The Results are In
How do I feel about that? What have I learned…?
Firstly, how do I feel?
I acknowledge that it has always been a piece of baggage for me that I did not complete university when I was young. I have always maintained that it doesn’t matter, and on one level it certainly doesn’t. I always knew who I was and what I was capable of, and a “qualification” just represents someone else figuring it out!
But on another level, a level of which I’m a little ashamed, it sort of does matter. I have been determined not to be ashamed of lacking such a qualification, and I’m not, but I am ashamed that this detachment doesn’t come naturally. Now, I no longer need to counsel myself to be unashamed, unfortunately not because I have grown in maturity, but because I now have the status I desired. Would it have been “nobler in the mind” to have remained without such worldly recognition? Hmmm.
Nevertheless, because it took commitment, effort, and dedication over an extended period of time, I am extremely grateful that I can honestly say that I am proud of the achievement. I was not “entitled” to it. I had to earn it.
Second, what have I learned?
- I’ve learned that it is pointless to study theology without engaging boldly with human community, human griefs, joys, and minutiae, to experience the power and transformative potential of theological contemplations as they are brought to bear on the human condition. To miss this would be to become an irrelevant, mumbling professor.
- I’ve learned that it is also pointless to try to develop a Christian ministry without a focus on seeking deeper learning for one’s self along the way. To miss this would be to become simply a do-good charity at best, and a cynical one at worst.
- I’ve learned how to write an essay (and then ignored that knowledge when posting this).
- In short, I’ve learned as much from ministry activities as I have from the bookish learning activities, and each one informs the other.
- I’ve learned that theological study is very good at deconstruction, but lacks the tools for reconstruction, because the entire endeavour has been battered so heavily by post-modernity, and is still reeling from it. Countless perfectly good faiths are entranced by the siren song of post-Enlightenment Rationalism, and are shipwrecked unnecessarily upon the rocks of cynicism, when attempting the journey through theological college. Bible colleges desperately need authentic re-constructors who get it, live it, and can impart it.
- I’ve learned that for the subjects in which I was most knowledgeable, I scored the lowest grades, whereas in the subjects for which I had the most to learn I scored High Distinctions. This is because I knowingly make the vain attempt to express the subtle truth instead of regurgitating the inadequate response expected… within the insufficient word limit provided. I accept the lower marks and remain unrepentant.
- I’ve learned that theologians, some of whom have written big, fat, influential textbooks can be flat wrong about things. They also all too often lack common sense.
- I’ve learned that pretty much everything that divides the Christian community across the globe today is the result of theologians writing big, fat, influential textbooks at some point in history, in which they got various things flat wrong, or failed to take common sense into consideration.
- I’ve learned that 90% of the fatness of theological textbooks is due to theologians getting things flat wrong, and then having to spend tens of thousands of words, often also inventing new ones as they go, incorrectly “explaining” something which could correctly be explained in two paragraphs (which is what the Bible does, if only we understand it).
- I’ve learned that almost all modern hermeneutics of the Old Testament are thoroughly run-through with eisegesis, informed by later debunked conclusions of Source Criticism, even when ostensibly relying on Narrative Criticism instead (I realise that’s a highly jargonistic, technical complaint that only a theologian would understand, but only theologians need to hear it. It’s exasperating!)
- I’ve learned that Greek is hard. Actually, languages are hard. For me, that is. I had to really work at Greek. It was worth it, though. Maybe I’ll do Hebrew some time.
- I’ve learned that whatever the question, whatever the challenge to this faith of Jesus Christ, no matter how convincingly something appears to undermine the claims of Christianity, it actually doesn’t. It is reasonable to be a Christian.
- I’ve learned that most people are never going to learn the things I’ve learned, and that more the most part they don’t need to. The knowledge is for me, so that I can best minister faith to people. Most people don’t want or need a theology degree. The last thing you need from your heart surgeon, for example, is a medical degree. No, you need heart surgery!
- I’ve learned that I love to learn, and I’m going to miss studying. Exasperating as it often is!
- I’ve learned that when people find out you’ve finished a degree, the most common question is, “what’s next?“
In conclusion to this rambling introspection, I think the most important recognition is that my family and my close friends have supported me in the most amazing ways as I studied, and my results reflect this strong network of loving support. I’m deeply grateful for that. It also goes without saying, of course, that my God, who always sustains me in everything, is the primary stakeholder in my successes, as my whole blog will readily attest.
So now I’m a bachelor…?