So I realized that I have not written in this blog for over a whole month. I have decided to hunker down and rectify that!
So, a lot of things have happened since my last post. The graduate school and seminary went to a retreat, I’ve gotten to know more of the students here and I’ve been starting to get into a routine with the classes.
The retreat was a good experience in that it was a great time of relaxation. It was also at the retreat that I got to know many of the people who are in the graduate school and the seminary, including Lonn, my roommate and other guys that I’ve been starting grow closer to. We learned about suffering and how its related to the Christian life. One quote from the speaker that I love was that “we are not masochists in seeking out suffering, but we are realist in recognizing that it’ll happen.”
As mentioned before, I’ve been getting to know some of the guys much deeper as the month has gone on. We’ve bonded over lunch, basketball, classes, and even through playing Settlers of Catan! Its great because they come from all walks of life. Some are married, others are single. Some are much older than me, some are closer to my age. Some are Chinese, others are not. Some have been to the missions field, while others have done ministry in the US. So if I have a question about dating, I can ask them. If I have a question about the missions field, I can ask them. If I have a question about masculinity, I can ask them. I’m really grateful to have developed friendships with such a great group of guys through whom I can learn from and talk with. PTL
My classes have started to pick up in intensity from my last post. Thus far, I’ve had 2 exams, and a couple of papers in the last two weeks or so. Its not too bad compared to other people, but the weeks to come should be tougher. I’ve done pretty well overall with the assignments and the exams. However, one thing that I’m trying to guard against here is to be complacent in my classes and to take them for granted. I remember at Penn State that I would sometimes just go to the classes because I had to be there and it was part of my weekly routine. Yes, I was hearing things from the professor, but I wasn’t listening. I was passively learning, instead of actively learning. I’ve noticed that a little bit with some of my easier classes that I don’t actively listen. So I’m trying to get myself out of that rut.
Here are the classes that I’m taking and a summary of what we’re learning:
Foundations of Spiritual Development
This is essentially a sanctification class where we go over the basics of maturing as Christians. I liken it to being in a very big small group. Although we like to joke sometimes that all we do is talk about our feelings, it is a good class to take because it forces us to examine our spiritual lives. For example, we’ve talked about how we like to wear masks, to keep others from seeing the real us. How the main motivations as Christians is either to please God or to trust in God and how going the route of pleasing God can lead to an endless cycle of performances, while trusting God, while counter-intuitive, ultimately leads to us growing in Christ, in a healthy way.
Mission of God
This class talks about how missions isn’t just something we honor one sunday out of the whole year, or something we do in the summer when we don’t have school. Rather, missions is and has been God’s main theme throughout the bible. People think that missions started when Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 27, when in reality, it started in Genesis 12:1-3, where God promises to bless Abraham and that the peoples of the world will be blessed through him! Bringing people back to Him, redeeming lost people… MISSIONS, is THE theme of the bible and can be seen through out the bible and through out all the bible stories!
Old Testament Bible Survey
Basically, we go through the books of the Old Testament and learn about them. We usually learn the general themes of the book, and then go more in depth for each chapter. We’ve also learned how we got the books of the bible (textual transmission), the different schools of thought on who wrote the Pentateuch, the first 5 books, etc. We’ve gone over some controversial topics, like how a Mesopotamian creation story sounds similar to the biblical creation story, how a Babylonian flood story sounds similar to the story of Noah and the ark, about the population of Israel during the exodus (was it really 2 million people?) and other topics. Its pretty interesting all in all.
This is my favorite class so far, even though it is the one that I do the most work for. The teacher reminds me of Bo Miller’s father, so that’s pretty interesting in itself. We have a good time in class, especially because we joke that in order to learn Greek, we have to learn English. We’ve been tossing around words like nominative, predicate nominative, accusative, mood of the verb, substantival adjective, lexical form, declensions, genitive and dative case endings for nouns, etc. And those are the words that we’ve learned and now understand. I feel like every class the professor uses a grammar term that makes us snap our heads up and give each other confusing looks!
But, one of the reasons that I really love learning greek is because it gets down to the original language! Our professor made it clear and we’re starting to see that as we learn Greek, our knowledge of Greek helps to clarify many confusing passages, but it also confuses many previously clear passages.
I’ll leave you with this example: Romans 3:22 says,” This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.“ The greek phrase for faith in Jesus is “pistis Iesous Cristou.” Christ is in the genitive, which can be used when showing possession. Pistis is the verb form of pisteuo (I believe, have faith).
So the question that the teacher brought up today was, is this a subjective genitive or an objective genitive? A subjective genitive has the action done by the noun and would be translated as “comes through the faithfulness demonstrated by Christ” while the objective genitive has the action received by the noun and would be translated as “comes through having faith in Christ.” Each one is extraordinarily different. The subject would mean that our righteous came when Jesus showed his faithfulness in going to the cross, while the objective would mean that our righteousness comes from our faith in Christ. Totally different! And the kicker is, there’s no grammatical distinction or marks to indicate if its subjective or objective! This (and a lot of other things in greek) has to be determined from the context! Like my student ministries pastor from high school, Greg Despres, use to say… “Context is King!”
And that’s why I love greek class.