Saturday, June 4, 2011

An Update: 6/4/11

So, I've been gone a while. Sorry about that. I didn't intend for the break to be this long, but the month of May really brought a lot of work for seminary. It was a great month, capped chiefly with graduation celebrations for some of my seminary brothers, but it was a tiresome month.

As I mentioned in my last update, early in May I was working on an exegetical commentary on the Greek text of Ephesians 1:3-14. That was a fantastic project -- I feel that way especially now that it's done -- but it certainly demanded my attention, the finished product weighing in at just over 80 pages. I know, I know. I write too much. But you knew that already. But I'll tell you: I've grown much in my deep appreciation for that portion of Scripture. Any time I've ever really dug down deep in the Word of God and given myself wholly to a particular portion of Scripture, I've always been blown away by the genius of the Holy Spirit and have been supremely blessed by the richness of God's Truth.

Once I finished that paper, I had a just a weekend to enjoy the completion of my second year at seminary because I started summer classes on the following Monday. The class I started with was New Testament Introduction. This class met from 6:30 to 11:30am, 5 days a week, for 2 weeks. Within those 2 weeks, when I wasn't in class I was busy reading over 2,500 pages. I've never done anything like 2,500 pages in 2 weeks before. It was quite the experience. Of course, I won't have retained all of the information, but it was effective enough that I grasped the material.

NTI was really a great class, mostly because Dr. Farnell's passion and compassion were eminent throughout. He really cares that young pastors be equipped to withstand the liberal tendencies of those "scholars" who would claim to be conservative evangelicals. In the class, we talked about some interesting topics like the development of the canon of the New Testament, textual criticism and whether we can be confident we have the original readings of Scripture, and issues in authorship, date, recipients, and occasion for writing of various New Testament books.

Perhaps the most prominent thing we learned about, though, was the historical-critical methodology/ideology of interpreting the Scriptures. At the time of the Enlightenment, many naturalistic scholars and philosophers imported their naturalistic rationalism into their interpretation of Scripture. The result of such philosophical presuppositions was that the authors of Scripture were not who they said they were (i.e., the Apostle Matthew didn't write the Gospel of Matthew). This then snowballed into wondering what sources the Gospel writers used in compiling their accounts of Jesus' life and ministry (since they weren't actually eyewitnesses, like they claim to be). The focus then becomes the imaginary (literally, imaginary) sources behind the text rather than the text itself.

The results of this kind of philosophy wind up being that Jesus never preached the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7 was just a collection of sayings that "Matthew" collected and put into sermon form. Similarly, Jesus didn't say all of the Beatitudes. He only said four; the others were "added" by "Matthew." The most ridiculous claim is that Jesus actually really liked the Pharisees. "Matthew" "embellished" when writing chapter 23 because he was responding to some legalistic tendencies in the early Christian community.

Liberal nonsense, right? Well, the scary thing is that each of those claims were made by professing evangelicals -- professors at evangelical seminaries! And so it's necessary for us pastors to be equipped in the academic arena as well as the pastoral, in order to protect the integrity of Scripture from such attacks.

NTI wrapped up well, though I still have a paper due a little later on. But after having a long Memorial Day weekend, I'm back in class for another two weeks. I'm taking a class on the exegesis of the Greek text of Hebrews. This time class is only 6:30 to 9:30 each day, so that's a little better. But along with translating around 20 verses a day, we're reading three commentaries as we go.

So, the workload hasn't lightened very much for the last month, which I hope is excuse enough for my sparse blog posting. I do hope to get back to the series on the Jehovah's Witnesses soon, though, so be on the lookout for that.

There are so many exciting things going on here outside of the classroom that I wish I had time to write about. But I suppose they'll have to wait. I'm just thankful that you all are reading. Hopefully you're being benefited in the process. I know it's been beneficial for me.

No comments: