My Education Does Not Make Me Prideful

Given the subjects and people I write about, I’m used to people disagreeing with me. I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe is right and while naming names.  I’m used to getting angry tweets and avoiding comment sections like my life depended on it. And let’s face it: no one is perfect, including myself. I’m not without error, and none of my opinions are flawless. A rule of mine is that I don’t dish out anything that I’m not willing to take, so I understand that when I critique others, I open myself up to the same.

But there’s one aggravating and flat out disrespectful thing that people do when they disagree with me that I want to discuss. People tend to trash my education and the effort I put into earning it when explaining why they think I’m wrong. Let me give you an example:

Me: [Says some opinion about LGBT issues, Bible translation, or some cultural Christian issue.]

Them: Well, I prayed about it and this is what God told ME! [heavy incorrect usage of biblical often follows, which I talk more about here.]

Me: Well, I understand that. I’m know how you feel, but that’s not really what the text is saying. There’s a lot more to the situation that you’re missing.

Them: I don’t need fancy book learning to know what the Bible says! And as a matter of fact, I have read! I read Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, John Piper, Tony Evans, Tim Keller, my pastor’s blog, and my favorite gospel artist sang about it, so I can have an opinion!

Me: Of course you can have an opinion. But reading people who tend to agree with you without reading any one else isn’t the same as research.

Them: So you think you’re better than me because you have your degrees? I have the Holy Ghost!

Me: I never said that I was…I… [facepalm]

And that’s not including the situations when people really try it, saying some of the most hurtful and disrespectful things. Stuff that truly makes you wonder, “Would you say that if I was in front of you?” At least a few times a month I have to suppress the urge to lose all the sense that I have and revert back to some unsavory roots. Because when I see folks who I KNOW are strong with their fingers and weak with everything else, I have to fight the urge to call them out.

Miley What's Good?

I usually look like a jerk in these situations. It’s hard to not look like a snob when you have to detail your list of academic achievements, especially when someone else brings it up first. And while I’m not immune from pride, it sucks that defending my hard-earned education is viewed as me being a know-it-all who thinks he’s better than everyone.

This wasn’t always the case. I used to shy away from being proud about my theological education. That was until my Greek professor pulled me aside and taught me an important lesson. He told me that while I’m a person of faith, being theologically trained is also a profession. “Don’t debate people who aren’t your professional peers,” he said. “People don’t debate doctors, or mechanics, lawyers, or surgeons. They earned their stripes just like you;re earning yours. Offer your opinion, be graceful in disagreement, but never debate with someone who doesn’t have similar credentials.”

I haven’t always taken his advice. There are times when I’m not graceful in disagreement. I often use humor to diffuse the emotional blows that come from dealing with people who haven’t decided if your particular brand of humanity is worth compassion or concern. I admit that it isn’t always pretty, but it helps me not to curse people out or cry everyday. There are times when I debate people who don’t have theological training, if for no other reason than to put different ideas on display. Whatever the case, this stern talking to by my professor caused me to understand that I was being shaped into a professional, and that I should demand to be respected as such. I’m skilled in my craft, and have the authority to make decisions and present ideas as a result.

But as a minister and a scholar, I have to interact with scores of folks who aren’t into the books in the same way. I try to share what I know on social media to enhance awareness and sharing different understandings. But that sometimes runs into a brick wall. They’ve held certain beliefs for years, so they often think that their personal faith journey is the comparable to the academic discipline of studying the Christian faith.

It’s not. Not by a long shot.

This is the monster that takes your salvation when you enter seminary...or so I'm told :-/

This is the monster that takes your salvation when you enter seminary…or so I’m told :-/

And this isn’t to say that someone’s faith is only worth something if they have degrees to back it up. I’m a big advocate for an informed faith, but there are plenty of bankrupt, immoral, and corrupt ideas that circulate in and through universities everywhere. A personal connection with the divine is priceless, and there is no book, credential, or degree that can be conferred to make that can make up for it. I know plenty of people who don’t have seminary education that think about Christianity in ways that are healthier than many of the people I went to school with. Book knowledge doesn’t automatically equal right thinking or right religious practice.

