I wanted to write and share with you guys how I am doing earlier, but I apologize for the delay. It has been surprisingly busy. I am pretty bummed that I was not able to join you guys for the retreat a month ago; Kim told me how much fun you guys had and how it seemed like the church was really growing, both spiritually and numerically. I’m so encouraged to hear the periodic reports about the church!
Well as for my studies, first of all I passed my Summer Greek class (or what others call suicide Greek). It was a pretty intense summer. Even with all the months of working ahead that I did, the class caught up pretty quickly and I was needing to study at least three to five hours a day. This is quite a change of pace from what I was used to in college. But even then, there were other students who were putting in up to six hours a day, on top of the regular class schedule, so I guess I was pretty good by comparison.
As for seminary, it is challenging. I thought I was pretty well-prepared coming into the school, but I quickly realized how far behind I was. There are so many students who have grown up steeped in the Reformed faith and are very well-read. Many of my classmates are so knowledgeable in their church history and can name many of the Puritans and church fathers and Reformers and heretics. Many of them also use big words like presuppositional apologetics versus evidential apologetics versus classical apologetics. Others talk about the Pactum Salutis, and the difference between echtypal versus archetypal theology. (Even as I’m writing this, I have to look up all these words because I am still so unfamiliar with them.) All this to say that I have been feeling overwhelmed, not only with the gap in knowledge between myself and others, but also at the amount of studying and reading that is required.
To give you just a glimpse, there was a test that I had to study for very intensely. This is the English Bible Exam. It tests our basic understanding of the Bible, and if you do not pass it, you are required to take a bible survey class. One of the professors said that about 75% of those who take it fail. I just took it on Monday, so I’ll hear back soon, but I am very nervous. (If you’re interested in seeing what kinds of questions it had, click here for the study guide.)
Regardless of all the hard work, I am grateful to be here. There is a temptation to become cynical and to think that these things are unnecessary. There is a temptation to think that all this studying is just the endless musings of academics separated from the world and culture and that what the church really needs is not scholars but pastors. But I’ve been growing increasingly aware of just how false that dichotomy is. After all, zeal without knowledge is what the Jews were guilty of and because of it, they were ignorant of the gospel of Jesus (Rom. 10:2-4). No, instead it is those who have been faithful to studying and laboring diligently in private, who will be able to better serve the church in public. And all this studying, I pray, will help me to faithfully equip the saints (not just spiritually but intellectually) so that they will grow in maturity, no longer being children tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and human cunning (Eph. 4:11-14).
I’m also grateful that this knowledge that we are gaining is not to fuel our pride, but to serve the church. One of the requirements of the professors at Westminster is that they are pastors of local congregations. And because of that, we are constantly reminded that our work here is ultimately to serve the church, the bride of Christ. Whether it be in the prayers that the professors pray before every class, or during the lectures, or chapel messages, we hear the gospel, and the gospel compels us to go proclaim it, both to believers and nonbelievers, for therein are the words of life.
So please, church, pray for me. I feel so weak and inadequate, and I would greatly appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would give me wisdom so that I could study and learn well during this privileged season, so that I am able to boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel.