‘Kay, so I guess it’s time to maybe update you a little on life. I actually do have valid reasons for why I haven’t been on here lately (or on Taking Up the Cross), so here goes.
I took an online two-month-long college course. On Theology.
I learned about all sorts of things like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, gnosticism, docetism, concursus, general vs. special revelation, Christocentrism, cosmogony, the Logos, recapitulation, adoptionism, divinization, fideism, modalism, pneumatology, protoevangelium, and perichoresis, as well as five biblical covenants: Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New.
I studied so many important historical people like Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Celsus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, Origen of Alexandria, Arius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus.
We looked at the biblical canon and the writings: “The Shepherd of Hermas,” “Didache,” and the epistle of Barnabas, as well as the Nicaean Creed, both the 325 version and the 381.
We talked about the struggles the early church went through and why Christians were called the “haters of humanity.” We discussed some of the ideas some wandering Christians embraced and turned into a completely warped religion (such as gnosticism). We explored the true meanings of words like “heresy” and “total depravity.” We talked about the ways people have translated the Bible over time: Typology, literalism, and allegory.
On the discussion forum, students debated about the Trinity and why it is important to the life of a Christian. We wrote about general vs. special revelation and the relevance of each to our lives. We answered questions about inerrancy vs. infallibility and gave our reasons for seeing tradition and personal experience as possible dangers in being sources of our theology. We talked about ecclesiology and what types of churches we came from (congregational, Presbyterian, episcopal).
There were ten lessons, one annotated bibliography, and one exam, all to be completed in two months. One lesson consists of two chapters of assigned reading (hard, long reading), the video lecture (which can last anywhere from half an hour to an hour and ten minutes), note-taking and note-studying, a ten-question multiple choice quiz (that has to be completed in ten minutes), and posting an answer to the two or three questions on the discussion forum. But your discussion forum posts count towards your grade, so you want to do more than one post per lesson and “interact” with other students who have posted there before you.
From January 2nd to February 26th, I read approximately 160 pages, completed nine quizzes, watched ten video lectures, wrote approximately 25 posts on the discussion forum, finished the hour-long final exam, and turned in my annotated bibliography.
I was exhausted.
A total of two and a half hours were spent on quizzes and the exam, and over eight hours on lectures. I filled approximately 30 pages of my notebook with handwritten notes and typed over 4,600 words in lecture notes on my computer (as well as at least 1,200 more words as I prepared my bibliography).
If I calculated the minutes and hours of study time and reading that it took to prepare for the exam and the annotated bibliography, it would probably amount up to days, not hours.
If I measured the tears I cried, it would probably amount to gallons, not cups.
January and February of 2015 have probably been the most hated, yet the most loved months I have ever spent in studies. Theology was rewarding — I learned a lot, especially in the historical department. Names, dates, terminology all ran together and exploded from my packed, mashed, sardines-in-a-can brain…what names and dates and terminology that didn’t completely fly over my head in the first place. But I still learned, and, actually, the biggest learning time for me was when I went back and studied for the exam, because I had to really pound those things in my head and make sure they stayed there!
I cried more and prayed more these past two months than I have in a long, long time. It was a growing experience for me in more ways than one. I discovered on the discussion forum that I have opinions of my own and an ability to express them, through writing, to others. I now have some idea what college will be like. And in the end, it was all worth it!
Throughout this whole course, the hardest thing for me was the annotated bibliography (I never want to do another one of those in my LIFE!) and the scariest thing — the one that kept me awake at nights — was the thought of sitting down at my computer for a whole hour and taking an exam…one that I didn’t even know for sure how to study for, since I’d never taken an exam like that before.
I actually had nightmares about it.
I dreamed that I sat down and clicked the button that would take me to the exam. I pressed the “confirm” button when I was asked if I really wanted to take the exam… “Once started, this exam cannot be retaken. Are you sure you want to continue?”
Yes. I’m sure.
In my dream, the exam page came up, and…and all of the sudden I had to go to the bathroom worse than I ever had in my life! So I quickly got up and ran down the hall to the bathroom. When I got back, the countdown on the screen was at 8. Eight minutes? Well, I suppose I’ll get as much done as possible in eight minutes. And then the 8 went to 7 and the 7 went to 6. And I realized that I had, not eight minutes, but eight seconds. Rather, three seconds by the time I realized my mistake. And then the numbers turned red as the countdown neared finish time…3 seconds, two seconds, one…and then…then I failed. I got zero questions right out of zero. Zero!
I woke up with my heart in my throat, my knees shaking.
Thankfully that wasn’t the way it happened during the real exam.
As soon as I finished the exam — which was at after 9 o’clock one night — I decided that the next day I would do nothing. Nothing. In celebration of the fact that I was done studying. Done reading and comprehending hard facts. Done annotated bibliographies. Done exams. Done quizzes. Done lectures. Done note-taking. Done with the discussion forums. Done worrying. Done crying.
And so the next day I did nothing. Well…next to nothing.
And I hated it. I walked around the house all day feeling cross and tired and wondering what on earth I was going to do with the rest of my life.
Seriously. What was left? Chores, yes…chores which had been badly neglected in the past several months. School, yes…school which had been badly neglected in the past several months. But school and chores…ick. There’s more to life, isn’t there? Now I’ll have time to sit down and read for pleasure. Now I’ll have time to visit friends. Now I’ll have time to just live life.
But what is the purpose of it all?
It took me a while to get back into normal life after such a busy studying schedule, and I’m afraid I’m still not quite there yet.
But it DOES feel nice to wake up in the morning and not have studies hanging over my head. It IS nice to fall asleep quickly at nights without having to worry about looming exams. It IS nice. It IS.
But then, what was the purpose of Theology? For me, it was to learn more about my God, my Creator, my Savior. And I did.
What’s the purpose of life? If anything, the Theology course told me that the purpose of life IS GOD HIMSELF. God made life. If we don’t have God, what do we have? Nothing! Nada – Nil – Zip. We don’t have anything!
So I’m going to keep learning about God, and this time it’s going to be through His word, the Bible. And through His Word (capital “w”), Jesus Christ. I’m going to keep learning about the huge sacrifice Jesus made by giving His own life for mine.
I’m going to keep learning and learning and learning, because when it comes to God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, one can never know all there is to know.
And that right there, my friends, gives my life meaning. Jesus Christ gives my life meaning.
I don’t have the right to ask for a purpose in my life, but He gave it anyway.
So goodbye folks. I’m gonna go live now.