Bible college

Sixteen things I love about college

Lest you read that last post and think that I’m a negative nancy who isn’t enjoying the College experience, let me put your mind at ease with this list of things I am loving about being at college… I listed 16 because the experience has been more positive than negative – and I suggested 12 improvements.

  1. Studying with my wife
    What an amazing privilege. I need to keep reminding myself, even when she gets better marks than me, that it’s an amazing opportunity to live life together (all hours of the day) in a way that we couldn’t when we were both working, and we possibly won’t again for a long time.
  2. Filling in gaps/gaining knowledge
    Knowledge is like high fructose corn syrup. And I’m like a fat kid addicted to soft drink. Knowledge might puff you up – but it’s addictive and I’m enjoying the process of trying to quench my seemingly unquenchable thirst. I love reading. I love ideas. I love debating with scholars in my head and on paper. The library is an awesome new discovery for me. I managed to studiously avoid the library in my first degree. But, so many books, so little time. Our librarian is also amazing.
  3. Writing Essays
    Knowledge will only get you so far, I love the process of communicating knowledge through writing. Essays are where it’s at as far as motivating study and clarifying thoughts and arguments goes. I have thoroughly enjoyed the topics I’ve chosen to write about where choice is available, and benefited from the exercise when choice isn’t.
  4. Having the Bible come to life
    Standing in front of the Bema in Ancient Corinth is possibly literally a once in a lifetime experience, doing it with a bunch of people from college and a lecturer who specialises in first century Roman culture and its interaction with Christianity is an amazing experience. But that’s only the tip of the obelisk when it comes to the question of how college has fleshed out my understanding of the background to the Old and New Testaments. I’m pretty firmly settled on historical context being an important hermeneutical key – so the chance to dig around in primary source documents from the Ancient Near East, Qumran, Greek and Roman philosophy, and political proclamations from the Roman empire has been a really rewarding experience.
  5. Having to justify our presuppositions, and having our assumptions challenged
    College is a stretch, some scholarly ideas are worth considering, and you’re almost always richer for undergoing the process of considering (and rejecting) them. Someone told me that if you get to college too late in life you’re already to set in your ways for it to effect you – I hope that’s not the case for me.
  6. Being taught by faculty who love the Bible and love us
    While the pitfalls and potholes of modern scholarship are many and varied, our staff are academically excellent and theologically orthodox. They model the appropriate approach to scholarly pursuits, while also demonstrating a love for God’s word and for us. It’s encouraging to see the two spheres of theology and ministry come together like they do in our teachers.
  7. Mission
    Before we went overseas on our trip we went to Toowoomba for a week of mission. It was an experience. Time spent with other people, in a foreign church, seeing how stuff gets done in the real world, and doing some RE and other evangelism stuff, was great.
  8. Studying with other people
    Some people have told me that the best thing about college is the relationships you form with other people. It’s probably true. I’ve loved serving with others on mission, travelling overseas with 20 other students, and just hanging out and chatting about significant (and not so significant) theological and practical issues. The college community is a blast, and little random acts of generosity and kindness from other students have been greatly appreciated.
  9. Constructive arguments about theology
    I love arguing. I love arguing with smart people in an encouraging way and having my thinking stretched.
  10. Chapel
    Chapel services have been pretty amazing experiences. Hearing fellow students and the staff preach, singing together, being encouraged by God’s word, singing and praying together has been a consistent highlight of the week for me all year.
  11. Handball
    Seriously. How cool is handball. I heard it’s almost banned at other colleges in Australia.
  12. The Coffee
    Roasted with care. Ground fresh every morning. Brewed scientifically. Turning a profit. How can I complain.
  13. The Drive
    We did have the coolest car going to college from the northern suburbs of Brisbane. The drive to and from college was almost always eventful.
  14. Language “study hour”
    So, you may have the impression that I don’t love studying Greek and Hebrew. You’re right. but one thing I do like is that QTC built time to study the languages into the program so we don’t have to at home (in theory).
  15. The Location
    Eating lunch overlooking the river. Oh, the serenity.
  16. Free Bread
    Brumbies give us free bread every Wednesday.

