I have completed two semesters  (i.e. eight of twenty-five credit hours) of my Th.M. program at Western Seminary. Although I am moving at a “slower” pace (only taking two classes each semester) it seems like my learning experience has shifted into hyper-speed. The subjects are more focused; my classmates are more engaged; those who disagree with me are more challenging–it is wonderful.

As I prepare for a summer dedicated mostly to learning research methodology and theological French (= adding tools for the next leg of the journey) it is time to reflect upon where this Th.M. is taking me. Here are some thoughts written with no coherent order:

(1) I have never spent this much time in Pneumatology. It seems to be the one constant shared by all my classes. I have thought about Pneumatology as relates to Christianity and world religions; as it relates to the New Perspective on Paul; as it relates to canonization; as it relates to Greek Patristic theology; and as it relates to the letters of Paul.

(2) I continue to move further from the inclusivist position to an exclusivist position. I disavow any form of Christian pluralism. I know my weakness here: epistemology. I know my strength here: biblical exegesis. I think the gospel makes sense most from an exclusivist standpoint.

(3) I am becoming more and more interested in the theology of the early church. By this I mean the Greek Fathers like Athanasis, Basil, the Gregories, et cetra. This has led me to become more interested in the Apostolic Fathers which I will be studying more in-depth a year from now.

(4) I realize my greatest weakness (that I recognize at the moment) is in philosophical theology which is why I am excited to take a class on it this fall.

(5) I realize that NT studies cannot function without OT studies. I knew this but now I really, really know this!

(6) While I do not find much fruit in NPP writers like Dunn it seems to me, more and more, that the criticisms were needed. I have come to have more and more respect for the paradigm presented by N.T. Wright. Though I disagree with him on many minor points his macro-exegesis outweighs his opponents.

(7) This has slowly led me to see how the OT fits in with the NT; the gospels with Paul; John with Paul; the Book of Revelation with the whole thing. The Pentecostalism that I was given as a youth was too narrow; the Reformed theology I have encountered over the years has appeared too disjointed.

(8) Gordon Fee is awesome.

(9) It appears my thesis will be from the Book of Romans. Thus far I am exploring the creation theology of Paul but it seems that the foundation of my thinking will be found in reading the Adam-Christ contrast through a more robust eschatological lens. I think J.R. Daniel Kirk’s work on Romans may prove fruitful as well as Wright.

(10) One of the most neglected aspects of Christian ethics is ecology and I worry about this not because I like Al Gore, but because I think there is a very important biblical meta-category concerning humanity’s regent rule over creation on behalf of God that has an important eschatological component that has been ignored for too long (that I found the most help in thinking through from Douglas Moo of all people).

That is all that comes to mind at the moment. If you are interested in Th.M. (Master of Theology) studies I totally recommend Western Seminary. To get a taste of the learning experience considering reading the program blog here.