Still, there is something to be said about spending intense, dedicated time to study something. My faith and practice is rooted in knowledge of history and context, something I take seriously since I am responsible for leading other people. I was taught to never pull anything out of thin air, but to tend to ideas that preceded me so that other ideas can grow from my work. And since seminary is a spin on the Latin word for seed bed, the growing and tending aspect makes sense. I’m not pulling stuff out of the air; I’m firmed rooted in the history of the faith. And those roots are a result of my education.

I’ve been studying Christianity on an academic level since I was twenty years old. I’m a few weeks shy of thirty-two. I have a minor in religion from Rutgers University, a Master of Divinity from Howard University, a Master of Theological Study from Wesley Theological Seminary, and I’m working on a PhD from Howard studying communication issues in Christian culture. None of them were given to me. They were earned.

I’ve been trained on how to preach, how to read and analyze texts, and how to think through complicated social/political/critical theological issues by a group of successful, qualified, and even world-renowned scholars. These folks have taught me how to read Greek, how to read, write, and search for information. They’ve written books and shaped the way that even some of your favorite preachers think and approach what they do concerning the Bible and race, feminism/womanism, ethics, and other issues that pertain to faith and life. None of these folks are slack, and they didn’t allow me to be slack either. In most instances, I’ve earned As in their classes. To insult my training isn’t just a smack in my face, but it’s a suggestion that the people who trained and supported me are also not up to par. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

And even with that extensive list that I just laid out, it’s fine to disagree with me. My voice is valuable, but it is but a drop in a huge sea of opinion. I don’t argue or preach or post for likes to be a fave on the gram. I do this work because I want to demonstrate a healthy, holistic faith. I want people to agree with me because I made a persuasive argument which causes a change of heart. Just like a doctor, if you don’t like my view, feel free to get a second opinion. There are people with my level of education and more who think differently than I do. But to clown my education and call me prideful, especially when I didn’t bring it up, is in a word…whack. And it’s hypocritical to disparage my education while expecting me to respect your tarry service, because my vocational route is just as much God’s call as your three-day fast might be.

You may disagree with me, but it’s not because I’m sloppy. It’s not because I went to bad schools. It’s not because seminary learning jacked me up. And it’s definitely not that I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s that we genuinely, deeply disagree. And that’s fine. But what I don’t and never will have time for is my experience, effort, time, and the commitments of my mentors to my formation to be disrespected. Because if we’re measuring faithfulness by the amount of Bible study hours logged, then there’s a special seat in heaven for me and it’s probably much nicer than yours. But suggesting that my studies make me a better Christian is prideful, just like suggesting that someone is a lesser Christian because of their lack of education is rude, disrespectful, classist, and unfair. If the only thing you have to say is that my education has led me astray, then you don’t have an argument. It’s okay to say, “we disagree” and move on.

Deep faith doesn’t negate scholarship. If done correctly, theological education humbles you and often deepens your faith. You realize what you don’t know, and the limits to what you can ever figure out. But just as book knowledge can puff someone’s head up, so can the subjective ideas and wisps in the breeze that people often confuse for their own spiritual superiority. Humility is a lesson that all of us — scholar and layperson alike—are well served to revisit often. There is no action or effort that can make someone closer to God. Whatever we know, whether it be from books or revelation, is the result of grace…

so that no person should boast.

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Almost, But Not Quite: Thoughts On E. Dewey Smith’s Comments About Homosexuality

E. Dewey Smith, pastor of House of Hope in Atlanta, GA, has made waves over his comments concerning the treatment of gay people in churches. You can watch the video below.

This isn’t the first time that Smith has stepped into the stormy waters of sexuality in the Black church. He’s also made comments earlier in the summer, where he voiced his beliefs concerning marriage and admonished preachers for their hypocrisy concerning other issues.  Last year, Smith retweeted openly gay Bishop Yvette Flunder, which raised eyebrows for many onlookers. Given the time span over which these events have taken place, it is safe to assume that Smith’s thoughts have been developing on this matter.

