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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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Christian History

 ULC Seminary: Master of Christian History Paper
                        Lesson 13
1.    What set the post-Nicene fathers apart from the ante-Nicene fathers?

The “Ante-Nicene fathers”, are the Church Fathers who worked before the Council of Nicaea regardless of whether they were apostolic fathers, apologists, or polemicists. They studied the Scriptures in a more or less scientific way to gain theological meaning.

While the Post-Nicene Fathers which include the Eastern Post-Nicene Fathers and Western Post-Nicene Fathers are the Fathers of the church who were part of the schools of Biblical interpretation.

2.    Why is Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History so important to us today?

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. A.D. 260-340): an Eastern Post-Nicene Fathers wrote a historical work known as ‘the Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History work’, which is a survey of church history from apostolic times until A.D. 324, is important because it offer a record of past trials of the church at the end of its long period of struggle and the beginning of its era of prosperity. Also the work is still very valuable today because of his access to the library at Caesarea and the imperial archives. Eusebius made a tremendous effort to be honest and objective in his use of the best and most reliable primary sources available to him. The work foreshadowed how the present-day historian goes about evaluating his sources of knowledge. His work is the best source of knowledge we have about the history of the ancient church in the first three centuries of existence, but scholars do wish that he had left some kind of notations pointing to where he got his knowledge from like the present-day historian does. His work also has at times a monotonous recitation of facts and extracts with no orderly view of cause and effect. Regardless, this work is very valuable to the church throughout the ages.

3.     In what way was Augustine the greatest of the Church Fathers and how did his work influence later Roman Catholicism and Protestantism?

Based upon the great weight of Augustine’s work and influence on the church of his time, he arguably was the greatest of the Church fathers (he left behind over 100 books, 500 sermons, and 200 letters) who can be called “post-Nicene fathers”. He was an able polemicist, a good preacher, a fine episcopal overseer, a great theologian, and the creator of a Christian historiography that is still valid in its fundamentals. Living in a time when the old classical civilization was on its way to doom at the hands of the barbarians, Augustine stood between two worlds, the classical and the new medieval. Both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism give honor to his contribution to the cause of Christianity.

The influences are also from his contributions like; his most widely known work which was his Confessions, one of the great autobiographies of all time. It was finished by A.D. 401. Like all of his main works, it came out of trials he or the church faced. In it he laid bare his soul for all to behold.

Augustine’s intellectual biography was a work he wrote just before his death entitled Retractationes or Revisions. In it he chronologically documented how his thinking had changed over time. He regretted being earlier associated with pagan philosophy because it would never bring humanity to the truth as it is in Christianity.

He also wrote philosophical dialogues, the most interesting being Contra Academicos. In it he showed that humanity could probably achieve truth through philosophy, but certainty can only be found in Biblical revelation.

His greatest exegetical work was De Doctrina Christiana, a small manual outlining his views on interpretation. It is there that he developed the concept of the analogy of faith. No teaching on particular passages should be developed unless it conformed to the general tenor of the Scriptures. Failure to recognize this leads into heresy.

Augustine’s greatest theological work was on the Trinity, De Trinitate. His Enchiridian ad Laurentium is a small manual of his theological views. He also wrote many polemical works condemning the false teachings of the Manicheans, the Donatists, and especially the Pelagians. His De Haeresibus is a history of heresies.

His greatest apologetical work, and to most the greatest work of all, was his treatise De Civitate Dei, The City of God (A.D. 413-426). Astounded by the sacking of Rome by Alaric in A.D. 410, the Romans assumed that this disaster occurred because they had forsaken their pagan gods and goddesses in favor of Christianity. Augustine answered this charge at the request of his friend Marcellinus. He showed that Rome had suffered tragedy long before Christianity came. Worshiping the Roman deities was not needed for eternal blessing. Christianity was the only thing that could give blessings.

It was also in The City of God that Augustine revealed his historiography, the first real historiography to be developed. This is significant for Christian historiography. Neither the Greek nor Roman historians had been able to gain any universal grasp of humanity’s history. Augustine elevated the spiritual over the temporal in maintaining God’s sovereignty. God created history in time. God is Lord over history and is not bound up in history as the philosopher Hegel later taught. History is linear, not cyclical. All that comes about is a result of His will and action. Even before creation, God had a plan for creation. This plan will be partly realized in time in the struggle between the two cities on earth and finally realized beyond history by the supernatural power of God. Augustine saw history as universal and unitary in that all people were included in it. Herodotus, writing of the Persian War, limited his work to the conflict between the Greeks and the Persians. Augustine championed the solidarity of the human race. Progress was moral and spiritual resulting from the fight with evil. The consummation would be in the final victory of the City of God. In this Augustine avoided the later error of Marx and others who try to make a relative temporal scene of history absolute and eternal by finding solutions to humanity’s problems in temporal history. Augustine taught that the goal of history is beyond history in the hands of an eternal God. This historiography sustained the church through the dark half-millennium before A.D. 1000.

Augustine is viewed by Protestants as one who had proto-Reformation ideas by saying that humanity is saved from original and actual sin only by the grace of a sovereign God who irresistibly saves those whom He has elected. But in this he so emphasized the church as a visible institution with the true creed, sacraments, and ministry that the Roman church considers him the father of Roman ecclesiasticism though he did so to refute the Pelagians and the Donatists at the same time. His analogy of faith in interpreting Scripture is of lasting value in the church.

