Very interesting…. that’s how I would describe my first day of seminary education. I learned a lot and came away with even more questions than answers.
Here are some quick reflections from Day 1.
- There were as many women in my classes as men. No commentary… just an interesting factoid.
- The William Morton Smith library (http://library.union-psce.edu/) is beautiful. It has quickly become my new favorite place to be. It also makes me think that heaven will boast a library that makes this one look like a dilapidated, rural shack.
- I talked today with Herbert who is studying to be an Episcopal priest. As we discussed our backgrounds, I developed an appreciation for his love of liturgy and tradition. I think one of the best things about Episcopal services is that they actively kneel at times throughout the service. We all need to kneel a little more because sometimes we can forget that the Church is primarily about God not us.
- Seminaries are full of fancy words that seem to separate people and build up a wall between clergy and the congregation. I wonder if this is really necessary. What is the real motivation? It is about respecting tradition and scholarship? Or do professionals tend to favor big words, such as “exegesis,” just because we like to feel important or smarter than most? WWJD?
- Exegesis looks like a good thing. But I can see that it easily could be abused. As a Christian, a scholar has to first come under the authority of Scripture before criticizing it. Proper examination of the text is critical to correct application and transformation. Anyone could easily be tempted to come over instead of under the text. Thorough study should guide us to deeper revelation of God. It allows us to enter the text. As the handout I received today stated, “Exegesis functions most appropriately when it allows the text to master us.”
- The “Q” question and the Synoptic problem. I liked the joke that Dr. Frances Taylor Gench told today in class. She recounted a classmate who responded during her ordination examine that she had “No problem with the Synoptics.” I feel the same way. While textual criticism is interesting to discuss, much of it is just hypothesis. We could spend forever on the outside of the cup and miss the whole point of cleaning the inside.
- I read the latest copy of Sojourners (www.sojo.net) while at the library today. The cover story described the emerging sanctuary movement where churches are stepping in to aid and defend illegal aliens. The government has failed to address this problem. It is great to see Christians doing something about the issue. But I do wonder how we balance God’s call to honor the laws of the land with His heart to help the poor and disadvantaged. This is a tough issue. And I am just not sure where I stand on it.
- The greening of the Church – Sojourners also ran an article on how environmentalism is creeping into churches across the country. I have a lot to say on this topic since I write about environmental issues. More will come later.
- In one of my classes, a professor made the case that it is “a little scary” that some Christians today claim to receive new revelation, visions and dreams from God. Obviously, she believes that all of that stopped when the canon of Scripture was closed. I tried not to smile to give away the fact that I disagree with her opinion. I may have been the only person in the room “crazy” enough to believe that God still speaks individually through prophecy, divine dreams and private revelation. I would never put any of those things today on the same level as Scripture. But that doesn’t mean God can’t use them to commune with His people. It takes great hubris to tell God what He can and cannot do.
Let the games begin :)…