OnRamp 003: Diversity


Hosted by Kerri Fisher & Shane Blackshear

Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins

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OnRamp 001: Two Christians Talking About Race


Hi Friend, welcome to On-Ramp.


Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart


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*links to guest books or other products are affiliate links

Top 5 Books of 2016

I think this may be the first year that my “top list” only includes books actually published this year. Also, it’s important to note that, yes, all of these books were written by Seminary Dropout guests, which may seem self serving, but honestly just reading the books of SD guests (which I must do to conduct the best interviews possible), leaves me little additional time for reading anything else.

5. Silence and Beauty by Makoto Fujimura

Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence, first published in 1966, endures as one of the greatest works of twentieth-century Japanese literature. Its narrative of the persecution of Christians in seventeenth-century Japan raises uncomfortable questions about God and the ambiguity of faith in the midst of suffering and hostility. Endo’s Silence took internationally renowned visual artist Makoto Fujimura on a pilgrimage of grappling with the nature of art, the significance of pain and his own cultural heritage. His artistic faith journey overlaps with Endo’s as he uncovers deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. He finds connections to how faith is lived in contemporary contexts of trauma and glimpses of how the gospel is conveyed in Christ-hidden cultures. In this world of pain and suffering, God often seems silent. Fujimura’s reflections show that light is yet present in darkness, and that silence speaks with hidden beauty and truth. -From the Publisher

4. Lord Willing by Jessica Kelley


Does God’s perfect plan really include this?

When her young son was diagnosed with brain cancer, Jessica Kelley couldn’t stomach Christian clichés. God’s will? Divine design? The Lord’s perfect plan? In Lord Willing?, Kelley boldly tackles one of the most difficult questions of the Christian life: if God is all-powerful and all-loving, why do we suffer? For Kelley, this question takes an even more painful and personal turn: did God lack the power or the desire to spare her four-year-old son?

For those dissatisfied with easy answers to why evil and tragedy occur, Lord Willing? offers a refreshing, hopeful journey straight to the heart of God. Be prepared for something more beautiful, more pure, and more healing than you can dare to imagine. -From the Publisher

3. Water to Wine by Brian Zahnd


Why would the pastor of a large and successful church risk everything in a quest to find a richer, deeper, fuller Christianity? In Water To Wine Brian Zahnd tells his story of disenchantment with pop Christianity and his search for a more substantive faith.

“I was halfway to ninety—midway through life—and I had reached a full-blown crisis. Call it garden variety mid-life crisis if you want, but it was something more. You might say it was a theological crisis, though that makes it sound too cerebral. The unease I felt came from a deeper place than a mental file labeled “theology.” I was wrestling with the uneasy feeling that the faith I had built my life around was somehow deficient. Not wrong, but lacking. It seemed watery, weak. In my most honest moments I couldn’t help but notice that the faith I knew seemed to lack the kind of robust authenticity that made Jesus so fascinating. And I had always been utterly fascinated by Jesus. What I knew was that the Jesus I believed in warranted a better Christianity than what I was familiar with. I was in Cana and the wine had run out. I needed Jesus to perform a miracle.” –Water To Wine


2. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue

What do you do when God dies? It’s a question facing millions today, as science reveals a Universe that’s self-creating, as American culture departs from Christian social norms, and the idea of God begins to seem implausible at best and barbaric at worst.

Mike McHargue understands the pain of unraveling belief. In Finding God in the Waves, Mike tells the story of how his Evangelical faith dissolved into atheism as he studied the Bible, a crisis that threatened his identity, his friendships, and even his marriage. Years later, Mike was standing on the shores of the Pacific Ocean when a bewildering, seemingly mystical moment motivated him to take another look. But this time, it wasn’t theology or scripture that led him back to God—it was science.

In Finding God in the Waves, “Science Mike” draws on his personal experience to tell the unlikely story of how science led him back to faith. Among other revelations, we learn what brain scans reveal about what happens when we pray; how fundamentalism affects the psyche; and how God is revealed not only in scripture, but in the night sky, in subatomic particles, and in us.

For the faithful and skeptic alike, Finding God in the Waves is a winsome, lucid, page-turning read about belonging, life’s biggest questions, and the hope of knowing God in an age of science.

                                                                                                     -From The Publisher

1. Trouble I’ve Seen by Drew Hart

What if racial reconciliation doesn’t look like what you expected? The high-profile killings of young black men and women by white police officers, and the protests and violence that ensued, have convinced many white Christians to reexamine their intuitions when it comes to race and justice.

In this provocative book, theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, antiblack stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. Leading readers toward Jesus, Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice.

What if all Christians listened to the stories of those on the racialized margins? How might the church be changed by the trouble we ve seen?

