Seminary: Losing Jesus

Discernment , Discovery , Spirituality Dec 17, 2015 1 Comment
Columbia Theological Seminary

Columbia Theological Seminary

Today is the final day in my seminary career.

Two years and one semester ago, I reluctantly applied to seminary.

I often quoted Acts 4:13 to support my argument against going:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

These men had “been with Jesus.” I was with Jesus. I surely did not need seminary to be with Jesus – I had him already. I didn’t need to be learned.  What on earth did I need seminary for? I had plenty of skills to land a job. I had a practical undergraduate degree that could be transformed into a number of careers.

In some circles, I heard that people lose Jesus when they go to seminary. There is one televangelist that uses word play and calls seminary the “cemetery.” I even asked my neighbor – a Presbyterian minister – if that was true. His answer was delicate because he had been on the journey and understood that there were no words to describe what may happen to me. His answer was sort of like this: “Well that depends on the person.”

I began a period of reflection to discover my person.  In earlier blog posts, I wrote that I wanted more than a career or a job, I wanted to practice my life’s passion. I wasn’t so sure I’d find that by simply utilizing acquired skills. I knew that much going in…

But during seminary, who I was was drastically uprooted. There was not one professor intentionally trying to “wither” me at the roots, but  rather there were many who challenged me to examine the scriptures, and see what was so. Nothing was left unearthed.

I would say, that the agenda of my seminary was to take the comfortable little Jesus inside of my back pocket out and follow him into the unknown, the mysterious, and the uncomfortable.

There was one biblical professor who reminded us daily to look in wonder at the scriptures and the cosmos.

In some ways, I did lose Jesus. If that Jesus was my small, illusionary self that claimed she knew the right way to be holy, then that Jesus was lost.  My new testament professor often said, “What you say about Jesus says as much about you as it does about him, and sometimes even more.” Many of my atheist, agnostic and pagan friends knew this all along but still loved me.

A few posts back, I posted one sentence about my seminary experience. It read:

I know very little for certain, but what I am certain of is God’s expanding presence.

God keeps inviting me to go beyond my black and white, dualistic interpretations. She often says, “See, there is more; there is an abundance of me, of all creation, enough for everybody.”

During seminary I learned how to:

  1. Die. In more ways than one, but largely having the privilege to witness the joyful death of our seminary president, Steve Hayner. Joy in the Journey”
  2. Believe in miracles. The miraculous, modern resurrection of a classmate’s wife overcome by a deadly infection. “Woman Fights to Build New Life…”
  3. Trust that I belonged. Returning to inward divinity that lifted me through some tough courses and bouts of insecurity.
  4. Trust that others belonged, too. I had the opportunity to worship, play and study with a diverse group of seminarians, which after seminary, will retreat to our own camps (denominations).
  5. Embrace closure. It is healthy to say goodbye and make room for the next reluctant disciple.



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