As many of you know, I attend a seminary not affiliated with the denomination in which I grew up and continue to be part of. My denomination has a program for those of us who want to enter the ministry from a seminary other than Calvin Seminary. This program has been modified over the years and in 2010 a long distance option was proposed. I applied and became one of the first to head into a 24 month journey that could end in candidacy in the Christian Reformed Church and potentially ordination.
The program has a lot of hoops to jump through, most of which the graduates of Calvin Seminary have had to jump through as well. Some are unique to the “foreign” seminary experience.
I had two of those unique experiences this past week. I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the entire week (a bit of a culture and temperature shock after four days in Florida). On Monday I had an interview with a committee of seminary faculty members. They give the denomination a recommendation on each of the potential candidates, but cannot really do this well for long distance students because they never interact with us in person, in class. Everyone seemed to be pleased with the meeting we had, the questions were tough but fair. This hurdle is behind me, but it did cause a level of anxiety; I was really unsure about what I would need to know and articulate clearly.
The other piece was training on a computer software program called Logos. This is a Bible Study program which helps to work with all sorts of resources including the original languages (Greek and Hebrew). A level of proficiency in both of these languages is required by the denomination. Rather than try to directly test for these abilities, the seminary offers training in this program, followed by a test, which must be passed. Many of the answers on the test would have come from prior studies in the languages and could not necessarily be found in the program resources. I found the training valuable but the test tough enough that I’m not sure the required 70% happened. I wrote for something over four hours. When I finished, about half of the group was still there. I was totally exhausted, got in the car,and drove straight home (400km)
Apart from the test, the training was very worthwhile. Logos is a very valuable resource. It’s not just one resource. My copy has over 750 books in it, all searchable, and linkable. It will search for words and meanings, compare Bible versions, highlight different parts of grammar, link to dictionaries and lexicons, the list goes on. There is a lot to learn and remember, but most of it is relatively intuitive. I wish that I had bought it earlier. I have been using it for the past four months, but the training this week has really opened it up.
The prof who taught the course made it what it was. His skill, knowledge, and outspoken opinions (usually good ones) gave us plenty to keep us awake for the three days of set-up and explanation.
So…two more milestone markers have passed on this journey, with still no firm destination in sight.