Sunday, September 6, 2009
I opened my sermon today with a remembrance of a class at Asbury Theological Seminary. While I graduated from Candler School of Theology, I did a couple of quarters at ATS. I remember three courses. The Greek I took during the two summer sessions and a course taught by the Seminary President on "The Life and Work of the Minister." But, the course I remembered in the sermon was taught by Dean Robert Traina and was entitled "Methodical Bible Study."
In the sermon which focused on the great question posed in Acts 16:30, I said, "It was a course which I continue to find useful even today. It was a course that introduced us to an inductive style of Bible study which centered around asking questions. Dr. Traina taught us to ask questions about a text. He taught us to ask questions not for the sake of finding answers, but for the sake of asking questions. 'Ask questions and don't worry about the answers,' he would say. For example he would take a text like John 3:16 and he would ask such questions as: 'What is the significance of the word 'for" at the beginning of the verse? What other word might have been used? What does it mean to be loved? What does it mean to be loved by God? Why did John use the word, 'world'?' While I no longer write pages and pages of questions about a text, I still find myself approaching Biblical passages asking such questions at a subconscious level. The questions become like windows helping me to see a single text, but from different perspectives."
It is interesting how the mind works. I had not thought about that class in many years. I still have the textbook, but it has been forever since I opened it. And then suddenly, in the midst of a moment of sermon writing, I remembered this man and his influence in my ministry and my spiritual journey. In that moment it became important for me to call his name again. Perhaps, it is in the act of remembering and calling his name that my heart says a very belated "Thank you." Even though the word of appreciation may be unheard by him, it is still important to say it!