Semper Informanda: Prolegomenon

"Why did I decide to come to RTS?"
“I have a confession to make: I am not reformed. (Clever use of "confession" isn't it?)

Well, to be more specific: I have never really considered myself "reformed". Honestly, most of my experience at RTS has been learning what being "reformed" really means. I grew up in a Baptist Church, went to a Baptist college in Virginia, and still go to a non-denominational (but basically Baptist) mega-church whenever I'm home in Atlanta. Before coming to RTS I knew of Calvinism, but my only real introduction to that was when I was taught "TULIP" by a highly Arminean high school Bible teacher. Yes, you could say it was slightly biased, kind of like when I was taught about evolution at my creation science class in Bible College. But this begs the question, and it is a question I've been asked often since arriving here, "Why did I decide to come to RTS?"

Truth is, I liked the students here.

I remember when I was trying to make my decision about where I wanted to go to seminary. I had no idea about different theological traditions or interpretive frameworks. I didn't know of popular scholars or theologians who taught at different schools. I didn't even know how many great uses for triangles there were in this world. All I knew was there was a seminary my dad went to and that there was some seminary in Orlando a friend of mine had gone to. I visited my dad's old seminary with him. I left knowing I didn't want to go there. I never talked to a professor or discussed the school's theological views, or even sat in on a class or talked to other students. It was pretty simple for me; I just didn't feel at home there.

A few months later I visited RTS. I remember sitting in on a class and having no idea what was going on. I didn't know anyone, I didn't know what we were talking about, and I especially didn't know my way around. After a little while, the professor told the class to take a ten minute break. I sat in my seat wondering what I was supposed to do and if this was going to be the right fit for me. But before I could really worry too much a student walked over and introduced himself to me. He asked me who I was and where I was from and if I knew my way around much. He offered to walk me down to the bookstore to get coffee. He proceeded to really get to know me and ask about my life, he even bought me coffee! I was so impressed by seeing this student's natural interest in me and his kindness in showing me around. I’m sure he probably had plenty to do or catch up on during the break, but he took the time to get to know me. I felt like this was where I needed to be, I felt at home.

That was also my first introduction to reformed theology.

Since coming to RTS I've learned so much. I've learned what it means to be reformed (and would consider myself reformed now, by the way). I've learned Greek and (kind of) Hebrew. I've learned about triangles, rectangles, cones, big circles, small circles, and how you should never put the small circle inside the big circle. But I've often thought about how much I could learn from that first day I visited. How often do I consider the students around me? How often do I look out for students, like me, who may be completely lost? They could feel lost physically, emotionally, intellectually, or even spiritually. How often am I looking to welcome people to RTS as a place where they can feel at home? There may be some students who did not grow up reformed or Presbyterian, are we making this a place where they want to be? There are plenty of students who did come from a reformed background, are we going out of our way to make them feel at home here?

We, as students, have an incredible opportunity at RTS. We can set the stage for this seminary to be not just a place where we learn, but where we belong. We can welcome people and invite them in to an environment where they feel accepted and involved. Or we can see our ten minute breaks as a time to catch up on Facebook or talk to the students we're already close to. I'm just as guilty of this as anyone else. But I am very, very grateful that two years ago when I visited there was a student who did not.

Jared Jones
M.Div. Student

Orlando Semper Informanda | Volume 6 Issue 10