Month: September 2018

Dominion Theology: An overview of a Great Evil of Church History.

Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Editor’s Note: This article is not discussing Theonomy, though God’s Heart rejects theonomy as a plausible governmental structure in a Post-Fall World. This article focuses on the roots of Dominion Theology in the Classical Sense and the evils perpetrated in its application. No attempt was made to engage the modern definition of Dominion Theology as this was a broad overview and not dedicated to specific forms of dominion Theology.

I attended a men’s retreat this weekend, one I had attended two years before. I looked forward to this weekend as it is likely the last time I will attend one with this particular group of men. It gave me a chance to soak up that last bit of wisdom from these older saints that I have been gleaning the past three years. Many of these men have been in ministry, both ordained and otherwise, and I have enjoyed learning from and being encouraged by them as I prepare to embark on my own ministry. The topic of this retreat was: “How to pray like a King.” I did not think much of it at the time, the same speaker had spoken a year before, though I had not attended because of my status as a newlywed. I had seen the theme and did not think anything of it until the speak decided to give a summation of last years teaching. He had told the men a year before that they were kings and that they needed to rule and subdue the Earth because of Genesis 1:28. He also said they needed to rule as one submissive to the Lordship of Christ, with their “crowns up” to God instead of “crown down.”

As a historian and one who has studied Historical Theology I have come across this particular teaching numerous times in my study. The first is in the documents regarding the crusades, the second in the early colonial period of Europe in what is called “The Discovery Doctrine” and finally in western Protestantism and the theology behind Manifest Destiny. All these amount to what has been called “Dominionist Theology” which still exists today in the twisted acclamations of the Alt-Right and even Alt-Left, along within Jim Crow Laws and the White Supremacy of the KKK and Anti-Semitism of Hitler’s Nazi’s and the modern Neo-Nazis. The idea has been propagated, since the beginning of European Dominance of Church History that the mandate to have dominion over and subdue the Earth was a justification for terrible atrocities carried out by the Catholic Church & the Protestant Settlers during the colonial period, as well as a justification for the Slave Trade, Theonomy. The Discovery Doctrine is particularly evil, teaching that if you encountered a native tribe and they would not convert to Christianity then they were to be destroyed or sold into slavery.

Not to my surprise, when I privately confronted the speaker over my concerns about what he was teaching he had never heard of Dominion Theology. Nor was he aware of the history of the same teaching within the modern Health and Wealth Movement that consistently compares us to heroes of the bible and gives us their importance. He was also not conscious of how his teaching my be received by a member of another ethnic group, particularly one of the man that has been decimated by White, European, Dominion Theology. He also was not willing to drop the analogy, though I did not insist he do, claiming that he likes it better.

Ironically, scripture only supports this idea of dominion in Genesis 1:28 with a few places in the Psalms looking back to the Pre-Fall order. It is true that God tells Israel to take the promised land that required killing off people groups. Groups that had lived in the land where Abraham had been called and Isaac and Jacob’s families had worshiped Yahweh and been blessed by that family until they left for Egypt yet had still rejected God. Israel had a legal mandate from the one who had deeded them the land and who had made Himself known through creation (Rom 2). The language that is constant, even through Israel’s conquest period is that of service and blessing.

This language actually gets picked up directly after the fall. It also seems that instead of us subduing the Earth we would have to struggle against it and any attempt by man at dominion would be frustrated and eventually end in absolute evil as is exemplified by Israel’s monarchy. Abraham’s offspring are to be a blessing to all the nations through engaging in fair and justice practices such as trade and the treatment of the highest visiting dignitaries to the lowest immigrant traveler.

Jesus himself is said to be a servant, not coming as a powerful ruler, but giving up his position at the right hand of the father to become a servant. (Is. 53, Phil 2:5-11). Even telling his disciples that they will not “Lord it over” their followers (Matt. 20:25 Lk. 22:26) but instead an example of service, humility and love. Therefore, to put off the old self and to put on the new self “which is hidden in Christ” (Col 3:1-17) is to take on the mantel of a servant, to take up the towel as it has been put. In short, in a Post-Fall world we no longer have dominion, but instead are to be as servants working towards seeking Justice through the righteousness of GOD which we now have access to through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If we lived in a Pre-Fall world, things would be much different, instead we work as ambassadors for Christ, not as kings serving under him.

