I finished the course Introduction to Hermeneutics from the Koinonia Institute not long ago, and thought a review was in order.
The study materials used were the video briefing pack from Chuck Missler called Hermeneutics 101.
You can read all of my course reviews here.
Let’s get started….
Reasons I Took This Course
Not long ago I discovered Koinonia Institute membership became free. It is a school I’ve always wanted to attend, but never could justify the annual membership fee, so I just self-studied Chuck Missler’s materials without the formal course structures (little did I know, all this time I could have enrolled for free as a Veteran and had the membership fee waived).
Once I discovered the change, though, I immediately signed up and started my first course, the Book of Jude. That ended up being a really great course, and I learned quite alot.
During that time, I put together a study plan. Well, maybe more aptly, I incorporated KI into my already existing uThM Program.
Hermeneutics was my second choice, after Jude, before diving into more meatier books. I previously went through these materials years ago as a new believer while in Germany, but I thought a refresher couldn’t hurt, and it worked out rather great to combine this KI course with other hermeneutic courses I wanted to take to create a Mega Course. This is akin to what Coursera does with their Specializations (a group of courses that cover a similar topic).
So, I got started and before I even realized it, I was finished with KI’s Intro to Hermeneutics course.
What I Liked About the Course
Chuck Missler is a fantastic bible teacher. I’m not sure what it is about him, or about his style, but I can listen to him for hours. Regular preachers bore me to death most of the time. Another teacher from a seminary that I’m watching co-currently makes me want to stab myself in the eyes every time I sit through one of his classes. There’s just something about Chuck that draws me in.
Maybe it’s because I was introduced to his materials shortly after I became a believer, before churches were really too involved in my life.
He had a real effect on me back then. He seemed honest, engaging, systematic, and was not prone to all the woo woo everyone else seemed susceptible to at the time.
Later on, at his behest (Acts 7:11), I discovered not everything he claimed was altogether accurate. Not sure why. Inquiries to KHouse were simply answered with, “that’s our understanding and this is Chuck’s belief.” I found it a little disheartening, but maybe for my benefit, so I couldn’t raise him up above Christ as Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 3. Much like the heretical ideas of Billy Graham that no one seems to want to talk about, which I’ve always found strange. But, it keeps me forever drawing closer to the Word of God, rather than the doctrines or cult of personalities of mere men.
With that said, though, I do get a great deal out of these courses from Chuck Missler and from others. From commentaries, from a select number of books and other bible research tools.
But, my goal in creating this combined Mega course in Hermeneutics was to develop a firmer grasp on how I might approach the bible in the future. As I wrote in my discussion questions, I sought to develop a “clear schema from which to operate.”
This, of course, is not possible with just this course alone. Actually, that depends on where you are at with your relationship with God. These course materials helped me immensely back when I was a new believer. Today, though, they were much less engaging, and very much served only as an overview of what knowledge I have already attained.
I did enjoy the background material on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I had not realized the particular information about Group 1 and 2, that they corresponded perfectly with the LXX and Masoretic texts due to the revisionist works of those at the Council of Jamnia in 90 A.D.
It is so fascinating to see the near universal self-serving motivations of men throughout history as they interact with this supernatural text, and how it simply reconfirms the need for critical analysis, to be, as the bible puts it, “wise as serpents, harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). It is a true statement, “every intent of the thoughts of [man’s] heart [is] only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
I was also able, during this course, to reconfirm why it is I believe the bible in the first place. Why it is I accept the biblical account of Jesus, believe that he is the Messiah, that he died on the cross for me, and rose on the third day to the right hand of the father. That, through the working of his will, I have hope one day in the resurrection (Romans 10:9). It is a great feeling to clarify and find a firm footing before embarking on the journey ahead.
I think, by far, the best part of this course (and all KI courses) are the Discussion Questions, which, surprisingly, are only optional and not required to pass the course.
But, I found, in both classes now, the discussion questions are primarily where I learn the most about myself, about my life in Christ, about my fears and struggles with the text and with God and really get to wrestle with the subject matter in question.
They are crucial to growth, so do not skip them.
What I Did Not Like
As already discussed, the only part of this course that I did not care for was the basic nature and brevity of the material.
But, given this was a review of material for me, and the fact that I am no longer working and wrestling with basic tenants of faith (as new Christians would be), it is reasonable to conclude it’s not a problem with the course, per se.
