Many consider Preston Perry and Jackie Hill-Perry a “power couple.” Both nationally known and respected for their craft, the Perrys regularly perform and speak across the country. Preston describes himself as a speaker, poet and apologist, while Jackie describes herself as a rapper, writer, teacher and poet.
Preston recently finished the national Poets in Autumn tour, which “features the top Christian spoken word artists in the nation.” He also started a new YouTube channel, Bold TV, to answer difficult questions about the Christian faith and inspire other Christians to love apologetics and learn more about the subject.
In May 2018, Jackie released her latest album, crescendo (humble beast records) and four months later, B&H books published her first book, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was and Who God Has Always Been. Notable media outlets such as the Washington Times, The 700 Club, Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition have featured her story.
This spring, the Perrys have become auditors of classes at RTS Atlanta.
M&L editor in chief Phillip Holmes talked with the Perrys about what inspired them to pursue theological education, their exposure to reformed theology, Jackie’s new book, Preston’s love for apologetics, and more.
Both of you speak and perform frequently in front of large audiences. What motivates the two of you to pursue theological education?
PRESTON: We take God’s warning in James 3:1 very seriously. When you have people that not only listen to what you say but that also believe what you say, it makes being theologically accurate even more important. We both believe that growing in our understanding of the Scriptures will help us better serve the people with which God has given us influence.
Was there anything unique about the Atlanta campus that made you pick RTS?
JACKIE: Primarily, the recent addition of the Ellises to the RTS faculty. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about Karen Ellis on page 9 and about Dr. Carl Ellis by reading his article “Minstrels or Messengers?” in the Spring 2018 M&L.]
When were you exposed to Reformed theology?
JACKIE: I started interacting with Reformed theology when, as a new believer in 2009, I stumbled onto Romans 9. It took me a while to come to terms with it all, but over time, with more study and having plenty of wise believers to ask bunches of questions, I saw that to believe God was sovereign over everything, including salvation, was to believe the Bible.
PRESTON: I was exposed to it in 2009 while attending the Legacy Conference in Chicago.
What classes have most piqued your interest and why?
JACKIE: I’m interested in Covenant Theology with Ligon Duncan because I love the covenants and what they can teach us about God.
PRESTON: Any class dealing with apologetics.
How do you envision what you learn influencing your ministry — poetry, hip-hop, teaching, writing and parenting?
JACKIE: I’d imagine that it would place more Scripture in my heart, which would and should help me see God better and thus transform how I live holistically. Artistically, I expect it will give me more theological depth.
PRESTON: I think it will make me more knowledgeable in the field of apologetics and a better teacher of God’s Word.
Jackie, you recently wrote the book Gay Girl, Good God. What motivated you to write the book and what do you hope it will accomplish?
JACKIE: I had many motivations, but the primary one being similar to the woman at the well who, after meeting Jesus, couldn’t help but point other people to Him. God saved me so I could talk about Him, and Gay Girl, Good God was one way I was able to do that. I hope it will spark more compassion and love in the church for the gay community and a turning toward God in faith for those in the gay community.
Do you intend to write more in the future? If so, what topics would you like to explore?
JACKIE: Yes. I plan to begin writing a book on the covenants sometime in 2019.
Preston, where did your passion for apologetics begin?
PRESTON: It started with a college friendship. My friend was a Jehovah’s Witness and I had a genuine love for him that went beyond winning arguments.
What have you learned over the last few years studying and teaching on this topic?
PRESTON: Apologetics is not mainly an intellectual issue but a heart issue. It should always be done in love for the person and not out of the pride of knowing more. As for teaching apologetics, I’m learning how to communicate really complicated themes and information in a way anyone can understand.
Is there a particular niche of apologetics you enjoy focusing on?
PRESTON: I’m particularly interested in defending the gospel against other religions. So far, my field of study has focused on Jehovah’s Witness, Hebrew Israelites and Mormons.
Learn more about Preston at www.prestonnperry.com and about Jackie at www.jackiehillperry.com.