Bluegrass, folk and Americana music are not usually considered the medium of choice for theological seminary presidents to convey their messages about the deep things of God. But Michael Milton is not your ordinary, everyday seminary president, and his third studio CD, Through the Open Door, which is set for a February 1, 2011 release, is no ordinary folk album.
Milton, who earned his doctorate degree in theology from The University of Wales and holds multiple degrees from such respected institutions as the Defense Language Institute, Knox Theological Seminary and MidAmerica Nazarene University, currently serves as the newly elected Chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. An ordained Presbyterian pastor, he also serves as Professor of Pastoral Theology for the seminary. Milton has penned 11 books, writes for numerous scholarly periodicals, and as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve serves as an instructor at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C. But anyone who has listened to his music can attest that “stuffy” is not a word that is found in his vocabulary.
Much like his friend and sometimes collaborator, legendary Christian singer/songwriter Michael Card (“El Shaddai”), Milton has an uncanny ability to unpack complex theological concepts into everyday language and wrap them in warm, earthy melodies that make them both memorable and accessible. In fact, Card joins Milton on the haunting song, “God Is Calling Faithful Men,” which extols the high calling of serving Christ as a pastor. “Milton is a shepherd leading his flock with song,” says Card.
If Milton’s lyrics sound authentic, it is because he draws from the deep well of his own wide range of experiences for inspiration — like raising chickens on his aunt’s Louisiana farm, translating top secret documents during a stint in the Navy, or tweaking the noses of the establishment as a political cartoonist. His music is just as authentic as his lyrics, and might feel just as at home on the front porch of an Ozark mountain shanty as on the stage at the Ryman Auditorium. Gentle acoustic guitars playing memorable melodies accompany unembellished vocals on tunes like “The Miracle of Marriage” and “Dark Night,” while “Mississippi-Louisiana Line” employs a mournful fiddle and sweet Appalachian harmonies to emphasize his point.
Through the Open Door will be released through Music for Missions, an independent record label that donates 2⁄3 of profits to various mission organizations. Proceeds from the project will go to Reformed Theological Seminary for the education of pastors and missionaries. For more information on Michael Milton and Through the Open Door, visit throughtheopendoor.org.
Reformed Theological Seminary was founded in 1966 and is now one of the largest seminaries in the United States with campuses in Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Houston, Orlando, Jackson and Memphis, as well as international locations in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Jakarta, Indonesia and a virtual campus that offers an online Master of Arts degree. For more information on Reformed Theological Seminary, visit rts.edu.