About Me

Unsanitary Jesus known to his enemies as Matt and friends as that $#&* (maybe that is supposed to go the other way around). He was born and raised in the great state of Alabama. Contrary to popular opinion living in Alabama did not do much damage to his fragile psyche. In fact his life is proof that intellectual life can be found anywhere, yes Virginia, even in central Alabama. Matt is a proud graduate of Shades Valley High School in Birmingham. He is an even prouder graduate of the University of Tennessee (despite what ESPN says we do graduate… sometimes). Furthermore, Matt lucked into a Masters of Divinity from Samford University, though questions still remain about how he pulled that caper. From 2008 to 2009 he lived and studied in Wheaton, Illinois, where he received  a Masters in Biblical Studies (focusing on the impact of religion in America). Ultimately, he desires to do PhD on a thesis exploring the scientific conflict theory which presupposes a direct conflict between science and religion.  He wishes he could become the hottest free agent on the Doctoral Fellowship market (Notre Dame, you can begin recruiting him anytime now), but in the meantime is helping out where he can, writing his blog, buying used books for BAM’s 2nd and Charles, and moving toward the establishment of Agnostes Theos, a group advocating for and modeling civil public discourse on religious discourse.

His great loves remain UT football, baseball, Revenge (the show not the action), and seeing the Kingdom break into his life be it in a sanctuary or a barroom. He cannot understand why Natalie Portman could be happily married without him, how snow can fall on a Midwestern spring break, or why Presbyterians can be obnoxious everywhere you go. He regrets the lack of a great love of the opposite sex, but has consigned himself to life of chastity and makes a swell bachelor. He cooks, he cleans, he philosophizes. He is, however, always open to anyone who might want to save him from himself.

Matt loves walks on the beach, sunsets, oh who are we kidding. He enjoys punk and alternative music, bad movies, and has no taste for the finer things of life. He is content with a hotdog and a good double-header. In fact, he could survive on stale popcorn and a Lost re-run. His only dreams in life are to plant Vineyard churches, to get his doctorate, and to continue teaching “good” sinners to be “bad” Christians. He would also like to see Tennesse when another national championship game in his life, but he is realistic enough to enjoy a good SEC championship appearance every now and again. You probably shouldn’t even listen to a word he says but he is perfectly happy if you want to follow his attempts to be a “good” man.



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  1. Running the race 10/12/2007 — 10:21 am

    check out justthebook,wordpress.com

  2. First off there is the typo. Get your name right. Get your site right. That’s all I ask.

    Second, I am amazed at the number of people who are scared of anything and everything out there. I am not sure why I should be reading drivel about how no one, not one has understand Christianity correctly until now. I guess we should be blessed that these wonderful human beings are now gracing us with their presence and their wonderful insight into what the rest of Christianity has been too lazy or too stupid to understand over the past 2000 years.

    As for me I choose to believe God is not so lame as to allow the church to get it wrong for 2000 years before imparting his wisdom on some nameless, faceless blogger on wordpress. True the church has made mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes. But overall we can believe in God and trust that if something has been believed everywhere, by everyone, and at every time, chances are its God.

  3. I have learned more from reading Pilgrim’s Progress – and I have only completed Part 1 with Part 2 yet to go – than I have in all my seminary textbooks. Now is the problem with the textbooks, or is it with me?

  4. This is not to say, of course, that my seminary training has been unproductive. Quite the contrary, I no longer believe in “the rapture” or in premillennial dispensationalism, I no longer believe in “taking back the culture”, I am a five point Calvinist (though I truthfully do not use the term owing to Calvin’s treatment of Anabaptists and of Michael Servetus, and also generally reject Calvin’s endtimes views and fervently reject his church – state – culture views and I particuarly have nothing to do with Beza or Zwingli), I believe that the office of apostle no longer exists (though not so sure about prophets, or in the cessation of the gift of tongues), and I adhere to the verbal inspiration of scripture doctrine (though somewhat in moderation) placing me in the “infallible” as opposed to “inerrant” camp, see no reason why any Christian should pay heed to anything that Freud/Jung/Kinsey ever said, believe that Augustine should be given far more scrutiny than he is generally subjected to, and believe that Bultmann and Barth should be considered theological liberals just like all the rest. I should point out that my seminary disagrees with me on every single point.

    What about you? How has your thinking changed as a result of your education and experience?

  5. Yes, because that is the purpose of education. If your education does not change you, then your professors are not doing their job. As far as experience is concerned, my life has taught me the value of not making rash judgments and never judging a book by its cover. To quote Bill Mallonne “I used to make loud pronouncements, now I had to harder to speak.” That is not to mean I have softened my concerns for morality, it just means that I have learned to listen more than I speak, and seek to understand before condemning or condoning. I have learned to love and accept love without desiring anything in return. All of which I think make me a better man.

    As for my theology, my commitments are all over this site. I would think a simple reading would show my Wesleyan and Charismatic concerns. I think my writing reveals a desire to speak up for the speechless, and shine a light on those heretofore left in the shadows of the history’s backstage .