Smith should be commended for initiating this conversation in spaces where it normally does not take place. He also should be praised for wrestling with these issues in places that are historically antagonistic toward LGBT people. The discussion of full inclusion in Black Christian denominations often takes place in seminaries, divinity schools, and other liberal religious arenas. The people who need to hear the conversation most are usually not in attendance.  Many Black Christians, gay or otherwise, are unaware that more progressive lines of thinking even exist. His comments pose a risk to his career and network that should not be ignored. Much of LGBT oppression in Black churches is upheld by an Old Boys’ Network, where people who are too divergent in their theology are shut out of lucrative ministry opportunities. Smith broke away from that mindset.

However, there is a rush to appoint Smith as a full-fledged ally to the LGBT cause. This is where caution needs to be exercised. He has yet to say that being gay or otherwise queer in not a sin. Smith does not say that being LGBT is a gift from God, or that it is blessing, or that people in the community are living out who God created them to be. What he does is highlight the hypocrisy of how gay people are treated based on how much the church body at large consumes from them. If anything, Smith is saying that being gay is no worse than any other sin, so it is wrong to treat gay people worse than everyone else. The unfortunately reality is that even a statement such as this is groundbreaking in many Black churches, but they do not signal a desire for full inclusion. Smith’s comments fall in line with many mainline denominations and churches: acknowledging the sacredness of all humanity but labeling homosexuality a sin.

There may be more that Smith has to say about inclusion that he has not yet said publicly. That is to be expected with a topic like this. It takes time and energy to unravel old thoughts and theology. Change does not happen overnight. He may arrive at a place in his journey where he is openly affirming. But his comments up to the present do not present an affirming message. Smith has not arrived there yet. Public support of marriage equality, which is now the law of the land, does not automatically make one affirming. What about ordaining gay clergy? What about the full access of areas of leadership for LGBT people? Would he marry a same-sex couple? These ideas could be coming down the pike, but until they come from his mouth, optimism should be tempered with caution.

There is something to be said for Smith’s words giving people hope in those spaces. We can never know how many people were touched, ministered to, and inspired to carry on. It is highly probable that one less suicide note was written and one fewer parent threw their child out of the house as a result of his comments. Smith’s words are likely the first time someone has ever heard anything approaching an affirming message from a Black preacher. That positive impact should not be diminished, but it does not need to be in order to acknowledge the areas where Smith’s comments still fall short. He is on a journey. He has gone further than many preachers in his position would dare. He has yet to fully affirm LGBT people. It is best to acknowledge the flowers that have bloomed along the way instead of forcing fruit to bear before its time.

NOTE: E. Dewey Smith has clarified his statements. He does not consider himself an ally and still considers same-sex marriage and homosexuality sin. Read his and his church’s words here.

Yes, It’s Been Changed: A Very Quick Primer on How We Get Our Bibles

So, this picture has been making the rounds on the interwebs.

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Erica Campbell of Mary Mary even shared it to her Facebook page, where the post received over 70,000 comments.

It is true? Have verses been taken out of the Bible?

The short answer is yes.

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But before you start pleading the blood and rebuking the devil, let’s have a brief conversation about where Bibles come from, kind of like the birds and the bees of biblical literature.

Before we start, just let me say that this is a very, VERY bare bones introduction to this topic. I’ve intentionally pared it down so it won’t be overwhelming. I’ll leave additional resources at the end for you to do more reading.

Bibles are translated from pieces of ancient manuscripts that are found from archeological digs or even by accident. In particular, there’s been many collected editions of the New Testament found all over. Editors compile what they can from the pieces of these manuscripts—which are often incomplete—and translate the Bibles that we read today. Nothing that these experts work on is an original document.

Did you hear that?

Repeat: WE HAVE NO ORIGINALS. Everything we have, even the oldest, “best” copies are just that: copies.

Some of these collections are older than others. The older something is, the closer its content is to whatever the original writer put in the document. But older still isn’t the same an original. So even in good (and good means older) copies, there is still stuff that is added, removed, and otherwise edited.

WAIT, ARE YOU SAYING THAT PEOPLE ADDED THINGS TO SCRIPTURE?

