Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More than a Seminary Grad

In the VH-1 special presentation of "Back to the 80's: Christian Edition" one of the highlights might be Josh McDowell's book More Than a Carpenter. The primary goal of this book is to convince us that Jesus was more than a carpentar...more than a good guy...more than a moral teacher...etc. McDowell sets out to give us the necessary evidence to convince us of Jesus' DIVINITY.

With the events of my life over the last few months, I'm thinking of a manuscript for those of us that have been full-time professional pastors / reverends / priests: More than a Seminary Grad. It would really be a similar type of a book, with one interesting twist. While McDowell tries to convince us of Jesus' Divinity, I see a need to convince the world of my HUMANITY.

The primary degree offered by seminaries is the M.Div. Yep, if you put in the time at one of Christendom's seminaries, you can be a Master of Divinity. I don't even think Harry Potter gets the equivalent of that degree after 7 years at Hogwarts. What I think is funny about the title of this degree is that it is missing an "s". All the other graduating students from seminary get a Master' Christian Education or Theology or Biblical Languages. The get a Master's, while I become a Master...of Divinity.

Well, thanks to the events of the last few months, I'm realizing that I'm more than a seminary grad. And it is a GOOD thing. For several weeks, I had no job with plenty of time to blog. As of late, I've come across some work (hence, less blogging). It's been really good for me. It has nothing to do with my Divinity. It's all about my humanity. In fact, it is nearly a role-reversal with Jesus. While he went from carpenter to master of divinity, I've gone from the divinity side of things to the carpentry side. Nearly. I've been working for a general contractor. He does most of the carpentry, but hey, I had to start somewhere!

So, what good does this experience really accomplish. Well, for starters, it is solidifying IN REAL LIFE what I would have played lip service to before. There is NOT a qualitative difference between the pastor and the lay person. There isn't ANY reason why I should be asked to pray before all the important meals. I know loads of people who are more eloquent and engaging in prayer than I am (Sojourner and spouse). There's nothing "extra special" about me going to visit someone in the hospital just because I'm a Master of Divinity. Lots of people have more compassion and better empathy than I do (Edie "double barrels" Finnell).

There is dimming line between the pastorate and the "regular" Christians. And that is a good thing. I have a friend whose name rhymes with Burt. He is an accomplished man of business. He works in the business world, but he and I and others around us are becoming convinced that the title "business world" is part of a false paradigm. There aren't different worlds. And someone who is accomplished and gifted with a Master's in Business Administration can be more than a businessman. And this friend of mine is. He is a pastor and counselor to many. He (and I) haven't given up what we are good at. Rather, we are finding it. Yes, maybe in creative ways we didn't ways that we had not ways that are frustrating and confusing. BUT--we are finding our way to be eikons/reflections/representatives of God in his world.

Are you? What are you more than?


At 10:30 PM, Anonymous raptor said...

Be careful Greg, if you keep going on like this I might lose my job

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I wasn't aware that the raptor had landed a job?!? You are in an even different category as an "endentured servant" of a particular denomination that will remain nameless. it's hard to discern all that shrewdness and wisdom stuff from entrapment and enslavement and the system. Don't let it get you down man. But if you get the boot, just remember that you are more than a seminary grad. You are CANADIAN!!!

At 4:32 PM, Blogger revnace said...

God bless our journey, not our titles.

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous kim said...


At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Curt said...

More Than a Seminary Grad - this manuscript needs a subtitle if it is going to fly off the shelves of Christian bookstores. Like....How Studying the Minor Prophets Helped Me Beat the Wall Street Averages... or, The Top 50 Seminary Books That Transformed My Life...or, How to Re-Write Your Resume to Land a Job in the Real World.

But that is not what you are saying. You are really challenging us to have the courage to be less! And in being less we discover we are “more than.”

Let me explain what I mean:

What am I more than? I have probably changed career paths and job descriptions more than the average person my age. In each change was a reaching - for a job, a title, a degree that defined me to be more than I was. Part of that reaching was tapping a potential I felt deep inside, but partly it was an effort to pull myself above the crowd, to stand apart, to distinguish myself.

Whatever plateau we find ourselves on at a particular stage in life, if our reaching is an effort to stand above the crowd and differentiate ourselves, then we look around and find others there with us and then we have to begin the effort all over again. This all seems counter to God’s incarnational intent.

Philippians reminds us to think of ourselves “the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”

Steve Chalk says that if we just think of the incarnation as God becoming a man then we have missed it. We have missed the point that God became a particular Jewish man from a particular town at a particular time in history. He had particular friends and family members and he laughed at particular jokes and wept over the graves of special friends and loved ones. I wished I could have been convinced of Jesus humanity years ago. I never questioned his divinity but I never connected with His humanity.

Greg, I appreciate hearing you talk about working out your humanity in REAL LIFE with the lines dimming. You are living an incarnational life.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Burt, that is my last name.

have a good day.

Alan something that rymes with hurt :)

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