Pursuing a Biblical Exegesis Degree from Wheaton College? Do THIS…
A few years back I went to Wheaton College Graduate School and completed a Master’s Degree in Biblical Exegesis. (If you are considering whether or not to pursue this degree, here’s a post I wrote back in 2013 on my experience: http://www.ttschmidt.com/blog/wheaton-college-ma-biblical-exegesis-degree ).
Maybe you recently moved to Wheaton to begin your studies in this program. Perhaps you are full of hope and plans for what you believe God is calling you to do with the degree. Or, you might be wondering what can (or should) I do with it?
Well, take heart: God is Sovereign, He will lead you, and there are certainly lots of things you can do with the degree. I know some who are now missionaries overseas, others who are in doctoral programs, others work for publishers, some teach Bible in Christian schools, and others who work jobs in other fields.
Then, there are those who are in pastoral ministry, like me. (If you stumbled on this blog, I am a church planter/pastor of Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville, IL.). I’m really glad that I was able to obtain the biblical exegesis degree from Wheaton College. I find that I use those exegetical tools every week in my sermon prep. Though it has now been 4 years since I finished Wheaton College Graduate School, I am still using my language skills and still reflecting on some of the lessons that my professors taught me.
I also found that the degree stretched my critical thinking abilities. During that first semester I felt like I did not even have the critical thinking abilities necessary to engage the content being taught (I think I asked only one question in class that first semester—I was too busy trying to grasp the content!). But by my last semester I felt like I had grown to the point where I could comfortably articulate my own views and charitably disagree with others (even with professors).
So the biblical exegesis degree has definitely proven useful and helpful for me in pastoral ministry. Of course, you won’t learn the pastoral training skills that you might get in an MDiv program, but I believe you can get those experiences hands on in the church, which is what I did at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles (the church that sent me and our team out to plant in Naperville).
MY ONE PIECE OF ADVICE: DO THIS…
Regardless of what you might end up doing with your degree when you finish your time at Wheaton, I would heartily encourage EVERYONE to be a committed member of a local church while you are there. DON’T make the excuse that you don’t have time for church because of all the work you have on—I know it is VERY difficult work, especially with the languages and papers. The church needs you and you need the church. All of that knowledge can PUFF up—I know firsthand!—and we need pastors to care for us. We also need other believers to speak words of comfort and reassurance to us. But most importantly, God in His Word has called us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers (Heb 10:25)—there is no category in Scripture for a lone-ranger Christian. Finally, I found that being part of a local church GROUNDED me while wading into some of the more heavy academic theological discussions–it puts things into perspective.
So, my advice to you is this: Be sure to become a member of a local church while you are pursuing your MA in Biblical Exegesis.