To see more posts in this series, please go to the series’ page.

As the summer of 2002 came to an end it became time for me to head back to Pensacola for my sophomore year. This time instead of flying down my parents, brother, and I took the family RV and made our way from New York to Pensacola. By mid-August we arrived in Pensacola, toured some sights, and then my family dropped me off on campus before returning back to New York.

Scan
Yours truly standing in front of my dorm on the day my family dropped me off before leaving to go home.

Classes my sophomore year included a survey of the Old Testament, an in-depth study of the book of Romans, courses on American history, biology, evangelism, and Koine Greek.

As one might expect from a college like PCC, the biology class was taught from a decidedly young earth creationist vantage point. The first paragraph from the first chapter reads as follows:

Biology, the study of living things, has fascinated mankind since the Creation. The word comes from the Greek root bios, which means “life,” and the Greek suffix -logy, which means “science of” or “study of.” As you think about living things, your mind may picture the larger scope of life such as a pond or a forest, each area thriving with many different plants and animals. As you step outside in your thoughts into the world of nature, you may visualize a field with numerous kinds of plants and small animals, a mountain stream flowing among the trees, or the ocean with its vast number of creatures. This is where man began to study biology. Adam and Eve were given the responsibility by God to subdue the earth and use it for their benefit. From the beginning, man has been naming, using, and studying living things.1

This theme runs throughout the text and there are even two chapters devoted to challenging evolutionary biology.2 Though I agreed wholeheartedly that evolutionary theory was hogwash, the class wasn’t all that exciting and I think I passed it with a low B.

More challenging was BL101 – an introduction to Koine Greek. Our teacher was Mr. Huddleston, a man probably in his late 20s or early 30s, who had a great passion for biblical languages. For extra credit on a quiz he asked us to answer the question “What is your teacher’s favorite biblical language?” Most of us guessed Greek but we didn’t realize it was Hebrew. I needed that extra point. When I took Hebrew the following year I discovered he wrote the textbook for the class! But Mr. Huddleston didn’t write the textbook for BL101. Rather, we used the classic text written by J. Gresham Machen entitled New Testament Greek for Beginnings. Though dated, Machen’s volume is still a valuable resource that I refer to from time to time.

Switching Majors

By the end of the first semester of my sophomore year I began to have second thoughts about majoring in evangelism. It wasn’t because my zeal for becoming an itinerant preacher had diminished; on the contrary, it had only grown. But the major difficulty for me was my experience in the program. The arrogance exhibited by many in the program was disturbing and we were often told in class how much more valuable evangelists were to the church than were pastors. In December, not long after final exams, I decided I would switch my major to history with a minor in biblical languages (i.e. Greek and Hebrew). The way I saw it, I would be an evangelist with a B.A. in history. I could still take Bible classes and speech classes as electives. I just wouldn’t be stuck in the evangelism seminar having to deal with the Dave Young wannabe’s.

When I returned to PCC in January of 2003, I was now taking US History courses in addition to Greek (BL102), Reformation History, and more. One class that stands out in my memory is Church History taught by the monotonous Joel Mullenix. Rather than reading any primary source material or learning about Christian history century by century, we were taught from a dispensational perspective wherein the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3 represented the different periods of church history.

  • Ephesus: the apostolic era (30-100 CE)
  • Smyrna: the era of persecution (100-313 CE)
  • Pergamum: the era of Constantine (313-600 CE)
  • Thyatira: the Middle Ages (600-1517 CE)
  • Sardis: the Reformation era (1517-1648 CE)
  • Philadelphia: the era of the missionary movement (1648-1900 CE)
  • Laodicea: the era of apostasy (1900 CE – present)3 

For anyone unfamiliar with the book of Revelation, the church in Laodicea is the last church addressed by Jesus. Consequently, our current age is the final age. Thus dispensationalists are looking for the rapture to happen very soon.

The Freshman Fifteen

My sophomore year was the year I finally gained the infamous “freshman fifteen.” Better late than never, I suppose. But it wasn’t simply due to the all you can eat buffet that we enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had become friends with another sophmore in the dorm room next to mine and we regularly spent time after dinner running the track and playing basketball. So thankfully, some of that fifteen was actually muscle weight. And I most certainly got a good workout as he was not only faster than me but was a far better basketball player.

I also began to tutor another student in my Greek class since he was falling behind and needed the help. Twice a week he would come by my room and we would go over noun declensions, verb conjugations, and vocabulary. But despite my best efforts he couldn’t pass the class and ended up switching his major from Pastoral Ministries (emphasis in youth ministry) to Physical Education. I tried!

Next Time

I had planned to discuss my junior year along with my sophomore year but this post is long enough as it is. So next time we will continue looking at my college journey.

NOTES

1 Gregory Parker, Keith Graham, Delores Shimmin, and George Thompson, Biology: God’s Living Creation, second edition (A Beka Book, 1997), 2.

2 Ibid., 358-407.

3 Thomas Ice, “The Church Age,” in Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson (eds.), The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (Harvest House Publishers, 2004). C.I. Scofield, one of the foremost popularizers of dispensationalism in 20th century America, claimed that the seven churches in Revelation represented “seven phases of the spiritual history of the church from, say A.D. 96 to the end” (C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible [Oxford University Press, 1996], 1331).

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3 thoughts on “(Re)Considering Christianity: A Skeptic Looks at the Christian Religion – Introduction, part 6

  1. I guess I’d ask “what’s the part you’re skeptical of?” You “agreed wholeheartedly that evolutionary biology was hogwash” and accept what, creationism? The man in the clouds made everything in 6 days? And you accept this cartoonish concept of creation? You’re skeptical of science-based theory that stands on relatively firm ground (excuse the pun) made of hundreds of millions of years of evidence in the fossil record. I’m not looking to convince you; I know that’s a lost cause (like your Greek tutoring effort) but I don’t understand how you accept such a childish notion as Genesis. I just doesn’t make sense at all. I noticed you didn’t mention taking any Critical Thinking classes.

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