Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thoughts from a Cynical Religion Major

As a religion major we learn who wrote what, when they wrote, it and occasionally why they wrote it. For instance, in my New Testament Epistles class on Tuesday we discussed the Epistle to Titus. We spent a great deal of time discussing when Titus was written and who it was written by. Word to the wise, never debate the canonical books with these Adventist professors. I may have brought up, in class, that the canon of numerous books is constantly being debated and brought into question. My professor was none too keen on that. (Though his response was not as bad as when I mentioned modalism and I thought he might literally have a heart attack) But I digress, We spent most of the class on whether or not Paul truly wrote Titus, defining terms used, like Πρεσβυτερος (presbyteros) which means elder. (A few were shocked to see that my denomination is based in the bible). But not enough time was spent on WHY the epistle was written. The class ultimately proposed that it was written to guide the leadership of the church. 

One of my friends asked me today "Who the f*** cares who wrote what? It was written? It was written. Isn't that enough?" That's got me thinking. Should it be enough? I think that one of the problems with formal higher theological education is that we spend so much time paying attention to who wrote it and when it was written. Don't get me wrong, these are all very important details, but we should pay more attention to what it is about. What is more important, the fact that Paul wrote the letters to the Romans or that " The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. " I personally believe that the part we ought to be paying attention to is what the letter is saying, not when it was written. So often we have students in college who are studying religion that concern themselves with who wrote it and when it was written but not with the content. Sure, they know what is in the content and they can translate it back to the original Greek and provide exegesis, but they do not truly understand the content because in their theological education the emphasis is not put on understanding the Word on a PERSONAL level. 

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