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(Guest post by Rebecca Kerr)
I named my first son after the prophet Jonah. Yes, I know the Bible story. No, he isn’t the most lovable character. However, I love that idiot prophet, because God used his narrative to call me home again after six years of running away from my first love.
I was 25, and it had been six years since I felt any connection with God. Six years of dryness, aimlessness, and fear that I would never change.
Those six years are still a mystery to me. I know a bit of what caused the disconnect, maybe. And I know a sliver of what kept me away for so long. But all I really understand about it is that for the first time in my over-saturated, uber-Baptist, good little Christian girl life, I did not know God. And that hurt like hell.
So, what does a good little Baptist girl do, when she’s on the run, yet hurting for God’s approval?
She gets a Bible degree.
And out of that glorious experience, I’m going to share with you eight very bad reasons to run away to Bible college, or any other religious pursuit that tempts your fancy.
8 Very Bad Reasons to Go To Bible College
#8 You have an agenda.
It’s a wonderful, missional, idealistic, biblical agenda.
turn the church into an evangelistic powerhouse.
stand before thousands and wow them with persuasive Gospel arguments.
Here’s the trouble. The Bible isn’t made to carry out an agenda. It’s made to reveal God. The more you try to build up your cause, however right, the more your theology will suffer.
You’re no longer seeing God as He reveals Himself in His Word. You’re only seeing your own purposes on the pages. Let’s not go into the sheer vanity, or the divisiveness this leads to…whole other article.
I could not understand why I felt so far from God, when I was just trying to do what He wanted.
The truth was, I had traded love and obedience to Jesus, for a crusade.
#7 You believe you are too good/spiritual/special to major in the subject you are naturally suited for.
One of the biggest reasons I stopped hearing from God was pride, plain and ugly.
Growing up as the know-it-all pastor’s kid fattened my head something fierce. When I got to college, I wasn’t content to be an English major. Not when there were preacher boys running around the Bible college, thinking they were better than me. (They didn’t… Well, most of them didn’t.)
If you’re studying the Bible to earn praise and attention from other people, that’s probably going to get you into trouble with God. Humbling can happen by force, people. It ain’t pleasant.
#6 You believe in JV Christians and Varsity Christians. Not really. But you do.
Super rad missionaries and pastors and nuns are not extreme Christians. They’re just Christians. You are also just a Christian, if you love Jesus and do what He says. I am just a Christian too.
I would have told you that, even back then, but I didn’t believe it. Deep down, I was determined to be a Varsity Christian. I was going to obey God all the way through seminary and die in my twenties somewhere in North Africa.
Nevermind that God did not tell me to do any such thing. Nevermind that I was already in gross disobedience to His direction, simply by running off and becoming a Bible major.
I was headed for the big leagues, whether He liked it or not.
#5 You want your people to be proud of you.
I was a lucky girl, to have such devoted, supportive parents. I also had a little church family to love and come home to. People who helped me grow up, who taught me about life, and encouraged me in everything.
I wanted to make them proud. But the people who loved me would have been just as proud if I had done what I was made to do. They didn’t need me to become a biblical scholar.
#4 You want to prove you are really called to something.
At one of those giant, mass response, altar calls at a youth conference, I ran down and professed that I was called to missions. I was fifteen.
God made my missions story happen, in spite of myself, over and over again. He might still have things for me to do along those lines. Nevertheless, I still felt I had to take matters into my own hands, and make it happen my way. According to my denomination, the way to get into missions was to major in Bible, and then get a Masters in more Bible, and then go somewhere.
However, in my second year of Bible college, I was schooled by one of the sharpest voices in the global Christian movement.
That was the first time I learned that God made me with skills and talents for a reason. He meant them to be inroads and bridges and a means of financial support. He did not mean them to be neglected, so that I could puff my head up with textual criticism and Koine Greek.
I finally realized I could use my secular gifts for the tasks God had called me to pursue. Bible college was not the answer. But I was too hard-headed to change course.
#3 (Ladies Only) You secretly like being the only girl in the class, so you can beat the misogynist preacher boys at their own game.
Okay, admittedly, you have to be pretty far gone for this one. And unfortunately, I was that far gone.
I honestly held this deep-seated conviction that all of the boys in class felt that they were better than me, or smarter, or more called. (I learned the word for this in my psych class. It’s called ‘projection’.) I felt that it was my personal responsibility to prove them all wrong.
So, I out-studied, out-wrote, out-tested, and generally outdid them at every possible turn. The sad thing is that many of them were there for the right reasons. Their hearts were soft toward God, and they were very kind to me. But I rubbed their faces in it, anyway.
Looking back, I can see that many of those boys used that time wisely, studying the Bible in great depth, and growing closer and closer to Jesus. I only ran further and further away. Ironic much?
#2 You think if you learn enough Greek (or Hebrew or Aramaic) you can translate away that pesky verse or passage or principle that keeps following you around.
Yeah, like I said. Pretty far gone. My passages of choice were any that contained that pesky ‘S’ word. You know… Suh… Submi–… Submission. (So hard to say!)
I was determined to shore up my hypothesis with Greek syntax. Submission was all a misunderstanding, you see. God would never actually intend wives to subject themselves to such vile creatures. Only a cave man would believe that.
Trouble is, no matter how much Greek you study, the Bible pretty much stays the same.
The passages we spent hours and hours translating in second year class, poring over little prepositional phrases and syntactical nuances again and again… Yeah, those came out exactly the same as the popular literal translations on the shelves today. It still says ‘submit.’ It still means ‘submit.’ In fact, it’s a little scarier in Greek than in English.
When I figured this out, I was not deterred. I simply vowed to never marry. Problem solved.
#1 You want to have power over the Bible, or God, or truth.
This is the ultimate in pride and stupidity. And I was there. Not going to elaborate much, except to say there were things I didn’t like about the way my life was headed and what God was doing. And I wanted to twist the Bible to make it say otherwise. End of story.
If you are in this place, turn around and run. Do not pass go. Do not highlight another verse that supports whatever it is you think God owes you. Just drop the Bible and repent.
Then come back, and read it carefully and at length, without your preferences in mind. That way, maybe you won’t end up like me and the prophet Jonah, baking under a fried vine until God says otherwise.
Even if you are still on the run, tired, torn up, and confused, there’s hope. God is merciful.
He brings home even the stupidest prophets…eventually.
Rebecca Kerr is a recovering know-it-all and a wannabe Jesus lover. She home schools her six children erratically, but with passion. She also writes novels. Since those don’t pay yet, she writes copy for corporations and entrepreneurs, to help with the bills. Her husband is slightly smarter than she is, and that is very good.
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