Monday, July 20, 2009

First Semester Finished

I've finished my first semester of school, and I'm really enjoying it.
In light of this past semester, here are a few of my reflections on studying theology:
  • I would recommend it for anyone who has the means to do it.
  • I think you can be properly equipped to be a pastor or Christian leader without formal theological education, but I think it is a good for 'rounding out' one's theology and method of studying the Bible.
  • I enjoyed spending a lot of time in the Word, and I feel that it gave me a better overall grasp of the big picture of the areas I studied this semester (The Gospels and the Pentateuch).
  • I haven't really encountered anything super new, but it has been good to be exposed to views different from my own. I think that is really important for everyone who really believes something.
    If we just read books and listen to people who believe exactly what we do, and say only things which we agree with our particular tradition, that does not strengthen our faith, it does not make us question and rethink our positions. Its just like, "Oh, hey, this guy agrees with me too!", and that doesn't help us develope discernment, which is so important for Christians these days, with all the aberant teaching that goes around.
    After all - our goal is not to hold to or affirm one position or another, it is to seek God and to seek truth. And if our positions are correct, then they will be affirmed through this process anyway, and if they are not correct, then its better to be disillusioned than to believe something unbiblical!
    A good case in point is Thomas Schreiner, a prominent theologian, author and pastor, who recently changed his long-held view of amillenialism to premillenialism, because he was convinced by the text to do so. That's a great example of someone committed to the truth and not to defending his particular tradition. Here's an article about it.
Books and websites which have been most helpful to me:
  • Google Books
    I found so many usefull resources here for writing papers - mostly excerpts from books. This was really helpful since I don't have access here to an English library with theology books.
  • Online Synopsis
  • The New Testament Gateway
  • Bible Dictionaries
    I love Bible dictionaries, and my favorite is the New Bible Dictionary. I use this all the time.
  • ESV Study Bible
    This was Rosemary's gift to me for Christmas, and I LOVE it. I use it a lot for devotional reading, preparing for sermons, and as a reference. It is full of good articles, charts and maps. With purchase of it, you also get access to the ESV Study Bible Online, which has everything the paper version has, and gives the opportunity to writes notes on the column and highlight in different colors, which are all be saved and can be accessed online from anywhere. Its a great tool.

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