Higher Learning or Life
I began my PhD in New Testament Studies over 20 years ago. Through a series of twists, I ended up not pursuing my degree. My direction radically changed from heading towards teaching to pastoral ministry. No regrets. Here's why:
- Even though I was accepted into the program, the university started critiquing my transcripts from my previous schools, which to it were too conservative, and was going to require me to do everything all over again, including my 4 years of New Testament Greek. Uh, nope!
- I realized immediately that the PhD was another loop to jump through and that I was at the merciless mercy of the professorial class, the universities, and the politics of that university's flavor of Christendom and church. I couldn't stand the learned arrogance I was bombed with every single hour of every single day. Even if the program was taught virtually like from an online school, I knew it wouldn't be for me.
- Lisa was pregnant with our first son, and the financial realities hit us like a road-block. I chose the quickest route out of education and into a paycheck. I went from studying scripture, theology, theological French and German, etc., and dove into a job as a chimney-sweep. I've never been so dirty nor chimneys so clean!
- I had a liberating revelation that I didn't need to "know" any more. The inability of further learning to transform me was clear. I already had more knowledge than I would ever integrate into my life. I sensed that I was simply going to heap further burdens upon myself that I wouldn't be able nor need to bear. No more facts were required. No more studies were necessary. No more books were essential.
- Along with this revelation came another more cataclysmic one: the absolute destitution of my heart. My own pride, ambition, hardness and cruelty exposed themselves. I saw at once the fathomless suffering and the beautiful delicacy of life and decided that living was more important than memorizing. There is a transformation that is not planned or manufactured or even wish for, a completely new creation in which truth alone is master and not the efforts of my own mind. This, I decided, is where I would live the rest of my days. Or die trying.