By Chris Sprinkle
I still remember landing in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2003 for Preston to start his PhD. In one hand I held a 3×5 index card covered with notes from my conservative Biblical Theology class, and in the other arm I held our sweet 7-month-old baby girl. We were so excited for this new adventure. Within weeks, we had formed amazing friends at the University of Aberdeen. We spent evenings and weekends playing games, drinking Scottish ales, and laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt. We came from different backgrounds, but we were all there for the same purpose.
My life changed forever on a Wednesday morning as I chatted with one of my new friends over tea and shortbread cookies. I said in passing a statement that I had always assumed was true: “Well, you know, since women can’t be pastors….”
Confused, my friend replied, “Of course women can be pastors—I plan on being one.”
Now it was my turn to be confused. I had never met a person like this. I’d been taught that people like her were heretics and were dangerous to the kingdom of God. But she was my friend, and I’d spent enough time with her by now to know that she loved God in an incredibly mighty way.
The year that followed was a challenging year for me. I began combing through my Bible, revisiting many of my beliefs as I spent time with friends who believed differently. I already had a Bible school degree, and yet I felt like I was learning my Bible in a new way. I didn’t get a PhD in Scotland, but I did learn something very important and dear to me. God cares about unity. God loves his people, even people who don’t believe the same as me. And no matter how much I already know—or how much I think I know—I am still on a journey to better understand the Bible.
Theology in the Raw began because of moments like this one. Preston and I didn’t know it then, but we see it now. God planted a seed in our hearts that said “Love people!” Not “Love people with the same views as you.” Just “Love people!” This is the space Preston and I feel called to. We love finding beauty in God’s people through our diversity. We love being around people who know they are on a journey, who are lifelong learners, and who aren’t afraid to say, “This is where I’m at now, but I pray every day for God to open my eyes to what He wants me to see and know.”
In light of all this, we couldn’t be more excited about our first-ever Theology in the Raw conference, “Exiles in Babylon,” in Boise on March 31st through April 2nd. We have an amazing lineup of speakers, including Jackie Hill Perry, Derwin Gray, Jon Tyson, Greg Coles, David Platt, Evan Wickham, Ed Uszynski, Thabiti Anyabwile, and so many others. Our topics will include race, politics, gender, sexuality, society, and unity of hell. The audience will have chances to ask questions, hear speakers interact with each other’s ideas, and consider multiple points of view. We will worship in multiple languages, as well as hearing rap and spoken word performed by some amazing artists.
The “Exiles in Babylon” conference is filling up fast, so if you plan on attending in person, we recommend registering soon. Food during the conferences will be provided by a variety of local food and coffee trucks. My good friend Jay Newman, the best barbecuer I know, is driving his smoker out from Nashville to bring us some amazing Southern Barbecue. (You can listen to his interview with Preston on Theology in the Raw here.) There will also be an “after party” Friday night with very limited space. Make sure to register extra early if you want to join us for this special time!
You can find more information about the conference here.
You can register here.