A deep understanding of Biblical interpretation and the evolution of Christian thought.
- A thorough knowledge of, and personal engagement with, the Bible.
- Skill with methods of biblical interpretation, including the historic interpretive traditions of the church and contemporary methods, particularly those from historically underrepresented communities.
- A deepening familiarity with the global history of the Christian churches through the ages and across cultures, including the newest Christian populations, and an understanding of the evolution of Christian communities in the United States.
- A deepening familiarity with contemporary theological ways of thinking and with the rich and varied theological heritages, creeds, liturgies, and spiritual practices of the Christian churches.
- The ability to analyze, evaluate, and integrate the biblical, historical, theological, and pastoral disciplines and practices in ways that contribute to fruitful and faithful Christian ministry.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
The last part of this message from the Apostle Paul gives me sound instruction on the importance of studying scripture. In other translations, the wording used is, “study to show yourself approved.” Throughout my life, I have attended private Christian school of one form or another. From the sixth grade to the eleventh grade I attended the private school at my local home church. Every morning we would assemble from 8:00 a.m. till 8:30 a.m. to hear the morning announcements and to recite the bible passage we were to have memorized. Every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. till lunch time, all the student body attended chapel. Beginning in the ninth grade, I received my text books on the New Testament as one of my assigned electives while in the tenth grade I received my Old Testament text books. I guess you can say that bible study has been a vital part of my life since my youth. When I entered Point University to earn my Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies with a dual major in Preaching Ministry, bible study took on a whole new meaning. It was here that I began to learn the importance of exegesis. Our final assignment was to translate and parse Colossians 1:21-23, and to give a reasoned argument for either agreeing or disagreeing with the translator’s translation (click here to view the paper). This work helped to prepare me for my time at Candler and has served me well in ministry thus far.
Learning how to translate scripture has helped me turn ancient text into something relevant for the modern audience. I discovered the importance of studying the context to understand what certain words might have meant to the original audience, and how they might be interpreted in our current context. Over the centuries, the misuse of scripture has lead our culture down many dark paths of persecution and oppression. Throughout my time at Candler I have had the opportunity to dive into controversial topics, such as the biblical stance found in Judges regarding homosexuality. In this paper, I compared the story found in Judges 19 surrounding a Levite, his concubine, and father-in-law to the story of Lot. Both Old Testament texts have been and are still used as an argument against homosexuality through the misuse of the term “to know.” I argued against this term as being sexual, and showed that the term had to do with Israel’s lack of understanding around hospitality (click here to view the paper).
Repeatedly during my time at Candler, the controversial topics did not cease to challenge me, yet with every challenge I found myself digging deeper and deeper into research and dealing with scripture to fully broaden my understanding. In my “Gender, Sexuality, and Theology” and “Women of the bible” classes I dove into the topic of women’s role in the church. My final paper in G.S.T focused on how scripture has been used to oppress those on the margins, such as women, homosexuals, and black people (click here to view the paper).
The use of scripture is still used against women in certain denominations. Often the scriptures that are used are credited to the Apostle Paul. In my final paper for “Women of the Bible,” I demonstrated that Paul, himself, used and authorized women to hold leadership roles in the church (click here to view the paper). These are just 3 examples of my understanding of just how important proper study and research of scripture is. Yet I do see this task as a lifelong process. As history, has shown us, scripture is misused to oppress others, and I strongly feel it is our role to right the wrong.
Some of the lessons I have learned over my time at Point University and Candler School of Theology have been a great base to build a life of ministry. Yet I do feel that throughout my life I have in some way or another been in preparation to live a life of service. Over my career as a Master Barber, I have often said that I ministered to many from behind the chair. Many different individuals have crossed my path from all walks of life. I feel that God led me down that path in a way to prepare me for not only a life of ministry but more so for a strong sense of pastoral care. I strongly feel that my role as a Master Barber and the love I have for individuals strengthened my role as a chaplain. In these roles, the biggest lesson I have learned is that of full acceptance; acceptance of different opinions, religious beliefs, cultural norms, financial status, careers journeys, relationships, and politics. This lesson was strengthened in my role as a chaplain. While it was often easy to prepare myself for individual encounters in my daily life as a barber, this was not the case in my role as a chaplain. As a chaplain, I often crossed paths with people of different faith traditions than my own. In these encounters, I did my hardest and best to treat everyone with love and acceptance while using the encounter to learn something new and important about their beliefs. I feel this has only strengthened my role, not only as a minister, but also in pastoral care. I strongly feel that to properly view scripture to best minister to individuals, I also need to fully understand their thoughts and interpretations as well. My journey to ministry calls me into a life of ministering to all of God’s beloved. Simply doing my own study of scripture and its context is only half the job when you are trying to meet someone where they are on life’s journey.