You might have noticed posts on this blog have suddenly stopped. The reason is two-fold, really. First, I had a backlog of written posts scheduled out, along with the daily podcast of my books spread out over the course of a month or so. This gave me ample time to keep writing and scheduling, as long as nothing got in the way.
Well, the second part is what got in the way, and that was my MA in Theological Studies.
So, I’m taking a break this morning (actually did not have enough time last night to prep my last paper for the second to last class, which means I have a lot of time today with nothing to do for my degree) to write an update on what’s happening concerning my education and my Unschooled Master of Theology program.
Needless to say, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride….
Only One Course Left
So, it’s been, I think, maybe two weeks since I reestablished my studies at NationsUniversity, and I’ve finished one class with an A, and I’m just about to finish a second class (probably with a B, maybe a C depending on how the papers are graded). I have one more essay to write and then I will move on to the last course, a research writing project. I’m excited and a little anxious about going on to a PhD program. Before I do, I will need to take serious stock of what I’m made of, what I truly want from the rest of my life, before I take the plunge. The PhD will provide additional credentials, especially the regional accreditation, though, I don’t know if I will need it or not. Not sure if regionally accredited schools will accept a degree from a nationally accredited school as long as I have block credits from a regionally accredited school, or if everything has to be from regional accreditation.
To be completely honest, I really don’t care. It might be out of vanity, but I’ve always wanted to finish grad school. And now I’ve come to a point in my life where I have a great deal of time on my hands, and a substantive amount of disposable income (this is always relative so don’t get too excited). I keep coming up to the question, “Why shouldn’t you go back?” The answers against are not convincing. What also would be the alternative? Should I, instead, waste away the money on entertainment? I have all the entertainment I could possibly want. Should I spend it instead on a girlfriend? Have a family and spend the money on children? I invoke Matthew 19. Trust me, I can accept it. Travel? Get real.
It all chases me back to the point at which I hear Christ’s words echo in my head. “It is fitting to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). He didn’t need to be baptized at the river by John. Whatever mechanistic value you decide baptism might have, Christ was in need of none of it. It didn’t save him. It wasn’t an outward expression of his inward condition. He wasn’t participating in his own death before his death that he might live in himself. But it did serve as a model for those who followed after him, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m been drawn to finish my degree simply because that is the system we have today, and I will need these qualifications in the future for whatever God has in store. I honestly don’t know what that might be. I find myself Abraham at the top of the mountain with a dagger in my hand, about to sacrifice the only son I have left. How could God ask me to do this when it present so many obstacles? Faith. Abraham stepped out in faith. He knew sacrificing Isaac would create a terrible problem, but it was a problelm God would have to handle. It was only up to Abraham to obey and walk by faith and not by sight.
If I finish my MA and go on and finish my PhD and I end up working part time at a gas station the rest of my life, or sell my house and retire to the woods or live out of a van down by the river, I don’t care. This is not my life. It belongs to God. I am a monarchist in the realest sense of the world. I have a King and I serve at his pleasure.
At this point, it’s all about preparation for whatever comes next. For what might occur. If I prepare and nothing happens, so be it. I enjoy the studies and circumstances have moved me toward subjects I really want to explore. What may come. Though a little nervous about the prospects, I’m quite excited about the challenge of such a course of study. I kind of want to do it just to see if I can pull it off.
So I plan to finish up my second class tomorrow (my first day off from work) and then devote the rest of the week to the last class, which is the research project. This will, hopefully, if approved by the instructor, focus on the initial research of angels, more specifically, on the often glossed over connection between angels and humans, extrapolating from characteristics found in both states of existence to propose a possible hypotheses concerning angelic origin, addressing why it is not at all discussed in the bible, and how this will affect human transformation into Sons of God. I hope this will eventually develop into my PhD dissertation, where I will have more room afforded to explore what appears to be a common ancestry for both angel and human beings, their apparent mutual destiny as Sons of God, and what this might intimate concerning the scope of the grander spiritual world within which our spatially three dimensional, limited reality seems to reside.
I need to be careful here (which also may explain the hesitancy from orthodoxy to take up such speculations), since this is apparently a well formed doctrine within Mormon camps. So we will see what happens when I turn in the prospectus.
If not accepted as a subject, I will then shift to a discussion of the soul, mind, consciousness as it pertains to death, or, more specifically, the point of death and after, when we are dislodged from our physical bodies. I would like to focus on preparations one might take for such an event (my death) and maybe even attempt to formulate the steps of death, both leading up to departure (much has already been done here) and what can be said after the disconnect (this is still murky).
Eventually, these two spheres are my research interest and where I would like to focus my efforts in the future. Fingers crossed I can graduate from my master’s program with an MA in Theological Studies (default degree, really), which will in turn hopefully qualify me for acceptance into the PhD program at Liberty.
The PhD Program
This is the grand vision, and really only became an option a few weeks ago. Seems like months have gone by. But, it is the goal. I do not wish to get an ecclesiastical degree (MDiv, etc). I have no interest in being a “pastor” (term is not biblical), and want to do my best to balance the line between theological and secular academic study, in hopes that I might be accepted in either (preferably both). But, who knows. Maybe a degree (any degree) from Liberty is a waste of time.
