I anticipated that seminary would reveal new and exciting things for me. I knew it would be humbling (don't ask about the bibliography assignment I handed in), and I knew it would give me lots of those "aha!" moments. Just when you think you know God, he surprises you and reveals even more. As I sat in class on Saturday, I felt like I was right where I should be.
This semester, I've been taking a survey of the entire bible. It moves at a very fast pace. We're getting a bird's eye view; according to my prof at about 50,000 feet. There isn't a lot of time to stop, but the benefit of going at a faster pace has been to see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament. As I have seen the way themes run throughout the Bible, I am struck over and over again at the amazing treasure we have in God's Word.
I wish every woman could have a chance to study like this. I know that not everyone wants to, but I wish that those women who do would be able to. Regularly engaging with the course material and my classmates has made me think so much more, and that has spilled over into other areas of study. Is it possible to sharpen the mind of a 50 year old woman? I think so.
Of course, not every woman can attend school, but there are many women who want deeper study. We are fortunate that we have so many resources available. All that is needed is a little time and some determination. Self-study is a great way to learn. I thought I would offer some suggestions for those would like to study more deeply.
Find good books to read
Our own Rebecca Stark has an excellent post about Six Books Every Christian Woman Should Read. Start there. And when you read, look at the footnotes and endnotes for more books. Keep a notebook or a binder and make notes about what you read. Write down questions about what you read.
Don't forget the Bible
I recommend Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart's books How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth, and How to Read the Bible Book by Book. All of that theology we read is based on Scripture, so knowing how to study the Bible well is always time well spent. Also, I love the Reformed Expository Commentary Series to read along with bible reading. They are encouraging and helpful volumes. And no, you don't have to buy the whole set at once!
Take advice from others
Nancy Gurthrie had an excellent article recently about 7 Ways Women Can Grow in Studying and Teaching Without Attending Seminary. She has some excellent book recommendations. Kevin DeYoung also has a list of Ten Systematic Theology Resources. Don't be discouraged by some of the more advanced recommendations. There are a few that are very readable.
Christianity is part of human history, and its own history of worth studying. Check out The Story of Christianity, Vol.1 and Vol. 2., by Justo Gonzales. If you can't stand the thought of more books, have a listen to Dr. Michael Haykin's sermons on Church History at Sermon Audio.
If you can find a study buddy, do so. I have already benefitted so much from the input of my classmates and the knowledge of my professor. My dream is to have a women's study group where we drink tea or coffee and talk about the nerdy books we read. I would love for someone to start a prototype.
Happy studying! The benefits are worth the work.