What Really Matters
Faith and Family
I am the fifth of seven children and the oldest surviving son born into a multiethnic family. My mom was Okinawan and from a Samurai family. My dad was African-American and a retired Non-commissioned Officer in the US Army.
W. E. B. Dubois talked about the dual Souls of African-Americans. Okinawans also have dual-souls. Consequently, my siblings and I have double, dual souls: (1) African and European dual souls and (2) Japanese and Okinawan dual souls.
I am a born again, Evangelical, Christ-Centered, Ordained, Disciples of
Christ minister and have the privilege of search and call with the United Church of Christ. Since 1986, I have served African-American, Anglo, and Hispanic congregations in rural, urban, suburban, and collegiate settings in a variety of denominational appointments: Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, Freewill Baptist, and the United Methodist Church.
My personal mission is (1) to live a life of integrity and accountability to my spouse, my sons, my family, and Christ's church in gratitude, joy, and faithfulness to God and (2) to use my spiritual and earthly gifts and skills to edify and empower lay individuals (a) to become disciples-makers and (b) to find ultimate (as well as temporal) fulfillment in God.
Academic and Ministerial Vocations
I received my Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis where Dr. Theodore Mullins was my advisor and my Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology where Dr. Simon Parker was my academic advisor. I am also a former Ph.D. student and a Disciples Divinity House Scholar at the University of Chicago where Drs. Gosta Ahlstrom and Ioan Couliano were my doctoral advisors.
I am currently a Ph.D. student at Northern Illinois University with a dual major in Linguistics and African-American Literature. I eventually hope to add a second doctorate in the History and Literature of Ancient Syria-Palestine and join the growing number of Hebrew scholars seeking to integrate Discourse Analysis/Text Linguistics, Probability Studies, Alternative World Semantic, and Discourse Representational Theory approaches into Biblical Exegesis.
My goal is to eventual edit a Critical Discourse and Exegetical version of the Hebrew Bible that would model the textual apparatus of the GREEK NEW TESTAMENT for discourse-level analysis while incorporating the conceptual insights of the GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON BASED ON SEMANTIC DOMAINS by Louw & Nida. Different probabilities of semantic and exegetical interpretations of the various discourse units would be presented and ranked on a scale in a hierarchical fashion according to known and hypothesized sitz im leben, the various social discourse and rhetorical settings and devices cataloged, and the various optional discourse structural interpretation or analyses proposed by different exegetes.
Like the GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, the Critical Discourse Hebrew Bible would adopt the A, B, C, and D ratings for the various discourse or semantic units in question and the competing interpretations with the various variables listed that would change the probability of one interpretation over another. The letter A would signify that the discourse/exegetical interpretation, rhetorical and thematic structure and theta-roles, and/or analyses provided were virtually certain, while B would indicate that there was some degree of doubt. The letter C would mean that while probable, there was a considerable degree of doubt regarding the same while the letter D would signal that there was a very high degree of doubt and uncertainty. (THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, 3rd ed., xii-xiii)
Why? Two reasons. The first is to update the methodology of Biblical Studies. Most of the current methods rely on an outdated approach that exclusively or primarily relies--whether consciously or unconsciously--on verification. I want to assist the field of Biblical Study in the use and adoption of the "weak" falsification methodology of Linguistics and of the social sciences [often called "moderate contextualism" in Evangelical circles] where the language of probability reigns. On a relational and experiential level, there is a vast difference in saying that an individual's exegesis is wrong or incorrect versus highly improbable, improbable, or probable, but less so than the current positions. There is a vast difference in seeking to determine whether another person's exegesis is wrong or correct versus seeking to determine how, in what ways, and to what degrees a particular interpretation is both correct and incorrect. The former is like telling an auto mechanic that your car won't run or start or a doctor that you're sick. Those comments are not really helpful for making a diagnostic evaluation. And getting your car started or treating the immediate symptom might be the least of your worries. The showing of the "how" and "why" of one's diagnostic procedures as well as the various advantages and disadvantages (i.e. strengths and weaknesses) of the same is what is needed. By understanding how human language works universally, how Classical Hebrew works specifically, and how meaning is shaped by the interaction of the various linguistic levels (e.g., discourse, syntax, and lexemic) and meta-linguistic factors (social, institutional, and historical, etc.), scholars are more likely to see the polysemous nature of the exegetical enterprise and, therefore, all the probable meanings. Consequently, instead of looking for just one correct interpretation, they will be looking for multiple interpretations and seeking to justify why one interpretation is more probable than another.
My second reason is theological and confessional. I hope the use of linguistic terminology and methodology will foster more ecumenical and collegiate exchanges across the denominational and theological divides. Being a scholar who is kind, gentle, and grace-filled isn't a sin (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Ministerially, I would also like to work in a congregation to implement a discipleship training program that is holistic, Spirit-led, pedagogically and andragogically informed, and developmentally scaffolded. It would use second language acquisition methods and approaches along with those from disciplinary and critical literacy. Members would learn to read the Bible as both a translation of an ancient, foreign collection of literature and as a religious and devotional text. To cultivate the latter, discipleship training would employ various methods and resources to facilitate the practice of the spiritual disciplines among all members so that they can have a deep, healthy, mature, engaging, integrative and all-encompassing relationship with God and with others (e.g., Foster's Celebration of the Disciplines; Willard's Hearing God and The Spirit of the Disciplines; Blackaby, Blackaby, and King's Experiencing God; Hawkins and Parkinson's Reveal, Follow Me, and Move; Cloud and Townsend's How People Grow, DeMoss Wolgemuth and Grissom's Seeking Him; Scazzero's Emotionally Healthy Spirituality; and Graham Lotz, King, and Blackaby's Fresh Encounters).
All members should be taught how to employ and wed both the critical and devotional approaches for edifying, encouraging, mentoring, and discipling others. The goal and mission are to help every Christian become like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) so that they can have their own road to Emmaus experience (Luke 24:13-35) and become disciple-makers themselves (Matthew 28:19-20). I believe that those who have the deepest relationship with and who have a deep love for God are the most effective disciple-makers for God, lovers of God's people, and faithful and diligent interpreters of God's Word.
Given the dual nature of my calling, I am open to bi-vocational ministries whether (a) in the academic arena as a full-time professor and as a volunteer or part-time Sunday School teacher, Bible teacher, or Adult Education pastor with a local congregation or (b) as a pastor-theologian, pastor-teacher, or pastor-apologist, that is as a full-time pastor and as a part-time adjunct professor in the mode of the early reform pastors (e.g., Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin) and more recently pastors like John Stott, Norman T. Wright, John Piper, Timothy Keller, Erwin Lutzer, Tony Evans, Charles Swindoll, and Andy Stanley. God only knows the future and the plans God has for me. My responsibility is to faithfully prepare myself for this two-fold calling, to prayerfully and patiently wait for God to reveal the next steps of my journey, and to walk diligently and responsibly in God's grace when discernment is given. God's will, calling, and grace will determine God's future for me.