Introduction

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Introduction

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Post by isaachunter »

I asked for this Usergroup to be created specifically for those who are enrolled or thinking about enrolling in Seminary. I imagine it to be a place where seminary students can ask questions specific to seminary life, issue they are having about their education, pose questions they might have about what direction to take, what kind of research to do, or questions about the research they're doing.

All are welcome, especially those who are at a Christian College, University, or Seminary, or in some other capacity studying religious or theological topics.

I finished a BA in History several years ago, a Master's in Theological Studies in 2020, and I've just been admitted to a Doctor of Theology program where I will be researching Christian Philosophy, the Philosophy of Death, and Church Persecution.

So, if you have any questions or want to discuss your current seminary life, schoolwork, or research, please post a topic.

IH

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Re: Introduction

Post #2

Post by Overcomer »

Hi, Isaac!

Thanks for joining DC and thanks for opening this forum.

I graduated with a Masters in Theological Studies a number of years ago and am now pursuing a degree in cultural apologetics.

I did an Honours B.A. in history and French language and literature as well as an Hon. B.A. in film and a Master's in journalism -- all in secular universities. I made journalism my career, but I am retired now and that's why I have the time to study.

I look forward to hearing more about your studies. How did you come to center on the philosophy of death and persecution?

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Re: Introduction

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Overcomer wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 4:36 pm I graduated with a Masters in Theological Studies a number of years ago and am now pursuing a degree in cultural apologetics.
Are you in another Master's program or are you pursuing a PhD/ThD/DMin in Cultural Apologetics?
Overcomer wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 4:36 pm How did you come to center on the philosophy of death and persecution?
I've been self studying the philosophy of death for a few years now. I have an interest in philosophical eschatology (death, intermediate state, afterlife), metaphysics and the nature of existence, of being - the fundamental components and nature of whatever is the one true and valid reality.

An interest in persecution came later as I was searching for a research dissertation topic. It fit quite nicely with a philosophy of death and a second temple worldview, and is especially relevant given the exponential shift in American culture that is increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity. A philosophy of death will, of course, inform a theology of persecution (one that does not really exist currently in American Evangelicalism) as suffering and persecution tends to culminate in martyrdom (certainty not always or even often at the moment within the American context, but I believe it one day will).

I'm very interested in the hidden Church in North Korea and alternate forms of Christian expression (i.e. gathering, evangelism, discipleship) amidst culture and government hostility.

Death, of course, is the great unifier for the living (all living things), even though it in no way can be considered a natural process or experience (as it is the consequence of sin and will one day cease to hold sway over God's creation). It is also one of the last frontiers to be truly explored, even though it has been a subject of academic and philosophical inquiry since nearly the beginning of rational thought. On a personal note, it is my own attempt at preparing as much as I can for my own demise. As Socrates said, all philosophy is practice for death. It's also one subject that Christians (and Americans in general) seem to fear the most.

My aim in my dissertation will be to develop a comprehensive curriculum - theology of persecution - that can be of use to the American Church as a training tool to equip believers for coming persecution.

IH

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Re: Introduction

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Post by otseng »

I received my Master of Arts Science and Religion degree in 2014 from Biola. Not sure if I'll ever pursue a PhD, but it's not out of the question. Currently, I'm trying to learn Greek and Hebrew in my free time.

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Re: Introduction

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[Replying to otseng in post #4]

I'm likewise working on Greek through self-study. I'm currently using the Master New Testament Greek approach (but not the actual program), along with Anki for vocab study, utilizing individual chapter/book lists created using LOGOS software. I also plan to work through the grammar Reading Koine Greek due to its workbook and LXX integrations. My ultimate goal is to fluently read Greek NT and LXX.

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Re: Introduction

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[Replying to isaachunter in post #3]

The degree in cultural apologetics is another Master's degree. After that, if I have the energy and the money, I will consider a doctorate. But I do these things partly for the joy of them, partly to be of better use to the Lord, not for a future career.

I have a Christian friend who is a bereavement counsellor with a Master's degree in thanatology. She would find your doctoral work fascinating as well as worthwhile. Will the topic of evil also be included in your study?

I studied Greek formally and admire anyone who tackles the language on their own. It's not an easy go by any means. I used Bill Mounce's text (Basics of Biblical Greek) and Dan Wallace's The Basics of New Testament Syntax in the courses. I subscribe to Mounce's blog here:

https://www.billmounce.com/

Have you studied other languages, Isaac?

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Re: Introduction

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[Replying to otseng in post #4]

How are you finding Hebrew, otseng? I have never studied the language. It looks harder than Greek to me. What texts/sources are you using?

