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Entries in Seminary Notes (114)


Theological education is not just for pastors

It's all over the crying, as they say. Hopefully, there will be no crying. I have already received my mark for the last three History assignments, including the term paper, and I'm happy. I'll find out soon how I did on my Greek final. I didn't feel overwhelmed by the exam, but it wasn't something I breezed through, either. Of course, leaving the campus was both a happy and sad thing. I will miss my classes.

I continue to enjoy school so very much. I feel like I am right where I should be. I continue to learn lessons that go beyond the courses I am taking. Education interests me, and I've had a lot to think over the past couple of years.

One situation remains much in the front of my thinking. At our seminary chapel a couple of years ago, we had a visiting pastor as the speaker. I don't know what he was told about his intended audience, but it was clear to me that he did not expect women to be in the room. There were only three of us, but we were there. Everything about his message was directed to men, and specifically, for men intending to be pastors. If you were a man there getting theological training for other reasons his message was not for you. It certainly was not for me. I was surprised at this, because even though my school is conservative in the area of women in leadership, it isn't known as a "men only" institution, and I have never felt like as a woman, I'm not welcome. At our last seminary chapel this year, the speaker, the Theology prof, spoke about how to preach, and even in that context, he used words that included everyone by alluding to the reality that the Word is proclaimed in situations other than from the pulpit. 

People in leadership, especially those who teach, can benefit from training. Sunday school teachers can benefit from more than learning about classroom dynamics. We live the Word before others; learning more about it can only be a help to us. Even something like evaluating the large amounts of theological (mis)information online can be made easier if we have some training ourselves. If people can manage that on their own, by self-study, then great. But not all of us are disciplined enough. And having someone guide us whose job it is to educate is very helpful.

There was a day when the opportunity for theological training was not easily available or affordable. That is not the case today. When women tell me they "don't have time" for theological training, but invest in a lot of home renovation projects or have vacations twice a year, I don't say much in response. We will make time for those things which are most important to us. 

My school has certificate programs for general theological studies. It's ten courses long. The timing of the program is flexible; either full time or part time. We also have a certificate program specifically for women. There is a program for pastors already in the ministry to deepen their training. I'm sure my school is not the only one to offer such programs. These are great ways to be trained. And the benefit of this kind of training is accountability. Having someone else evaluate our thought (and someone who isn't our best friend) is helpful. Being exposed to theology we may not agree with is helpful. Theological education isn't about indoctrinating us into a pre-supposition; it's about teaching us to think. 

Quite simply, pursuing education is a wise thing to do:

The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge (Proverbs 18:15).

There is gold, and an abudance of jewels; but the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing (Proverbs 20:5).

There are also online programs. I won't go into detail here because there are probably more than I could cover, and those sites are the best place toget information about such programs. Two sources that I am familiar with are Biblical Training and Ligionier. Online learning is great, but if you have the opportunity to be on campus, take it. Face to face accountability is great. And there is as aspect of fellowship which is really encouraging.

Ultimately, one of the best things about getting theological education is that as we grow in the things of God, we see how much there is that we don't know, and that fosters humility. Humility is one of those things we can never have enough of.


It's D-Day

Or, shall I say "G-day?" 

I write my Greek exam this afternoon. I'm all studied out. There comes a point when, on the day of the exam, when you start studying and realizing you have forgotten little things, you may start to panic. Panic on the day of an exam is never a good thing. When I am finished writing, I shall treat myself to potato chips. I've been trying to watch what I eat lately, and this will be my treat. I think potato chips ought to be a food group of their own.

There is an "art" to biblical translation. When you start looking at how the language was put together, and how the differences create limitations to translation, it's evident that there are those whose are just better at translating. A good vocabulary in English is a good thing to have if you're translating from any language. Now that I am getting better at reading the Greek New Testament, I can really see how it enhances devotional study. All those little nuances add to the meaning.

I have loved getting back to basics; back to the foundation of the faith by being more in Scripture. In the past, especially through blogging, I know I wasted a lot of time worrying about having something "to say" to the latest hot button issue. Right now, if you're a woman, and you aren't writing about women, whether it's abuse or equality, you may as well not speak. I have spent a lot of time more concerned about "issues" than I have about really knowing who Christ is. I may not have much of a blogging audience anymore, but ultimately, who cares? Blogs come and go and blog readers are a fickle bunch. It's too much energy better spent elsewhere to do what needs to be done to keep people interested. 

So now I look forward to summer. My poor house will get a thorough going over. By September 1st, Lord willing, I will have a new dining room table, and an office upstairs, freshly painted. When I'm writing term papers next November, there will be no writing mess scattered all over the living room. You know things need to be tidier when your dog manages to get a hold of Post-it reading flags and ingests them. And I wonder why I have dogs who barf on my couch when I'm gone from home.

Winter will go away, and the "sockless season" will come. 

The summer maintenance project in Greek is to translate Philippians and parse every verb we encounter. I plan on starting May 1st, doing a verse a day. I also hope to get my camera out again. I've missed that.


