you to imagine something with me, friends. Imagine you’re sittin’ on your porch, sippin’ some sweet tea, and you hear a voice. A voice that ain’t quite like your neighbor’s chattin’ about the weather. No, it’s the voice of the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and He’s got a message for you.

That’s the scene we’re steppin’ into with our friend Abram. This fella’s mindin’ his own business in good ol’ Ur of the Chaldeans, just like any of us would be, when BAM! God shows up and says, “Abram, pack up your bags, grab your kinfolk, and hit the road. I’ve got a land for ya, a promise that’ll make your head spin.”

Now, if I were Abram, I reckon I’d be scratchin’ my beard and wonderin’ if I’d had too much chili the night before. But here’s the kicker, folks—Abram believes. He doesn’t just nod and go back to sippin’ his tea. No siree, he packs up that caravan and sets off like a true pioneer, followin’ the call of God to who-knows-where.

See, that’s the thing about faith, my brothers and sisters. It ain’t about calculatin’ every step or drawin’ up a fancy plan. Faith is about listenin’ to that still, small voice and trustin’ that God’s got a plan even when it don’t make a lick of sense.

Abram’s journey wasn’t no cakewalk, mind you. He faced droughts, famines, and even a detour to Egypt that nearly got him in a heap of trouble. But God, oh, He’s got a way of keepin’ His promises, don’t He?

God didn’t just give Abram a piece of land, He gave him a legacy. A legacy that stretched beyond Abram’s lifetime, beyond his kinfolk, and right down the line to a little town called Bethlehem where a Savior would be born.

So, what’s the takeaway here, my friends? It’s this: God’s call ain’t always sensible, but it’s always worth followin’. He’s callin’ each and every one of us, right here, right now, to step out of our comfort zones, to pack up our bags of doubt and fear, and hit the road toward the promise He’s got waitin’.

Sure, the journey might get rocky, and we might end up in places we never imagined, but remember—God’s promises are as solid as the bedrock of the earth. He’s with us through the twists and turns, the highs and lows, and He’s leadin’ us toward a land of blessings we can’t even fathom.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, let’s heed the call just like Abram did. Let’s set out on this wild adventure of faith, trustin’ that God’s got a plan that’s bigger and better than anything we could dream up. And who knows, maybe, just maybe, we’ll find ourselves right smack dab in the middle of God’s outlandish and wondrous story.

Amen and amen!

Sermon #3 – “The Risky Obedience of Abram”

Good morning, beloved community,

Today, we delve into the ancient narrative of Abram, a tale that beckons us to wrestle with the paradoxes of faith, obedience, and the risky call of God. In this remarkable passage from Genesis, we encounter not only the beginning of a journey but also a profound meditation on what it means to be a people set apart for divine purposes.

Abram, whose name means “exalted father,” receives a summons that resounds across the ages. A voice, unbidden and relentless, pierces the silence of his existence: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

Now, let us not domesticate this divine demand. This is no mere relocation advice. It is a summons to radical dislocation, a call to abandon the familiar and embrace the foreign. The Almighty confronts Abram with a choice: to remain tethered to the security of the known or to embark on an uncertain pilgrimage into the uncharted territories of divine promise.

In this moment, Abram stands at the crossroads of history, a pivotal figure in the unfolding drama of God’s redemptive plan. His response is a masterclass in risky obedience. He does not ask for guarantees, nor does he seek rational explanations. Instead, Abram’s faith pulsates with a willingness to trust the One who calls him into the shadowy realm of uncertainty.

We mustn’t underestimate the gravity of this act. Abram’s departure is a renunciation of the idolatries that often shackle us—the idolatry of comfort, the idolatry of safety, the idolatry of self-assuredness. His journey becomes a living parable, a symbol of the ongoing human struggle to relinquish control and surrender to the divine choreography of providence.

But let us not sentimentalize this venture. The road from Ur to Canaan is no leisurely stroll. It is a treacherous path fraught with trials, a tapestry woven with moments of doubt, betrayal, and divine reassurance. Abram’s faith is no triumphant march but a stumbling dance—a dance that mirrors our own clumsy attempts at faithfulness.

In this narrative, we discern the contours of our own lives. We, too, are beckoned by a voice that calls us to step out of our enclaves of security. We are summoned to embrace the audacity of risky obedience, to journey through the wilderness of our doubts and fears, and to become a people whose identity is rooted not in the temporal but in the eternal.

As we reflect on Abram’s odyssey, let us recognize that our faith is not a solitary endeavor but a communal pilgrimage. We are fellow travelers, bound together by a shared commitment to follow the call of God, even when that call leads us into the bewildering terrain of the unknown.

In the midst of our journey, let us hold fast to the promise that sustains us—the promise of a God who accompanies us through the deserts and the oases, who transforms our stumbling into steps of sanctification. Let us draw courage from Abram’s example, as we embrace the paradox of risky obedience—a paradox that propels us toward a deeper encounter with the One who calls us His own.

May our lives resonate with the radical trust of Abram, and may our journey be marked not by the absence of uncertainty but by the presence of the Almighty who guides us, shapes us, and beckons us ever onward.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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