The Catholic Historian George Santayana once said that: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As our recent election cycle has shown, when compared to the rise of other authoritarian figures from Mao Zae Dong to Adolf Hitler have shown us, when we do not learn from out history, we will repeat it. Just as the speaker was unaware of the history of the very thing he was teaching, which has been used to justify so many tragedies and resulted in the deaths of millions, he is doomed to repeat it.

Yet, I did not initially learn about Dominion Theology when I first entered Seminary. It was not until year three when a professor challenged me to look into the Discovery Doctrine that I became aware of it. It certainly was not a part of the myriad of Church History classes I had taken or books I have read, most of whom were white or taught by white men or women. I did not even engage with disability theologians until a different professor sent me some reading material. I learned about the Civil Rights Movement as settled history, then took a class on it from a Black professor and discovered it is far from settled history in the perspective of the Black Community, something we should take into consideration. I read Dr. King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail Cell with weeping, know that my own propensity to not listen to my brothers and sisters of different ethnic backgrounds had continued that same attitude of indifference. I did not learn about the need for ethnic reconciliation until I started paying attention to what was going on around and started really listening to my friends from all different backgrounds. The history is not something I want to repeat and I hope one day I can teach my kids not just to treat their fellow man with dignity and respect, but to listen deeply to them and not to be afraid of their pain.

Because we are dealing with the results of more than 1000 years of Dominion Theology and we are not handling it well. Most seminarians do not learn about this part of Christian History, the bad parts, the times the church royally messed up and turned its back on God on a matter. Such as the slaughter of Muslim men women and children during the first Crusade, the killing off of entire tribes (numbering in the Millions) of First Nation peoples in the Caribbean, South America, Mexico and the North American Colonies. Or the Southern Justification for Slavery preached from the Pulpits of Churches in the North and South or Jim Crow and the reign of fear supported by the White Churches. These events are part of our history as White Europeans, and even if we have never personally engaged in these things, we are still dealing with the brokenness and shame these events have caused, especially in our current climate of racial tensions.

Another Irony here is that there should not be a “White Church” or a “Black Church” there should only be The Church, which God has intended from the beginning. Undivided and multi-ethnic, made of men and women in its congregations and leadership, where the wall of hostility that once kept us apart has been torn down and in its place a table set where we all dine as one. But if we do not know our history, we are doomed to repeat that history, and I fear with statements like John MacArthur’s Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel we are in danger of repeating it again. Segregation is the ultimate form of that evil spirit of Sectarianism that has long dominated the Church here in America.

Yet, if we do not learn about this history as pastors, as future theologians, if we do not acknowledge it, but instead fight against the need to even learn it, then we will repeat it and we will train the next generation to repeat it. As I have said before, we as a church have been historically great at getting rid of false or heretical teachers without eliminating the false or heretical teachings. Dominion Theology, as far as it is concerned, is just one such example of one of those heretical teachers we have not abandoned and which still comes out in our thinking and the way we go about higher theological education.

The truth is, Africa had a rich Christian tradition before White Settlers came to its shores, one that traces its roots back to the book of Acts. Yet, in the spirit of Dominion, settlers came to “Civilize” the Africans and save them from their pagan history. This would be done initially through missions work but later the subservience of the slave trade would be seen as the best way to civilize and Christianize “them.” The same approach was taken to the First Nation in the America’s by the Puritans through the creation of Mission Towns designed to civilize and Christianize the native peoples. “Christianization” and Missions work were always attached to the colonial powers and always intertwined with the conquering government. The Colonial Government would then look at African Christianity, which was much older than the European Form and work to destroy it because it did not fit their ethnocentric model of what it meant to be a Christian. In this we have done great harm to ourselves, to those whom were victimized by colonization and the slave trade and their descendants.

