Seminary Sundays

What do I do on a Sunday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s odd that in Tennessee, Sunday was the one day of the week I couldn’t sleep in. My work days were always from 2-11. Now, Sunday is one of the later days seeing as my alarm doesn’t go off until 7:30. It’s also the one morning that I don’t have breakfast at home seeing as I can get something at the church.

Right now, I’m still fitting in. I’m quiet in the Sunday School group because I’m not as well known, but I’m very pleased with how informed it looks like many of the fellow students are there. It’s worth pointing out that at my church, there are also a number of students there that are my classmates.

I chose this church also because I was told it was very disability friendly and so far, I have seen that to be the case. I am talking with the pastor in the hopes of becoming a pastor intern which could help cover my seminary education seeing as I can get a scholarship that way. My pastor also does have a Ph.D. which is important to me. His is in missiology.

After church, I pretty much have the day to myself. Sometimes, I might stop and do something like grocery shopping briefly. I have enough to make it by and I don’t starve, but I am also spendthrift. I always have been, but now all the more. Unfortunately, the Wal-Mart next to the seminary doesn’t have a clearance section.

Also, I can often catch up on schoolwork. Greek work for my classes is usually due on Sunday nights and that for me is the opportune time to do it. Other than that, much of my day is often spent the same way, except I do have more down time than I do other days. My church is now only about 10 miles away and a good portion of the time to and fro is on the interstate.

I’m also working on getting to know my new church family more and more which is hard for me. Around here, I still have students come and address me by name and I cannot remember who they are. Fortunately, none of them seem to be offended by any of this. I have also found acceptance with people understanding that I am different. If I am in the classroom with a laptop in front of me always, it’s not because I’m not paying attention. It’s because my mind will wander off if I am not doing something and I will lose focus entirely. Every time I have tested this, it has happened.

Also, I do want to stress that some people could be tempted to skip church and chapel in seminary. Don’t. You need that time of fellowship and worship. There will always be time to go and do your assignments later. I have already built into my life a regimen of reading the Bible regularly and doing prayer regularly so I have been safe from the temptation to cut those out. Others have it harder and I urge them to keep going.

Next time, we could start wrapping this up.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Choosing A Seminary

How do you know where to go? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you decide you want to go and get an education, how do you know where to go? I’ll use my own life as an example.

For the first time, I didn’t want to go far from home. Johnson University/Bible College was nearby, so that’s where I went to. I didn’t understand at that point about Bible Colleges or seminaries having denominations. Ultimately, I got my degree, even though I was of a different denomination.

While there, I found out about apologetics through a mutual friend who told me about Southern Evangelical Seminary. I knew then I wanted to go there. I eventually did, but when the incident with my then father-in-law happened, that put a stop to that.

When I moved back to Tennessee after my divorce, I attended DivorceCare which was connected with a Southern Baptist Church. The pastor told me if I went to a Southern Baptist Seminary, I’d get around 50% off of my tuition. I asked him to send me a list and I saw New Orleans on there and knew that’s where I wanted to go as I knew some of the people here and their apologetics focus.

So let’s consider some ideas you need to consider.

First, does it matter to you if the school is accredited or not? If you’re wanting an education and the way you will be treated doesn’t matter that much, you can go this route. However, there can be difficulties with that route as it could be harder to get a job or to get recognition in the field.

You will also want to consider the distance. How far are you willing to go? Do you want to go close to home? Do you want to stay in your country? Would you be willing to go overseas?

What about cost? Do you have enough to cover it? This doesn’t mean initially, but can you get a job or find other support? Will your home church help you out? Could you set up a Patreon as I have done to earn some income for this?

What kind of degree do you want? Have you looked at the programs that they offer? Is what you want included in there? Does the school have a good reputation with this program?

You can also consider the denomination. Do you want to stay within your own tradition or do you want to step outside of that? Of course, in a case like mine, this could hinge upon the finances of it all.

Is the local area one you want to move to? If you are married with children, your children could have to go to school around here. If so, are you fine with that? Where I am, I know I have to be prepared in case a hurricane should come up.

All of these are questions to ask yourself. I recommend talking with wiser people who know better than you. If you can talk to someone who has a doctorate in the field or related to the field you’re in, that’s even better.

Seminary is a big decision. Make the right one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Character Traits For A Seminarian

What kind of person do you need to be to go to seminary? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Suppose you’re wanting to go to a seminary or Bible College. What traits do you need? Here are some that come to mind.

First, you need to have good Christian character. In saying this, I am assuming you want to go to a theologically conservative seminary, although more and more I am thinking it needs to be politically conservative as well. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or none of us could go, but it needs to be something you’re striving for.

