thinking process

thinking process

About a year ago I had to write this paper for a class I took at Texas Christian University’s Brite School of Divinity. The class was an Old Testament Theology Seminar.

I am privileged in G. C. Spivak’s view. I am a white male, who grew up in a financially secure middle class home. I grew up in a conservative (evangelical) Christian environment and still embrace a large portion of what that entails. I am educated, and therefore struggle to accept the judgments of the uneducated.

As a white male, who has enjoyed financial security, I read stories in the Bible differently than those who have not enjoyed these privileges. I tend to identify with the powerful, the strong, the accepted in the stories instead of the ones who are being oppressed. Having traveled in my 20’s a fair bit, I have seen and heard the stories of people from different backgrounds, such as a Christian (Baptist) persecuted for her faith while growing up in communist Russia as well as by Russian Orthodox Christians. I was able to minister alongside an African (from Sierra Leone) at one church. I don’t pretend to fully understand the plight of these people, or the Hispanic Christians that I know and am related to (my brother’s wife is Hispanic). Yet, I do think that hearing their unique story and listening to their understanding of the Bible, and theology (their views on God) has allowed me to begin to understand that my views are not infallible, perfected or unchangeable.

Growing up in a conservative Christian home, I jumped on the fundamentalist bandwagon while in High School, and early college. I was convinced that I was more intelligent and gifted than 99 out of 100 people I came into contact with, and therefore my understanding was the correct one, and their understanding needed to be corrected. As mentioned above, I have since been persuaded otherwise (the process started when I began church staff ministry at age 19). Though I still look for some sort of foundational truths in the Bible upon which to build a theology, I see the process in a much more tentative fashion than I once did. Perhaps the educational process has humbled me, or liberalized me, depending on the reader’s standpoint.

As someone who has a decade more education than many of the people in my church community, it is easy for me to think that my judgments are on a higher plane than other people’s. I have struggled for years to try and listen more and speak less, realizing that everyone has the divine likeness of God in them, and that they can sometimes see things which my educated hermeneutic misses in reading the biblical text.

I think it is possible to engage in conversation with others about Biblical theology by listening to their arguments and evaluating them on their own basis first, then in terms of my ideology. Of course, I am somewhat limited in terms of the language in which I am able to dialogue (English, German, and French).

My reading of the Bible is probably shaped by my own background in several ways. The characters with which I tend to identify with in the biblical stories are the characters that look most like me. My method of reading the text, and of doing theology has only begun to shift away from a very conservative position in recent years. While still somewhat of a conservative, who reads the Bible as if it supports my ideology, I am open to hearing other voices in a way in which I was not open to in the past.

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