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Youth & Truth


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Hello all,

I am a new seminarian who works with youth at my home church (PCUSA). Our youth director is organizationally excellent but, the more I get to know her, the more concerned I am that she is rooted in a narrow, conservative, dogmatic view of Biblical interpretation. Frequently in large group presentations or Bible study with youth she either evades questions or answers them in ways that are troubling to me (example: Adam and Eve are real people, the Red Sea was an ocean that actually parted, etc.). Later, when we split into smaller groups, I am faced with answering follow-up questions from my inquisitive sophomore small-group. Leadership in my small group is shared with another leader who is close to the youth director. Also, Youth director is esteemed in my church and our senior pastor, who hired her, does not seem concerned that she is passing on a very limited (incorrect) interpretation (our gay teens, for example, are taught to stay celibate). Senior pastor didn't even really want to talk to me about it (suggested prayer as a good remedy). This is the church that will be ordaining me & I have been a member for a long time so... Not sure how to proceed. I would like to offer more accurate interpretation (even a bit of exegesis or at least good commentary). I am allowed to choose the book we use for Bible study in my small group (new book would begin in the fall of 2015). Thoughts about responding to youth questions? Suggestions for a good book to use with teens anyone? Thanks!

-New-Seminarian

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I'd like to yell "get the hell out of there while you can", but probably shouldn't.

 

Really, if what they say and think doesn't sit right with you now, how do you expect it to change? My experience is you can't change somebody else's beliefs unless they want to change them themselves.

 

As for the people you are teaching, I think you have a responsibility to teach them responsibly. Teaching gay teens to remain celibate, to not enjoy love and life like their heterosexual friends, is horrendous. You have to make your own choices but I couldn't be a part of that.

 

And it sounds like your Senior Pastor is putting you off by failing to address your concerns and referring you to prayer. He's directly responsible for setting the tone within that community and so should be prepared to step up. I don't think it's a good sign that he's not.

 

As for teaching and reading, I can't think of one magic book that holds all the answers, but I do know extensive reading on biblical scholarship and alternate interpretations of traditional Christianity can be enlightening. My favourite authors are Erhman, Spong & Borg.

Edited by PaulS
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New-Seminarian, Welcome and I am impressed with your awareness of the situation you are in, which makes it an experience that all involved will grow and learn from. It seems you are there for a purpose so I would suggest pick your moments, questions and points to suggest another more expanded way, which seems the path you chose. Love them and be gentle as you guide them to the deep end of the pool. They will splash out of fear and it will be annoying, but rewarding. You are in the seminary so this experience is a PHD in bridging the gap between levels and superiority complexes. Salutations to the Divinity within you and have fun. Humor is healing.

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Welcome New-Seminarian,

 

I have no specific advice for you except in general to not take things to seriously and show kindness and love in all you do while being true to what you know and if you no longer become welcome there, move on in forgiveness and understanding.

 

Joseph

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