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Thursday, August 31, 2006 

School Rantings

Well, this week I started back at Union University for my last year in undergraduate work. For those of you who are not familiar with Union it is a conservative, Southern Baptist institution whose Christian Studies department is theologically Reformed, though there are a few Arminians among the faculty. Some of you who have been reading my blog regularly for a while may be surprised by the fact that I am attending such a school since I'm neither Southern Baptist, conservative, nor Reformed. Rather, I stem from a charismatic tradition (Assembly of God), consider myself more of a moderate, and am a hopeful universalist (though I think annihilationism is a viable option).

Why then am I at Union? For one thing I do love and respect the Faculty, even if I'm not theologically in step with most of them. Another reason is that Union has in the past few years become a well-respected Biblical Studies school in undergraduate work. This will certainly help as I seek a graduate school(s) to attend. But aside from these two things, my main reason for attending Union is for its strong foundation in Biblical Languages. In fact, my first year of undergrad was spent at Lambuth University and though I loved Lambuth and its faculty it did not have the strong foundation in biblical languages that I was seeking and so I transfered.

Anyways, an interesting thing happened today at school. One of my frustrations this week was finding out that my German class had been canceled due to staffing complications. I was really looking forward to getting a beginner's year of German before going to graduate school. But to stay full time I needed to add another class. However, for various reasons I ended up changing around other things on my schedule, dropping a class here, adding a class there. To get approval for this kind of stuff you, naturally, have to get approval from either your advisor or the Dean of the school. Well, my advisor was not in so I went to see our new (and first) Dean, Dr. Gregory Thornbury (a very intelligent and humorous professor) and get approved for the changes. He surprised me by saying that he heard that I had quite the blog. Then later in my "History of Christianity" class, when I gave my name to Dr. James Patterson he asked if I was the "blogger."

Intriguing.

Ha, that's great.

So you think German isn't really necessary until perhaps a year before post-grad? I wasn't sure whether I was going to start it early or not. I figure I'll have more than enough with Greek and Latin when I start next year.

You've been outed as a non-conservative. In my experience, this means you are a marked man.

Sure it begins with smiles, but only until they realize they can't "fix" you. Next comes the faculty meeting pow wow conspiracy. Then expect the academic world equivalent of the sheriff pulling over the long- haired-out-of-towner saying (slowly) "It looks like you've got a busted taillight" as he proceeds to bust the light out with the billy club right before your eyes.

In other words:
Be quiet, stay low, and get the hell out quick!

:)

David, you've apparently had bad experiences.

I think you've made an excellent choice regarding undergrad. Prestige really doesn't count at that point, and picking a school that has things that you love is a great reason to attend.

Enjoy the start to your busy year!

Blessings,
Derek

I am a "hopeful universalist" as well. One should also note the accommodationist approach toward "hopeful universalism." Here's how I've used that approach in discussions with non-universalists:

What if Jesus was merely speaking in terms people understood in his day concerning the afterlife? Hence "hell" was destruction, even "everlasting punishment"). But why does that have to be the truth? Maybe God was accommodating his speech to that day and age, first-century Judaism? Maybe the hints of universalism in the Bible are more correct than the more numerous references to first-century apocalyptic ideas?

At the very least, the "accommodationist" argument is quite common today regarding everything from interpreting Genesis non-literally to interpreting the pro-slavery and female subservience to males passages non-literally. In so far as making them "dogmas" goes, the accommodationist question remains as it does in the case of "hell" as well.

Dalton in SALVATION AND DAMNATION (Clergy Book Service), argues that Jesus was a first-century Jew raised to understand the afterlife as a first-century Jewish apocalyptist would, i.e., influenced by inter-testamental works and ideas.

Can we say for certain that any of us know exactly what will happen throughout eternity? I suspect that God and time are the best teachers and can't help hoping for the best, especially since life is short and time for study is short, and we only see darkly now, so "correct belief" doesn't even seem to make sense, since we don't "see" things as they are, and people's beliefs necessarily differ.

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