    And no your love for Pilgrim’s Progress means nothing is wrong with either you or theological textbooks. It only highlights a concern I have addressed from the beginning of our discussion. Story is great because it allows the author to teach without lecturing, and show without telling. I think that’s why the majority of Christ’s teaching was done in parable. It allows one to get inside the mental defenses of the reader and explicate truth or error in less demonstrative ways. I would imagine that is why people of your stripe hate Hollywood, and I dislike both Dan Brown and Tim LaHaye.

  6. “If your education does not change you, then your professors are not doing their job.”

    Nah, I have always put the burden of education on the willingness of the student to be educated. Attending public school in economically distressed areas – and having not a few public school teachers in my family – left me with that notion, and I have yet to experience anything that caused me to overcome it. Films like “The Marva Collins Story”, “Dangerous Minds”, “Stand And Deliver”, “Conrack”, and “Lean On Me” make for inspiring entertainment, but they are just that … entertainment. This is not to say that Collins and the others in these movies did not make a difference, but rather that in the real world, less than 10% of educators have the type of talent and skill required to consistently motivate people who do not want to learn.

    And of course, since virtually none of my professors agree with me, they probably wonder if I am even listening to what they say. My views have changed, true, but I was actually closer to the positions of most of my professors when I started Liberty than I am now.

    I dislike Hollywood, Dan Brown and Tim LaHaye. I cannot come up with a theological reason why I should prefer one to the other. Come to think of it, I cannot come up with an artistic one either. On the latter point, Dan Brown and Tim LaHaye aren’t exactly Shakespeare, and neither is 99.9% of what Hollywood churns out either. No theological merit + no artistic merit equals no merit. Though I am not a fan of the show, I get great satisfaction out of seeing American Idol expose the fact that average people have as much talent as Hollywood superstars or more, and of course that is the reason why the entertainment industry has loathed the phenomenon (as well as that of all the folks making their own entertainment and disseminating it over the Internet) as well.

    As for my theology, my commitments are all over this site. I would think a simple reading would show my Wesleyan and Charismatic concerns.”

    True, but it does not provide what I asked, which was how your education has altered your views.

  7. Once again this is a loaded question (which your professions of innocence over never qualify). There is a well-known study which seems to indicate that higher levels of education lead to higher levels of self-identification as “liberal” or “democrat.” In many circles this is seen as an example of education leading to compromise. So when one answers this question they are often at odds to explain how one is different (obviously) without providing proof that they have sold-out to the left or “compromised” their faith. Admittedly if I was a white liberal to begin with, this would not be a problem.

    I think that my education has in many ways created a stronger, more independent, and confident person. I think the breadth of my education has allowed me to take a broader look at life (than many may have). It has taught me that things are rarely black and white, and the motivations of people rarely easily understood or interpreted. It has made me more cautious in my pronouncements.

    Now to some this might seem as the typical slide to leftist, post-modern sentiments, and perhaps they would be right. However in my defense I would also state that I consider myself more the orthodox Christian than I was in the past. Because even though my education has exposed many of the flaws of life and people, it has also exposed me to the writings of many good and wonderful Christians who have only strengthened my views of the importance and value of Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

    That being said I am more convinced than ever of the wisdom of God’s divine creation of the world, the son’s life, death, and resurrection as the defining moment of history, and the power of the Holy Spirit to move today in ways that continue to surprise, confound, and upset my preconceived ideas of who God is. I have more appreciation for the value of His bride, the church, and have more love for my brothers and sisters in the faith.

    I have however changed and tweaked many a smaller view or changed the agency within such view. I am less concerned about arguing about the course of the “end-times,” debating the value of seven literal days against other Theistic views, and less inclined to believe the proof-texted scriptures which seem to say that women or any other people group are of lesser value. I do not accept some of the more popular notions of Evangelical piety. I have lost any attachment to “fundamental” views against smoking, drinking, and going with girls who do.

    Of course there is always the question of the chicken and the egg. What came first, the change or the education. the experience, or the knowledge. In the evolution of my life what was caused what. From this side of the Great Throne it all seems so murky and dark.

    I sometimes wonder if it might be easier for someone who has come to the faith later in life because when they look back they see the evil in their past, and God in their present. Perhaps the compromises, questions, and fights might seem more worthwhile. As someone raised in a Godly, conservative home I see a lifetime of battles and changes and wonder if somewhere along the way I lost it all. Arguments about Divine Preservation do me no mercy here, because that just leads the infinitely darker thought that perhaps I am not one of the elect, and this is the proof. These are dark places to dwell, but if one is called to think big thoughts, one cannot be afraid of big questions.

    Yet, as one friend so helpfully has put it, to be alive and worrying about one’s fidelity stands one in good stead. There is a fascinating study Crisis of Doubt which follows the paths of several Christans turned Atheist turned Christians which shows in great detail that no life can be truly understood here in the middle, and that no one is every truly lost (while there bodies still breath and think and act).

    And it is here that I must continually learn the most important lesson so aptly put by Andy Park this weekend, standing around and loving God means nothing without being a part of His work in the world. And it is within the community of the church as it advances into the world that I find grace, peace, and love as I join in both the love and mercy of God. I can live a life in my head, but the greatest ability to get outside one’s self, get out of the way, and let Him be God and bring His Kingdom.

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