Baylor Grad School classes on Christianity

To really understand my faith journey and how I got to a point of considering things outside of the Christianity I understood growing up we need to back up and explain some of the things I learned at Baylor.

At Baylor I took two classes on Christianity. I took an English class called the Bible as Literature and I took a History class called Global Christianity. Both of these were formative in my developing understanding of Christianity. First, I will talk about my English class.

Bible as Literature was an English class that did what all good English classes do, analyze the text keeping in mind the genre, symbolism, historical context, author, etc. However, the Bible is complicated because its not really one book, but 66 or more depending on if you include the apocrypha. Most, if not all of the books of the Bible we are unsure of the author. Some books have more than one author.

The books of the Bible also do not tell you flat out what genre they are. Some are literal, some are poetic, some are allegorical, some are historical, some books are mixed. Sometimes the Bible has more than one story of the same event such as the creation story or historical accounts of Israel and Judah.

Basically, this class proved to me that the Bible is complicated and cannot be inerrant. Ideas such as a literal 7 day creation are not explicitly implied in the Bible and that a scientific explanation of creation was not the point or even possible by the authors at the time of its writing. Even with careful scholarship and exploring of contexts does not clear up many Biblical questions. My conclusion was that the Bible is the most powerful book containing spiritual truths, but that it is far from a perfect and easy to understand book.

The other class I took on Christianity was a history class called Global Christianity. This class focused on the rise and fall of Christianity across the globe through the centuries. This class sought to discover and understand the patterns that happened cyclically every time Christianity blew up and died down in different nations.

Global Christianity discovered that Christianity begins to thrive in countries in which it is persecuted in. There are many claims of miraculous healing, casting out demons, prophecy, and deliverance from evil. Christianity solidifies and grows through education, schools and churches. Over time Christianity becomes more accepted in these countries and slowly dies down before blowing up again in another persecuted nation. Christianity has been present for a long time in Europe and the USA. It is slowly dying down in these places. But in places like Asia and Africa where Christianity is often persecuted, it is thriving.

One of the things we discussed in class is how missionaries in these foreign nations decided to use language and talk about the gospel. For example, do the missionaries use the same word for God as the natives did and reframe what he is like? Or do the missionaries use another word such as the word for Sun as a symbol of God. The conclusion we came to is that the language of Christianity is translation. It is amazing how much Christianity has spread around the world, how many different forms it has taken and cultures have embraced it, but also how the core message of Christianity has remained the same throughout time and place.

Global Christianity taught me that Christianity is the most powerful, true, and loving religion, which is evidenced by its survival, consistency, and growth where suffering is greatest. God speaks in all languages to all people in a way that they can understand maintaining what is core to Christianity. I believe that the miraculous, performed by God and through the children of God is an essential tool that continues to this day. I believe that education is important to the deepening of our faith, but that separate from experience is a dangerous and faith-killing process.

Bible as Literature and Global Christianity deepened my faith and gave me the freedom to explore my beliefs in the future, trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guiding voice.

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