A Generalization About Seminary Professors

A Generalization About Seminary Professors June 1, 2022
Photo by Yan Krukov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/professor-in-black-turtleneck-sweater-holding-silver-macbook-in-classroom-8197513/
In all my discussions in the desert, discussing spirituality and beliefs and such, the group I least like to have discussions with are theology professors.
They tend to assume their conclusions and methods are above everyone else and they seem to find it easy to be condescending.   Most of us that attended seminary,  realized later that we were simply parroting our most recent mentors, and that our methodologies all had inconsistencies and inherent flaws.
There are as few exceptions like Pete Enns and Jared Byas who haver already suffered because of speaking up against the machine.
The things that I write are very simply my impressions of the world.  I am open to hearing different views based on what I write, but I don’t need my character evaluated or for my paper to be “graded.”  I certainly don’t need to be gaslighted or discredited.  In short, if I didn’t ask for your criticism, it’s probably not welcome.
The second most annoying are pastors defending their institutional bias. They can’t evaluate any criticism of organized religion because they are vested in that system and cannot even imagine that it might be irrelevant in the 21st century.
People accuse me of generalizing. I do this because generalizations are generally true. There is at least enough evidence to have an honest discussion about them and that’s why I breach the subjects.
That leads me to some of the worst statements I hate hearing. Some of the most common are statements like “that is not our experience.” People get anxious when you challenge their beliefs. I understand that, but unless we honestly challenge our beliefs, we won’t know whether they are solid.
So I don’t necessarily want people to stop being seminary professors or pastors, although I think we need a lot less of them than we used to. So in the 21st century, we not only need to be doing things differently, but we also could be having different kinds of conversations.
So now that you know how I feel, it’s your choice. You can choose to gaslight me and try to avoid the real topics here. Or you can start your sentence with “I think” or “I feel” or “the way I see it is.”  You can dismiss me as a generalizing simpleton, or you can avoid criticizing me all together and just give your opinion of the subject at hand.
When people say that you can’t have real discussions or real conversations online, I don’t believe them because I have had some great conversations online and especially through podcasts. The challenge is not being in person or not. It is whether or not we’re genuine human beings.
Real discussions have more to do with respect than they do with the media we are using. The fact that we can access so much information should be a benefit, not a deficit.  Immediate feedback can be beneficial, even if it’s sometimes humbling.
If you are a seminary professor or a pastor, you folks have had a pass for too long.   The rest of us have something to say, and we don’t care if you don’t like the way we said it.   Please don’t treat us poorly if you want us to respect you.  Maybe you should just listen and realize we will survive without your input.
We can do better,
Karl Forehand

Order Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity

Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!

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