When the opportunity arose for me to be a part of Summit Semester, I had a strong feeling it was for me. I knew for a fact that in this time of life God had called me to grow in my life and grow in Him. I knew coming here was the best way to grow and I would not regret this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ve been here for about 9 weeks now and a lot of people have been asking me what I’ve been learning – and to be honest I don’t know. So much information has been given to me; it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s as if I was drinking out of a fire hose and could only catch the outskirts of the water. What follows are some of the lessons that I have grabbed from this flood of information.
The first night Dr. Bauman, our main professor, was here with us, he said his purpose was to work as the Devil’s Advocate. His job is to show us that our churchy answers will get us nowhere in the real world. He rarely gives us his opinions, because he wants us to think for ourselves. You can’t be a parrot of somebody else’s answers, because that only appears to be thinking. Teaching isn’t just telling – it’s telling and more. Dr. Bauman told us he might twist our words or tell us false ideas, and we need to learn to decipher and overcome these arguments. His job is to train us to properly defend ourselves in the real world so that we don’t become another casualty.
You can’t mumble and be heard – such a simple, yet profound statement. People who mumble never appear confident in what they are saying, and people rarely listen to them. People tend to listen to those people who are completely confident with their words. If you want to be heard in this world where everything is shouting for attention, be bold with the words that you say and the life you live. People will gravitate towards that.
Ignorance is such a reality of our society today. Ignorant people will believe whatever a person tells them because they know no different. I don’t want to be one of those people who are ignorant of what is going on around them. So many people in my generation exist for only themselves. We have all the information in the world at our fingertips, yet we take it for granted. This is the time and age where people should be smarter than they ever have been, yet they get so caught up in their own world. Knowledge is powerful, and Jesus contains all the knowledge. If you acquire knowledge, society will have a harder time fooling you.
Our view of the end times reflects how we respond to culture. If we have the presumption that society will continually grow worse until Christ returns, we will completely step out of culture so that we won’t become “corrupted”. Changing the world will appear to be as useless as rearranging the chairs on the Titanic – it’s going to sink soon anyway. If we settle on this mindset, we will separate ourselves from the world so that we also don’t go down under. Once Christians empty out of the public square though, it doesn’t become vacant – something else will fill the void. Escaping from the world is not an option for Christ followers. Martin Luther once said, “The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit amongst the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?” We might ask ourselves, are Christians supposed to build up walls of protection around themselves in caution of becoming like the world or are they supposed to create bridges by going into the world and begin to understand the reality of the culture that they live in? In 2 Corinthians 5:20 we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors. What kind of ambassador would a person be if he did not understand the language, history, or customs of the people he was going to?
Many times Christians tend to forget about the Creation part of our story. When God created Adam and Eve, He created them to fill the earth and subdue it. The power humans have to bring life to emptiness is remarkable. When sin entered the world, humanity’s original purpose became flawed. That is where God comes in. He can restore us to our original design – and that is the hope the world is waiting for.
What parts of the Bible are descriptive and what parts are prescriptive? This question showed me that not all of the Bible is written to us here and now. Descriptive passages show us what happened or was instructed at that time in history. Prescriptive passages apply to everyday human life. I never fully realized that the Bible has descriptive and prescriptive sections. Also when the Bible was originally written, it was not meant to be read chapter by chapter, verse by verse; rather it was meant to be read as a story, sermon, or letter. Something that I absolutely love doing here is reading a chapter of the Bible each week straight through without sections, chapters, or verses. Reading it through that way gives me a whole new way of reading the Bible.
The class History of Christian Thought has been my favorite. It’s opened up my eyes to see the Bible from a whole new perspective. Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always known about the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other religious groups, but that never meant anything to me. Coming here, I’ve learned about the distinct differences between these groups in their beliefs and practices. Dr. Bauman then went on to explain the reasons why early Christians were persecuted and how Christianity prevailed through all that persecution. Additionally, we went through ancient manuscripts that people wrote in the Biblical Era. I loved reading what other people from that time wrote. Realizing that these people I read about in the Bible were as real as people today was an eye opener to me.
Since I’ve been here I’ve read more books than ever before. I’m beginning to realize how many books are out there and how much my view on the world can be opened up by just reading. I have the ability to step into the world of so many different characters in novels or so many different authors and learn from their perspectives on life. Something I definitely want to continue doing when I leave Semester is read. I also want to continue having weekly solitude times, in which I can spend time with God and talk with Him without any distractions. Being in the middle of nowhere, we hardly get phone service and only get internet usage once a week. I want to take that into account when I leave here. I waste so much valuable time because of distractions like these, and I don’t want to get back into those bad habits. I want to create good habits here that I can take back home. I’ve learned that my brain is a muscle and I can train it to think and act a certain way.
Since being here I’ve learned not to take everything the professor says as a solid truth. I need to construct my own opinion. I know I’ve grown because I will now question whatever somebody tells me, rather than taking their word for it. I have learned to truly think for myself. I don’t want to believe something because it’s what I’ve always been taught to believe, I want to believe the truth. What I’ve learned most is that I have a lot to learn. My education does not end here after these three months. This foundation is just the beginning.
Leah Caraotta joins the Summit Semester student body from Illinois. As she looks forward to further education, studies that will prepare her for Missions and Elementary Education are a significant part of her focus. These areas are also where Leah’s long term plans lie. As part of her time at Summit Semester, Leah looks forward to deepening her understanding of her faith. When not focused on her studies, Leah enjoys spending time with people and working on art projects.