Already at my seminary, all the guys were brought together for a talk. The girls were as well, but since I wasn’t there, I can’t tell you what was said. One message given to us clearly was about the dangers of pornography. A good seminary will also have help available for you if are struggling with that.

We also hear regularly that when you start studying the Bible academically, it can be easy to lose sight of studying it devotionally. It’s easy to have personal Bible study and your prayer life falter. Be prepared to make sure that you are willing to do those things.

Next, you need to be a reader. For my first semester here, I have three classes and reading is a big part of them. I suspect before it is done there will have been around 2,500-3,000 pages read of schoolwork this semester for me. (Note I still do my own personal reading on the side.) You will also have to read books you don’t particularly care for at times. I remember telling people in Bible College that one of the complaints I had was they gave me books to read which kept me away from all the books I wanted to read.

Third, you will need to be someone who is diligent and willing to work hard. It will require a lot of effort. Yes. There are times where all of us turn on YouTube or Facebook for awhile and have to wrestle with that. You will also need to have the time to do other things like clean your place where you live, grocery shopping, and events like that.

Having said that though, please be someone who sets aside time for pure fun. Hang out with your fellow students. I am working on meeting my fellow students and if the opportunity arises, getting to date as well here. Seminary is hard work, but let it be a time of fun and enjoyment and build up Christian fellowship.

The fourth trait is you will need to be teachable. I do understand that you want to show your professors what you can do. At the same time, realize you can learn from them. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but realize they came upon their positions seriously. Try to learn what you can from them. Form friendships with them.

Definitely, you need to be wanting to do ministry. It has to be something that is a high goal in your life in whatever field you’re going into. You will be studying for awhile and that requires a long-term commitment.

Note in all of this I have not said anything about a call or a subjective experience. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other qualifiers. I plan on posting on those perhaps tomorrow, but if you want to go get an education in the ministry field, then consider working on these. (And really, most of us could bear to work on them regardless anyway.)

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Should You Go To Seminary?

Should you embark on this journey? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What I am posting today applies not just to seminary, but also to Bible College for those wanting an undergrad. This is a question I sometimes get asked in email as to if someone should go to school. I also have strong opinions on who should be allowed into a pulpit in a church and also what are some grounds that are insufficient to state if you should seek higher education in ministry. However, I want to focus on one really big bad reason.

I am sure this will shock many of you, but I do not really take seriously claims someone has that they are called to preach.

Now let’s also be clear that going to seminary doesn’t mean that you will be a pastor, as some can want to be professors, some missionaries, some counselors, some teachers, or any number of positions. The call to preach is the most common one I hear and usually seems like an obvious given. Everyone believes in a call to ministry. Right?

Well, no.

But look at people like Moses and Jeremiah and Paul!

Yes, and you are not them.

There seems to be some idea in Christianity in the West that our experiences should be just like the great heroes of the Bible. We see Moses go up on the mountain and speak to God face to face as a man speaks to his friend. That’s us! We’re not at all like any of the other Joe Israelites at the bottom of the mountain who didn’t get this privilege. Nope! We are the ones who are privileged.

It’s really an arrogant position.

Or we are like Paul and Barnabas. Why the Holy Spirit Himself personally spoke to the congregation and asked them to set apart these two for missionary work. That’s what he’s going to do to us! Never mind that when Paul went on his second journey there was no call. He just said he wanted to go see those cities again.

I have seen too many pastors that have said they are called to preach and they do not have a clue on how to preach or any real knowledge of Christian doctrine. They just have a lot of strong emotion. This is how you get people like Dan Barker. There is even a Clergy Project for ministers who have left the faith and become atheists or agnostics.

If all you have is a call, then seriously reconsider entering official ministry capacity. Ministry requires a lot of work and if you run just on your emotional leanings, you will run dry. If you approached marriage, parenthood, work, or anything else wanting to run on pure emotion alone, you will not make it.

Bible College and Seminary I think are a lot of fun indeed, but they are also very hard. Later this week I plan to blog about that and explain why, but it is not really an easy path. If you go this route, you could get burnt out in seminary alone, which could be a good thing. It could show that maybe you should try something else, and there’s no shame in that. God needs people in every field.

Now someone could say “Yes, there are a lot of people that say they are called to preach and turn out to not really be, but you’re basing your position on the wrong experiences instead of the true ones.”

I am basing it on first off, Scripture never gives any such requirement. Some people are called to ministry in Scripture, but it does not follow that everyone in ministry in Scripture or outside is called to ministry. When Paul finds Timothy, he finds Timothy is well-spoken of and wants to take him along. There is no indication that there was a divine call on the life of Silas. Paul listed requirements for elders and deacons and callings were never any of them.

