Seminary for me was a source of pain and frustration, as I often found myself in very dark places wondering how to get out. It was quite lonely at times and quite difficult to make friends. “Why?” you ask. Well, here is my story.
Before attending seminary, I considered myself to be a strong Christian. God and I had a REALLY good relationship. We were often in tune with one another. I knew when He was disappointed with me, and I knew when he was pleased. We spoke regularly, often in the car or in the shower because those were the only times I was really still enough for Him to catch me. God spoke to me through song, commercials, billboards, movies, inanimate objects, whatever. There was NO DOUBT in my mind that God was real, and there was nothing He could not do. But, then I came to seminary.
It was quite an experience learning the academia behind God, the church, and faith. Receiving the background of the Bible, the events that transpired, the reign of the leaders, and the evolution of its creation really brought the Bible to life for me and REALLY made me more excited about the word. Learning the history that influenced the policies and laws made the Bible real, and I was able to compare it to current times and how policies now are similarly being influenced by our beliefs. But, this was just one class, Church History, and seminary required at least 30.
By the end of my first calendar year in seminary, (Jan-Dec), I found myself in a very dark place. I was confused on how to refer to God because I was instructed to use inclusive language but was never informed of the rationale or what that even meant. (I had never encountered inclusive language before seminary.) Without further instruction, the best I could gather was not to refer to God as He or Father, but it was Ok to say She or Mother. Because of how the Bible itself came to be, I was chastised for wanting to stand on its words or believing it solely. Condemnation was the consequence for yielding to this “white man’s book” and “white man’s religion” as it is currently practiced. It was not black enough, excluded our African heritage, and misaligned with God’s mission. What I thought I knew and thought I believed, my faith, was stripped away and taken just as was done to our ancestors all those years ago. I was left questioning God and his function. I questioned the motives of this all-loving God. I questioned his location in the midst of my attacks. I doubted his faithfulness to me. I saw myself as a disposable pawn in his game called life. I began to feel like the “bad” child who just couldn’t get right. I found myself screaming out like David “how great are my afflictions” “how many are my foes?” Left with no faith, no answers, and no consolation, I ran to the one place where I knew God was sure to be. The Church.
The church was my sanctuary, a place of restoration where I could go to refuel and cast all my cares. It was the one place I could go and know for sure that God would meet me there. Only, this was no longer the case. Instead of meditating on the words of songs to glean encouragement and motivation, I found myself listening for theological accuracy. Instead of engulfing in the “worship experience”, I was often distracted by its disconnect and disjoint. Rather than gaining an empowering or refreshing word from the message, I looked for the exegesis and application of the text. I listened for the historical component and the question. I listened for form and formality. Seminary ruined my church experience, for it was no longer about a spiritual encounter with God. It had now become an evaluation of the praxis of the acquired seminary knowledge. And, my sanctuary existed no more.
Although, not nearly as serious and certainly not to minimize its impact, seminary for me seemed a lot like the post of the slave trade. It is where those who have been called come with hopes of learning more about their call, strengthening their knowledge about God, and learning the most effective way to do church but leave empty and filled with voids. Our faith is taken away as the God we thought we knew is stripped away. We are given a new language to speak, no longer he or father, but she and mother. Amen is replaced with Ashé. Traditional services are replaced with new rituals like libations. The white man is bad and God acts just like him. Things traditionally not accepted in church are considered the norm and praised like sexuality, homosexuality, the use of foul language, and the desecration of the Bible. (However, a woman having her children living with her on campus is an abomination and lands her out on the streets with nowhere to go.) I was thrusted into this new environment, this new way of life, this new teaching, all with no rationale and no explanation.
I think the professors may have forgotten they are responsible for the scholarship they provide. They have an obligation not only to tear down but to build up. It is not enough to tell us the history, the context, the narrative. We must be told how to apply it as well. We cannot be left as wanderers dumped in the desert left to figure this out on our own. To do so is irresponsible. We cannot be trash reciprocals where information is continuously dumped. Scholarship without praxis creates confusion, starvation, and angry Christian Atheists.
That is why I created Qurious Theologian. Most of what I learned in seminary was not bad. In fact, it was extremely beneficial, as it provided a platform for me to dive deeper into the word and into a more intimate relationship with God. The confusion I experienced forced me to push past the surface of my beliefs and get to know the essence of who God was, is, and will be. I re-read passages. I asked questions. I challenged authors beliefs and elevation of particular characters. And, I reclaimed humanity (emotions, thoughts, behaviors, etc.) of the characters as the center of my studies. No longer was the Bible a fairy tale or mystical book. It was alive and well, filled with real-life stories of real-life people from various real-life cultures with various norms and beliefs.
Join with me as I journey through the Word, through the experiences of the the beloved and hated characters sharing my own experiences and thoughts along the way, finding real-life solutions for real-life situations. Learn what influenced the behavior of that time and what’s influencing them now. Let’s ask questions and find answers together.
#Igotquestions #Ineedanswers #quriouschronicles #qurioustheologian