This week just past I started studying – very part time – at Sydney Missionary and Bible College.
I’ve always avoided studying theology at a Bible College for a number of reasons. First, there was so much pressure to do it in the Church I grew up in, that it was a complete turn off, pretty much from the get-go. Second, the ongoing pressure from ‘The Church’ in general made it clear that, whilst in word they said they valued my existence in ‘the workplace’, it was quite obvious that they really did not. The hypocrisy of the situation made it even more of a turn off.
But thirdly, and most importantly, it was clear that God did not want me to do any such study at that point in my life. I knew I didn’t want to, but I always maintained that I would if I thought he wanted me to do so. I was always prayerful about it, not wanting to be blindsided by my own bias.
Sure, I did the odd ‘audit subject’ here or there across the past 15 years or so, but no theology degree for me. Jesus said so, and I was most happy to oblige.
However, God wants me to study for a theology degree now. I don’t know exactly why and I don’t know exactly what degree He wants me to come out with at the end of it. I just know He wants me there now.
Fortunately these days, you can do a lot of study over zoom, which means you don’t even have to be on campus. So I’m there, but not there. This makes the whole thing a lot more… emotionally manageable.
I almost wrote OK, but I think emotionally manageable is a more honest way to express it.
‘Less is more’ might not be a Bible verse but it’s an old adage with good reason. Because I still don’t feel very comfortable about the whole thing.
I don’t want to end this post sounding holier than thou, but one of the turnoffs in my younger years was the insistence that purely because we attended a certain Church we should be studying at a Bible College. Or so we were told. I distinctly remember a meeting in which we were told how to go about the process of deciding whether Bible College was for us, or not. I remember glancing down the list of dot points to follow. There was nothing about our personal relationship with God. It was all very business-like, clinical and professional. At no point was there any suggestion of reading the Bible and asking God what he would have us do.
That has always seemed to me, the best thing to do. And so I have.
For a long time he said ‘Stay away’.
It’s a strange thing that He is saying something different now. I guess in part strange, because it seems removed from a relationship with God. Working out how to do this without being business-like and clinical but rather in relationship with God will be part of the challenge. That, and not taking part in any of the hypocrisy myself.
Even stranger still, is to have to write that when studying theology.
Yours in managing her theological study from a zoomed distance,