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Podcast episode 32

Mandy the Biblical Scholar & Tom the Seminary President - Christians Who Sell Jesus

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This series on "⁠⁠⁠⁠Christians Who Sell Jesus⁠⁠⁠⁠" takes profiles that represent real-world scenarios wherein well-meaning individuals are actively engaged in the Jesus trade, often unwittingly.

Mandy is an Old Testament scholar and the author of some of the best commentaries on Job and Amos. Both are published by Zondervan and don’t cost more than other commentaries. She’s also employed by a legacy Bible institute and teaches several courses, including biblical Hebrew. She regularly tells her friends that she has a dream job and couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to do what she loves. People respect her and look up to her as a nearly perfect model of someone who has given her life to God’s service, blessing readers and students year after year.

Unfortunately and unwittingly, Mandy is selling Jesus. The problem for her, like many others, is the fact that she has simply never thought about copyright or the status quo of selling Christian teaching. Even though she is a deep, critical thinker and has a PhD, she hasn’t taken the time to think biblically about whether it’s right to sell her commentaries on God’s Word or require students to pay tuition before being able to learn about the Bible from her. She has accepted an old, widespread system without a second thought, assuming that the system is biblical because so many other people have bought into it. If you were to challenge her to think differently and reconsider how biblical the system is, she would dismiss any contrary ideas as “fringe” and not worthy of her time. Like Luke (above), she’s comfortable with the way things are. In this way she resembles antebellum Christians who were extremely comfortable with the slave trade, and many historic Roman Catholic priests who were comfortable selling baptism. Besides, she might lose her dream job if she started to take what Scripture says about money and ministry seriously. Better to leave well enough alone, and if anyone brings it up, simply silence them by forcing certain parts of Scripture to support the status quo of commercializing Christianity. Ignorance is bliss.

Tom follows in the footsteps of many seminary leaders who have gone before him since the seminary was founded in 1892. He has inherited a system and structure that is typical of nearly all seminaries around the world: students must pay tuition if they want to receive spiritual guidance and biblical teaching. Thankfully, the seminary has some endowments that allow it to keep its course prices down, but Tom is well aware that there are many people who never attend his seminary because of the cost. Although there are scholarships available, they are limited and usually reserved for international students. Sometimes at night he thinks about how nice it would be if professors could simply be like missionaries and raise support, freeing themselves to teach without charging students money. Or why couldn’t there be more bivocational professors who support themselves with another job like Paul did and offer their services to the seminary for free? But then he shakes his head and laughs at how impossible his idealistic musings are. The seminary has been operating the same way for too long. Tradition can’t be broken. There are too many people who would hate his ideas and keep them from even being tried. Why bother with a pipe dream?