Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mystical Christianity

Mystical Christianity- Gnostics – Final Essay Rev. Lucinda Parker

This is one of the best and most Christian informative classes I have taken from the ULC Seminary. This class is well researched, well cited for further reading (which I found myself doing), written in a non-condemning voice and includes great ‘thought’ questions at the end of each lesson.

One of my favorite quotes from this entire class is as follows:

"From all the evidence that we now have about the person of Jesus, one thing is blatantly obvious. Jesus did not do or talk theology. We find him teaching ethics, especially about loving your neighbors and your enemies, and we find him teaching about the importance of going to God with the inner sincerity of the heart. But we do not find him discussing the nature of God nor even saying who or what he perceives himself to be."

This is a very important point for all studying the Bible and Christianity. Jesus never defined the nature of God, or the Goddess, only the ethics of living a Godly, or Holy life. Nor did Jesus ever call himself God. This class looks at the writings about the early Jesus and makes valid points about how Christianity has totally changed over the past millenniums.

Mary Magdalene and her part in the early Judeo-Christian world have always intrigued me. This class actually looks at several answers yet leaves the final decision up to the reader. We will probably never know every detail, yet the change of Christianity in the early years from heavily matriarchal to the post canonical years of Constantine and the Council of Nicea is discussed academically in this class. As a woman, these lessons sure opened up a world of explanation!

“ The elephant in the living room that many are now recognizing can be summarized in the question: How did a woman as powerful, intelligent, and courageous as Mary Magdalene end up being labeled for centuries as a sinner and whore, even if repentant? By asking this we cross the line from history into fantasy, myth and legend. The Mary Magdalene that most of us know has been packaged by the Church to serve social and political purposes and is no more historical than the image of the Virgin Mary. But like her sacred sister, the Mary Magdalene of myth still has the power to captivate and enthrall us.” Lesson 11

Mystical Christianity, written by Mother Maryesah Karelon, is an excellent class in early Christianity and a look at how much Christianity has diversified in its approach to religion and spirituality. She covers the early history very well. “Some Christians began to see a belief in Jesus as the only road to salvation. Once this happened, Christianity began to be defined as exclusive and believers claimed that their way was right and everyone else was wrong. Lesson 15” This happened after the Council of Nicea, and once the shift to exclusivity began so did the religious wars. It is this very approach to Jesus and the “we are right” attitude that turned me off to Christianity decades ago.

I really enjoyed this class, and the topics it covers from Mary Magdalene to reincarnation to the mystical Jesus who saw the Christ in each of us. I place it in the top five of ULC Seminary classes I have taken. It is informative and thought provoking. It was most certainly worth my time and money.


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Master of Religion

First, I would like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the Master of Religion course, I found myself learning so much about aspects of Christianity, the bible as well as myself. I found many lessons of great interest to me, specifically the areas around the comparisons between evolution and creationism, Christian counseling and the lost scriptures. Now granted these are just a few of the lessons but the whole course was amazing! So rather than specifically write about one or two areas of the course, I would like to write about how I came to this course, which I feel is just as valuable, sometimes the journey can teach you more than the end means.

I accepted Jesus into my life in 2006 and my life started a new, since then it has been life changing.

I wasn’t raised in a religious or spiritual home at all so the idea of “a God” was not on my radar so to speak and when the topic of God did come up I usually disregarded it and figured I knew best, was I ever wrong.

There came a time in my life however where the wheels came off and came off quite quickly. Things were beginning to happen in my life that was systematically dismantling the machine I called my life. My ability to find jobs in my field was impossible, and I found myself growing increasingly frustrated and I found myself pulling away from anything that made me happy. I found myself being rejected by many people and I couldn’t understand why, my family was falling apart, my parents got divorced and decided to tell me a year after the fact; a few months after that, found out that my brother was getting a divorce, so within 6 months I realized that my family was no longer “perfect”. Moreover, my own marriage was beginning to fail and was nearing the same rocks that had taken 2 other marriages…it was safe to say that I had hit the bottom, and it was painful. In a nutshell, my life as I knew it went from good to bad in what seemed to be a heartbeat and it left me reeling.