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Re: Introduction

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Overcomer wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:07 pm [Replying to isaachunter in post #3]
The degree in cultural apologetics is another Master's degree. After that, if I have the energy and the money, I will consider a doctorate. But I do these things partly for the joy of them, partly to be of better use to the Lord, not for a future career.
There is certainty not much utilities in advanced degrees anymore, unless they are STEM related or in high demand. I work part-time in the medical field (admin support role, I'm not medical) and nurses seem to be in high demand. But you could not pay me enough to do their jobs or put up with the abuse they get.

I too am pursing a doctorate for personal satisfaction (personal challenge + I'm doing the work anyway), though there are possibly a few avenues in which I still might be able to find part-time employment teaching. I have tentative plans to further expand my dissertation content into several workbooks/online courses as well as other topics in Christian Philosophy, so there's a good chance I'll just stick with selling books and serving the church in an avocational capacity. I certainly have no desire or calling to be a pastor or employed church leader, at least not under any kind of current paradigm. But, I'm in no need of a career change. My current job serves me well, provides for my needs, and independently funds my research, plus it will most likely be the last job I will have before retirement (if such a thing even exists in the near future).
Overcomer wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:07 pm I have a Christian friend who is a bereavement counsellor with a Master's degree in thanatology. She would find your doctoral work fascinating as well as worthwhile. Will the topic of evil also be included in your study?
I looked at thanatology when first acquainting myself with the topic, though it appeared not to contain a Christian worldview and focused more so on biological death, counseling, and bereavement. I'm much more interested in philosophical aspects and approaches to the subject (I guess more theoretical than practical).

The topic of evil has not been relevant so far, other than death being the consequence of sin and sin resulting from an evil nature. Though, I would not necessarily categorize it as such, but would rather use "fallen," as in a deficiency, corruption, debasement from the original design intended. Despite my own personal phraseology, though, God does seem convinced (Genesis 6:5). Who am I to argue with God?

I would say I'm more focused on exploring the underlining origin, nature, and ramifications of death, and how that philosophy informs the Christian in the context of persecution and ultimately martyrdom. The depravity (evil) would be a necessary presupposition, while the research would address how a Christian should be equipped to not only endure persecution and even embrace death without denying Christ, but to more so place the believer in the right frame of mind so that said persecution and death could serve as a testimony of the good news to those around and even the persecutors themselves. I guess in one sense it is exploring the technique of evangelism through the mechanism of persecution. Christians throughout history were well versed in this kind of witness, and so are Christians today in other countries (i.e. North Korea, China). America, unfortunately, has some catching up to do.
Overcomer wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:07 pm Have you studied other languages, Isaac?
I took a year of Japanese in high school, though I never really learned very much at all. I had one course in Biblical Hebrew in my Master's program as well. I had a German soldier take me under his wing and try to teach me his language while I was stationed in Germany. Needless to say, he grew very frustrated with the lazy American. :? Same with a driver who would stop in at my work and attempt to speak to me in Spanish. He got about as far as the German soldier did.

I would say I've had a lot of opportunities to learn languages, I just never took full advantage of them. Greek is a struggle also, but I would like to one day be able to read the NT in the original language. Hopefully soon they will invent the Matrix method of language learning so I could just download it to my brain - maybe I'll add Kung Fu also!

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Re: Introduction

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Post by otseng »

Overcomer wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:10 pm How are you finding Hebrew, otseng? I have never studied the language. It looks harder than Greek to me. What texts/sources are you using?
I'm taking the slow self-study approach to Hebrew and Greek. I'm writing my own translation of the entire Bible and gradually working through it. I'm using Blue Letter Bible and using the interlinear to look into the original languages.

Hebrew is a fascinating language. I wish someone had told me earlier what an interesting language it is. As evangelical Christians (or any Christian for that matter), we tend to deemphasize the Old Testament (and therefore don't study Hebrew). I would even dare say among Biblical scholars, most also underappreciate the Hebrew text (how many Hebrew scholars are there compared to Greek scholars?).

Hebrew is not "hard", but it is completely different than Western languages. If you get into the mindset that everything is completely opposite of English, then it's easier to learn. Instead of reading left to right, it's right to left. Hebrew is all consonant letters and has no lowercase letters. Things are generally explained functionally in Hebrew (the Lord is my shepherd), unlike descriptively like Greek (God is love). Hebrew emphasizes verbs whereas Greek emphasizes nouns. More on The Philosophy of the Hebrew Language.

What makes Hebrew interesting for me is it is a coded language. There is so much coded information in Hebrew and layers of meanings. Here is one video about it: The Hebrew Language is The DNA of Creation.

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Re: Introduction

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Post by Overcomer »

Thanks for sharing that information. I will have to put learning Hebrew on my list of future topics to tackle. And I'll check out those links over the holidays when I have more time.

How did you find the Biola experience? I know that, when it comes to apologetics, it has a great reputation. But it didn't have a fully online program so that's why I didn't choose it for graduate work in the field.

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