Today, September 16, 2010, was a very special day for me.
This morning just before 11 o’clock, with a handful of my friends looking on, I was baptized in the tradition of my faith.
Then, before I had time to really process the moment, I was baptized again.
Hopefully persistence counts for something.
The scene might have been a little odd to passersby, but it was a great experience for me and my fellow Divinity School students. Understanding the purpose and practice of baptism is included in the curriculum for our Life and Work of the Minister course, and practicing baptism means getting in the water.
The mission statement of Campbell Divinity School is “to provide Christ-centered, Bible-based, and Ministry-focused theological education.” These three elements are represented, to some extent, in every course the school offers, but the three-fold purpose also guides, in a larger perspective, the multi-facted approach of the entire Master of Divinity program. Most of the courses required for the M.Div. degree can be classified as either a spiritual development course, a course in classical theological education, or as a practical, vocation-driven course. Balancing these three aspects of theological education really allows students to grow spiritually and academically as they work to discern God’s call on their lives, and it is something Campbell does very well.
It’s amazing how my experiences in and outside of the classroom continue to build on each other. Just last week, in Church History I, our discussion was focused on the baptismal practices of the early church. Very quickly in the life of the early church, baptism became such an important part of the spiritual development process that a waiting period of at least three years was implemented for catechumens in order to give them sufficient time to contemplate their own faith experiences and develop healthy practices of discipleship that would allow them to contribute to the church once they became full members. Understanding this influenced our discussion on the spirituality and theology of baptism in Life and Work of the Minister. With this discussion still fresh on our minds this morning, we waded into the water to practice the practical aspects of baptism before we are called on to lead a formal baptismal service. The M.Div. degree at Campbell is really almost like three degrees in one — and at 90 hours, it often feels like enough work to earn three separate masters degrees — but there isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing at this point in my life.
Having professors and peers that I know are genuinely concerned about my spiritual growth is an indescribable blessing. Having courses that keep me challenged academically makes every day fresh and exciting. And besides, where else could I go to get my feet wet, knowing all the while that a quick hand is there to catch me if I slip off into rough water?