Focal passage: 1 John 2:3-11, 15-17
I don’t know what I thought seminary would be like. Maybe an extended version of youth camp or classes like my undergrad at the University of Florida. Whatever I expected, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary was different. I remember Dr. Mark Rooker softly reading from Psalm 119 on my first day. (I had never heard the Bible read aloud by a teacher or professor before.) I remember Dr. Scott Kellum gently rebuking our class if we copied verses incorrectly in hermeneutics, expecting diligence with scripture.
I remember my young adult pastor, now Dr. Walter Strickland, leading Sunday School with energy and excitement compelled by God’s Word and mission in the world. I remember Dr. Keith Harper teaching through Jonah at church with a mix of righteous fury, humor and grace that humbled my legalistic heart and opened my eyes to the depth of God’s goodness. I remember Dr. Ken Keathley’s notes – so clear and precise – exactly modeling the careful work of theology he imparted to us. And I remember Dr. Allan Moseley, my pastor then, preaching through the Minor Prophets, embodying their gracious and unequivocal pleas in our sanctuary. My pastors and professors weren’t just imparting their knowledge of Christ, they were bearing witness to their relationship with him.
In 1 John 2:3, John writes to his readers that knowing Christ inevitably changes how we live: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands … This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” We know that we’re walking with Jesus, John writes, if we’re walking like Jesus – His pace our pace, His direction our direction, His work our work. We keep to His Word.
I don’t remember everything I was taught in seminary, but I do remember the ones who taught me and, especially, how they related to the Word of God and the local church. I thought I would graduate knowing more about theology. Go to seminary, leave with a theological education. But I left with even more: a greater witness to Christ’s beauty and work in the world.