I received this award today, and I’m deeply grateful for it. My family, friends, and students know how important the vocation of teaching is to me. I am thankful every day for the opportunity to step into the classroom with my students. Teaching has been a deeply transformative experience for me.
I have been wrestling with the challenges and perils of theological pedagogy over the past few years, in part because of questions sparked by the Theological Education Between the Times series by Eerdmans.
Christianity is a teaching faith, but theologians often have not taught the faith well. These books have challenged me to think in new ways not only about how I teach but also about the why of teaching. Teaching isn’t simply about the transfer of information or even being a role model. It’s about inviting others into a way of life, something along the lines of what Willie Jennings describes here:
I yearn for a vision of Christian intellectual identity that is compelling and attractive, embodying not simply the cunning of reason but the power of love that constantly gestures toward joining, toward the desire to hear, to know, and to embrace. Such an identity articulates its judgments, its discernments, its prohibitions, even its risky negations of social forms and practices deeply inside the gestures of joining and longing. Here theology elicits life patterns that mirror God’s own seeking of creation…The Christian Imagination, pp. 291
This is the kind of teacher I want to become. It will be a lifetime pursuit.