Although I do plan to go on to seminary after college, I’m convinced that higher education (above an undergrad) has the potential to destroy peoples’ Christian theology and convictions. Maybe there’s a reason Christ said to have faith like a child; because faith like a 40-year-old, doctorate-holding individual continues to make me sick. Explanation? Gladly.
As I sat in the Fall Colloquium for the Theology & Ministry Department this morning, I was unimpressed to say the least. The number one theologian in America, Stanley Howerhaus, was invited as the speaker. One of his main points was not to make the world just, but to make the world, the world. At one point he incorporated a reference to a mentally retarded person. It went something like this, “You can heal a cancer patient of cancer and they will live, but you can’t heal someone of retardation without killing them.” Fair. I could see the logic behind the statement. He then talked about how those who aren’t Christians are considered the “retarded.” NO, HE DID NOT CALL PAGANS RETARDED (for my liberal friends who enjoy twisting my words). What he was saying was we live in a world where pagans don’t understand us. The language is completely different, our understanding is different. If you’re going to try to argue with me about this, don’t. Don’t even start it because I’m telling you straight up I will not listen. These were NOT my words, these were his. If you want to complain about the comparison contact Howerhaus.
I’m still unclear as to what he meant by “Our first task of the world is not to make it just, it’s to make the world the world.” Theology students, help me out because at this point, I think that was a terrible statement.
Why can’t I explain it to you? Because the man talked himself in circles and used theological garb that was completely uncalled for, which brings me to my main point..
If we’re to have the faith of a child, I’m not sure we should start a competition of who can sound smarter and “deeper.” Quite honestly, that disgusts me to see Christians do, and PLEASE don’t tell me that doesn’t happen at this university, and please don’t try to give me some “scholarly” explanation about how we should aim for a deeper Christology. The more complex you make your statements regarding your beliefs, the lesser chance you have for reaching the common human being. Quite frankly, in many cases it sure wouldn’t hurt to dumb things down. Do I believe we should constantly be digging into Scripture, history, and study of cultures? Yes. I don’t have a problem with arming ourselves with knowledge. That’s scriptural, plus it’s just intelligent to do so. What I DO have a problem with is the attitude and presentation that I often see. So you’re intelligent: congrats. You can use big words: awesome, I like them too. But tell me what good it does to talk about reaching the world sans theological garb and to then speak about the very thing you’ve warned against to college students? Really? Are we REALLY taking part in the competitions that the world competes in? Quite honestly I think this can be stripped down to, “My dad’s cooler than your dad!” What we see is, “I can sound smarter than you can!” What in the world does that do for unity in the church? Quite honestly, what does it do PERIOD other than boost your ego?
Am I saying this was the intention of the men who got up and spoke this morning? No. Am I saying this is how it came across to me personally? Yes. All the men who spoke were brilliant men, but I won’t write off the fact that it could have been slightly over the top if only a small handful of students could produce questions afterwards (some of which were actually answered in their original expounding, but it was difficult to catch. Again, talking in circles).
I appreciated Howerhaus touching on homosexuality, but I was (again) very disturbed by something he said, and again, I think it was due to a very high degree of education. He himself questioned homosexuality in the church and in marriage. Really? REALLY? This is a black & white issue, folks. This isn’t up for question. Our SOCIETY started questioning it, which in turn made CHRISTIANS start questioning it. The homosexuality-is-okay movement did NOT originate within the church. Christians who didn’t know where they stood were influenced by this overwhelming opinion, and it spread. It’s laid out in the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, that it is not okay. Do we accept homosexuals in our churches and disciple them? Of course. But to openly say that you’re not sure entirely sure where you stand regarding the issue in conjunction with marriage? Unacceptable.
I clearly understand IWU wanting to bring in someone like the “#1 Theologian in America,” but I have to wonder how much our students would take away from someone like Dave Sims, who has only an undergrad in youth ministries, is a hicktown farmer, and yet seems to know and understand more about the Scriptures than dang near every doctorate-holding individual I know. I can honestly say (in regards to theology and the Bible) that I’ve learned more from individuals you will never hear of than I have from big-name individuals. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say that.
Why would I continue on to seminary if I’m concerned about being “overly-educated?” (Disclaimer: I don’t think there IS such a thing, but I definitely believe it can go to one’s head if a tight reign isn’t kept on it). At the risk of this sounding incredibly egotistical, I’m not going for myself. It isn’t to say I did this, or I accomplished that. It’s so I can help others, specifically women. I’m studying women’s ministry and counseling. I’m not saying that every person who attends seminary for theology, philosophy, or whatever else is doing so for selfish reasons either (I feel like I must clarify, because if I don’t, I know someone will get upset). A piece of me has to wonder why in the world people go to seminary if they don’t want to follow the guidelines God gave. It’s going to make your life inconvenient, no, you AREN’T going to like every single thing. Put yer big girl panties on and deal with it! Can I help women without going to seminary? Yes. Will I be more educated and better equipped if I DO go? Yes. Double yes. I want a knowledge of the Bible on a different plane so I can start to look at how that applies to the lives of women who don’t understand it and who don’t know the Gospel. Yes, everyone who goes to seminary can say this, but let’s ask a question here: are they doing it? I’m just so over this whole thing of trying to sound as philosophical, educated, and deep as humanly possible. Put the Gospel in terms that people can understand! Eventually we have to get our nose out of the books and onto the streets and into the lives of the people who don’t know Christ. Yes, read the Bible; yes, learn all you can; and then get out there and DO something about it. Knowledge is useful only if you put it to use. It’s almost as if we aren’t satisfied being God’s children…instead we want to be competitive siblings with each other. And by sibling, I mean adolescents who think they know it all, and finally one day come to realize their dad knew what he was talking about the entire time.
And just to even the playing field, I will be posting a blog about things I greatly appreciated about today’s seminar, because yes, there were things I thought needed to be said, especially to the college crowd, but my frustration could handle being silent no more. :)
*laugh* Pray on. =P
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”