I was at such a low point in my life that I just didn’t know what to do anymore, I was on my own. At the time I still wasn’t a Christian but I really believe now that that was when God began to come into my life, He had to take everything away from me in order to start building me up. My family and I decided to get away from it all so we drove from Alberta to Ontario, almost 24oo miles away for a vacation for 3 weeks, once there was captivated by the beauty of the Province and something in me told me that we had to move there. Now of course you have to understand this, I am not a spontaneous person, in fact I can be quite a stickler for perfection and planning however there was something drawing me to this beautiful and peaceful place. Before leaving I was literally desperate and no longer cared about anything, I was in a very scary place.

When we decided to move to Ontario, neither of us had jobs but it just felt like the right thing to do and so I trusted that feeling, kind of sounds like Abraham in Genesis 12:1 where it says, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…” you see, Abram left Haran with just his family and belongings, to go where God had called him, to the land of Canaan, a land he wasn’t familiar with and not to mention Abram was 75 years old at this time with a wife and family, by doing this, Abram demonstrated awesome faith in God and was rewarded by becoming the “Father of Nations” , Abram followed by faith and not by sight!

This was 2 years ago in August 2005 and in 2006 God spoke to me, very clearly, it might as well been the burning bush that Moses saw! That’s how clear it was. I was a non believer at that time, so He made sure He spoke loud and clear to me, it was the most indescribable moment in my life, it changed my life and when God spoke to me, everything became very clear for me; I had always thought my life was clear but after God’s conversation with me, I realized that my life was anything but clear.

I was called by God but I was also called to the ministry, which when I told this to my wife, she almost fell down! I was filled with such life and hope that I couldn’t contain it and had to tell people.

After being called to accept Jesus into my life and give up everything for Him, I reached out to our local Pastor and was accepted into their church and baptized shortly after. Ever since I was called by God I have sought God’s word and His calling to the ministry with an insatiable appetite and thirst that cannot be quenched! I found a bible and started to read it and it was absolutely amazing how clear it was, it was the “instruction book” for life, now I realize that this may sound simple but it really is!

All of this brings me to where I am now, I am in a new province, thousands of miles away from friends and family and I came and found a brand new life, a life with Jesus! As I mentioned earlier, this is very similar to when God called Abraham to leave the safety and familiar surroundings of his home and to go to an unknown land, Abraham had no choice but to have faith in God, Abraham was a pioneer of sorts, he was the first one to really test the “follow by faith not by sight” lesson that God loves to demonstrate repeatedly in people’s lives. And as we all know, Abraham was rewarded handsomely!

I could’ve stayed where I was, a familiar place where I had grown up, a place where I had numerous friends, but now I now realize God was at work in my life even though I didn’t know it then, He was the one that brought me to my knees and He was the one that made me move to a place where He wanted me to be and He was the one who has called me to the ministry…His ministry.

I now know that God wants to do many things in my life, I don’t know what they are yet but I do trust in Him and His will; He hasn’t let me down yet. To add to this, a few months after moving to Ontario, I was presented with an opportunity to work in not only a job in my field, but it was a job that I hadn’t even applied for…I believe it was a gift from God because I had obeyed Him throughout my journey. I am a new person in a great job, my family is closer than it has ever been and my marriage has grown stronger since both my wife are now born again Christians. I have allowed God to do what He wants to do in my life and it has been wonderful! I have learned many things as a Christian but none more important than realizing that being a Christian is not an easy life, it is a life where God continually works in us, teaching us, molding us, and sanctifying us with the end result being glorified in Christ! I have been tested, disciplined, corrected and humbled, but I have also been rewarded…I now realize that no matter what God does in your life, He does because He loves you just like a parent will discipline or praise their child, so does God, it’s wonderful to be a child of God!

I now find myself in the Seminary fulfilling my calling to Christ, where this will take me only God knows but I trust that He will put me where He wants me and that is what matters.

Some people have asked if I miss my old life, my friends and family and to that I say that I don’t miss the life I left behind, people cannot grow if they are continuously looking behind them and looking back, after all, look at what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt, why, because she went against what God told her. If you are tempted to look back, look forward and up…to Christ and He will show you the way.

I left much toxicity, I now serve only one person and that is Jesus Christ, the one who died for me, He saved my life and I am both honored and blessed to call Him my Father!

I look forward to the day that I graduate from ULC Seminary with both my Masters and Doctorate in Ministry, the course has taught me so much and I know that I have so much more to learn, but with God as my teacher, I know I will be just fine.

~ Rev. Jason Carey


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