Like Branches on a Tree

This is a very busy week. Tomorrow we have a Hebrew test, and I’ve spent enough time on this blog fretting about Hebrew. However, although this morning my status was, “There’s a very good chance that I may fail,” due to some quality time spent with Davidson this afternoon, this has been updated to, “I can reasonably expect to pass.” Dr. Smith has told us a few times that sooner or later it will all come together in our minds, and I found that to be true today. Somewhat. There were a number of complete sentences that I could read in the textbook without looking in the back, which left me feeling confident. Hence the status update.

There’s a Greek test on Friday, but I will have most of Thursday to study for that. The other significant event this week is the second Heidelberg Catechism test, which is also on Friday. This test will cover Lord’s Days 32-52. Since I did very well on the last test, I used the same system for memorizing this time as well. I learned one new Lord’s Day per day, six days a week, and also reviewed the previous Lord’s Days I had memorized on that day. So, LD 32 was memorized on a Monday, which means the following Monday I did LD 38, and reviewed 32. The Monday after that, 44, 38, 32, and Tuesday, 45, 39, 33. And so on. So I had them all memorized two weeks ago, albeit not very well, but it did leave me two weeks to tighten things up. Each morning this week I load the online random number generator, which randomly generates numbers between 32 and 52, and I run through ten Lord’s Days. It sounds like a lot, but the Lord’s Days in this section of the catechism are quite short.

Anyways, right after that we’ll be moving on to the Belgic Confession, and then the Canons of Dort. We won’t have to memorize those, but we will have to know what each article is about. And then proof texts next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. There’s a lot of memorizing; but like I pointed out recently, memorization’s good for the brain.

One of the new classes this semester is Intro to Theology. For that class, we have the pleasure of reading Abraham Kuyper’s Sacred Principles of Theology, to which I may introduce you in another post. One of the things he writes about, in great detail, with an overabundance of words, by way of a winding latinate syntax that requires perfect concentration lest you falter along the way, is that all knowledge is “organically” connected. So, for instance, Theology includes a number of different fields, such as Soteriology (the study of salvation), Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit), Eschatology (the study of the end times), and Christology (that one’s easy). Kuyper says that all these different aspects are connected like branches on a tree.

For Dr. Van Vliet, however, who teaches the course, this is a little bit too much Sacred Treeology, if you know what I mean. A little heavy on the Enya and the incense; never mind that Kuyper lived more than a century ago. Anyways, instead of a tree, Dr. Van Vliet proposed a house, or more specifically, a household. Scripture is both the foundation and the building materials for the house, while the different departments make up the different rooms. So Eschatology is a room, Pneumatology, Soteriology, etc. I suggested that he expand the metaphor a little more, and turn it into a feudal manor. That way Theology is the big manor house, and every other field of study outside of Theology, like sociology, science, philosophy, literature, etc., are the little serf houses down below. They get summoned when they’re needed. Our class likes getting carried away with stuff like this, and it wasn’t long before we were discussing which rooms in the house correspond with which theological departments. Iwan suggested that Pneumatology was the cellar, and we laughed pretty good. I’ll let you figure that one out, and no, you didn’t have to be there. It’s still funny.


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