Shepherds and Defenders Foundation Scholarship

 

The Shepherds and Defenders Foundation Scholarship is given annually to fulltime seminary students at the amount of $1,000.  The foundation was established in August, 2003.  For more information please visit www.ShepherdsDefenders.org or send an email to email@ShepherdsDefenders.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadline is October 31st, 2005

 

Return signed application to:

 

Shepherds and Defenders Foundation

58 Willets Drive

Syosset NY, 11791

USA
I.
PERSONAL INFORMATION

 

 

Name: ____________________________________________

 

Address:

 

________________________________________________________________________

(Number and Street)

 

________________________________________________________________________

(City, State, Zip)

 

Social security number: ______________________________

 

Are your parents on a foreign mission field? Yes/No

 

Are you married? Yes/No

 

Number of dependents/children(if applicable): __________

 

Are you a U.S. citizen? Yes/No

 

Your home/cell phone number: _________________________________

 

Your work phone number: _________________________________

 

Your email(if applicable): _________________________________

 

 

Your denomination (optional, may leave this blank):

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Your home church and address (if applicable):

 

________________________________________________________________________

(Number and Street)

 

________________________________________________________________________ (City, State, Zip)


II. EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION:

Name and address of your current/intended seminary:

 

________________________________________________________________________

(Number and Street)

 

________________________________________________________________________ (City, State, Zip)

 

 

Your will be enrolled in Fall of 2005 as a:

Freshman         Sophomore      Junior               Senior Seminarian _____

 

 

What is your major area of study?

 

Preaching_____ Missions_____Youth Ministry______ Music_____

Business______Teaching______LincUP________

Other ___________________________________

 

 

Anticipated graduation date:

 

 

Anticipated degree:

 

 

What is your plan for the future?

 

Preaching ________ Youth ______ Teaching _____ Business _____ Chaplaincy ______

 

Music ______Cross-Cultural Missions _______ Church Planting/Church Growth ______

 

Early Childhood ________

 

Other (Please list) ________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________________

 


III. FINANCIAL INFORMATION

 

Are you expecting a church scholarship or a private scholarship? Yes/No

 

If so, how much do you expect to receive per semester? ___________________

 

 

ANTICIPATED EXPENSES/YEAR ANTICIPATED INCOME/YEAR

 

EXPENSES                             INCOME

Tuition _______________       Spouse’s job ___________________

Books ________________     Student’s job ___________________

Housing ______________       Financial Aid: Gifts ______________

Loans ________________      Loans _________________________

Medical ______________       Other Income ___________________

Insurance _____________      

Other ________________

Total _________________     Total __________________________

 

 

IV. ESSAY

 

The attached autobiography is taken from the web page of a fellow brother in Christ who has lost his faith.  Try to understand the issues from his point of view when you read it. 

 

Write him an email, a letter, or engage him in a conversation – what would you say to him?  Knowing the areas in Christianity that he has issues with, how would you help him to regain his faith? 

 

You are encouraged to read and reference his other essays at

http://www.elroy.net/ehr/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applicant Signature: _____________________ Date: ________________


(Originally taken from http://elroy.net/ehr/aboutelroy.html)

 

My name is Brian Elroy McKinley. My family and business associates call me Brian. But my friends call me Elroy or just "El."

 

Many people have written me asking what I believe about God and why I write what I do. To some I'm the devil incarnate. To others I'm a just a rotten Liberal. And to some I'm a believer using his God-given mind to search for real answers.

 

I used to think of myself as the latter. For many years I considered myself a Born Again Christian, having accepted Christ as my savior when still a teen. I believed in the Trinity, that Christ was God incarnate, that he was born of a virgin and died on a cross for our sins. I believed God raised him on the third day and that he would return one day. I believed the Holy Spirit was given to us so that God may dwell within us.

 

In fact, I still believed all of that when I first put up this Web site over six years ago. But over those years, as I watched a pattern of responses from "Christians" all over the world (this site has received over 27,000 email responses and has seen over 3 million visitors), I began to seriously doubt that what I had so deeply believed for so long was correct at all. Even those who greatly oppose me cannot agree on what it means to be a Christian. And as I challenged and challenged and challenged people to show me why their faith was the correct one, it all boiled down to one argument: people believe what they believe because it gives them some kind of personal experience. The whole thing has come down to an extremely subjective basis for determining truth - that is, that if I feel something extraordinary has happened to me because of my belief, then it must be the one true faith.

 

The problem is that all people of faith claim the same experiential support for their mutually exclusive dogmas. I've had Catholics tell me I was wrong because their experience showed them the Pope was the true authority and, therefore, abortion was wrong. I've had Conservative Christian Fundamentalists tell me the exact same thing, except they substitute the Bible for the Catholic's Papal Authority. I've had Mormons tell me the exact same thing, except they substitute their emotional testimony about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon for the Protestant's Bible.

 

Needless to say, this huge exposure to what people of "faith" truly believe has been a real eye opener for me. But that was not the biggest cause for losing my faith.

 

Jesus Christ, whoever he really was in the end, told the world we would know true people of God by their unconditional love. If there is any truth to those words, then the over 5,000 "true believers" who have written me to condemn my life to hell for speaking my mind have proven beyond a doubt that they are not people of God after all. But they surely believe they are. I believed I was. But when I stepped outside the neat little role models we played in our pews each Sunday, patting each other on the back for being such good Christians and asking each other how much we've grown spiritually this week, I realized that those who claim faith are no better off when their beliefs are challenged. They are mean, petty, and extremely abusive - all things I would consider the antithesis of unconditional love.

