Saturday, April 20, 2013

On Seminary

Today I turned in my final project for a Masters in Biblical Studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Virginia Beach. I’ve been working on this degree since 2009, so it has taken about 4 years. This is a 36-hour degree – 12 classes – that I was able to complete entirely online. In fact, I have been on campus there just once, over four years ago, when I was still just thinking about going to seminary. We just had CBTSVB grad Michael Carlyle in at our church for a missions conference and he showed me around and introduced me to several of the professors. Ironically, even though we were there over a Sunday, I never met Dan Davey, the president and professor from whom I took the most classes – Acts, Romans, and Pastoral Epistles. There is no question that live, on-campus training is the far better option if you can do it. The online process has many limitations and frustrations but I am VERY thankful that CBTSVB offered an online option that has allowed me to graduate with a solid seminary degree.

Since I’m a numbers guy, I like to keep track of what I’ve done. For these 12 classes, I’ve read (not skimmed) over 15,000 pages and written papers and projects totaling just about 500 content pages. So that is roughly 1250 pages and two 20-page research-type papers per class. This will not come close to matching what those who get their MDiv or ThM have to do but it does give me some satisfaction to look back on what I have accomplished. It really helped to work at Emory University during this time so that I had access to their excellent theological library. I have no idea how I would have been able to complete some of these assignments without that resource.

One of the nice things about graduate work is the opportunity to research and write on many topics that are interesting to me. Because I want to be accurate and thorough, I tend to be a very slow and methodical writer. The hardest part for me is getting started but once I do things tend to start flowing and next thing you know I have a full-length paper on my hands. It always seems miraculous. At any rate, my most rewarding papers included, one I wrote on textual criticism and the majority text, two on Baptist history (the Downgrade Controversy and the Anabaptist influence on the origin of General Baptists), and an apologetics paper analyzing the atheistic writings of Daniel Dennett and the religious worldview of Tibetan Buddhism. Emory, by the way, has tons of resources on Tibetan Buddhism, no doubt partly due to the fact that the Dalai Lama is an official adjunct professor.

I really enjoyed the apologetics class I took last summer. Now that I’m done with classes, I’d really like to develop an adult Sunday School class/curriculum covering apologetics from a presuppositional approach. We’ll see how that goes.

At least one reason why I haven’t blogged much lately is the time I’ve been spending on my seminary course work. Perhaps with that being over I will have more time to do this type of recreational writing.

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