Interview with Dean Gene L. Green

09.15.2020  |  Season 2  |  Episode 2



SHOW NOTES

In this episode, Dr. Michelle Knight and Dr. James Arcadi interview Dr. Gene L. Green, Dean of Trinity International University-Florida.

James and Michelle ask about Gene’s new book Vox Petri, out last year with Cascade, his work on the Majority World Theology Series, originally published by Langham Publishing and out in December as a single volume with IVP, as well as his book Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective.

This work represents a major thread in his career. From Majority World voices to the Apostle Peter, Gene has sought to help others hear those who stand in their blindspots.

Be sure to tune in to learn more about Gene, his passions, and his vision for TIU-FL!

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro
[00:00:00] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

Michelle Knight
Hello and welcome, Foreword! I am Michelle Knight.

James Arcadi
And I’m James Arcadi.

Knight
We are so pleased to have Dr. Gene Green on the show today. He is the Dean of Trinity International University: Florida and he is an author of quite a few things. James and I were just talking—he might be the most interesting man in the world—like, in real life.

Arcadi
He’s been all over.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Knight
Yeah! I don’t know what this man has not studied. [ARCADI LAUGHS] And so, like, he has an important work on the theology of Peter, Vox Petri. He’s got really important works on Majority World Theology. He has written—in Spanish—some commentaries and some writing. He has been in administration—both in Latin America and now in the States. So we are really looking forward to having him on and hearing what he has to say.

Arcadi
And he’s the Dean of Trinity’s campus down in Florida. Michelle, have you been to the Florida campus at all?

Knight
I haven’t. I think Madison has—

Arcadi
Have you been to any campus besides Deerfield?

Knight
I haven’t. No.—

Arcadi
Did you know there’s a campus in California? [LAUGHS]

Knight
Here’s the thing. James was just trying to think of a creative way to get this conversation back to Florida. Yes, James—

Arcadi
California.

Knight
—we know that there’s a law school in California.—

Arcadi
No, California. California.

Knight
What did I say?

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] You said Florida.

Knight
[LAUGHS] Yes. Uh, so…yes. There is, in fact, a law school in California. So Trinity, I think, is actually quite a bit, um, more spread out geographically than many people are aware.—

Arcadi
And that’s three—

Knight
—Deerfield is just one part.

Arcadi
That’s three time zones, right?

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Knight
I mean, it’s a lot.

Arcadi
I’ve been to the California campus, actually.

Knight
Oh yes, you’re very proud of this fact.—

Arcadi
I am, yes.

Knight
—I feel like this has come up before. [LAUGHS]

Arcadi
No, it has…and it…it…it should come up before. I think I should get some kind of faculty extra credit—

Knight
Sure, yeah.

Arcadi
—for having been to the California campus.

Knight
Mmhmm. Mmhmm. Yeah. Well, now that we have awarded faculty extra credit to James [ARCADI LAUGHS] I think it’s only natural that we should go ahead and get started. So thank you so much for joining us today and we really hope you enjoy everything we have to talk about with Dr. Green.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Hello, everybody, it is great to be with you. I am Michelle Knight and I am here with James Arcadi and Dr. Gene Green. We are here together and we want to help you get to know Dr. Green a little bit more. He is the new Dean of Trinity International University in Florida, and we are just so pleased to have you. Thanks for joining us today, Gene.

Gene Green
Well, it’s a delight to be here with you and everyone else [KNIGHT LAUGHS] who’s listening, and, uh, those who are watching as well!

Knight
Yeah! Well, part of the reason we decided to have Gene—he has extensive experience in higher education, but he also is the author of some really important works. He has finished a commentary on 1 Peter, called Vox Petri, which looks fabulous and is being very well reviewed. He also is the editor for the Crosscurrents in Majority World and Minority Theology series with Cascade, and so we really are appreciating your expertise in biblical studies, in cross-cultural conversations, in theology broadly—you kind of have had your hand in everything. And so Trinity is super lucky to have you and we’re really glad you could be with us.

