Where I Am In My Personal Study – February 2012
I have been thinking that it is time to update my few readers on where I am in my personal study. I did a post like this in June 2010 (see “Where I Am Right Now In My Personal Study”) and, according to my blog statistics, it still gets read on occasion. That being the case I figure that I should update everyone.
I am taking advantage of the bible study resources that the Lord has made available to me more than ever. Believe it or not I am listening to bible studies during the week, reading books on theology (or ones with theological implications) in the evenings, and on weekends watching bible study videos. I am truly enjoying all of this!
The audio lessons that I listen to are the bread and butter of my studies. I have the luxury of listening to my mp3 player while commuting to and from work on the train (I commute to work in Chicago). I have just finished listening to Robert Dean’s study on 2nd John this week (audio lessons can be downloaded here) and have began listening to Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s study of the Minor Prophets.
When I began seriously studying the bible again a few years ago I felt that I didn’t know enough about the Old Testament but I also had gaps in my knowledge of the New Testament (the Pastor I grew up under really liked the Apostle Paul). To remedy that situation I began to listen to bible studies where I alternated between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I like the teaching of Robert Dean and have been listening to his New Testament studies. Arnold Fruchtenbaum knows the Old Testament like no other Christian pastor-teacher I know of so I listen to his Old Testament bible studies. I have really enjoyed this approach and I think I will continue with it. When I am finished with the Minor Prophets I believe I will listen to Robert Dean’s study of 3rd John.
Looking beyond 3rd John things get a bit murky for me. I am thinking that it would do me a lot of good to listen to Robert Dean’s study of the book of Hebrews. Of course I find that to be a daunting idea because it took Robert Dean 212 lessons to completely cover that book. Listening to one lesson every work day means that it will take me 42 weeks to listen to the complete series. When I finish with the series I hope I can remember all of it. If I do that it also means that I will break my pattern of going back and forth between Old Testament and New Testament books. Maybe I should take a break during the study of Hebrews and listen to an Old Testament book? I am not sure yet but I know I will figure it out.
I had never planned on watching bible study videos since I listen to audio lessons on the train. However I have two middle school age daughters who struggle listening to the audio lessons but handle the videos much better. A few months ago I ordered the “Plan of the Ages” series from Ariel Ministries (Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s ministry) and have been watching it with my oldest daughter on Sundays. Unfortunately the church we attend is not dispensational (I couldn’t find any in our vicinity) but I am not letting that stop me from teaching my daughters. The Plan of the Ages is a ten lesson study on what dispensations are and an overview of the seven dispensations (the number of dispensations varies a bit depending on who you talk to). The series is excellent and I am going to continue ordering videos from Ariel Ministries, and watching them on Sundays, when we are finished with the Plan of the Ages. There are other video series on topics that I am interested in and I am really looking forward to filling in the gaps in my knowledge.
Finally there are the books I am reading. I have been struggling the last few years trying to plow through some fairly heavy books. I should probably lighten up my reading habits (it doesn’t matter how much doctrine is in a book if I just cannot finish reading it). However a couple of weeks ago I finished reading “Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach” which I found to be very helpful. Basically the book is aimed at convincing five point Calvinists that human free will (a.k.a. soft libertarianism) is indeed compatible with God’s sovereign will. Unfortunately when I first began interacting with other Christians on the internet I ran into five point Calvinists who seemed to believe that I was a very bad Christian because I believe in “libertarian” free will. They never did explain their theology very well but this book does. I still disagree with their theology but I now understand what they were talking about. I think I am going to post about the book but I am afraid it is too dry. For anyone who has argued with a Calvinist it will probably be an interesting topic. For those who have not argued with a Calvinist this topic probably won’t be very interesting at all. I guess it is interesting to me so I will probably go with it unless something else comes up.
The book that I am working through at the moment is a bit of an odd one for me. Before I tell you the name of the book I suppose I should give the reason why I am reading it. Sometimes I go back to posts on other blogs and re-read discussions I was part of years ago. Doing just that a few weeks ago, I read comments by one commenter accusing another person of using “Aristotelian categories” in their logic so their conclusions were wrong. I had seen accusations like that before and I have always wondered about these “Aristotelian categories.” The master of everything “Aristotelian” was Thomas Aquinas so I got myself a copy of “First Glance At Thomas Aquinas (A Handbook for Peeping Thomists)” and am making decent progress with it. I don’t think it is going to help me as much as I would like but I want to find out.
As an aside, the person who was talking about “Aristotelian categories” is a fan of Karl Barth’s theology. I have been learning about Barth bit by bit and have recently discovered that he used dialectical methodology in his theology (please read The Devil’s Logic for an introduction to what a dialectic is). I suspect that the “Aristotelian categories” comment from years ago was rooted in the commenter’s acceptance of Barth’s dialectical approach. I doubt that “Aristotelian categories” are perfect but I do know that I reject dialectics.
That seems like a lot but I have to say I am happy with it. Five years ago I was frustrated because I didn’t have enough bible study material. Now my “cup overfloweth” and that is just fine by me.