I have before quoted Dr. Philip Schaff who said in his great sermon The Principle of Protestantism: “Christianity, awakened within a certain context of cultures and did not seek to destroy them but to infuse in them its own transforming power to make them the best version of themselves.” If we only learn about Western Christianity as a “Civilizing force” then we do not see what Dr. Schaff saw in the historical development of the Church, God working within ethnic groups for His glory, not abolishing them or making them all alike, but bringing out the best of what He had created them to be.

We have destroyed cultures and even entire ethnic populations in the name of God who wants nothing to do with our destruction of people made in His image. Our seminaries need to teach this History to ensure we do not repeat it, but also to show us the current state of The Church, which has flourished in=spite of Western Colonialism, flourished in its own beautiful ways, shapes and forms with many languages and expressions of Worship across every tribe and tongue, something we need to embrace, not destroy.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

The Diminished Church of the Truncated Gospel.

Jonathan David Faulkner

Editors Note: Due to length a section on examples from the Statement of Social Justice was removed from this article and will be published at a later date. 

There is a new statement going around, a follow up to the controversial “Nashville Statement” that made its rounds on the internet last year, from the same group that wrote the Nashville Statement. This one, the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel may actually be worse then the Nashville Statement in what it does to the church as it seeks to “defend” orthodoxy.

It comes on the heals of John MacArthur, one of the composers, sermon series on Social Justice where he called it Heresy. Then a video where MacArthur, in our view, twisted Matthew 5:13-19 to say that we are not the ones who are a light to the world but Jesus and we are not working to preserve the world, but that it is the Gospel that preserves the gospel. It still baffles me that someone so studied in the Word can come up with these conclusions and with this statement, but it has happened, and no one should stand for what these things do to the fullness of the Gospel.

I also wish I could say this was a new phenomenon, unfortunately, MacArthur has advocated this kind of sectarianism his entire career, holding true to the fundamentalist spirit. This has long caused me and many others to have sharp disagreements with him as I have grown and studied in the conservative evangelical and reformed traditions. I find my dispute with him to be one of conscious and essential doctrine than over peripheral issues, though I certainly disagree with him on many peripheral issues as well.

The debate is nothing new in America though, in fact, when in 1845 when Charles Hodge read John Williamson Nevin’s translation of Philip Schaff’s “The Principle of Protestantism” his response was one of the confusion because Schaff “failed” in Hodge’s mind, to distinguish between the two forms of the church. To Hodge, there were two forms, the visible and the invisible Church. The Visible Church was the church where man dwelt, one in the world with a imperfect interpretation of scripture. Meanwhile, the invisible Church was where Christ dwelt and it was where the church existed in its most perfect and unblemished form.

Schaff, on the other hand, knows nothing of a divided church, hence he refers to the church as “the Church” without making a distinction between the two. He does this because he sees the Church as the continuation of the Incarnation of Christ through the divine union between Christ and man (the doctrine of Thesis in the Eastern Church). Christ dwelt within man, the incarnation by the Spirit, therefore the Church is an active and fully unified visible body of the believers that lives in the tension of the now but not yet and has to engage in the world and at certain points does intersect with the world. “Christianity,” Schaff writes” awakened in a particular historical context, amidst a number of cultures and ethnicities and it did not seek to destroy them, but to infuse them with its own unique transformational power to make them the best versions of themselves.” This is what confused Hodge, the visible church was fallen and divided, so there must have been a perfect version, an ideal version of the church that was untainted by man and that must have been where Christ lived.

The more widely read among must might say: “Well, how purely Platonian of Hodge” and they would be correct. The idea of separating the church into the idea and the real, the invisible and the visible is a purely gnostic idea. To the gnostic, the divine cannot interact with sinful flesh and thus there cannot be an organic unity with Christ. Though Hodge would never go here, it also poses problems for Christology if you believe the divine does not interact with the human than you have to deny the two natures of Christ, fully God and fully Man. One substance, two natures.

In Schaff’s view, that articulation carried over to the Church because of the incarnation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Church could not be separated into two forms, and to do so would be to diminish the work and life of the Church.