Green
Well, it’s a joy to be with…with Trinity. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] Yeah, I have a lot of different interests and am somewhat like my old dog, Flash—our Border Collie. When we take Flash out for a walk, he’d want to sniff under every bush.

Knight
Sure.

Green
[LAUGHS] That’s somewhat the way I feel [KNIGHT LAUGHS]…a lot of different interests. And the book that you mentioned, Vox Petri, though, is an old project. I started working—my doctoral work was on 1 Peter, but this goes beyond 1 Peter. It does have a section in there—

Knight
That’s true.

Green
—and it’s a full theology of Peter—

Arcadi
Hmm.

Green
—which you don’t find too much of. We have all kinds of theologies of the Gospels and Jesus’ teaching, theologies of Paul—

Knight
Good point.

Green
—shelf after shelf after shelf, but very, very few works on the theology of one of the most important apostles that there is, that has given us such a foundation in the faith, from, you know, being behind the Gospel of Mark, if we believe Patrius…uh, Papias [KNIGHT LAUGHS], which I think we do, and, you know, was the first disciple—first one to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the first leader of the early church, first one to open up the mission to the Gentiles, first one to defend Gentile inclusion without cultural conversion—this guy is something else.

Knight
He is!

Green
And I think he’s the, um, as Martin Hengel said, “The Underestimated Apostle.” [KNIGHT LAUGHS] I like to call him the “lost boy” of Christian theology, so, yeah.

Knight
That’s helpful.

Arcadi
Maybe the “lost boy” of Protestant theology, but I suppose there’s a lot of Roman Catholics that are shouting out “Yay” and “Amen” right now. [KNIGHT LAUGHS]

Green
Well, I’m sure…I’m sure they are, but you know…you know what I thought, James. I thought the very same thing. And I was talking to—I can’t remember who it was at an SBL meeting about this—they said, “Hey, we don’t…we don’t really explore Peter’s theology either,” the Roman Catholics.

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] Hmm.

Green
So, uh, yeah. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it, and it’s for Protestants as well. Peter’s such a conciliatory figure—

Knight
Sure.

Green
—one that’s extremely important for our day today.

Arcadi
I mean, do you have—just, I might follow up because you brought it up—do you have like, sort of an encapsulation of sort of what Peter’s unique contribution might be? Or does he have a particular angle on…on, you know, a theological expression that, you know, we’ve neglected, or that he has as the center?

Green
[00:06:08] You know, the…one of the first reviewers of the book, um, was reading the last chapter where I was bringing it all together, and he says, “Well what’s new here?” and my response was, “That’s the point.” Peter’s been at the table all the time without us really recognizing it. Our very first understanding of the Jesus story comes through him, and our understanding of the cross—that it’s more than a tragedy in history, that Jesus was more than simply a martyr, comes through Peter. And going back to Oscar Cullman’s book in the middle of the last century, Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr, right in the middle of his statement he says, “Peter might be more important for the development of Christian theology than we realize.” And so, this book is kind of a “riff” on Cullmann’s statement. He didn’t really follow that one through to develop a full-blown theology of Peter, but, you know, our basic understanding of redemption—Mark 10:45, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life, a ransom for many.” I think some of these fundamental themes that we all hold dearly can be traced back through Peter. And I like to say, I like to wind up my Pauline friends a bit and say, “Well Paul’s just derivative.” And, uh, that really, Peter laid out the story. In fact, Peter was the one that Paul interviewed and gave him the lowdown on the story. So a lot of times, we emphasize Peter’s failures and restoration. We like him because of that, but…but we forget his…his—there’s a Petrine primacy that runs through the New Testament. And in the early second century—and I attribute, you know, this insight to Pheme Perkins, who did a great book on Peter—that if you wanted to take down a heresy, early second century, the guy that you appealed to was Peter. You know, “Peter’s against it,” but if you wanted to support a heresy, you would also say, “Peter’s for it!” [KNIGHT LAUGHS] You know, so, he was understood as a key theological leader, and not only a disciple and the first leader of the early church. He is a creative theologian. When you think about the incident of him walking on water, that kind of, you know, sets the frame for him, and he’s the one that steps out and says, “Hey, you are the Christ, the son of the Living God.” He’s the one that gets it about Gentiles. He’s the one that gets it about how the Gentiles, you know, don’t have to be circumcised. James, you know, points to Peter—not to Paul and Barnabas—as the guy that the Jerusalem Council was following. Very, very important figure—we forget how important he is, and yet, he’s always there with us. We don’t even see him, and I think we need to see him.