I have learned as I progress, my uThM program is more of a detailed and individualized study plan for personal sanctification rather than a traditional seminary degree.
Seminaries seem oriented (rightly or wrongly) toward preparing (or gatekeeping) someone for professional ministry within the confines of the modern, organized, professional church, to become part of the pastorate as expressed today through a kind of quasi-magisterial episcopate.
This is not my interest.
After years of soul searching, contemplation, working through doubt, disillusion, and a great deal of both self-inflicted and external confusion, I’ve come to realize I have no interest or call to formal, professional, pastoral ministry.
Rather, I am called to, for lack of better terminology, a Christian philosophy, a Christian metaphysic. This is primarily expressed through a mystical, solitary, hermitic context, where I seek to know myself better (as God might know me), to understand God better, and to equip myself now for the journey ahead as I delve deeper into the mystery that is both the church and my place in it – to explore the ramifications and sheer severity of death and what it means to place all hope in the resurrection to come.
I do not wish to, “be conformed to this world,” but rather I desire to “be transformed by the renewing of [my] mind, that [I] may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
I hold no interest in what the world holds in high esteem. I have no interest in maintaining familial bonds, in friendships, companionships, in seeking or maintaining an intimate relationship with a human counterpart. I have no desire for marriage, in raising a family or the distraction from God that is predicated by it.
I seek a greater intimacy with God, with Christ. I desire to peel back the transitory nature of this world, this reality, longing to be a part of, to enter into, to explore the depths of the other, greater spiritual world that encapsulates this false one we have come to know.
This course, with the help of the others in this combination, are re-confirming the foundation already laid of the apostles and prophets, of Christ, the chief cornerstone.
In the end, this is a great introduction to how a new believer should approach the bible.
If I had the opportunity, I would put this course in the hands of every new convert. Speaking for myself, years ago, the course materials used truly saved me from the vice of heretical doctrine and spurious theologies (if I might so boldly claim from which things I am free – may I take heed [1 Corinthians 10:12]).
If you struggle with understanding how to read the bible, get confused by what you hear from the pulpit, then I recommend this course and these materials.
If you have not yet accepted Christ’s work on the cross, it does not matter what course or teaching material you use. You will not understand the truth of the bible.
The end is nigh.
Read Romans 10:9. If you are still stuck in your old life. If mired in human religion, read 2 Peter 2.
Pray that God will forgive you your sins and remember them no more. Believe and confess that he raised Jesus from the dead, and you will be saved.
Until my next review…..
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:
There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.
“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.
He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.
Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.
“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”
He chuckled at himself.
“So – ”
Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.
“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”
Mr. Eckey nodded.
“How long have you been a novitiate here?”
“Going on seven months now.”
He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.
“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”
“It has been – ”
Christopher thought about the question for a moment.
“ – wonderful.”
“I would assume it much different than – ”
Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.
“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”
“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”
“Not really. I guess. I just – ”
Unwanted images flashed through his mind.
Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.
“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”
He tapped his pen on the tablet.
“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”
“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”
“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”
Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.
“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”
“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.
“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”
The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.
“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”
Mr. Eckey stopped writing.
“Your military career.”
“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”
Mr. Eckey put his pen down.
“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
He shifted his weight on the hard bench.
“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”
“Are you talking about another monastery?”
“Actually – ”
Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.
“It’s an entirely different Order.”
Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.
“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”
Mr. Eckey waited a moment.
“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”
“What about it?”
“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”
Christopher shot him a quizzical look.
“How do you know that?”
“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”
Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.
“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”
“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”
Christopher tried to relax.
He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.
A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.
He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.
Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.
“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”
“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey shook his head.
“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”
“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”
“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”
“I’m – I don’t – ”
“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”
Mr. Eckey interrupted.
“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”
“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.
Mr. Eckey smiled.
“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”
“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”
“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”
“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.
“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.
Christopher said nothing.
“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”
The man shrugged.
“May I – ”
Christopher pondered his words.
“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”
“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”
Christopher shook his head.
“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”
“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”
He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.
“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”
“But, how – ”
Mr. Eckey put up a hand.
“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”
He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”
Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.
“What kind of need, exactly?”
The man just smiled.
“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”
Christopher looked back at the card.
“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”
He briefly looked around the grounds.
“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”
He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.
Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.
The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.
He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.
Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?
Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!
But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!