This debate is several hundred years old, but here again we find it. If you read the statement, essentially, MacArthur is attempting to recall the visible church to the standard of perfection in the invisible church by calling the church away from engagement with world. He ignores that Jesus said “You are the light of the world” and “You are the salt of the Earth” working through and in union with Christ with access to the righteousness and discernment of God to work towards social righteousness and through that, social justice. That means we have to talk about things like Racism, which MacArthur denies to be a corporate sin and where the church intersects with culture and how we have failed to actually engage the world in a manner that brings about righteousness, and by default, Justice. He does not want the church to engage these issues because to him they are not biblical. The problem is, you can teach an entire course of the bible and ethnicity, taking one semester, and still have barely scratched the surface. Ironically, if there was an invisible church then that would be a church with invisible justice.

My argument is this, because the Gospel, through the incarnate word, comes to dwell inside and transform us, engraining scripture within us and enduing us with the gifts of the spirit and spiritual gifts. Then we are not to be a diminished church but a incredible body that is engaged in a hurting world for the sake of seeing that hurting world come to Christ because they have seen Christ in the way we live and walk and teach. The gospel does not mean mere inward change, but incredible inward change marked by incredible outward change and fighting against the injustices for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ is just one of those outward marks.

MacArthur, on the other hand, truncates the gospel, he makes it something ethereal and unknowable and “other.” It is not something that engages this world or makes us live justly, love mercy or walk in humility with God. It does not have the power to speak into every situation, especially those that seem too worldly. The problem is, if we are to be a light to the nations, we must engage the issues that the world is fighting with and seek to bring in a sound, biblically informed response to a situation. The gospel then should cause us to engage socially because of what God has done for us so that others might know and experience that same saving grace.

Instead, MacArthur and the Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel leaves us with a diminished church and a truncated Gospel. Where both have no power and have to sit on the sideline and watch as people kill each other instead of being what Jesus calls us, the light of the world and the salt of the earth. If the Church is the continuation of the incarnation through divine union, then we must engage as Jesus did to fight against injustice and work towards reconciliation of people to God and to one another. In that way, MacArthur is right, Jesus is the light of the World, he just uses us now, the Word of God is the Gospel, but it preserves the world through Christians who are spurred on by the indwelling of the Spirit of God. The Church is Christ in the world and should live as such, which in my opinion means reclaiming social justice as what it used to be….

Our own.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

Seminarians: Maintain your Hobbies.

Jonathan David Faulkner

I love the yearly ice-breakers professors do, especially those that force you to get to know something about your classmates. One of my professors has you fill out an entire notecard full of information like what denomination you came from, what you hope to get out of this course, what is your prior interaction with the material (if any) and what you want to do after Seminary. It is almost boring now to say your name and degree program since so many of my professors have come up with unique ways for the class to get to know each other. Another professor takes the introductions to another level so that you not only have to go around the room and say your name and degree and something interesting about you the first day, you have to do it multiple times throughout the semester and you had better be taking notes since part of your midterm and final grades were going to hinge upon you knowing your classmates.

In the spring two of my professors, during the general introductions, asked students to list the hobbies they had. One by one almost every person in the room said: “My name is_____________ and I used to have hobbies before I came to Seminary.” To be honest, it was heartbreaking to hear so many people say they had given up their hobbies upon entrance to seminaries. Now, to be sure, some of them still likely made time for those hobbies when they were not on campus, during reading weeks, during breaks. During the 20 weeks of the year they were on campus and engaged in classwork, a lot of them had barely picked up their hobbies.

I understand, Seminary is difficult, we are here to be trained to be pastors and counselors and church leaders and the rigorous nature of the work does not always allow for breaks during the week and when we do find downtime it is often filled with catching up on sleep. For those of us who work during our time here, that tends to throw another wrench in the works as we then have to balance life, classes, work and still find time for R&R.

