LibertyU Blog – Moving On…

Well, in some ways I didn’t write this, but it’s time to. After my current Theological Survey II class ends (which I’m nearly halfway through), I’ll be withdrawing from Liberty University after wrapping up both my Theological Survey courses and Hermeneutics work (I will have completed 3 classes by that point, of the two main topics I wanted to focus on).

A few key things led me to this:

  • The cost is too high now: After my accident last year, and my car getting totaled, my finances (which were on track to be very, very good in 2017) were derailed completely. In the summer I was under the impression a non-working car I had was going to get fixed/work fine (and be my mode of transportation for 12-18 months as I worked on buying a newer used car outright) and so in July/August when I enrolled at Liberty I felt confident I had X amount of money to work with. But, by late October it was clear: The fixed up car wasn’t reliable as a daily driver, and I needed to just suck it up and get a hefty loan to buy a car. So with that expensive car financing and required higher insurance cost, my budget for tuition went away almost overnight. And let’s not even factor in all my still unpaid medical bills from 1 year ago, which I owe on.
  • Time to complete: If I couldn’t take ~6-7 classes annually, the program (20 classes) would take me over 3 years to complete. My original plan? Take 2-3 classes each semester, 3 times a year, so I could finish it up in about 2 years. But now, even at 4-5 classes annually, we’re talking 4-5 years. No thanks.
  • Simplifying: I’ve been working on a minimalism-focused lifestyle, and honestly, this added stress, classwork and money annoyance is making my life overly complex now. I have a full-time job, bills, a house to maintain and other things I want to enjoy (maybe I want to sight-see this year? Or spend time with my family! Or perhaps just save/pay off some older bills?).
  • Tired of formal education: I already have 2 Associate and 2 Bachelor degrees, and have taken hundreds of credits worth of college classes since 2000 (no joke). I’m nearly done, brain-wise. I may one day wish to get a small Masters-level IT certificate or something, but that’s it (I would go for a Bible certificate, but all Bible schools I’ve found are so expensive). Even then, we’ll see. My days of formal academia may just be over. If I do anything, it may be small courses here and there.
  • Self-study: I also have Logos 7 Gold now, and I’m paying that off, at $70/mo. That, I think, will be my primary research/learning/serious study tool overall. I bought that in December thinking Liberty may eventually be going away.

So yeah, it’s a slight bummer about Liberty University, as it is a nice school and I’ve enjoyed the classwork I’ve done … but at this point there are too many reasons now not to do it, at this point in my life. I gave it a good shot, and if the economy was better and I didn’t have an unexpected car note to pay, things might be different. I don’t see it as failing because 1) I was never going to get a formal degree/do it as a career, 2) unexpected life bills and no chance for student loans killed finances (out of my control) and 3) I gave it a proper shot, for the right reasons, and with the right mindset. I also will have completed most of the main courses I wanted to focus on and that interested me the most.

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Homosexuality and the Bible – Charlie Campbell

Homosexuality and the Bible: Answering Objections to the Biblical View is the latest video from Charlie Campbell that I’ve watched. In it Charlie mostly focuses on the many issues that non-Christians have with the portrayal of homosexual behavior in Bible, how they perceive Christians treat gay people, why they say the Bible contradicts itself on this subject and how gay marriage is not bad, if gay people are like normal couples, except just two of them happen to be the same gender.

Now, to me this video felt pretty different than Charlie’s other videos about Mormonism, Jehova’s Witnesses, Hinduism, etc. because in those he went into great detail over the origin of that thinking, what caused its eruption/growth in recent times and what is sustaining it in spite of Christianity’s reach all over. Here he does none of that, and I almost wonder if it’s because he wants to avoid upsetting potential gay listeners by avoiding saying not-so-great things that’ll immediately make them want to stop watching (such as the Journal of the Family Research Institute, Vol. 18 No. 1, Feb 2003 study showing that 69% of serial killers were homosexual, making the clear connection between deviant and other extreme/dangerous behavior). He sorta covers potential causes of the lifestyle choice, but doesn’t explain it enough to show the cause (knowing the cause helps with the cure!).

Instead Charlie focuses on the most common questions and objections raised by unbelieving gays, and does a good job through easy-to-read presentation imagery and calm, well-spoken dialogue. He aims to not rock the boat here, and I do understand why, given the highly divisive topic and target rebellious audience.

Obviously this video is aimed at people who are homosexuals and would like more information on things they may have heard … but I do feel like more emphasis should have been placed on why this is such a crucial issue, and how much that lifestyle is tied into other terrible, anti-God decisions people make.

LibertyU Blog – Semester #2 Begins…

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to do a class this semester due to tight finances in December and January, but over the last two weeks I ran my budget on vapors and was able to squeeze out enough to cover tuition for a class — Theological Survey II.

I appreciate the chance to continue my classes, as there was a very brief time a couple weeks ago where I honestly didn’t think it’d be possible (this semester or perhaps even beyond) — it was pretty depressing. But at this rate, if I can do roughly 6-7 classes annually, I will be able to finish the program in three years, which is basically what I expected and aimed for. Of course, if money gets tight/things come up over time classes will be delayed, naturally.

Wish me luck as I embark on a new class … and I hope God opens my eyes to even more information I likely wouldn’t have encountered via random sermons and readings. I’m even looking forward to writing more papers too! Thank you Jesus.

Self-Study Bible Course

Around this time last year I announced that I would be giving a self-study Bible book a shot, because of how inexpensive it was, and I wanted to see if real value could come from a straightforward book, vs. more expensive Bible courses.

