Beginning seminary classes was, for me, much like being a child and anticipating Christmas because of a great new toy. Certain that she will receive the great toy she has eagerly wanted, when Christmas morning finally arrives the child rips though the wrapping paper only to find that the present was not at all what she had expected, but a much better one. Such pleasant surprises are the best kind, because one gets to enjoy not only the time of anticipation, but also the surprise of getting something altogether more wonderful.
No, there is no exaggeration for the sake of dramatic effects here; my excitement about beginning Seminary really was similar to a child’s at Christmas and I truly did enjoy my first year of Seminary far better than I ever dreamed I would. The reasons for that are simple, albeit many:
Depth of Study
The first reason why loved my first year of Seminary far more than anticipated is that I truly thought I knew what it would be like. I had recently finished a B.S. in Religion from the very same institution and, upon comparing degree completion plans; I found that many of the course titles and even descriptions were the same. Even some of the books I had purchased for undergraduate classes would be used again. This led me to believe that I would be revisiting information, but there would not be much of anything new. I could not have been farther from the truth! There was a depth to every subject studied that I had not even imagined could be possible the first time around. Each doctrine revisited was filled with new life and intensity and many new facets were discovered.
Depth of Thought
The second reason why Seminary turned out to be so great is the level of independent thinking that became expected of me. In my undergraduate Biblical and Theological studies I learned much about what theologians in the different lines of thought have come up with. Now, however, I was expected to read and ponder on those same doctrines with a critical eye. This might not sound like such a wonderful thing to do for most students out there, but if one is cut out for Seminary, one will greatly enjoy analysis and critique, a most needed ability for anyone who enters into the theological studies world.
Depth of Philosophy
Third, Seminary was a pleasant surprise in that I finally realized that my undergraduate Philosophy courses were useful after all. Even though only one Philosophy course was mandatory for graduation, I had chosen to take three simply because I had enjoyed it immensely. At the conclusion, I pondered on why I had enjoyed it so and was sorry that such an enjoyable subject would no longer be visited, since a career in Apologetics was not in my future plans. Nevertheless, in Seminary, I came to realize that a strong background in Philosophy only made me better at arguing my thesis, not only in class discussions but even in research papers. I also found that many authors of theology books made use of Philosophy in their theological arguments, thus making my previous Philosophical training all the more useful in sifting through their arguments.
Depth of Perspective
Lastly, my first few courses in Seminary were great because no longer was most of my reading restricted to the University’s theological perspective. In Seminary, opposing views also became required reading and the student who is willing to truly ponder on such issues openly and analytically will become better grounded in his or her own perspective, having also the opportunity to understand the logic in other views and question his or her own view in a healthy manner. I have enjoyed becoming enraged with Open Theists after comprehending their line of thought. I have also delighted in presenting what I felt was “irrefutable” evidence as to why other views on the atonement are not Biblical, after careful deliberation. For one who is truly cut out for seminary (and of course, post-Seminary ministry), such exercises are delightfully pleasant, more so than chocolate if you are a woman, or sports if you are a man.
Clearly, my reasons for loving Seminary will leave someone who is not cut out for it dumbfounded. Yet, if any reader is called to it, he or she will immediately concur with me, that debating theology, reading and writing about Christian doctrines for hours on end, and even discovering new avenues for practical ministry is highly gratifying, as much so as any leisure activity that comes to mind.
Written by Luciana Damascena. Luciana is a student at Liberty Baptist Seminary, currently in the M. Divinity program. She is a full time career missionary with BCM International and is serving in Portugal along with her husband and two children.