Arcadi
Yeah! I mean, you have my Protestant radars just like, going off all over the place [LAUGHTER] in the back of my mind right now, and so I’m trying to like, you know, I’m trying to tone that down, be like, “No, this is in the Bible. This is biblical,” [GREEN LAUGHS] but phew. Man, my Lutheran-Anglican tendencies are really, uh, are really riled up right now.

Green
Yeah. Yeah, well, you know. So, I think that, uh, again, that Peter, when you think about his work of…of…in the middle there, between the Jews and the Gentiles. And he’s bringing factions together—very, very important for us, both Protestants and Catholics and, um, we need him. And we’ve got him. You know, he’s…he’s…let me just say—put it this way, James, he’s there in your heart, whether you realize it or not. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] He’s there in your theology, whether you realize it or not.

Knight
How funny. Well I’m eager—

Arcadi
[LAUGHS] I’ll take it!

Knight
—Yeah. I’m eager to hear a little bit about how you came to this academic passion, but also kind of a little bit about your origin story, if you will. We know that you’re from Chicagoland, we know that you spent quite a bit of your life in Latin America, that you have published widely, like you said, under a variety of different rocks, so it would be nice to kind of hear you trace your vocational calling. What brought you from where you were to where you are now?

Green
[00:10:40] Right, yeah. Well, I was…I wasn’t raised in a Christian family, right? I was born on Austin Boulevard, and if anybody is from Chicago and the suburbs, they know that that’s the dividing line between the city of Chicago and the Western Suburbs. So I was raised in the suburbs, but always oriented to the city. And this is…I’m going to toss something out for old Chicagoans—my great grandfather came from Lebanon and bought and sold rugs at Marshall Fields, you know, for anybody that remembers those days. And my great uncle—my brother’s godfather—was Al Capone’s bodyguard, so we’ve got some pretty deep Chicago roots, uh—

[LAUGHTER]

Knight
[LAUGHS] That’s something!

Green
—and I…but I wasn’t raised…I wasn’t raised a Christian, and…and after my second year of college—I was, you know, I was in the drug culture, counter-culture, I was a long-haired hippie, and just looking—as many people during that very surrealistic time, the late 60’s, early 70’s. And God was doing a thing in the middle of that time that was almost like living in a Salvador Dali painting. It was so surrealistic with the Vietnam War going on and, you know, this whole cultural revolution that’s happening at that time, and the Civil Rights Movement and everything, and God just kind of reached in and grabbed a bunch of us and we started following Jesus. And we were “Jesus Freaks.” And we got saved. And so, I got saved up in Chicago, the next day I moved to Springfield, Illinois after I got saved, and all I knew as a one-day-in-the-Lord Christian was that I needed to go to church. And so, I unpacked my Volkswagon and my apartment and went out walking downtown Springfield, Illinois, and there was this long-haired hippie that came up to me, and he began to tell me about Jesus. I said, “Hey, I’m a Christian,” and then his next question was, “Do you go to church?” and I said, “You know, I don’t have a church. I just got here.” He said, “Why don’t you come with me?” Next day—that was on a Saturday—next Sunday…next day, I went to this church he invited me to—filled with young people, all of them like me, you know, 20’s…30 year olds, but in the middle of a God-sent revival. It was something that I’ve never seen since. It was just…the presence of God was so strong in the place—person after person coming to Christ. It was wonderful. But we had a pastor who was a former missionary in Nigeria, and he knew that theologically—biblically—we were dumber than a bag of hammers, I mean, we just really did not understand the faith. So here’s this little Pentecostal church, in the middle of a God-sent revival, and the pastor says, “You need to learn.” And he started to put on courses, classes, in the church—book of Romans, basic cores in Christian theology, church history, Christian education course, New Testament survey, and then on Friday nights I learned Greek in the middle of a little Pentecostal church. I mean, I can tell you—it was something else, because we believed that God moves by His spirit but you also need to be very grounded in the Word and in theology.