The Idiomatic “No rest for the weary and the righteous do not need any” tends to be a mot for seminarians and for some of us, it was how we were brought up. In some churches I have heard horror stories about how those who take rests are condemned as lazy. Those are extreme cases, but we tend to adopt a “Sleep-when-I’m-Dead” mentality as seminarians regardless of our upbringing. The pressure to perform coming from our professors, those back home, brothers and sisters in our halls and from faculty and staff pushes us to unhealthy habits and attitudes in regards to rest and relaxation. Seminaries tend to still operate as if we live in the 1970’s and one income can pay for rent along with all your other seminary expenses. So while the amount of work required to take care of ourselves (to buy food, pay rent and the like) the workload given by professors has remained the same and in some cases seemed to increase. Somewhere in their we have to find time to sleep at night, though some of us forgo that during the closing hours of the semester.

I suppose I have been put in a unique position by my brain, since I recovered from the injury I found that I could only engage so many houses a day before my speech became slurred and I begin to get confused. That’s why if you ever go in to the city with me I do everything I can to get back before 9 because it is literally like a switch. Sometimes I am luck to get 13 good hours depending on the intensity of the work I’ve done throughout the day. In that, I have found that turning to hobbies has allowed me to overcome that a bit. Just like when I was going through the initial steps of recovery and playing my guitar and singing were the only ways to clear my head and ease the pain. My hobbies then have become a means for me to cope with the likely lifelong affects of scrambling my brain.

I do believe that hobbies and interests, for the most part, are God-given and open up a unique means for us to glorify Him. That’s why when The Opened Eyes works up a new song and the guys ask me what I want it to sound like I have emphasized that they bring their own unique musical abilities to the song and I want them to use those gifts for God’s glory, so it is okay to do whatever you feel led to do. The cool thing about that approach is that we have never actually had a difference of opinion over a song and the music has taken on its own unique life, even for songs we have played ten or more times.

It is also why I am strict about getting to Ultimate Frisbee on Saturday Mornings, why I still make time for video games, why I take long bike-rides early in the morning and why I always have a non-seminary book for reading. Some of those are done with others, some are done alone and some are just me and my wife sitting on the couch with books in hand while JJ Heller sings to us from the television. I know I will be rethinking a lot of this come February when our little one joins us here in the great big world, but what is life without some curve balls and excitement.

The fact is, you, the human you are, as made in the image of God, is way more important than your grades, then your professors opinions or others expectations of you. If you devalue yourself to get a high grade, then you have still failed. If you go into pastoral ministry with an A average but have not learned how to care for yourself and others than you are not going to last long as a pastor. If you cannot take care of yourself, emotionally, physically, mentally, then you will not be in ministry very long because you will either burn-out early or die prematurely. The latest estimate from Church Leaders is that only 50% of pastors who start in the ministry last longer than 5 years. That’s a number that should give all of us pause and make us ask what we can do better.

One of the ways for us to push numbers like the one above is taking the personal responsibility for our own mental health and one of the ways we can do that is through investing in our hobbies and making time for them. By doing that which gives rest to our soul, not as a substitute to worship because that is necessary, but as a compliment to worship and time in scripture. God did not make you so you could burn out and die, He made you so you could have an everlasting relationship with Him and glorify Him in that. Not that you lose your salvation by burning out, but if a premature death can be avoided then it should be.

Your hobbies are a unique part of how God has made you. They are meant to help you draw closer to Him and to other whom He has given that interest too. So, do yourself a favor and pursue your hobbies while at Seminary, you may be surprised what God shows you about yourself.

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

Why A Pastors Suicide Should Make Us Rethink Seminary.

Jonathan David Faulkner

Note: This article will be considered the beginning of the seminary year advice piece.

 

I want to start this off with a disclosure: The following article is in no way meant to politicize the tragic death of Pastor Andrew Stoecklien, I did not know him and have no connection to him other than the fact that I am a pastor and will hopefully soon be leaving to return to full-time pulpit ministry. My intention here is to continue and spread conversations that I have had with many in my own context. As someone who has been directly affected by suicide and who struggled with my own mental health for years, this is an issue that I feel a need to speak on. Hopefully I am letting enough time pass that this post serves the purpose of sparking conversations outside of where they are currently taking place.

