The journey has been long, and the road has not always been the smoothest. Certain portions were difficult, while others flowed calmly like a quiet river. There were times when I wondered why I was on this trip or whether I should have even come, but in the end, I have learned from this and I know God wanted me to be here.
I’m not a writer, and I don’t talk very much when it comes to class discussions. Along with those facts, I come from a different denomination, so I knew there were going to be some beliefs that I disagreed with. I wasn’t as open to what I could learn from the books we were to read or the discussions we were to have. It was mainly from the readings and discussions when I didn’t agree that I wondered why I was even studying here, but those began to form my opinions about the rest of the discussions. It took a while to tear down that wall I built, but it had to be done, and I am grateful that I did.
I’ve learned much since I have been here. I learned about the Covenanters and the rough history they had, yet they were still willing to lay down their lives for Christ. I learned about Paul’s life and some of the theology he presents in his epistles. I’ve learned different principles of evangelism, missions, and church ministry. But I think the most important thing I have learned is the importance of doctrine.
I wrote about how important doctrine is in a few different papers, but since most people aren’t going to read those, I’ll explain. While growing up in a different denomination, I was still taught the importance of doctrine. I was taught to be wary of churches that have no doctrines or don’t have them easily accessible. The reasoning for that was that if a church does not have doctrines or does not have them where people can find them, then they have very few or no ways of regulating what is taught, and people can say what they want without fear of being told they are wrong.
Systematic Theology, which at first was one of the classes I was not excited for, turned out to be one of my favorites. I began to understand the Reformed doctrine, although I don’t agree with everything, and it helped prepare me for when we read Why We’re Not Emergent, where the authors talk about the emergent church (ex: Rob Bell, Brian McLauren, etc.) and the different views that permeate this movement (that doctrine is unnecessary, that the Bible isn’t inerrant, etc.), which then provides the movement with no boundaries for what they claim, thus leading to people in the movement adhering to a form of universalism. After reading about the emergent church, I am very thankful for the doctrines I have been raised with and taught while I was here. Had I not torn down the wall I put up at the beginning, I would not have realized this. I also learned that, while I may be different, I share the core doctrines with Reformed theology, and for some of the doctrines that different denominations argue over, at their core, we are still the same.
We’ve had a lot of fun trips, from the Wallace Monument to Stirling Castle to Edinburgh Castle. The church members who took us on these trips were a lot of fun and were great people to get to know. We made some great and interesting memories with Kids Club, and while it confirmed the fact that I’m not the greatest communicator (even with little kids), I found a place behind the scenes, contributing to preparing snacks for the kids as well as taking some of the pictures. There is a way for everyone to contribute when it comes to some of these ministries.
I have made a lot of friends here, from the people at Marco’s (fish and chips shop) and Burger7 (American style cuisine, I highly recommend it) to the members of the church. This is a very bittersweet week, as we prepare to leave for home. I miss my home and family, but the people here also make leaving very sad. I’m definitely going to miss everyone here. Billy Boyd’s song from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, “The Last Goodbye”, reflects the feelings shared by the five of us. As hard as it is to say: people of Scotland, I will miss you. But now, I must bid you all a very fond farewell.
“…And, oh, where the road then takes me
I cannot tell.
We’ve come all this way,
but now is the day
to bid you farewell…”
Billy Boyd – “The Last Goodbye”