Friday, February 06, 2009

Seminary: Course #1 Prolegomena

"It seems that you've been living two lives. In one life, you're Thomas Gardner , a Chaplain and History teacher at a successful international Christian school. You have a social security number, pay your taxes, and you... help your wife carry out...the garbage. The other life is lived in books and in front of a computer, where you are known as a "seminary student" and spend all your spare time writing...papers. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not."

Well Agent Smith, your words hold some degree of truth. But, I'm pretty sure the whole seminary thing does play a part in making me the person that I want to be in the future so I'm going to have to impolitely disagree and ask for my phone call.

Yes, Mollie and I have been watching the Matrix. And yes, I am really busy with seminary. So I thought, "Surely, I can come up with a blog post that combines the two."My first class is Prolegomena, which is a big, fancy seminary term that means "first word" or starting assumptions, in this case, of theology. I thought I would share a bit about my courses and what I'm learning so I can share the theological love.

In beginning the study of theology, it is vital to establish the presuppositions upon which you are going to build your system, in this case, a truly biblical theology. There are essentially four pillars of a biblical theology (and some would disagree with one or more of these, but I think they are pretty solid).

PILLAR #1 - The Biblical God Exists
Duh, right? Sadly, there are lots of "theologians" who don't start there. This is THE critical starting point for growing in a knowledge of God from scripture. As Mark Driscoll says, "If you don't know Jesus, you don't know jack about the Bible." This study looks at different arguments for the existence of the God of the Bible using both philosophical and biblical arguments.

PILLAR # 2 - God Has Authoritatively Revealed Himself to Man
This pillar looks at the ways that God has revealed Himself through both general and special ways. Primary focus is given to the Bible as God's authoritative self-revelation and a study of things like inspiration, canonicity, and transmission.

PILLAR # 3 - Man's Ability to Comprehend God's Revelation
This pillar examines ideas such as the origin and purpose of language (that God gave it for the purpose of communication with Him and each other), the effects of sin on our relationships (both with God and each other), and the works of God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) in overcoming sin and reaching out to man.

PILLAR #4 - Developing a Consistant Hermeneutic
The final pillar is determining how we should read and interpret the Bible. Various hermeneutic methods are examined and critiqued. The importance of the literal historical-grammatical method is examined and critiqued, but found to be the method that most consistently submits to God as the authority in the interpretive process. This method is then applied to scriptural study and reveals 5 major results:
1. Submission to the authority of scripture
2. Recognition of cumulative revelation (God has revealed Himself progressively over time)
3. Awareness of doxological centrality (God's glory is the unifying theme of scripture)
4. A normative dispensational conclusion
5. A clear distinction between Israel and the church

I should be completely finished with the class within the week and that's exciting. My next three classes have arrived but I'll be completing them one at a time over the next few months. The main thing I've enjoyed about this so far is how what I'm learning is so applicable to what I'm teaching in Chapel and in my Bible classes. Pray that God will continue to use this time to grow me closer to Him and that I would come to love Him, and not theology, more and more.


E03 said...

i'm curious to know what seminary you're doing your studies through...?

Thomas & Mollie said...

Tyndale Theological Seminary and Biblical Institute (Ft. Worth, TX)

E03 said...

fruchtenbaum, ryrie, whitcomb...looks like some good stuff. thanks for the reply.