Wednesday, June 2, 2010

End of semester thoughts.

Final exams are done, all projects have been submitted, and I await the results. This has been a challenging semester. I believe that this is a worthwhile endeavor.

Before I started at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, I believed that the Bible was the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Now that I am studying it in depth, I find only increased assurance that we have a reliable copy of the original autographs. In Hermeneutics, we learned about the many copies of the New Testament text, both complete copies and fragments, which have been analyzed and which have been compiled to give us a Bible that is trustworthy. Of the thousands of documents, the majority of discrepancies are differences in spelling. There is no doctrine of Christianity which is founded on anything which is doubtful, but each major doctrine has abundant support in the Bible.

In Christian History, we learned how from the very first, the deity of Christ was not something that was in doubt. If anything, it was His humanity. One of the earliest heresies was that of the Gnostics, who viewed matter as evil and so thought that the Christ could not be contaminated by something so base as matter. We saw how the church developed, how it became corrupt, and how God raised up people who called for its reformation. We saw how America was influenced by the various religious denominations, and how we came to determine that there would be no national religion, that each state could be able to determine the issue, this being later transformed into an individual right of conscience and self-determination.

In Evangelism, we learned how evangelism shaped the church from the start. We learned how we need to recognize that we do not need programs and bureaucracy, but how we need a movement of God's Spirit, much as was seen in the First and Second Great Awakenings.

In Hebrew, we learned to research not only the meaning of individual words, but also the structure of the language to help us understand what Moses, the prophets, and the writers were inspired to write for us. Although we only touched on the surface of it, Discourse Analysis is a field that will certainly help us to understand God's word better as it helps us to see the structure revealing the main points and the background actions and activities in the Bible.

In Christian Ethics, we were certainly challenged to think more deeply than many of us had thought in our entire lives. It isn't enough to know what we ought to do. One must understand why we do what we do. We need to recognize how our worldview will impact our daily decisions about critical problems. It may seem useless to debate ethical situations, but when it comes to issues of life and death such as abortion, stem-cell research, cloning, euthanasia, capital punishment, torture, and war, we need to ahve a firm ethical foundation so we do not become caught up in a utilitarian mindset.

Although it has been challenging, this first year in seminary has been rewarding. Next semester will have its own challenges, but for now, I can take a little time to relax and rest before starting in on the next semester's work.

These are just a few of the books I have read this past year. I will not list them all. These are in no particular order.

Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics
Deutsche Bibelgessellschaft, Biblia Sacra Utriusque Testamenti Editio Hebraica et Graeca
Justo L. González, The Story of Christianity
Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life
Alvin L. Reid, Radically Unchurched: Who They Are & How to Reach Them
Alvin L. Reid, Evangelism Handbook
J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture
Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Moisés Silva, Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning
Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar Edited and Enlarged by E. Kautzsch, Translated by A. E. Cowley
F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon
J. Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew
John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life

There were many others as well that I read all or parts of for this year's studies. I praise God for His blessings, and for a wonderful and supportive wife. I give to God all the glory.