18 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved. 19 It is written in scripture: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will reject the intelligence of the intelligent. 20 Where are the wise? Where are the legal experts? Where are today’s debaters? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? 21 In God’s wisdom, he determined that the world wouldn’t come to know him through its wisdom. Instead, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching.
I absolutely loved my time at Princeton Theological Seminary, it was the perfect fit for me. As you may imagine though, with a name like “Princeton”, it can draw a very high level of academic rigor. I myself have never really characterized myself as being super academic.
I went right to seminary from my undergraduate studies in Theatre Performance. What I studied for theatre was not at all related to what I was to study for my Masters of Divinity (not useless, just completely different). This was not the case for many of my colleagues. Of course there were other students who studied various topics before seminary, but a disproportionate amount studied religion, theology or philosophy. This became evidently clear to me when, during orientation, I sat at a picnic table in the middle of the student apartment complexes, eager to meet new friends. Someone sat across from me, didn’t say hi but said, “So what classes did you test out of?” I was somewhat taken aback by the question, completely unprepared. Someone nearby, eager to show off their studious background named several introduction and language courses that they were skipping because they already knew it all. He stared back at me.
“Um… I was an actress?”
I now had several sets of eyes on me. “Oh”, he said, then found someone else to conjugate Greek vowels with. This isn’t to say that learning isn’t important, it very much is. It’s how we grow. Creating access to proper education was at the heart of John Wesley’s initial mission. When I read today’s text though, what I hear is a warning of how academia, just like anything else, can be it’s own inner elite circle. It can feed off of proving self, and outdoing others. It can steer us away from the simple faith in the sheer mystery that is God.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Take a breath, imagining the Holy Spirit moving in and through you. Has there ever been something you heard in a worship service, be it the sermon, a song, a prayer, that struck you? Something that you continue to remember long after? What about it was so impactful for you?
Prayer: Mysterious God, your creation is a complex, diverse, interconnected web of beauty. Encourage us to not only seek you in our studies, but also in the day to day world. Amen.