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Yes, but again, don’t get bent out of shape. Remember, people wrote everything by hand in ancient times. There was no copy machine so writers had to write every single document by hand.

Every.

Single.

One.

So imagine the number of typos, misspellings, and other errors that crept in when these documents were put to paper? We can’t even spell #pedalstool correctly. The majority of these additions are errors on the part of the copier.

Could you imagine having to translate words from something that looks like this?

Could you imagine having to translate words from something that looks like this?

There are some places in scripture where extra information is added to clarify topics for the readers. The Gospels are a good example of this. Luke’s readers weren’t well versed in Jewish ideas, some things need to be fleshed out to make sense. Also, each gospel was written to address specific issues. That’s why Jesus visits the temple three times in John but once in the other accounts, and why numerous other accounts are similar in the gospel but have different implications.

There’s also the issue of use getting better at translating these ancient languages. Remember, the original language of the Old Testament is Hebrew (with a splash of Aramaic), and the New Testament was written entirely in Koine Greek. It’s not a one-to-one ration when it comes to translating. So, we have to make the best guess they can. Any translator that is actually good at their job will tell that you that once you translate something, you’ve already interpreted it. Which means you’ve already changed the meaning somehow.

There are other places where a chunk of scripture is the direct result of a community adding commentary that reflects the beliefs of that community. For example, Mark 16. This popular chapter actually ends at verse 8, which means the rest of the text is a much later addition.

An example that is closer to home is 1 John 5:7. Grab your grandmother’s King James Bible and you see that it reads “ For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Check recent versions and you won’t find it. The verse didn’t appear in any manuscript until the 1500s. More than likely, that verse is a line from a hymn that reflected the theology of the time, but is a far cry from what the community of 1 John would believe. So, they took it out.

Here’s the part that’s missed by most folks. If you have a bible with study notes, you’ll see that the translator has already told you what scriptures are in doubt. Some even have them in brackets. People tend to not read these notes. Also, companies that publish Bibles leave these debatable verses in because people are familiar with them, and they want copies to sell. Money impacts theological choices and stances more than we talk about…and that needs a blog post all to itself.

So, to recap: Yes verses have been taken out and added into the Bible. Way more than you’ve realized.

What is Forgiveness Part 1: The Basics

“God forgave us of our sins, so we need to forgive each other, so that God will forgive us.”

Many people have heard that line before. However, it often isn’t that simple, is it?

This post is the first of several, where will share what I’ve learned about forgiveness. While I’m not sure that forgiveness is a skill that you master, I do think that possessing a solid understanding of what forgiveness is—and isn’t—will help us when we are encountered with the arduous task of dealing with a wrong committed against us.

First, some ground rules. I’ll mention some scripture in these posts, because the Bible is foundational for a lot of my readers. However, I’m not wedded to the Bible or having to check off every orthodox belief about forgiveness. I do believe that forgiveness is healthy. But forgiveness can never be forced by fear. That’s coercion.

From hurtforhopewellness.com

From hurtforhopewellness.com

What exactly is forgiveness? My definition is this: to release someone from the penalty of a debt or grievance. Let’s use money as an example. Say someone owes you $100. They haven’t paid it in a while, and you’ve been waiting patiently. You’re furious with them. After a long while, you decide to let it go. You don’t ask for the money back anymore, and you don’t pursue any action that would lead to their harm for not paying the money. You drop the requirement for the money to be returned.

That is what I’ve come to view forgiveness as. I know that I have truly forgiven when I reach the point where I don’t look for some sort of recompense for what was done to me. I’m not expecting the person to change. I’m not looking for ways to make the person pay for what they’ve done. My expectation for some sort of recompense is gone.

This example also demonstrates some important things that are often missed when discussing forgiveness. Forgiveness does not pretend that no wrong was committed. Looking back to the example, notice how there was no pretending that the person didn’t owe the money. There was no magic spell that rewrote history and made the issue disappear. Early in my life, I was exposed to this sort of forgiveness, which is really a forgery. All that did was cause me to push the pain that I’ve experienced down, and never heal in my own way and time. I’ve learned that forgiveness is grounded in reality. The person in the example still owed the money, just like the person or people that hurt you actually did something to hurt you. Acknowledging that is a vital part in forgiving.

