I graduated on Saturday from Biblical Seminary’s MDiv LEAD program along with our cohort (except for a special brother and faithful reader who was missed), and others from the other worthy programs at Biblical (MA Counseling, DMin, traditional MDiv). It’s good to be done, as it was a demanding program. Being in full-time ministry (and a position that I truly care about), being a husband (a role I care even more about) and a new father (do I have to say it?) was quite the experience. I know this is true for most graduate students and may grace be given especially to those who have it tougher. I always felt that I was fortunate in a few areas (supportive wife, able to stay up late and function on minimal sleep, and overall, the support from many within our ministry).
Finishing feels great but in truth, it feels great, because it was a great experience. As you can tell, I am very proud of Biblical and very grateful for this time. Here’s a bit of background for the sake of context. I graduated from Liberty University (Bachelors in Religion with Biblical Studies Concentration) in ’98 and also finished with a MAR from their graduate program (Liberty Theological) in ’99. If you know me, I go back and forth with my experience at Liberty; overall a good experience (met Susan and some great friends there) but I usually find myself saying something like if I could somehow guarantee marrying Susan, it would have been interesting to have gone some place else. I do remember graduation being the final hoop to go through as opposed to a celebration.
I had always planned on pursuing an Mdiv in my twenties but there was no opportunity to remain at my first church and study. So upon finally leaving, finding a church that would support me was big on the list just below one that valued healthy marriage (said with intentionality and a hint of playful spite ;-) As I mentioned during my graduation speech (one day I may upload it here) I also thought that I would have two or three children by my 30th birthday. After years of fertility treatments, altering diets, medications, it were syllabi of Newbigin, Franke, and Hirsch that allowed us to adopt and then conceive. Life never goes as planned.
In looking back, I have come to the conclusion that I enjoyed seminary more than I thought I would. That’s a pretty big statement for as you can see, it took a lot to get there. Seminary was a need for me for several reasons:
1. As much as I read, I didn’t always …
A. know what to read
B. and what to do with it.
Seminary has not “solved” that but has really helped in both areas.
2. I had too many suspicions regarding the Church, our theology, and our application, etc.
Among them are …
A. more and more, I am convinced that the Church is in need of great reform.
B. the emerging church conversation is essential to the future of the Church, especially our children and grandchildren. I truly see us X’ers and older Millennials (as well as prophetic Boomers) as the “bridge generation”.
C. I needed a place to test-drive numerous thoughts, hear the insights of others, be challenged, be refuted, be inspired.
Though some suspicions were confirmed (Like, “Am I the only one who reads this passage this way?” (“Oohh, pretty much all Christians did too until the last 100 years. I see – thanks.”) and some suspicions were intelligently thrown back (“So what you are saying is that it’s heretical. I see – thanks.”) (And yes, specific examples will not be mentioned here lest you think I am brilliant or stupid ;-)
I think I am leaving seminary with …
… valuing my local context.
… better theological and biblical foundation.
… the new friendships made in Cohort 10!
… better spiritual formation practices.
… less jaded.
… more hope for the Church, a better understanding of the triune God, a better follower of Jesus, and a healthier understanding of the Gospel.
I know seminary is not for everyone, and Biblical may not be either, but for me, it was a great experience and I am very thankful for this season of life.