I realized I’m fully into the seminary experience. So much so that I’ve noticed that I had briefly lost touch with where people are really at. I had a conversation with a friend of mine who’d asked about how my classes were going. I then launched into a description of the course on Old Testament theology and some of the controversial issues we were discussing. At one point, I commented that “I really am not all that into Biblical Theology.” My friend responded: “What??!?”
Now in my mind I was maintaining the technical distinctions between the four classic parts of theology: Biblical, Systematic, Historical, and Practical. What I was saying was that I had only gotten a taste of Biblical Theology at this point in my education so was having a challenge getting up to speed in this advanced course. What my friend heard me say is: “I really don’t care about the Bible!” Yikes! I cleared up the confusion – yes, I really DO care about the Bible!! I also laughed at myself because I’d fallen so far into Theologian jargon that even my rather bright friend got confused. So I slapped myself out of my ivory tower and I think I’m better now. :-)
I finished my “Integrating Theology and Ministry” class (this is the 'capstone' course) on the 23rd and that culminated with a brief oral examination that was similar to what I might face during an ordination process. The process goes like this: the room is filled with a few other students who have all had a chance to pick over my work in detail, the prof picks about three subject that he thinks will get the most traction, then they start in with “clarifying” questions about my beliefs and hypothetical questions about ministry, after some time the prof calls a halt, the examinee leaves the room (“cast out into utter darkness”), and then the student is graded by everyone on how well they did in several areas as well as a final “excellent/pass/retake” grade.
So my time came up and the professor announced the three subjects the other guys were to grill me on: one that he knew I was shaky on, one that he knew I’d done some extra work on, and one that he knew I held the minority position with the other guys in the room. So I managed to not completely embarrass myself on my shaky subject (election and atonement), probably did an over-kill on my good subject (humanity), the guys ignored my third subject but started in on me about a completely different area (church discipline and ordinances). I think they were trying to rattle me by bringing up an area that the prof hadn’t put on the table. Still, I did alright, actually. At the end of the allotted time, the prof announced that I was ‘ex-communicated from the room.’ I left and they deliberated my fate. So, after the blood had subsided, they passed me. Whew!
Altogether, it was a great exercise and showed me several weaknesses and a couple of strengths.