Because if the issues and troubles we have been facing here at Gordon-Conwell are indicative of our sister seminaries, as they tell us they are, then we need to have this conversation. Not just here, but in our churches, among our supporters and among us as students. If our attitudes towards mental health and suicide do not change, we are only going to continue this cycle and it is going to get worse. If 1-4 Pastors struggle with mental health, as was reported by Christianity Today in 2014, should that not gives us pause? If pastors report feeling isolated or walled-off or lonely should we not take that into consideration?

There is a quote that I think we all hear and kind of let roll off our backs. It goes like this: “The habits you develop in college/seminary will follow you your ministry.” I am living proof of this. In college I had a sort of cycle I lived in, a burn out cycle where I would do very well for awhile and then self-destruct. I took that cycle into my first pastorate and you know the rest. When I climbed out of the back of that truck that day it was just another day working full-time and pastoring “part-time.” I was not expecting that 90+ hour weeks would catch up to me the way they did. The last time a burn-out cycle ended was a catastrophic and catalytic event. There is a good chance I may have also been depressed during those years from Middle School to that fateful day in February of 2015. I would never recommend a major brain injury as a means of working through your past, but it was what the Lord used and three years after the fact I am glad it happened, Painful as it was and sometimes can still be (like when I cannot remember the table for word 😉).

Here is the thing though, our culture values hard-work because it does not know how to value the one doing the work. We are all taught to work hard, make a living, get good grades, be the best. Whether that be through materialism or some other ism. As much as we would like to thin otherwise, our seminaries can be and in some ways are no different than the world. When one professor assigns twenty hours a week of homework on top of the twenty hours per your other two or three classes the hours pile up. Throw in a part-time job or two…or three jobs if you live in married housing and kids if you have them a work life balance becomes impossible to achieve. You either spend way too much time in the library working on classwork that in some cases is ungraded and does nothing to advance your knowledge of the subject at hand (busy work). Instead of training successful pastors we set pastors up to burn-out in 10 years or less (the national average). In fact, only 10% of pastors who begin as pastors, retire as pastors, which explains why there are so many “retired” pastors in your churches.

 

You can talk about community as a seminary or college until you are blue in the face, but if you constantly cut community programs and make it harder for the community to function as one. Or, if your expecting the students who are burning out because of academic overload to pick up the slack created by cut community programs, then you are asking for a major mental health break down.

I like the way Bonhoeffer handled community at Finkenwalde, yes, the ordinates had to study and work hard but there were also many afternoons he would cancel their time of instructions and they would go for a swim or run along the beach. I know this looks a lot different in a seminary of 600 as opposed to one of just 5, but the principle of caring for the body and soul that was so emphasized at Finkenwalde and care for one another is one that our seminaries can learn from. Even the twice a semester reading week’s are not breaks from class, but rather times of greater isolation for many as they pour over textbooks without having to go to class.

Yes, I do think there is institutional responsibility on the part of our seminaries to train us to have a proper work/life balance while we are here. As in, the seminary is responsible for teaching us to find a good work / life balance through our courses, mentoring and if need-be counseling. Then, the student is responsible for implementing what they are learning and discovery how that works for them.

The students are also responsible for making sure they do not isolate themselves but dwell in the community of the Body of Christ that God has put before them to take part in. Our Great Halls and Cafeterias should never be empty, instead they should be places where we gather for the joy of being with one another as brothers & sisters in Christ. Then we need to make sure we maintain those relationships far beyond our time in seminary so that we never allow ourselves to think we are alone. That friend we can call or who has the ability to call us and vice versa.

Above all, we should be reminded of who we are and whose we are. To be reminded constantly of our names and positions as redeemed and loved by Christ, presented to God as righteous in-spite of our sin. To be reminded that God is not judging us on our seminary performance or our knowledge of Greek or Hebrew or how well we write an exegesis paper. But that we learn to become people who love one another and pastors who love his flock.

I say all of this because one pastors suicide is too many, heck, one suicide is too many. One death, if it can be prevented is too many and if our seminaries can help prevent them then that should be a higher priority than academic performances. An objective stated from day one of year one as you are discipled to be a pastor.

This may require seminaries to make major shifts in the way they approach seminaries. Faculty may have to reduce their workloads and listen to students concerns instead of dismissing them. Administrators may need to come and live alongside the students to get a sense of the way they live instead of sitting in ivory towers away from the people they have been called to serve. Instead of mere seminaries, they have to become highly intentional Christian Communities for pastors that prepare and send out emotionally and spiritually healthy pastors.

This happens through life on life, daily living, not just through reading a book. Though we should read our bibles, they are the literal Words of God after-all.

POSTSCRIPT:

I tend to work Seminary as a work day, 8AM-5PM. I make sure to finish everything, work and otherwise by five so I can be home with my wife at night or go out with one or two of the brothers. I also take weekends off completely at the beginning of the semester. After 5PM is my wife and I’s time and we use it. I also set out a To-Do list every morning and work off a master schedule for every assignment. Anything that does not get done before 5PM gets pushed to the next day. I also intentionally front-load my semesters, which means I begin working on my work for the semester at the end of August. This semester Tuesdays are devoted to work on my Thesis.

 

 

Jonathan D12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oavid Faulkner is a Graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary working on Masters in Divinity and Church History, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry. He lives with his wife Rachel in the North Shore of Boston and seeks to be a part of the project of reconciliation in the local and international church. 

LIFE UPDATE 3: Vacations & the Beginning of The Final Year.

Jonathan David Faulkner

 

Northfield MA. This morning I find myself sitting at my In-Laws kitchen table with Hebrew Syntax and Vocab sitting next to me while the late Bibleworks boots up so I can do some Hebrew translation. Meanwhile, Wolves At the Gate streams through my headphones and my coffee sits next to me. I have come to love our time at my In-Laws house. It reminds me of my grandparent’s farm in Illinois, my escape during college and my closest family during my time in Kansas. It is cool and peaceful here with a big backyard where a year and three months ago Rachel and I said “I Do” and enjoyed Ice Cream Sundae’s with our dear families and friends. I wish more seminarians had a place like this to escape too, where they could rest and recover.

August was a good month for us, we sent out resumes and enjoyed a short vacation to North Conway New Hampshire with some close friends whom we asked to be our babies godparents. Our time with them was such a blessing though it started with a 3-hour drive through a New England Downpour. The weather while we were there was absolutely incredible even allowing us to take a train ride on the North Conway Scenic Railway. We visited shops and outlets and just relaxed, no school, minimal life worries, just a chance to breathe. Then we headed to Rachel’s parents and I had the blessing of filling the pulpit for my Father-In-Law (You can hear the sermon below).

We came back out here this weekend because Rachel had a four-day weekend and we wanted the last chance to relax and help Rachel’s mother with worship one more time before the school year begins with Orientation on Tuesday (for me) and with new students (for Rachel) and a month of September that includes two weekends away for me (including this one).

It is hard to believe I am entering my final year of Seminary and how much has changed in my life since February 2016, how much I have changed since February 2015. With the healing of my brain I have discovered a new calm and new peace that I had not had before as well as a new resolve to stand up for those who cannot. God’s work, since the brain injury, has been painful and wonderful in my life and I pray it does not stop. As for the coming semester, I have already begun working on my Thesis and am studying for a Hebrew Competency Exam scheduled for Friday the 14th.

Pray for us as we continue to talk to churches and send out resumes, it looks as though we will likely be headed to Midwest, which we both have peace about and are actually looking forward too. Pray for continued health for Rachel and the Baby who we felt move for the first time yesterday and pray for me as I being this final year with Thesis and class schedule and the joys of Peer Mentoring. Pray for us too as we continue to wrestle with the Seminary and struggle for the health, physical and mental, of the students here. There have been some improvements that will ultimately end up saving money in the long term, but it remains to be seen how much these changes will save. As we are bombarded too with the story of pastors committing suicide and the hut and pain in the world, pray that we would be united as one in Christ sharing in that perfect peace and far outlasts all things and is well beyond understanding.