Regardless of these abiding values, Augustine introduced some errors into the stream of Christian thought. He participated in the development of the doctrine of purgatory with all its associated evils. He so emphasized the value of baptism and Eucharist that the doctrine of baptismal regeneration and sacramental grace were the logical results of his views. His views of the Millennium as the era between the Incarnation and Christ’s Second Advent in which the church would conquer the world led to the Roman emphasis on the Church of Rome as the universal church destined to bring all within its fold and to the idea of post-millennialism. The Protestant Reformers found Augustine to be a great ally in their belief that humanity bound by sin needs salvation by God’s grace through faith alone. Between the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther the church had no one of greater moral and spiritual stature than Augustine.

Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Sacred Space

Creating my Sacred Place was easy for me to do. There is a beach that I go to that is very peaceful and has a lot of wildlife there. Once you get to this beach you can smell the salt water. I like the smell of it and if I forget that smell I go be to the beach. I do find that my Sacred Place is very relaxing and safe. I always invite the Holy Spirit to be with my. When I am with the Holy Spirit I fill so much love, peace, and safety. I have a log that I sit on and the Holy Spirit sits beside me. I find this so comforting.
    The first day after being in my Sacred Place I took the family out to dinner and we had the greatest customer service I ever had. It was so enjoyable and the kids a such a good time. The next I took the boys out for haircuts and we had a great time at barber shop. Most of the time we just go in and come right out. But this time every one in the barber shop was have a great time. After the hair cuts we went on a drive and saw all kinds of wildlife. It was great we saw so many Eagles that we stop counting. I am seeing more and people are talking to me more. They start the conversion. I did do the reading 3 times and I wanting to go back to it for a 4th & 5th time. Thank you very much this class is a real blessing for me!!!

Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Religious Philosophy

                                                           Food for Thought

·    Which view best describes your personal relationship with nature — dominion, cooperation, or reverence?

Answer: cooperation. Yet this is contrary to the scripture I believe- the Bible Gen 1:28 which made me to understand that dominion is given to me by God. In Christianity we preach and believe in this dominion but sad to say that in practice majority of us including me practices cooperation rather than dominion using spiritual power.

·    How is this view played out in your everyday life? How does it (consciously or subconsciously) impact the way you live your life, earn a living, and function within society?
Answer: As I mentioned above, I believe I have dominion but there are a lot of things that still       overcomes me in my everyday life for which I am still in search of who, how and what to do to assume full control of the spiritual and physical (natural) aspect of human existence.

I pray on daily basis believing God to one day lead me to a good mentor/spiritual father under whom  I will be trained on how to gain full dominion like that of the prophetic and healing power to avoid living the life of ordinary religious man.

Since I am not operating at the full potential of dominion as I am made to believe to be possible, I think it is the reason why I am not functioning up to expectation within my society. I also believe that any man whose function within society is below ones expectation will not be happy and satisfactory with whatever one does to earn a living just as the case with me. I need to attain a spiritual height where I can exercise control over greater number of circumstances around me.

·    Does whatever religious faith you follow share this view of nature? In what ways do you agree or disagree with the religious functionality of your faith with regard to the natural world?

Answer:  Yes, the religious faith I follow is Christianity. Christianity share this view of nature and taught me what I just mentioned about spiritual power even the prophetic and healing powers. About five (5) percent of the Christian population operates at this power mentioned here; people like: Benny Hinn, Apostle Johnson Suleman of Nigeria; Prophet Eubert Angel of Zimbabwe; Prophet T.  B. Joshua of Nigeria Etc.

I agree with the religious functionality of my faith with regard to the natural world in the aspect of Gen 1:28-“We are created to have dominion over all creatures on earth” yet I disagree with majority of Christians on the practicality of this believe and teachings among us, this is because only few and handful Christians lives the gospel which say that Christianity is not in word but in power. Therefore I am looking the men of God with power to identify with and be groomed by.

Yours in Him,
Ikpenwa, Chizoba Gabriel

Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Spirituality and Prayer

1.       Explain how I agree/disagree with the Course’s view on forgiveness: I agree with the Course’s view on forgiveness. I had never thought about the “forgiveness of destruction”, however, in my life and my interactions with others I see how the ego keeps us stuck. I know that when I become angry or hurt my ego puts my thoughts on a “hamster wheel” and the negativity goes around and around.  I try to jump off the wheel only to find myself repeatedly jumping back on.  Each time I jump back on I find justifications for why I feel/think the way I do.  It is a relief to know that it is not myself that forgives but God that forgives through intercession of the Holy Spirit.  I agree that I worry and blame myself at times for my flaws and at other times my ego inflates my “self-esteem” and furthers my justification for whatever I have done.  

Once I justify what I have done related to perceived wrongs I am inclined to do those things again because it “is okay for me to act this way” but “it is not okay for the other to behave in this manner.”  What a distraction! What separateness! Years ago I read many books written by an Avatar, Meher Baba.  His explanation of life is that we “are all God in search of itself”.  He taught that in the beginning God was everything and God was nothing and that life as an individual was created in order that God might know Itself in every way.  Therefore, every experience was necessary. This philosophy taught that we need to let go of our mis-perceptions about who we are and to leave everything up to God. I think this week’s Course is underlining this.  If we truly are God in search of Itself then it is God who forgives.  It is God who lives through us.  It is not about us it is about God.

2.       Re-write one of my own prayers for forgiveness.  “Lord, I have done it again.  I have been angry and have lashed out at others.  I feel badly about hurting others and yet feel justified at the same time.  Please forgive my weaknesses and help me to refrain from hurting others again.”  New prayer: “Holy Spirit, Please intercede on my behalf with the Father in granting forgiveness in this situation.  Help me to re-member who I Am and to let go of negative evaluations of myself and others. Help me live in Love and Peace. Thank You. Amen.”

Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.