From 1999 to 2002 I attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. After three years of work I received my Master’s of Divinity, which for those who don’t know is a ‘professional’ degree for pastors. It’s a full three years of study (taking often more time for many). Signifies that I am heartily educated to take on a ministerial role. It is also seen as a useful prerequisite for PhD studies (which generally require at least an MA for applications).
My goal in starting was not to be a minister, however. While this was always a consideration, for I was getting the degree, I was rather more interested in the topics themselves: Bible, Theology, Spirituality, History. I began with a realization these were my passions. So, I followed them. I spent three years systematically delving into my passion. What do I have to show for it? Well… what can fit on this site are the papers I wrote. So here they are. My passion on paper.
My first quarter. I took 16 units. I could do it, and do it well I found (my first 4.0 GPA ever was this quarter), but I could not reflect on the subjects as I would like. My goal was to learn ,not to just get through, so thereafter I limited myself to 12 units and extra reading which this allowed. I also wrote a selection of book reports, as I did throughout my time at Fuller. These I’m not posting here. You can, however, see the highlights on Amazon.com. I posted the book reports as reader reviews. Had to make some use of them. Starting me off at Fuller was Evangelizing Nominal Christians, Systematic Theology I, American Church History, and New Testament II: Acts through Revelation.
- Nominality and NewSong Church
- Thoughts on Paul
- Christ and Culture
- Theology of I Peter
- Scofield Project
- Brief Thoughts on Barth
- Theology part I
- Theology part II
- Brief Thoughts on the Trinity
- A Theology of Nature
Nothing of note really. I took a Greek intensive this quarter, 30 weeks of a language in just 10. I had three semesters of it as an undergraduate, so it was easy. I shouldn’t have taken it at all, but for the fact I don’t enjoy language studies, thus don’t keep up with the subject as needed.
Likely my favorite quarter in my MDiv program. I was flying, and all was going well. My second taste of theology was not as interesting, though I’m glad I took it. Rather than being straightforward topics, it instead engaged theology through a cultural perspective. I did not learn the subjects as well, though I did get much better at exegeting the theology of non-intentional theologians. I’m including some book reports here, because they were more directly related to the class itself. I took Exegetical Methods, Spiritual Disciplines, and Systematic Theology II.
- Celebration of Unity
- History behind Mark 10:13ff.
- Textual Issues of Ephesians 1:1
- John Cassian
- Rule of Life
- Retreat Reflections
- Devil’s Advocate
- A Study of Women Mystics
- Flame of Love
- Flannery O’Connor
- Grace upon Grace
- Last Temptation of Christ
- Salvation in a Pluralistic World
Never took Summer School before this. I realized why. My brain is like a racing engine. It flies like no one’s business, just isn’t that dependable all the time. Heat shuts me down. I need the break, I need the space to let my mind realign. Alas… Do what you have to do, I guess. I took Teaching for Christian Formation, Christian Ethics, and Gospels.
- Teaching for Christian Formation
- Teaching Outline for Paul Class
- Shaped by the Word
- Holistic Teaching
- Homosexuality and the Evangelical Church
- Ethics and Mental Handicap
- Spirit and Truth
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. One class which sparked another new world for me, one which made me frustrated, and one which both opened new worlds and which made me frustrated. This was when I was most hopeful in regard to church. I spent this quarter with a group of others planning for a sunday evening service which would have been groundbreaking in many respects. But, in January the lead pastor announced from the pulpit they were doing a class on door-to-door evangelism instead. Not only was this offensive on a personal level, it was offensive theologically in many respects as well. Ah, but it did bode much for the new atmosphere of the church, where this kind of activity became regular. Many left. I can only dream about what might have been. Spiritual warfare at its finest, and few even knew it. I am wiser for it all, just not as vocationally active as I may have been. Christian Worship, Pneumatology, and Early Church Theology were my three classes.
- Worship in Two Settings
- Different Sacramental Traditions
- Worship Theology and Sample Worship Service
- A Little About Myself
- Quest for a Biblical Pneumatology
- Vladimir Lossky
- Moltmann and the Holy Spirit
- Theosis in the East and West
- Augustine and Pelagius
- Christology Debates
Something happened this quarter, I don’t remember what, but I could only take two classes, plus my internship and associated Foundations of Ministry. The full classes were Apologetics and Old Testament Writings, both of which I really liked, for different reasons.
- Science and Christianity
- The God We Wouldn’t Expect
- Personality and Pastoral Calling
Two years finished. I was fairly burning out by now. I had tasted of my passion, but also realized aspects of my own frustrations with Church and the Evangelical world coming out strong. The frustrations of Fuller’s pastor factory tendencies also got to me. Somehow I lost the magic glow. Most people have theological tunnels to go through in seminary. I had relational and institutional troubles, which I still am resolving. I took Church in the New Testament, Colossians, Systematic Theology III, and continued my first internship, along with its weekly class.