 

I have been condemned to hell. I have been called Satan himself. I have had multiple death threats for defending positions counter to the "true" Christian position. But even sadder than all of that is the thousands upon thousands of people who have written to say they would pray for me. Of course that sounds like a pretty good thing, most would think, but in fact most of those messages say roughly, "You are so wrong about God; I'm going to pray that God will open your eyes." This is nothing less than a declaration by these thousands of people that they've somehow got a better corner on the market of God's truth than I have. It is purely selfish and self-righteous on their part. Out of all those thousands only a handful wrote to say they would pray for both themselves and me in an effort to ask God to guide us all. Those people made me cry with hope that perhaps we will someday learn to look beyond our own need to be right about everything.

 

My spiritual journey has been a long one. I have worked in nondenominational fundamentalist churches, in Baptist churches, as well as in Presbyterian and Methodist churches. All those experiences taught me a great deal. All of those churches loosely agreed on the basic truths of the Christian faith. But they all differed in many important ways. At that time the only real problems I had with any of them was when they took their less important ideologies and held them on equal status with the fundamentals of the faith. This is when conflicts would arise. Because these non-essentials, as I called them, became greatly touted, each group generated its own culture of Christianity rather than seek to discover the universal truths of the faith that could bind all believers. Rather than spend our time searching for the heart of God, we often spent considerable resources defending our little corner of the Christian world.

 

With this as our reality, we faced an almost schizophrenic dilemma when we sought to put forth the idea that we were all "united in Christ." Rather than agree on the essentials and agree to share our differing understandings on the non-essentials, instead we simply adopted the unspoken rule not to openly criticize other Christians while we still continued to teach our particular brand of Christianity behind our own doors. This is dishonest at best, and it led observers from outside the faith to brand us as phonies. And they were right.

 

While still a believer myself, the single greatest argument I received for why I should not speak against Focus on the Family was that doing so would make non-believers think Christians are not united. The truth is, Christians are not united. But rather than confess our differences, which would have been honest, we glossed over them, which is why many non-believers continue to see Christians as espousing a fake unity. They don't see a highly diverse group of people united as the Body of Christ; they see a highly diverse group of people divided into their own clans who live in an uneasy peace in order to disguise the fact that they think their brand of Christianity is better than anyone else's.

 

Today I continue to believe in a loving God, but I can no longer claim the Bible to be his Word, nor can I claim myself to be a follower of the Christ most Christians follow. I have become one of the most liberal people I know. In reality, it was my search as a Christian that has led me to be more liberal in my thinking. In other words, I started out quite conservative theologically and politically, but through seeking to understand God and seeing how Grace is needed to heal the troubles of the world, I have been driven to adopt more liberal attitudes toward how we should treat others.

 

I do not believe abortions are wrong. I do not believe a person begins at conception. I do not believe God thinks that a single-cell zygote is equal with a full-term human baby, and I have not found any Scripture that makes me believe otherwise, which is why I wrote "Why Abortion is Biblical" and "Why Abortion is Moral." I've asked all my detractors to find a verse in the Bible that states that an abortion is the same as a murder. So far none have found one. All we have are verses from which we must infer (which is to interpret) what we should believe. And as soon as we interpret we are injecting our own thinking into our search for truth, making it suspect at best.

 

I also find no problem with homosexuality. It is a naturally-occurring part of life, and the use of the Bible to condemn, harass and belittle homosexuals is just plain evil. I wrote more about this in the article called When Christ was Gay. On a side note here, it's also intriguing how many people assume I must be gay to take the positions I take. I'm not. If anything, I like women too much.

 

Finally, I have a very hard time with the choices made by those who espouse "conservative" Christianity. It's not so much that they want to be part of the legislative process -- it's what they choose to legislate. Why do they want to legislate against abortion and homosexuality, both issues they interpret God is against, but they do not want to legislate in support of giving money to the poor, which most believe God is for? If they feel it is okay to legally force everyone in the country to live according to their beliefs in regards to reproduction and sexual orientation, why do they not want to force everyone to pay higher taxes (a national tithe) in order to feed the poor, house the homeless, and take care of widows and orphans? Why should one be law and the other be voluntary? This discrepancy leads many to believe Christians are merely using God's name to gain support for their personal political agendas. And when they do that they lose the ability to speak to those they want to legislate against. I wrote more about this in the article, " Why Will Perkins has lost His Voice." Me? I'm against legislating any kind of morality that has no unwilling participants. It is simply not up to me to legally force anyone else to live or believe as I do. I'm also against censorship, which I why I wrote the satirical essay, "Saving Our Children From The Bible."

 

I suppose in closing I should tell you that I'm a 44 year old man of Irish heritage. I live in Colorado and work as an Internet consultant. Before going into the Internet business I worked as the youth leader in several churches for nearly 15 years. I also worked at Young Life for six years. I've never worked for Focus on the Family. I have had written correspondence with them on many of the same issues I've now written about publicly. Sadly they never chose to enter into dialogue with me on the issues I raised. I graduated from College with a degree in Communications, and I speak Spanish and French fluently, and enough of seven other languages to get me in trouble in a bar. I also write poetry and write and sing my own music, which has never sold more than a couple thousand copies. But what the heck, it's fun.

 

Thank you for reading this far. Whether or not we agree, I appreciate all of your comments.