Also, notice how there is no mention of reconciliation. This may be hard for some to accept, but forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing.The loaner of the money never, ever has to loan money to the person again. They don’t even have to be friends. Forgiveness is, quite simply, dropping the requirement of payment. That’s it. Forgiveness does not require a restoration of the relationship that existed prior to the wrong being committed. Often, people in church and elsewhere lump forgiveness and reconciliation together. You have to “hurry up and forgive” so thing can go on as usual.

Forgiveness is not ignoring the fact that you are in pain and/or not acknowledging that someone in your community harmed you. 

So moving forward, here are some other thoughts about forgiveness:

  • Forgiveness, trust, and reconciliation are all separate things. Don’t lump them together.
  • Forgiveness is far more about you and your peace than the offending party.
  • Forgiveness is a process. It takes time; you don’t have to rush it.
  • Forgiveness can be a part of justice, but not necessarily.
  • God does not hate you, even if you can’t forgive someone right away.

We’ll get into more depth with later posts. Do you have any questions or thoughts about forgiveness? Talk in the comments…

Between Hope and Weariness

In many ways, I’m tired. No, exhausted is a better word to describe the lack of energy that I’m currently experiencing. It’s not physical. Rather, the exhaustion that has me in its grip is emotional, spiritual even. It is a weariness of a soul that has been asked to go beyond its limits one time too many.

Many would say that this weariness is of my own doing. After all, my exhaustion is the result of actions that I decided to engage in. I tend to organize my life around big visions that require intense investment. I’m a gay man, a BLACK gay man at that, who is striving to center his scholarship in conversations around race, LGBTQ-phobia, and religion. In every social sphere that I’m attempting to do my work, there is a fiery antagonist that I must strive with. When discussing race, I have to start with why it’s even a necessary discussion in the first place. Then, I have to pivot and weather the storms of homophobia and erasure from my own community. For too many of them, my sexuality is a choice, a personal hobby, or an annoying social tick that serves as a distraction from real issues.

In the religious world, I have to contend with the blatant anti-LGBTQ bias as well as the polite, conscientious bigotry of “well-meaning” people that offer unlearned, uncritical analysis of my life and the lives of others. I’m amazed at how much insight people have into my personal life without even knowing my address! My father must’ve abused me. My mom must be overbearing. I must want to be a girl (which is insulting to me and women, by the way). These soundly disproven folktales of homosexual causation routinely emanate from pulpits and barber shops. They live in the minds of otherwise well-educated people. Their right to have a differing opinion often is a smokescreen to allow dangerous views to create a toxic environment. This faulty analysis is offered on the backdrop of divorces, adultery, out-of-wedlock children, abuse, and a host of other Christian “slip-ups” that appear to be worse than having feelings for someone of the same gender.

This weekend, my exhaustion was exacerbated by one of the many examples of how far we’ve often fallen. Top selling gospel artist James Fortune is having a restoration concert. Several months ago, Fortune was in the news for likely assaulting his wife with a barstool. Several years prior, Fortune assaulted his stepson. As a Christian, I believe in the possibility of restoration for all. However, I also believe that God sides with the victims and works in the world for their justice. While I pray that Fortune receives the restoration he needs, the idea of seeing a known abuser lauded by his community while others are marginalized and crushed is nauseating. Fortune has endangered lives and will still have a lucrative gospel career. Anthony Williams, formerly known as Tonex, saw the gospel community dismiss him upon him acknowledging his sexuality. Anyone who considers those two actions similar misses the point.

I could easily remedy this and get the rest my soul is looking for. I could walk away from church, pick a less volatile research interest (communication tendencies of DC hipsters sounds peaceful), and just stay to myself. However, contrary to the beliefs of bigoted commentators and their selective analyses, I perceive the Spirit of the Living Christ moving and animating me. My evidence for God’s presence in my life is that I feel the urging to stay and fight, to stand, to work as hard as I can with my skills to make a difference. Deep down, a faith resides in me that urges me to hope for a new society where these differences, race and sexuality, are celebrated.