Key Features:
-Written by well-known theologian and blogger Drew Hart with foreword by Christena Cleveland
-Hard-hitting analysis of racial injustice in the twenty-first century
-Provides a call to action for Christians committed to racial justice and creative proposals for antiracist practices for churches
                                                           -From the Publisher

153: David Fitch Author of ‘Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines that Shape the Church for Mission’


*Originally Posted at MissioAlliance.orgdf

David E. Fitch (PhD, Northwestern University) is the B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary. He is also the founding pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community, a missional church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He is the author of The Great Giveaway and The End of Evangelicalism? and is the coauthor of Prodigal Christianity. Fitch coaches a network of church plants in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and he writes, speaks, and lectures on issues the local church must face in mission including cultural engagement, leadership and theology. He has also written numerous articles in periodicals such as Christianity Today, The Other Journal, Missiology as well as various academic journals.

To enter to win a copy of Faithful Presense sign up for my email list at ShaneBlackshear.com (right hand side).



Thank you all for a great 2016! This is the last episode of Seminary Dropout for the year. Stay tuned to hear more about the “secret project” coming in December.

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Seminary Dropout 126: Nijay Gupta on Bridging the Gap Between Seminary and the Church Pew

Seminary Dropout 115: Natasha Sistrunk Robinson “When We Measure the Church by American Standards… …We Strangle the Beauty of the Cross.”

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152: Paul Pavao on Cancer, The Early Church, and Living in Intentional Community


*Originally Posted at MissioAlliance.org

Paul Pavao is a teacher at Rose Creek village, a Christian community. He is married and has six children. Paul is a Mensa member and has studied early CHristian history for over 20 years.

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Intervarsity Press has an exclusive for Seminary Dropout listeners. Go to ivpress.com/dropout to get 30% off The Road Back to You.

If you liked this episode then you might also like…

134: Jessica Kelley, Author of “Lord Willing?: Wrestling with God’s Role in My Child’s Death”

140: Frank James, Logos Video Course: “Introducing Church History”

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151: Greg Boyd on How to Live in a Trump Presidency


Greg Boyd is an internationally recognized theologian, preacher, teacher, apologist and author.

He has been featured on the front page of The New York Times, The Charlie Rose Show, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC and numerous other television and radio venues.

Greg received his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary (summa cum laude 1988), his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School (cum laude 1982), and his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota (1979). He was a professor of theology for 16 years at Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) where he received the Teaching Excellence Award and Campus Leadership Award.

Greg is the co-founder of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota where he serves as Senior Pastor, speaking to thousands each week.

Greg has authored or co-authored 20 books and numerous academic articles, including his best-selling and award-winning Letters From a Skeptic and his recent books Repenting of Religion and The Myth of a Christian Nation. His apologetic writings and public debates on the historical Jesus and the problem of evil have helped many skeptics embrace faith, and his writings and seminars on spiritual transformation have had a revolutionary, freeing impact on thousands of believers.

Check out Greg’s website here.

For several blog post recommendations check out the links below:

Greg on Politics

Doing the Kingdom, Not Voting It In

Greg Boyd and Jim Wallis Discuss Politics & Faith

Defending the Poor

Living With a Kingdom Consciousness

When we return to the simplicity and difficulty of the kingdom of God, the question that defines us is no longer, What are the Christian policies and candidates? No, when love is placed above all kingdom-of-the-world concerns (Col. 3:14; 1 Peter 4:8), the kingdom-of-the-world options placed before us dwindle in significance.

-Greg Boyd

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Intervarsity Press has an exclusive for Seminary Dropout listeners. Go to ivpress.com/dropout to get 30% off The Road Back to You.

If you liked this episode then you might also like…

145: Voting, Part 1 with Greg Boyd

147: N.T. Wright Talks about The Day the Revolution Began

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150: #SheLeads: Reclaiming the Blessed Alliance for Faithful Mission – Austin Panel


*Originally posted at MissioAlliance.org


On Saturday October 29th Missio Alliance hosted She Leads: Reclaiming the Blessed Alliance for Faithful Mission. The main event was simulcast to regional venues all of the country. I had the privilege of moderating the local panel in my hometown of Austin, TX.

Our panelists were:

08a5a7ac-42e3-47cf-b534-3ee236b410dcLatasha Morrison is a bridge-builder, reconciler, fellow abolitionist, and a compelling voice in the fight for racial justice. Having worked with youth and served as a Children’s & the Next Gen Director, she has developed an untamed passion for social justice issues across the globe. A native of North Carolina she attended East Carolina University and earned a Masters in Business from Liberty University in Virginia. She is embarking on a new role as the Director of Operations at Gateway Church Central in Austin. She is currently building a ministry to help equip those interested in racial bridge-building called “Be the Bridge”.

af829bb0-8edb-4a83-b5d0-c8a54dd2fc57Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, serving at Resurrection South Austin. She writes regularly for The Well, InterVarsity’s online magazine for women in the academy and professions, Her.meneutics, and Christianity Today. Her work has also appeared in Christ and Pop CultureArt House America,  Anglicanpastor.com, and elsewhere. Her first book is forthcoming with IVP.


