A Reflection on Trying to Be a Christian Scholar as a Blue Collar Worker

How do you do it?! I am happily married, thankfully the dad of two beautiful kids, and I work full time (graveyard) at a corporate dairy (i.e. there are no cows, just milk) in the sanitation department. I have just recently agreed to be the copy editor for the Thomas F. Torrance’s Theological Fellowship’s theological journal, Participatio; and at the same time I am continuously trying to be the Bible reader I have been for the last 18 years (at LEAST an hour a day), reader of theological and exegetical works, writer on my blog (and forthcoming book chapters), and also a dad and husband who is present and not absent. How do I do it (I ask rhetorically)?! I don’t really know. Something has to give; there must be a prioritization of things. Being a present husband and dad, is primary; being a Bible reader comes dialectically related to that priority; and everything else must fall into place somehow, some way.

In reality, to be a real Christian scholar, it seems to me, that you have to get paid to do exactly that; research. There are a rare few Christian theologians that I know of who are actually paid to spend their respective eight to ten hour work day studying, researching, and writing; most other Christian theologians either pastor (so don’t have research as their primary mode), teach at Bible Colleges and Seminaries (and so their primary role is not research), edit for Christian or religious publishing houses (and so their primary mode is not to research), or other various roles (whose primary modes are not to research). And so the conclusion is, is that most folk who truly want to be a Christian scholar (for the sake of the church, and maybe just for the sake of doxology and worship—which is for the church, and for individual members of that church) have to sacrifice. My conclusion is, is that being a Christian scholar requires sacrifice and dedication that is usually quite extraordinary (most Christians are not willing or so motivated to do this).

Personally, my research and reading has been motivated (as I am sure it is for most Christian theologians) by a personal desire to know God in Christ as fully as I possibly can. And, as many a other Christian theologian, much of my motivation to research has nothing to do with an artificial desire to receive glory from others (although that is always present and a danger for anyone [not just scholars]); I am needy, and broken, and desperate, and a full-fledged sinner. So I study and research because I have to. I study (and this is not me being melo-dramatic … I assure you) out of need, and crises; I study because my mind and heart never rest until they do so in Christ. I study and read because if I don’t I get depressed, and feel disoriented with life. So being a Christian scholar for me, is a curse and a blessing. It is a curse because the circumstances of life that have brought me to this point (and those circumstances are almost too personal to share here) have been an absolute nightmare, points of mental anguish and angst that have driven me to the strong and open hands of my Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The blessing comes in the curse, though. I don’t desire hope, or peace, or anyone other than myself until I realize how needy I am; and it is at this point that God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ always shines most brightly in mine.

So why do I seek to be a Christian scholar? Because I have to, because I want to, because I have been “pre-destined” to, because this is my lot; I shall always be a Christian scholar, someday no longer constrained by an analogy of faith, but an analogy of sight.

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