But that hope that has pulled me forward does not often address the wounds, those psychic and even physical marks of struggle that one collects when war is a constant reality. As a result of my hope, I find myself constantly disappointed. Not because we are imperfect; I also suffer from my imperfection and others have to suffer from it, too. Instead, I’m disappointed about our overall lack of sensitivity. We don’t even try. We don’t even seem to care. Why is it so contentious to mention women’s issues when they fill the majority of our pews? Why do many use gospel music to demonstrate glitz and glam, when the object of their artistry was born in a dark, dirty manger and died a criminal’s death? I’m asking these questions rhetorically. I know many of the answers. I consider my asking the questions a way to express my current feelings, a location between hope and weariness.

Even still, from this place of weariness, I see a faint possibility of hope in the future. I admit that I mostly see it with my heart at the moment. Perhaps some rest and distance will reveal more tangible examples in my midst. But as I warily drag myself toward the possibility of my hopes I am constantly bombarded by our failures, our sin, our “missing-the-mark” of what God would have us be. Between hope and weariness is where I am, for now. I don’t think this is an unholy spot, but it is a trying one.

What I learned in Seminary: Introduction

For many, theological centers of learning are an enigma. No one knows what goes on inside those sacred walls, yet they feel compelled to know what takes place inside. If someone feels a distinct “call” or urging to work in pastoral ministry, the idea of learning the Bible in a more detailed way often comes up before long.

The decision to attend seminary[1] is a personal journey. As such, everyone’s story is different. The beginning of my journey toward theological learning is centered in my unique call story. The sensation of feeling “called” to preach, along with the drive to seek training in order to do it, were linked. For some, attending seminary is a lifelong goal that they set aside for the time when the kids are out of the house. For others, it is a second career. Everyone has a unique situation that leads them there.

Those unique call stories do not lessen the impact of some serious factors when attending seminary. Seminary is not for everyone, dare I say, it is not for most. When people ask me, “Should I go to seminary,” I tend to get into a polite, but serious mindset. One thing that many people fail to realize about seminary is this: it is graduate school. A Master of Divinity program, which is the standard degree for ordination in most denominations, takes about three years to complete. And completion is in three years is only if someone attends full time, with a couple of summer classes here and there. The financial commitment is immense. Most seminary graduates graduate with crippling debt[2]. And since the vast majority of seminary graduates seek pastoral positions—which are shrinking in number and pay—the effort is effectively dooming them to a life of poverty.

Perhaps Jesus wouldn’t mind that, but most of us would.

I also strive to inform the asker that attending seminary is an intellectual enterprise. As stated above, I was more certain of my intellectual call before I figured out what church to align with. That is, I pursued the call to learn before I pursued the call to preach. However, that is not the case for most. The majority of seminary students pick up theological education as a requirement for ordination. This in and of itself is not a problem. Unfortunately, it can cause seminary to only be an event to check off on the list, not one to actively engage. In this case, seminary becomes merely a requirement to check off the list. Because the academic life of the mind and the practice of faith are seen as antithetical to so many, there is often no cross pollination of the ideas learned in the classroom into what comes over the pulpit.

There are a number of reasons for this. Theological reflection takes effort, and most don’t like their deeply held assumptions challenged. Also, many denominations still require certain beliefs to be affirmed for ordination. So while the important may be great to discuss in class, students will still toe the line in regards to denominational rules.

After that, I inform the person of the work involved. You’ll have to read a lot. You’ll have to write a lot. Your writing and method of thinking and believing will be critiqued harshly. If you don’t like to write (and don’t want to learn to write better), if you don’t like to read, if you don’t like to engage and interrogate your own ideas, than you probably shouldn’t go to seminary. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say this: unless you are in a denomination that requires seminary education for ordination, or you desire to pursue doctoral level work in religion, then you shouldn’t go to seminary.[3]

There are many other ways to become theologically knowledgeable that don’t involve thousands of dollars and hours. I recommend those to people first. They still require effort and critical thinking, but they aren’t as taxing or expensive as navigating through a seminary program. Even if you don’t officially attend, seminaries are a great resource. Search the profiles of professors that work at various seminaries and see what books or articles they’ve written. Go to your local bookstore (or public library) and peruse the religion section. Search for them on the Internet. As you read, pay attention to the sources that the authors use.

