As a whole, I was rather impressed with the quality of education at SMBI. The material I encountered while there was at the level of any college theology course. And folks did make a valiant attempt at anabaptizing the protestant theology they worked off of. In speaking to the administrator and a teacher, their sentiment was notably the same as two of my readers Arthur and Javan—we need more Anabaptist writers of theology out there. The administrator pointed at me. “Who? Me?” I cried in protest. “Yeah, you,” he said. That just seems really weird coming from a place where women don’t physically step into the pulpit to address the congregation. Well, to do so figuratively would make it so much more okay, don’t you know.
I attended a class in Theology I and Urban Missions as well as chapel, where the topic addressed the concept of “imputed righteousness and justification,”—God declares a sinner a saint. Anabaptists have much trouble stopping there, as was evident in this chapel. The speaker then contrasted the mentioned aspect of the salvation event with an added element necessary for the completion and working out of one’s salvation. Glassenheit: an Anabaptist word that means abandonment of one’s self that leads to peace and calm, the surrendering of one’s self to the
The class on Doctrine of God presented the attributes of God which were organized contextually into absolute and relative attributes—relative/relational, referring to the more personable character of God. Time and space (eternity, immensity), creative (omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence) and moral attributes (faithfulness, justice, goodness). The absolute attributes involved God’s attributes of infinity and perfection—perfection in truth, love and holiness. I found the presentation and the categories to be quite cleaver. It avoided some of the complications of misapplication of distinct attributes. God is perfect in love, truth and holiness, not perfect in a static unchangeable manner. The categories leave room for process theology.
As for the sources for this particular presentation—I asked and I was told—these are notes handed down from the previous administrator. There doesn’t seem to be much of an inclination to cite the sources nor for any particular author or thinker to claim his/her work particularly.
The Urban Evangelism class I found most unusual. Each student was to present a short book report on a book they had chosen to read—all of the books were written by mainstream Protestants, such as Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Cymbala. There were numerous others. The class and the teacher then reflected on the presented information. It became obvious to me that the categories used in the book were entirely missed by the students because the students obviously had no experience or context from which to understand the categories presented within its own context. Yet they reflected upon the information presented from their own context. That was weird. It was like being bilingual and listening to a speaker speak in one language and having the translator translate according to literal word use, irregardless of meaning.
As for the average SMBI student—the females were somber, reserved, and very modest (translated as boring and ugly). The young men were studious, mature and intent on finding the ugliest wife, so as not to fall into sin, passion and too much frivolousness. I found such lack of hormonal presence and fun very pious and godly—such as is demonstrated in this clip http://youtube.com/watch?v=XNOkpM43fMA
and as was overheard in “girltalk” time in the dorm the night before. Girltalk time didn’t make it onto YouTube.