Tuesday, January 13, 2009

BACK TO (GRADUATE) SCHOOL!!

Well, I am heading back to school!! I have finally begun working on my Master’s degree (M.A.) from Oklahoma Christian University. I’ll be taking a combination of Intensive Short courses and Weekend Format courses, Online courses and some regular Tuesday morning classes on the campus of OC during my study. I hope to be able to complete this degree in about three or four years.I am nervous and excited about this next step.

There is no way I would be able to pursue and work towards this goal without the wonderful support and encouragement from the Central elders, my family, and most especially, my wife, Maggie. It is my determination and commitment to not allow these graduate studies to interfere with my local teaching and preaching, visitation, and other ministry responsibilities at Central. Really, I see this hopefully as being an investment and enhancement in the quality of my ministry and service for the Lord’s kingdom at Central.

Just for your curiosity and information, I am taking 6 hours this semester which includes a preaching class from Genesis and Exodus with Dr. Harold Shank and a course on Biblical and Contemporary evangelism with Dr. Stafford North. I have been working on book reviews, assignments and sermons series. So far, I’ve been a little busier on that than I had anticipated, but the classes have been great with a great deal of new ideas and thoughts. Very invigorating

Kent Hughes, widely respected Bible scholar, author, and preacher says that there is a myth that would suggest that too much knowledge of the Bible is not good because it tends to, “cool the heart and stunt devotion.” In essence that too much learning will “spoil faith.” And he does have a point, when you closely examine how many destructive liberal theologians and modern Bible professors you find in the halls of so many secular Universities and Colleges who do more to undermine and even destroy faith in God and His Word.

But, sadly, too often, Hughes says what they discourage is “the rigorous study of the scriptures, which then delimits their knowledge of God.” Author and publisher Frank Sheed describes the folly of such thinking in his book, “Theology and Sanity”, saying:
“A virtuous man may be ignorant, but ignorance is not a virtue. It would be a
strange God who would be loved better by being known less. Love of God is not
the same thing as knowledge of God; love of God is immeasurably more important
than knowledge of God; but if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he
should love God more from knowing more about Him; for every new thing known
about God is a new reason for loving Him.”

That’s why the Scriptures contain so many admonitions for us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 ), to “increase in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10 ), and to “abound in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in love” (2 Corinthians 8:7). Our study of the Bible, which is our primary and infallible source of knowledge about God, is everything to the makeup of our spiritual health and life.

It is my goal and desire to increase my knowledge of God’s Word and to become a more effective servant for the Lord. In the meantime, I would greatly appreciate your encouragement, patience and most important prayers for me as I continue my journey in learning.

In Christ,
Robert Prater

5 comments:

kingdomseeking said...

Harold Shank was one of the preachers at the Highland Church of Christ in Memphis when Laura and I were members there. Both he and his wife, Sally, are wonderful people.

Grace and peace,

K. Rex Butts

Preacherprater said...

Thanks Rex for stopping by. Yes, I have come to greatly respect and admire Dr. Shank. He is a tremendous scholar and has a great passion for Old Testament history, but especially for desiring to the principle of God's mercy, love, and justice applied in our world today. You might know this or not, but he also is not too big on Systematic theology!! Sorry Rex! lol!! No, I can't remember if you have a Master's degree in theology or not, but just thought I'd be funny:)!!

God bless,

Robert

Clyde said...

I enjoyed auditing the class. Hope you got a lot out of it. I like that sentiment from Hughes. Truth has nothing to fear and much to offer. So often tradition trumps truth. But if we truly go "back to the Bible" we will continually find things there that amaze us and feed our faith, and even correct our misunderstandings at times. And that's okay! The problem comes into play when we have a member or two or three that is not truly "Berean" at heart (i.e., someone who searches the Scriptures when they hear something new, to see if it is true or not--if they find it to be true they embrace it). Some folks just reject whatever does not fit their preconceived view of a text or doctrine, and that keeps the truth from making inroads in their hearts.

You'll enjoy OC. I'll see you in some more classes (probably).

Preacher Prater said...

Clyde,

Thanks for the encouraging comments. So far I'm really enjoying school. It's been really keeping me busy, but I think after almost nine years in full time ministry, it's coming just at the right time. Look forward to seeing you on the campus from time to time and hopefully in another class.

God bless,

Robert Prater

kingdomseeking said...

Robert,

I did not know that about Harold Shank but I can sympathize with his disdain for "systematic" theology. I do have a Masters of Divinity from Harding Graduate School of Religion. My theology teachers were John Mark Hicks and Mark Powell. One of the thinkgs I appreciated about their approach was that they wanted our theology to be shaped more by the Bible as story (what we might call a "Narrative-Biblical Theology") than the compartmentalized classifications of systematic theology. I suppose there is a place for systematic theology but there are also problems with trying to fit everything into the classical systematic catagories. It is sort fo like trying to fit God into our boxes...sometimes we just need to tear up those boxes.

Any ways, whatever our studies (systematic, biblical, etc...), if they do not lead us to applying mercy, love, and justice in the world then there is a problem.

Grace and peace,

K. Rex Butts