Posted by: John Adams | August 28, 2008

Going to Switzerland

Swiss Flag

Swiss Flag

Well, it looks like I’m going to Switzerland! Asbury declined to review my application until November, the time the committee usually meets to review “exceptions,” so I’m leaving on a jet plane come Sunday morning.

The first stop will be my Aunt Mary’s home in Charlotte, where I’ll be leaving the Trooper for her and her husband to drive. They could use an extra vehicle, their older car having recently decided to give up the ghost. From there, I will fly to Philadelphia, wait a few hours, fly to London Heathrow,  wait a few hours, fly to Geneva, wait some more for the train ride around Lake Geneva to Aigle, wait a few more minutes, and finally take a bus up a treacherous mountain road (or so I’m imagining) to the French-speaking village of Huémoz (pronounced “Way-mo”). It is there that my adventure begins.

This will be a good trip. I’m going to make sure of it. I’m not quite sure exactly what I’ll be studying, but I’ve got a few ideas. 

First, I want to study predestination and election, the whole Calvinism/Arminianism debate. Does God predestine people to salvation based on foreknowledge of their free choices, or based on whom He wants to save? I’m not sure whether this is actually worth studying, since even people who have been at it for years still disagree, but I thought this might be a good one to have at least a foundation on heading into seminary. Plus, I’ve been listening to a lot of Reformed (Calvinist) preachers over the last couple of years, guys like John Piper, Tim Keller, and Mark Driscoll. I’ve really benefited from a lot of their teaching, but I want to know if the Bible actually teaches what they believe on these core doctrines.

Second, I want to study the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Does it occur at regeneration or is it a separate experience? If the latter, how do we know when we have received it? The reason for this is that I grew up in a charismatic church, went to a charismatic Bible college, but I still don’t feel like I have enough of a handle on this doctrine. 

Third, I want to study the doctrine of last judgment. Hell is a major doctrine, one people frequently have the most trouble with. I want to look at it honestly and determine what it is that Scripture teaches about it. Are the pictures of judgment in Scripture literal or figurative? Are the judgment passages referring to states in this life or the next? Does Hell last forever or are people annihilated? What is God’s purpose for creating a place of everlasting torment for the wicked? Questions like these strike at the very core of our faith – what you believe to be true about the nature of God hinges on how you respond. My goal is to craft careful answers out of sound exegesis.

I don’t know whether my focus on these three things is too narrow. Most people go to L’Abri to address worldview questions or wrestle with the philosophical issues of the day. Perhaps I’ll delve into that a bit. I feel like I already have a foundation, though. I already trust the Bible and believe that Christ is God. I’m already convinced of the truth of Christianity. What I’m trying to do is put some serious reflection into Scripture, balanced by a community of believers, in hopes of gaining a clearer understanding of the counsel of God concerning these issues.

In any case, if you have any thoughts on any of this, let me know in the comments box. I will be back on December 9. I will probably post a few more times before I leave, but I don’t know how often I’ll get to be on the Internet once I’m over there. I will miss North Carolina (but not the insane humidity we’re experiencing right now), and I will certainly miss all of you. To everyone I saw this summer, you made this summer one of the best I’ve ever lived. I hope to see all of you again soon!

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Responses

  1. John, I can say from experience that Switzerland sounds like WAYMO fun than seminary! You have chosen some fascinating topics to explore. The whole predestination deal is so daunting and eternally (!) open-ended. However, I anxiously await the opportunity to hear your findings about judgement and hell. I’d broaden it a bit beyond what scripture tells us to explore the origins of the concept of “hell,” including the lack of that concept in the old testament. I’d examine the relationship between “hell” and “gehenna” (sp.- the garbage dump turned garden). Most of all, I hunger to hear your findings on the baptism of the holy spirit. So important, yet so ambiguous. Have fun in Switzerland and bring me a Toblerone bar (dark, please). loveyameanit, mike

  2. Thanks for the input, Mike. That’s good advice about looking for the origin of the concept “hell” as well as tracing the doctrine in Scripture. And as to the Toblerone bar, you got it. 🙂

  3. Wow. God’s blessing on your understanding as you seek for truth! Let me know what you find.
    I’m a little jealous.

  4. God bless! And sorry for all the times I gave you answer before listening to your problems. You are a profoundly deep person, and I only hope that God will dig you deeper as you pursue the meaning of genuine Christian love and discipleship in Switzerland.

  5. Good for you John. Have a great time. If you get a chance check out the town of Unterageri. It’s beautiful.


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