Arcadi
Wow.

Green
It was during that time that he invited me to go on as the Assistant Pastor of the church, and I was praying about it—“Lord,” you know, “What’s your will for my life? Where am I going to go?” And it was that time God just dropped into my heart, it was just kind of out of the blue, and, uh, about teaching in Latin America. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, and I spent the next 11 years…11 years getting ready to go and teach in Latin America—you know, getting my…finishing up my education, and then went back after I finished my doctorate into the church and pastored, and taught a bit out in California, and then went to language school in Costa Rica and started teaching, then, in the Dominican Republic—so in 1980…some time a long time ago. So…[LAUGHS] so it’s been a journey. The Lord called us back to the States in ‘96, taught at Wheaton College for about 23 years, and now I’m…I’m in Florida [KNIGHT LAUGHS] and working with Trinity, with my former colleague and good friend, Dr. Nick Perrin, and so, here…here…here I am [KNIGHT LAUGHS] with you all! And it’s a joy. It really is a joy.

Knight
Oh, cool.

Arcadi
[00:15:13] I’m kind of curious, just, I mean, kind of on that point—both biographical and then in terms of the academic pursuits as well—so, I mean, it seems to me, at least, that there’s something similar about, um, you know, exegeting the first century, like kind of the biblical culture, and then exegeting other cultures as well. I mean, were those skills transferable for you, or how did you see—

Green
Oh, gosh. Yeah. Bless you.

[LAUGHTER]

Arcadi
—kind of like a, you know, yeah, an intersection between those two areas?

Green
Yes! Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, I think um, you know, my bachelors/masters/doctoral studies that got me into New Testament studies and reading the biblical texts within its original horizon of meaning, the training and exegesis where you read text in the middle of a culture. But what was…I would say equally important was living overseas, and trying to understand how other cultures functioned, whether it’s in Scotland or England or Dominican Republic or Costa Rica where we lived—and doing that in another language, be it broad Scots in Scotland or…or in Spanish in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, but doing these…these cultural journeys and seeing the text within its varied context. So, there’s…James, you hit it. There’s always been a dance in my mind between exegesis and working in Majority World theology, because it really is, you know, always about contextualization. What we call “exegesis” is just trying to figure out, how did…for example, how did Paul go from a, you know, this encounter on the damascus road to, you know, and then out to the Roman world, and trying to take this very Jewish message and making it—presenting it—in a way that’s faithful to its roots, and yet contextualized for the audience he’s speaking and writing to? So there’s always a process of contextualization, and that we’re doing the same thing today, and that’s what our brothers and sisters around the globe have been doing—in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and in our minority communities, in the African American community, Asian American community, indigenous communities, Latinx communities. They’re contextualizing the Gospel. You know, they’re going back, reading Scripture again, and reading Scripture along the grain of culture and they’re able to see things that I never saw, you know, as an Anglo from the suburbs of Chicago—things I never saw in Scripture that they just opened my eyes to. As I… as I sat with them and saw Scripture from their point of view—like we’re very individualistic, you know, and that’s uh—

Knight
Sure.

Green
—“Jesus is a personal savior.” But boy, you know, when you get into the indigenous communities, Latin American communities—much more dyadic culture, much more collectivist—and those community dimensions just pop off the page. I didn’t learn about honor and shame until I lived in Latin America, you know, where honor and shame is such an important thing. The relationship between us and the rest of creation is something that we don’t get. We feel like we’re over against creation, but our indigenous brothers and sisters, indigenous Christians, like people like Randy Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation, you know, understands how we’re…we’re part of what God has created. And that really affects our theology in very, very significant ways.

