December 3, 2020
The Helping Hand of a Professor
By Rev. Nate Dove
If you are around enough progressive Baptist ministers, you might discover a running theme. Many of us grew up Southern Baptist, and many of us have a story to share about how our faiths have changed.
For me, my evolution took place at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I encountered people, traditions, and perspectives that broadened my view of God. Although many of my professors and friends supported me as I traversed my changing faith, one professor, in particular, went the extra mile. He had grown up in a conservative tradition too, and I guess seeing something of himself in me, he extended the offer of an independent study. For an entire semester, we met to discuss books and articles written by theologians and biblical scholars who had diverging views of God. Through our conversations, I began to see that theology wasn’t a monolithic enterprise. There were plenty of smart, faithful people who had views about God that differed from the Southern Baptist tradition that I had grown up in. In encountering those views, I became more willing to explore the depths of my own emerging faith.
Without that semester, I would not be a minister — heck, I might not even be a Christian. So let me put it on record. I am forever grateful for the helping hand of a professor who was willing to invest so much time with a curious college student. I am where I am today because of him.