Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Joseph Dunlap.
Joseph Dunlap – Spring 2015
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Seminary Student at RP Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3). Recorded in his memoir for 1698, Thomas Boston, then licentiate, found this text to be something of a timely Ebenezer to his soul, as he was emerging from a time of spiritual leanness, and discovering in clearer ways the Lord’s gracious providence toward him. Though this text most certainly has in mind that effectual drawing which results in the conversion of the soul, the Christian often finds that the same omnipotent grace which gave life, must also at times quicken and revive. Three years ago, a remarkable effusion of quickening grace came while I was in Scotland, and it’s chief instrument was the Semester in Scotland programme. In the Spring of 2015 I had the opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which I enrolled at Geneva College – to spend a semester in the land of Knox, Guthrie, and Renwick. When I arrived in Glasgow, I was a convinced Covenanter, but my sectarian principles forbade me to pursue membership in any church, and, not unrelated was the death of spiritual vigor which clung to my soul like a thick, impenetrable fog. As I was consistently set before the means of grace, and had ample opportunity to confer with others regarding church communion (especially Mr. Quigley and Mr. McCollum), the schismatic principles faded, and shortly thereafter, Christ came to his garden and dispelled the clouds of darkness by his bright countenance.
The programme’s curriculum was integral to this awakening. In Christian Ministry the solemnity of the calling to the pastorate was heightened and largely, as a result, I was able to reflect upon the nature of an internal call, and how best to proceed if such seemed evident. In Systematic Theology and Reformed Evangelism the principle labors of the Gospel minister were clearly taught, and the same could be said of Paul’s Life and Theology. And the Reformation History class was undoubtedly one of my favorite classes, as the heroes of the faith, whom I loved from the time I was 12, were greatly endeared to me. I feel as though I could say much more about the programme, about how it propelled me into the American RP church, how it forced me to think more carefully about a potential call to ministry, how it allowed me to form deeper and longer lasting spiritual disciplines, how it was used to draw me closer to Christ – though it’d all be true, and free from vain flattery, it’d also swell into many, many more pages than is necessary. The bar of Heaven holds the record, and eternity will show what I cannot. As long as the programme remains, I trust that the Lord will use it as he has, to build his church and thereby, will be bringing glory to his blessed Name.