Arcadi
Hmm. Yeah, cool.

Knight
Well, while you’re kind of talking about contextualized religion, specifically religion in the Majority World and in minority communities, can you tell us about some of the publishing that you’ve done? At this point, we’ve already mentioned that you are editing a series that in some ways, is geared toward familiarizing at least those kind of within the Anglicized tradition with some of those theologies. Can you tell us a little more about those projects?

Green
[00:19:19] Yeah, yeah. And, um, let me just say that I know that a lot of us have been reading, you know, our great theologians in the Western tradition, and going back through church history and through the reformation, and today we have just a tremendous amount of theologians that we need to be reading within the North Atlantic-Western context. But our brothers and sisters across the globe and in minority communities are as—and I’m going to use the words of Justo Gonzalez, a Cuban-American theologian. Justo Gonzalez will talk about the church in the Majority World as a mature church that’s self-funding, self-propagating, self-governing, but he said, you know, “We’ve forgotten that the church is a fourth ‘self’ church, it’s also ‘self-theologizing.’” And so our brothers and sisters across the globe and in all communities are reading Scripture, with a very high view of Scripture, and they’re doing so in relationship to their own culture, and you know, as James knows as a theologian, you know, the task of theology is never done. Never done. Never done. And so, you know, how do we understand this message of both Testaments—the Gospel within the cultures of the world today? And it’s kind of a shame that we don’t listen more to our brothers and sisters from around the globe—I think we’ll learn a lot. And they’re not just presenting “African theology,” or “Asian theology,” but they’re presenting theology, ok? They’re presenting…this is theology—and…and contextually-informed biblical interpretation, which is what all of us do. We like to think that we Anglos in the West, that…that we’re neutral, that we’re objective—

Knight
Right.

Green
—but no! We…we come from a context. We come from a place. I want to read to you, if I’ve got a second—if I can, from John Mbiti. Mbiti is a great African theologian, and I just love this quotation from him. He says, “We have eaten theology with you. We have drunk theology with you. We have dreamed theology with you—but it has all been one-sided. It has all been, in a sense, ‘your’ theology. We know you theologically. The question is, do you know us theologically?” This is written by a Kenyan. “Would you like to know us theologically? Can you know us theologically? You have become a major subconscious part of our theologizing, and we are privileged to be so involved in you through the fellowship we share in Christ. When will you make us part of your subconscious process of theologizing?”

Arcadi
Yeah, wow.

Green
And who are we not to listen to other members of the body of Christ?

Arcadi
Hmm.

Knight
Right.

Green
We have a democratization of theology, as we go back through church history and historical theology. And we have to understand the democratization of theology globally as well, you know, and I think that John Mbiti has something to say to us, René Padilla has something to say to us, somebody like K.K. Yeo has something to say to us, and we have all of these riches, and I think we need—in our curriculums, in our syllabi, in our own personal readings, to read broadly and widely, and not only from our tradition. And so, that’s what I’ve been trying to do, you know, along with—not on my own, but along with some friends—Steve Pardue in Malaysia, uh, in…and also in, oh he’s in the Philippines, rather, and K.K.Yeo, teaches up at Garrett Seminary, and a really, really good friend. And we’ve been doing a lot of editing. Can I…can I show you?

Knight
Please!

