Yes, my friends. It is true I am about to go back to school. Actually, I am planning on getting a Master’s degree in Old Testament theology. Some concerned family and friends have raised the question if academia is the best place to learn about God.
I have heard “horror stories” about idealistic young men who go off to seminary or Bible college and return less solid in their faith. Many of these people find their “Precious Moments” understanding of God rocked to its very foundation. Academia makes them scholars and poor disciples at the same time. Some of these people actually fall away from their faith. Many of them discover that they really never believed in or knew God for themselves.
Religious schools are filled with teachers who don’t believe in the authority of Scripture. I heard about one professor who started his New Testament class by throwing the Bible against the wall. He told his students that is what he thought about the Bible as a sacred text. I am sure that made for quite an interesting semester for those raised in the Bible belt.
While I admit that I know more professors who are atheists or agnostics than faith-based, spirit-led Christians, there are some exceptions to that rule. And to be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Some might think that hard to understand, especially if you are going for a religious education. But I believe that any time we look at man as the source for knowledge, identity or truth, we are setting ourselves up for problems.
I am not going back to school to learn from people. I am going back to school to find truth that God happens to reveal through people. There is a very big difference between these two situations. In the latter, the Holy Spirit is responsible for guiding the individual to a better understanding of truth. That’s where I want to be. And quite honestly, we deal with lies and subtle deception every day of the week. It just so happens that in academia, these lies get the added benefit of a cap and gown.
All scholars rely on accounts, research and thoughts that comes from other people. We all believe something and have to take some things on faith because we can’t see or understanding it. Most of our worldviews are shaped by words learned from a book or another person not just personal experience. Who are you going to trust? How are you going to filter what you hear and see? What information will you act upon to change direction or affirm your present course?
No matter where I go, the most important thing is the filter not the words that go through the filter. While I don’t want to filter more than necessary, I certainly don’t want to be unprepared to battle an enemy who doesn’t care what I want. This enemy is set on one thing – destroying my life by killing my faith.
A few months ago, a friend and leader in one of the industries that I cover sent me an article from Biblical Archaeology Review. It covers the stories of four scholars who wrestled with their concepts of God through their studies. I found the article fascinating because it hit on a number of key themes that I have struggled with for years.
There’s so much in this article and stream of thought that I can’t just cover it in one blog entry. The first topic is the authority of Scripture and the problem of trying to understand divine truth without the Holy Spirit.
May you enjoy my journey through this account of four scholars who dealt with the issue of God – two who kept their faith and two who lost it.