On Stress and Bible College and Ministry

I’ve never been the type for stress. I pride myself on my relaxed disposition and laissez-fair approach to life. Life on cruise control. That’s my default. But in the last few weeks I’ve been wracked by crippling stomach cramps and other weirdness of the belly. Well they weren’t crippling. That may have been hyperbolic. But they were bad. The source of such stress, so far as I can tell, is at least partly college. Bible College. I’ve spoken to a few other past and present students of Bible Colleges near and far. And they’ve reported similar symptoms and the knowledge of others also feeling similar symptoms. But why is it so. It’s Bible College.

Shouldn’t Bible College be an encouraging, edifying and nurturing experience full of grace and light? Well yes. And mostly it is. But for some reason the rationale that “what I’m doing has eternal significance” keeps creeping in. I want to turn every stone in every essay, I want to get every mark possible, not because I want marks, but because I don’t want to lose them lest they be the result of some deficiency in my knowledge that will find an outworking twenty years down the track. It’s almost worth becoming Baptist (simply because then I don’t have to get a degree).

When I studied Journalism I didn’t care. I just wanted the bit of paper, and the job. Uni was a breeze. I learned the essentials, came out (thanks to a natural inclination to journalism) able to do the job I was hired to do. I had matched certain areas of gifting with equipping. And it didn’t hurt.

Bible College, especially Bible College for the purpose of vocational ministry training, is ostensibly seeking to do the same thing, So what’s the difference?

Couple the stress of college with the increasing prevalence of ministry burnout, and stressed ministers (with all sorts of associated health problems) and I think we’ve got symptoms of a wider problem. Not to mention the burnout going on in the pews – roster fatigue, the problems associated with over-programming, and the burdens of underparticipation where the few do the work of the many.

Christian life is meant to be full of trials and sufferings, perhaps we’ve simply replaced external persecution with internal persecution in order to develop a whole new band of martyrs.

Something tells me that if ministry, training for ministry, and participating in church life is causing actual physical and mental health problems then we’re doing it wrong.

If I fail Greek…

I still won’t enroll at this college…

So, last night, I decided to do some research on the fellow from this post. He has an Australian accent, so I figured he was probably one of ours… I was right. He’s in Brisbane. And he is an utter nut case. There are people who are on the fringes of Christianity who I don’t agree with, and then there are people so far gone that I think it’s ok to insult them.

This guy might have Tourette’s – but he’s also permanently drunk. He calls it “drunk in the spirit” – he claims to have been taken up to God for three days when he was converted 11 years ago, and to have been a “whacked prophet” ever since. He runs a college in Brisbane – I think he has two students. They are featured in this video.

His church, based on what I’ve seen in the background of his videos – appears to be his house. It looks like he’s painted the logo on one of the walls. He has pretty good graphic design, video production, and social media stuff going on – which is weird, because he’s otherwise completely insane. Here’s a bit of his “bio”…

Matt has been intoxicated (drunk in the Spirit) on the Father’s love since 1998, and at times is not able to function well in the physical realm due to the glory that rests on his life. He is a God pleaser. He is about his Fathers business….. drinking in the wine of Heaven and setting the captive free. Even though Matt has been in full time ministry for 11 years, he has kept himself out of the church “scene” so as to allow Holy Spirit to do His work in his life. Matt carries a strong prophetic revelatory, anointing and preaches whilst in a trance… or preaching whilst inside an encounter with Heaven.

Matt has a really simple style of ministry. He gets whacked (drunk… filled with Holy Spirit) and ministers from the glory realm. He spends hours a day drinking in the presence of Heaven so that he can unleash the torrent of the Fathers love every time he preaches. We have a staffing structure in place which enables Matthew to carry out his call and be filled with the “too much” anointing… continually.

It’s ok though, according to Mr “pisseth against the wall” himself – Steven L. Anderson – Bible College is a sin and will lead me out of fundamentalist KJV only soul winning orthodoxy…

Giving notice

I just told my employers that I won’t be here next year because I’m going to Bible College.

Good times.

I’m feeling a little deflated having been here for four years and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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