Adventures in Studying

If I thought last week was hectic, this one will be even more so. My Greek final is on Thursday, and thus far, my attempts to really study hard have been thwarted. One reason is my own fault. I have got behind in my Church History reading. I have to submit logs of what I read this semester from the textbook. These readings are not short and not all are equally engaging. German liberalism is mind numbingly boring. I still have two full chapters to read and finish logging by the end of today. I have studied a little for Greek, mostly reviewing verb paradigms. 

We were hit with a very nasty ice storm over the weekend. Thousands in southern Ontario are without power this morning, and there is a risk of flooding now that the ice has stopped. Thankfully, we did not get hit as hard as others. I'm praying we will have power maintained until I get my logs submitted.

The stench in my house, which we thought was the decaying remains of a mouse in the vent has turned out to have another source, courtesy of one of my Beagles. Instead of a rotting corpse, we discovered dog vomit in the folds of the top of our couch. Our dogs love to lay along the top and look out the window. Clearly one of them upchucked while enjoying the couch. I suspect it was my younger dog, Bear, who is not fussy about what he eats, whether it is another dog's waste products (Beagles are famous for it) or leaves and twigs. Thankfully, now that we've cleaned it out, it smells better. The combination of a honey citrus candle and the stinky aroma just about did me in last Friday.

There is now the sound of something alive in my vent. Our furnace is vented on the south side of our house, above the basement window. I suspect something has crawled in to avoid the nasty weather. I think it is probably a chipmunk or something larger than a mouse because of the way it is thrashing about. When the furnace is on, he is quiet. If he is alive when my husband gets home tonight, we'll try to flush him out. In the meantime, as I study, I'm distracted with the critter. I just hope it isn't a bat.

I've been up since 5:00, so now it's time to break from studying and have breakfast.


Articulating the unpopular

This morning, I submitted my term paper for Church History. I wrote about the Dutch Anabaptist, Menno Simons. If you're familiar with Mennonites, you have a window into his legacy. 

When Menno was converted in 1536, those who practiced believer's baptism were considered criminals. One of the events which drew this formerly apathetic Catholic priest toward the gospel was hearing about a man who was beheaded for being re-baptized. Beheaded. For being baptized. Despite the fact that he would be endangering his own life (and evenetually, his wife and children) by turning from his former beliefs to his convictions regarding what Scripture said, Menno embraced Christ, and spent the remainder of his life, for all intents and purposes, as a fugitive. He was never able to remain in one place for long, and for those who sheltered him, execution was the punishment. Menno said:

Since we, for the sake of baptism, are so miserably abused, slandered, and persecuted by all men, and since we are ever suspicioned because of the ungodly sects (which are to you very harmful, perilous, and abominable, as may be plainly seen); therefore, we say and testify in Christ Jesus, before God and before His holy angels, before you, and before the whole world, that we are driven by a God-fearing faith which we have in the Word of God to baptize and to be baptized, and nothing else.

Menno was not afraid to speak his convictions despite the dangers. Would that we felt the same. Would that I felt the same. I will admit that I am often afraid to speak my views openly because of the way people may react. I especially try very hard to refrain from giving opinions on social media because people are so quick to jump all over those with whom they disagree. 

On the cover of all of Menno Simons's works, he included I Corinthians 3:11: For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. I cling to that. I cling to Christ. Even when I'm afraid that something as simple as alluding to a political preference would mean rejection or harsh comments. I just hope that when the time comes and I must speak out that I will be bold.


Down to the wire. And books!

I have four things left on my school checklist: 

  1. Write my Greek Vocabulary test today.
  2. Complete and submit my term paper by Saturday.
  3. Finish reading and writing log entries for four chapters of my Church History textbook by Sunday.
  4. Study and write my Greek II final.

Whew! I think I'l be ready to be done. On the upside, I'm inserting a "fun day" on Tuesday. I'll be taking time out to go dress shopping with a friend. I'm going to a wedding this month, and I'm treating myself to a new outfit.

Today, prior to my test, I'm going to the last Seminary chapel. Dr. Fowler, who is retiring from full time teaching this spring, is speaking. He has had a great impact on me. He will continue teaching as an adjunct, and I'm praying that he'll be teaching Theology of Church and Ministry when I'm ready to take it.

I'm thinking ahead to reading. These are in no particular order, except that I do plan on starting with Paul Tripp.

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, Paul Tripp

Redemption, Accomplished and Applied, John Murray

Paul and Gender, Cynthia Westfall

Expressing Theology, Jonathon Roach and Gricel Dominguez

Linguistics and Biblical Exegesis, Ed. Douglas Magnum and Josh Westbury

The Good Portion - God, Rebecca Stark

Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek, Constantine R. Campbell

The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkein

Mary Queen of Scots, Antonia Fraser

Over the summer, I'm going to try something new: I'm going to avoid reading more than one non-fiction book at a time. Instead, I'll read a fiction or biography along with whatever non-fiction book I'm reading. I am trying to learn to read more productively, and I thought I'd approach it differently over the summer. 

The weather man is calling for 14° Celsius today, and rain. Is spring finally here?