Jesus, The Bible, and Beer Pt2

So there I was on my first day of seminary, and little did I know a professor was about to ruin my day, and challenge my faith! The students surrounding me didn’t look like you may picture in your mind. It was really like any other college class with the exception of most of the students not being hungover. We were Baptist preacher boys…if you wanted to party and have some fun then you should’ve become a Methodist…or a Presbyterian if you had the money! Some of the students did look exhausted from working the 3 a.m. shift at Fedex or UPS, but other than that we were a good looking bunch, and very eager to change the world for Jesus! And to do that we’d need to know “His word.”

I use the phrase “His word” to refer to the Bible, but it was more often called “The Word.” We were challenged to leave the campus and preach The Word! The seminary there in Fort Worth was one of the groups who had declared the Bible to be inerrant. Now, don’t let that little word slide by, because it has a very powerful meaning. If you Google it (like any good student) then you’ll find it means, “incapable of being wrong.” Meaning, in case you missed it, INCAPABLE OF BEING WRONG. Another very weird way of saying it is, “The Bible is God-breathed.”

I come from the south where most of us had 17 Bibles, and if you were a real Christian you had one on your coffee table. In fact, it was actually larger than the coffee table! I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but looking back it was sort of like having a magic book in the house. I’ve always enjoyed reading the stories of the Bible even though I know how they end. I’ve read the story of David and Goliath 1,000 times as if maybe one day it changes, and little David gets his ass kicked. The Bible is full of magical stories that are both beautiful and tragic. There are both poems of love and despair. There is a beautiful story of a garden and creation, but you’ll also find mass genocide. I find the Bible to be both inspirational and controversial, but is it inerrant? At that moment, I was all in and then “Dr. Killjoy” shows up.

I was in my very first day of classes and the teacher said this about the Word, “You’ll notice some of the sentences are in italics which means they changed the words during translation.” Now, please don’t start messaging me to explain that process in detail. I understand why it was done, how it was done, and (thanks to Dr. Killjoy) when it was done. None of that mattered to me at the moment. I was having a small meltdown.

I don’t know how I thought the Bible had been put together, but what I began to learn disturbed me. I didn’t realize some creative freedom had been given to a group of men who decided what would be The Word. Maybe I had pictured Jesus and his sandal wearing gang writing everything down nice and neat, and then hiring a publisher! So this news about a group of men getting together in 200 A.D. to decide what was from God and the fate of the Christian faith was a little disturbing!

I had been raised in a world where the Bible was not distinguishable from God. I was told in the beginning was The Word (Jesus) and The Word was with God, and The Word was GOD. So if I had an issue with the words then I had a problem with The Word. I was up Jesus Freak Creek without a paddle. In my mind, if I didn’t think the Bible was inerrant and dictated to the saints by God then I wasn’t a believer.

After class I practically ran to the prayer room on campus. They had shown it to us during orientation, and since we had about 3,000 students I had assumed it would be one of the busiest rooms on campus. So when I walked in I was shocked to find that I had the entire place to myself!

I dropped down on my knees, and began to beg God to help me better understand. I wanted Him to reveal that the Bible was straight from His lips to the Apostle Paul’s pen. It would not be my last trip to the prayer room over the next couple of years, and yes…I was always alone. I don’t say that to appear super spiritual. It was quite the opposite. I was in there begging for God to remove the doubts. I say it because looking back I now realize it was the beginning of my BFO! It was the beginning of me one day waking up to a blinding flash of the obvious! More about that in my next post, but lets wrap-up this part of my journey.

During my time as a pastor I began to see somethings that made me realize I might be in the wrong position and place. I definitely wasn’t a Baptist, and I was beginning to realize what being a Senior Pastor entailed. So I was going to move off to Washington and become an assistant pastor in a larger church, and be a cohost on Fitz in the Morning. And that decision would be the beginning of what felt like roller coaster at Six Flags Over Jesus.

We’ll discuss that in the next post, “Jesus Inc.” If you missed pt1 of my journey you can click here and catch up.

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Tony Russell

Hello, my name is Tony and I have a lot of great advice, because I have made a lot of mistakes! I am a former licensed counselor and pastor, but I have learned more about life through my experiences than my education. I make my living as the host of the morning show on 98.7 The Bull in Portland, Oregon. Being a counselor didn't stop me from hitting a midlife crisis. I began questioning everything from my self-worth to my spiritual beliefs. And if that wasn't enough, surprise! I found out I would be getting a divorce. This has all lead to a journey that can be full of extreme anxiety, depression, and soul searching. I have the same questions as you do and maybe together we can find some answers. My goal for this blog is to share my journey in hopes that it will help you better navigate this amazing time in life. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. I know life can be difficult, but I find that it is easier when we do it together!

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