The Seminary Football Team

After eleven years I have decided to go back to seminary. Eleven years ago I sat on an apple crate in the middle of an orchard praying about seminary. I was dealing with a call to a church. The church was in Tennessee, I was attending seminary in Louisville, Kentucky – tough commute. I felt like God was calling me to the church, so I finished the semester and left seminary in 1995. The next year I became pastor of the church God called me to when I was in the apple orchard. My time with those people was incredible. I will tell you about them some other time.

God waited until I was very married, had two daughters who can ask terrific questions, way short on time, and I couldn’t afford it to tell me to go back to seminary. It seemed perfectly logical, so now, after a decade, I am back in seminary.

Now I have something else in common with my seven year old, we’re both in school. I am attending the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary extension center here in the ‘ham. My daughter attends elementary school. Her school is a part of a massive campus that houses all the schools in our town. They have everything from a swing set for K-5 to a 6,000 seat stadium for the Cougar football team. My daughter thinks her school is awesome. She thinks her daddy going to school is weird.

One Saturday afternoon we were across town near the seminary and my daughter wanted to see it. So I drove them up to the church campus that hosts the seminary extension center. It is a massive church, very modern, with a grand campus. As I drove them up the campus began to unfold before them. I said, “Do you guys see that big building?”

“Yeah daddy, that’s cool.”

“Well that’s not it.”

I continued to drive around to the back parking lot on which is a cluster of white office trailers all connected by a wooden deck. I pointed to the unimpressive trailer village and said, “That’s my school.” For the first time since birth, with the exception of occasional sleeping, my daughters were silent. The silence created an atmosphere of anticipation in the car. I knew whatever child broke the silence, whatever they chose to say, would be profound. After allowing their childish minds to process the visual the three year old took the floor. “Daddy, does your schooo hab a pwayground?”

Truth is my school does not have a playground or a football stadium. My school has what my wife referred to as “a really nice deck.” I think she was just trying to be encouraging.

Seminary is a sophisticated academic environment. But so is Harvard, and they have a football team. Seminary requires intense discipline. So does the Army, which also has a football team. I do not understand why seminaries do not have football teams.

Southern Baptists have six large seminaries placed strategically around the nation. There's your conference, "The SBC." I’m sure other denominations have enough seminaries to make a conference. We could invite the Presbyterian seminary to play us for homecoming. But I’m not sure Presbyterians would be good at football. They probably wouldn’t call any plays, just run around and throw the ball hoping something good happens. Whatever happens they would be fine with it because it was meant to be. A team like that would be great to play at homecoming when you need a win. Calvinism is horrible for football.

Maybe we don’t have a football team because it would be way too expensive to order the jerseys. Baptists are cheap, we’re not good givers. Can you imagine the cost of screen printing “New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at Birmingham” across the front of forty or fifty jerseys? Would it fit? At fifty cents a letter that’s about a thousand bucks just to get our school name printed across the front of everybody’s shirt. Our helmets would be awful. UAB is one thing, but NOBTSB? It would look like somebody slapped you on the side of the head with a dictionary. Everyone would fight over their number because of numerology, a Biblical number like 3 or 7 or 40 that means something. At some point we would need to take up a special offering to pay for the equipment. The committee chosen to select the team colors would start to fight and eventually split. For some reason Baptists have had a notoriously difficult time picking colors.

I played football one year in High School. You don’t get this on television, even in high def., but did you know football players are prone to talk about your mom while playing football? There is a lot of talking and tackling in football. Seminary students wouldn’t say things about your mom while playing football. A Baptist preacher will crush the dad’s with his sermon on Father’s day. He will deliver a scathingly flamboyant message that convicts every father to the core of his manhood on the only day of the year given to dads. On Mother’s day a Baptist preacher will preach a message entitled, “Why God Gave the Gift of Mothers.” The Baptist Mother’s Day message is designed to convict the men that they should treat the ladies in their life better. If you want to get fired from your church, preach against moms and I’ll give you about two weeks. This is probably why most men only go to church on Christmas and Easter; and why seminaries do not have football teams.

You need to be mean to be a good football player. I’m not sure Jack Lambert cared a whole lot about the fruits of the Spirit and how they applied to the steel curtain defense. I went to a Baptist college that actually had a basketball team. There was this guy on the team who would yell Scripture in your face if you tried to fight him during a game. The opposing player would go to throw a punch and he would get a face full of Ephesians 4:32. Seminary students could do that, but sword drills are horrible for football. What would happen if a guy went to punch you and you forgot the verse reference? For some reason I always forget the reference. When I can’t remember a reference I will just say, “Ephesians says. . .” If I can’t get that far I just say, “The Bible says. . .” What if you can’t remember the reference? You would probably just get punched. Scripture memory is challenging and Baptists are too passive for football.

Seminary football may not be a good thing which is probably why it’s never been tried. In the Baptist church if you’ve never done it, you sure aren’t going start now, at least not without a vote. Seminary football would be like the holy version of the XFL, an interesting concept but doomed to fail. It doesn’t matter because we don’t even have a field. We don’t even have a playground.

Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” Acts 26:24 (NKJV)


Dollar General said…
Baseball is probably more a reality...

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