Sunday, May 22, 2005

being adopted in seminary

A friend recently wrote this as a comment to a blog post of mine- "I find it fascinating how many seminary students adopt the philosophy of pacifism. I wonder if I will be so impacted during my three years coming up soon."

To my dear friend,
Several years ago I felt called into ministry. Part of me felt compelled to pastor a church... part of me felt (and continues to feel called) to be a youth pastor... and even still part of me wants to discern an alternative community that bridges the way we do worship and mission in our neighborhood. All this to say that I have no idea what God's wanting of me, I simply know that I am called to ministry (as are ALL God's children).

While in the process of this, pastor and friends urged me to look into graduate school- Vanderbilt Divinity to be exact. I had lunch with several professors and the head of the United Methodist studies group. He was very up front that he thought I'd be a great addition to the student body at Vandy. I considered it. I was accepted. But then some other friends told me to check out Trevecca Nazarene. So I did. I enrolled, I was accepted and began classes there.

This all happened a year and a half ago. The first day I pulled into Trevecca's parking lot, I thought I had landed in another world. Almost EVERY car in the parking lot had BUSH stickers on it. I thought to myself- wow, this is going to be interesting. It was especially interesting when we began serious ecclessial discussions and many of the authors/scholars are wesleyan but heavily influenced by anabaptist theology and practice. It was also interesting to hear many people including our professors who do not agree with all the positions of anabaptist theology- such as stances on war.

BUT I DO.

Not because of graduate school (not seminary, my friend, I attend a small liberal arts Christian College that offers graduate level degree in theology)

Not because I go to a liberal institution- it is actually an evangelical college that is open to conversations and committed to Wesleyan theology.

Not because I used to believe that Christians are like everyone else in America and ought to take up arms when his/her country calls- I NEVER HAVE... SORRY THAT'S NOT ME, YOU'VE MISTAKEN ME FOR ANOTHER WET AROUND THE .... YOUNG EVANGELICAL TURNED LIBERAL SEMINARY STUDENT.... (THANKS FOR YOUR CRITIQUE THOUGH FRIEND)

Not because I read the Bible and wresteled with Jesus' words and listened to how the early church dealt with Christians and war (not compatible if you read about it)- oh wait- I did do that... maybe others ought to as well.

I AM A PACIFIST...
I AM A CHRISTIAN...
I AM AN AMERICAN...
BUT NOT BEFORE I'M A CHRISTIAN....
MY FAITH INFORMS MY ACTIONS (usually) (correction- sometimes)...
SCRIPTURE INFORMS MY FAITH...
TRADITION INFORMS MY NARRATIVE AND PERSPECTIVE....
I AM A CHRISTIAN...
I AM A PACIFIST...
AND I BELIEVE THE KINGDOM MUST BE LIVED OUT NOW... BY CHRISTIANS
OR THE WORLD WILL NEVER KNOW HOW TO DO IT...
I AM A CHRISTIAN... TRYING TO EMBODY THE TEACHINGS AND WAY OF JESUS....
I AM A PACIFIST...
NOT BECAUSE OF SCHOOL... EDUCATION... HE TOLD ME TO DO IT.... IT SOUNDS LIKE A COOL TRENDY ELITIST WAY TO THINK... IT'S EASY... IT HAS ALL THE RIGHT ANSWERS...

BUT BECAUSE...

Jesus said love your enemies and i take it seriously

Jesus EMBODIED not through words but ALL his actions (including temple) that he was nonviolent

I have been shaped by scripture, yoder, the early christians witness, tolstoy, hauerwas, benedict, wesley, and others. guess who i didn't know until grad school? none of them!

God calls us to be faithful to God's way to live, even when it doesn't make sense, or creates "a winning side".

BUT FRIEND- I DO HOPE THAT WHEN YOU GO TO SEMINARY- IT'S AS GOOD AS THE GRADUATE DEPARTMENT OF REL. AT TREVECCA IS.

SHALOM

8 comments:

postmodernegro said...

phransus,

I too am a Christian pacifist. Or to be more technical...a Christological pacifism. I agree with Hauerwas when he says that the term pacifism is just too damn passive. I agree with that. I find that getting into this issue can take Christians into some scary waters. When you begin to flesh out the gospel's witness in regards to being a disciple and cross-bearing that can be some scary stuff.

Thanks for sharing this.

gavin richardson said...

jonathon, i think your caps lock key got stuck a few times in that post. you should have seen that in the proofread. haha

actually, i remember hearing a comment last week that was something like: the pacifists are able to be pacifists on the backs of those that are not. it seems that the quakers can be in small groups, but as far as a nation of pacifists.. i don't know if that works, spiritually or realistically.

i can agree, going to seminary doesn't make one this or that, you were probably more that than you realized when you got there. oh, and let's not confuse political bumper stickers with faithful spirituality.

just some thoughts. shalom

St.Phransus said...

Gavin, what do you define as faithful spirituality?

Spirituality that is not embodied by how we respond to life's situations, ie violence, oppression, hunger, aids, etc etc... is gnostic and shallow.

just food for thought.
shalom

gavin richardson said...

take the sentence and context that we have our political views and our spiritual views. although i'll agree that they should be mixed, let's be realistic, generally they are not. also to be said, our spiritual political views are done in our context of life. ie. my adoptive family (ie. my girlfriends) are republicans, and if they put bumper stickers on their car it would have been a bush sticker. however, their affiliation with the republican party is more to do with small business survival and little to do with their spiritual life. i guess that's more thoughts.

St.Phransus said...

understandable and realistic yes... but somewhat problematic... a symptom of enlgightenment culture.

To say that political views ought not be informed by spirituality might be denying God full domain of our "whole" life.

I obviously don't think spiritually informed views lead to one political party over the other; that's not Christian politics (although some of the Rel. Right with "Bush" Bumper stickers might disagree).

All I'm saying is that if I'm actively engaging christian practices, reading such things as Merton, Nouwen, etc... engaging scripture, but in the end all it does is make me feel warm and fuzzy and spiritual with no sense of wanting to change the world around me... I'm not sure that's a rooted spirituality as much as a gnostic centered spirituality.

shalom

John said...

Jonathan, I am so sorry that my pacifism comment came across as snarky. I didn't mean it! I really was just curious about this change in many seminary students that I have met. I completely respect pacifism and think that is more Biblically sound than Just War.

I'll try to watch my phrasing in the future.

gavin richardson said...

john (and to everyone else), jonathon and i agreed several days after this post that we shouldn't engage in such arguments while being sleep deprived. we're better now. &:~D

St.Phransus said...

ahhh geez i love you gavo. you're the greatest, bro.