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Homework

I’ve discovered that homework is not the same as I remember. Now that I’m in a grad program, I have so much homework that I barely can find time to do it. I came up to Criswell’s library today to read a few hundred pages and work on two papers. Right now I am merely taking a short break to express my discontent in my ability to get all the work done that I’d like. Maybe I will get the hang of this soon.

MSE

Thoughts on My First Two Days of Grad School

Yesterday, as you know, my mind was blown. I had my first class back at Criswell – Philosophy of Language. It was great, but I felt a little overwhelmed and, frankly, a little worried about Master level classes. Today has quelled those fears.

I had a NT intensive on Matthew as my first class today. It was awesome, but mainly because the prof is one of my all-time favorites – Dr. Metts! I was surprised to learn, however, that he favors Matthean priority of the gospels, and argues for a 43-45AD dating. He said he will touch on this more later and I am looking forward to it.

Finally, I had Reformation/Post-Reformation Theology with Dr. Bryant. I am one of three students in this one! Most of this first class he spent telling his story (which was awesome) and only barely touched on the major movers in the Reformations, but it looks to be a very interesting class.

All in all, I am very pleased, however I now remember that philosophy was never my forté. That is almost certainly why when class started yesterday that everything sounded so foreign. It’s not bad, but I will have to work particularly hard in there. Bring it on!

MSE

Mind Blown

I am now officially a grad student. I have attended my first class in Master’s level work and I find that I have a lot of catching up to do. Having been out of academia for about three years has apparently taken it’s toll (not to mention I’ve been awake since 3:30am), but I think I can make it. I’m just going to do a little bit at a time and I’ll get to where I need to be. In the meanwhile, I feel like my brain exploded.

That is all.

MSE

Starting Grad School

This week has been one wild ride! On Wednesday, I went up to Criswell College for new student orientation and to get registered for classes! My goodness, it sure was good to be back up there! I was very honestly surprised.

It’s really amazing how God has shut doors in my life to push me back to Criswell. Some of you know I’ve had a pretty tough couple of years. Fortunately, though, there has been a group of strong Christian guys who have held me accountable during this time. They are awesome!

I thought I might go back to Tulsa (where I was several years ago) and continue education there. These guys seemed hesitant, but allowed me to pursue it. I went up there to look for work this past January, but to absolutely no avail! I didn’t even get a call back from a single place! So, I couldn’t move up there. Door closed.

Next, I thought I might as well try to go for a Master’s degree in Scotland at one of their fine institutions. Sounds awesome, right? When I went to tell my accountability group about it, not a single one thought it was a good idea to pursue right now. We spent a few long hours talking solely about it. It honestly took me aback that all of them disagreed with me. In the end, I still wasn’t sure they were right, but I put my trust in their judgment on the matter and relented. Another door firmly closed.

Then I applied to Dallas Seminary. They have such a great academic program and, with people in their New Testament department like Wallace and Fanning, I thought it would be the perfect fit for me. It didn’t take long for them to come back with a rejection on account of the issue I’d dealt with in the past couple years. That door felt slammed in my face.

So, I gave it some time, but this past summer I felt compelled to go up to Criswell to see what might be open there. Right away I felt welcomed and was honestly very impressed with them (which is surprising considering I went to school there for two years in undergrad). The admissions counselor encouraged me to apply and before I knew it I’d been accepted! Financial aid fell into place. My job’s hours changed, for an unrelated reason, which allowed me to take all the classes I wanted. Now, other job possibilities are opening up in the fields where my heart is!

God is so good! He even uses slammed doors to direct us to the places He wants us to go!

MSE

Fall Courses

I’m pretty excited to be going back to school this fall. Criswell was a great place to finish my undergrad career (they were the last stop on a set of four colleges), and they appear to be an even greater place for grad work! So, without further ado, the classes I will be taking this fall:

Philosophy of Language
A study of the nature and use of language in general and specifically its ability to communicate religious truth and experience. Key thinkers representing major historical time periods (including the contemporary) and supposed problems for Christian theology are examined. Important questions include how temporal language is used to discuss the eternal God.

Reformation and Post-Reformation Theology
An examination of the views and influence of the magisterial Reformers and the Anabaptists and their significant theological heirs and opponents until the end of the eighteenth century. Special focus is given to the continuing influence of these groups and their views on contemporary evangelicalism.

