When I was young, reading the kid’s Bible, I wanted to know what Jesus really looked like, how Jesus spoke, whether Jesus really had long hair (and beard) like the pictures showed. There were never ending questions. As I grew up reading the Bible, I wanted to know what it felt like to walk where Jesus walked, and stand by the sea of Galilee. My passion for Jesus and scripture led me to live and study in Israel after studying at Whitley college.
Even today, we have similar questions to ask like what language did Jesus speak? What do the parables mean? What do we know about the historical context and the culture at the time of Jesus? Why did Jesus refer to the Old Testament scriptures? Furthermore, who are the Israelites, Moabites, Assyrians…who are these kings with long names that are so hard to pronounce like Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon? I also wanted to know the answer to more practical questions such as how to resolve conflict in church and how to preach in front of a congregation?
That is why I pursued theological study at Whitley, which began from asking questions. I had many questions about the Bible, faith and life. Imagine being embedded into the scriptures and studying the book of Genesis, Jeremiah or any book of the Bible for 12 weeks!
What drew me to study at Whitley is the open space where you can ask questions and never feel embarrassed! A student may feel their questions are silly, too simple or even strange, but I have never felt this when asking questions. At Whitley people have so much respect for each other. You don’t need to go searching the internet, which has vast amounts of information and worry about whether it is accurate. As a pastor, sometimes I think that the congregation expects us to know everything about the Bible and bring perfect solutions to the challenges we face in ministry. But who can the pastor ask questions to? Whitley has been that place for me. It also provides an intentional place for busy pastors to set aside time to dive deeply into scripture with friends who also want to study scripture and be in a safe place to discuss and reflect on ministry. These skills help enormously.