- Community of the Spirit
- Very Good Friday
- Theology of Worship
- If I were in charge…
- Church Government
- Politics and Eschatology
- African-American Ecclesiology
- Internship Case Study
- A Study of Colossians 2:1-5
- House Churches
- Colossians 3:1-7
- Be Who You Already Are
- An Exegetical Study of Philemon
- Colossians: The POT version
Yeah, I know. Summer school again, not a bright idea. Well, it wasn’t so bad this time, so I expected. Two classes, both in August at the end of the summer. Summer classes, you see, generally are two week intensives. I had all of June free. And July? I went to Ireland on a missions trip with my church. Sure, my first class required I read a difficult text before the class started. Reading it while on Aer Lingus wasn’t too much a burden. I shouldn’t have taken that second class, Life and Work of Jesus, I found out. Oh, well. There is no doubt, however, that Theology of Faith and Human Development was one of the more important classes I took at Fuller. Oh, also, in early September someone stole my car.
- A Psycho-Historical Study of John Wesley
- The two assignments I wrote for my Life and Work of Jesus class appear to be lost.
My car had been stolen, my frustrations with my church community exploded after seeing a real spiritual community in Ireland, led by much younger folk, and I was burned out on large class sizes, limited interaction, and teaching to the lowest common denominator. This is how I began my third year at Fuller. I thought about stopping for a bit, then decided it was better to keep at it. The quarter turned out much better than I expected. The trick was somehow finding a sense of humor, keeping my tongue in cheek, and of course the effect of September 11th. The little irritations of mine seemed small in comparison. Perspective was regained even as I thought it permanently lost. I did, though, stop going to my home church. That helped. My car, by the by, was found a few weeks later missing only a right rear wheel. They didn’t tell me they found it (though I had filed a police report), I only learned from the impound lot when they let me know I owed $500 for storage. The car had been found a few miles from my house, and to tow it to the impound lot, they had to drive past my house. I had to pay or they were going to auction it off.
I took an independent study course, titled Church and Spirit, as well as Medieval and Reformation History, and Mission to Moderns and Postmoderns.
- Review of a Postmodern Novel
- The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
- Society and the Church after September 11
- East Meets West
- Moltmann and the Church
- Hans Küng and The Church
- Miroslav Volf and the Church
- The Lord’s Supper as a Celebration of the Work of the Holy Spirit
Nothing really interesting to note about this quarter. I took a Hebrew Intensive (two quarters in one) and Homiletics. I loved Hebrew, and think I had a fabulous teacher. Of course I knew her from my small group in Spiritual Disciplines, so that helped, I’m sure. Homiletics, was, well… okay. The professor really knows his stuff, made me think, but was without a doubt the worst test giver I’ve ever had. The final consisted of, partly, a two hour long test, in which we were given an hour to finish. It was open book, though we had three books and the questions consisted of asking about exceedingly obscure nitpicking points, which even if one had read carefully one would not pick up. Terrible. Made me mad. The class, in general, was very helpful.
- Creative Writing Assignment
- Sermon Evaluations: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
- Exegetical notes for “Focus on our Message”
- “Focusing on our Message” sermon
- Exegetical notes for “Tending the Vineyard”
- “Tending the Vineyard” sermon
This quarter could have been easily my favorite. The classes I took I loved. I was finally out of my church slump, getting involved and excited about Christian Assembly. Then, the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra played at the Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton (Chuck Swindoll’s old church) and on the way home from that my car caught fire.
It would have been a great quarter, but for the fact I had to rely on the bus for transportation. Ah, another spiritual lesson just when I didn’t expect it. I intended to finish my internship requirements, working as a chaplain at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. I realized after a week, I could not continue due to the transportation issue. So, I only had two classes: Old Testament Exegesis: The Former Prophets, Theology and Art, as well as my first preaching practicum. What was going to be an insanely busy quarter became just a busy quarter, with a lot of time spent on the Foothill Transit 194 with all sorts of interesting folk.
- Judges and Groundhog Day
- Is it Good News?
- Response to Art
- Art and the Contemporary Church
- Welcoming the Spies
My last quarter of classes. Finally. It was full and good. I was burned out totally and ready to finish, though I somehow managed to pull out a worthwhile time. I had Theological German I & II; Old Testament Pentateuch, another Preaching Practicum, and I was TA for a Hebrew Intensive. But for one last internship I was done with Seminary.
- Creativity in the Church Sermon
- To Live Sermon
- The Spirit in the Torah
- Reflections on the Pentateuch
Classes were over and yet I was not done. An internship remained. One which had eluded me several times and now I had to scramble. Scramble back to my one time church I did. Some change of characters had taken place which encouraged me a bit. So I asked, and they said yes, and so I started again. Full time, no pay. Alas. The bright side was I got to delve into some really great areas. The downside was I couldn’t continue to develop then further than my internship. While time moves on some things don’t change.
And so I finished Seminary with a 3.9 GPA, a love for theology, a passion for studying the Spirit, and a bit of a loss about what to do next. One might say that having finished school, I am now taking the advanced courses, learning to live life in the Spirit, learning to trust God, learning what it is to have faith, so that when all things work out, I will know it is God, not me, who is in control. Lessons all seminary graduates should indeed learn.