New Testament Intensive: Matthew
Advanced analytical research of the Greek text in selected portions of the Gospel of Matthew in order to discover the contextual message and purpose of the text, its theological contribution, and its significance in the life of the Church. Attention will be given to historical setting, grammar, literary structure, textual criticism, and lexical analyses of the text. Students should not take the same exegesis course twice, even if different passages are being examined, in order to gain as wide an exposure as possible to different genres in the New Testament.

The one I’m going to enjoy most is the class on Matthew. It’s taught by my old Greek professor, Dr. H. Leroy Metts! He is awesome!

MSE

Writing Papers

Although I haven’t been able to go back to school since I graduated with a bachelor’s last May, I find that I have prepared myself for such a time in a way that I could not have without a little time off.

One thing that I have learned is that pretty much all of the papers I have ever written have been crap (or, if you prefer, skubala). Yep, that’s right. I said it! Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t put a lot of hard work into those papers. I did. What I’m saying is that if I turned in any one of those papers to a prof for grad studies (or beyond) I should fully expect an ‘F’!

Why? Why would I expect that if I put in so much work? Well, because I’ve learned that I did not know the first thing about writing papers. Since I graduated I’ve started reading articles and more scholarly books. I find (for the most part) clear, concise arguments backed up with sources that deal with the topic, and footnotes that help elaborate further.

Did my papers have these things? Yes, but not the way they should’ve been. My sources I picked, but sometimes stretched the ideas out. Sometimes my arguments didn’t flow as well as they should’ve. And footnotes, don’t get me started on my footnotes!

So, I am glad (in some ways) that I have had this year off. It’s given me a chance to see what I need to work on in my paper writing. I now know what should be expected of me and I think I can deliver on that when I return for graduate studies in the Fall.

MSE

What Is Inerrancy?: The Options

There has been a lot of talk about the doctrine of inerancy since the post on secular academic universities being less likely to accept confessional seminary graduates into PhD programs started at Parchment and Pen. What I have seen over there is that the confessional seminary’s requirement to sign off on inerancy is a hindrance to gaining acceptance into a secular program later.

Now, I want to clear something up. Most people are using “inerancy” to mean one thing alone – that the Bible is without error in any way, shape, or form. Obviously this is not true (see posts here and here for just a small amount of examples).

Here are the other options (care of Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology (2nd ed):

Absolute inerrancy holds that the Bible, which includes rather detailed treatment of matters both scientific and historical, if fully true. The impression is conveyed that the biblical writers intended to give a considerable amount of exact scientific and historical date. Thus, apparent discrepancies can and must be explained.  (p. 248)

Full inerrancy also holds that the Bible is completely true. While the Bible does not primarily aim to give scientific and historical data, such scientific and historical assertions as it does make are fully true. There is no essential difference between this position and absolute inerrancy in terms of their view of the religious/theological/spiritual message. The understanding of the scientific and historical references is quite different, however. Full inerrancy regards these references as phenomenal; that is, they are reported the way they appear to the human eye. They are not necessarily exact; rather, they are popular descriptions, often involving general references or approximations. Yet they are correct. What they teach is essentially correct in the way they teach it.  (p. 248)

Limited inerrancy also regards the Bible as inerrant and infallible in its salvific doctrinal references. A sharp distinction is drawn, however, between nonempirical, revealed matters on the one hand, and empirical, natural references on the other. The Bible’s scientific and historical references reflect the understanding current at the time it was written. The Bible writers were subject to the limitations of their time. Revelation and inspiration did not raise the writers above ordinary knowledge. God did not reveal science or history to them. Consequently, the Bible may well contain what we would term errors in these areas. This, however, is of no great consequence, since the Bible does not purport to teach science and history. For the purposes for which the Bible was given, it is fully truthful and inerrant. (p. 248-9)

Inerrancy of purpose holds that the Bible inerrantly accomplishes its purpose. The purpose of the biblical revelation is to bring people into personal fellowship with Christ, not to communicate truths. It accomplishes this purpose effectively. It is improper, however, to relate inerrancy with factuality. Thus, factual inerrancy is an inappropriate term. Truth is though of not as a quality of propositions, but as a means to accomplish an end. Implicit in this position is a pragmatic view of the truth.  (p. 249)

Past here, Erickson shows three views of anti-inerrancy, so for the purposes of this post I left them out (to save for a future post).

I’ve seen at Parchment and Pen that nuanced versions of inerrancy have been called irrelevant by people who want it to mean one thing. I disagree. These four views on the issue offer something to the discussion that should not be overlooked by those commenting there or by secular universities with applicants from confessional seminaries.

MSE