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, October 08, 2009

Christian Studies

Final Essay on the Four Gospels Course

I have found this course very challenging and absorbing to read and study giving me a different perception about the Four Gospels than before. The modern translation supplied with the course opened new points of view in a down-to-earth way making it much more readable than conventional translations, particularly for this type of course. I am not in agreement with everything in the notes but they have been caused me to stop and think more deeply about the gospels.

The point has been made that Jesus at times becomes frustrated or angry or even childish. This view is understandable but surely, we are forgetting that the central fact of the Christian faith  is that Jesus is both divine as the son of God and also human as the son of humanity - in effect a sort of dual personality which must have been difficult even for him to reconcile from time to time.  He did not come straight into the world as a figure from heaven (would he really have been accepted if he had ?- I doubt it!) but was born of a woman in very humble circumstances and lived his life among mankind for about 30 years so that he could experience and understand human problems and failings.  At the same time, when he started his ministry, his divine nature enabled him to heal and  do other miraculous works, which one might have expected would convince the people that here was someone special. So I feel that the human element is bound to show through when his hearers are being deliberately dense or misunderstanding him. We, as humans, must have been in situations that caused us to be angry or frustrated when people we were talking to refused to understand. As to being childish, the Jews were about to stone him for blasphemy, and to run away until tempers cooled would have been a sensible thing to do.

The Pharisees and lawyers were always asking trick questions and producing rather stupid stories to try to trap him but never seem to want to understand his replies. They were the learned section amongst the Jews and should be able to follow his meaning through their own knowledge of scripture.  The Pharisees and lawyers were honored amongst the people by getting the best seats in the church, at dinners and generally being on a higher plane  by expecting as of right the salutations of more humble men.  They refuse to understand his message because they do not want to change their lifestyle which is so good even under the Romans - though the life offered by Jesus would surely be better.  The Jewish faith was protected in the Roman empire and they did not want to change the status quo. In other words, they are more concerned with this world and its benefits (like many people today) than the heavenly world proclaimed by Jesus. They and the leaders of the synagogue wanted to keep in with the Romans and they fear that Jesus' teaching could attract reprisals from Rome. This would upset their lives and create problems they did not want. Can one wonder that Jesus is frustrated and angry on occasions as he would expect the Jewish leaders to be ready for his message and support him, not to cause rebellion against Rome, but to stir up the Jewish faith and the lives of the people to a better understanding of God?

I feel that this study has helped to heighten my perception as well as, to some extent, changing it for the better.

Rev. Derek Kemp


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