Green
[00:23:45] Can I share my screen a little bit? And again, these…what I’m going to be sharing is just things—I…I’m no more than a midwife, you know, I’m just, you know, helping to encourage people to listen and…and to learn. Jeff Greenman—Dr. Jeff Greenman, now the President of Regent College, and I edited this volume. It came from a theology conference at Wheaton. And it’s a good place to start, if you’re just starting out in learning about what’s happening in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and also within our minority communities. This is a wonderful place to start—Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective. Not our choice of a title, but there you go. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] Um, and uh…let me see what else we’ve got here. You had mentioned before, Michelle, before we started, about this series—it really took us about seven years to put this thing together—the Majority World Theology series. We have one Western author in each volume, and then Africa, Asia, Latin America represented—biblical scholars and theologians in all these books on…on…we started off with Christology, and a book on the Doctrine of God, and the Trinity, Pneumatology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology and Eschatology. So, now that is, uh…those five, four…excuse me, six volumes, published by Langham Partnership, are now coming out within just a few months in an omnibus volume that will serve as a doorstop—I think this thing is like, 650 pages or so, [KNIGHT LAUGHS] the Majority World Theology: Christian Doctrine in Global Context. So I really encourage folk to get a hold of this, but one of the new projects is this, the Crosscurrents in Majority World and Minority Theology. And over these years, we saw a lot of topics that weren’t part of the usual theological cycle in the Western traditions, so—Theologies of Land, the first volume. Not just the Holy Land, Theologies of Land. 

Arcadi
Yeah.

Green
The second one’s on Theologies of Migration—that will be coming out next year. And then one, Theologies of Identity,will be coming out—so all really, really, very, very important stuff. This one’s published by—be coming out next month or two—at Cascade, so…

Arcadi
Cool.

Knight
I’m especially excited about kind of the way that series works, because I feel like, especially when I’m speaking with my students, it’s one thing for us to kind of have “Western” questions, and then to seek answers to those questions from around the world, but it…it actually takes the harder work to seek out questions that the Western world isn’t asking—

Green
Yeah.

Knight
—and I love that the series is doing that—is recognizing that there are blind spots. There are conversations we are not even having, because we are kind of doing it in our own echo chamber that doesn’t consider some of these other things—

Green
Right, right.

Knight
—so I’m…I’m so glad to hear that you’re trying to get through and over that, and really give authors from around the world a voice to drive the discussion, and not just answer it and enter it.

Arcadi
Hmm.

Green
Right, exactly. And it’s fascinating, you know, to read—like in the volume on Theologies of Land, we have a Palestinian.—

Knight
Yeah.

Green
—We have a Cree First Nations author—

Knight
Yeah.

Green
—a Honduran author and an author from South Africa. And, my, I wish you could have been there for the discussion this last year—

Knight
I imagine.

Green
—at IBR. It was just fascinating…and challenging, too. It’s not easy.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Green
—It’s not…it’s not easy to walk down some of these roads, because we get challenged along the way, but it’s healthy—it’s really healthy, really good for our souls. Yery, very good.

Arcadi
Yeah. That sounds…that sounds great. Just, if I might kind of switch gears a little bit, maybe kind of bring things to the present a little bit. So you…you were a “Jesus Freak” Christian [GREEN LAUGHS], Aberdeen PhD, New Testament, Latin American ministry, this sort of cross-cultural um, uh…sort of academic work as well. Now you’ve kind of found yourself landing in Florida, as you’ve mentioned—as we’ve mentioned as well. Um, how…what are you…what are you doing there? Like, how are these things coming together, you know?

Green
[LAUGHS] What…what…what happened? What happened?

[KNIGHT LAUGHS]

Arcadi
Well, not necessarily “What happened?” [GREEN LAUGHS] but more like, I’m kind of curious if these things are flowing into your work now in Florida—kind of what your vision is for what’s going on with Trinity’s campus down there.

Green
Right, right. Well, I mean, the main reason I’m here is to get rid of the…run away from the snow in Chicago, I mean, that’s…that’s obvious. [LAUGHS]—

Knight
Sure. We all have our priorities, and we know where yours are.—

Arcadi
As a Californian, I can “Amen!” to that. [KNIGHT LAUGHS]

Green
[LAUGHS] Yeah, yeah. But—

Knight
But seriously, some of our listeners, they, like… they might not be aware that like, a thriving part of the Trinity community is happening in Florida. So we’d love to hear—

Green
Yeah.

Knight
—not only how your personal journey brought you here—

Green
Okay.

Knight
—but like, what that school does, how it specializes, that kind of thing, too.