In addition to pursuing the PhD in Biblical Exposition, which will be one course per term, I plan to take an additional graduate course in a secular subject simultaneously. First I will take three more courses in History, which will finish my History block with 18 graduate credits from regionally accredited universities. Next I would like to take 18 more credits in something else, but I’m not certain I know what that would be. At first I wanted to complete a block in Marketing, but now I’m not so sure. I wish Liberty has not jettisoned it’s Philosophy Department a few years ago. But, what can you do? I have found a private Catholic University that offers an online graduate Philosophy Certificate, with relatively the same cost (about $6000 for 18 credits). They, too, are regionally accredited, but I wish I could find another block or two at Liberty so I can reduce the tuition cost since I would be utilizing their block tuition rate. I have 2.5 blocks to complete that would fit into the 2.5 years it will take me to finish the PhD. I could do Marketing and Psychology and History. But I’m not all that interested in psychology and in marketing I’m losing interest quickly. We will have to wait and see.
Worst case scenario, I only finish the three history courses and then end up doubling up on the PhD courses (until the last 3 courses for the dissertation where doubling up is not an option). 11 courses would be required, then three more courses for the dissertation, plus the defense. If I only did the history block, then it would be a total of 17 courses, at 2 courses per term, two terms per semester and three semesters per year, it would take me 1.5 years instead of 2.5. I would then be qualified to teach bible courses, theology, and history. Add a graduate certificate in Philosophy and then I would actually be pretty content. Plus, the extra money from the two additional blocks (marketing and psychology) would more than pay for the philosophy certificate. Then I would be able to teach all the courses I have interest in. It would theoretically cost a total of: $17,000, give or take additional fees.
Podcast About Training in the Church
Of course, I’m conflicted about joining academia. A few days ago I listened to a podcast with Michael Heiser as the guest. He discussed how the process we use in the church to train, essentially, ministers is the secular process of institutionalized academia. If someone in the local church feels called to the ministry, he is uprooted and pulled away from that local church, and spends 2-5 years in another place and is forced to shoulder a sometimes insane amount of debt, enslaving them in the future to only certain jobs (those that pay well), and what he learns in seminary might have more to do with “seat time” than actual learning.
Michael’s solution is to instead move back to the process used before institutionalization of church education (I would say the church, too). Pastors take on 1 or 2 students every few years, they are discipled by the church in theology and application, and then they either serve at the local body or are sent out to plant new churches, and, in turn, repeat this process of taking on disciples and sending them out. This is a biblical model. But, I wonder if it would work in modern society?
The other side of this is leveraging distance learning so the individual can remain in the local body. This would remove the requirement for the local pastor to shoulder the additional time and effort to be educator as well as shepherd. Both models could work. I am using the latter, but not to serve locally. Rather, I leverage distance learning to remain at a distance. The thought of sitting in a physical classroom with a bunch of other people seems horrific. I would much rather carry out my research from the comfort of my own home.
So, I’m not certain what call would be appropriate for me. I am certainly an isolationist, but I think this is mostly driven by unbiblical views being propagated from pulpits. Involving oneself in the local assembly is paramount to constant and continual confrontation which leads only to disillusionment. The modern church is asset, program, and numbers driven. It is a business. This is not what Christ desired for his believers.
How Might I Serve?
It is clear from Scripture, we are to be concerned for the state and development of the body of Christ. In fact, all expressions of the fivefold ministry are for the expressed purpose of building up the saints (those not in the fivefold) for works of service. The end result of this would be growing up into the unity and full knowledge of Christ (until the end of all things and we step into eternity).
I could play a part in this process through academia, if, for no other reason, this is the system we have operating today. But, I could likewise take part at the local church, in some teaching capacity. But, this is what everyone wants to do. Everyone wants to be a teacher. To be completely honest, I don’t. But we are drawn to the callings we have been given. Who am I to say what is right for me?
Another idea I’ve been thinking about today is opening my house up as a hermitage. Instead of using it as a rental (which I do not want to do) or get roommates (really don’t want to do), I could follow the modern monastic model and turn my house into a hermitage and host retreatants, while simultaneously starting and operating an online (or residential) philosophy/theology school. I can take on a few disciples to train in a residential program, and more online. But, what would I teach them? I don’t really feel as if I have anything to say. The ancient addage applies. “Go, sit in your cell and close the door, and Christ will teach you everything.”
What more does one need than a willing heart and the bible? What more does one need than a willing heart? If you are called, the Holy Spirit will teach you.
I don’t presume to know what God has planned for me. I am confident at the moment to finish my last few assignments for the MA in Theological Studies. It will cost me $450.
Update: Just got the score back on the essay exam I submitted last night. 98%, which means I currently have an 82% in the class with one more assignment left, an essay on Archeology. I can get a 70% on the last assignment and still pull a B in the class. I should be able to finish it tomorrow.
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 The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them.
“Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.”
He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing.
“Let’s go,” Scott said.
Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos.
Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them.
But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat.
As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull.
Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind.
The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be.
The intercom came back to crackling life.
Derrick said over the intercom.
“Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.”
Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Scott finally asked.
There was a pause, static.
“What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?”
“Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on.
“They refused to help me.”
“What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked.
There was another pause.
“I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said.
“Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy.
“I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
Buy the entire story The Light Aurora today and get ready for the thrill ride of a lifetime! What is this foreign and hostile place these strangers find themselves in? What does it all mean? Will all of them survive?
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But, trust me when I say, reading this book will change your life forever.