I am realizing that I have had a false dichotomy in my mind for awhile: I thought the academy and the church were seperated by a distinct line, or maybe a kind of fuzzy line. I have been drawn towards both worlds my whole life. I love to "get to the bottom of things" so to speak (On that note, I could totally relate to this post about how a professor goes about learning how to do laundry). So when I preached a sermon awhile back on Jesus raising Lazarus, I found it necessary to dive into the history of what "resurrection" meant for a first-century Jew. Needless to say, I found that the raising of Lazarus was a hugely prophetic event; quite a bit more meaningful for those involved than "Cool, we got our brother back!" But then I’ve also loved being involved in leading a local church. I’ve found the two spheres inform and curtail one another in good ways. My church involvement helps me from getting to high-minded or arrogant in the academic sphere, and my theological/academic involvement helps me from getting too utilitarian or stuck-in-a-rut in the church sphere.
But for some reason, I’ve always felt like eventually I’d need to "pick one or the other."
So recently I’ve decided that the line doesn’t exist, and that apparently God has called and gifted me to live in "both worlds," so to speak. One of the reasons I’ve made this decision is my recent reading of N.T. Wright’s works. I’m working on going through his Christian Origins and the Question of God series (almost finished with the first book, The New Testament and the People of God), as well as some of his books for a wider, popular audience. He lives in both worlds. He is able to speak to an academic audience, but also able to disseminate the ideas from his scholarly works into sermons and books that reach "normal people" and relate to normal life situations like getting married and raising kids and growing old and dying and suffering and feeling unloved and getting depressed and liking chocolate.
I didn’t know we were allowed to do that! I was thrilled to understand finally that the line doesn’t exist after all, that theology is meant to apply to normal life, that normal life is really where theology becomes substantive. I’ve decided to happily pursue involvement in the church and the academy.