Not only this, but we run the risk of being like Mormons with this. Consider how the Mormons have the burning of the bosom test. If you pray about the Book of Mormon and you receive the burning in the bosom, then the Book of Mormon is true! If you didn’t get it, well, you weren’t sincere in your prayer. All disconfirming experiences are ruled out as not true and all the ones that get the desired result are true. Hardly a real test.

Well, that’s a brief look at an insufficient call, but what are some real reasons to consider seminary? That’s for next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What’s The Point?

Why are we living the Christian life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw one of my Facebook friends had a status where she was told by someone else that her time in Bible College being educated in the Bible was a waste. After all, will that help you to go to Heaven? I hate to say it, but I have encountered this attitude many times before. It’s a dangerous problem for the church.

I could focus a lot on the point that the Bible doesn’t really talk so much about going to Heaven as it does about the resurrection and the Kingdom of God, but that’s another point. The problem is that our Christianity today has made the goal of life be to get to Heaven. Unfortunately, in our descriptions, getting to Heaven seems to be the goal and God is often kind of secondary there.

What is the relationship between God and Heaven? Few people seem to think about this. That’s because few of us seem to really think about God anymore. Well, that is aside from thinking about all the stuff He ought to be doing for us. Isn’t it strange we don’t think as much about all that we should be doing for Him? God is often seen as someone there just to meet our needs.

This also causes us to ignore this world. I still think back to what one lady said in a Bible Study I was at with a church we used to attend. “I’m saved and my children are saved so we’re just waiting for Jesus to come.” Apparently, their Bible said, “You’re saved, but if you want to you can go into all nations and spread the Gospel, or you can just wait until I return one day.” Yes. Jesus needs to return to relieve our suffering, but what are we going to do for the suffering of others meanwhile?

Sadly, an education is often seen as a threat. Couldn’t your learning get in the way of knowing God? I did write about this in an earlier post. To say that it is is like saying “I want to be married to my wife, I just don’t want to waste time on all that stupid stuff like getting to know her as a person. Oh yes. I want to make sure that she also has plenty of sex with me.” Of course, most any husband will want plenty of sex, but what would we think of the man who wanted it absent of really knowing who his wife is as a person? Such a person is essentially just using his wife to meet his own desires. Are we guilty of doing that with God?

It’s easy for us to sit back and talk about all that God owes us. Let’s make it simple. What does He owe you? He only owes you that which He’s already promised He will give you. If He has not promised it, He does not owe it. He doesn’t owe you perfection this side of eternity. He doesn’t owe you feeling good about yourself every day. He doesn’t owe you money or fame or anything else? Now let’s reverse the question. What do you owe God? You owe Him everything you have and it’s the selfish tendency of you and me to want to hold on to things that we have no rights to as if our true happiness is found apart from God. Of course, God gives us many things that can help bring us some happiness, but none of these will bring us ultimate happiness. When we start treating them like they will, they become idols and they quickly become our masters. (This is called addiction in extreme cases.)

The sad part is a greater education could help with this. One of the greatest boosts of mine to Christian living is to know the things that I believe and why and what a difference they make. Christianity has something to say about every aspect of life. It speaks about money, leisure, sex, friends, family, etc. Nothing I do is untouched by Christianity, or at least it shouldn’t be.

When we fail in our evangelistic duties and start thinking about how Christianity can help us, we become increasingly self-centered. For all of us, our tendency is to look out for #1. Aren’t we all thankful Jesus didn’t do that? Had Jesus done that, the crucifixion would not have happened. Jesus chose willing suffering to bring about redemption and the glory of God. Many of us think we can reach the glory by bypassing the suffering. It just won’t happen. The Bible regularly connects suffering with righteousness. We often connect it with the idea that we’re not living Christianity right.

I applaud my friend for wanting to have a greater education in the Bible. I wish we all did. We have too many sermons and Bible studies where we skip straight to the question of “What does the text mean to my life and how do I apply it right now?” instead of asking what the text meant to them and about the situation when it was written. We will not properly understand the latter without having some understanding of the former. We also increase the likelihood of a self-centered Christianity.

It’s my sincere hope that we return to a faith that is lived out well but understood well in the mind as well. We won’t all be intellectuals, but whatever intellect we all have we should focus some of it to understanding Christianity and what a difference it makes. We can look forward to Heaven, but let us not ignore the world around us as if Heaven is plan B because God’s just given up on this world. Greater knowledge of what we believe will not hurt us. It is the ignorance of the knowledge and the defiance of it that will.

In Christ,
Nick Peters