Green
Right, okay. Thank you.

Arcadi
Yeah.

Green
[00:29:00] Um, first of all, Nick Perrin, you know, invited me to come, and he called me up one day and said, “Geno, would you like to go down and work as a Dean in Florida?” so, you know, it was…that was the impetus to come here. But, while I was in Latin America, in Costa Rica, I not only taught New Testament and wrote up… the first couple of books I wrote, plus my dissertation—I wrote them in Spanish, which is insane. Uh, but, so, I was teaching, I was writing, but…but then I got tossed into academic administration. I was the Academic Dean of the Seminario Sepa in San José, Costa Rica, and then became the “Rector,” you know, which is, I guess, the President of the seminary. And we grew up this small, denominational school into one of the top five Evangelical seminaries in Spanish-speaking Latin America. It was a wonderful project that we…we built together, and saw the rise of a…of a school. And so I’ve always had this thing about teaching, you know, writing on people’s lives and encouraging them, and then writing on pages of the book, which I love, but I also like writing on walls. I like institutional building and taking the crayon out and scribbling on the walls. And…and that’s what this is down here, you know, it’s a lot of institutional building that goes on. Although Trinity has been here in South Florida since the 1980’s—late 1980’s, it inherited Miami Christian College and then changed the name in the early 90’s to Trinity International University – Florida. There are two campuses down here, one in Miami and the other in Fort Lauderdale—

Knight
Okay.

Green
—in Miami-Dade County and in Broward County. And there’s really a vacuum here, in terms of Christian higher education, so Trinity has a very, very significant place to play, both on the Trinity College side and the Trinity International University Graduate School, but also the Div School—TEDS. We have a program that is underneath TEDS, the M.A. in Theological Studies, and we are…we are setting our sights towards putting on an M.Div down this way and we want to do that. The community is calling for that. Now here, right here, it is extremely diverse. I mean, you…13% of Miami-Dade County is White Non-Hispanic, and—

Knight
Okay.

Green
—So…so guys like me, you know, are just the minority. And within Broward County, which is where Fort Lauderdale is, it’s about ⅓ African American and Hatian, ⅓ Latinx and ⅓ White, so it’s a very, very interesting cultural mix here. We live in…at an international city, a gateway city—

Knight
Oh, yeah.

Green
—53% of the population in Miami-Dade is foreign born, and so…wow! What—and I think about Dr. Perrin’s vision that he laid out, you know, about…that’s centered on worship, that includes not only the praise of our lips, but the work of our hands as we offer that to God. Community, which is such an important thing, and mentoring—that is at the heart of these communities here, and then bridge building. You want to learn how to do bridge building, come here.

Knight
[LAUGHS] Yeah, come to Miami!

Green
Come here. I mean, come here. ¡Es muy importante aprender Español también—para trabajar aquí, para entender, para enseñar, y eventualmente, tendremos un programa en Español!

(Translation: It is very important to learn Spanish as well—in order to work here, in order to understand, in order to teach, and, eventually, we will have a program in Spanish!) I hope you’re tracking with me! [LAUGHS]

Arcadi
Un poquito.

Green
In Miami, you know, being bilingual is really an advantage down here. I have so many conversations that oscillate between English and Spanish.

Knight
Yeah.

Green
It’s really kind of crazy, but it’s a great place to be. I’m glad that Trinity’s here, and the community here needs Trinity, so we’re just trying to build it up and make it go!

Knight
That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. So, I guess as we try to think about a lot of the things you’ve covered today as we come to the close of our time, talk to us a little bit about what you hope for the listeners after they’ve heard what you’ve had to say—not only about your own journey, which was great to see, and it…it’s neat to hear about your experiences, and to hope that we are listening to God as clearly you have and embark on some of the adventures that you have. But, as we become people who want to read culture better—I’ve heard you talk about “reading culture” quite a bit, both in our interactions and I think in an interview or two, and also here, you talked about the importance of “reading culture well.” As we are people who are going either into classrooms as students, as pastors, as alumni who are working in a variety of fields, what does it look like to be a faithful Christian who is attempting to read culture well? Can you give us kind of a parting word about, how do we form those? What does it look like if we’re doing that?