During this past year however I decided to actually enroll in a Bible college, and follow that path, because I wasn’t feeling like my Christian education was formal/detailed enough (for if I ever wanted to dive into deeper Biblical subject matter). I shelved this book rather quickly as a result, and I only ever completed the first lesson.

Flash-forward to the end of 2017 and I decided it was time for me to review the guide, even if I hadn’t completed all of its content. Instead of doing all the questions, reading and memorization, I instead decided to just read the content, and then answers’ summaries at the end of each chapter. I figured that alone would give me a good enough grasp of whether or not this was a good studying tool.

Boy, I’m glad I never actually finished this book. By about Chapter 4 or 5 the horrible realization hit me — that this was a study guide written by a charismatic believer (Derek Prince, who I only looked into AFTER discovering this craziness). Charismatic followers believe the spiritual gifts the Apostles got are still in use today — speaking in tongues, laying on of hands to heal, etc.

In short, from Chapter 4 or so onward you are sometimes obviously and other times not so clearly indoctrinated into these weird teachings. I’m so glad I never finished this book, and I am going to throw this out when I get a chance, because it’s really that pointless. Avoid this nonsense at all costs.

LibertyU Blog – Semester #1 Done

Well, it’s over! Last Friday marked my final day of classes for the Fall semester, and as of today, I have my final grades. In my Theology Survey I class, I ended up getting an A, and in my Hermeneutics I class, I earned an A- … overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way my first official Bible classes have gone, and I’m looking forward to starting the next class in January.

Now, to be completely honest, I will admit that taking (2) classes at once — while working full-time — was not a brilliant move at all. The work load is exactly like a normal course’s work, except that you only have 8 weeks, vs. 15. So while I would have had no problem juggling 3-4 classes simultaneously if I was a [full-time student], the harsh reality is that if you [work full-time], you simply lack the time, energy and drive to do a consistently good job. For example, for the first 3 weeks or so I stayed on top of all the reading assignments … but by week 4 onward I had converted over to a “skim what’s necessary” approach. As a result, I didn’t fully grasp what was being covered in each lesson, and ultimately, I need to read what I missed between now and January, to ease my mind/get the full class value.

Of the two classes, the Hermeneutics I one suffered the most, mainly it relied the most on reading. Now, on a more positive note, everyone in class was friendly, and talking to the teachers was easy to do via email and the class discussion forums were nice. I think next semester will be better, when I take just 1 class at a time, over the span of 16 weeks.

LibertyU Blog – Week 4 Update

Well, it’s been a few weeks now since my last update, and it’s not because I have wanted to wait that long — I simply I have been swamped with classwork and my regular full-time job as well. I do IT work for a living, which is me staring at a computer screen for 10-11 hrs. a day, and then on the nights I have to do schoolwork, that’s another 2-3 hrs. of Bible-study/work of writing papers, researching stuff, taking quizzes, etc.

In short, this is not an easy program for an adult with other commitments, time-wise. My original plan was to take 4 classes this fall (there are two 8-week session times each semester, and in the first session I am taking these 2 classes), but today — after knowing the remainder of this year will be busy overall, I have decided to drop the 2 classes scheduled to start in October, and just pick my classes up again in January 2018, instead. Now, I was already planning on scaling back the classes I’d take anyways after this semester, so it’s not a horrible thing — just a slight change of plans. But it also means not having to pay tuition and books for 2 classes, which — honestly — means a lot to my finances right now. My medical bills and other costs I have to deal with are just crazy.

As for the classes themselves, I’m enjoying them, and learning some neat things — like how to use Bible websites and Strong’s numbering systems to dig into individual words’ meanings, context and structure. But, like I said, it’s just a lot of work overall, and I have already written multiple papers about different topics.

LibertyU Blog – Welcome Week

My last post had me in an exhausted state, because on that day I had just spent about two hours formatting my first paper in Turabian style, which is the writing format that all written work at the university needs to be in. It was hard to do, but after submitting my paper yesterday and getting good feedback so far, I think I’m understanding it enough to do research papers with some confidence!

Today marks the end of the first week of classes at Liberty University, and I think this school is an excellent example of how to do online studies. Multiple times each week they host their “Convocation,” which is basically a big seminar all students on campus attend … however they also livestream (and record) each event for current students, so even remote students won’t miss out. I watched this live, and felt like I was part of the activity!

Then, on Wednesday evenings, they have “Campus Community,” which is a worship/church service that again, all* students attend. The very first one had a cool animated/performance art piece showcasing the dangers of constant social media/phone use. (*I’m not 100% sure if attendance is required like it is to Convocation, but I would have LOVED things like this at the state university I went to years ago.)

These frequent concert-/seminar-/performance-like events keep students around each other, and reinforce Christian messages that the school wants learners to stay aware of. Now, the music is something I’m not super used to, but I like the variety!

Lastly, on Wednesday evening I also took part in a live, interactive Turabian Writing class that lasted about an hour, had multiple assistants answering questions real-time in chat, and a real-time professor webinar presentation explaining things us students needed to know.

Class work-wise, I finished up my first paper yesterday (about the Trinity), and after you submit it, you have to read other students’ work and then write multiple, cited responses to them — I still need to do that. In addition, I probably have 100+ pages of text to read by Monday, across three textbooks. Oh, and this week I have 10 readings of Galatians 6, which is supposed to be written about at the end.

Overall, I am really enjoying this school experience. The cost-per-credit for this program is very affordable and the fact that I can do it while still working full-time and paying normal bills is great. I thank God for this opportunity, and want to make sure that I don’t waste it.