If reading is not your thing, there’s yet another way. Take those same names you found while searching for books, books that you don’t want to read. Type their names in YouTube. You’ll be surprised at how many give talks that are frequently uploaded. Maybe reading 300 pages is daunting to you, but listening to a 20 minute talk should serve just fine. Also, many are converting their books into audiobooks or even on iTunes University. You’ll find some gems if you look for a while.

If that information doesn’t deter one from going to seminary, then I get into the big question. That is, “Where will I go to pursue theological education?” That is a vital question, and must be considered with prayerful research and consideration. I’ll address it in the next post.

[1] I use “seminary” as a blanket term for ease of understanding. There are actually several types of places that one could pursue theological education. They’ll be discussed in a future post.

[2] http://www.christianpost.com/news/seminary-graduates-in-record-debt-study-finds-117676/

[3] There are other degrees that you can obtain at a seminary, such as a Master of Theological Study. I’ll discuss other options in another post.

Introduction to the ReBoot

Reboot (definition):

1. An act or instance of booting a computer system again.

2. In serial fiction, to reboot means to restart a series from the beginning with a new continuity that disregards the previous continuity.(http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue344/reboot1.html)

Reboots have become popular nowadays.

From old television shows to popular movie franchises, it’s a trend to take a beloved story from the past and bring it into the present time. DC Comics recently revamped its whole line of comics, shedding years of history to present their properties to a new generation. The same characters and ideas are there, but with a modernized presentation.

That seems to be a common theme with reboots. History and continuity aren’t bad things. That’s why certain characters and stories endure over time. There is something about Superman, Charlie’s Angels, Planet of the Apes, or Hawaii 5-0 that bridges generations. There’s something human about them, something that resonates with most anyone that is a human being in any time period. However, at times an idea or concept can become so bogged down with history that the main idea gets lost. And that history can be so far removed from the current generation that it creates a barrier in understanding the story.

The main points become hidden. Too much history. Too different of an experience. Too far from the current day-to-day realities.

Even think of the old school Nintendo Entertainment System (okay, you might be too young for that. Let’s say Playstation 1). If the game gets stuck or otherwise acts weird, you turn it off and start again. The game didn’t change. You just restarted to deal with the issue in the system.

The same can be said of our faith. There are times when our view of Christianity is bogged down by a lot of history. Old stories that reflect a different time, a different place, a different mindset. We still love the core of the story, the basic points of the good news. However, the view of what matters most about the Gospel’s central character, Jesus, is obscured. The basic tenants are blurry because of chance encounters with the negative aspects of organized religion. The main parts of the faith are a bit hazy when one reflects on the pain caused by others in the name of Christ. Years of church attendance and ministry involvement have lessened responsiveness to the story.

And, truth be told, we all have our own baggage, history, and continuity to deal with concerning our faith.

The unanswered questions.

The harmful theology.

The effort to maintain the knowledge of self while growing in the knowledge of God.

The “church hurts.”

Perhaps it’s time for a ReBoot.

This is what this blog is about. The ReBoot isn’t about trying to change the Christian faith into something that we would like it to be. It’s about sifting through the layers of history and events and stories to get to the main point of Jesus, the core essence of who he was, and what his life means for us today.

Reboots don’t change the basics of what a story is. Rebooting your computer doesn’t eliminate the files that are already there. It just allows your computer to start over again. Rebooting a popular series doesn’t change the main character. It allows the core to remain while giving the freedom to revisit other aspects surrounding the character.

Truth is, some things need to be explained differently for the story to continue.

Some characters, viewpoints, and ideas, need to be revisited, updated, or perhaps, eliminated. Things that got added over time but aren’t essential to the story.

And some things need not ever change, because if they did, it wouldn’t be the same story.

That’s what you’ll be seeing here at The ReBoot. We’ll be using some creative means to look at the Christian faith in different ways. The story must be told. It’s too important not to. But perhaps, there’s a different way of approaching it.

Just maybe.