Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

Reflections on Seminary part 2

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The second year of seminary proved equally eventful. The first items on our list to complete once we moved to Louisville were to find a church and find a job! God was gracious in both. About two weeks into our transition to Louisville (with an apt. on Noblitt Drive – our own little ghetto hideaway!) I was hired at Kenwood Baptist Church as Pastor of Worship and Jenn was hired as an academic counselor for the University of Louisville. Indeed, God was very gracious. I additionally began to go to school full-time at SBTS, sitting under men like Drs. Russell Moore, Duane Garrett (now my Ph.D. supervisor) and Tom Nettles. I was learning Hebrew (a fruitful enterprise for anyone!), studying the Bible, leading worship, and struggling to be a good husband and diabetic. The latter was, and is, harder than the former, given that my excellent wife makes husbandry so much fun! Towards the end of that year I also was ordained by Kenwood, and then spent a couple of weeks hiking through the Grand Canyon with my great friend, Justin Petrochko (BFF, for sure…).

One of the great challenges during this year was disciplining myself to accommodate the seminary work load, particularly the reading. For those who are not familiar with the seminary lifestyle, reading is a fundamental requisite. And not just any reading. No, in seminary we don’t have the pleasure of reading great literary works from Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Bronte. Rather, we read books that take a few moments to figure out what even the title might mean. At seminary, the professors have a much different interpretation of Ecclesiastes 12:12 than Solomon probably did – “Of the making of many books there is no end.” For instance, this first semester I noticed in the syllabus a certain book for my class on John Calvin entitled, Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment. Huh? (that was my first reaction). At that point in my life everything about that title gave me the sweats! I figured, then, I should dissect the title word-for-word. I knew what a “Protestant” was, but what the heck is “Scholasticism?” I knew what an “Essay” is, but what in the world is an “Essay in Reassessment?” Thus, I began my journey. But I quickly figured out that reading the work of John Calvin was fun (I read his magisterial Institutes of the Christian Religion my first semester), as well as reading theology. Henceforth I became a lover of books and reading!

But back to my original problem: what about disciplining oneself to accomplish all this reading? Each class required, on average, about 1200 pages of reading. I usually took 4 classes per semester, which amounts to nearly 5000 pages. My solution, and my recommendation, is threefold. First, try your best to get a list of the reading requirements for your semester as early as possible and begin to digest the material ahead of time. In a given semester, I would usually order my books at least a month in advance and have a couple of books completed by the start of the class. Believe me, this pays off in the end. Second, read at all times of the day. Know what periods of the day are better for you to focus and commit to them. Perhaps this is early in the morning (like me), or later in the evening (like most seminarians). But don’t be content to leave your reading to this period. When you have 15-30 minutes here or there for lunch or whatever, try to get some reading done. This could also be time in the car in the middle of a traffic jam, or while in the waiting room at the dentist’s office (who needs those magazines anyway?). Again, the payoff is great, even if you only get a few pages read here or there. Third, just focus. We have so many distractions around us that keep us from getting work done. I would suggest sacrificing any number of those distractions for good solid work. I am always amazed when I go to the school library and see someone sitting at a table with their laptop open, earphones in, iphone nearby, reading a book. What?! How can one expect to get anything done with all those distractions? Perhaps I’m just not a good multi-tasker, but if I’m required to read and absorb Justification and Variegated Nomism then I think it would be wise to set aside other things in order to concentrate on the subject matter. So that’s my recommendation/admonition. Read ahead of time, at all times of the day, and focus while doing so.

Here are few pictures from year two – the campus at SBTS, the Kenwood church building, a few Grand Canyon pics with Justin, and my little niece, Josie, who came into the world during this second year:



Written by Josh Philpot

May 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Seminary

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I might check things out.
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    barbara bush

    October 17, 2014 at 5:31 am

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