I almost went to seminary. Once or twice. Or, maybe, three or four times. At nearly every church I’ve attended, the pastor and I spoke at some point or another about my going into ministry. I don’t really know why they wanted me to do this. I’m not even entirely sure of my own motives for it. I love teaching. But, I also love being at the front of the room. Undivided, uncontested attention.
I didn’t go to seminary for a variety of reasons.
The first time, I didn’t go because my wife was not ready for the life of a pastor’s wife. She wasn’t willing to move around with our children. She wasn’t ready to be always on display and always scrutinized. I fully understood and accepted her position. (A wise man heeds the counsel of his wife.) She later would be fully supportive of my decision.
The Baptists realized that my children did not share a last name with me, that their mother had been married before… …and divorced. The Baptist pastor was very saddened to tell me he could no longer support me in my efforts to go into ministry. Paul wrote to Timothy (I think it was) that an elder should be the husband of one wife. He then extrapolated that to mean an elder’s wife should be the wife of one husband, and divorce meant she was not. Or something like that.
The first time the Methodists wanted to send me to seminary, my wife died in a car wreck.
By the time a different group of Methodists wanted to send me to seminary, my understanding of God and Church had changed. God was of much greater significance; Church, not so much. In the four years between the death of my first wife and my abandoning church, I found myself encountering Truth in all the places Christianity told me it could not possibly exist. I spoke with Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus. All of them echoed each other. All of them echoed the deeper truths of Christianity. I’m not sure I would have thrived in an institution where Truth is known in it’s entirety in the sixty-six books of the Cannon handed down by “scholars” long after the actual events and long before now.
But, I have encountered what seems to be true in nearly all areas of the world and in all walks of life.
So, I’ve never gone to seminary. I’ve never been indoctrinated in deeper mysteries of faith (if that is indeed what goes on in seminaries). I’ve never been ordained to preach. But, as time progresses and I learn more about myself and the world around me, I find myself drawn once again to sermonizing. Sermonizing can be effective and influential; it can also be divisive and destructive. It is up to me, should I choose to speak out, to bear full responsibility for the direction it takes.