“A Response to Mr. Elliott” by Samuel Keithley

 For young high school graduates in America, college is many things.  It is an intimidating stage in growing up.  One takes his or her first long-term leave from parents and starts taking ownership of his or her personal life.  It is perceived to be the next necessary step to getting a career.  It is a new social atmosphere with new and exciting relationships.  It is where one can take a break to grow and learn without the common distractions that come from life.

At a Bible college the spiritual element is added.  Mr. Elliott did a great job addressing a problem that can occur when that spirituality is added to a place that is seen as essential in the next steps of life.  In his article that appeared in the previous issue of the SOMA, Elliott fought for intellectual integrity of the Christian student that feels called by God to his or her place for personal development.  Elliott clearly stated that one should work hard at the task that God puts before them and that there is no room for the excuse that only the urging of the Spirit is needed for ministry.  While the article gave solid encouragement for people to stop making excuses and put their nose to the grindstone, there are a couple things that need addressing. Continue reading

“It’s All About me, Right?” by Peter Elliot

The European Renaissance was a wonderful time of educational, artistic, and philosophical fervor. The 14th-17th century “Rebirth” revived scholastic work, while also birthing a peculiar system of thinking, humanism. Humanism, which was a term given to Renaissance thinking by Georg Voigt, is a system of thought which shifted the focus of education from the traditional academic authority of the teacher to individual academic authority of the student.1 Humanism put the emphasis on the individual human and not on the communal doctrine that ruled in the universities and churches. This academic freedom gave students the ability to break free of the dogmatic teachings and thoughts which were thrust upon them by their traditional teachers. The humanists did not wish to destroy doctrine, rather, they wanted to individually arrive at truth without being told what truth was, they wanted emotion to be an essential part of their education, and this made individual authority necessary. Renaissance Humanism in giving individual authority to every student allowed for the increase and eventual over-emphasis of individualism in the Western world. Continue reading

“Bible College is Probably a Bad Idea” by Jimmy Meeks

Wade was raised in a Christian church, and grew up never questioning its tenets. However, while Wade could explain that salvation from sin is only possible through Jesus Christ, it was not until his senior year of high school that he actually repented of his sin and put all of his faith and hope in Christ for salvation. His pastor played a major role in his conversion. Having truly found Christ for the first time, he exhibited zealous joy and conviction. He graduated high school and wanted to pursue whatever profession would allow him to love Christ the most, so becoming a pastor seemed the likely option. The more he thought about it, the more the ambition fortified in his mind. He would love the opportunity to be the influence on others that his pastor was on him, but he was also open to involvement in missions, biblical counseling, or any other full-time, vocational ministry. This desire became so strong the he was eventually convinced that he was called to pastoral ministry. His church was happy to see his newfound enthusiasm, and encouraged his desires. So Wade applied for the necessary student loans and enrolled in Bible college to begin pursuing his ambition of being a pastor. Continue reading

Education and the Holy Spirit by Peter Elliot

An ironic predicament has presented itself at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane. From my various conversations with fellow classmates, professors, (and even from reflection in my own life) I have realized a common and blatant contradiction in the way students view their theological education. This contradiction is the Bible student’s use of the Holy Spirit as a means of attaining his specific theological education, and the utilization of the Holy Spirit as a hindrance to that education which he claims God “called him to,” “led him toward,” or “gifted him for.” Education, in this sense, is not the experience of college but the “systematic instruction, schooling or training given to the young in preparation for the work of life, pertaining to an institution, classes, assignments, and a grading system.” The term “education,” in this paper, will be regarded as the scholastic assignments given to students to advance their knowledge. In a formal, theological education the Holy Spirit should enhance our learning and not be used as an excuse for poor performance.

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The Art of the Fool By M. Casey Knue

During the Renaissance the term “fool” designated those who were tasked to entertain the elite of society. Often the title of the fool had nothing to do with actual intelligence. On the contrary the fool would often employ great wit to craft and weave jokes, songs, and tales as Robert Armin’s Flat Foole does in Foole upon Foole.1  His primary objective was to please the audience—being employed by the rich and educated to relieve the working mind with harsh contrast in buffoonery and jest.2  Sadly, the renaissance fool and modern teacher bear undeniable similarities. Continue reading

Ancient Christian Study and Evangelicalism: Introduction

Below you will find a unique feature here on the Soma blog: two essays written to answer a single question: Why is the study of ancient Christianity important for the future of evangelicalism?  The question was originally posed by Moody Bible Institute – Spokane’s premier scholar of the ancient Christian past, Dr. Jonathan Armstrong.  With the vision of one day founding an Ancient Christian Studies degree program on campus, Armstrong not only challenged us to consider why we would like to study in such a program, but also what sort of difference a program dedicated to understanding the beginnings of the Church Universal would have on the trajectory of evangelicalism.  As we share our thoughts with you, our loyal readers, we hope that our words will inspire you to pick up and read the great works of our ancient ancestors and perhaps save evangelicalism in doing so.

Ancient Christian Study and Evangelicalism: Essay I: The Patristic Opportunity – Shawn Fowler

Ancient Christianity has fortunately been preserved for believers of today through the existence of numerous manuscripts.  These writings, containing a wealth of knowledge advantageous to current Christian circumstances, are frequently and sadly overlooked.  But upon further inspection, most Evangelicals would quickly recognize that much is to be gained from Patristic study in two main areas:  the solidification of our own theological stances and the facilitation of cordial communication with those of other Christian traditions.

First, an in-depth understanding of ancient Christian thought and practice would undoubtedly lead to a clarification of our own Evangelical beliefs.  Sometimes it seems as though we of a conservative and Evangelical persuasion think that because we stress the historical-grammatical approach to exegesis, everything we believe and practice is fully supported by Scripture and uncontested.  Yet, we clearly operate within the framework of a tradition, sometimes very scriptural and other times nothing more than familiar or comfortable.

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