7d707c98-4054-4313-8fe0-9a68cd16233cKeith Atkinson is native Austinite who was ambushed by Jesus Christ in 1973 and has never been the same since. He has been involved in Christian ministry in some capacity since he was seventeen years of age. He serves as Pastor of Red River Church in Austin.



d9589cdd-ca0c-4c7c-93d0-9bbb10b65801Kenny Green is a pastor at Gateway Church in Austin. He was a meth addict for 10 years, yet has now been clean 10 years. He leads Serve and Recovery for Gateway.





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Intervarsity Press has an exclusive for Seminary Dropout listeners. Go to ivpress.com/dropout to get 30% off The Road Back To You.

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135: Suzanne Burden, Author of “Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God”

Seminary Dropout 99: Jackie Roese on Reshaping Our View of Women in the Church

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149: Leonard Sweet talks about The Bad Habits of Jesus


*Originally Posted at MissioAlliance.orgls

Leonard I. Sweet is an American theologian, semiotician, church historian, pastor, and author. Sweet currently serves as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School at Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey; and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. Sweet is ordained in the United Methodist denomination.

Check out Leonards website here.

The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong

Did Jesus have bad habits?
In our culture, we have a tendency to describe Jesus in ways that soften his revolutionary edge. Len Sweet uncovers and presents to us the offensive and scandalous Jesus described in the Bible.

  • Did he disappear when people needed him most? Yes.
  • Did he refuse to answer questions directly? Yes.
  • Did Jesus offend the people of his day? Absolutely, yes.

Popular author and speaker Len Sweet examines the words and actions of Jesus and places them in context. We need to understand who Jesus really is if we are to follow him wholeheartedly. That is why it is so crucial to see the “rebellious rabbi” for who he is and not for who we may imagine him to be.

The Bad Habits of Jesus will help you see the untamed Jesus, who isn’t sanitized for our culture. That Jesus just might transform how you live out your life. -From the Publisher

Our Sponsor:


Intervarsity Press has an exclusive for Seminary Dropout listeners. Go to ivpress.com/dropout to get 30% off The Road Back To You.

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146: N.T. Wright Talks about The Day the Revolution Began

Mike McHargue aka “Science Mike”, Author of “Finding God In The Waves”

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148: Shane Claiborne Talks “Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why it’s Killing Us”


*Originally Posted at MissioAlliance.org



Shane Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and did graduate work at Princeton Seminary. In 2010, he received an Honorary Doctorate from Eastern. His adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta where he worked with Mother Teresa to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where he served at the influential mega-church Willow Creek. As a peacemaker, his journeys have taken him to some of the most troubled regions of the world – from Rwanda to the West Bank – and he’s been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Shane is a founder and board member of The Simple Way, a faith community in inner city Philadelphia that has helped birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. He is married to Katie Jo, a North Carolina girl who also fell in love with the city (and with Shane). They were wed in St. Edwards church, the formerly abandoned cathedral into which homeless families relocated in 1995, launching the beginning of the Simple Way community and a new phase of faith-based justice making.

Shane writes and travels extensively speaking about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus. Shane’s books include Jesus for President, Red Letter Revolution, Common Prayer, Follow Me to Freedom, Jesus, Bombs and Ice Cream, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers – and his classic The Irresistible Revolution. He has been featured in a number of films including “Another World Is Possible” and “Ordinary Radicals.” His books are translated into more than a dozen languages. Shane speaks over 100 times a year, nationally and internationally.

His work has appeared in Esquire, SPIN, Christianity Today, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been on everything from Fox News and Al Jazeera to CNN and NPR. He’s given academic lectures at Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Liberty, Duke, and Notre Dame. Shane speaks regularly at denominational gatherings, festivals, and conferences around the globe.


Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us

In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, the champion of the new monastic movement, popular speaker, and author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the abolition of the death penalty.

The Bible says an eye for an eye. But is the state’s taking of a life true—or even practical—punishment for convicted prisoners? In this thought-provoking work, Shane Claiborne explores the issue of the death penalty and the contrast between punitive justice and restorative justice, questioning our notions of fairness, revenge, and absolution.

Using an historical lens to frame his argument, Claiborne draws on testimonials and examples from Scripture to show how the death penalty is not the ideal of justice that many believe. Not only is a life lost, so too, is the possibility of mercy and grace. In Executing Grace, he reminds us of the divine power of forgiveness, and evokes the fundamental truth of the Gospel—that no one, even a criminal, is beyond redemption.

Our Sponsor:


Intervarsity Press has an exclusive for Seminary Dropout listeners. Go to ivpress.com/dropout to get 30% off The Broken Way.

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137: Chris Marlow, Author of ” Doing Good is Simple: Making A Difference Right Where You Are”

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