Final Essay for Master of Religion
This is my attempt to comment on and evaluate the Master of Religion Course and coursework in the form of an end of course essay. I very much enjoyed the course and the new information that I received. I, as an ordained minister have tried to do as the bible advises, “Study to show thyself approved.” Rather than make comments on some of the lessons during the weeks that I received them, I held my comments and responses until now. Those lessons that required answering of questions, I responded with the answers. I hoped that I would receive responses to them as to the accuracy of the answers. I now see that the purpose of the class is to stimulate study and expand your personal spirituality. Much of what I have gained is affirmation of prior non-formal studies and enlightenment of some new revelations.
I occasionally go to the forum section of the web-site to read the answers and comments from other students in the program. I have not been appalled by any of the remarks but sometimes wonder why on some of the comments. The purpose of getting a master’s degree is not just for show but to increase your knowledge of religion. Those who bash the course need to evaluate the reason they are taking the courses. Having been active in several churches over many years, I had always assumed that the pastors or priests were men or women who were learned in the mysteries of the faith of Christianity. This course has taught me that there are many areas untouched by them. I have heard after becoming an ordained minister about the “canons” of the faith.
Independent studies caused me to question many of the things that I have heard for years. The Seminary studies that I did for ordination was strictly an exercise of promoting a doctrine of a particular denomination. Licensing by a church was a way of putting me further into a “box” from which I was further restricted in reading and relating what I had learned.
Having attended and graduating for more than one large well know college and university and having a thirst for knowledge was not satisfied by such restrictive environments. Having had the advantage of traveling some of the world has open vistas of knowledge that I had not know before. The open environment of this course work has allowed that to happen for me.
The failure of all too many who profess to be Christians and have failed to read the bible and not read for understanding truly intrigues me. If you are Christian and have any of the Holy Spirit within you, you should read for yourself and gain some amount of knowledge of the faith.
It is my hope that the discourses without questions caused those taking the course to study further and learn more of each lesson. Those who are computer literate have the resource of a number of internet sites to garner more information.
The only criticism I have is that some of the lessons should be edited for grammar and spelling. Some of the information could be confusing without several readings of that lesson. I suppose that I am a bit of an academic. I have found that being an academic in the pulpit in some of the churches is not appreciated.
I am happy to state that the course work has reinforced things that I knew and made me aware of some things of which that I was not aware. I was unaware of the different presentations of the Ten Commandments by the various denominations. This was further a point of interest when the various differences in translations can be established. As a person degreed in history and social sciences the development of the “church” was also of interest. The fact that St. Jerome translated into Latin for the Emperor and further research provided information of the emperor’s influence is vividly apparent. The social, government and persons influences in translating have really changed the text and wording of these translations.
I believe that I can now put myself in a position of being a “Universalist”. I usually respond that I am a Christian. I have previously been a Baptist, and an Episcopalian. I have been an interim pastor for a Church of God congregation, a Eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church, interim pastor of two Baptist churches and an associate pastor of a Baptist church. Imagine my surprise at arriving at this point in my spirituality.
Rev. Billings Franklyn Jones
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