In thinking back on my days at Moody Bible Institute, part of my now-ambivalence has to do with not just what I learned (or more important, what I did not) but also about how the thinking process itself was handled. That has both a downside and an upside, and I would like to say something about both.
I should start by reiterating that I am simply talking about my own personal experience. Everyone’s experience would have been, and was, different. Still, my strong sense is that my experience was not simply a result of my personality, although it certainly was in part that, but also as a result to how education itself was approached at Moody. How did one get good grades at a school like that? By mastering tons of material. Committing lots of things to memory. Knowing exactly what a teacher taught and being able to reformulate it, without changing its substance, in one’s own words.
What was not taught, so much, was how to think for oneself. When one *did* get encouraged to think, it was in order to figure out how to defend the “truth” that we already knew against those who had different views. Apologetics – the reasoned defense of the faith – was big at Moody. I took a semester long course on it (I believe it was required). We learned how to mount intellectual arguments for the faith. How to prove God existed. That Jesus was the Son of God. That Jesus was physically raised from the dead. That the Bible was the inerrant, revealed Word of God.
What we were not encouraged to do was to engage in anything like an intellectual engagement with or critique of the faith. That part was a given.
In any event, when it came to mastering material, I fit right in.
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