Green
[00:34:13] Yeah. It comes in one word—listen. You know, just go, sit, listen…and put your guard down, have a hermeneutic of charity, and…and listen deeply. Listen…listen to women. Listen to the African American community. Listen to what’s going down in the Asian American community. Cross over, and sit, and shut up, and just listen, and ask questions. Uh…I think this is the best way, and what…what…what happens, and what you find, is if you go in…into a community that’s not your own, and you don’t come with your fists up, and you don’t come with all kinds of defenses, and you don’t come in with all the “Yes, but…”s, but you come in, just say, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand.” And if the community senses that you really want to know, and you really want to learn, and you really want to get it, they’ll tell you. And if you listen well, you’ll learn a whole lot. And as I said, if you listen to others’ pains and joys, if you take a look and learn their values, oh my word. It is…it is just rich beyond words. You know, I want to see us get beyond “tolerance.” In this world that’s so broken with racial tensions, which is endemic here in the United States—has been—it’s a deep part of our history. But I think the place that it starts is by sitting there and just saying, you know, “Ok.” You know, “I value you. I love you, and I don’t fully understand you”—

Knight
Yeah.

Green
—“and..and…and just let me know what’s going on.” And what happens in those moments of learning from…from other cultures, I think it gives us perspectives that…that then—and going back to one of your questions, James—we…we then take as we go and read Scripture, because Scripture is a cross-cultural journey. I mean, come on! The Old Testament, New Testament, even in church history, we’re always crossing the cultural boundaries. We’re having to learn other languages, for heaven’s sakes! Right? I mean, to…to journey to other places, you know, our…our Holy Land trips—you know, we have to be there, and we have to understand their cultural matrix. This is essential for understanding the faith and seeing how Christians through the centuries have understood the Gospel within a variety of cultures. And the beauty of the Gospel is this message of inclusion, you know, that I can be a white guy from the suburbs of Chicago and a faithful follower of Christ! And…and…and I work with Jamaicans, and I work with Hatians, and I work with Latinos and Latinas, and…and we’re all, you know, people of our culture, and we understand the faith, and we have a commonality in Christ, amidst all of our differences. So I think we need to move from understanding and tolerance into celebration and learning what they…they offer to us. You know, Latin Americans, they taught me so much about honor and shame, they taught me so much about…about community, they taught me a whole lot about different ways of understanding time, they’ve taught me about social justice. People like René Padilla and Samuel Escobar got deep into my soul, and they taught me new ways of thinking about the faith. And I value them. I value them deeply, and I want other people to do that as well.

Knight
Yeah.

Green
I think we’ll be a better church for that, when we celebrate what we learn from our brothers and sisters, through all communities here in the nation and through the globe. So, that’s what I want to see. I want to see a party, you know? I want to see a celebration. That’s what I want to see.

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Knight
[LAUGHS] Don’t we all? Yeah.

Arcadi
Sounds great.

Green
Yeah.

Arcadi
Well, thanks so much, Gene. We really appreciate hearing from you. I had a lot of fun—what a wide-ranging conversation. And I think it just speaks to all the interests that you have had over the course of your career [KNIGHT LAUGHS] and, I mean, I’m really excited about what’s going on down there in Florida, and look forward to…to seeing it sometime. So, thanks so much for…for being with us, and, uh, and that’s just the Foreword. [KNIGHT LAUGHS] So, for the rest of the team, we’re…we’re so grateful that you listeners and viewers were with us. I’m grateful to Michelle Knight for hosting with us, grateful of course to Dean Gene Green for being with us, we’re also always thankful to Curtis Pierce, our producer, for making us sound and look better than…maybe we do—or at least I do. [LAUGHTER] So, uh, thanks very much all. We will see you next time.

Knight
Alright.

Green
God bless you.

Outro
Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

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