CJ Rhodes grew up in a Mississippi railroad town still racially divided twenty years after the watershed years of the Civil Rights Movement. That divided world formatively allowed him to deeply appreciate the tragicomic story of Americans of African descent, while also being intentional about cross-racial relationships. He was called to the gospel ministry two months after graduating from high school and a month before beginning his undergraduate education at the University of Mississippi.
Why are you pursuing the D.Min.?
I received a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Duke Divinity School in 2009 and thereafter returned to Mississippi to work for a Christian nonprofit organization, and later to pastor a local church. My Duke experience was exceptional; I learned many great things there. Unfortunately, there were many practical things about ministry that my Duke theological education did not prepare me for. New and abiding lessons were gained on the battlefield as a Christian advocate and pastor. I am pursuing the D.Min. because I want to refine what God has given me for His glory and for the good of His Church. The D.Min. is uniquely structured with pastor-theologians doing ministry among the saints in mind. I want to see God get glory in dying churches and new Christian communities. The D.Min. is the best academic program to engage head, heart, and hands in ecclesial excellence.
Why did you choose WBS?
Wesley has impressed me as a seminary that takes seriously a classical, confessional, and convictional Christianity lived out faithfully in a skeptical age. Shaped deeply by the Baptist and Pentecostal tribes with the black Church tradition, I too take seriously a generous orthodoxy grounded in revealed truth about our God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. And it is this same orthodox Christianity that inspires my prophetic witness and advocacy in the world. WBS soars because it flies with both wings of the evangelical faith and witness. Such a theological education is necessary in this present age. Moreover, I love that WBS is both intellectually rigorous and committed to the sanctification of life. The Church does not simply need smart leaders, but also holy ones who love God and neighbor without superficiality or sentimentality.